A jump cut is an editing technique where footage "jumps" abruptly from one clip to a seemingly unrelated clip, although over the years, the term also refers to a non-congruent cut in an interview. The subject in the frame can stay the same, or change entirely. In other words, it doesn't matter whether you're cutting an interview, a safari, or a sports match. The defining feature is that the transition is not "smooth", it is a jump. Depending on the type of film, the abrupt change may be a little startling, and could look unprofessional, disrupting the feeling that you're watching a continuous, seamless piece of film.
Much of the work we are involved with is interview-based, and jump cuts during interviews can be quite jarring. There are a couple of ways to hide or alleviate jump cuts:
1. B-Roll: A great way to hide a jump cut is by capturing B-Roll that can be placed over A-Roll, or narrative segments. In fact, you'll probably want B-Roll over most of your A-Roll anyway. It can get boring just watching a person sitting and talking. And if there isn't much B-Roll to capture, spend a few minutes at the end of the interview filming your subject's hands moving and gesturing. This can cover a jump cut and also add a little flavor to the interview.
2. Two-camera setup: If you have the option, setting up two cameras will really help to hide jump cuts. By having two angles to cut from, one wider and one tighter, you can shape the narrative by cutting from one to the other without the audience noticing the edit. Not to mention, it's just more visually interesting to have two angles of your subject, and you can even use the tighter angle to emphasize an emotional point they may be making.
If you don't have access to two cameras but still need to make an on-screen cut, you can "punch in" by increasing the size of your footage to about 115% or 120%. When shooting in 1080p, you will most likely see a loss of quality. However, if you're filming in 2.5K or 4K, you'll have no problem punching in, and it will look like you used two cameras.
NOTE: Pay close attention to the audio when cutting between angles. Make sure to smooth out the back-to-back gasps and breaths in the audio tracks. Make the narrative feel natural!
3. Morph Cut: A really cool new feature for those of you using Premiere Pro CC is an effect called "Morph Cut." It works similar to "Warp Stabilizer," which you can apply to shaky shots. Morph Cut is a transition that is applied across two clips. It attempts to smooth out the edit to make it look like one continuous clip. We find that it works best when you want to remove a pause or hesitation from the speaker. It doesn't always work well enough to use in the final cut. If the subject changes position in the frame too much between edit points, it's not worth Morphing. So don't rely on it, but it's still a pretty sweet feature to have! Watch Adobe's great little tutorial to learn more about it.