Match Action and Hiding the Edit

Match Action

You see match action all the time.  Movies, television shows, even commercials contain match action.

Take this Heineken commercial for example

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

At [:18] is a match action shot of a guy throwing beer bottles from the stage to the guys on the couch

At [:27] is a match action shot of a a guy serving beer balancing a glass on his chin.

Match action is 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 too 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 action edit hides that there actually is 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.

Watch this story I edited on my youtube channel.

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There a lot of match action in this story.

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

Match action  make edits very smooth.  Match action doesn’t always have to be a person.  It can be 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.  In the next shot you see the weights land on the ground completing the action.

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

  • When you hear people talking about edits that don’t get in the way these are the types of edits they are talking about.

Here is another Match action shot beginning with the barbell on the ground and then Michaela picks its up.  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 this shot.  Again, it looks natural. It looks like what you would see if you were in the room with her.  This is one of the tools to 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 action connecting each shot together.

Here is another three shot sequence with each edit connected with match action [:42].  Michaela come up the a machine, takes the weight and does a squat.

Starting at [1:22]  is a lot of match action at the weightlifting competition.  I try to use Michaela’s movement of starting and stopping points for my edits.

Here’s another one at [1:44]

The entire finally of the Michaela at the weigh-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 edit using match action every day.  I do it in VOs (voice overs) all the time.  It’s a good place to practice match action.  If you’re a photographer practice shooting for match action.  Just another one of those little things to help make editing better.