Movie Mistakes: When does Film Continuity REALLY Matter?

Movie Mistakes: When does Film Continuity REALLY Matter?


Take a look at this scene… ( Oh my… ) ( Oh my… god! ) Notice anything? If you did, good for you. You have a very keen eye. I cut that scene and I probably watched it more than a hundred times, often sitting with the director together, and I never noticed the mistake. And then one day, I happened to stop right at this frame and it hit me. I asked mark: Did you notice anything? But he didn’t. Mark is wearing no jacket and now he’s wearing a jacket. This is a failure of continuity editing. ( Thank you. ) Continuity editing is the process of combining more or less related shots so as to direct the viewers attention to a pre-existing consistency of story across both time and physical location. And here, we’re breaking that rule. Clearly when you make a mistake like this it can really hurt the success of a film. Did you see it? How about this one? It seems that continuity gaffes are rampant in film. ( If you watch closely during the scene with the Velociraptor you may notice an out-of-place hand. ) ( In the first Pirates of the Caribbean you can clearly see a crewmember over jack sparrow’s shoulder. ) ( Predictable damage ensues. But seconds later that same windshield is seen in perfect condition. ) And many are not shy to make fun of the filmmakers. ( And how this floating broom pantomime made it into the finished film is anyone’s guess. ) ( Let’s just enjoy that special star wars moments again. ) ( We’re just saying that some script supervisors or editors could have done their jobs just a teeny bit better. ) Should we put the blame on the script supervisor onset or later, the editor who for some reason or another did not cut it correctly, like I did? And then how do some of the greats feel about continuity errors. Thelma Schoonmaker,the iconic editor who worked on many of Scorsese’s films says in an interview: Martin Hunter, the editor for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket says: There’s a cut when the drill sergeant punches Mathew Motley in the stomach and in one shot he pulls back with his left hand and in the cut he punches with his right… Walter Murch is so uninterested in continuity editing he actually give it the least priority in terms of when to make a cut. He writes an ideal cut for me is the one that satisfies the following six criteria at once… Emotion if the thing that you should try to preserve at all costs. If you find you have to sacrifice certain of those six elements to make a cut, sacrifice your way up from the bottom. So three legendary editors, all don’t really care all that much about continuity. Are they just full of it or is there actually some science behind it? Tim J Smith is a lecturer of physiological sciences, Birkbeck University of London, and he studies all kinds of visual cognition. He did some extensive tests with eye tracking, where he traces the eye movement to find out where audiences look and what they pay attention to. Attentional Synchrony is where the majority of viewers will have their eyes focused in on the same element of the screen. The number one predictor of where most people are going to look in a frame – or rather what they will pay attention to – is whether there’s a human face in the shot. If it is science tells us that all the attention is geared towards that. And that’s why so many continuity problems go unnoticed. It actually turns out that Hitchcock who, is a master at composing shots, really understood this concept. ( I’m not required to answer this question? This is scary me. ) Humans study other human faces. When it comes to still images we tend to look at the eyes. When it comes to moving images we tend to look around the nose and move up and down between the mouth and eyes, as we’re trying to understand what somebody is saying or the emotions that their express. ( One question, short and sweet? ) ( Where’s my bed, what’s better than that? ) I have to say, first-time filmmakers tend to point out continuity errors and they’re very concerned about fixing these problems – to the point where they’re willing to sacrifice the performance or a moment. So for example, in this scene Mark has to wake his three-year-old son and move out of the house because he can’t afford the rent anymore. And as he’s walking down the stairs a continuity error happens ( Baby Crying ) See it? You can see the camera. And we could have decided to cut around it but it would have broken this moment that really played most powerful in real time. So when does continuity matter? Pretty much never. And if it does then maybe there’s something else wrong with the scene. I asked you if you thought that continuity is important and in a poll, the majority pretty much better said that they don’t care as long as the scene works. But Larry writes, i often noticed them. Especially now that i’m studying filmmaking. Burt says, I don’t look for them so if i end up noticing them they tend to bother me. Steve says I have an error that I actually find more interesting than an actual flaw. In martin scorsese’s Shutter Island there’s what i believe to be an implied continuity error during the interrogation scene. For me personally, I think it was both Scoreses and Schoonmaker decision to use it as a device to throw the audience into a “nothing is as it seems” state of mind. I hope you got a kick out of this episode. Check out the video description for more research on the topic and hopefully, I’ll see you see soon. Thanks for watching.

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