Film Language Tag: cutaway

1. A brief shot that is related to, but not part of, the primary action in the scene where it appears. Cutaways are often used to draw attention to a pertinent detail, to show the passage of time, to foreshadow a future event, or for symbolic or comedic comment upon a scene. For example, the passage of time can be shown by cutting to the hands of a clock, or cutting to clouds moving across the sky or the changing of the seasons in time-lapse photography. Comedic comment could include showing a train entering a tunnel, or a ship entering a harbor, as a metaphor for a sex act. Although this sort of cutaway was not originally supposed to be funny, it has since become so cliché that it cannot be used seriously. Cutaways can also help an editor build a scene when the individual shots do not edit together smoothly, for instance cutting to an audience reaction shot to hide the cut between two takes of a stage or dance act. USAGE: A cutaway should not be confused with an insert shot, though the two terms are often used interchangeably. 2. A shot taken with the intention of using it as a cutaway during editing. Kroon, R. W. A/V a to z: An encyclopedic dictionary of media, entertainment and other Audiovisual terms. McFarland, 2014.


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