Cutting On Action

The biggest challenge of a video editor is to make the editing unnoticeable. cutting on action is one way to do that. In this post, I will teach you everything you need to know about cutting on action from the shooting stage and to the editing.

What is Cutting on the action?

Cutting on action is a cut that is done in the middle of an action. The shot changes to a different angle when the character that the viewer has the most focus on is in the middle of an action.

The advantages of cutting on action

As a video editor, your first job when cutting is to look for the action. This is a great technique to

  • create an unnoticeable cut because the audience is too distracted by the action to notice the cut.
  • Cutting on the action also helps to draw the audience into the story. For example, you can have a character typing on the computer and while he types, we cut to his fingers.
  • Another advantage to the Cut in action is that it’s the perfect seamless continuity technique. Even if you’ll shoot each angle in a different location, it is most likely that the audience won’t notice that. 

Planning the cutting on action in shooting

It is the director and the cinematographer’s job to make sure the two shots are shot in a way that will be easy to connect the shots. On our typing example, the actor will have to do the action twice at each angle, and at both times, he’ll have to type the same way. The most important element to pay attention to is that the two shots will be shot with a direction distance of at least 30 – degrees from each other. Sometimes you can do cut on the action without changing direction, but it requires the right planning. 

When to do the cut

Some video editors like to debate about when it’s the right time to cut- at the beginning of an action, the middle, or towards the end. Some claim that if you cut at the beginning of a cut, then you leave the viewer with a long shot until the next cut. Others will claim that cutting towards the end of the action will be too late and the viewer will already be bored.

I  wouldn’t suggest limiting yourself with any rules about it. Simply try different cuts and see when it works best. With time, you’ll develop the sense that will help you understand the right timing for the cut, but basically, you should find a spot where the action looks the same at both shots.