Why do YouTubers Jump Cut?


Why do YouTubers Jump Cut?

While the depth and breadth of content that can be found on YouTube has grown immensely since the early days of wall to wall vloggers, it seems as though the jump cut will forever be considered synonymous with YouTube.

YouTubers use jump cuts to speed up the pace of the video, to hide mistakes and/or to keep you engaged for longer than just simple talking head videos. If you are moving around the screen it helps the video flow better and gives the viewer something new to focus on, preventing viewer fatigue. 

That being said, even today there are plenty of channels that make use of the technique, with perennial favourites like Philip DeFranco—who arguably helped push jump cutting to the forefront of YouTube consciousness—still doing their thing all these years later. But why do they do it? Or, for that matter, what is it?

We’re going to answer both of those questions and more, so settle in, and let’s get started.

What is a Jump Cut?

The proper definition of a jump cut is a sudden transition from one scene to another. That is, no fading in and out, no special effects, just one frame you are looking at one scene, and the next frame you are looking at a different one.

This is the definition of a jump cut as it applies to things like television and cinema, but the YouTube variant is a little different.

In the context of YouTube, a jump cut does not need to cut to a different scene, and often doesn’t. Jump cuts on YouTube are far more often used to cut from one part of a scene to a later part of a scene, essentially snipping out the intervening footage. This is possible because the idea of YouTube jump cuts is established. What would once have been considered messy, unprofessional editing is now a style, and viewers have become used to it and don’t wonder what’s gone wrong with the video when jump cuts happen and the YouTuber snaps from one position to another.

Of course, it is still a jump if it does cut from one scene to another—the established definition still applies when relevant—it is just that, on YouTube, it is more often used in this manner.

Do YouTubers Use Their Real Names?

Why do YouTubers Jump Cut?

So, now that you know what a jump cut is, why do YouTubers use them? There are a few reasons why this technique is so popular, so we’ve broken them up into the big ones.

Give the Video More “Punch”

You don’t need to be an expert in psychology to understand that the average attention span of a human being, shall we say, not what it used to be. Sure, the subject matter of a video can be enough to draw people in if they are interested enough, but on an online platform like YouTube, dry, slow content will not bring in the new viewers.

Jump cuts allow a YouTube to speed up the flow of their video so that the beats of the content hit closer together, leaving the viewer less time to become disinterested and click away to something else.

Reduce “Dead Air”

On a very similar note to the last one, jump cuts provide a handy method for cutting out some of the more awkward pauses, sniffles, sneezes, and mistakes that might otherwise have required a reshoot of a particular part of the video.

As we mentioned above, the fact that jump cuts are now something viewers are used to makes it possible to use jump cuts to edit out mistakes without having to worry about continuity between the remaining footage. If the YouTuber suddenly cuts from one position to another, that’s just the style of the video.

Keep the View Time Down

If you have a lot to get through, jump cuts can be a great way to keep the overall time of the video down, since excessively long runtimes can be off-putting in certain niches.

Keep the Editing Time Down

Jump cuts are quite possibly the lowest-effort method of cutting a video together, short of paying someone else to do it for you. Almost all YouTubers start out doing everything for themselves, including editing. And, when they are trying to upload multiple videos a week—often around a job or education—anything that saves time on the overall process of making the video will be welcomed. It is said that, on average, you will spend five hours editing for every one hour of footage you recorded, so this is certainly an area to focus on when trying to save time.

Fast Talking is More Persuasive

One way or another, you are trying to persuade your viewers of something. You might have a point you are trying to get across or the persuasion might just be that you want them to keep watching. Well, it turns out fast talkers are more persuasive and, while a jump cutting YouTube might not be a particularly fast talker in day to day life, jump cuts allow them to create the impression of fast speech by cutting out the gaps between sentences.


A well-timed jump cut can be pretty funny. That’s all there is to this one.

Monologuing is Hard

Granted, scripting makes things a lot easier, but sitting in front of a camera and talking for three to ten minutes solid is no easy task. And, unless you are planning on hosting a late night show, it’s not a skill that has a great deal of use in mastering. With jump cuts you can dive into your monologues without worrying about getting through the whole thing in one take.

When Not to Use Jump Cuts

As long as that list of reasons why YouTubers use jump cuts is, they are not perfect in all situations, as most things aren’t. Here are a few reasons to steer clear of using jump cuts in your YouTube videos.

You Want the Viewer to Digest What You’re Saying

Jump cuts are fine for getting relatively light information across. The aforementioned Philip DeFranco makes good use of them, but DeFranco covers daily news and entertainment stories. He occasionally dives into big topics, but there’s rarely anything you need to fully engage your brain on.

For something like a VSauce or a PBS Spacetime, a jump cut format would be wholly inappropriate, because the presenters want the information to get across in a methodical, thorough way, and bombarding you with key points on something like the physics of a black hole will likely overwhelm you (unless you happen to be an astrophysicist of course).

Why do YouTubers Jump Cut?

You’re a Slow Talker

All the notes about how fast talkers are persuasive and how “dead air” can be a turn off for the viewer aside, some people are just slow talkers, and it’s not always something you can do anything about. This isn’t a death knell in your YouTube dream’s coffin, of course, but you need to play to your strengths. If you can string fast sentences together, jump cutting works. But if you speak slowly, jump cuts will look awkward and stilted.

It Reduces Your Watch Time

Now, let’s be clear, we are not suggesting you stuff your videos with awkward silences and drawn out sentences just to increase the watch time, but if your content sits well without the jump cuts, this could be a reason not to add them.

As most of you probably know, watch time is one of the most important metrics to improve when you are looking at boosting your visibility in the YouTube algorithm, not to mention increasing the revenue you get from the YouTube Partner Programme. The more time people spend watching your content, the more ads YouTube can show and the more likely they are to promote your videos in the future.

Just remember, this only works if people watch your videos. Having a thirty-minute video will do you no good if viewers click away after two minutes because the content is boring.

The Non Sequitur Jump Cut

All the talk so far has assumed the jump cuts being used are done so in a linear fashion, such as would be the case if someone recorded a five-minute monologue and then used jump cuts to edit out all the “uhm”’s and “ah”’s.

A well established convention on YouTube is the non sequitur jump cut, which is almost like a regular jump cut, only instead of cutting from scene to scene, it is cutting from one train of thought to another. This is often used to interject small asides, almost like footnotes in a book, and allows the YouTuber to add more context to a topic, or interject their personal take on something they are talking about in otherwise neutral tones.

Final Thoughts

The jump cut, like many techniques and tools at a YouTubers disposal, is a powerfully useful thing when used correctly. And, like most useful things, it can be overdone. If you cut too often, you can very easily give your video a white noise feel, where the information is coming at the viewer so fast that it is hard to absorb.

Used correctly, however, it can make a video punchier, more entertaining, and better-flowing. And, like all things on YouTube and in life, you can learn how best to utilise jump cuts with practice… but looking at other YouTubers who do it well won’t hurt, either.

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By Alan Spicer - YouTube Certified Expert

UK Based - YouTube Certified Expert Alan Spicer is a YouTube and Social Media consultant with over 15 years of knowledge within web design, community building, content creation and YouTube channel building.

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