Screen Direction 101


The other day I stumbled upon this sweet website that made use of a few Film Continuity rules in a really fun and creative way!

Eternal Moonwalk is a quirky online tribute to Michael Jackson. It’s a simple crowdsourced website that asks its contributors to send videos of themselves moonwalking through frame. The clips are then randomly played to create the illusion of one continuous moonwalk.

The clips, of course, are as diverse as the countries of their submitters. So to create the illusion of a continuous walk the web makers ask everyone who submits a clip to adhere to a few cinematic rules, the very rules used to match moving action on screen. When the submissions stick closely to the rules, the clips match better and the walk looks smoother – kind of. The basic cinema rule used on this website is a Continuous Screen Direction. So just by applying these simple rules to something you shoot you can hope for a smooth, continuous cut.


– Start the action OFF SCREEN – this will establish the screen direction, in this case Right to Left; starting with an empty frame makes for a smoother cut


– Use the same shooting style – in this case they ask for a static shot; it’s harder to match clips that use different shooting styles; a hand-held shot won’t cut well with a static shot so it’s safer if all clips use the same shooting technique


– Shot Size – in this case because of the randomness of the clips they ask for a full body shot; if the entire person is on screen then the web makers can ensure a more or less similar lens size and a better match from shot to shot


– Continuous action – same action for every clip; if a character is running in one shot we expect him to keep running in the next shot


– Finish the action OFF SCREEN – the character exits frame camera left; we expect him to appear in the next clip from camera right; because each clip starts with a character entering frame from camera right we can assume that the walk is never-ending

The website had tens of thousands of submissions. At the top of the clips there is a counter measuring the length in kilometres moonwalked continuously by people, animals, vegetables and really random objects. The clips are quirky, different and some really inventive. There is no other continuity between clips except the rules just mentioned. What really makes this website work, is the continuous screen direction – everything moves from Right to Left. It’s not a smooth walk and no one would believe it is so, but these clips are really fun to watch. Some of them are quite surprising! Enjoy!

This entry was posted in continuity, film and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Screen Direction 101

  1. sannekurz says:

    Very cool idea…
    SZ Magazin, one of my favourite weekly additions to a national newspaper, is running once a year a curated edition with artworks, and only art works. “Edition 46” coz it’s always the 46th magazine in a year. Sometimes one artist can take the entire mag and design it, sometimes they got a focus on some issue. This year, it’s a technique. No, not moonwalk. But video art. 17 works of contemporary video artists such as Julian Rosenfeld (I’m so in love with his work! Especially his latest installation “American NIght” – perfectionism and sharp mind at its best!) and others.
    Have a look, perhaps you like the one or other…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s