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Stop Trick

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How God does card tricks.
A camera trick used a great deal before more sophisticated special effects were contrived. They stop the camera, change or add something to the shot, and start it again with everything else in the same positions. It's entirely possible this was the very first special effect, used in films made in the first years of cinema, like J. Stuart Blackton's Enchanted Drawing, in which a vaudeville artist draws a glass of wine and then magically pulls a real glass full of real wine off the page.

Also known as "locking off."

Compare to Match Cut and Gilligan Cut. A Stop Trick done badly could result in a Jump Cut.


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  • Parodied/Tributed in a Netflix instant streaming commercial. A girl from a stereotypical 1940's movie musical family manages to imagine a Wii Remote into her hand. Her arm's position between the two cuts is deliberately off, to provide a corny old-school look.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Toy Story, Andy runs into the closet to change into a spaceman costume: the camera remains perfectly still, but the shadows on the wall just next to the door have moved during the cut (obviously deliberately, since it's animated), and there's no implication that the change is supposed to be instantaneous.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It was used in one of Edison's early films not long after the invention of film. The film depicted the execution of a historical queen. Many viewers thought the poor actress had actually been killed. (Dying for your art?)
  • Used in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy to make a disheveled Ron Burgundy go into the men's room... and come out clean cut with superhuman speed.
  • Bewitched shows the trick being done from "behind the scenes".
  • Lili Von Shtupp does it in Blazing Saddles, when she changes into something "more comfortable".
  • This is how Morbius' protective shutters in Forbidden Planet open and close.
  • The Apollo 17 episode of From the Earth to the Moon also pays homage to Méliès and his film Le Voyage Dans La Lune, showing the director implementing the effect to cause telescopes to magically turn into stools.
  • Hot Fuzz has one with Angel lying down on his hotel bed at night. Cut to the next morning with the bed empty as Angel goes out on his morning jog.
  • Hugo shows a film shoot that uses this trick, letting us see how the shot is changed as well as how it looks in the finished scene.
  • Watching Turkish Star Wars and drinking every time one of these happen will quickly lead to liver poisoning.
  • The 1962 film version of The Music Man has an end credits sequence that uses stop tricks to transform the River City Boys' Band into an actual marching band.
  • For the original Star Wars this was how they did the lightsaber ignition/deactivation effect. A better budget resulted in a smoother transition effect in subsequent films.
  • Done in Oh, God! in the final courtroom scene, when God repeatedly makes a deck of cards appear and disappear.
  • When Milo first opens the gift containing The Phantom Tollbooth, various parts of it such as the roof, a stop sign and its megaphone appear via a stop trick. When it prepares to go away at the end, they disappear in the same fashion.
  • In Aleksandr Ptushko's film Sadko (The Magic Voyage of Sinbad to MST3K fans), the elderly yet wily Trifon persuades Sadko to take him on his voyage by blowing on an egg in the palm of his hand and turning it into a bird. The effect is somewhat diminished by the use of a Stop Trick to achieve this change.
  • Whenever Pitch the devil pops in and out of existence in Santa Claus (1959), it's done with a stop trick. Extremely obvious in crowd scenes, where the extras will dutifully stop walking until the shot resumes.
  • Used in the beginning of Secret Window to make it appear that Johnny Depp's character has driven through a parking lot with the camera on the hood and then backed away from said camera in the same shot.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World has one to illustrate Wallace having a hangover.
  • Featured near the end of Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood, when Taketori Washizu is shot through the throat.
  • Tommy Boy uses the trick for Richard's split-second wardrobe change in the airplane restroom.
  • Older Than Television: According to one legend, the trick was accidentally developed by pioneering filmmaker Georges Méliès in 1896. The story goes that Méliès was filming a street when the camera jammed, and had to stop filming to fix it. Watching the footage, he saw a streetcar suddenly turn into a hearse at the point the camera stopped. Whether or not this is true, Méliès did use the trick extensively in his films, including in his groundbreaking A Trip to the Moon in 1902.
  • Early black-and-white horror films such as The Wolf Man (1941) staged their transformation scenes like this, using progressive stages of makeup.
  • Edgar Wright movies do this for passage of time.

  • Referenced in Carpe Jugulum, where the Classical Movie Vampire Count Bela de Magpyr's transformations into and out of human form are described in terms suggesting that they look as if they were achieved using a stop trick even when being seen in real life.

