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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  1. Thank you very much ! I worked with so many persons who were obsessed with continuity, as if the only thing they wanted was making a flawless but commonplace story. Without risk there is no chance to make the difference…

  2. I Totally Disagree, and consider this whole point of view to be an insult to the craft and art. now while i dont look for them Continuity errors, but there is this little thing in films called easter eggs or just hidden information/symbolism from the story or even simple darn ambiance so you dont just look in one particular portion of a screen, if that were what the director wanted they would've kept in close to the face. im sorry im not jut staring at eyes and teeth. on that one on the stairs with the kid you couldve easily just punched in the whole cut so that it was just the baby in his arms the lower shoulders blades of the mans back to the top of his head then a little head room with NO frame to the right WHERE THERE IS A REFLECTIVE SURFACE . or a simple digital mask over the window (replicating the solid black portions of the window). im still just seeing most of this a workers/artist being lazy. and way too content with themselves. while i agree that the best shot should be used. you always get that Neo in the matrix effect (when he notices his first glitch) when a continuity jumps up at you. the one that always catches me is scene cuts with different moving objects in the background. for example when 2 people are sitting at one of those outdoor cafes talking and you see a Mail truck behind them then later you see that same truck come into frame and park in that spot. your brain automatically goes from the story to what the editor as thinking. sort of like your shot of a white train with huge windows and writing on the side changed to a silver amtrak train, in a weird out of place cut away 0:08 . it was so jarring that i couldnt even notice the jacket stuff. thats what we are talking about. and the whole point is to immerse the viewer in the world NOT the flaws Of the production team, whether that be crew members standing in shots, the wardrobe department not remembering that 7 pieces of clothing between 2 actors (jacket,shirt,pants,shoes for the father. and shirt, pants, and shoes for the baby) , or editors and directors just calling it a night in the editing room and saying "well i dont care and 2 other people doing the same job as me doesnt care so F the other 7 billion other viewers." like really, you made a whole 8 minute video trying to convince the world that a continuity director is a waste. that knowing what is in your camera frame is useless (none of those crew members would be in the shots). that feeling like you are in a moment with a man and his child deeply enthralled in their turmoil and then you see some sweaty guy following them around all paranormal activity style. this isnt a reality TV show that is Real Housewives type crap. understand that you are humans WHO WILL ALWAYS MAKE MISTAKES. but "Strive for perfection" and never make excuses. as an experienced artist you have a responsiblity to all who see your work and watch this channel, dont go around propagating this horrible trope in film.

  3. I disagree. Continuity error does matter because it cuts the emotional connection you actually try to protect. So I rather cut it out myself than leave it there hoping the audience won't see it. Never underestimate the audience! Its our basic instinct of survival to spot things that are out of order/place.

  4. There has to be an argument, say for instance in Star Wars, that him hitting his head in not in fact a Continuity error, its just human error. This is a major mistake of film making, Editors, Directors, and Producers feel the need to take out Human moments, this is a continuity mistake based on the very Fact that its not human, people slurring, mis-saying words, what ever normal human activities happen are automatically edited out and put on a blooper reel. Modern film and Tv making is a constant continuity error based on the very Fact as mentioned that it isn't conditioned towards how Humans actually behave.

  5. This helped my continuity OCD. I am now in agreement with the masters. And all the Youtube videos created that point out the big movie errors, I never saw the mistakes in the first place. Conclusion, don't watch those continuity error videos.

  6. And sorry, the shot with the reflection of the cameraman twice within 10seconds… It would be like maybe 30 frames to edit. I wouldnt have caught the first one i guess, but surely the second one because as a viewer you tend to take a look into windows, especially when they are large and the scene is long and mostly silent. you are desperate for something to happen, you expect something to happen and so you start looking around. Even a really quick and dirty photoshop job to "patch" the reflections out would have done the trick well enough to convice. Does this break the movie? I guess not. But it wouldnt have hurt to spend the extra 10min to go to photoshop and get some low quality patches to cover up the reflections. not trying to be mean, but if you know you did a mistake while filming, and you notice it while editing (= when it is too late) you can at least cover it up a little. Its practically like a typo in a book, it doesnt hurt a lot, but it hurts to see that the author knew about it and was simply to lazy to fix it.

  7. See Eisensteins famous sequence from Battleship Potempkin where a firing squad descends the stairs in Odessa shooting people who flee downstairs. It was meticulously storyboarded and is considered a first example of effective emotional montage (a term coined by Eisenstein). You'll count dozens of so-called continuity errors, jump cuts, blatant violations of the 180° rule. Would be fun to try and cut it straight …

  8. As a script supervisor, I can tell you sometimes it's the director who says "it's ok" or don't worry about it."

  9. In most movies I don't mind the continuity errors but some are worse than others, In particular The Bourne Identity is a great movie–good story, lots of action, a great cast, location shoots throughout Europe–but how does a car go from being bashed up to pristine and back to being bashed up just to mention one of many.continuity errors. it was all I could think about afterwards. Now I still like the movie but then I get fixated on what was wrong if it rather than what was great about it.

