by Heike Pfeifle
Heike is a foreign exchange student from Germany. Her
undergraduate major was Telecommunications and Film. She loves
photography and traveling.
Instructional Objective Given a Cut! deck, the
learner will be able to distinguish between shots taken from either
side of a scene (see Figure 1: The axis of interaction) by sequencing
the shots represented on the cards in Cut! without
interrupting the continuity of the sequence. Continuity in this game
means to stay on one side of the interaction axis.
Figure 1: The axis of interaction.
Learners/Context The learners are Telecommunications and
Film students who have just completed a unit on continuity in
Cut! is intended for in-class practice of this recently
taught unit. It is designed for groups of two to four players.
Telecommunications and Film is a program that involves many
technology demonstrations which require splitting a class in small
groups. Therefore, Cut! could also be played by students
waiting their turn for such a demonstration. The faculty in charge of
the corresponding class would hand out the sets of cards.
Rationale A major factor for the coherence of a film is
continuity. Three conditions make it difficult, especially for a
novice, to maintain continuity:
- Film sequences are rarely shot in the order they appear in the
- Long-shots, Medium-shots, and Close-ups are usually grouped
- Due to (1) and (2), the actors and props might be moved around
in the setting.
Thus, a film team might accidentally cross the interaction axis
between shots of the same scene. However, even if the mistake is not
noticed during the shooting, it can still be detected while the raw
footage is reviewed for useable shots before editing. This process is
called logging. Logging is an important step in the post-production
of a movie because if shots from different sides of a scene were
edited into a sequence, actors would switch sides on the screen
without actually moving.
A card game lends itself to practicing discriminating such shots
for three major reasons:
- Card games are "ideally suited for illustrating or simulating
classifications, interactions, and relationships." (Ellington et
- Cards are a good means of representing individual shots in the
raw footage of a scene.
- Cut! as a whole simulates the process of logging the
Rules Read all the rules before beginning play.
The aim of Cut! is to be the first to discard all your
- Choose someone to be the first dealer. Shuffle the set of 32
cards and deal seven cards to each player (with two or three
players) or five cards to each player (for four players), starting
with the player to the dealer's left.
- Put the remaining cards in a stack, face down, in the middle
of the playing surface. Place the top card face up next to this
stack, starting the Discard Stack.
- Starting with the player to the dealer's left, each player
adds one card to the Discard Stack maintaining the continuity of
- If a player does not have a playable card in hand, s/he draws
the top card of the face-down stack. If s/he still does not have a
playable card, the game passes on to the next player.
- Blank cards may be used anytime. After a blank card is played,
the top card of the face-down stack is placed face up onto the
Discard Stack to re-initiate play. The game continues with the
second player to the left. (For two players this means that the
player who discarded the blank card continues.)
- If one of the players notices that a fellow player is breaking
the continuity of the Discard Stack, the player who put the wrong
card has to take that card back plus an additional card from the
- When there are no more cards in the face-down stack, take the
cards of the Discard Stack except the top one and put them face
down next to the top card which remains face up. This card
- The game is over when the first player has discarded all
After the game, the players lay out the Discard Stack on the
playing surface (plus the face-down stack if rule #7 had to be
applied during the game) in the order the cards were discarded.
The students go through the sequence checking for interruptions of
the continuity that they might have missed during play. If they
disagree on a certain part of the sequencing, the faculty should
be asked for clarification.
If time permits, Cut! can be extended:
Based on the sequence of cards the students have just laid out,
they have to come up with a story, taking turns. In addition, the
students are asked to smooth out the sequence by rearranging
Long-shots, Medium-shots, and Close-ups. They may also insert
cards that they have left in their hands (maintaining continuity,
Some sequencing examples:
- A, B, and D could be played in sequence.
- C and D could be played in sequence.
- B, E, and F could be played in sequence.
- A and C could not be played in sequence. (The briefcase would
switch from one hand into the other.)
- D and E could not be played in sequence. (The actors would
Deck Design The Cut! deck shown in the section Card
Design consists of 32 cards:
- Type A: 4 Long-shots (2 from each side of the interaction axis
with briefcase in either hand)
- Type C/E: 12 Medium-shots (6 from each side with briefcase in
- Type D: 4 Close-ups (2 from each side)
- Type F: 4 Extreme Close-ups (2 from each side)
- Type B: 4 Detail-shots (2 of each hand)
- 4 blank cards
For more variety, different Cut! decks could be based on
different scenes but still follow the same basic pattern. In this
case, (scanned) photographs instead of hand drawn cards would cut
down on production time.
Design Process Cut! is based on a German card game
called Mau-mau. The aim of Mau-mau is to be the first
to discard all one's cards following either the suit or face value of
the card last played. Although there are some more hurdles to
overcome in Mau-mau, the rules are still simple enough not to
interfere with the instructional purpose of Cut!
A group game was preferred over the solitaire format because a
group game not only corresponds to the team efforts in film making
but also has the potential to provide the players with immediate
feedback on their performance. This interaction was considered very
important to keep each player's attention on the game.
References Ellington, H., Addinall, E., & Percival, F.
(1982). A handbook of game design. London: Kogan Page.