Alright, you’re starting off on one of your first video editing projects. Congrats! You have two great shots which you want to use, but… you have a problem: they don’t really go together.

There’s just something off about the two shots when you abruptly cut between the two. And despite how you trim your clips, or other basic video editing tips that you might try, they just need something extra to help them transition between the two shots.

Well, you’re in luck, as you’re about to discover the wide, wonderful world of video transitions. A concept which we’ll break down and explore, as well as share some of the best practices for adding masterful transitions to your videos. Let’s dive in!

So what are video transitions? 

Video video effects which connect two different shots together in an edit. Basic transitions include fades, dissolves and wipes as a way to transition from shot to shot.

Why are video transitions important? 

Let’s rewind back to the very beginning. In the very early days, there were no transitions between shots. Instead there were simply cuts. You’d have one shot (like a wide shot), which would abruptly cut to another shot (like a close up). These cuts make up the fundamental building blocks of video editing. 

However, as the medium evolved, early filmmakers devised ways to “transition” from shot to shot which would make these cuts more pleasing to the audience.

These early transitions include many which we still use today like: 

  • Fades: which transition to or from a solid color (usually black or white).
  • Cross Dissolves: where two shots transition into each other.
  • Wipes: where the old shot appears to move across the screen to be replaced by the next shot.

When first introduced, these simple transitions were quite revolutionary as they were much less abrupt and more appealing to how audiences perceive film. And just like the original cuts, many of these early transitions are still used today, although more likely in a digital edit and with plenty of new options and controls.

Do’s and don’ts for your video transitions 

As you get started with video transitions, let’s go over some basic do’s and don’ts which should help you add in transitions the way they were meant to be used.

Do: Make it subtle

When one first discovers transitions, it can be quite fun to use early and often. They are very cool, afterall. However, just because a transition can be a great trick for joining two different shots or scenes, they also need to be subtle.

Try using only basic transitions at first, like fades or dissolves, and keep the length to only a few seconds or frames.

Don’t: Add too many transitions

They say that the best edits are the ones that you don’t even notice at all. This is doubly true with transitions as you really don’t want them to take away attention from the greater story at large. 

So don’t add too many transitions to your edits as they can quickly get distracting.

Do: Be consistent with your transitions

Transitions should be used when needed to help bridge unnatural or awkward cuts, or to put forth a cinematic theme. If you’re using them just for fun on every shot they can indeed be a bit too much. 

Instead, try to limit and be consistent with your transitions as they help inform your narrative or story.

Don’t: Distract your audience or pull them out of the moment 

Similarly, you also want your transitions to feel very natural. Transitions usually work best when they’re kept short and happen quickly with the action of your video. If you choose to use transitions which stretch too long or are quite awkward, it can quickly pull your audience out of the moment.

Do: Add dynamic energy

Transitions can be great for adding movement and energy to a dull or boring edit. Fades and dissolves will always be a bit more cinematic. However working with wipes, pushes or pulls can be a great way to add a kinetic energy to your edits which can help them feel quicker, more fun and alive.

Don’t: Fight against natural movement

That being said, you always want to try to follow the natural movement of your videos. Adding transitions with energy is great, but only if you can channel that energy into how your story already flows. Remember, narrative action traditionally moves from left to right, so unless you’re looking to challenge your audience, try to put things in motion across the screen in its natural direction.

Do: Try different transitions

When first starting off, it can be great fun to experiment with the many different types of transitions out there. Depending on what video editing app that you’re using, you might have dozens of transitions to check out. Try out as many as you’d like and experiment with how they look between different shots and lengths.

Don’t: Use too many different types in the same video

After you’ve had your fun experimenting though, it’s usually best practice to settle into just using a few of your favorite transitions types. As stated above, transitions can be fun and cool, but you don’t want to overuse them – and many transition styles aren’t simply needed very often at all.

How to add video transitions to your videos

Those are some basic best practice do’s and don’ts, but the real trick to learning how to master transitions comes simply from opening your favorite video editing software or app and trying them out for yourself.

In modern digital editing, transitions truly are only limited by your imagination. We’ll go over specific steps for making transitions in different apps like iMovie, Windows and Vimeo Create below, but for many of these platforms they’re really as simple as dragging and dropping.

The real trick is finding the transitions that work for you. Be sure to experiment with different types of transitions (like fades, dissolves and wipes), as well as with length and intensity until you find some transition presets which work for you.

Which video editor has the best transitions?

There are plenty of video editors which include basic transition effects. In a hurry? Go with ready-made Vimeo Create templates which already include stylistic transitions. 

How to make video transitions with iMovie 

First we’ll look at making video transitions with Apple’s iMovie. This app is great for beginners and should be pretty straightforward to learn in terms of basic editing principles. To get started with transitions specifically, follow these steps:

  1. Open iMovie on your Mac
  2. Create a project or open your movie in the timeline
  3. Select the “transitions” tab above the browser
  4. Preview transitions by skimming over it 
  5. Click to add a transition between two clips
  6. Drag the transition to the two clips you want on the timeline
  7. Adjust the settings and lengths as you’d like

How to make video transitions with Windows

If you’re working with a Windows computer, making a video with transitions might be a little trickier unless you’re ready to use a more advanced program like Adobe Premiere Pro. Your best option might really be to use something like Vimeo Create to quickly add templates that include different transitions which are ready to go for your projects.

Still, if you do want to work in Windows, you can always use Windows Video Editor, however this app does not currently include transition effects. Instead you can also try out some of these basic video editing softwares designed for Windows like:

How do you edit a video with transitions?

You can either edit a video with transitions by using an advanced NLE program to add and customize transitions, or you can use a template-based video editor like Vimeo Create which includes flashy transitions already.

How to do cool video transitions with Vimeo Create 

As mentioned above, your best bet for most beginners and professionals alike looking to quickly make videos with transitions is to use Vimeo Create. Unlike many video editing platforms and NLEs, Vimeo Create is template-based and designed for ease-of-use.

Here are your basic steps for creating videos (with transitions) with Vimeo Create:

  1. Choose a template or start from scratch
  2. Add and arrange your videos, images, assets
  3. Choose a style (which include transitions)
  4. Choose your music
  5. Edit as you see fit
  6. Save & share

Be sure to really explore the different templates and styles as this is where you’ll find a wide variety of transitions including fades, dissolves and other wipes. These transitions will be placed in your videos automatically and will even self-adjust based on how many clips or images that you want to use.

How do I make my transitions smoother? 

Transitions work best when they are done quickly and within the natural pace and movement of a video. Try either experimenting with different transition styles and lengths or explore many of the ready-made transitions included in the templates in Vimeo Create.

You’ll also see that transitions are added to your intro and outro clips as they sync with the music to give your videos the feeling of a professional edit – but without all the laborious work.

So, regardless of your video editing app of choice, transitions can indeed be a great way to spice up any video project. Remember though, follow the best practices by only using transitions as a way to enhance your normal edits and cuts without distracting your viewers from your content and story.

If you’d like to try out some ready-made templates which include plenty of flashy transitions done with a tasteful touch, be sure to head over to Vimeo Create to experiment with plenty of great templates and styles to make your videos quick and easy.

Make cool video transitions in seconds.