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A study of the significance and application of special-effects to the cinema

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A STUDY OF THE SIGNIFICANCE AND APPLICATION
OF SPECIAL-EFFECTS TO THE CINEMA
A T h e s is
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P re s e n te d to
t h e F a c u l ty o f t h e D ep artm en t o f Cinema
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U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u th e rn C a l i f o r n i a
In P a r t i a l F u lfillm e n t
o f t h e R e q u ire m e n ts f o r t h e D eg ree
M a s te r o f A rts
by
H a r r is o n H i l f i n g e r
S ep tem b er 1941
UMI Number: EP42665
All rights reserved
INFORMATION TO ALL USERS
The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted.
IE
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In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript
and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed,
a note will indicate the deletion.
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Dissertation Publishing
UMI EP42665
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This thesis, written by
.....................HARHlS.QjN...HXLF.maER......................
un der the direction o f h ..X ,S F a cu lt y C o m m i t t e e ,
a n d a p p r o v e d by a l l its m e m b e r s , has be en
p r es e n te d to a n d a c c e p te d by the C oun c il on
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G rad u ate S t u d y and Research in pa r ti a l fulfill ­
m e n t of th e r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r t h e d e g r e e of
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M S m J 3 F .A R .T S
Secretary
Date
F e b r u a r y .1 9 4 2
F aculty C om m ittee
hair man
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
I.
PAGE
INTRODUCTION
The p ro b le m . . . « ......................................
S ta te m e n t o f t h e p ro b le m
.
1
. .
1
. . . . . . .
1
Im p o rta n c e o f t h e s tu d y . . . . . . . .
1
The m ethod
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
M ethod o f p r o c e d u r e ...........................................
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
W
The r e p o r t
O r g a n iz a tio n o f t h e r e p o r t
. . . . . .
5
5
7
8
H is to r ic s ig n ific a n c e . . . . . . . . . .
8
C u rre n t im p o r ta n c e
D a y - to - d a y i n f l u e n c e
9
............................
The s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s f i l m
. . . . . . . .
S u m m ary ...............................................
III.
2
THE NATURE OF SPECIAL-EFFECTS.............................
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II.
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S o u rc e s o f m a t e r i a l ................................
3
ANALYSIS OF KING KONG
C re d its
S y n o p s is
A n a ly s is
.
10
12
14
........................
16
. . . . . . .
16
. . . . . . .
16
.............................................................
17
Ite m A A 1 .................................
17
Ite m AA2
.....................................
19
Ite m AA3
.................................
31
Ite m AA4
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ite m A A 5 ...................................................................
25
34
iii
CHAPTER
PAGE
Ite m AA6
..............................................................
•
Ite m A A 7 ..............................................
27
Ite m A A 8 ..................................................................
Ite m AA9
.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Item A B 1 .......................
Ite m AB2
. . . .
.................................................... '
30
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Ite m A B 5 .......................
34
37
..................................
Item AB4
IE
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Item AB7
29
32
Ite m A B 3 .....................................
Item AB6
26
39
43
44
................................................
46
....................................................
47
Item A B 9 ........................................................................
48
Ite m A C 1 ............................
49
Item A02
51
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Item AB8
Ite m AC3
.
.......................
........................................................
Item AC4
Item AC5
.......................
.......................
53
54
56
Item A C 6 ................................
57
Item A C 7 ................................................................. .... .
59
Item AC8
.....................................
61
Ite m AC9
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
63
Item ADI
..................................
64
Item AD2
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
66
Item AD3
............................
67
1V
CHAPTER
PAGE
Ite m AD4
Ite m AD5
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
..............................................................
Ite m A D S .....................................
73
74
76
A p p l i c a b i l i t y o f s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s to K ing Kong
76
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
79
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SUMMARY AID CONCLUSIONS . . ...........................................
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IV .
69
CHAPTER I
IHTRODUCTIOH
C in e m a tic s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s r e p r e s e n t a n i n t e g r a l p a r t
o f to d ay * s m o tio n p i c t u r e t e c h n i q u e , y e t j u s t how g r e a t a
p a r t t h e y p l a y i n b o t h t h e o r d i n a r y a n d u n u s u a l f ilm h a s n o t
b e e n d i s c u s s e d i n a n y o f t h e p u b l i c a t i o n s d e v o te d to t h e
I.
W
c o n s i d e r a t i o n o f m o tio n p i c t u r e m a t t e r s .
