Using varying perspectives

An important event should always be shot from varying perspectives and camera positions. Later, during editing, you can use the best camera angles alone or in combination. Make a conscious effort to tape events from more than one camera angle (first the clown in the circus ring, but then also the laughing spectator from the clown’s point of view). Interesting events can also take place behind the protagonists or the protagonists may be seen in a reverse angle. This can be helpful later when trying to establish a sense of balance in the movie.


Don’t be stingy with close-ups of important things or persons. Close-ups usually look better and more interesting than long shots do on a television screen, and they work well in post-production effects.

Long shots / Semi-long shots

Long shots provide the viewer with an overview and establish the scene of the action. However, these shots can also be used to tighten longer scenes. When you cut from a close-up to a long shot, the viewer no longer sees the details, and it is thus easier to make a chronological jump. Showing a spectator in a semi-long shot can also provide visual relief from the main action, and the opportunity of a transition away from the action if desired.

Complete actions

Always shoot complete actions with a beginning and an end. This makes editing easier.


Cinematic timing requires some practice. It is not always possible to film long events in their entirety, and in movies they often have to be represented in severely abbreviated form. Nonetheless, the plot should remain logical and cuts should almost never call attention to themselves.

This is where the transition from one scene to the next is important. Even if the action in neighboring scenes is separated in time or space, your editorial choices can make the juxtaposition so smooth that the viewer bridges the gap without conscious attention.

The secret to a successful transition is establishing an easily-felt connection between the two scenes. In a plot-related transition, the connection is that of successive events in an unfolding story. For example, a shot of a new car might be used to introduce a documentary about its design and production.

A neutral transition doesn’t in itself imply a story development or a change of time or place, but can be used to smoothly connect different excerpts from a scene. For example, cutting away to an interested audience member during a podium discussion lets you then cut back unobtrusively to a later point in the same discussion, omitting the part between.

External transitions show something apart from the action. For example, during a shot inside the marriage registry, you might cut to the exterior of the marriage registry, where a surprise is already being set up.

Transitions should underscore the message of the film and must always fit the respective situation, in order to avoid confusing viewers or distracting from the actual storyline.

Logical sequence of action

The shots strung together during editing must interact appropriately in relation to the action. Viewers will be unable to follow the events unless the storyline is logical. Capture viewer interest from the very beginning with a fast-paced or spectacular start and maintain that interest until the very end. Viewers can lose interest or become disoriented if scenes are strung together in a manner that is illogical or chronologically false, or if scenes are too hectic or short (under three seconds). There should be some continuity of motif from one scene to the next.

Bridging the gaps

Make an effort to bridge the gaps from one filming location to another. You can use close-ups, for example, to bridge chronological jumps, zooming in on the face, then back out after a few seconds onto a different scene.

Maintain continuity

Continuity – consistency of detail from one scene to the next – is vital in providing a satisfying viewing experience. Sunny weather does not fit with spectators who opened their umbrellas.

Tempo of cuts

The tempo at which a film cuts from one scene to the next often influences the message and mood of the film. The absence of an expected shot and the duration of a shot are both ways of manipulating the message of the film.

Avoid visual disjunctions

Stringing together similar shots in succession may result in visual disjunctions. A person may be in the left half of the frame one moment and in the right half of the frame the next, or may appear first with and then without eyeglasses.

Do not string together pan shots

Pan shots should not be strung together unless they have the same direction and tempo.