The Unseen Value of Transitions
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The Unseen Value of Transitions

Why cinematic transitions are one of the key attributes of beautiful films.

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The  Unseen Value of Transitions
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Ask yourself this: what is one aspect of a film that is both a blessing, in that it can add tremendous beauty to a film, and a curse, something that if improperly used can lead to audience disorientation and confusion?

The answer is transitions.

Transitions are cinematic devices used by directors to move the audience from one scene to another in a hopefully seamless, cohesive manner. In fact, the dictionary definition of a transition is "a technique...by which scenes or shots are combined."

To demonstrate, consider this: let us say that a film begins within a room in an apartment building and the director wants the second scene to be one of the protagonist talking to a suspicious character on the sidewalk. How does the director transport the character, and the audience, to the sidewalk?

Believe it or not, most directors would not be able to answer this question very well. Some might postulate that by using a clean cut, they could first introduce the shady character before having him meet the protagonist. Others might try to use a flashback to give the audience some sort of insight into why the protagonist needs to meet with the character so earnestly. And still others might suggest introducing an extra character who motivates the protagonist to proceed out to the sidewalk where he would then meet the mysterious individual.

What's wrong with all of these suggestions?

For one, all of them are exceedingly complicated for the simple task. As I learned from one of my friends, why complicate a matter when it can be simplified?

Secondly, all of the responses are suppositions; the answers themselves seem like they themselves are uncertain of whether or not they will be successful in their uncertain purpose.

Thirdly, all of the ideas, if put into action, would only confuse and annoy the audience, for obvious reasons.

Simplicity is an underrated beauty. One example of a more effective and beautiful transition, in our simple circumstance, would be to follow the protagonist's glance outside a window where his eyes, now the camera's point of view, focus on the mysterious individual, insinuating a connection between both characters. This would allow for the director to then move on to his second scene: the meeting. There are obviously other options yet this idea struck me as both simple and clever.

So why then do many directors use bizarre, inappropriate, and sloppy transitions (a.k.a. the "wipe" transitions that saturate many of the Star Wars movies and give the overall impression that a third grader made them).

I, for a fact, do not know because the alternative is as clear as filtered water.

Transitions themselves are exceptional in their role within a film; without them, films would be nothing more than choppy scenes, representations of the worst children's play production imaginable.

Transitions are what convert a film, a series of scenes, into a cohesive story, one that can be understood flawlessly and without distractions. Thus each transition must be intentional and filled with evident purpose in order for the film's true beauty to shine through.

Examples of excellent transitions range from intricate lighting techniques, to the use of the surrounding set or scene, to iconic melodies signature to the story, and the list goes on.

Essentially, a transition is a work of art in and of itself. It is because of transitions that good films can be appreciated in all of their beauty due to their ability to further enhance the film's true purpose.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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