THE PROBLEM
s tu d y i s t w o - f o ld ;
The p u r p o s e o f t h i s
IE
S ta te m e n t o f t h e p ro b le m .
f i r s t , t o c o n s id e r th e s ig n if ic a n c e o f
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s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s te c h n iq u e s t o t h e cin em a , d i s c u s s i n g t h e i r
d i r e c t a n d i n d i r e c t i n f l u e n c e s u p o n m o tio n p i c t u r e p ro d u c ­
tio n p ro ced u res;
s e c o n d , t o r e v e a l t h e le g e r d e m a in o f t h i s
b r a n c h o f c in e m a to g ra p h y a s i t r e l a t e s t o a n o u t s t a n d in g
f i l m , i n o r d e r t o a r r i v e a t a b e t t e r u n d e r s ta n d in g o f t h e
a p p l i c a b i l i t y o f s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s p h o to g ra p h y t o f i l m
p ro d u c tio n .
Im p o rta n c e o f t h e s t u d y .
T h e re i s a g e n e r a l u n d e r ­
s ta n d in g o f t h e te rm s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s a s i t r e l a t e s t o m odern
m o tio n p i c t u r e p r o d u c t i o n , b u t l i t t l e
h a s b e e n w r i t t e n on
t h e p r i n c i p l e s a n d p r a c t i c e s o f c r e a t i n g t h e s e e f f e c t s o r on
th e ir s ig n ific a n c e and a p p lic a b ility .
T h is p r e s e n t s tu d y i s
a n i n i t i a l e f f o r t to w a rd th e d o c u m e n ta tio n o f t h i s im p o r ta n t
z
p h a s e o f cin em a te c h n o lo g y .
II.
THE METHOD
M ethod o f p r o c e d u r e .
I n v ie w o f t h e s c a r c i t y o f
l i t e r a t u r e o f t e c h n i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e on t h i s b r a n c h o f
c in e m a to g ra p h y , i t w as n e c e s s a r y t o d e v i s e a m e th o d f o r im­
p le m e n tin g t h e s tu d y w i t h c e r t a i n b a s i c d a t a , known t o t h e
i n d u s t r y f o r s e v e r a l d e c a d e s , b u t g e n e r a l l y w i t h h e l d from
S in c e t h e t e c h n i c a l men i n t h e S p e c i a l - E f f e c t s
s t u d i o s w e re u n w i l l i n g t o d iv u lg e
IE
D e p a rtm e n ts o f th e f i l m
W
th e p u b lic .
i n t i m a t e d e t a i l s o f t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l m e th o d s t o an y o n e f o r
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p u rp o ses o f t h i s s o r t , o r f o r g e n e ra l p u b lic a tio n , an u n u su a l
em p h asis h a d t o b e p l a c e d on p e r s o n a l o b s e r v a t i o n s .
T h is l e d t o t h e u s e o f a tw o - p h a s e a p p ro a c h t o t h e
p ro b le m : ( 1 )
A c a r e f u l , th o r o u g h s tu d y o f a l l s p e c i a l -
e f f e c t s p ro c e d u re s a s r e v e a le d i n th e s e v e r a l s c o re o f
i s s u e s o f a p r o f e s s i o n a l m o tio n p i c t u r e j o u r n a l , t h e t r a d e
m a g a z in e s , u n io n p u b l i c a t i o n s , U n i v e r s i t y p a p e r s , a n d a
d o zen o r so b o o k s on m o tio n p i c t u r e te c h n iq u e s w r i t t e n
s e v e r a l d e c a d e s ag o — p u b l i c a t i o n s w h ic h p r e s e n t t h e g e n e r a l
p r i n c i p l e s a n d f o r m u la s f o r m o st o f t h e m o d ern te c h n i q u e s ! ^
-
*
■^The r e s u l t s o f t h i s s tu d y a r e c o m p ile d i n a R e s e a rc h
R e p o rt b y t h e a u t h o r , p r e s e n t e d t o t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u th e rn
C a l i f o r n i a , D ep a rtm en t o f Cinem a, S e p te m b e r, 1 9 4 1 , a n d t i t l e d
“A S u rv ey o f C o n tem p o rary M ethods f o r P r o d u c t i o n - o f •S p e c i a l Eff e c t s " .
and, (3 )
A n a ly s is o f c e r t a i n i l l u s t r a t i v e f i l m m a t e r i a l
t o d e te r m in e i t s e f f e c t i v e c o n t e n t an d t h e p a r t s p e c i a l e f f e c t s p l a y e d in i t s p r o d u c tio n *
K in g Kong w as c h o se n f o r t h e s tu d y i n view o f t h e
f a c t t h a t m o st cinem a e x p e r t s a g r e e i t i s o n e o f t h e m o st
e l a b o r a t e a n d e f f e c t i v e Ht r i c k - f i l m s 11 e v e r p r o d u c e d .
