Basic Film Techniques: The Dissolve

The dissolve is a common film technique which is often used as an indicator of a passage of time; therefore the dissolve often falls under the umbrella of the elliptical editing techniques. The dissolve technique is a transition between two shots where shot (q) gradually disappears while the succeeding shot (w) appears. The dissolve is a soft cut and is therefore an integral part of a film maker’s toolbox. The dissolve technique negates the harshness of cutting between two graphically unmatched images or the change to an awkward camera angle and is consequently often used in the continuity editing system. The dissolve is most commonly used to indicate a significant change of time. A shot of a setting sun may dissolve into the night sky to indicate several hours passing. The dissolve technique dissipates the dislocating nature of transition from one spatial or temporal environment to another. Because of this it is sparsely used in action films because these films require fast, energetic transitions to imitate and communicate the film’s dramatic and adrenaline-soaked nature.