I have been editing video since I was 13 as a hobby, but when watching films and TV I never noticed “continuity errors”. Now that I do it professionally and almost everyday I can’t seem to escape them. It started when I was watching a sitcom on television at home (‘Rules of Engagement’ for anyone who is curious). The scene was four friends at a diner eating, and every time the camera angle changed the amount of food on the plate or the item of food an actor was eating changed dramatically. Ever since this defining moment in my life I have been watching intently for those little mistakes that the editor didn’t see (or did see and that was the only decent take or shot at the time of editing).
If you know anything about continuity errors you may have heard of the famous ones, such as in ‘The Gladiator’. In the Battle of Carthage scene you can spot a big gas tank in the back of a chariot and some modern piping. In ‘The Matrix’ the agents wear reflective sunglasses all the way through and in the reflections you catch glimpses of crew members, cameras, lightning equipment etc. The most famous of all though seems to be Dorothy’s pigtails in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, they change length all the way through the film, which would be fine if it was done periodically as it could even signify time passing faster in the dream, but it doesn’t. Instead they go from, long to short to medium length back to short. So unless there was a number of barber shops on the yellow brick road some serious continuity errors have been edited into the film.
In most cases the continuity errors don’t interfere with your enjoyment of the film. In fact they could even enhance it – try watching a film you’ve not seen for ages and watch closely to see if you can spot one. If you want to know which films have the most mistakes, check out this link here http://www.moviemistakes.com/top.php
Author: Darren Thomas, AV Executive