Let’s Talk Transitions

Transitions have become very popular with creators who perform on many social media apps.  But let’s start by thinking about what that word actually means.

In my early years as a video producer, the word TRANSITION referred to using a ‘magical’ video effect to take the viewer from one scene to the next. These were often done using expensive computer graphics effects, or special camera tricks. Although the word transition was used often by people in the production industry, transition was not a term used often by the general population in the same way it is used now.

With the rise of creators using smartphones, editing apps and social media apps, the word transition has gone mainstream, and it now refers to the similar effects or fun tricks that creators use to make their content more engaging (and hopefully viral!) by taking the viewer magically from one scene to another.

Many of you may already know me as the TikTok Teacher, but prior to TikTok and Instagram tutorials, I was doing many different types of content on my social media. During my pandemic kitchen video phase, I used transitions in my cooking and baking videos.

Here’s a TikTok which was created for Hidden Valley Ranch that used transitions to create a Crunchy Chicken recipe.  Can you count how many transitions appear in this video?

But once I started making TikTok tutorials, I became inspired to try some of the other types of transitions I had seen creators perform on the app and wow it was fun!

Doing a seamless transition is not really that hard once you understand how to do it.  There are so many different types of transitions, so I’m going to cover a few of different types in this post.

One popular transition is putting your hand up to cover the camera and when you pull it away from the camera, you reveal something completely different in the scene. You might have noticed something like this above in the Hidden Valley Ranch video when I put the package of seasoning towards the camera and when I pulled it away from the camera, the seasoning was magically in the dish. This type of ‘cover the camera’ reveal is done by performing your video up to the part where your hand blocks the camera lens and then you stop recording.  You’ll move to your second position or location, start recording with your hand in front of the camera and remove it to reveal your new scene and finish the action. They key to the success of this transition is making sure you trim the part of the scenes where your hand is covering the camera so you are not looking at the palm of the hand for too long because that takes away the magic.

Another frequently used transition is having something major change while in the middle of an action, for example a jump, a spin or in this case a foot stomp, which triggers a complete outfit change.

For this type of transition, it’s important to place your camera on a tripod or somewhere so it does not move for the entire process.  Then you’ll need to perform the entire sequence through the foot stomp in outfit number one. Then change your outfit and start by repeating the entire foot stomp in outfit number two and continuing to perform your ending.  When you film the two scenes in the Instagram or TikTok app, you’re going to trim the scenes right in the middle of the foot stomp so that there is not a repeated action in the final outcome.

Another similar transition is done by moving or waving something in front of the camera to create a seamless change in the visual, in this case, a hair, makeup and clothing change. The same principle applies – you will do the performance through the hand wave in the first look, and then repeat the same action starting with the hand wave in the second look.  Then you’ll trim the clips right in the middle of the hand wave.

With all transitions, it’s important to avoid any REPEAT in the action, so the cut has to be done in the MID-POSITION of the action.

Finally, let’s talk about the very popular head turn transition.  This one is really challenging to execute, but once you truly understand it, you can do any head turn transition.  The key is to picture yourself surrounded by cameras.  If you are talking about something and then want to do a head turn and continue speaking, you’ll turn in the direction toward what will be your imaginary second camera.  Then the next shot needs to be filmed from the point of view of that second imaginary camera.  So you’ll need to shoot your with your head turning toward that camera and continuing your lines.  Each time you turn your head, your next shot needs to be filmed from the point of view of that next imaginary camera.  It is challenging to understand, but this tutorial should help clarify it.

That was a fun dive into some of the more popular but easy transitions which you’re probably seeing a lot of on TikTok and Instagram Reels. It may look challenging, but believe me, if you try one and succeed, you might find yourself hooked on making some magic yourself!

Hope this was helpful!  Do you have a transition you’d like to see demonstrated in a tutorial?  Let us know in the comments!



Helen Polise is the CEO and founder of Socialize and the owner and director of a production company that creates content for TV commercials and digital advertising for well-known brands including Blistex, Sensodyne, NFL Alumni, Odor Eaters, and more. You can say hello to her on TikTok as @themuthership where she has attracted 500k+ followers and 3 million “likes” from people across the age spectrum by providing instructional content. 


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