The q u e s tio n t h e n a r o s e a s to w h at m e th o d w ould
r e v e a l t h e t r u e , e f f e c t i v e c o n te n t o f K ing Kong w ith a
p i c t u r e c o u ld sh e d b u t l i t t l e
The s c r i p t f o r t h e
W
minimum o f e r r o r a n d w a s te m o tio n .
l i g h t on t h i s p o in t a s , in
a u d ie n c e s a t i s f a c t i o n .
IE
t h e f i n a l a n a l y s i s , e f f e c t i v e n e s s i s r e v e a l e d i n te r m s o f
T h e r e f o r e , a ssu m in g t h a t m ost i n ­
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d iv id u a ls r e a c t s im ila r ly to sc re e n p ic tu r i z a t io n s , p ro v id ­
in g t h e i r b a c k g ro u n d s a r e c o m p a ra b le , i t a p p e a r e d r e a s o n a b le
t h a t t h e r e a c t i o n s , o r " m a s s - r e s p o n s e , o f a n a v e r a g e a u d ie n c e
w o u ld g iv e a c l u e t o t h e s i g n i f i c a n t c o n te n t o f K ing Kong.
The s p e c i f i c m eth o d f o r t h i s p a r t o f t h e s tu d y w as
p a t t e r n e d a f t e r 'th e t e c h n iq u e f o r t h e s tu d y o f m o tio n
p i c t u r e s e v o lv e d b y a p ro m in e n t p s y c h o l o g i s t .
1
I t p r o v id e d
f o r t h r e e s a f e g u a r d s deem ed n e c e s s a r y t o i n s u r e f i d e l i t y o f
o b s e rv a tio n an d r e p o r t.
a tte n tio n to
(1 )
D i r e c t i o n o f e x p e c ta n t
in c re a s e e f f ic ie n c y o f o b s e rv a tio n . (3 )
m iz in g o f tim e i n t e r v a l s b e tw e e n t h e o b s e r v a t i o n a n d
^ P s y c h o lo g y B u l l e t i n , X V ., p . 7 .
J u ly , 1918.
M in i­
r e c o r d i n g o p e r a t i o n s to a v o id t h e a lm o s t g e o m e tr ic l e s s e n i n g
o f a c c u r a c y a n d c o m p le te n e s s o f r e c o r d u s u a l l y in v o lv e d *
(3 )
A c c e p ta n c e o f a r e a s o f a g re e m e n t n o t e d b y s e v e r a l
o b s e r v e r s m aking s e p a r a t e r e p o r t s on th e sam e s u b j e c t m a t t e r
a s g e n e ra lly c o rre c t.
I n o r d e r t o f u l f i l l t h e f i r s t r e q u ir e m e n t, i t w as
n e c e s s a r y t o becom e th o r o u g h ly f a m i l i a r w ith t h e s t o r y ,
c a s t , s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s s i g n i f i c a n c e , a n d o u t s t a n d in g d i r e c t o ­
I n a d d i t i o n , a s c h e d u le o f p o i n t s
W
r i a l f e a t s o f th e p i c t u r e .
i n c lu d e d :
A c tin g
PR
EV
1.
T h ese c r i t e r i a
IE
on w h ic h to s e c u r e i n f o r m a ti o n w as d e v is e d *
2.
D ire c tin g
3.
S to r y V a lu e s
4.
S p e c ia l-E ffe c ts
a.
P ro c e ss-B a c ik g ro u n d
b.
M in ia tu r e
c.
M a tte -S h o t
d.
G la s s -S h o t
e*
A n im a tio n
f.
M ontage
g.
’‘S p e c ta c le " S c e n e s , a n d
h.
T ra n s itio n s .
