Editing Principles

Give the Audience an Entry to The Cut

Aligning points of interest is the easiest way to give the audience a way to visually enter a cut. When one doesn't align a point of interest, the new subject; or something visual to guide on to the new subject, should be close enough to the previous likely point of interest (read: previous likely gaze point) so that the audience is never left clueless after an edit.

Knowing when to use reset shots or long dissolves to get oneself out of a tight editing spot where such a situation is inevitable.

Preserve Clockwise or Counterclockwise Motion

When motion is moving clockwise or counter-clockwise, the audience's head is also moving in this direction, and the audience is paying attention to the headroom of the moving object, anticipating it's path and direction. This anticipation gives us a little bit of wiggle room while cutting, as well.

To cut and have an object switch directions, or begin moving with no reason is jarring and uncomfortable.

360 is unique because lateral or radial character movement translates into the audiences head movement.

Head movement, active, is a greater physiological investment into the character's movements. More of the audience's brain that tracks and predicts object paths are 'lit up' (to use a psychology colloquialism referring to MRI scans). Simply put, we want the audience to be able to subconsciously predict character movement, as characters moving unpredictably (ie: between cuts) will draw attention to itself and away from the story at hand. Without wanting to stun the audience, which we may want to do, such as with jump cuts - we should attempt to show character motion clearly.

When characters are moving 'within the frame' (forwards or away from the camera) these issues are not nearly as significant.

To switch the direction of motion, we should see the something stop first.

When In Doubt, Align Vanishing Points

There are a great many reasons not to align environmental vanishing points, such as tracking specific objects through complex environments.

Without reason not to, vanishing points alignment works. This is because vanishing point positions are recognizable even if the vanishing point isn't in the frame, unlike landmarks.

Don't be Afraid of Picture In Picture

Slicing video side by side, overlaying clips on top of base footage, and more is extremely effective in 360 video, thanks to the amount of space on has to work with. It's fairly easy to give the audience multiple viewports that they can switch between, generally cued by audio as to which one contains the action (or dialogue).

Picture-in-picture may feel trite or gimmicky in film, but it's potential uses in 360 far outweigh this stigma. One image can take up the entirety of the audiences viewport, which saves the audience from the distracting borders. Picture-in-picture can be used smoothly and effectively, and style of border and choice of transition can support a 360 video's mood or genre.

Fade To Smooth A Jarring Cut

Dissolves, Fades, Dip's to black, and more can all signal to an audience that it is time to look around and discover the new point of interest. A dip to black, in particular, removes the visual continuity between the shots, and free's the audience up to look around and find the new subject.

A very quick fade, not used to indicate the passage of time or a change of location, but just used to smooth out the pixels while cutting, can also help a jarring cut.

Consider The Audience's Visual Engagement Level During A Cut

What is the audience likely doing? Are they:

  • Searching Around The Frame Absently
  • Looking Intently For Something Specific
  • Casually following a predictable POI
  • Closely following an unpredictable POI
  • Ignoring The Scene

If this were a movie theater, is the audience leaning forwards or leaning back?

If the audience is looking closely at or for something, for whatever reason, then it's riskier to suddenly cut. If they are less engaged than it's safer to cut.