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What is an L Cut?

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/3/2010

Learn what an L cut is in video editing and how it is used to smooth out narrative and documentary editing projects.

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    Editing Techniques - What is an L Cut?

    Video editing is much more involved and difficult than simply arranging the video clips into a specified order. Instead you have to bring those audio and video tracks together in a way that fits the purpose you want, which is often to let the audience absolve themselves into the work without being focused on the technical choices. This means that often times the audio video blocks will not always match up perfectly as you will need to stagger them in an effort to create a flow. This does not mean that you are going to separate the audio from its source, but instead let it lead or follow in the sequence. This video editing technique is often called an L cut.

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    Using an L Cut

    The L cut video editing technique is a transition that is used between two clips. Simply put, this is where the audio of a previous clip extends into the video of a second, or the audio of the second occurs on the first clip before the second clip comes into the video. This does not remove the audio sync, but instead simply extends or shortens the audio as it relates to that clip. When you are editing with an L cut you may choose to have a series of video clips between two people talking. On one clip you will have one person speaking, and the clip after it will be the second person. If you are going to use the L cut video editing technique to provide an editing transition then you may have the first person finish speaking and then provide a little bit of space afterward. Cut the audio from the first clip back to where they finished speaking and start the audio from the second clip here. Let the still space of that person sit for a little bit over that audio before letting it transition over to the video of the second clip. This does not affect the video clips themselves, but can instead simply smooth out the editing transitions between the clips and allow the audience to stay focused.

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    Scene Transition

    An L cut video editing technique is often used between scenes to make it feel seamless. What this means is that the primary action of the first scene has finished, but the cut is allowed to extend a little bit where benign action is taking place. The audio from the next scene comes in during this, indicating what is going to occur in the next scene. This is an incredibly common use of the L cut in that the music from the next scene will exist in this L cut space before the video shows up. The L cut can be used in a variety of these different situations as there is no definite way it must be used when video editing.