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Editing 101: Avoid Cheesy Video Effects

This quick edit tip is about video effects.

As a working editor, if your transition between shots is an expanding heart shape…or a page curl…or your go-to is a picture-in-picture effect…you’re communicating something to your audience. And what you’re communicating probably isn’t good.

Don’t use cheesy VFX!

Watch the video or scroll down to find out our reasons why you should be avoiding these types of transitions plus the rare case where it might just be ok.

There might be that rare occasion where the corniness of these old effects adds to the retro or comic nature of your project. But most of the time, these cheesy effects are to be avoided. Let’s dig deeper into some reasons why.

1. They Can be Distracting

Most of the time, you don’t want to call attention to your editing. Garish effects jar the viewer and jolt your audience out of the story you’re telling.

2. You Appear to Be Behind the Times

Also, when you use these effects, you appear to be behind the times.

These dated video effects might have been hip during the Eisenhower administration, but their time has long since passed. Remember, part of an editor’s job is staying current and having good taste.

3. You Appear to Be Lazy

Finally, using these effects can make you appear lazy.

The days when savvy producers “oooh” and “ahh” at these effects are long gone. Unless you’re pressed for time, they know you’re just slapping down a musty moth-eaten effect that’s been used ten thousand times before. You don’t want to be the editor known for cutting corners and doing things the easy way at the expense of the piece’s quality.

Bad video effects editing transitions

An Exception to the Rule

Now before you never visit that effects section in your nonlinear editing software again…there are ways to use them as a base for more creative effects. In this case shown below, we’re going to take that horizontal wipe and use that basic preset transition in combination with an animated crop as an element in a more complex and varied transition.

editing transition between shots good example modern

You don’t want to preclude using any tool in your toolbox. You can take advantage of all your software’s capabilities while adding a personal touch that transcends the system’s well-worn presets.

Remember, nothing screams “amateur” more than star wipes, glittery flares, and page curls. Unless your video is meant to look retro or cheesy, avoid these effects like the plague.

-Film Editing Pro

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