Quick and Easy motion effects to help keep viewer engaged

A motion effect changes the size, shape, opacity, duration, position of your video, image, text or graphic in your projects.

Motions effects are relatively easy in most Non-Linear Editors.  I’m not going to discuss the how of motion effects. I’m going to focus on why I did certain motion effects in this story.

Our story for this post is We haven’t heard that word in forever on my YouTube site.

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This is a story I edited during my last year at KWGN/KDVR in Denver.  It’s a story about a then high school athlete how discovered he had hodgkin’s lymphoma.  It’s a story with good emotional elements.  I add some simple motion effects to help with the emotion.   My job is just help engage the viewer.

The first shot [:00] in the story is Garrett shooting a basketball around in an empty gym.

You’ll notice a slow push in on the shot.  The photographer didn’t shoot that.  I did that in the edit bay.  I want to pull you into the story both visually and symbolically. I change the scale of the clip from 100% at the start of the clip to 130%.

130% of the original resolution is about the maximum you want to scale up video.

The next shot [:07] is that of the scoreboard.

On this shot I start the scale at 125% and create a slow zoom in to 100% scale.  I’ve also changed the speed to 75%. I took the shot while it was still blurry.  I liked the way the light coming from the scoreboard blends with the silhouette shot of garret playing basketball.  The cross dissolve between the two shots is 4 seconds.

The next shot [:11] is a super tight shot of the scoreboard rotated -30 degrees.

It also starts at 130% and I scales it back to 100%.  I copied and pasted the motion attributes from the previous motion effect to save time.

Something to think about when you are creating a motion effect; think backwards.  Think about what you want the effect to be at the end of the clip.  Do you want to zoom in, zoom out, change the duration.  In each of these cases I think about the last frame before I decide what to do with the first frame of the clip.

The next time I do a motion effect [:27] is between George Carl sound bites.

I change the speed of this clip.  The real reason, the shot doesn’t last as long as I want it, so I slow down the speed to 50%.

Back to Garret Playing Basketball, back to me with a slow zoom in [:55].  Again, just trying to pull you into the story.  I don’t want it to be always so obvious I’m doing this.

This scale from 100% to 115%.  It’s subtle.  The viewer barely notices it.

Another subtle scaling from 100% to 120% [1:31]

Another subtle scaling from 100% to 120% on this interview [1:42]

I like zooming in on moments of emotion or revelation in soundbites.

This story was video light. I didn’t have much time to work on it either.  I use what I have and get creative when I needed to.  The reporter talks about the doctor’s office.  I don’t have video of the doctor’s office. I change the speed of this video to 33%.

Why?  I know where I want my shot to end, right when the camera is up close in his face.

I want the shot to start right as the camera stabilizes and the photographer is just past his light stands in the shot.  Using fit to fill, it calculates 33% speed.

The next shot, same logic.

I know I want to end when the camera is in focus.  I know I want to start while the shot is still blurry.  I fit to fill for at 50% speed.

Many times in editing I think about where the shot ends more than where the shot starts.

These a motion effects that are quick and easy.  Great to use when under a deadline and you have a 4 minutes plus story to keep the viewer engaged in.



Keep it simple with graphics and text in video editing

An important element of storytelling is the use of text and graphics.  Often you’ll be asked to be creative when a visually poor story comes your way.  A good video editor has ideas always ready to go; simple ideas.  This story was produced over 15 years ago.  The lesson is simple; graphic and text elements can add to your story .  Just a few simple effects can enhance a story.

In my time in a broadcast newsroom one of my favorite types of stories to edit was an investigative story.  I was always challenged with stories that weren’t full of visuals.  This is one of my favorites from my time at KUSA.

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This story is an investigation of a sheriff’s misuse of prisoners.  Time is going to be a factor in this story.  So you’ll notice me telling the viewer what time it is relative to the video. The first time I use text is at [:14]

 I put the time up in the top left corner.   I put the time on two layers, I just made the text bigger and slowly dropped the opacity on the 2nd layer.  The reason I did the outline text is simply I wanted something to grab the viewer’s attention to they see the time.

The next time I use text there’s a lot more going on.  The mugshot and the stack of arrest records was created in photoshop. The documents are at an angle. I l like to create depth any chance I get visually.

