To flip, to fade, to dissolve, to wipe. There are  many transitions and digital video effect choices when it comes to video editing. Which ones should you use? The answer is to AVOID them when you can! Even though you’re creating video in 2019, there are still rules–film grammar developed long, long ago–that good video editors adhere to in order to create engaging, award-winning video content.

When I teach video editing to my students and my clients, the first thing I tell them is if they are going to use a video transition or an effect then it must serve a storytelling purpose. Transitions must add to, not detract from, the story they are trying to tell. Most editors use basic cuts when they are editing. However, when they do choose to include a video transition, they do so with intentionality to enhance the story, or because it is the equivalent of adding symbolism to their story.

There are a few examples of when you might consider using a transition. Do you want to ease into or out of your video? If so, use a fade because a fade is film language for beginning or end. However, you don’t want to put a fade between two scenes that take place at the same time or the same location because that can be confusing to your viewer.  If you want to show a passage of time or a change of scene then use a dissolve which is a blending of two video clips. Take a look at this video explanation for more information on how to use cuts and dissolves in your video. Notice…no glitz. Just skillful cutting and dissolves.

In order not to have to rely on transitions to fix your video, you need to think like an editor when you are recording your video content.  Make sure to record extra footage, called B-Roll, so you do not have to rely on a transition to fix a mistake due to lack of footage. Plan, plan  plan! Create a list, called a shot list, of every shot you want in your video and then record more than you need. Record the same scene from multiple angles, shoot close-ups and reaction shots. Read up on WALLDO to help vary your shots and add to the viewing experience.

The bottom line is content creators need to tell an engaging story about their video topic or their brand. Glitzing up a video with whiz-bang effects thrown into the editing timeline only because they look cool is film language for “amateur” and does not necessarily result in an increase in viewer engagement. In fact, using a variety of crazy effects and transitions may end up making your viewers dizzy.

P.S. I loathe the star wipe and so do many of my students.