This movie making challenge is all about using graphic match cuts.
Graphic Match Cuts place two shots with visual similarities next to each other. This is a great technique to use creatively to highlight themes or to establish connections between characters, settings or events. It creates visual metaphors for the audience. In some cases, it can also help deepen our understanding of a story, or of a character.
Graphic match cuts also capture visual attention. They are used a lot in art filmmaking and can be used to emphasis aesthestic qualities.
Take a look at the famous examples below:
In this cut from Grease, the composition of the shot is identical. It shows us that, at this point, their vision of the car is just a dream.
It highlights the extent of the character’s ambition, as well as the differences between their ambition and their present reality. This is theme that pops up throughout the rest of the film.
In this cut from 2001: A Space Odyssey, we’re transported over millions of years in a single transition. This is one of the most famous examples (as well as a popular favourite example) of a graphic match cut in cinema.
It works incredibly hard. This cut establishes the setting for us, whilst also giving it dramatic context. At the same time, it also introduces two themes: human development (through the use of tools) and humanity’s relationship with space.
In a graphic match cut, the first and the second shot share the same shapes, colours or composition.
This can be full on, with the shots resembling one another completely, or it can be more subtle. You might choose to match just one element up between the two.
You can also build up sequences of match cuts, where one character’s experience closely mirrors another’s across different settings.
Explore Your Own Graphic Match Cuts
Think up some of your own graphic matches you can film.
These can be inspired by films or stories you’ve already been working on, or be completely new and purely visual. You don’t need to connect them up to a story. Collect up your shots and then sequence them together in an editing app.
Explore the different transitions you can use.
- What is the impact of using a slow fade?
- What is the impact of using a vertical or a horizontal wipe?
- What happens if you try cross cutting? (This is when you swap back and forth between the shots)
Include a Graphic Match in a Project
Once you’ve practised the technique, try to include it in a short film project.
Devise a 6-shot film titled ‘The Voyage’. Your film should focus on a single event and try to observe the 6 shot limit.
Using the storyboard, plan out your six shots. Can you feature a graphic match cut in your sequence?
If you can use your graphic match to draw any connections, or highlight a particular theme, then this will add more story-value to the cut.
We’d love to see your work. If you share online (with a parent/guardian’s permission), use the hashtag #SparksMovieMaking, we’ll be able to find it.
Grease, Dir. Randal Kleiser, Paramount, 1977
2001: A Space Odyssey, Dir. Stanley Kubrick, Warner Brothers, 1968