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Thread: Question about continuity

  1. Default Question about continuity

    Hey! I'm brand new to this forum. I don't know how often I'll be on here, but I more and more have the impression that such places are a good way to get a general background in different subject areas, especially with anything movie related. Therefore, maybe I should stick around

    Anyway, this has been a burning question of mine ever for some time now. How do you maintain a sense of continuity with audio? In many movies and tv shows, I see it done flawlessly when a conversation is taking place. Say there is a conversation between two people, sitting across from each other at a relatively small table. One character is talking and the camera is focused on him/her as he/she talks. Then, the other person starts talking without an immediate cut from the person previously talking. However, after a few words from the other character, the camera cuts to this other character without missing a beat. Without any pause. How do you do this???? Does the crew just use two cameras instead of one, both continuously rolling and therefore making it easy to match the audio?

    What about when the camera is further back, so that both are on screen and then the camera cuts closer up to one of the characters as they are talking? How does an editor do this so perfectly as to have such a technique go unnoticed to the passive viewer?

    I feel like I could improve the quality of my short films immensely if I figured out how to do this.

    EDIT: By the way, I usually use iMovie. As soon as I can earn some money, I hope to get final cut, but until then, iMovie is what I have.

  2. #2


    Hi and welcome. Every production needs some 'cut aways' or nodding heads. These can either be filmed with 2 cameras or on one. With one camera, after the shoot, just ask the talent to nod their heads as though listening. These can be cut in at any point to keep the main audio flowing but adding another viewpoint. The same for hands. Film the hands afterwards too, either holding a glass/cup/paper and use these shots too.
    Camera further back shot obviously needs two cams, one on close up the other wide.
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  3. #3
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    In addition to what Zero says ...

    This can be done with two (or more cameras), but normally in a production the scene, or parts of it, will be filmed several times with one camera.
    There are several reasons for this - the scene may need to be lit differently from different angles and to avoid getting the equipment in the from one angle in the shot from abother being two obvious ones.

    There are a couple of simple "rules" which help make the cuts seamless:
    1. Make sure the cuts are between very different shots - at least 30 degrees in angle and/or a significant difference in size of shot (zoom)
    2. Cut on action - ie when someone/something within the shot is moving.

    If you cut between very similar shots - even if shot on the same camera, it just looks wrong - like what is known as a "jump cut". The viewer appears to have suddenly shifted position slightly, whereas a cut to a very different viewpoint seems natural.

    When you cut on action, the viewer is focussed on the action and so the surrounding parts of the image changing are not so noticable.

    As for sound changing, Google "L" cuts and "J" cuts. A simple concept which you've described well. The audio is cut in advance of or behind the previous scene. EastEnders, in particular, makes extensive use of L cuts not just within one scene but between scenes. We often hear the sound of the new locaton for as much as a second before the visuals switch.

  4. #4


    The above answers are excellent advice that you should follow. The way I do thing with a single camera is to shoot a scene for one angle all the way through. ie a conversation between two people. Shoot over the shoulder of person A pointing at person B. Then do the whole thing again changing the camera to shoot over the shoulder of person B pointing at person A. Then if you want wide shots of the same scene shoot the whole thing again with the camera pointing at both of them. This gives you a two shot and two over the shoulder shots to play with in the editing. The mics would be hidden clip on or lav mics which would never change so the audio would match up no matter where the camera was.

    So it's the not changing the audio set up that really gives you the continuity on the audio, no matter where you put the camera the sound remains the same. Big time Hollywood movies do a lot of over dubbing which is recording the sound again in a sound studio where the actor lip syncs to the conversation on the screen. If you do your job right on set you shouldn't need to do that at our level. The other thing to do is record some ambient sound of the surrounding area even if that is a quiet room. This can then be used as Foley sound to help with the continuity of a scene.

    Is that the kind of thing you meant.

  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Midnight Blue View Post
    Is that the kind of thing you meant.
    Indeed it is! I still feel like there may be issues with everything matching up, but perhaps it will be unnoticeable. I may be wrong though. I'll find out. Actually, that probably won't be as much of an issue once I get some decent audio equipment instead of just using the one on the camera. Thanks to all of you for answering!

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