The i l l u s t r a t i v e p i c t u r e , K ing Kong, w as v iew ed on
th r e e o c c a s io n s ;
f i r s t , to o b s e rv e i t a s a r e g u la r th e a t e r
p a t r o n , e x p e r ie n c in g n o rm a l a u d ie n c e r e a c t i o n s ;
second, to
a n a ly z e i t c r i t i c a l l y f o r i t s p r o d u c t i o n v a l u e s ; a n d t h i r d ,
t o d e te r m in e th e r e l a t i o n o f th e many s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s i t
c o n t a in e d t o t h e p i c t u r e a s a w h o le .
I n o r d e r to m in im iz e
e r r o r s , n o t e s w ere ta k e n a s th e f i l m wag v ie w e d a n d a l l
s i g n i f i c a n t d a t a w e re r e c o r d e d im m e d ia te ly .1
S ev eral
a d d i t i o n a l r e p o r t s w e re made on d i f f e r e n t o c c a s i o n s .
T hen,
W
a r e a s o f a g re e m e n t w e re assu m ed t o r e p r e s e n t p r o b a b le a r e a s
o f c o r r e c t o b s e r v a tio n s .^
THE REPORT
IE
III.
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O r g a n iz a tio n o f t h e r e p o r t .
in to fo u r p a r ts :
(1 )
The p a p e r i s d iv i d e d
The i n t r o d u c t i o n p r e s e n t s t h e p r o b le m ,
i t s s i g n i f i c a n c e , th e m eth o d f o r p r o c e d u r e , o r g a n i z a t i o n o f
th e p a p e r, and so u rc e s o f m a te r ia l. (2 )
T h is i s s u p p le m e n te d
w i t h a b r i e f com m entary o n th e t h e o r y a n d a p p l i c a b i l i t y o f
t h e s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s m o st commonly u s e d . ( 3 )
The f i l m i s th e n
su m m a riz e d , sc e n e b y s c e n e , w i t h a ru n n in g d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e
s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s p ro b le m s in v o lv e d . ( 4 )
The c o n c lu s io n s a r e
s m a l l , s h i e l d e d , p o c k e t - f l a s h l i g h t , a n o te b o o k ,
a n d a n E v e r s h a r p p e n c i l w e re u s e d t o f a c i l i t a t e r e c o r d in g
o b s e rv a tio n s .
® This a s s u m p tio n i s n o t a s v a l i d a s i t m ig h t h a v e
been i f s e v e ra l d if f e r e n t o b se rv e rs had p a r tic ip a te d in th e
s tu d y , b u t e v e r y e f f o r t w as made to k eep t h e s e v e r a l s e t s o f
o b s e rv a tio n s o b je c tiv e , s e p a r a te , an d a c c u r a te .
a d is c u s s io n o f th e s ig n if ic a n c e o f s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s
t e c h n iq u e s w i t h p a r t i c u l a r r e f e r e n c e t o t h e f i l m .
C h a p te r I I I ,
ANALYSIS o f KING KONG, t h e o n ly com plex
p o r t i o n o f t h e s tu d y , i s o r g a n iz e d a s f o l l o w s :
s y n o p s is p r e s e n t s th e s t o r y s c e n e - b y - s c e n e .
(l)
A lin e
At p o i n t s w h e re
a s i g n i f i c a n t s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s te c h n i q u e i s u s e d , t h e c o n t i n ­
u i t y i s b r o k e n , a n d t h e te c h n iq u e i s d i s c u s s e d in d e t a i l .
Each o f t h e s e u n i t s b e a r s a co d e n u m b er.
T h ese num bers b e g i n
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w i t h Ite m M l , Ite m AAg, Ite m AA5, e t c . , a n d c o n c lu d e w i t h
Ite m APS.
T h is ty p e o f e n u m e ra tio n w as u s e d i n o r d e r t o
- p a rts j
(3 )
E ach Ite m i s d i v i d e d i n t o s i x
PR
EV
th r o u g h o u t t h e r e p o r t .
IE
a v o id c p n f u s io n w i t h t h e many s i n g l e d i g i t s a p p e a r in g
(a)
The P ro b le m d i s c u s s e s t h e f u n c t i o n p e rfo rm e d b y
e a c h s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s t e c h n iq u e , ( b )
I t s S i g n i f i c a n c e con­
s i d e r s t h e ■value o f t h e p a r t i c u l a r s c e n e o r se q u e n c e t o t h e
p i c t u r e a s - a - w h o le a n d i n c l u d e s a p e r s o n a l o b s e r v a t i o n a s t o
why i t w a s, o r why i t s h o u ld n o t h a v e c b e e n , i n c lu d e d .
