How to Improve Video Storytelling with L-Cut Transitions [Reel Rebel #18]

How to Improve Video Storytelling with L Cut Transitions [Reel Rebel #18]

In this edition of the Reel Rebel Stephen helps to add another dimension to your video by explaining what a basic L-cut (also known as a split edit transition) is and how to apply it.  In some cases, like interview footage, simple cuts or jump cuts can make a scene feel stiff and unnatural whereas L-cuts can help to soften scene transitions and provide viewers with more seamless context for the next clip.

What is an L-Cut, or Split End Transition?

The “L" cut is a basic editing technique whereby the picture is cut separately from the audio which allows the sound from the various takes to flow more smoothly.  Its named is derived from the fact that you make an “L” shape when you cut the audio track before you cut your video or vice versa.

An example would be if you were transitioning from inside a home to outside on a busy street.  You can “L” cut the audio so you hear the sound before you actually see it.  This helps to soften a transition that may have been harsh and prepares them for the fact that the footage they're about to watch is in a different environment.

How to do L-Cuts

Creating an L-cut requires a little more thought than just slapping two clips in a timeline back to back, but not necessarily a lot of time. For beginners, the easiest way is to keep the two clips on separate tracks.  Make sure the audios are on separate tracks as well.  Then you simply drag the handle on your first clip out so it extends over your second clip.

With this technique, it’s easy to make a mistake.  Before you do the cut make sure the audio from your previous clip cuts when it’s supposed to, and your follow-up audio comes in when it’s supposed to.  If you drag your first clip out too far, you may not see the problem but your audience may hear things they weren’t meant to hear, like “Action” or “Cut.”  This is simple to fix.  Just cut your audio sooner, listen to it, and when you get it right you’ll have a smooth transition.

The “L” cut process is one that takes some finesse, but separating the cut into two stages will really soften the cut and make it a more pleasant viewing experience.  With a little practice and patience, you can take your video to the next level.  It’s professional and very versatile.  It’s a tool you need to keep in your tool box.

*Note: L-Cuts vs. J-Cuts

It's probably worth mentioning that technically there are L-cuts and J-cuts, both of which are often referred to as simply an L-cut.  However, in the true sense, an L-cut is where the audio Out point of a clip is extended beyond the video Out point so that the audio cuts after the video and continues to play over top the beginning of the next video clip.  A J-cut is just the opposite, where the audio portion starts playing prior to it's corresponding video clicp so as to lead-in to the visual.

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View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey, I’m Stephen Schweickart with VScreen where we make videos for companies and today, in partnership with ReelSEO, we’re going to tell you about the L-Cut.

Was our fast motion editing video a little too advanced for you before? Don’t worry, you’re not a pro, you’re not supposed to get it right away. Let’s take a step or two back and look at an editing technique you can easily apply today that will take that choppy mess you call an edit and smooth out the cuts so that someone might actually enjoy watching it.

What I’m talking about is an L-Cut, named as such because looking at this type of cut in your timeline creates an L or J shape, and well, I guess J-cut didn’t have quite as nice a ring to it. An L-cut involves cutting the audio before you cut your video or vice versa. For example, if you’re transitioning from a scene inside a home to a scene on a busy city street, you can L-cut the audio so you will hear the sounds of the street before you actually see it. This can help to soften what might otherwise have been a harsh cut.

Creating an L-cut requires a little more thought than just slapping two clips in the timeline back to back, but not much. For a beginner like you, the easiest way to approach this technique is to create a simple cut like we talked about in THIS video right here, with one difference. Just keep the two clips on separate tracks, like so. Then, simply drag the handle at the end of your first clip out so it extends over your second clip SIDEBAR: Make sure each clip’s audio is on separate tracks as well. Then BOOM! you’ve got yourself an L-cut.

When you’re working with this technique, it’s crazy easy to make a mistake. Tweaking the cut is very important to make sure the audio from your previous clip cuts when it’s supposed to and your follow up audio comes in properly. If you drag your first clip too far, you may not see a problem, but you could introduce some audio that your audience was never meant to hear like an overzealous director yelling ACTION or CUT. This is a simple fix though. Simply cut your audio sooner, give it another listen, and when you get it right it’ll make for a nice smooth transition. Easy, right?

The L-Cut process is one that takes some finesse, but separating the cut into two stages rather than letting the audio and video cut at once will really soften that cut and make a more pleasant viewing experience for the watcher. And let’s be honest, if this is one of your first videos, it’s going to need all the help it can get. But with a little practice and patience, you can take your video to the next level. It’s professional, very versatile, and will make you look like an editing wizard. It’s definitely a tool you need in your tool box.

And if this video helped make your editing skills a cut above the rest then you need to click this subscribe button, because we’re not about to stop giving you tips. I mean, it is our job after all.

About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

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