When planning and creating and editing your film it is important to keep in mind the rules of continuity. Continuity refers to the consistency of characters objects and plots within the film as seen by the viewer.

Continuity editing has a number of rules that need to be observed to preserve either temporal or spatial continuity. These are:

  • 180 degree Rule
  • Match-on-action
  • Eyeline matches
  • The 30 degree Rule
  • Shot-reverse-shot editing

A typical scene edited in this style will follow a similar pattern:

  • The scene will begin with a master shot this will often be a long shot that establishes the basic spatial pattern of the scene
  • The editor will then cut closer into the action. If it’s a dialogue-driven scene, there may be a combination of 2 shot MCU or CU on important lines.
  • An action scene will use more close ups and use pacing for effect.

The 180 degree rule

One of the most important rules of continuity is called the 180 degree rule, or “crossing the line”.

The 180° rule is a basic guideline in film making that states that two characters (or other elements) in the same scene should always have the same left/right relationship to each other. If the camera passes over the imaginary axis connecting the two subjects, it is called crossing the line.

180 degree Rule (learnaboutfilm.com)

 

Match-on-action

Used to show the temporal progression of the action. If the character in one shot approaches a door, they must be shown as going through it in the next shot without repeating the action or skipping the action. If the action is not matched, the cut would be visible, producing what is called a jump cut.

Eyeline matches

When two characters are looking at each other between shots, their eyeliner must match up so it looks like they are looking at each other and not just staring into space.

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The 30 degree rule

If shot angles differ by less than 30 degrees, the cut will produce a noticeable jump as the angles are too similar to be cut together.

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Shot reverse shot

refers to the back and forth method often used for conversations and reaction shot cutaways. Often looks as follows:

Shot one: Actor one, framed to the left of frame in MCU looking toward frame right.

Shot two: Actor two, framed to right of frame in MCU looking frame left.

Shot three: As shot one

Shot four: As shot two

CHALLENGE:

Using the script provided, shoot and edit a scene twice:

  • once that follows the rules of continuity
  • once that breaks all the rules