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.

Comments 100

  • 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…

  • Who the fuck cares about small minor inconsistencies? Just enjoy the film. Stop wasting hours upon hours nitpicking tiny mistakes from movies that no one gives a fuck about ok?

  • Did you also. Otite that the train at 0:10 sec. If full of ads on the side and at 0:18 there’s no ads on the train? LOL

  • I suppose you can add Ben Affleck's beard (and basically every reshoot) in Justice League

  • Great great video. Thank you very much. The other two mistakes: different train, and the paper cup child is holding.

  • The shutter island scene didn't have the glass on purpose

  • Martin Scorsese has the worst edited films I've ever seen. Also, in my experience women make the worst film editors. I don't know why, I think it's because they have no rhythm and they're always using stupid transitions, tints and black and white for no reason. Just because it's an artistic style doesn't mean it's not shit.

  • In the First Scene with the jacket – there are two different trains one white with commerical first and after that a grey train without any commercials.WOW!

  • You missed the train 1st before the jacket

  • Also the little ones cup of juice is gone

  • 7:45 "SKU MAKER" HAAH

  • The train is different, of course the jacket you mentioned, but also he just crossed the street and is now in the parking lot without even going around all the railing and fence between where he crossed and the lot in the first place.

  • Continuity matters whether an error is noticed or not, because there is still subliminal communication, and that can affect the viewing experience without the viewer even being aware of it. Continuity in Kubrick's films is a topic all on its own. He was super aware of continuity, and messed with it on purpose at times – there's a fair chance that moment in Full Metal Jacket wasn't an 'error' at all, but who can say? Maybe an intentional subtle break in continuity performs a mind-trick on the audience, sabotages their critical thinking enough so they will accept the illusion on the screen as reality, and get absorbed in the movie

  • what's the first movie?

  • How could you not notice the jacket

  • Two mistakes at first scene. The tram colour. In first scene it's look like colours on the train or kind of advertisements but in the next scene it's seen only grey colour

  • I often notice many (ones like wolf of wall street) as the scene often a conversation, goes back and forth. And I always think "it is probably coz (for example) DiCaprio's dialogue in that angle (or take) was better than the other actor's in that same take and the other actor's dialogue was better in a different take".
    ..
    I don't see why some people make a fuss over those things.
    I just enjoy the scene and try to trust the editor's criteria. Coz after all, once the footage is delivered is not like he's (the editor) gonna fabricate a non existent scene to make it match perfectly.

  • What about the glass of cold drink in the toddlers hand(in the start of the video) that was also missing.

  • That Shutter Island scene is more specifically there because (spoilers):

    Andrew has a fear of water because that’s what his children died by so he is editing it out of his perception

  • The train is different too

  • Poor script supervisors… they're entirely livelihood just thrown away…

  • 3:31 DRILL INSTRUCTOR not DRILL SERGEANT!!! (In the Army they are called Drill Sergeants, in the Marine Corps it is position and then full rank, ie Senior Drill Instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. And yes, you do have to yell that shit out in Marine Corps boot camp.) -continuity

  • From filmstudies.info: "A continuity error is an error were[sic] consistency is not maintained between cuts in a film." In some of your examples, I'd consider them "goofs," instead, e.g. the Pirates of the Carribean one, rather than CEs. Continuity errors, as the name implies, are a kind of goof that potentially breaks the flow of the story by distraction it causes just like the jacket in your video. Another kind of goof is an _anachronism_, like a character in a period film wearing a watch when this hasn't been invented yet in that particular setting (unless he's a time traveler from the future).

  • I noticed the other mistake after looking at it again, in the shot from behind the character there is a fence. But when he looks up there is no fence

  • I like to spot continuity errors.it fun.keep doing it I say.in fact do it on purpose to see if we notice.be better at it.make it more difficult for us.
    Modern wristwatches in period dramas is a good one.

  • Thelma Schoonmaker, the editor for the wolf of wall street is right, if the story is powerful enough and you feel invested in the characters emotions mistakes do not matter as much as they usually would, so to a certain extent It's on the writer's and directors.

  • The baby had a plastic cup in his hand before the train passed. In the next scene, the boy's hands are empty.

  • I found a evne bigger continuity error. After the crossing the dad is on a parking lot with a car. That's the real ERROR here!