( c)
U s u a l P r o c e d u r e r e f e r s t o The P ro b le m a n d assu m es f o r
t h e moment t h a t t h e r e i s no s u c h t h i n g a s a s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s
te c h n iq u e j i t t h e n o u t l i n e s th e p r o c e d u r e w h ich w o u ld b e
r e q u i r e d b y o r d i n a r y p h o to g r a p h ic m e th o d s, ( d ) P o s s i b l e
S p e c i a l - E f f e c t s P r o c e d u r e i n c l u d e s a s e r i e s o f t e c h n iq u e s
w h ic h m ig h t c o n c e iv a b ly h a v e b e e n u s e d t o p e r f o rm t h e f e a t .
(e)
A d v a n ta g e s o f S p e c i a l - E f f e c t s T e c h n iq u e s u g g e s ts t h e
a d v i s a b i l i t y o f u s in g one o f t h e m e th o d s o u t l i n e d i n p r e f e r e n c e
7
‘t3ie U su a l P r o c e d u r e , ( f )
P r o b a b le S p e c i a l - E f f e c t s
P r o c e d u r e U sed e x p r e s s e s a n o p in io n a s t o w hich, o f th e
P o s s i b l e S p e c i a l - I f f e c t s P r o c e d u r e ite m s w as t h e m o st p r a c ­
t i c a l f o r th e p a r t i c u l a r s c e n e - s i t u a t i o n *
I? .
SOURCES OP MATERIAL
The p r i n c i p l e t e c h n i c a l r e f e r e n c e w as a R e s e a rc h
R e p o rt p r e s e n t e d t o t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u th e r n C a l i f o r n i a ,
W
D e p a rtm e n t o f.C in e m a , S e p te m b e r, 1 9 4 1 , a n d t i t l e d
"A S u rv e y
IE
o f C o n tem p o rary M ethods f o r P r o d u c tio n o f S p e c i a l - E f f s e t s ’1. 1
The Hew Y ork Tim es w as c o n s u l t e d f o r t h e p u r p o s e o f
of its
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EV
o b t a i n i n g re v ie w s a n d c r i t i c i s m s o f t h e p i c t u r e a t th e tim e
re le a s e .
The p r o d u c t i o n i t s e l f w as v iew ed s e v e r a l tim e s ;
d e t a i l e d data-, were r e c o r d e d , an d were t h e n d i s c u s s e d i n f o r m a l l y
w i t h L ew is P h y s io c , a n a u t h o r i t y on s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s te c h n iq u e s .
I n o r d e r t o o b t a i n a m ore a c c u r a t e p e r s p e c t i v e on
a u d ie n c e r e a c t i o n , s e v e r a l e x h i b i t o r s who w e re c u r r e n t l y
p l a y i n g t h e p i c t u r e , King Kong, w e re a l s o i n t e r v i e w e d .
^ ■ H ilfin g e r, H a r r i s o n , o p . c i t .
CHAPTER I I .
THE MATURE OP SPECIAL EFFECTS
The v a lu e o f s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s may h e s e e n i n te r m s o f
t h e i r h i s t o r i c s i g n i f i c a n c e , t h e i r c u r r e n t im p o r ta n c e , t h e i r
d a y - to - d a y i n f l u e n c e i n t h e p r o d u c t i o n o f o r d i n a r y f i l m s , a n d
t h e i r a b s o lu te n e c e s s ity in c e r t a i n ty p e s o f u n u su a l p i c t u r e s .
H is to ric s ig n ific a n c e .
C in e m a tic s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s
W
♦
i .
h av e come a lo n g w ay s i n c e t h e tim e i n m o tio n p i c t u r e h i s t o r y
" tric k -s h o t* .
IE
w hen a n y th in g f i l m e d b y a n u n u s u a l p r o c e d u r e w as known a s a
The e a r l i e s t f i l m s w e re d e s ig n e d t o s t a r t l e
G o b lin s an d w itc h e s r o d e i n
PR
EV
a n d m y s t i f y a s w e l l a s am use.
th e s k ie s j
men w e re c h a n g e d i n t o d o g s an d g o a ts i n t h e
" f l i c k o f a n e y e la s h " j
s k e l e t o n s g a m b o lle d f r i s k i l y u p o n
t h e s l i g h t e s t p r o v o c a tio n }
h o r r ib le a c c id e n ts d e c a p ita te d
c h a r a c t e r s o r c u t them i n h a lf }
in a n im a te o b j e c t s m a l i c i o u s l y
f o llo w e d p e o p le a b o u t , m aking t h e i r l i v e s m is e r a b le }
f o r th .* 1-
a n d so
Tlie mo r e l u d i c r o u s th e p r e s e n t a t i o n , th e m ore a p ­
p l a u s e t h e ca m erar-g en iu s r e c e i v e d .
