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Old January 9th, 2011, 09:07 PM   #1
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Cross Dissolve tips

I am looking for some pointers for using the good ol' cross dissolve. I've heard some use a 21 frame transition, others 10 frames, 7 frames and on and on. I've never heard an explanation as to the variance and often it is too difficult for me to notice myself. I know that most of our work is defined as beauty in the eye of the beholder. But I'd love to hear from some of the more experienced among us…when it comes to cross dissolves what are your typical transition times and why? Also, any tips when applying a cross dissolve to an interview and you want the edit to look as seamless as possible?

Thanks a bunch
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Old January 9th, 2011, 09:54 PM   #2
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Well, as you so rightly point out, a lot of it truly is in the eye of the beholder.

A cross dissolve is traditionally taken to mean the passage of time. It's also used to sort of add emotion when a regular cut seems too jarring or abrupt for artistic reasons.

But it's never, in my opinion, used in an interview to cover a bad jump cut. That's what cutaways are for. Ironically, a dissolve will make the interview look less seamless because it tends to call attention to itself. The best editing is when you don't think there's any editing going on.

My default is 30 frames, but I'll stretch that to 60 or even 90 if the music calls for it or you're trying to be very lyrical or make people cry.

But I'm really old fashioned and hate most of what passes for shooting and cutting on the networks these days.
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
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Old January 9th, 2011, 10:08 PM   #3
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In a news interview where there is no b-roll or cutaways, I use a 4 frame wash to white. A dissolve, no matter how long or short, will look weird because the person usually moves just enough between shots to make it look weird, like they have 4 eyes and two noses.
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Old January 10th, 2011, 02:35 PM   #4
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Dissolves inside of an interview are very jarring. If you are looking for a way to cut together disjointed segments - if possible cut between head size frames. (This is why I tend to vary frame size during an interview - re framing every couple of questions.) If you can't do that, then use the flash frame, or dip to white or dip to black to indicate 'yeah, this is a cut, some stuff has been left out, but here's what we want you to pay attention to.' You'll see that most often used in an interview segment nowadays.

Better still to use a cutaway or B-roll - but the dip to color or black is preferred over the dissolve - WITHIN a talking head segment.

Now, if you're talking about dissolves in a narrative context - I tend to use multiples of 2, so that the dissolve is equal on both sides. 24 frames for film, 30 or 60 for video. But honestly - whats the harm in picking one, looking at it, and judging the quality? We're talking non-destructive editing these days, it's not like you're having to go back to a negative and PRINT the dissolve to see what it looks like.
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Old January 10th, 2011, 02:56 PM   #5
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These are all great answers. I really appreciate you all taking some time to entertain my questions. The rule of 2's is one of those "duh" realizations for me that I'll adhere to in the future. The suggestions for covering cuts in an interview are all golden as well. The beauty of video editing (now days especially) is the creative freedom to basically do "whatever". For me, sometimes it's a double edged sword as I over think simple things and underthink the important things.

It's great to pull from so much experience on this forum.
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