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  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kino View Post
    Auteur theorists will no doubt rise in revolt, but I think like the Novelle Vague owed its revolutionary styles of production to a basic technical break-through in lightweight location equipment, so to did Hollwood Studio "styles" emerge in their fight to regain enough illumination to continue their film factory output.

    No doubt a few bright individuals made good use of this technical problem to craft a creative response and continue it as a signature, but I highly doubt the various "styles" would have been so pronounced had there been no technical crisis.

    Man did I wander off topic, sorry!
    Dear Kino,

    Staying off topic, with the subject you introduced, this question of technical breakthroughs has long fascinated me. Some 30 years ago I was very short with an interview panel at the University of Bath, where I had applied to do a Ph. D. in the history of technology, on the history of the 35mm still camera. It rapidly became clear that all they were prepared to countenance was yet another arts-graduate rehash of the impact of 35mm in illustrated magazines.

    They were totally uninterested in the technical reasons why and how the 35mm camera had progressed so far and so fast, i.e. they weren't actually interested in technology at all. Machine tools, metallurgy, lens design, the possibilities of extreme focal lengths and very fast lenses, the progress in film design: they dismissed all this as irrelevant. For that matter they seemed to have only the shakiest grasp on how and why illustrated magazines had become popular.

    The interview ended with my pointing out as politely as possible that they were supposed to be a department dealing with both history and technology, and that I saw little evidence that they had any understanding at all of the latter. They were of course history graduates to a man (or woman): no-one there had studied engineering at all.

    Cheers,

    R.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kino View Post

    Carbon arcs went out when sound came in; you couldn't have the strike and the hum/splatter of a big arc during a quiet scene. This lead to a push to use incandescent lights which, in turn, caused an eruption of various "studio styles" that came about in the early years of talkies as cinematographers reacted and tried to deal with the loss of blue-rich light sources the filmstocks preferred.

    Yes, panchromatic was available, but was still red-weak, which is (as you say) the bias toward which radiated energy emitted from early incandescent luminaries, so they had an urgent problem on their hands that had to be dealt with post-haste.

    Auteur theorists will no doubt rise in revolt, but I think like the Novelle Vague owed its revolutionary styles of production to a basic technical break-through in lightweight location equipment, so to did Hollwood Studio "styles" emerge in their fight to regain enough illumination to continue their film factory output.

    No doubt a few bright individuals made good use of this technical problem to craft a creative response and continue it as a signature, but I highly doubt the various "styles" would have been so pronounced had there been no technical crisis.

    Man did I wander off topic, sorry!

    There are some scientific articles written by Peter Mole on the development of movie lights here (you might have seen them):

    http://www.mole.com/aboutus/history/tl_smpte.html


    I got John Anton's book "Painting with Light". It gives very comprehensive overview of the luminaries used in that Era. Most interestingly, it mentioned in somewhere about the use of lens diffusion disk made of glass to be placed in front of the fresnel lens...this is something different from wire scrim we use nowsdays and it was used for close-up face shot especially actresses. Obviously glass diffusion disk does not alter the directionality & spread of the beam and its effect is different from putting a silk/spun glass/frost on the barndoors or scrim frame that gaffers use these days.

  3. #23
    Rolleiflexible's Avatar
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    There's another book I recently picked up, a 1947 volume by Charles Abel called Professional Portrait Lightings -- a copy just sold on eBay for $130 but they can be found for a third of that at used booksellers. The volume presents 100 portraits, each accompanied by a narrative from the photographer and a diagram of the lighting arrangement used. Few are of the Hollywood style. A number seem dated.

    What impressed me about the book -- and why I bother to mention it here -- is how many of the diagrammed rigs relied on a bank of fluorescent tubes for their key lights, and also for their fills. Some were augmented by tungsten lights, others not. But the overwhelming majority used fluorescents as their principal light source.

    I've been using a homemade softbox filled with compact fluorescent bulbs for a couple of years now and have been thrilled with the light it gives me for B+W portraiture. I thought I was being innovative. Little did I realize I was sixty years late to the idea.

