Continuity editing The majority of film sequences are edited so that time seems to flow, uninterrupted, from shot to shot. Within a ‘continuity editing’ sequence; only cuts will be used. Continuity editing can also involve ‘cross-cutting’, where a sequence cuts between two different settings where action is taking place at the same time. There are matches on action and no editing that draws attention to itself
Montage In montage, different images are assembled to build up an impression. This is often used in title sequences. The most famous example of this technique is the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin. This is used increasingly in what is now called 'American Quality Television' and includes most of the shows headlining on Sky, FX, Channel 4 amongst others.
Pace of editing
Cutting rate Frequent cuts may be used as deliberate interruptions to shock, surprise or emphasize. Generally speaking, the rate that cuts is made increases with the tension in the film.
Cutting rhythm A cutting rhythm may be progressively shortened to increase tension. Cutting rhythm may be exciting (erratic and unpredictable), lyrical (in time with the music or with a feeling of rhythm) or staccato (like sharp regular cuts). It can create excitement, musical ‘alignment’ or intense response in the viewer.
Transitions/styles of editing
Straight Cut One image is suddenly replaced by another, without a visible transition. We are so used to these you will probably not even notice them. In Classic continuity editing, that is the point – not to be noticed.
Cross-dissolve One image dissolves into another. This can be used to make a montage sequence – such as a title sequence - flow smoothly; it can also be used in continuity editing to show that we have moved forwards in time and/or space.
Fade out An image gradually fades out. Fades to and from black usually mean that time has passed
Wipe One image replaces another without dissolving, with the border between the images moving across or around the screen. This style was previously popular in the 1960s but has not been much used until recent work; mostly cartoon based Hollywood mainstream films such as Hell boy and Iron Man.
Jump Cut This is where a cut is disjointed – often by the change in what the audience sees not changing that much – the action appears to judder or just ‘jump’. This is used to disconcert the audience. Typically a jump cut is one of less than 30° and is easy enough to spot as it makes the scene literally 'jump' before your eyes and it is used infrequently.