    Live Action TV 
  • Used on every episode of The Monkees, generally accompanied by a 'pop' or 'boink' noise.
  • Used a lot on Bewitched: Samantha would twitch her nose and "Fwing" something would change. Sometimes it would involve Samantha flinging up her arms instead of twitching. Elizabeth Montgomery would have to stand completely still with her arms sticking straight up while the set was adjusted. Not an easy task to say the least. Eventually, the producers came up with a special brace to aid her.
  • Similarly seen on I Dream of Jeannie.
  • And My Favorite Martian, particularly when Uncle Martin turned invisible or visible.
  • The first ever on-screen "vamp-out" on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — Darla in the pilot — used a Stop Trick. The technique used in later seasons (and the spin-off Angel) involved taking two shots and having the first dissolve into the other; it's a teeny bit more sophisticated than a true Stop Trick where the scenes change within a split second and there's no transition.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The standard TARDIS materialisation method in did this, with a dissolve instead of a jump cut.
    • The teleportation effect in "The Keys of Marinus".
    • The exploding pesticide can in "Planet of the Giants" is executed this way.
    • The Gel-Guards in "The Three Doctors" used this trick.
    • Several regenerations in the Classic series use this too, again with a fade. Notable is the First into Second, which was done on a broken vision mixing desk which oversaturated the image with light, creating a glowing effect. The Third into Fourth uses a simple dissolve. The Fourth into Fifth stops the footage three times and dissolves between them to show the Doctor growing a "cocoon" that then fades away revealing the new Doctor.
    • The Raston Warrior Robot in "The Five Doctors" used this effect for its Flash Step attacks.
  • The original Star Trek series would do this whenever the Sufficiently Advanced Alien needed to make stuff disappear.
    • Also the method used for the transporters. The memoirs point out that it's very hard to get actors to stay still long enough to film the effect properly without multiple takes.
    • The "Q flash" was used to cover up tiny movements that other actors made while John de Lancie moved into, or out of, camera view for Q's sudden appearances and disappearances while the cameras were stopped.
  • Blake's 7 used this for teleportation scenes. In "Gold" there's a Special Effects Failure when an actor in the foreground visibly moves between the shots.
  • Skits on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (particularly any of those involving Observer) employ this cut a lot (usually accompanied with a little popping noise). This is probably partly due to the show's low budget, but it's also probably an homage to Star Trek's use of the Stop Trick.
    • Used heavily in the Design for Dreaming short.
    • As well as Mr. B Natural.
  • Used quite a bit to demonstrate Hiro's timestopping powers in Heroes.
  • Used in Red Dwarf to allow Rimmer to obtain holographic items out of thin air and change clothes/hair.
    • Also used in the ad for Kryten's replacement, Hudzen, in the episode "The Last Day", when he demonstrates that he's "10x faster than any other droid" by "instantly" cooking a chicken (uncooked chicken + special FX beam + freeze = cooked chicken!)
    • In "Out of Time", when Starbug hits pockets of unreality, causing Starbug to disappear (so the crew are flying through space on chairs) and everyone's heads to become animal heads.
    • How the Polymorph/Emohawk changed shape. Taken to the limits in the beginning scene where the Polymorph sees itself in a mirror, and changes in over thirty-four different objects until finally settling on a bunny rabbit.
  • Noticeable in the early Power Rangers series, mostly in the giant monster fights when the enemy exploded. In fact, it's still being used in Super Sentai (and various other tokusatsu) today. As shown in unused scenes from some Kamen Rider shows, this is how they handle transformations: a shot is taken with the actor, then one with the costumed stuntman in the same position, and finally the two shots are combined as a simultaneous fade-out/fade-in with a CGI Transformation Sequence covering up the transition.
  • Used a lot on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, especially whenever someone would magically change their clothes. Particularly obvious in some of the first-season episodes.
  • This is the miracle that allows Muppets to pick up objects when their hands are clearly incapable of it. "Secrets of the Muppets", an episode of The Jim Henson Hour, explained this technique at length (described as a "tape edit" effect). Gonzo denies that his hands are no more than useless pieces of fabric, and demonstrates by repeatedly picking up a telephone. Every time it rings, he places his hand on the receiver, the shot cuts to another angle, and he lifts the phone which is now attached to his hand. Once he realizes the audience has caught on, Gonzo flees the scene...with the phone still attached, so he gets yanked back. Kermit arrives and reminds him that you should never leave a room when your hand is still glued to the telephone.
    • When Bunsen and Beaker built a teleporter in the Peter Sellers episode of the Muppet Show, this trick is how it worked.
  • This gimmick is used over and over again in the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Confuse-A-Cat" sketch. It's better seen than described.
  • Subtly used on The Good Place, whenever someone calls Janet, the camera would cut to a different angle and Janet would just appear either behind or in front of the person who called her.
  • Also used regularly in The Goodies, either to cut from the dummy that has just been thrown out of a window back to the actor lying on the ground, or (more convincingly) when the team walk into a wardrobe and immediately emerge from the other side wearing whatever outfit is suitable for that week's plot.
  • Happens a lot in Lost in Space, always accompanied by a distinctive sound effect.
  • This was used on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood pretty extensively, as when Lady Elaine used her boomerang to turn things upside down or Purple Panda travelling "The Purple Way".
  • In Arrested Development, GOB makes use of this very ineptly to perform illusions in a Bluth Company video. Due to him paying no attention to what was happening behind him, the cuts are obvious.
  • Quantum Leap, whenever hologram Al appeared or disappeared.
  • Welcome to Pooh Corner and Dumbos Circus are two shows from The (old) Disney Channel (which continued to be rerun until the channel's relaunch) that regularly did this for various special effects.
  • The Benny Hill Show used this a lot, usually with a lampshade on it.
  • Free Spirit (1989) sometimes used this for scenes involving magic.
  • The Prisoner (1967) used a variant: Whenever Rover appears in a crowd scene, everyone freezes in place, but there's a noticeable cut once Rover is gone and everyone's free to move again. This is because the Rover footage was actually run in reverse.
  • Mad TV employed this in the campaign ad for Smith Comma John: Human Being for President, in which the titular Smith demonstrated his ability to eat a corndog (something that would be harmful to the Barconian alien species) through this trick and fake bites.
  • Parodied in The Whitest Kids U' Know's "Classroom Skit" where they claim to have used Chroma Key for the trick while it was apparently this trope. Social satire at its best.
  • Malcolm in the Middle did this when Francis, Malcolm and Reese set off an impossibly powerful illegal firework. The explosion itself is out of shot, but the shot of the boys watching it goes from nighttime to bright sunlight for a second, then back again to the now deaf and blind brothers.
  • WandaVision: The first episode, being an homage to 1950s sitcoms, deliberately uses bad effects to evoke the effects of the time period. This means that Wanda does stop tricks to give herself an instant dress change and make rings appear on her and Vision's fingers.

