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1. In film and video editing, an unmotivated shot inserted into a sequence of a different but usually related subject in order to avoid a jump cut. The cutaway is a necessary device in continuity editing. Its expediency makes it vital: the advice of an editor to a junior cameraperson is always to ‘get loads of cutaways’. While a cutaway can add context and ‘colour’ to a scene, its unmotivated nature results in some rather odd conventions: for example, shots of the fumbling hands of interviewees that are a staple in television news reports. See also general views.

2. A motivated shot from another time or place inserted into a temporal sequence, which breaks continuity but creates a juxtaposition intended to alert audiences to the significance of the current scene or action, or points to an alternative meaning: for example in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) there is a brief cutaway to a shot of the monolith as the human-ape plays with the bone, implying its influence in the discovery of tools. See also flashback; flashforward.

Subjects: Media Studies.

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