Audio & Video Design

Audio & Video Design Module 5: Continuity

Intro:

In module five, I created a how-to video using multiple camera angles and cuts to practice continuity. It was easy to forget where in the frame things were supposed to be from take to take, so I definitely had to do some work in editing to make sure my cuts matched up nicely.

Reading:

I was back at The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video this week. My reading began with chapter three: Basic Sequence. Using both description and illustrations, the chapter explained that a sequence is a group of shots that are used to keep the viewer’s interest. Instead of having two characters speak to each other in one wide shot, the sequence uses a combination of wide, medium and close up shots to make the content more dynamic. The chapter went on to discuss the best ways to shoot and edit your sequence including cutting on action and creating clean entrance and exit in each shot. These tricks keep the viewer from becoming confused when you cut from shot to shot.

Chapter four discussed screen direction. Screen direction, or the way people or objects face when viewed through the camera, and therefore on screen, is very important for continuity. If you’re recording two people speaking to each other from one side, and then skip to a shot on the other side, it will look like the person is facing the wrong direction which could confuse the audience. While it’s safest to stay on one side of the axis of action, there are ways to get around this issue including having your subject change direction within the frame, moving the camera while recording to show that you’re now shooting from the other side, crossing the line with a reference, cutting on action or including a POV cut.

Research

Back once again with a reference to Wes Anderson. Honestly…I don’t actually watch a lot of movies, but I know his work like the back of my hand, so it tends to be my go-to when thinking of these examples. I think this scene shows continuity wonderfully – starting with the cross-section of the entire ship and moving into scenes from each of the rooms with a cutaway of Lord Mandrake in between.

The other movies I know inside and out… Harry Potter! This first introduction to Hogwarts is a good example of continuity getting the students from the train scene to inside the castle. I particularly like the cut from Hagrid mentioning the boats to the next shot of students on the boats. Since Hagrid told the audience boats would be involved, it was easy to understand why the next thing we’re seeing is boats instead of a train station.

I’ve always appreciated the set-up of Dr. Henry Jones: mild mannered (if not dreamy) archeology professor BEFORE we find out exactly who Indiana Jones really is.

Create

This week’s assignment was to create a how-to video using three camera angles. I decided that I would make my video about how to make hand rolled beeswax candles. I figured the content would be simple enough, and replicable. The last part is important because the best way to create a sequence with multiple camera angles is to shoot the entire scene from each angle and then edit them together. I, in fact, made three candles but my video only shows me making one from three different angles.

I now completely understand how continuity errors slip by in creating films and tv shows. I had a terrible time keeping straight from one shoot to the next which side the wick should be on, where my hands should go, if my scissors should be in frame or out. It probably would have been helpful to have help on this project, but I think with some creative editing I was able to pull it together.

I paid special attention to giving myself clean entrances and exits while filming each take – trying to slow my hands down and not rush on to the next step. During editing I tried to match on action when possible to make for smoother transitions from one angle to the next.

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