Transitions

My friend HinxMinx recently turned me on to Every Frame a Painting, and in particular to this video about inter-scene cutting in the work of animator Satoshi Kon.

Watching this reminded me of a John August / Craig Mazin conversation about transitions in writing at JohnAugust.com.  They talk about the different kinds of devices you can use to call attention to how scenes are different–i.e. occurring in a different time or space, or how they are similar–i.e. connected by thought, theme, or causal chain.  If you want to call out that you are someplace / sometime new, you might transition from big to small or small to big, like going from a two person conversation on the street to something BIG–like a sweeping view of the Rocky Mountains, or SMALL–like the face of a watch.  It’s worth noting that they talk about putting this in the first line of the description–because most readers start to subliminally skip the sluglines. (Sluglines are the EXT. MOUNTAINS – DAY).  Of course other people will tell you that most readers also skip the descriptions so you have to put more information into the dialogue.  (Doesn’t Alice in Wonderland also say the same thing, about “pictures and conversations” being the only really interesting part of books?)  Basically it’s all a constant battle to keep the reader with you on the page.

They also talk about things like connecting different scenes with similar images–going from a fire to a blazing sun.  And they talk about comedic transitions in Archer where one person seems to be loading a gun in close-up, but then we pull to reveal it’s someone else. This is similar to the “dripping” matching scene transition in the above Kon video about one minute in.

Here’s the transcript of John and Craig’s conversation. They talk about some other stuff first, so you might search for some portion of the phrase: “So, let’s talk about transitions because it’s an important part of screenwriting that we really haven’t touched on so much over our 88 episodes.”

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