Tuesday, November 1, 2022


Before digital cameras were widely available, every movie set with any kind of budget at all had a person who went around taking Polaroids of everything, sets, props, actors. This person's job was to play a real life game of spot the difference.

Scenes are often filmed over the course of days, or in the case of reshoots even months, then stitched together in the editing room post-production. It was the job of the continuity person to go through the previous days Polaroids and make sure that the chair was in the same corner of the room and that the actor's tie hadn't changed color.

Some mismatches inevitably slip through, particularly on lower budget pictures. Other times, the discontinuities are noted but unavoidable.( at least before the modern age of digital retouching ) Carol Burnett often told the story of how she had had surgery on her jaw shortly after what she had assumed to be the final shooting for John Huston's screen version of Annie only to be told a few weeks later that the studio had requested reshoots. She immediately reached out to Houston and told him that she now had a much less prominent jaw and the new footage would not match the old. Houston reassured her that everything would be okay with the direction just go out and look determined.

Carol Burnett has one of the best reputations in the entertainment industry for professionalism and could hardly be blamed for not anticipating the studio's last minute decision. For a far more notorious example, the book The Devil's Candy which describes the disastrous production of Brian De Palma's Bonfire of the Vanities tells how Melanie Griffith returned from a break in the filming with much larger breasts, much to the surprise of the director and the producers.

Continuity jumps can be distracting and often unintentionally amusing in a feature film or television show but they are far more troubling in footage that claims to depict real life events. While some may claim the camera doesn't lie, the editing room certainly can.

In the video below, Musk critic Philip E. Mason takes a close look at the debut of Elon Musk's Optimus. I've queued up the relevant section at 20:19. It goes for the next four minutes.


  1. What's amazing is how bad the robot is, even if it was actually doing what it claims to be doing. With more money than god, you'd think EM would have hired some competent robotics types, but I guess EM has the problem that anyone smart enought obe a competent robotics type knows better than to have anything to do with EM...

    1. Yeah, though I doubt that much money was actually spent on this. Tesla's R&D budget is tiny compared GM, VW, and the rest of the industry. Another one of the company's dirty little secrets.