THAT’S LIFE!


2872720463_c7b807a864So true are those words.

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!

Now that the weekend is here I am on my computer madly building a digital copy of the continuity notes, costume descriptions and photos to send to India and Brazil.A_Secretary_Franically_Taking_Dictation_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_110323-150987-951053

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.opeowoxxdwxeo

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:

35186_6165-womens-long-sleeve-button-down-poplin-shirt_largeShirt – BLK, L/S, BD, BF, 1TBO, CBC, NTI, SLBC, A/O

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!

5748644_f260Costume 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!!

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2 thoughts on “THAT’S LIFE!

  1. Shorthand….totally get how it can be miss-interpreted. I just finished a re-shoot and struggled tracking notes given to me in a continuity book in order to discuss with the director. Photos are worth a million words- truly and without question !! When re-written scripts are what you have to work with, the scene numbers matter less as the recall in directors and producers minds is on the action of each scene. So… longhand notes( with sizes and labels of each costume piece) are key to the costumer in order to find the correct continuity costume and photos are the key to matching the footage that editors keep in the movie.It takes moments to do this the first time around so do your best not to short cut in the beginning. All in all though…..a deep breath, a best informed guess and a laugh in the moment when you are ready to pull your hair out…. that’s life in our business !!

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