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Creative Match Cut Examples and Why They Are Amazing

Posted by Ashley Brook on February 13, 2020

Effective cuts can be strikingly powerful and serve as a foundational tool for editors. Considering that cuts are the building blocks of editing – where one must decide how to end one clip and introduce another – it makes sense that there’s a variety of tricks in an editor’s arsenal. Knowing when and how to cut is a valued skill that makes editors an essential part of the production. When deciding on a transition between scenes, there’s one example that uniquely displays an ability to connect two clips creatively: a match cut.

A match cut is a cut between two clips that share one or more qualities of action, composition, content or subject matter. Past the often aesthetically enjoyable aspects of a match cut, there’s the thematic and narrative substance in the choice, as well. The juxtaposition of the clips, which while not directly related, are united by a shared aspect. This can work to show significance and purpose and it guides the audience to consider the contrast between the two connected clips. The best way to grasp what this looks like is to see it in action. Check out this compilation of famous match cuts here.

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What are the different types of match cuts?

There are several different ways to implement match cuts into your production. Depending on the relation of your clips, it can be one of the following:

Sound Matches

Match cuts don’t always need to be visual. They can also take place through dialogue or using a sound bridge. A typical example of using a match cut with dialogue are sequences where Character A is writing a letter and then cuts to Character B reading the letter – picking up where the last cut had left off in the sentence. The instant-messaging platform Slack employs this trick in the beginning of this advertisement.

Another example of a match cut using audio to transition between scenes is with a sound bridge. It matches a sound that is occurring in both cuts. In this example from “Breaking Bad,” there is a juxtaposition between the chaotic nature of the leak that Walter White faces, to the calm cup of tea that his wife is preparing elsewhere. However, it utilizes the sound of two different liquids to blend the two cuts.

Visual Matches

A common visual match is one that matches the composition between two scenes. This can be as simple as setting up a tripod in the same position – and shooting two or more different scenes  at the same angle. This shows that the placement of the objects in the frame are identical before and after the cut. An example of this can be seen in “Hot Fuzz,” and is a creative and seamless way to show the viewer that the main character has been waiting for a train for quite some time without ever having to directly tell us that.

Another example of this can be seen in “Pirates of the Carribean: Curse of the Black Pearl.” We see the character Elizabeth Swan as a child, squeezing her eyes shut. Then we see her as an adult, her eyes flashing open.

Graphic match cuts are another use of visual matches and are a popular method for utilizing metaphors in film. They can be used to imply that two objects, while seemingly unrelated, are one-and-the-same. Typically, creating effective match cuts requires efforts in pre-production as well as post. Graphic match cuts have a smaller margin of error than a movement match cut, says StudioBinder. This technique can be seen in the film “Psycho,” in the famous shower scene, where the viewer witnesses a transition from the shower drain to an eye.

Lastly, for visual matches, there are action match cuts. These refer to when the action or movement within the frame is matched. This can refer to the camera movement, like a pan, tilt, or dolly or it can reference something moving within the frame. You can see one example of an action match cut here, in a scene from “Gilmore Girls.” This shows us a passage of time with precise camera movements, blending the present and past.

A famous example of an action match cut is this scene from “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The bone-to-spaceship transition exemplifies two separate objects moving in unison.

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Identifying a match cut

Match cuts can be challenging to perfect. They require a fair amount of planning, but when done right, they can be an incredibly powerful storytelling tool. Understanding the relationships between various clips is a fundamental first step, as well as looking for similar qualities within the story that can form potential pairings.

If your company is looking to stand out with artistic match cuts in their promotional projects, Crews Control can help you move in the right direction.

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