Vlogging 101: Everything You Need To Know About Editing Jump Cuts

7 February 2017, 18:52

We the Unicorns

By Liam Dryden

Time to learn about every YouTuber's secret weapon.

Vlogging has become way more complicated than it needs to be.

Nowadays, a lot of YouTubers opt for really high production value in their videos; including a crazy-expensive camera, a studio instead of their bedroom, and sometimes even a paid editor. But all of this extra work into what usually should be a simple video can make the amateurs feel a lot more... well, amateur. But no matter the quality, there's one thing that every good vlog has in common: Jump Cuts.

jump cuts

Jump cuts have been an editing staple of the classic YouTube-style vlog for about ten years; since pioneers like ZeFrank and the Vlogbrothers helped make the platform what it is today. And the best bit? It's probably the easiest part of editing a vlog.

But what exactly are jump cuts?

jump cuts

In its simplest form, a jump cut is a cut in the video track, that removes any empty space between talking and allows you to "jump" from one sentence to the next. They can be used for a number of reasons:

  • Removing awkward silences or "ums" between thoughts.
  • Keeping the flow of the video fast, energetic and engaging.
  • Stitching together any different or better takes from the original recording.

When editing a video, cutting clips can be done in almost any editing software; and this means jump cuts can be one of the first things you learn to do. If you want to make a great first impression with your early videos, but you don't have snazzy equipment, then nailing the jump cut is the trick to learn.

(And even if you don't nail it, don't worry - Dan didn't either. Yikes at that black flash.)

dan howell jump cuts

Here are the top 4 tips for getting the jump cut just right:

  • Script for jump cuts. When writing down what you want to say in your video, try visualising each new line as a jump cut. Doing so will make you more aware of it when recording, and you'll have an easier time editing.
  • Keep it tight. Awkward pauses alone are bad; but an awkward pause before/after a jump cut is worse. Make sure the beat between the jump leaves almost no breathing room - aim for no longer than half a second.
  • Don't cut mid-sentence. Human talking is a tricky thing; and if you try to rebuild a sentence using a few different cuts, it's going to sound terrible. See the first tip for advice on scripting to avoid this.
  • Don't overdo it!! Jump cuts are great every line or so, but you don't need them every two seconds. Again, scripting beforehand will help you pace this properly.

Think you've got it and fancy a bigger challenge?

A newer, more advanced version of the jump cut involves separating the audio and the video of the second clip; and then pulling the beginning of the audio under the first clip. This becomes an almost seamless transition between both clips, creating the illusion of a video with no pauses.

jump cuts

And you're done!

Hopefully we've taught you everything you need to know about nailing the jump cut in your videos. If you get stuck for examples, don't worry - watch almost any vlog ever to learn how it should look.

What vlogging feature should we teach next? Let us know in the comments!