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Chapter 15. Transitions and Effects > When Not to Use Transitions

15.2. When Not to Use Transitions

When you begin to polish your movie by adding transitions, consider these questions:

  • Does it really need a transition? Sometimes a simple cut is the most effective transition from one shot to the next. Remember, the crossfade lends a feeling of softness and smoothness to the movie, but is that really what you want? If it's a sweet video of your kids growing up over time, absolutely yes. But if it's a hard-hitting issue documentary, then probably not, as those soft edges would dull the impact of your footage.

    Remember, too, that transitions often suggest the passage of time. In movies and commercials, consecutive shots in the same scene never include such effects. Plain old cuts tell the viewer that one shot is following the next in real time. But suppose one scene ends with the beleaguered hero saying, "Well, at least I still have my job at the law firm!"…and the next shot shows him operating a lemonade stand. (Now that's comedy!) In this case, a transition would be especially effective, because it would tell the audience that we've just jumped a couple of days.

    In other words, learning to have taste in transitions is a lot like learning to have taste in zooming. Transitions should be done for a reason.

  • Is it consistent? Once you've chosen a transition-effect style for your movie, stick to that transition style for the entire film (unless, as always, you have an artistic reason to do otherwise). Using one consistent style of effect lends unity to your work. That's why interior designers choose only one dominant color for each room.

  • Which effect is most appropriate? As noted earlier, the crossfade is almost always the least intrusive, most effective, and best-looking transition. But each of the other iMovie transitions can be appropriate in certain situations. For example, the Radial wipe, which looks like the hand of a clock wiping around the screen, replacing the old scene with the new one as it goes, can be a useful passage-of-time or meanwhile-back-at-the-ranch effect.



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