Film and video editing can get monotonous really fast, particularly if you are not very knowledgeable or resourceful in terms of post production. There is one technique, though, that opens up a world of possibilities when it comes to getting that special touch some of your sequences might be missing: the match cut. A match cut is essentially a type of cut that is characterized for linking one shot with another through an indirect relationship established by a certain element. Below, we break down three types of match cuts that you can use in your next project to really make it stand out.
Graphic match cut
As you may already be able to guess, a graphic match cut implies that the link between shots is purely sustained on what’s on the image. For instance, if what’s on frame at the time of the cut is the main character, you can cut to the same character in the exact same position but in a different time and setting. You can also do the opposite, and show the passing of time and change of circumstances by keeping the same setting but showing how characters come and go, get older, have children, etc. Graphic match cuts also work with similar-enough objects, like a lit match and a fireplace, or running water from the tap and a flowing river.
Movement match cut
The movement match cut, on the other hand, deals with the relationship between shots based on action within the scene. The movements used to cut can be made by characters or other elements on the shot, for example a passing car that reveals a different environment after it is done passing to tell the audience some time has passed or that we are in a different place. A jump, a fall, a punch, and even simply a character jogging can give you the base for a match cut, if you know how to make the most out of it and create a sequence that makes sense connected by movement.
Audio match cut
Audio is half the subject matter in any film, so it is only logical that we exploit it for editing and transitioning as well. An audio match cut refers to the use of diegetic sound between two shots to link them together. You can tweak the sound you plan on using depending on the circumstances, for instance if you plan on jumping from a roaring lion to a revving engine. Other common examples in cinema include screams turning into boiling pots or whistling trains, ambient noise from the street becoming rain, and clock ticking matched to the timer of a bomb.
Bonus: symbolic match cut
Symbolic match cuts could be considered a subcategory of graphic match cuts, since they deal with seemingly abstract elements on screen to draw parallels between the two of them. How simple or complex these metaphors are depends on the film and the director’s vision, but regardless of the creative licenses you choose to take, make sure to always rely on one of the basic match cut types to make sure the audience can understand your message.