    Music Videos 
  • One hundred years after Georges Méliès developed it, directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris used the technique in the The Smashing Pumpkins' video "Tonight, Tonight", an homage to A Trip to the Moon.
  • Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)" opens with two of these in a row, an empty wharf to having the band posing in it (albeit with a slight dissolve) and then all get their instruments.
  • OK Go uses these in the video for their song "Upside Down & Inside Out". There's a "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer at the beginning of the video that says what the viewer is about to see is real, as it's shot in a plane in the air, using aerial techniques to send the interior of the plane into zero gravity. The disclaimer also says that the video contains no wires or green screen effects, despite being filmed all the way through in a single take. And while this is true, the disclaimer uses some Exact Words; the band had to sit perfectly still while waiting for the next "zero-G parabola" to begin while filming.

    Puppet Shows 
  • An episode of Mr. Meaty has Parker get a tapeworm in his body that pops out to eat all his food at an incredibly fast speed. As a result, Parker's food appears to disappear in a flash.

    Print Media 
  • Parodied in an SFX review of Bewitched, which portrays Samantha as casting a spell which summons a stagehand to move things, and forces Darren to freeze in place until he's finished.

    Visual Novels 
  • This plays an important part in the fifth class trial of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. The alleged victim, Kaito, is filmed getting crushed by a hydraulic press. In actuality, Kokichi stopped the press and the camera at the same time just as Kaito's body was obscured by the press. The two switched places, and Kaito started both the press and camera again, crushing Kokichi.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Ghosts in the live-action Filmation's Ghostbusters would appear and disappear in this manner.
  • Spoofed on American Dad!. After watching Bewitched, Stan decides to live like he was in The '60s and asks that Francine greet him home from work with a martini. Trouble is, Stan can't hold down liquor very well. After drinking one, he starts having blackouts, and notices that things change every time he blinks, and is thus convinced that Francine is a witch.
  • Robot Chicken (a stop-motion animated show done with action figures and dolls) parodied Benny Hill's use of this, with Benny's funeral, involving a chase scene where the undertakers are running away with the coffin, fall off a cliff, and land as obviously different "crash test dummy" style, then pop back to the normal undertakers... in time to get hit with the coffin.
  • Thomas & Friends: Used subtly at the end of "The Runaway". A railway inspector is waiting on the platform to board a runaway Thomas and get to the controls. After the train passes the station, the platform is empty.

Alternative Title(s): Jeannie Cut, Stop The Camera Move The Props