I was chatting with an editor friend of mine the other day about this and that…installing updates that won’t break FCP, our various experiences with shows that we were/are working on, network nonsense…when the conversation turned to “transitions.”

We were just talking about editing and concentrating on a good story were key, and how many productions/networks try to make shows better by adding fancy transitions. Complaining more like it. We are always asked to “make it better” or “more exciting” with “cool” transitions But, does it really? No…well, they may LOOK cool…I suppose…but does it make the show “better?” Or are we trying to fool people into THINKING it is better by adding the cool transitions? The latter is the case. If you don’t tell a compelling story, then no amount of FANCY TRANSITIONS will make it better. But sometimes what we work on isn’t exciting, so we are told to liven it up.

I see this on the forums too. People asking where they can get “really cool” transitions so they can make their project better. These same people think that adding the “film look” will make their projects better. That a CUBE SPIN will somehow make the story more compelling. Sorry guys…it doesn’t.

My buddy commented how he was watching “housing porn” (home decorating show) on HGTV or somesuch network and in this show was a SPARKLE TRANSITION! I guess they thought that just the fact that you are showing off nice decorating tips wasn’t enough. They wanted to GET YOUR ATTENTION..or “make it cool.” I know this transition…it is part of the SAPPHIRE set that is available for Avid and FCP. I had the…pleasure…of using these on a VH1 show about a young female pop star. In fact, I used a bunch of these odd plugins, including that sparkle transition. WHY? Because I was told to. I didn’t want to, but they wanted to ROCK the show and “liven” it up. Was the show good? No. It was all flash and no substance.

What transition do I use the most? Which is most effective? THE CUT. Simple cut from one scene to another. Sometimes a dissolve, to denote passage of time. The basic tools. Although I will admit that for Andrew Jackson I did a BLUR DISSOLVE (part of the Nattress Big Box of Tricks instead of a regular dissolve. Because I knew the network would want something new…preemptive strike. I also added another cool transition that I discovered in FCP 5.1.4, the LIGHT ZOOM. I thought it was very cool, and used it as a transition to signify a flashback. It had a specific purpose. But then the network exec saw that, and REALLY liked it. “I want to see this transition used more!” I dug myself into a hole on that one. I wanted to use it ONCE as a flashback device, and now I had to “sprinkle” it about the rest of the show.

And I am ashamed to admit that I have worked on more than my share of no-substance-all-flash shows. Par for the course for the freelance editor. But in working on those shows, and employing all sorts of flash and trickery to try to make them better, I know that it is pointless. That without a good story, no sort of “plugin window dressing” will make it better.

Nothing beats a good story.