  10. I would argue that continuity does matter, but not very often. I would love to get a reaction to this.
    Remember ‘The Big Secret’ that everyone was supposed to keep in the 1992 film, ‘The Crying Game’?
    I leaned over to my boyfriend and whispered, ‘That’s a man’. He was a musician, but he happened to have a day job editing.
    Why did I know? See the clip on You Tube. Also, things for the LGBT community have changed so dramatically that now I think everyone would know. That said, there was an enormous focus on her hands when she performed her song. I kept staring at these large hands, and hence my remark.
    I agree that a continuity error doesn’t matter if you don’t catch it. I saw this film when I lived in La., so I am not certain whether it became a ‘big secret’,
    I am not so sure that it was set out to be one, after all, it all seems obvious now. Perhaps when it went into ‘wide distribution’…they decided that most of America didn’t expect it. In any event, had they shot the scene a differently, showing him looking at her more, I wouldn’t have noticed at all.
    By the way, we were both just as invested in the film. It didn’t ‘spoil’ it, and my boyfriend didn’t think that I had ‘spoiled ‘ it.

  11. I noticed the train, the fact that there was no car park on the opposite side of the street he was walking too, the fact it went from one scene with him on the road, the next in a car park that was not there, and the jacket…

  12. I noticed the continuity error right from the start and… The funniest part is that camera shake got more of my attention than that. Also, kid steals attention: kids and cats, as they say, are always a center of the scene. 😉 I've also noticed single-frame at 5:55 from the start but it took me several attempts to actually discern it: getting sloppy then since I usually also can discern the shape at first glance. I love the message of this video essay about the emotion and performance being way more pivotal than continuity: it's been my guiding star through 12 years shoot of an ugly feature film which is about to hopefully end this year and it's nice to know more about theoretically, to cut more effectively. As I sort of edit along with shooting to fasten the process it's been a nightmare so far and continuity was one of the first corners to cut, which actually served for a lot of moments of creativity bot on-set and in the edit.

  13. I agree with Schoonmaker. Realism is but a single facet of art. Might as well critique Bach for not having enough leitmotifs.

  14. Continuity mistakes only matter if you can see them and if they interfere with the understanding of the story. The best approach is not to have them at all.

  15. There's more in that train scene at the beginning than just the guy's jacket. The signage on the train also disappears in the shot where it is going away.

  16. Shutter island's scene was made intentionally because DiCaprio is very much feared about water so he never wants to imagine the water in his vision

  17. The worst thing seen this video at fist time, was that I tought the mistake was the baby wasn't holding the milkshake when they coss the train tracks.
    Sorry for my bad spelling, english is not my mother tounge.

  18. Movie mistakes don’t really bother me if I think the whole movie is still good but if the movie was awful from beginning to end along with seeing several mistakes, it bothers me and I consider he creators lazy.

  19. Damn I thought it was just the fact the that the train was a different one with no ads on it didn’t even notice the jacket. I’m fired.

  20. THANK YOU! Just started editing my short film and some of my crew started pointing out these little things like a character switching hands holding a beer bottle too quickly, which was a conscious editing choice on my part where I sacrificed movement continuity for better rhythm, clarity and avoiding distracting movement in the shot. They said it's unprofessional while I actually feel the amateur films suffer a lot from committing to 100% continuity and dragging the scene forever with no rhythm. I felt bad anyway, but then I started reading "In the blink of an eye" and watched this video )) Now I don't feel crazy anymore.

  21. Did you not notice the B-roll of the train, it's got n signs on it when it shows the train move past them from a Point of View shot.

  22. It's a bit much to say continuity errors matter "pretty much never" I agree that the emotion takes precedence, but you want to try to mend as many continuity errors as you can. If your film is overrun with continuity errors then it makes you look careless, like you have no attention to detail.

  23. the scene in shutter island represents Dicaprio's characters fear of water. as his character has a fear of water, his mind creates a mental block when he sees the full glass, which is why we see it again only when the glass is empty and the water is gone.

  24. With all due respect, I think the glass was a simple mistake. If this was intentional, there should've been more instances of such "mistakes" in the movie to properly get the message across. If it's just one, it's hardly intentional… I'm pretty sure most people didn't even notice that.

