What’s wrong with dissolves?

So I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, but I wanted to post an open question:

What’s wrong with dissolves?

I have edited for a large number of people and over-whelmingly I have found that there is a universal dislike for dissolves. This strikes me as strange and I just can’t figure out why people can be so opposed to something which is a convention – part of the grammar, in fact, of film & video. Here’s a paraphrased version of a conversation I’ve had on more than one occasion:

Producer: Why did you use a dissolve there?

Me (the editor): Well, I was trying to show (passage of time or change of location or just soften the abrupt change of scene from shot to shot).

Producer: Let’s try something different, dissolves are just so old-school or boring or, this was the best, they’re so been-there-done-that; let’s think up something new!

I don’t know why I’ve run into such dissolve-o-phobia. I want to ask these haters-of-dissolves if they find commas or semi-colons tired or old-school when they write. Do they make up new punctuation marks because they are bored with .’s or ;’s or -‘s ? Dissolves are part of the convention of film making and therefore are a part of the language of the visual medium. I mean no disrespect, but where does this dislike come from? Why are dissolves so misunderstood?

Comments are open on this post so you can submit your response.

One Reply to “What’s wrong with dissolves?”

  1. Like all techniques, dissolves can be used badly – this is especially true on lower budget productions where they are used to hide two badly designed shots or cuts. This has coloured producer’s desires to use them as transitions. It doesn’t help that there are “editors” out there who advertise the fact that they can offer “Producers” hundreds of different transitions. Like WTF?

    Shrug. When I used to do medical education materials, I had one Client who absolutely insisted that I had to use a rotating-3D cube as a transition as using a straight cut was “too harsh”.

    You CAN do some really interesting transitions to suggest the passage of time beyond dissolves, but they often require far too much craft, pre-production & post-production to make effective. Y’know, you might actually have to think through your shot list….

    But I’m weird. I even like zooms.

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