I keep it simple. The text I’ve generated is moving slightly as well as the arrest records and mugshot.  I think movement is very important.    I pull out the arrest record slightly to imply they are coming from those papers, which they are.

Also notice in the upper left is a cutout of the prisoner.  This is super simple element that can quickly be created in photoshop.









You see a cutout of a prisoner more prominently in this shot.  See him in the middle of the screen?  This was also accomplished in Photoshop.  Very easy to do I do the same thing here again.  Bringing mugshot and arrest record forward.  Notice you also see Thaddeus in the background.  I still see these same tricks in news stories today.  What works, works.









I have 8 layers of video.

  1. The shot of the 3 prisoners all blurred
  2. a cutout of the prisoner the reporter is discussing
  3. The Mugshot
  4. The text of the prisoner’s name
  5. Layer of arrest record
  6. Layer of arrest record
  7. Layer of arrest record
  8. Text highlighting convictions

In all three of those the position of the mugshot and arrest record is simply so you can see the cutout of the prisoner in the background.










I use time again here.  Same idea as before.  Keeping it simple.









I didn’t create this graphic, the graphics department did.









I did create this graphic.  Again time is part of our story.  I do a simple stretch of the titles. The times comes in the same way as I’ve been doing the whole rest of the package.  I blur the left side of the screen.  Why? Prisoners are on the right side of the screen and the left side is a good place to put the text.









One last thing I want to talk about in this post.  I created this wipe as a transition. Why?  I’m not a big fan of the stock wipes in any NLE.  So I decided to create my own.  Try crafting your own wipe.

Thanks for reading.


Every Edit in Video Editing Could be a Transition

Every edit you make in video editing could be a transition; a cut, a dissolve, a wipe, all transitions.  A sequence could be a transition.  A pan could be a transition.  A person walking across the screen could be a transition.  Anything that advances your story and takes the viewer to another location, time, or space is a transition.

Transitions can change the mood in your story.  Every edit should advance your story.  Every transition should have a purpose.  I am not a big fan of wipes.

I love Star Wars.  The Empire Strikes Back is one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time.  I understand why there is silly wipes in the movie (they wanted to harken back to the black and white tv serials).  The reason I point out The Empire Strikes Back is it’s still one of my favorite movies despite silly wipes.

If you use a wipe or two in a story it’s not a bad thing.  Just think about which wipes you use and if they’ll distract from the story. Wipes draw attention to themselves.  A good editor tries to hide his edits.  There are however times when transitions like dissolves are necessary.

The story for this post is The Ocean Carries Meaning.

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I’ll to break down the story and talk about transitions.  I’ll explain why I used a dissolve the way I did and what are some other transitional elements in the story.
The first 4 shots of this story I use dissolves.
The first two shots of the ocean are compositionally similar.  If you cut those two shot together it’s a compositional jump cut.

What is a compositional Jump cut?  Compositional Jump Cut is when you cut two shots together with similar visual perspectives together.

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Look in the middle of these shots.  See where the ocean meets the horizon?

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In each of these shots that line is virtually identical.  Another thing that’s similar in perspective is the amount of sky relative to ocean and sand.  The sky shares the same amount of space in both shots.  If these two shots were cut together I would refer to them as a compositional jump cut.  Compositional Jump cuts by the way is something I came up with.  I’ve never actually heard or read that phrase.  I just think it’s an easy way to explain why you don’t cut these kinds of shots together.

So, why didn’t I choose another shot?  I wanted to show those two beauty shot and didn’t want another shot.  It’s as simple as that.  I wanted to make these two shot work and using a dissolve I felt was the best way to do that.

From the 2nd shot above to the first time we see Tom [At :09]  I use dissolve again.

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These two shot actually cut together fine.  Why did I dissolve here?  It’s a feel thing.  I just felt like I needed to keep the dissolves going as almost a theme in the beginning of the story.

Sometimes multiple dissolves simply are there because they are complementing each other.

From Tom coming down the ramp [At :12], I dissolve to the interview shot.  Why?


