Talking pictures : how they are made and how to appreciate them (1937)

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The Stage Is Set photography. This is because, as Edison learned, mo- tion pictures really do not move steadily. They "stop and go." Were the film to travel back of the camera lens in a continuous ribbon, it would record nothing but a blur. What really happens is that a ratchet effect pulls one section of film, or "frame," back of the lens. It halts there for a fraction of a second to release the film, and then pulls another and repeats the process until it is stopped. A completed photoplay is a succession of thousands of individual small photographs, which through an optical illusion, explained by the Law of Persistence of Vision, gives the effect of movement. It must be nearly time for the stars and the director to come on the set. The property man is cutting cig- arettes into different lengths. This chore will save him time later, for, if his leading man smokes during a scene, progressively shorter cigarettes are needed to show the time lapse. A scene which is shown with all its close-ups, long-shots, and medium-shots in five or ten minutes on the screen may have taken three days to make. The big inner ice-box door is opening. The players and the director enter. In a moment rehearsals will start. In half an hour the first scene will be taken. Technical workers are busily engaged in from twenty to thirty different activities, and their separate contributions rapidly begin to come to a focus. To the assistant direc- tor the head cameraman has reported "Ready!" To the cameraman has come word from his head electrician that every light is in its proper place, and competently manned. The assistant director sees that the stars and featured players are all in their portable dressing rooms, [173]