Jump Cuts

One type of edit that is becoming more mainstream is the Jump Cut. Cutting between two shots of the same subject, yet in slightly different screen locations, results in an abrupt transition that violates the established continuity, e.g., the person appears to have shifted positions.

Although the jump cut draws attention to itself, filmmakers have begun using it more regularly as a device that suggests the passage of time, or as emphasis that adds energy to an action scene or simply to draw attention to the fact that an edit has been made (as in an interview). Jump cuts are commonly associated with alternative filmmaking and music videos.

Jump cuts can be inadvertent, especially when trying to match movement of the same action from shot to shot. In one shot, someone's hand might be lowered and in the next it is raised slightly. Jump cuts may also occur when props are moved between shots so that a vase appears to "disappear" or has changed its position slightly, and you end up with what is called a Continuity Error.

Most often, avoid jump cuts as they can be quite jarring, causing viewers to become disorientated, or even annoyed. An acceptable

use of jump cuts happens when you apply the Rule of Threes - when three jump cuts happen consecutively, the audience accepts

their use as a form of expression that may indicate the passage of time. 

Correcting Jump Cuts

A jump cut can be avoided by inserting a cutaway or detail shot. If it can't be avoided, the transition can be smoothed out with a dissolve or even a wipe to suggest the passage of time. But the best way to avoid them is to apply what is called the 30% Rule. That is, you need to change the camera angle between shots by at least 30 percent.

Watch the video below for a good illustration of jump cuts. Published by the NYVS Online Video and Film School.