In filmmaking, there’s this thing called continuity…which consists of paying attention to the little things so you don’t make a big mistake. Continuity errors are when something obvious changes within a scene. For example, a man is wearing a blue shirt. When you cut away and then back to him, he’s wearing a yellow shirt. Now nine out of ten times, you can probably get away with a subtle mistake…BUT every once in a while, you will get caught. This is a big problem because as filmmakers, you want your audience to be immersed in the story. When a viewer catches a mistake, it breaks the illusion and reminds them that they’re actually watching video. This impairs your pacing and distracts from the story.
The sad thing is, while you may think nobody will notice your minor flub, there are TONS of people that thrive on the little mistakes. Check youtube – there’s video on video of people pointing out the oversights in major blockbusters.
“Did you see that crew member in jeans behind Mel Gibson in Braveheart?”
“I think Frodo’s scar is on the wrong side of his face.”
With a short commercial or promo video, the results of a mistake are even more dire. With a minute or less to win over your audience, any time they waste analyzing your mistakes could be detrimental to your message.
Catching blunders in the production process saves you from a lot of agonizing later on. Trust me, the last thing you want is to produce a FABULOUS video, save the one continuity error that throws off the entire thing. A good way to avoid mishaps is to always have a continuity supervisor on hand at video shoots. This person will keep an eye on the script as you shoot to keep you on track as well as look out for continuity. If an actor does a movement, the continuity supervisor will make note of it to make sure they repeat that movement for each take from every different angle. They may also take pictures of set arrangement to make sure everything stays in its place.
Don’t think that having a continuity supervisor lets you off the hook, however. EVERYONE on set should be looking out for errors. This will help ensure that there will always be at least one person who can right the wrongs.
Check out these clips from the CW’s hit teen drama One Tree Hill. I mean, come on! Some of the mistakes are so obvious. You don’t want to look like these guys, do you?