Production: How To Do a Cut Away

The moment you sit down to edit your video, you might discover the need for a cut away at certain scenes. Whether you're doing a documentary, coverage, narrative, or feature, cut are useful in many instances. A cut away is often used to cover up a jump cut. For example, if you have a talking head or an interviewee, you might want to shorten some of his statements. Or you might simply have to edit out a blunder. Instead of ending up with a jump cut, inserting a cut away will not only cover up this cut but also add depth to the sequence. If the topic is about a certain person, you might want to insert footage or pictures of that person. Or if there's an interviewee involved, then a shot of the interviewee listening or reacting is also a good cut away.

Here is how you can properly do a cut away in your video project.

Step 1: Know Your Story

Whether you're documenting an event, or you're filming a narrative, the best way to arm yourself is to have a working script or storyboard. This way, you know how you want the final project to flow. This will give you an overview of the materials you will need to shoot.

Step 2: Prepare a Shotlist

A shotlist is like the ammo of production people. Without this, you might end up scratching your head during edits, or finding that you missed out on some crucial shots. Your shotlist has to be as expanded as possible. For instance, in featuring a product launch, you might want to have an on-cam interview of the person in charge. Listen to the sound bytes and make a shotlist of what you can gather. If the interviewee is talking about a certain feature of the product, take footage of it later.

Step 3: Take Staple Cut Aways

Staple cut aways are those you can shoot without having to rely on any particular topic or sound byte. For example, during a wedding, be sure to take footage of the guests' reactions and close ups. If you're conducting an interviewee, take shots of the interviewer asking questions and reacting, and take some footage of your subject behind the scenes. You will find all these video material useful in the final edit.

Step 4: Edit It In

Often, cut aways are used to cover up jump cuts. So if you are trimming an interview, place your cut aways over the cuts to cover them up. Listen also to the sound bed, you might have some video material that's apt as a cut away. If the topic is about school, you might want to insert videos of students or classroom scenes. But covering up jump cuts is not the only purpose of cut aways. You may add some video in a sequence to add depth to a story and to make it more engaging to the viewers.

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