I teach an Avid class and a discussion has broken out over the definition of a transition. Is a cut a transition or not? Say it is but a student maintains that a transition is only something like a wipe or dissove where the two scene overlap or mix. Quite esoteric, no?
A cut is a transition, it can move us from one state, situation, viewpoint(geographic or otherwise) to another. If your students, who may struggle to cut in the right place or the right time, think a transiton must be some type of effect want to argue the point, ask them when a dissolve stops being a transition and becomes a cut, at 1 frame duration or zero...
The fact that a cut is such a finite event doesn't stop it being a transition, it just makes it a definitive and visualy instant transition.
What distinguishes a cut however is that it can replicate a natural event, ie closing your eyes and then opening them in a differant context, in terms of time, viewpoint, context, mood, etc, etc
Don't let your students learn their terminology from an Avid manual, give them a dictionary!
One of the most famous "transitions" in cinema history was a cut!
Remember Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odessy"? 17 minutes in, after the apes "touch the obleisk" and gain knowledge, one of the apes in a violent frenzy throws a bone high up into the air. This tumbling femur spins, turns, and elegantly "match cuts" into a space station. Now if that isn't a brilliant "transition" I don't know what is!
A good "transition" transcends any "technique" and is "story driven". Tell your students to stop looking at the effects palette and start thinking about what story they're telling.
My two cents... A wipe or dissolve is considered a transition "effect" like a push or DVE move.
Down under I believe they refer to a cut as a "join". In a cut or join you are in fact transitioning to another shot/angle. A transition is a feeling you give the viewer. How you as an editor accomplish this it is up to you and how experienced you are at effective transitions. I believe students should use only cuts for any project they do. It's a great learning process to discuss where the cut should be and why. Sound, camera movement, frame action and composition in addition to gut feeling are all factors. A good cut feels good. I believe students need to stay away from effects as transitions to really learn what editing is all about. Tie their hands behind their backs and make them use cuts only! That'll learn 'em.