The Action Cut—and What Makes It Work

Rule 3: Whenever possible, cut “in movement.”

The “action cut” is the first bit of cutting lore learned by every apprentice. Excluding cuts made at the beginnings and ends of sequences and self-contained scenes, cuts to reactions or responses, and cuts involving exchanges of dialogue, the cutter should look for some movement of the actor who holds the viewer’s attention and use that movement to trigger the cut from one scene to the next. A broad action will offer the easier cut, but even a slight movement of some part of the player’s body can serve to initiate a cut which will be “smooth” or invisible.

As an example, let us take a very common sequence of cuts: In a full shot, a player enters an office, ...

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