When the video and audio transitions between scenes are not matched up. For instance, a character is describing a place or person. Hard Cut (or dissolve, or whatever) to the featured person or place, while the description continues in voice over. Conversely, a character sets out on a journey, and the roar of a landing jet rudely fades in before the cut to the inevitable Landing Gear Shot. Used to tighten continuity between shots. Also known as an L Cut or a J Cut, from the physical shape of the cut on a film strip (where audio is below video).
Many times used in interviews, cutting to the subject before the question is finished, to show reactions. Often very useful, as the reporter's side of the interview is often shot well after the interview is over — field crews seldom carry more than one camera.
See also Transition Track.
- Frequently used in Citizen Kane.
- Used frequently by Steven Soderbergh, such as in The Limey and The Girlfriend Experience, which mix L Cuts and J Cuts to blend scenes together as their visuals and dialogue overlap.
- A prominent example of an L cut occurs in the film The Silence of the Lambs when Clarice is leaving her first interview with Dr. Lecter. She has just been humiliated and remembers her father arriving home from work one day when she was a child; after he picks her up and spins her around, the camera pans over to a passing truck and tilts up to the sky. Then we hear Clarice's sobs and cut back to her outside the mental institution, leaning on her car and crying.
- Used frequently for the endings of Scrubs, which will have JD's monologue cut away from him and to the others. The monologue always remains descriptive or relative to whoever is being shown, although whether JD knows this or not (sometimes he's still talking about his own problems or lessons and they just parallel) is dependent on the episode.
- Star Trek: Picard: In "Broken Pieces", the Radio Voice of Narissa's lackey reporting to her the location of "the freak" is still heard after a Hard Cut which changes from the scene where Narissa is standing in Ramdha's room to Elnor sitting in Hugh's office.