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What is a crossfade? How to use it correctly in video editing?

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It's an art to transition from one video scene to another clip naturally without disrupting the viewers' flow of things. If you're looking to learn how to figure out how to transfer from scene to scene when you're creating video content, add the crossfade transition to your video editing toolkit.

Crossfade effect example made with Clipchamp

Let's explore the transition called crossfades and answer "what is a crossfade" and exactly how you can use it to great effect when you're making videos. 

What is a crossfade?

A crossfade is where two pieces of video, audio, or photos slowly fade over each other while they transition from one of the pieces of media to the other. This differs from other transitions, where one piece of media stops before the next one begins.

Depending on how long or short a transition is, you may be able to see both shots layered on top of one another, which can be used to create different stylistic effects.

Using this technique can help you juxtapose two shots, in a way that may link them together for the audience. That will depend on how well you consider the Kuleshov effect. That's why crossfades or cross dissolves, as they are also known, are so helpful when you're trying to construct a video montage sequence in your film because it helps them blend together easily.

Why should you use a crossfade transition?

Transitions are an important tool to understand when you're getting into the wonderful world of video editing.

You can use shorter crossfades as simple transitions to prevent audio issues, particularly if your footage has a lot of background noise or shows people talking. Crossfading in audio can also be used to mesh audio over one another, to create an interesting effect that can be engaging in some contexts.

For example, if you want to portray that a character is blabbering on and that other characters are disinterested in what they're talking about, you can crossfade the audio and the video to create a montage showing how bored everyone else in the situation is and how annoying the person is. 

Crossfades can also be used for furthering the storytelling of your video. They can help you demonstrate the passage of time, or help you show that you're moving to a flashback or a past event. If you'd like to add in some dream sequences or a some surrealistic sequences

, crossfades with differing lengths can be very helpful.

Or, if you want to speed along a travel sequence, you can use cross dissolves to save time in your movie without losing the impact that a long travel sequence could have on your characters. This allows you to keep the emotion without messing up the pace of the film you're trying to make.

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Crossfades are used in big productions, but long, extended visual fades are actually rarer than you might think. These can be difficult to master, which is why many directors and editors don't try them out.

But, if you're careful and do your research, longer crossfades may be a great technique to try out!

Some examples of crossfades in film and television that you may recognize include:

  • The location changing in 

  • The Empire Strikes Back and other Star Wars films

  • The ending of Saving Private Ryan

  • In the cross-dissolves of Woltz' home prior to him finding his horses' head

  • The travel sequence in The Grapes of Wrath

  • Weather transitions in Doctor Zhivago

  • One of the Triwizard Tournament events in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • The Richard Gere and Julia Roberts relationship montage in Pretty Woman

  • Celebrations in Chicken Little

Watch these pieces of content, and other forms of media, and pay close attention to how they utilize crossfades. That way, you can answer the question "how to use crossfade correctly?" for your video editing needs.

How can you apply crossfade transitions in social media videos?

Crossfades can also be used when creating content for social media. For example, when you're making TikTok videos, you can use crossfade transitions to slowly layer your dance moves on top of one another for an unusual take on one of the most common forms of TikTok video.

If you're trying to show off your art on Instagram, you can use crossfades to go from piece to piece with ease. This can also help you demonstrate themes and cohesiveness in your work.

Using crossfades rather than cuts can help you cultivate a meditative and relaxed feel for your video. If you're creating ASMR videos on YouTube or another platform, like famous YouTube channels such as Batalia's ASMR, Latte ASMR, or Jojo's ASMR,  crossfades can be a great tool.

Crossfades are particularly useful when you're making music videos. You can use them to fade from one song to another, to create a fun montage. Just don't get mixed up listening to songs by the band Crossfade, since they're not quite the same thing!

These aren't the only ways you can use crossfades for social media videos, either. You just have to get creative!

Add a crossfade transition to your video with Clipchamp

Now that you know what's a crossfade, you understand what a powerful video editing tool they can be when you're creating video content. Just make sure you use them carefully and sparingly, and your audience will love your new content options.

Do you need more information about different video editing terms?

Make sure that you check out our glossary for the TL;DR summary of every imporant video production and editing concept to learn.

When you're ready to add a crossfade to video, sign up to Clipchamp and create for free.

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