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3 Things People Do Wrong When Making a Movie: Part 1

Posted On: February 1, 2013

February 1, 2013

Everything is better in list form. If the internet, as well as the clear inspiration for the tone of this blog, has taught me anything it’s that lists are always better.

3 Things People Do Wrong When Making a Movie

in no particular order.

Disclaimer: A lot of ‘mistakes’ can be justified with the ironclad argument “it was a creative choice.” There’s nothing I can do about that. Just use your best judgment when dealing with these so called ‘creative types.’

PART ONE: Know Where You Are

Problem:
The audience doesn’t know where each person or object is in relation to each other. Also known as Spatial Continuity

Example:
Each shot in your masterpiece is Composed beautifully. In a scene taking place in a very large lavish set: One character is in front of a window, one by the fire place, one by the door and one on the stairs. Each person has their own motifs and angles. The lighting is perfect, the background creates lines pleasing to the eye. Your DOP is ecstatic…. When cut together it doesn’t look like they are in the same area interacting with each other at all.

Unfortunately:
Walter Murch made a list of the top 6 things that are import to a scene. Spatial Continuity is on that list. This continuity is different from the stuff they make countless videos about. Spatial continuity is what gives the audience a mental image of the lay out of a scene/ location. If the audience is spending time trying to understand where each person is standing they wont enjoy your DOP’s exquisite frames or the important story happening the entire time.

BONUS YOUTUBE EXAMPLE:
This quick video on continuity starts off with a mini skit showing lots of different continuity errors that may occur. At the 30 second mark they cut from the table to someone cooking. It’s not completely jarring thanks to the context however there are no visual cues showing that he’s even in the same apartment.

DOUBLE BONUS
Q Media Solutions doing it right.

WE CAN FIX IT!
Even when making a video about hilariously bad continuity (linked above) the Spatial continuity is clearly defined. Although annoying, the audience can look past a glass getting slightly more full as dinner progresses. But if two people seem to be in different rooms when they are supposed to be together or vice versa it isn’t just annoying, it can change the feel of a scene or ruin the dramatic tension. Establishing shots or following ‘nose room’ and eye line rules will help keep the characters in place for the audience.

A few very quick and simple ideas easily forgotten on set and regretted in the editing suit. Take the extra minute to make sure you know where you are at all times.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE
The Shining: the whole point is to not know where you are.

Stay tuned for Part Two: Get On My Level, a word on camera placement.

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Hire Young and hire Smart. Steven is our resident go-to 2nd camera, grip, gaffer and media management man. After completing a school work-term, we decided he was too good to give up. q is his first (and we're hoping) last job in production for the next few years. Get to know Steve a bit better HERE ...

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