Using Fades and Transitions Between Clips

on Friday, November 14, 2008

One of the trickiest aspects of movie editing (for me, anyway) is making clean transitions between clips. Often the best transition is a simple, straight cut from one clip to the next. Other times, you want to fade gently from one scene to the next. Or you may want a more fancy transition — say, one that makes it look like the outgoing scene is being rolled apart like drapes to reveal the incoming scene behind it. Most transitions can be generally divided into a few basic categories:
  • Straight cut: This is actually no transition at all. One clips ends and the next begins, poof! Just like that.
  • Fade: The outgoing clip fades out as the incoming clip fades in. Fades are also sometimes called dissolves.
  • Wipe: The incoming clip wipes over the outgoing clip using one of many possible patterns. Alternatively, the outgoing clip may wipe away to reveal the incoming clip.
  • Push: The outgoing clip is pushed off the screen by the incoming clip.
  • 3-D: Some more advanced editing programs provide transitions that seem to work three dimensionally. For example, the outgoing clip might wrap itself up into a 3-D ball, which then spins and rolls off the screen. Pinnacle’s Hollywood FX plug-ins for Studio provide many interesting 3-D transitions. See Appendix D for more on Studio plug-ins.
Whatever style of transition you want to use, modern video-editing programs like Apple iMovie and Pinnacle Studio make the process easy. But before you can use any transitions, you need a project that already has several clips in its timeline. If you don’t yet feel comfortable with editing clips into the timeline. The following sections show you how to select and use transitions in your movie projects.