Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video that explores how editing can be used for visual effects.
It takes a village to sell a visual effect, no matter if it’s practical or computer-generated. Everything from sound design to camera movement must work in tandem to successfully pull off the trick. And the same holds true for editing. In fact, sometimes, cuts are the visual effect. Woah.
When it comes to movie magic, there is no simpler or older visual effect than the humble cut. Indeed, the technique goes as far back as film pioneer and cinematic illusionist Georges Méliès. Legend has it Méliès invented the jump cut by accident thanks to an unplanned, yet fortuitous, camera jam which produced a sequence where a bus seemingly transformed into a buggy. Amazed with the startling result, Méliès used similar cuts intentionally throughout his career — as early as 1896’s The Haunted Castle –to make characters disappear, teleport, and transform.
Speaking of haunted castles, horror is absolutely the prime beneficiary of the cut as a visual effect. A cut can reveal all manner of peripheral apparitions, confirming — to our horror — that there was, indeed, something lingering just out of sight. Cuts are also an adept way of melding full-scale sets and miniatures, blending two shots with a cut cleverly smuggled into a whip-pan. Cuts can also smooth over the seams of a progressive makeup effect, like the infamous transformation in An American Werewolf in London, where each cut stealthily reveals new bone-cracking puppetry with the audience none the wiser.
I can’t think of a better shepherd into the world of cuts-as-effects than god-tier no-budget filmmaker David F. Sandberg. In the video below, Sandberg unpacks the VFX potential of a simple cut using both his own films and genre classics as examples.
Watch “Using Cuts as a Visual Effect“:
Who made this?
Writer, director, and video essayist David F. Sandberg (of Shazam! fame) is stuck at home and making excellent quarantine content. Including no-budget horror films in his own house, starring his wife and frequent collaborator Lotta Losten (Lights Out, Annabelle: Creation). You can follow Sandberg on Vimeo and on Twitter.
More Videos Like This
- Back in April, when all of this “global pandemic” business was new, Sandberg was stuck in his house like the rest of us. So, he made a short horror film about how terrifying houses can be.
- If you haven’t heard of Zach King, he is, no exaggeration, the king of the jump cut. Here he is with a lesson in special effects editing. You can check out King’s work, and see him react to other editing and CGI magic, in this video from The Corridor Crew.
- Cuts as special effects? What if you just want to learn the basics? No worries, here’s RocketJump Film School with a breakdown of the different cuts and transitions available to you as an editor.
- Folding Ideas is a fantastic channel that offers a lot of in-depth videos on the language of editing. Here’s their intro video on the basic vocabulary of cuts.