T hen g r a d u a l l y , a s t h e
s a t u r a t i o n - p o i n t w as r e a c h t h e t r i c k - f i l m , p e r s e , b e g a n to
lo s e fa v o r.
The many s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s te c h n iq u e s em ployed i n th e
■ ^F red erick A. T a lb o t , M oving P i c t u r e s — How They A re
Made a n d W orked ( P h i l a d e l p h i a f j . ^ . “ L i p p i n c o t f CompanyT T912 )
p p . 1 9 ?-£ 5 3 7
. .
9
t r i c k - f i l m s w ere to b e f a r fro m d o rm a n t, how ever*
Soon
t h e y b e g a n t o a p p e a r i n s l a p - s t i c k co m ed ies a n d , l a t e r , i n
d r a m a tic p r e s e n t a t i o n s .
u sed to
The s p l i t - s c r e e n t e c h n i q u e , o n c e
" f a k e " a b o d y w a lk in g w ith o u t a h e a d , o r a p a i r o f
l e g s m oving w ith no b o d y , fo u n d i t s p l a c e i n t h e Bd u a l - r o l e fl
p i c t u r e , i n w h ich one a c t o r p l a y s o p p o s it e h i m s e l f i n t h e
sam e s c e n e .
D o u b le - e x p o s u re , o n c e u s e d t o d e p i c t a e r i a l
h a g s , now s e r v e d t o p i c t u r e t h e g h o s t o f BS c ro o g e B i n The
The Bs t o p - a n d - s u b s t i t u t i o n 11 t e c h n i q u e ,
W
C h ris tm a s C a r o l.
f i r s t u s e d t o c h a n g e a man i n t o a lm o s t an y o b j e c t im a g in a b le ,
IE
now p e r m i t t e d t h e s u b s t i t u t i o n o f p r o f e s s i o n a l s t u n t a r t i s t s
f o r h i g h - s a l a r i e d s t a r s , when d i f f i c u l t f e a t s w ere t o b e
The t r a v e l l i n g - m a t t e s h o t , f i r s t c o n c e iv e d t o
PR
EV
p e r f o rm e d .
p e r m it a u to m o b ile s t o n a v i g a t e c lo u d s a n d men t o f l y , w as
now m o d if ie d a n d p a t e n t e d a s t h e W illia m s P r o c e s s , f o r t h e
p u r p o s e o f a d d in g a v a r i e t y o f b a c k g ro u n d s t o a lm o s t a n y
a c tio n -s c e n e .
The m i n i a t u r e , u s e d t o r e p r e s e n t a d a r in g
m o t o r i s t r i d i n g on t h e h a lo o f V enus, now s e r v e d t o g iv e
ta
se m b la n c e o f b a t t l e s , e a r t h q u a k e s , f l o o d s a n d d e s t r u c t i v e
e x p lo s io n s *
And a n i m a t io n , t h e s e c r e t o f m o v i n g - f u r n i t u r e
a n d h o p p in g b r i c - a - b r a c , now s e r v e d to g iv e l i f e t o d ra w in g s
f o r th e a n im a te d c a r t o o n .
C u rre n t im p o r ta n c e .
T oday s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s t e c h n iq u e s
a r e p l a y i n g a new r o l e i n t h e m o tio n p i c t u r e i n d u s t r y , a
m ore im p o r ta n t a n d s i g n i f i c a n t p a r t t h a n th e y h a v e e v e r
10
e n jo y e d h e r e t o f o r e .
They s t i l l s e r v e t o p r o v i d e t h r i l l s
by m aking p o s s i b l e " s u p e r-h u m a n 11 m a n e u v e rs o f a c t o r s a n d
a c t r e s s e s , e v e n p i c t u r i n g " g h o s ts " in t h e more f a n c i f u l
p h o to p la y s .
