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Why Our Brains Don’t Explode at Film Cuts

Why Our Brains Don’t Explode at Film Cuts

As an editor, I tend to notice mismatched cuts and continuity issues. I don’t chase them, but some are more obvious than others.  I enjoy picking on these narrative glitches but what I enjoy even more is realising that if the person next to me is not a “film-maker” they usually don’t pick it up.

That’s magical.

And a sweet reminder that great storytelling goes beyond perfect continuity. But we’ve proved that before.

But I never questioned why our brain doesn’t go crazy seeing seemingly illogical images following one another. That’s the question the team at Aeon Video tackled in the video essay below, based on an essay by Jeffrey M Zachs.

Elements of Response

The first instinct might be to consider that our brain has evolved in order to bare with cuts and create logic. But the video reminds us (or teaches us) that we naturally (aka biologically) are used to see life through millions of cuts created when we blink and have “saccades” (the effect of our eyes jolting 2 to 3 times every second. What?!)

What that mean is that from minute 1 we get to open our eyes, and way before we get to see our first film our brain (and the brain of our ancestors) is trained to fill in the gap. Of course that means that some errors are getting into the images we think we see all the time. (What-the-sequel?!)

The quickly reached conclusion here is that “Film cuts work because they exploit the ways our visual systems evolved to work in the real world.”

But watch the video below. It gives much more than that, with great examples and for once, the music it picked works seamlessly from A to Z. Very well done.