Continuity editing and representation

Textual analysis and representation learning booklet three

HideShow resource information


Editing is a post-production technique in which the footage shot during production is cut up and reassembled in such a way as to tell the story.


  • Long Takes: takes of an unusually long length, i.e. more than a few seconds. Shooting on digital video makes long takes easier so they are getting more common.
  • Short Takes: takes that only last for a few seconds.

There are two basic types of editing: Non continuity and continuity.

1 of 9

'Continuity Editing' is the standard style of editing used in TV and films.

  • Help the audience to know what is going on, and predict what is going to happen next.
  • Shifts audience interest from general things to the specific things.
  • To cut to different locations or between events happening at two places at once.
  • To leave out unnecessary parts of the action and compress time.
  • To vary points of view.
  • To build suspense and tension.
  • Imply emotion.
  • Create rhythm and pace.
2 of 9

Key points:

In continuity editing the audience should not notice the editing, because they should be paying attention to the story and the emotional journey of the characters. It should be invisible.

Continuity Editing Techniques

  • Establishing/Re-establishing Shot.
  • Transitions.
  • The 180 degrees Line Rule.
  • Action Match.
  • Crosscutting.
  • Insert Shots.
  • Shot-Reverse Shot Structures.
  • Eyeline Match.
3 of 9

Establishing Shots/Re-establishing Shots The role of an establishing shot is to tell the audience where the scene is going to place. It uses mise-en-scene to establish the diegesis of the story world. Sergi Eisenstein = vertical montage - justaposition image and other elements. Master Shot A Master Shot is a shot that shows the audience the whole scene in a wide shot. Establishing and Master Shots use mise-en-scene and iconography to establish the temporal and geographic diegesis and verisimilitude of a scene, to establish spatial relationships and to represent people and places.

4 of 9

Transitions A transition is simply any method for switching from one image to another,

  • The Cut is the simplest and by far the most frequently used transition, in which one shot is instantaneously replaced by the next.
  • The Dissolve involving the outgoing shot gradually disappearing while the incoming shot gradually appears.
  • The Fade. A Fade Out is the gradual darkening of the shot until the image disappears, leaving a black screen. A Fade In is where a dark screen gradually gets brighter.
  • Wipe - one picture chases another off screen.
5 of 9

The Cut:

  • Not as distracting.
  • not as noticeable.
  • Less tacky.
  • Instant.

The Dissolve:

  • Show binary opposite contrast i.e. good and evil.
  • Juxtaposed
  • End of scene.
  • Show change of time and location.

Fade Out/Fade In:

  • End of something or start.
6 of 9

The 180 degree Rule

in order to avoid disorienting of the viewer, directors film successive shots by keeping to one side of an imaginary 180 degree line.

7 of 9

Action Matching

An Action Match is where two shots in which an action began in the first shot is completed in the second shot disguising the fact that there has been a cut, i.e. the cut should be placed when something is moving, which makes the cute less noticeable because the audience are distracted by the movement.

Crosscutting/Parallel Action

Crosscutting or Parallel Action refers to an editing sequence that alternates shots of two or more narrative strands occurring in different places, usually simultaneously.


A Cutaway is a shot of an object, person, location etc. that is not part of the main scene but has relevance to it.

8 of 9

Insert Shots

An Insert Shot is a close up shot designed to draw the audience's attention to something that was only a part of the previous shot.

Shot-Reverse Shot Structure

Shot-Reverse shot structures juxtapose two images in order to create a link between them, they are used to link things in conversations, gun-fights, chases, eye-liner matches etc. Over the shoulder shots are commonly is used in conversation shot-reverse shot structures. Can show binary opposite.

Eyeline Match

An eyeline match is a kind of shot-reverse shot structure, which shows what a character is looking at. Shots of characters looking at something that cannot be seen by the audience are usually followed by a cut to the object or person being looked at.

9 of 9


Tamanna Akhtar


very good!

Similar Media Studies resources:

See all Media Studies resources »