B ut t h e i r m ost c o n s t a n t a p p l i c a b i l i t y i s i n
te rm s o f ( 1 ) s e l e c t e d p r o c e d u r e s u s e d fro m d a y - to - d a y i n
t h e p r o d u c t i o n o f o r d i n a r y f i l m s , l a r g e l y f o r th e s a k e o f
econom y, a n d (2 ) th e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f p i c t u r e s w h ic h c o u ld
W
n o t o th e r w is e b e f ilm e d b e c a u s e o f t h e d a n g e r e le m e n t,
h ig h " l o c a t i o n " c o s t s , o r t e c h n i c a l l i m i t a t i o n s o f o t h e r
IE
m e th o d s.
D a y - to - d a y i n f l u e n c e .
The p r o je c tio n - b a c k g r o u n d
PR
EV
t r a n s p a r e n c y p r o c e s s a n d t h e m a t t e - s h o t a r e t h e m ost commonly
used o f a l l th e o p tic a l s p e c ia l- e f f e c ts .
The p r o c e s s - s c r e e n , n ew est o f t h e t e c h n i q u e s ,
p
ro se
T r a n s i t i o n a l e f f e c t s , su c h a s t h e f a d e - i n , t h e
f a d e - o u t , t h e w ip e a n d l a p - d i s s o l v e h av e b e e n e l i m i n a t e d
p u r p o s e ly fro m t h i s d i s c u s s i o n . W hereas t h e y make a . c e r t a i n
c o n t r i b u t i o n to t h e c o n t i n u i t y o f t h e p i c t u r e , th e y v&re; n o t
c o n s id e r e d to b e u n u s u a l s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s h a v in g a n im p o r ta n t
i n f l u e n c e u p o n m o tio n p i c t u r e p r o d u c t i o n p r o c e d u r e s .
% t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t o n o te t h a t i f so u n d h ad n o t
b e e n c o m m e r c ia liz e d , th e p r o c e s s - s c r e e n m ig h t n e v e r h a v e come
i n t o p o p u l a r u s e . I t w as d e v e lo p e d d u r in g t h e f i r s t y e a r s o f
t h e sound- e r a t o m eet c e r t a i n t e c h n i c a l dem ands, W hereas
so u n d h am p ered p r o d u c t i o n f l e x i b i l i t y b e c a u s e o f equipm ent
b u l k i n e s s a n d a c o u s t i c l i m i t a t i o n s , t h e t r a n s l u c e n t b a c k g ro u n d
p r o c e s s s e r v e d to r e s t o r e i t .
B a c k g ro u n d s a r e s h o t " w ild " , made i n t o t r a n s p a r e n c i e s ,
th e n p r o j e c t e d o n to l a r g e s c r e e n s - b e h i n d t h e p l a y e r s .
Thus
a c t o r s ca n a p p e a r t o p e r f o rm i n 'a l m o s t a n y l o c a l e , y e t re m a in
on t h e s t u d i o so u n d s t a g e , e n t i r e l y in d e p e n d e n t - o f w e a th e r ,
c o n d i t i o n s , i n t e r f e r i n g n o i s e s , a n d th e p r y in g e y e s o f a
c u rio u s p u b lic .
XI
to f a v o r s h o r t l y a f t e r t h e a d v e n t o f sound*
I t m akes
p o s s ib le th e u t i l i z a t i o n o f th e c o n tr o lle d a c o u s tic s and
l i g h t i n g o f th e s o u n d - p r o o f , a r t i f i c i a l l y - i l l u m i n a t e d s t u d i o
s t a g e f o r many o f th e s im p le r s h o t s , w h ic h w o u ld o r d i n a r i l y
r e q u i r e " l o c a t i o n s " , a s w e ll a s t h e m ore d i f f i c u l t o n e s ,
w h ic h c o u ld n o t b e made e a s i l y by any o t h e r p re s e n t-k n o w n
m eth o d .
So f l e x i b l e i s t h i s a r t i f i c e t h a t s e v e r a l H ollyw ood
W
p r o d u c tio n s a r e r e p o r t e d t o h a v e b e e n p h o to g r a p h e d i n a s
h ig h a s 8 0 $ o f t h e i r e n t i r e t y b y t h i s m ean s.
IE
C e c i l B. D e M ille sums u p t h e im p o r ta n c e o f t h i s
d e v i c e , w h ic h i s u s e d m ore f r e q u e n t l y th a n a n y o t h e r :
PR
EV
The m ost im p o r ta n t t h i n g i s t h a t t h e p r o c e s s s h o t
te c h n iq u e e n a b le s me t o . d o th e jo b b e t t e r .
