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 films.

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:

  1. Film sequences are rarely shot in the order they appear in the edited picture.
  2. Long-shots, Medium-shots, and Close-ups are usually grouped together.
  3. 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:

  1. Card games are "ideally suited for illustrating or simulating classifications, interactions, and relationships." (Ellington et al., 1982)
  2. Cards are a good means of representing individual shots in the raw footage of a scene.
  3. Cut! as a whole simulates the process of logging the raw footage.

Rules Read all the rules before beginning play.

The aim of Cut! is to be the first to discard all your cards.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Starting with the player to the dealer's left, each player adds one card to the Discard Stack maintaining the continuity of the sequence.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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 face-down stack.
  7. 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 re-initiates play.
  8. The game is over when the first player has discarded all his/her cards.

    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, of course!).

Card Design

Some sequencing examples:

Some non-examples:

Deck Design The Cut! deck shown in the section Card Design consists of 32 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.