Spatial and Temporal Discontinuity – The jump-cut

The term spatial discontinuity editing refers to shots edited together that may not directly relate to one another for reasons of specific motivations.  For example to juxtapose two subjects together to convey a message or create symbolism.

‘Strike’ 1925, Sergei Eisenstein uses spatial discontinuity editing in this scene splicing the scene running crowd with a scene of a Bull being slaughtered for the motivation of creating symbolism to add power to the drama.

The temporal discontinuity edit will typically be a method of editing a longer shot to simply shorten a timeline (as per my home made example).  Both spatial and temporal discontinuity are commonly just referred to as jump-cuts.

A jump-cut can also result when two takes for the same exact  shot is made with the camera filming in the same locked-off position then sections from each take are spliced together.  With subjects such as actors or animals in the frame these are likely to appear to jump position if only very slightly and be noticeable.

Therefore jump-cuts are often considered to be a mistake; but in some circumstances they can work if for example the film-maker wants the audience to experience the passing of time by highlighting only certain moments in the timeline.  However,  the film-maker’s motivation has to be logical for the audience to be able to except it as a piece of narrative without a second thought.

The jump-cut can be a useful tool but it’s use has to be fully understood by the film-maker and it shouldn’t be over used.

Above is an example of jump-cuts that I have made to shorten a timeline in which the audience sees a character shaving.  To avoid boring the audience the shot has been cut in to pieces with just a few highlights spliced back together for the audience to understand this particular piece of narrative for the main story.

A solution for avoiding unintentional jump-cuts, should a film-maker have to re-shoot, is to first move the camera at least 30-degrees from it’s original position.  Therefore if later parts of the first shot and parts of the second shot work best then they can be more easily spliced together creating a jump-cut.  Another solution is to take a shot of something in the scene such as an object significant to the story or just an item of interest for the scene it could be an ornament, flag, pet, anything that the audience is likely to notice even if it has not of significant importance.  This shot placed in between the two shots creating the jump-cut can often bridge the fault.

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