Using Transitions Effectively

Transitions are a great way to move around blocks of content, but without careful attention, they can quickly become distracting. Many novice users will overuse transitions, which can make the training look sloppy, unprofessional, and most notably, a distraction to the learner. There are many transitions to choose from, so it is important to figure out which one works best with the type of training you are creating.

If you are creating a training video or tutorial, there are so many creative ways to use transitions to move throughout the video. Some transitions can be universal and often times users will find a go-to transition to use. However, as previously mentioned, you want to find a transition that works well for each unique project. There are countless transitions to choose from, but in this post I’ll go over a few common video types and give some examples of the best suited transition for each. Keep in mind while reading this post that I use Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Audition. Transitions are available in many different types of software but the verbiage might be a little different.

Transitions in Videos

Filming on green screen is a fun tool for a lot of training videos, if you have that resource. But what about when you want to move from green screen footage to a screen capture? Since there is already a transition from person to content happening, you don’t want to add an over the top transition. A simple transition in this case would be a film dissolve on each file.

Transitions in Premiere

It’s subtle but still prepares the user for the change. Green screen to screen capture transitions can be a bit tricky as you need to work a little harder to make it look perfect because you have at least two rows to work with and three tracks of video to transition. It can seem a bit tedious at first, but once you find that perfect transition for your project it’ll leave you with a great feeling of accomplishment.

Now let’s say you have a 10 minute interview with someone, but you only need clips from 2:45 and 7:20. You shouldn’t just throw these pieces together as it will look jumpy and it’ll seem like you are trying to ‘pull one over’ on the user. Even if you are putting clips from 1:30 and 1:32 together, you will likely need a transition in between since there is going to be a jump with that one second missing. Trying to do a dissolve between two clips will look a bit wonky and I would steer clear of that. Instead, a good way to combine these two is to put some information or b-roll on the screen over the audio then dissolve back into the interview. If you find you don’t have information to put up in between the clips sometimes you can use a more ‘thrilling’ transition like a cube spin or flip over to break up the clips.

Cube Spin Transition

If you find a fun transition that works for the content and the audience then go for it! I wouldn’t overdo these types of transitions though, as I previously mentioned too many can seem unprofessional and show a lack of creativity.

A hard cut is going directly from one scene to another. In my opinion a hard cut can be a bit jarring to a learner in a training video. This type of transition is used a lot in film. Unless you are creating a movie-like training video, I would steer clear of using a hard-cut in your e-Learning.

Transitions in Audio

When using transitions in audio it helps ease the change and most importantly prepares the audience for the change. Transitions in audio are best used in music, or switching from one speaker to another. The most common transition you will use in audio is a fade, it helps ease the audio into/out of a video. You can use fades to move from one slide into the next slide. Two important things to keep in mind when working with audio and transitions; 1: Avoid an abrupt cut of audio. You don’t want to miss a word or even a syllable of what is being said. A learner can easily hear this is a mistake you made and likely think they are missing out on more information that you cut off in production. Take a listen below to see the difference between a quick hard cut that can seem a bit sudden to a learner…

and listen below to hear the remainder of the sentence that makes much more sense and sounds more natural for the learner…

Additionally, the learner isn’t missing out on the resent of the instructions, which is crucial.

2: Avoid dramatic fades. Using fades to transition audio is a wonderful tool but each specific piece of audio is different and you must tweak each fade transition to work perfectly with your audio file. Make sure you don’t fade too fast into your audio or too fast out. Make it a nice, smooth transition and it’ll sound much better and deliberate. When appropriate you can use fades on a single end of an audio clip or on both ends, whatever that specific clip needs to work with your training. Below I have an image of a music file on my training video. It is the same piece of music but used for different parts of the video so it is appropriate to change the exponential fade of the music to fit each part of the video.

Singlefade  DoubleFade


There isn’t any reason to be scared or skeptical of using transitions. There is a learning curve and the more you toy around with them and experiment the better accustomed to them you will become. Just remember that above all else, transitions should guide learners throughout your training.


Are you experiencing any hiccups with transitions in your trainings? Or have any special tricks you use when working with multiple files and transitions? We would love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below!

Audrey is a senior Instructional Designer with the Learning & Professional Development team at Northern Arizona University. She has a B.S. in Electronic Media and Film with an emphasis in Entertainment Management and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology from NAU. With her experience as a newsroom weather director and on-screen talent, as well as multiple years of experience teaching in a university classroom setting, Audrey brings a unique perspective to the LPD team.

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