Movies & TV Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for movie and tv enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I saw this several times in different movies, but I don't understand what is this supposed to mean. The main idea is when the scene is about to change, for one second or so we still see the picture from the old scene, but the sound is already coming from from the upcoming scene. Why do they do this? What's the purpose of this technique?

share|improve this question
Just a wild guess: Make the scene change less abrupt. – celtschk Apr 12 '14 at 20:16
@celtschk Or the contrary of surprising/confusing you with a new sound you can't immediately relate to the scene. – Napoleon Wilson Apr 12 '14 at 20:21
@Napoleon Wilson, yes, often it is a surprise. When the old scene comes to its logical end there's silence both sound-wise and event-wise (if I can put it this way), and all of the sudden you hear something unexpected, but you still the the old picture. – Max Apr 12 '14 at 20:30
The technical term is L cut or Split Edit – Oliver_C Apr 12 '14 at 20:58
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Cameron Christopher has a nice short article on the technique at Vimeo; J-Cuts & L-Cuts.

In short one have J-Cut and L-Cut

  • J-Cut aka audio advance, audio starts before video.
  • L-Cut aka video advance, video starts before audio.

It can advance the story in itself by moving the viewer ahead. It also can give a smoother transition, or many other effects.

Find the two examples in the article by Chrisopher to be nice examples.

For example in second video, the packing of the cigarette packet is smoothed out by the J-Cut, rather nicely.

share|improve this answer
My favorite example is about 37 and a half minutes into the movie Fight Club. It's when [narrator/Jack/not-Tyler] tosses a couple reports onto his desk towards his Cornflower Blue boss and you hear a splashing sound. A few seconds later it cuts to the bathroom scene where they describe who'd they fight if they could pick anyone. It's an amazing moment of Cognitive Dissonance that is perfect for the subject matter of the movie. A great example that doesn't need to be its own answer. – Meat Trademark Apr 12 '14 at 23:02
Plus I'd add it's a convenient trick for dubbing when translations are significantly longer and/or can't be made 100% lip sync "in time". – Mario Apr 14 '14 at 22:04

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.