T h is , to my
mind,, i s t h e g r e a t r e a l v a l u e o f p r o c e s s c in e m a to g r a p h y .1
The m a t t e - s h o t d o e s away w ith t h e n e e d f o r con­
s t r u c t i n g la v is h s e ts ,®
When i t i s u s e d , o n ly t h a t p o r t i o n
o f t h e s e t in - w h ic h t h e a c t i o n o c c u r s i s b u i l t j
d e ta ils o f th e a r t i f i c i a l
a l l th e
" s e t " m aking up t h e n o n - a c t i o n
p a r t o f t h e s h o t a r e p a i n t e d i n b y t h e m a tt e - a r t i s t ,
^ C e e il..B . D e M ille , "A D i r e c t o r L ooks a t P r o c e s s Shots,"
A m erican- C in e m a to g ra p h e r, p . 4 5 9 , X V II, N ovem ber, 19 3 6 .
2
The m a t t e - s h o t i s a fo rm o f d o u b le -e x p o s u r e , g ro w in g
o u t o f t h e o ld .s y s te m f o r s u p e rim p o s in g w itc h e s a n d g h o s t s
i n t o o r d i n a r y s h o t s . H ow ever, t h i s te c h n iq u e h a s b e e n im­
p r o v e d b y a co m p lem en ta ry m ask in g p r o c e s s w h ic h a l t e r n a t e l y
b l o c k s - o u t t h e a c t i o n p o r t i o n , t h e n t h e b a c k g ro u n d p o r t i o n .
A - d o u b l e - p r i n t i n g p r o c e s s co m b in es t h e tw o. The s k i l l o f t h e
m a tt e - a r t i s t d e te r m in e s t h e e f f e c t i v e n e s s o f t h e c o m p o s ite .
T h is a r t i f i c e e n h a n c e s p r o d u c t i o n v a l u e s a n d a t t h e same
tim e e f f e c t s economy i n tim e a n d m oney.
T he S p e c i a l - E f f e c t s F ilm .
The p r e s e n t a t i o n o f a
p i c t u r e w h ic h c o u ld n o t b e proataoed . w ith o u t s p e c i a l - e f f e c t s
t e c h n i q u e s i s a f e a t w h ic h b r i n g s i n t o p l a y a lm o s t e v e ry
o p t i c a l “t r i c k w known t o t h e i n d u s t r y .
In a d d itio n to th e
tr a n s p a r e n c y s c r e e n a n d th e m a t t e - s h o t su c h a f i l m r e q u i r e s
W
th e u s e o f t h e g l a s s - s h o t , t h e m i n i a t u r e , th e a n im a tio n o f
w o rk in g -m o d e ls , t h e D unning a n d W illia m s c o m p o s ite p r o c e s s e s
o f u n iq u e e f f e c t s .
IE
m o n ta g e , a n d t h e o p t i c a l p r i n t e r w i t h i t s w id e a s s o r tm e n t
PR
EV
The g l a s s - s h o t h a s b e e n g e n e r a l l y s u p e rs e d e d b y t h e
m a t t e - s h o t , b u t i t s t i l l h a s i t s u s e i n many t y p e s o f s c e n e s
The two p r o d u c e t h e same e n d - r e s u l t , b u t a r e a c c o m p lis h e d
b y d i f f e r e n t m e th o d s .
The g l a s s - s h o t c o n s i s t s o f a c l e a r
p l a t e o f g l a s s on w h ic h t h e d e s i r e d s c e n e r y i s p a i n t e d .
A
s m a ll s p a c e i s l e f t c l e a r , so t h a t when t h e p l a t e i s p l a c e d
b e f o r e t h e c a m e ra , a c t i o n c a n b e p o r t r a y e d i n t h a t a r e a .
When i t i s c o r r e c t l y a l i g n e d , a s i n g l e e x p o s u re r e c o r d s t h e
c o m p o s ite s c e n e .
The m a t t e - s h o t a p p e a r s t o b e m ore c o m p lic a te d , f o r
tw o e x p o s u re a r e r e q u i r e d to com bine t h e l i v e - a c t i o n a n d
p a in te d -in p o rtio n s .
C o m p le m e n ta ry -m a ttin g p r o t e c t s th e tw o
im a g es a s th e y a r e r e c o r d e d a t s e p a r a t e tim e s o n to t h e same
n e g a tiv e .
The m a t t e - p r o c e s s i s p r e f e r r e d , h o w ev e r, b e c a u s e
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