Insert Shots Film Editing Tips

How To Clarify Your Cut With Insert Shots

This quick edit tip is all about the details. When you want your audience to be absolutely clear about an action that’s taking place or a story point that’s important, use insert shots.

Check out the video or keep scrolling for a full transcription!

So, what exactly are insert shots?

An insert shot is a shot containing visual detail that is inserted into a scene for informational clarity or to provide dramatic emphasis.

They are typically close-up shots of items, like a book that gives a character an idea…or very particular actions that are happening, like a glass of wine being poured.

Let’s dig deeper into the various functions of insert shots.

1. They help to transition scenes.

They provide immediate information about an environment by showing the details that are present in it, great for entering a new scene when you don’t always want to use a wide shot, AND just as useful for exiting one.

Film editing tips how to use insert shots

2. They more fully define what’s going on.

Also, insert shots can more fully define what’s going on and help focus a viewer’s attention. By leveraging the power of the close-up to exclude all other elements from the frame, important narrative points can be imparted effectively and economically to the audience.

Video editing tutorial using insert shots to clarify your cut

You’re telling the viewer, “THIS is what I want you to notice AND there’s a reason for it.”

3 . Provide greater diversity in shot compositions

Finally, insert shots can provide greater diversity in shot compositions within a cut. Savvy editors use them to break up the monotony of medium shots that can tend to plague more carelessly edited pieces.

Hollywood editing tip how to use insert shots

Let’s look at how insert shots work in action.

Here, we’ve got two wide shots of an editor cutting at a workstation spliced together. We might be talking about the importance of using some function on the keyboard, which would be a great time to splice a closeup shot in between the two wide shots to get a better look at that detail.

Editing tutorial how to use insert shots in your cut

Usually, if there’s action involved, you’ll want your insert shot to match on that action. Insert shots can come in really handy to mask continuity issues when action, direction or dialogue is not quite right across certain edits.

You can also use them to condense time. We can easily change that second wide shot to a different phase of the editing process and it’s not jarring to an audience.

Film editing techniques add variety with insert shots

TIP: It’s important to note that you can also create insert shots in post production if your source material is a higher resolution that your final export will be.

For example, if you shot in something like 8k and planned to export a 2k final version, you’d be able to zoom in up to 4x without losing image integrity. And of course, shooting in 4k and exporting in 2k would allow a 2x digital zoom for your artificial inserts.

This obviously would afford a lot of flexibility for creating your own insert shots in the editing process.

So, as you can see, insert shots covering specific relevant action play a crucial role in editing.  When you there’s imperative information to convey or important story points to impart, they can be of immense value in your workflow.

Insert shots covering specific relevant action play a crucial role in editing.  When you there’s imperative information to convey or important story points to impart, they can be of immense value in your workflow.

– Film Editing Pro

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