You know, scene changes are kind of weird if you think about it. Most stories don’t lend themselves to a contiguous telling, because there’s all sorts of little details that would drag the story down if dwelt on. So the story just stops and skips ahead to something more interesting, and as a reader or viewer we absorb this and go with it. It’s just not something we really tend to think about, although perhaps we should.
The Avengers features a few rather clever transitions worth examining. First, we have Fury talking to the World Security Council:
SHADOWY DUDE: War isn’t won by sentiment.
FURY: No. It’s won by soldiers.
Then at the end of the same scene:
STEVE: You should have left it in the ocean.
The first act of the film has the potential to be a little disjointed, as it jumps from character to character so that they can be brought into the story. The link between dialogue and the subsequent image helps smooth out the transition, showing one way that the scenes fit together before the primary narrative connection is clear.
As far as narrative elements go, scene transitions probably aren’t major stumbling blocks, a minor point that doesn’t require a great deal of thought from either reader or writer. But points like that are great opportunities to add a little extra oomph, to take something standard and make it something special, something more. It’s that sort of attention to detail that can take a story from good to great.