3 Creative In-Camera Transitions to Use in Your Next Film

Filmmaking 09/06/2019 3 min read

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to get creative and increase your production value with three in-camera transitions: the invisible cut, the whip pan, and crossing the frame. Each of these transitions uses visual aspects of your shot to trick the eyes into missing where the video cut occurred, causing the result to have a great deal of flow between shots. 

In theory, these transitions are different from traditional ones because they can be done without any editing whatsoever. All you need is a camera and pre-planning. The result looks like a magic trick for your film. Let’s dive in! 

Custom In-Camera Transitions

1. Invisible Cut  

The invisible cut hides your cut by making the end frame of your first clip, and the beginning frame of your second clip, exactly the same. While this has been done a lot throughout film history, perhaps the best recent example, Birdman (2014). In this film, the creators used the invisible transition to hide many of their cuts, giving the illusion that it was a single shot. 

One of the most versatile ways to use the invisible cut transition is to make the frame pitch black. The idea is, if the end of your shot is completely black and the beginning of your next shot is completely black, there’s no way to tell where the cut was made. 

By doing things like covering the lens with your hands, moving incredibly close to a person or object, or simply entering a dark area, you can initiate this dip to black in a way that looks natural. The next shot, fading in from black to the picture, will then result in a fluid transition. Make a bigger impact by having noticeably different locations between clips.

2. Whip Pan 

The whip pan is a more action-oriented transition. It uses the motion of your camera swinging in any direction to move into a new shot. 

If you then create a new shot that begins by following through on this same motion, you will effectively have connected your two clips visually. For example, if you whipped right in your first shot, be sure to whip in from the left in the following one. The two whips will stitch together the shot as one in the minds of your audience! 

By whipping your camera, you can effectively create motion blur. Aim to have a high motion speed and a low shutter speed and try to keep it around 50-60.

When you get to the editing room, overlap your clips slightly on two different tracks. From there, keyframe the first clip to fade out at the end and keyframe a fade in on the second clip. Aim to do this at the point when the footage is most blurry. You can add even more directional blur in post-production too. Quick and easy! 

3. Crossing the Frame 

A crossing the frame transition is accomplished by a person or object crossing the frame of your shot. The only key is that it needs to cover at least one axis (x or y) from edge to edge. While this transition will take a little more editing and fine-tuning, the results are certainly worth it as this transition has the potential to be the most visually satisfying. 

To edit, add the first clip you want to use and put the second clip on the layer below. Ensure it overlaps. On the top layer, end when the object or person exits the frame. Now, use the Pen tool to mask a basic shape over the edge of the object in front of your camera. Keyframe it until the object is off-camera. 

Another tip is to have something different about the new scene you’re transitioning into. This will signal to the audience you’re in a new stage in your film. 

As you can see, creativity isn’t reserved for the editing room only. These are just a few of the cool in-camera transitions you can create on set. All you need is a camera in hand to create these striking transition effects. Give them a try, and let us know how it went in the comments below!