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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old January 6th, 2004, 10:59 PM   #1
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Coffee Cups

This has nothing whatsoever to do with filmmaking, per se. But it's been on my mind for quite a long time and I figured that someone here (Charles?) might be able to offer an explanation.

Why is it that 9 times out of 10 (statistical sampling not scientific) the same design of paper coffee cup is used in films? You know, the 8oz blue and white cups that look like the kind you sometimes see in Chinese restaurants. Is it because one company supplies such common props?
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Old January 6th, 2004, 11:48 PM   #2
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Let me add another question...if I may, Ken. Why is it that you always see people in movies and TV wearing the same 1940s-style robe, it's kind of an earthy rust colored big thick style with white Indian-style designs?

Start noticing robes in movies and on TV and you'll be amazed how many times it appears.
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Old January 7th, 2004, 12:45 AM   #3
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Hey, if Hollywood can recycle the same damn story 40 times over in a given year, they sure can use the same props in multiple movies!

Also, I hate to be the one to reveal it to you guys, but there is actually only one prop shop in all Hollywood, and it is operated out of the basement of Steven Spielberg's home. True story.
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Old January 7th, 2004, 06:48 PM   #4
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Speaking of coffee cups, I was watching one of those behind the scenes shows about the LOTR and I saw all the cast drinking coffee durung break in filming. They just stopped the action, and stayed on set. The cups were tan.

Here was the question I had-Do you use earth tone cups so if a few end up on film, they will blend in, of do you use bright red so that they can be seen and rounded up easily by the PAs?
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Old January 7th, 2004, 07:20 PM   #5
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I would imagine it's because they're "Starbucks" cups.
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Old January 7th, 2004, 09:19 PM   #6
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No, it's because they're all taken from Spielberg's basement. True story.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 08:11 AM   #7
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What a disappointment. Here I thought this thread was going to announce the sale of DVINFO coffee mugs on cafepress.com. I was all set to buy one. Oh well, back to the Bugs Bunny mug.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 08:57 AM   #8
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If such mugs exists one day, I will surely order one! This could be a cool way to sponsorise this board. Drinking my 8734643 coffees while editing in a DVINFO mug could be inspiring!
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Old January 8th, 2004, 02:07 PM   #9
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Oops. Sorry guys. I didn't mean to mislead.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 02:21 PM   #10
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My related pet peeve is that 9 times out of 10 you can tell that the coffee cups are actually empty and they're pantomiming drinking, or even if there is some liquid in them it clearly isn't hot coffee just based on how they handle them.

In my own field, practical liquids and glassware on stage are always a tricky issue. Years ago when they came out with those fake plastic champagne glasses we thought this was a huge boon to stage props to have something that was both inexpensive and unbreakable. But a director that I often work with absolutely refuses to have them. He says that if somebody does drop one that plastic sound will completely ruin a scene, and he would much rather deal with cleaning up a broken glass. Actually, I suppose he could be right about this...
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Old January 8th, 2004, 02:26 PM   #11
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The bigger problem with edible-consumption scenes is continuity.

Is the glass half full, or half empty?
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Old January 8th, 2004, 02:36 PM   #12
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I recently attended a talk given by Conrad Gonzales, one of the three editors for the HBO series "The Sopranos". During the q&a someone asked how the editors deal with continuity on a series in which so many scenes feature someone eating.

He grinned and shrugged. He said they do their best but basically had to put that consideration on the back row for most scenes. It was a futile effort. They count on the quality of the story and the acting to distract the viewer for many scenes.

Of course his remarks beg you to re-watch episodes looking for errors.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 02:41 PM   #13
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... which calls to mind one of my all time favorite commercials, the Alka-Seltzer "That's-a-spicy meat-a-ball-a" :-)
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Old January 8th, 2004, 02:50 PM   #14
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Watched a Dinner for Five episode a while back on IFC where Jon Favreau was talking to an editor of how some old-time actors really had it down pat as to how to get more screen time...

They would take a sip from a glass, or just hold a glass or something when their line is being spoken, and then put it down when the other person speaks. When you cut back, the lack of glass throws off the flow of continuity a bit, so the editor would often keep showing them until they put the glass down.

How tricky!
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Old January 8th, 2004, 02:58 PM   #15
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<<<-- Originally posted by Boyd Ostroff : My related pet peeve is that 9 times out of 10 you can tell that the coffee cups are actually empty and they're pantomiming drinking, or even if there is some liquid in them it clearly isn't hot coffee just based on how they handle them.->>>

I think the best pantomimer I've seen to date of this deceptively simple action was Gary Cole who played the boss (Bill Lumbergh) in "Office Space". His ubiquitious coffee cup is a theme of his character and his thoughtful (evil plotting!) sipping punctuates his scenes. I was surprised to discover after a week or two that the cup was always empty (you couldn't see it from the camera perspective) because he did such a good job of faking it.
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