How are Visual Vector Lines Used in Film Editing

How are Visual Vector Lines Used in Film Editing?

The use of visual vectors in film editing represents an important concept in continuity and the recognition of various visual cues throughout your set that will help your audience connect scenes in your film. Maintaining visual vectors in continuity editing is akin to carrying out a conversation in the same language. You certainly wouldn’t have a conversation in two distinctly different languages, following the visual vectors of the environment and action is like, speaking the same language to your audience, for continuity, to help them feel like they’re in the same place. But, how are visual vector lines used in film editing?

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As we look at different visual vectors, including both graphical vectors and motion vectors, it’s important to consider how these visual vectors help you to maintain continuity of your story, and the visual cues provided to your audience. 

Graphic Vector Lines in Continuity Editing

To best understand how visual vector lines are used in film editing, you must first understand the concept of graphic vector lines in continuity editing.

Graphic vectors represent the lines or stationary elements which are arranged within your frame in such a way that they will remain in approximately the same place for subsequent shots and scenes. 

Consider This

Think of graphic vectors as your background or horizon, you want the lines to remain the same height on the screen from one shot to the next or from scene to scene. For example, if you’re interviewing someone that is sitting on a couch, the back of the couch would represent your graphic vector.

And, similar to the horizon, you would want that back of the couch to remain at the same level or height within your camera frame, unless you were to completely change your camera height and the angle of your view.

Keeping these lines continuous from shot-to-shot for consistency will help your audience remain focused without feeling out of place.

Index Vector Lines in Continuity Editing

Index vectors are created when a subject looks or points in a particular direction to the target object.  Thus, if you show your subject looking up and screen-right, the expectation is that your subject is looking toward the target object.

Therefore, the subsequent footage, for continuity purposes, should be of the target object in the right side of the picture, at an approximate distance to have been at the end of the child’s index vector line. 

Diverging Vectors

As we further look at answering the question, “How are visual vector lines used in film editing?” It’s also important to touch on the concept of diverging vectors which point away from each other.

Mentally, viewers if diverging vectors are used to create the lines in continuity, then we know that our vector lines are pointing away from each other, in opposite directions.

Thus, if you show a child looking up and screen right, the expectation is that the next shot for continuity purposes would be down, and screen-left opposite of the view the child is looking. 

Think about the Audience

As you learn more about how visual vector lines are used in film editing, you’ll soon find that much of the continuity editing process is about thinking naturally about how an audience will perceive what’s occurring on the screen.

Visual vector lines simply map the contextual framework for separate shots to help us perceive the most appropriate continuity rules to ensure shots transition along the most logical viewer path. 

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