Because they are both tight shots. Cutting those two shots together would create another compositional jump cut. Out of the interview, to the reveal of Tom [:17] in a wheelchair I cut.  From [:17] to [:35] I cut because for  sequencing.  At [:35] I cut back to interview.


You just see the wheelchair so the cut works fine. At [:37] is a tight shot of Tom’s leg and I use some natural sound to transition to Tom in the swimming pool training.


Natural sound can be a great transition.  No need for a dissolve or wipe.  The natural sound does the trick for the the story.  From here to [:48] is a sequence of Tom training in the pool which all cuts fine.


At [:49] I dissolve from Tom training to a wide shot of the Ocean.


Looking back at this edit, these two shots cut together just fine (if I’d chosen that).  I wanted a dreamy feel.  It’s Tom’s dream to dive, so from training to the ocean is almost a dream.  The dissolve helps convey that feeling of a dream.

Why didn’t I dissolve into the training.  Training is something he has to do but it’s not his dream.


From [:51] to [1:12] are cuts.  It’s a sequence of Tom on the boat and then a reporter stand up.  From the reporter stand up back to Tom I dissolve.  Why?  She’s talking about how he got paralyzed.  I want to create a feel of a transition of time.

Dissolves can create a transition in Time

I Dissolve [1:26] from the interview back to Tom getting ready to dive.


Again part of creating a dream feel. From [1:28] to [1:55] I’m cutting with sequencing.


At [1:58] I dissolve and 3 more dissolves follow to [2:07] Again, back to the dream of diving.  I’m continuing with creating that dream feeling. From [2:09] to 2:38] I cut. I’ve already created the dream feel as he begins the dive.


Now I’m sequencing.  I don’t need to keep dissolving.  He’s living the dream so you don’t need to create a feel anymore. At [2:39] I dissolve from a wide shot of Tom underwater to a tight shot.


Why here?  I didn’t like the way the shots cut.  I’m kind of anal when it’s comes to match action.  At [2:48] another dissolve. Same reason, the match action doesn’t cut right.  So, sometimes I dissolve simply because I don’t like who two shots cut together.

Here’s a place where I’d rather dissolve than use a cutaway.  So why not just show a cutaway?  First of all the reporter is talking about Tom.  So, there is no cutaway that would be relevant.  Second I try not to use shots unless they are relevant to the story.

Earlier I showed a cutaway of a fish [2:20] because it’s relevant to the story.


At [2:55] is another dissolve to an interview.  This is another feel thing.  I’ve just done two dissolves of Tom underwater.  Yes, I’m dissolving because I don’t like how the shots cut together. These two dissolves I’m again creating that dream come true feeling
Another dissolve just felt appropriate here [2:55].  It’s a feel thing.  I’m actually amazing myself explaining feel here.


At [2:59] I use sound as my transition.  I going from the interview to a sequence of Tom coming out of the water. From [2:59] to [3:24] I sequencing again so I cut.


At [3:18], I bring up the natural sound of the boat. Again, using sound as a transition.  I’m telling the viewer the boats moving and they’re on there way back.


At [3:24], I dissolve from a shot of the bird flying next to the boat to Tom on the dock (it’s a tight shot of his hand)


This dissolve is simply a time transition dissolve. The rest of the story finishes out on the dock so I sequence.  No reason to dissolve anything here.

Transitions are key to every story.

They are the tool that moves the story from one place to another.

They are also a tool to help set a mood.

Thanks for reading.

As always I love comments.


Match Cuts and Hiding The Edits

You see match cuts all the time;  movies, television shows, and commercials contain match cuts.

Take this Heineken commercial for example

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At [:13] you see match cut of the gentlemen in pink juggling the beer in glasses.

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At [:18] is a match cut of the gentlemen throwing beer bottles from the stage to the men on the couch.

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At [:27] is a match cut of a man serving beer balancing a glass on his chin.

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Match cuts are an edit that connects two shots together via the action within the two shots.  Editors who are meticulous with match action understand how edits work.

The idea is to edit to shots together using the action within the shot.  Having movement in both shots, editing on that movement hides the edit.

In the commercial you see
The action continues in two uniquely composed shots
• It appears as if the shots are done with two different cameras rolling at the same time

• It’s an easy way to create a very clean looking sequence
• The match cut edit hides that there is in fact  an edit
Editing two shots together on a movement will often make the edit invisible.  Good edits are invisible edits.  Good edits are edits your audience doesn’t notice.
Our story for this post is Michaela.

