Matching Action 

One of the best ways to preserve continuous motion happens when you edit two different shots that contain the same action. The action between shots is matched as precisely as possible, which is why it's helpful to photograph action that is repetitive and when the action overlaps between shots. 

Take for instance a scene where someone raises a glass of water to their mouth. The first shot may be a wide shot as the person begins to raise the glass. The next shot is a close-up as the glass enters the frame and reaches the person’s mouth. When shooting this scene, always make sure the action happens in its entirety in each shot: the person raises the glass to their mouth. Don't try to stop the person from raising the glass fully or that might affect the timing of the motion. Simply repeat the action each time you set up a new angle for the camera. 

To create the illusion of one continuous action, the wide shot is cut to the close-up at the precise moment the glass in the wide shot touches the person's lips. In other words, the edit happens after the action is completed.

Another way to edit this scene is to cut on the motion itself. For example, the edit is made as the glass is being raised in the wide shot and then cut to the close-up when the glass is in approximately the same position. Tweak the timing of the edit so that the action appears to flow continuously. 

2 ways to edit Matching Action

1)    cut after the action is completed;

2)    cut on the action, during the motion itself, which is perhaps the most engaging expression of 

       Matching Action and results in the most seamless cuts

Rule of Editing: A shot in motion should be cut to another shot in motion. Cutting from a shot in motion to a static shot appears jarring because the motion appears to come to an abrupt halt.

Below is an example of matching action from a TV-1 assignment in Spring 2012 by Cassandra Sim. 


Spring 2012 TV-1 The 60-minute Matching Action Demonstration

This sequence was shot and edited in roughly 40 minutes. A bit of polishing was done later, but the effort was minor and took perhaps an additional 20 minutes. This demonstration goes to show that with some thought and additional time, you can come up with numerous other shots from different angles to complete the sequence. Note the close-up inserts, which allow the editor to cut away from the principle action. Close-ups are some of the most powerful shots - they tell the story!