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Seven Types of Video Transitions to Enhance Your Projects

/ WeVideo

Mock of two video clips being put together on laptop with transition in between. WeVideo Film School graphic in bottom left corner.

When making a video, you'll likely have to stitch separate shots together instead of having one long camera shot. You can always just connect clip after clip, but it's a good habit to incorporate some video transitions to avoid a choppy video. 

WeVideo's online video editor provides a ton of different free digital transitions to choose from, but you can also create custom video transitions with a little extra camera work. 

Here's a quick glance at what we'll cover in this blog:

And away we go!

What are video transitions?

Video transitions are exactly what they sound like. They're a quick way to move from one clip or shot to another in a sequence. Some are quick and sudden transitions, while others are slightly longer. 

You can go the easy route and add no video transition, but, as stated above, that could make for a choppy video. Going this route can make your video look amateurish and make you look like you were too lazy to take the time to edit your video.

Why transitions are necessary

When you jump from scene to scene in a film, how you transition can make or break a scene. Why? Transitions guide your audience. Visually, a good transition conveys character movement, storylines, and time passing. 

In the most practical sense, transitions move a scene from one video clip to another. Plus, there are many types of transitions that do not have to be visual. For example, adding music or sound effects can also bridge scenes. However, before trying all these great ideas, learning some of the most common types of transitions can help you begin this process. 

What are the types of transitions?

Here are seven easy-to-use camera transition types you can do for any project, from a film project to a video tutorial and more.

1. Simple cut

The most basic transition when video editing is a simple or clean cut. This type of transition always occurs in movies — so much so that we hardly notice it. No muss, no fuss. A good transition will fit in naturally with a movie's story progression. A good rule of thumb when you're editing a video is to always cut on the motion. 

In the clip below from "Heat," the scene uses simple cut transitions to emphasize the powerful dialogue between characters.

Video via Rob Rash

2. Whip-pan

The whip-pan is a great way to transition from one shot to another quickly and easily. When you're finishing one shot, whip the camera in any direction. Then begin your next shot by whipping the camera in from the same direction. You can also implement this same tactic more subtly by simply lifting or tilting the camera. For a more striking transition, you can try a full spin or follow the motion of a body part. 

This YouTube short provides a clear-cut example of how to create a whip-pan transition.

3. J-cut

The J-cut is when you lead your audience in with the sound of your next scene before they actually see the clip. The J-cut got its name from the J-shape it makes in the editing timeline. This transition type can also work oppositely when your audio fades into the next clip after the visual has already changed. In this case, it's referred to as an L-cut. 

Check out the video clip below to see J-cuts in action.

 Video via av college

4. Jump-cut

A jump-cut is when you cut while in the same shot. This means the camera is stationary, shooting the same frame; meanwhile, the subject within the frame moves. The "Spider-Man" clip below illustrates this type of transition. The shot where Tobey Maguire manipulates his hands to release his "spidey webs" is the actual jump-cut example. It’s short but effective.

Video via TW

These cuts are also frequently seen on YouTube explainer videos where the person speaking quickly changes topics. They're also great for signifying the passing of time or montages. In WeVideo's video editor, jump-cuts can be paired with the dissolve effect (found in our transition library) for a cool combo. 

5. Match-cut

Match-cuts are often mistaken as jump-cuts, but there's a slight difference. Match-cuts are when you move from one shot to a similar shot by matching the action or the landscape. The clip below gives several match-cut examples.

Video via Splicing Pixels

Match-cuts don't always need to be visual; they can also be verbal. This is when you move from one scene to another by finishing a sentence. 

6. Shake

A shake is when you end one take by shaking the camera and start the next shot by shaking. This hides the transition in the motion blur and is a cool way to make objects appear and disappear like magic! 

Check out the video clip below to learn more about the shake transition.

Video via Brooker Films

7. Blocks and covers

Lastly, we have blocks and covers. These transitions are pretty similar. Covers are when you end one shot by obstructing the lens with an object and then begin your next shot by freeing the lens in a new location.

Blocks are similar, but rather than obstructing the lens, the subject is hidden by another object (such as a tree), and then the next shot begins with the subject reemerging from the obstruction. 

This clip offers an easy explanation of this transition type.

And that's all there is to it! These camera transitions can be combined with one another or with the many digital transitions provided in our video editor. Just be creative and have fun with it!

How to add and make transitions in WeVideo

After you've trimmed your video, audio and images, select one of WeVideo's transition effects and drop it before, between, or after your clips.

1. Create a new video project (or edit an existing project)

Project open in WeVideo's editor.


2. Import media or select from WeVideo's stock library

Selecting media in WeVideo's editor.

3. Drag and drop media onto the timeline

Dragging and dropping media onto the timeline in WeVideo's editor.

4. Use the 'Transitions' tab to select your desired transition

Selecting a video transition in WeVideo's editor.

5. Drag and drop the transition between two clips on the timeline

Placing a video transition in between clips on the timeline in WeVideo's editor.

6. Click on the transition to adjust its duration, as desired

Editing a transition in WeVideo's editor.

Pro tip: You can add transitions by selecting a clip and clicking the square transition icon. 

Tips for using good transitions


Think simply

Before you get carried away with the latest and greatest transitions, remember that the content of your video is the most significant thing. In other words, try not to distract the viewer with over-the-top effects. Sometimes, a simple transition can give the most energy and power.

Experiment with sound effects

As mentioned earlier, many types of good transitions do not have to be visual. Think audio! Sound effects play a huge role in filmmaking and can enhance the impact of a transition and help smooth out a visual transition seamlessly. From slamming a door to signify the end of a scene to an alarm clock slowly growing louder to increase a scene's tension, using sound effects can propel the story forward.

Use transitions sparingly

It's best to use transitions sparingly unless you're going for a distinct effect. A good rule of thumb is to use two to three transition types. This method helps the viewer concentrate on the message you're trying to make and keeps a sense of continuity.

Be mindful of timing

Timing is vital for smooth transitions. Pay attention to the tempo and pacing of your scenes. Transitions should feel natural and match up with the content. Sidestep abrupt cuts that disrupt the viewer's experience.

Remember the purpose of each transition type

Keep in mind that different transitions represent different ideas and emotions. As you comb through your footage and decide which transition to use, ask yourself questions like: "Would a J-cut work in this scene?” or “Should I use a match-cut to move from one scene to another as the character finishes their sentence?” Also, pay attention to the color, shadow, and light between two film scenes and decide which transition would work to keep things moving seamlessly.

Practice, play, and have fun!

You've heard the old adage — practice makes perfect. Do you think Wes Anderson or Spielberg got it right in their first films? They made mistakes just like everyone else. So, practice your transitions. They are an art form, and the more you practice, the more your editing skills will improve by leaps and bounds. Half the battle is learning what works and what doesn't.

Above all, stay inspired during this process. Watch lots of movies and see how certain transitions make you feel. Also see what you like and forget what others say you should like. And remember to play, experiment, and have fun! When it comes to filmmaking, it really is all about the journey!