Matching on action: Effects of action speed and viewpoint on perceived continuity across match-action film edits

Birger Langkjær, Andreas Gregersen, Anna Cabak Rédei, Joost van de Weijer, Åse Innes-Ker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A match-action cut in feature films connects two shots of a single continuous movement. This type of editing often goes unnoticed and is arguably the most effective form of continuity editing. However, the literature offers little agreement on editing best practice and, by implication, on how our perceptual system deals with disjointed moving images. Studies have suggested that frames should overlap across the cut for the viewer to experience continuity, but also that leaving out frames is preferable, and even that viewers are unable to discriminate such detail. We conducted an experiment to investigate viewer preferences for match-action cuts, using type of cut as well as velocity of movement as predictors and number of overlapping/elliptical frames as the outcome variable. Thirty-nine participants determined the smoothest cut in eight film-clips in a within-subjects design. Surprisingly, we found that average viewer preferences were less than a single frame from a straight cut for all cut-types. We also found that velocity had a small but statistically significant effect on editing preferences. The preference for straight cuts found in the present study runs counter to the idea that perceived continuity across match-action cuts requires objective dis-continuity and suggests that the straight cut provides a simple rule of thumb for film editors. In addition, we interpret the conflicting results from previous studies together with our own findings based on a discrimination task of finding the optimal cut as indicating that human visual perception allows for a window of acceptable continuity cuts centered around the straight cut.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553–561
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number5
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


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