  25. I kind of agree with Murch's rules and the directors who say continuity is of lower priority…but in the last clip, of the man carrying baby, it's not really a continuity error but a very amateurish error of having camera in mirror. I learned that when I first picked up a still camera at 12 years old 😉

  26. i think regardless how many mistakes you fix tehre will always be one more to find its part of the creating of a movie and inherrently part of the movie making process .. me personaly i dont like those errors because i noticed them like for ever might be a psychopath thingy but when there are faces i couldnt care less and my eyes start to wonder around like people are boring. but i got used to it and i can enjoy a good movie since they are all full of errors anyway its not the job of the creator to fool me its my job to let go and sit back and relax. if im not doing my job there is no way even the best group of specialist would be capable of creating something i belive

  27. Ahhaha that part of "continuity editing" isn't what I saw – I saw, what I'll call, "continuity of scene sequencing": from 00:23 and then it CUT TO 00:26 then CUT TO 00:28 – did you see the problem? Went from mass busy street scene to some random parking lot – that is the fail I saw, and today I'll declare it as "continuity of scene sequencing".

  28. Great video! I disagree about the scene in FULL METAL JACKET, though. I think the sergeant was deliberately "faking out" Modine's character by pretending to hit with his left, then actually hitting with his right—a common fight tactic. If you watch the scene with that in mind, it looks fine.

  29. It is easy to make mistakes. Notice how the author is making a video about mistakes in production…yet fails @3:52 to note the spelling error they made. Oops.

  30. Most of the time it doesn't matter, but sometimes it absolutely does, but that's typically deliberately done on the part of the storyteller. Take Carpenter's The Thing. It tells you to pay attention to details like clothing and character absences, so suddenly continuity matters a ton, because it's integral to the story being told.

  31. The water glass scene is not a mistake. That was done intentionally.

    Edit: later found, It's intentionally mentioned in this video too.

  32. Interestingly in that first example, I didn't even notice the missing jacket. I did, however, immediately notice that the train passing in the first shot is a different train in the second shot. ,

  33. Because I watch a film a couple times if I like it, I will eventually notice things in many of them. 2 hours of perfection is very hard to achieve.

    Rarely does a continuity error distract me much the first time through, even if I catch it.

    On later viewings I'll actually stop the movie and rewatch the error to try to guess how/why it was missed by the masters.

    I'd put sudden hair changes in the number one position (most frequent). Even a small change in the way hair lays is noticeable if it switches back and forth from shot to shot to shot. Easy to guess how andcwhy on small hair glitches.

    But trying to understand how a hair mistake like the one in Live Free or Die Hard got by really stumps me.

    Maggie Q (Mai) gets in a brutal fight with Bruce Willis (McClane) at the power plant. Her hair is tied back, then untied, then tied back and neat as a pin… All during the fight. No excuse for that on a big budget film. Good movie but totally flubbed that scene.

  34. It's not an editing error, it's a directing error. The director is supposed to revise the last cuts and try as much as possible, to keep things in the new cuts as they were in the last ones. The editor just works with the footage he's got.
    Either way, continuity definitely does not matter, as long as the movie is compelling enough. That said, I feel bad for people that live to find those errors.

  35. As an actor I see mistakes being different than continuity errors. Seeing a crew member's foot or a boom in a shot is different than a cigarette magically switching hands. Also the current viewing culture suffers from the belief that they are owed realism in film. Past generations weren't hung up on this. In the '50s when they threw a dummy off a bridge, viewers understood what the dummy represented. It didn't take them out of the scene and they followed the action. It's a movie. It's not real. This and rampant ADHD where viewers focus on the wrong things and won't shut up about it. Follow the sentiment of the scene. Don't fixate on if the actor is following perfect FBI firearm protocol. It's really annoying.

  36. For me this mistakes do not really matter. When I go to movie I am watching for the story. I even do not see them if I do not watch some weird YouTube video that points them to me.

  37. A film production costs $200 million and more: You would think they can afford an Army of continuity staff to look at the scene, and another look at the film after each take. so where does all the Money go to? something fishy going on In Hollywood and NEW York, because No other country (Other than USA) spends that much money on a production that lasts less than a year.

  38. I thought it was the kid's cup disappearing. There's a cup and a straw and as he walks across the track no cup.

  39. Yeah but there are other ways to solve continuity errors that don't degrade the rest of the scene. For instance, a basic video editor could easily edit the cameraman out of that final scene where the man is walking his baby down the stairs. Or pre-planning for that could be that they place some object, such as a few golf clubs or a cardboard cutout of Patrick Swayze in front of that part of the window in which the cameraman appears. It does not take anything away from the scene and prevents the people from noticing the cameraman.

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