  • Just for the scholars out there, a lot of these examples aren’t continuity issues. Continuity deals with a part of a scene containing an item that is then either changed or nonexistent in a later cut in the same scene. If a crewmember is spotted in a shot, that’s not continuity that’s just a mistake.

  • Where have I see that guy from the first scene from? He looks so familiar.

    EDIT: Oh it’s the guy from Scott Pilgrim vs The World right?? The lead singer of the band!

  • I noticed a shit ton of continuity errors in wolf of wall street.

  • I thought it was the cup that the kid was holding before crossing.

  • Btw it's "sh" and shot, shutter – when you say Sch(sh)oon-maker. Related to a German or Belgian word: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/schoon .

  • Watching it in 2019 :
    0:11 The train in two separate shots are different : White carriages with advertising stickers on, as train enters frame from the right, and then a Grey train carriages, as it leaves the frame.
    7:25 The woman drinks water from an invisible glass with her right hand, and puts a real glass down with her left.

    In a YouTube video, Martin Scorsese actually showed a continuity error in one of his early films (Mean Streets, I think) where Harvey Keitel has different hair cuts in the same scene.

    As long as you don't dilute the 58% of emotional connectivity, it's just a movie…

  • Oddly, I noticed a huge transition in myself somewhere in my late teens when continuity errors stopped bothering me. When I was Middle School aged and first actively started watching films (rather than passively being babysat by them), I'd notice a million plot holes and continuity errors in everything and be driven nuts. Then somewhere during college, I stopped noticing as much and by my late 20s I didn't care at all—barring errors so bad they detracted from the experience. I wonder what that's about? Is that unique to me? Is it a maturity thing or a familiarity thing?

  • the train also changes the color

  • and the train was white and then was silver… WTFF

  • Anyone notice the kid doesnt have his drink at that point too??? 1:25 i thought that was what was missing

  • Saw the jacket and the cup did not notice the train.

  • I didn't notice the jacket but I noticed the icee/slushie the baby is drinking disappears.

  • Amazing channel; happy to have it discovered

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The shutte risland glass cup is apropriate to the movie, and is not a coninuity error

  • 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.

  • The scene where you see the camera man is not a 'continuity error'; it's just bad filmmaking

  • I'd still blame the costume director though

  • I didn't see the train or the jacket definitely noticed the baby's cup disappear though…

  • Very interesting thanks for putting together.

  • 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.

  • The kid's milkshake disappears

  • I don't like this video.

  • I noticed the cup being there before the train and gone after the train.

  • 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.

  • I don't see shit.

  • It's not only jacket that disappeared. Did you notice anything else?

  • If you're looking for mistakes it means that you aren't looking at the story.

  • 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 …

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

  • 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.

  • FINALLY some of old school

  • I rather find it funny! Nobody is perfect!

  • 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.

  • Commendable video you've made for aspiring editors and very deep research👍👏👏👏👏👏

  • The train is much more obvious than the jacket. Both are horrible mistakes how could that happen?

  • As editor watch a movie… Yeah

  • Great insight! Little continuity errors never really bother me if I’m engaged in a scene

  • 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…

  • 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.

  • God, you're good. It's 11:34pm, and I'm transfixed by the facial heatmaps. Thank you!

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

  • By your logic, this video is no good because of poor punctuation and grammar.

    (Which I don't believe.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The milkshake is gone too

  • I saw it, and in reality we do this everyday on purpose.

  • The train is different too

  • Oh, Hi mark!

  • didnt notice the jacket, I just saw that the boys drink was gone!

  • Continuity is overrated

  • The baby had a cup also and then didn't.

  • Train changed

  • Also, Mark's kid had a cup in his hand infront of a different train..

  • 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

  • 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.

  • The baby is also no longer holding a cup after the turn around

  • 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.

  • Well most of the time I am busy reading subtitles ….

  • it's also a different train (maybe I should have checked the comments first, haha)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Also the kid no longer has the drink not just the jacket missing

  • 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.

  • I live across the street from the start of the video. This is Pasadena

  • The cup in the kids hands disappears

  • the train tho, i felt like a PRO for a second but then he says its the Jacket…… 😒

  • I was distracted by the absolutely different train passing by… the jacket wasn't so important, I think. 🙂

  • Different train too.

  • How does this guy know he never made a film error if the other directors didn’t know they made a film error either?

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