The montage is one of the parts in the filmmaking process. During this step, you will shape the movie and make it look the way you want it. Montage is important because you can’t just use the same cut throughout your entire movie.
If you are applying the same cut, your movie will come out bland and boring, because each scene could require a different type of montage cut. Moreover, you can’t start by using advanced montage cuts until you have a good grasp on the basics.
This means you will have to do a lot of reading, as well as a lot of experimenting with different types of cuts. Therefore, to make your job a lot easier, we will now present you some classical montage tricks that you need to know in order to spice up your movie.
The Jump Cut
This type of cut is used to jump forward in time – not in reality, but in the movie you are editing, of course. For example, let’s say you have a scene where a certain character or item does something that will eventually destroy or damage something else.
The first scene will consist of the thing that’s doing the action, while the next one will move straight to the results of that action – without showing the audience the time between the two of them.
Imagine a sniper shooting at someone over a very large distance. Using the jump cut means that the movie will only show the moment the gun is fired and the moment when the bullet reaches its target.
This montage technique is very simple and you will be able to learn it in no time.
Let’s say that you have two video clips; we’ll name them Video A and Video B. Then, you have an audio clip that originates from Video A. If you want to do an L cut, you will put the two video clips next to each other, while the audio stream from the first clip, Video A, will continue being broadcasted in the second one, Video B as well.
This means that the audience will see the first clip, in which someone is talking, after which the scene will move to another character or action, while they will still be hearing the audio of the first clip.
This will give your film a natural flow and also give the audience visual and audio information on a certain thing, without having to watch just the character speaking.
A J cut is basically the opposite of an L cut. In this type of montage trick, we will hear the sound of the second clip before actually seeing it. This is commonly used to present the environment that someone is talking about, or an action or a character.
This way, the editor presents information to the audience before showing them which character is telling that piece of information.
For example, we have a scene portraying the villain of a superhero movie, while the audio is describing that certain villain. Of course, the audio comes from the superhero or someone that knows the evil character well-enough, as he or she is telling a story to someone else or to the audience.
Cutting on Action
This is the perfect cut to use if you want your movie to flow really nice while making action scenes look tenser and also having a smoother transition between them.
Cutting on action means a transition from an action scene to another that’s made in the middle of the first shot. Of course, the editor has to be very careful when cutting on action, as the action that’s happening throughout all of the scenes must be matched with the shots.
Basically, you don’t have to make a pause between two different action shots – you just switch between them and keep the audience entertained.
This cut is used to tell two stories that are happening simultaneously in a sequence of the movie. For example, let’s say that you have two main characters in a four-story building; one of them is on the ground floor, while the other is on the top floor.
Now, let’s suppose that an earthquake strikes. By cross-cutting you will show shots of both characters and of what’s happening to them during the earthquake. You can use this cross-cut to document everything they go through until they meet outside the building or on a floor between the two that we mentioned earlier.
This way, you will give your audience all the information it needs on two different characters that are connected to each other. No more continuity errors as to why a certain character was able to escape unscathed from an explosion while another one is wounded.
These were only a few of the classical montage tricks you can find out there. However, they are essential to filmmaking as an editor needs as many ways as possible to tell a story effectively.
Experiment with these types of montage tricks, find movies that use them, and you will eventually master them as well.