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There a lot of match action in this story. I mean a ton.  I mean…well you get the point.

The beginning of the story is a sequence of Michaela and her mom in the kitchen.  Within that sequence I use match cut from the shot of Michaela tight at [:11]

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to the wide shot of her and her mom in the kitchen.

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Match cuts make edits very smooth.  Match cuts are not always made with a person, you can use an item.

In this next example you see Michaela lifting the weights and then begin to put them down.  She doesn’t complete the action of the weights going to the ground in this shot.

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In the next shot you see the weights land on the ground completing the action.

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When the barbell leaves the frame your eye naturally drop down.  Your eye expects to see the barbell hit the floor.  The match cut is very natural.

Here is another match cut  beginning with the barbell on the ground and then Michaela picks it up.

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I make an edit while the barbell is moving up and out of frame.  The next shot you don’t see the barbell right away.  You do see Michaela coming up and then the barbell.  So the action completes in the second shot of the sequence.

Screen shot 2010-10-21 at 10.50.42 AM

It looks like what you would see if you were in the room with her.  This is one of the tools to help take your audience to your story.  When Michaela drops the barbell I again have a match action shot at [:38].

This is a simple three shot sequence with match cuts connecting each shot together.

Screen shot 2010-10-21 at 11.05.43 AM

Here is another three shot sequence with each edit connected with match action [:42].

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Michaela come up the a machine, takes the weight and does a squat.

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Starting at [1:22]  my match cuts go into overdrive.  Can you tell how much I like match cutting?

I try to use Michaela’s movement of starting and stopping points for my edits.

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Here’s another one at [1:44]

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Michaela’s entire family is at the weight-lifting competition. From [1:41] to [2:03] is all match action except for one cutaways of Michaela’s mom.
I had a lot of fun putting this story together.  I had even more for honing my match cut editing abilities.



Putting Images Together in Video Editing to Tell the Story

You have to put images together in video editing to tell a story.  You’re a storyteller.  It doesn’t matter if you are editing a news package, a documentary, a film or an online feature using stills, It’s all storytelling.
Putting the images together to try and tell a story is video editing.  Every edit should be made for the story.  Before sequencing, action/reaction, movement, eye trace or continuity, there is the story (See guideline of six for more).

You learned about telling stories with pictures when you first started reading.  When my sons were little I would have them read to me.  They were taught when they don’t know a word to look around at the pictures for clues.

As video editors  we need to help the audience with clues.  We need to give them picture clues.

When the wild things “made him (max) king of all wild things,” Maurice Sendak shows a picture of this happening.


As storytellers we can take a cue from when we first started to learn about stories.  We read them and look at the pictures.  The pictures help the stories make sense.  Take this basic idea and apply it to video editing.

The following story I edited a several years ago about a snowstorm here in Denver.  It does not matter if you edited a story yesterday or 10 years ago, the images still have to make sense with the story.
Please watch More Than Just An Inconvenience.

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The entire story my goal (and usually my goal with every story) is to find pictures to help tell the story.
The very first line of track from the reporter is

This was the end of the line.

And my image is


The next three shots I’m just trying to match the pictures and the words.

Instead of an interstate highway




Was a dead end road.


After the reporter track is a soundbite

I’ve been doing this for 30 years, you get…you know this stuff happens driving a truck. And it’s going to happen sooner of later and more than once.

I cover the second half of his soundbite with a truck with snow on it.


The shot supports the story and helps tell the story.

The next piece of track is

But twice in a week

And I show this


Multiple trucks in the shot.  The closest I can get to some kind of symbolism of twice.  I still think this shot advances the story.
The story continues

Truckers pass the time


with bottomless cups of coffee,



and John Wayne on the TV.


I’m making every effort I can to show what the reporter is talking about.

Now some make think I am being to literal with my editing of the story.  In the case of a simple general news story, I want to help the viewer understand the story as best as I can with the images I’ve been given.  As you develop your skills this is a pretty easy way to make sure your stories are making sense to the viewer.

Thanks for reading.