Video transition meanings in a live video production | Tech, No Babel

Video transition meanings in a live video production

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On today’s Tech, No Babel: Video transition meanings in a live video production

One of the easiest ways to tell if someone is new to video is their choice of transition. Video newbies think that the art of creating a video is in choosing “cool transitions,” but that’s usually not the case.

Transitions mean things in video and “cool transitions” usually mean “I’m not all that good at the other aspects of video, so I’m going to choose something to snazz up the video otherwise.”

So, what should you use? I suggest that the better choice is to use mostly cuts. Why? A cut takes so little time and correlates to so few things in our possible experience that our brains don’t notice well-executed ones. How do you make a well-executed cut? Switch between two shots that are at least 30% or 30 degrees different. By doing so, the viewer won’t notice.

The next most common transition should be the cross-dissolve. Some people refer to these as fades, but a fade is a similar transition that moves to and from black (as in the image fades away).

Cross-dissolves show change in time or location. They can also add beauty to a shot, especially when transitioning from something concrete (like a singer or speaker) to something abstract, like bokeh. Use these sparingly, even during music.

The third most common transition is the fade to black (or fade up from black). These transitions are similar to a sunrise or sunset and indicate a change in content or the beginning or end of something.

What remains is everything else. Use these transitions sparingly (in contrast to a video newbie) and only with very good reasons (“it looks cool” isn’t a very good reason).

For more on the language of transitions, watch the video above.

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Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div.

Paul Alan Clifford, M.Div. has been a tech volunteer with Lexington City Church (formerly Quest Community Church) in Lexington, KY since 2000 and is the founder of, llc. He became part of the technology in ministry team when his church’s attendance was around 200 in one Sunday service and has witnessed it’s growth to a peak of 5,200 average weekly attendance in one Saturday service, four Sunday services in one online and two physical campuses. He literally wrote the book on podcasting in churches, twitter in churches, & servant-hearted volunteering, as well as writing various articles for publications like “Church Production” and “Technologies for Worship” magazines. He has thousands of members of his ProPresenter Users' Group on Facebook and thousands of subscribers to his YouTube channel.