Tuesday, April 12, 2005

A quick word on "Continuity Boy"

I just wanted to take a moment to explain the name of my blog. “Continuity Boy” is a play on the classical Hollywood tradition of referring to the person who supervised the script and the continuity between shots as a “Continuity Girl”. This has recently transmogrified through political correctness to “Script Supervisor”. This person (who is pretty much always female, hence the demeaning use of “Girl”) has the incredibly difficult task of checking that all shots specified in the script are filmed during production, correctly labelled so that the editor can locate them, and that all details of wardrobe, makeup, actor and prop locations remain the same across shots that may be filmed months apart. Whenever film viewers spot “continuity errors” in a film, e.g. a cigarette that is suddenly burnt down across shots, these are mistakes made during production that should have been fixed by the script supervisor. However, the blame for bad continuity cannot be solely placed on the script supervisor as their job requires them to tell many other members of the production staff how to do their job in a way that creates eventual continuity and as such miscommunications and power struggles can often make this task very difficult. Script Supervisors get my up most respect.

A good description of a script supervisor’s job can be found here.

The reason why script supervisors are almost always female is due to the gender differences in our ability to store and compare visual information. Females typically perform better on tasks that require visual information to be processed in parallel with other sensory signals and then stored in memory. This is thought to be due to the fact that the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that links the right and left hemispheres, is a fifth larger in women. This means women can process multiple sensory signals and perform parallel cognitive processes (such as perception and storage in memory) better than men. There is also a theory that oestrogen levels in women give them an added advantage in spatial memory. By comparison men are better at extracting spatial information from a visual scene and reconstructing/transforming this information to compare views of a space (this is best exemplified in mental rotation tasks). These different styles of visual information processing mean that men and women typically differ in how they approach a task such as reading a map. Men can abstract from the spatial relationships represented on a map (e.g. corners, distances, sizes) to the real space quite well whilst women typically prefer to use landmarks and salient visual features.

This increased attention to detail explains why women are typically better at spotting and keeping track of continuity errors across shots (although a Polaroid/digital camera also comes in handy).

Sorry to disappoint the readers who thought the name “Continuity Boy” indicated that I was actually a superhero sidekick. I wish. Although the image induced by that interpretation is one that warrants a cartoon……


scott said...

Your blog is upside down...get it sorted!!

Tim J. Smith said...

I'm trying. Blogger is being odd!

Ah, the joys of automation!

Anonymous said...

!!down upside still it's

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Smith, my hat's off to ya. Finally someone gets it. Well said.
very truly,
script girl