I am currently on one of those shows that is all encompassing. We are establishing between 10 and 20 costumes a day and the script travels between India, Brazil and San Francisco.
The background players are changing constantly between scenes and countries. This week we have done explosions, bullet hits, fight sequences and everything else in you can imagine!
Sadly no, I am not getting to travel with the costumes this time, so it will be up to the Actors, Producer and Director to do the follow through on the continuity.
So I am taking great care to write everything out in full.
In the costume department our description and notes are often written in a short hand and I have found that it can be very difficult for others not in our department to read. Actually, it is even difficult for people in our department to read.
Keep in mind when you are sending costumes and notes to the 2nd unit, or halfway around the world, to spend the time to make sure your notes are clear for those getting them. I have finally stopped writing any shorthand at all do to the amount of new costumers I have doing 2nd units and the confusion that shorthand notes are causing.
A quick plea for anybody who gets notes and doesn’t understand them, give the supervisor a call! I would rather you give me a call and confirm the information then having to do a re-shoot to fix an error!
An average costume shorthand continuity description might look like this:
And this translates to:
Shirt – Black, Long sleeve, Button down, Button front, 1 Top button open, Collar buttons closed, Not tucked in, Sleeve buttons closed, Actors own/personal.
Here are a few costume shorthand notes you might see and their translated meanings:
BLK – black
WHT – white
GRY – Grey
L/S – long sleeve
S/S – short sleeve
BD – Button Down, a shirt with a buttoned collar
BF – Button Front, a dress or causal shirt that buttons up the front
1TBO – 1 top button open
1TBUD – 1 top button undone
1BBO – 1 bottom button open
1BBUD – 1 bottom button undone
SLBC – sleeve buttons closed
SLR2x – sleeve rolled 2x
NTI – Not tucked in
UT – untucked
H/O – Her own, His own
A/O – actors own
**This is just a quick list that comes to mind right now. There are more… many more… far too many to list right here. Maybe it deserves its own page! Keep a list and see what you get, pass it on to other costumers… and share with me!
Costume shorthand can be foreign language to a person not used to it! I admit it may take a bit longer to write notes out in full, but isn’t better to be confident that your notes will always be understood by anyone, anywhere at anytime!
So I leave you this week with a musical moment. This make me think of a great friend dancing through the costume office crooning this song, giving us a smile to lighten a tense moment in our day. Thank you for the memory Mr. Bigg!!