    Sanders

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hicks View Post
    Dear Kino,

    Staying off topic, with the subject you introduced, this question of technical breakthroughs has long fascinated me. Some 30 years ago I was very short with an interview panel at the University of Bath, where I had applied to do a Ph. D. in the history of technology, on the history of the 35mm still camera. It rapidly became clear that all they were prepared to countenance was yet another arts-graduate rehash of the impact of 35mm in illustrated magazines.

    They were totally uninterested in the technical reasons why and how the 35mm camera had progressed so far and so fast, i.e. they weren't actually interested in technology at all. Machine tools, metallurgy, lens design, the possibilities of extreme focal lengths and very fast lenses, the progress in film design: they dismissed all this as irrelevant. For that matter they seemed to have only the shakiest grasp on how and why illustrated magazines had become popular.

    The interview ended with my pointing out as politely as possible that they were supposed to be a department dealing with both history and technology, and that I saw little evidence that they had any understanding at all of the latter. They were of course history graduates to a man (or woman): no-one there had studied engineering at all.

    Cheers,

    R.
    Roger,

    I could not agree with you more!

    Yes, I ran into that ALL the time in my professional gigs at University. As you say, the technical details were treated with either contempt or pure fright and suggesting one influenced the other was greeted with horror, ear-plugging and loud humming!

    The stories I could tell about PhDs in Cinema History...

  5. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by singlo View Post
    There are some scientific articles written by Peter Mole on the development of movie lights here (you might have seen them):

    http://www.mole.com/aboutus/history/tl_smpte.html


    I got John Anton's book "Painting with Light". It gives very comprehensive overview of the luminaries used in that Era. Most interestingly, it mentioned in somewhere about the use of lens diffusion disk made of glass to be placed in front of the fresnel lens...this is something different from wire scrim we use nowsdays and it was used for close-up face shot especially actresses. Obviously glass diffusion disk does not alter the directionality & spread of the beam and its effect is different from putting a silk/spun glass/frost on the barndoors or scrim frame that gaffers use these days.
    You know, I dropped by the Mole Richardson Showroom in LA year before last when I visited SIGGRAPH and they had TONS of beautiful old stills all about the place in a impromptu museum. When I asked about the negatives, they said something to the effect of, "Yeah, they are around here somewhere"....

    Yes, I have an original 1st printing of the Alton book and highly recommend it.

  6. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanders McNew View Post
    There's another book I recently picked up, a 1947 volume by Charles Abel called Professional Portrait Lightings -- (snip)
    Sanders
    Thanks for that tip; I will have to find a copy immediately!

    They were probably using the precursor to the kinoflo; a version of the Cooper Hewitt mercury vapor discharge tube, very rich in the blue spectrum...

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kino View Post
    As you say, the technical details were treated with either contempt or pure fright and suggesting one influenced the other was greeted with horror, ear-plugging and loud humming!

    The stories I could tell about PhDs in Cinema History...
    YES! I recognize every symptom...

    Cheers,

    R.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanders McNew View Post
    Get a copy of Roger Hicks's book on Hollywood Portraiture -- it will tell you everything you need to know, right down to lighting diagrams for dozens of Hollywood publicity photos from the 1920s through the 1950s. Essential reading for the subject -- it is far and away the most useful book I've ever read on photographing people.

    Sanders
    Hi Sanders,

    Yikes! My ego is starting to get on my nerves (as Yogi Berra might have said). I co-wrote that darned book (for BIG bucks ... and food stamps!) —being responsible for quite a bit of the technical information— and I'm getting a little tired of seeing only Roger's name associated with it! Obviously, Roger isn't necessarily obliged to mention my name each and every time someone compliments him on the book, but I have no problem unshamefully doing it myself. From time-to-time. As well, I'd like to add my "thank you" for your kind comments!

    Best,

    Christopher

    .

  9. #29
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    Christopher, I genuflect in the direction of higher authority. :-)

    You are absolutely right. It is a fantastic resource, and you deserve equal billing for the success. Apologies for that -- I was writing from my office and didn't have the book in front of me, which also accounts for my mangling the title. Please forgive me my errors and omissions. And thank you for such a useful piece of work.

    Sanders

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Nisperos View Post
    Hi Sanders,

    Yikes! My ego is starting to get on my nerves (as Yogi Berra might have said). I co-wrote that darned book (for BIG bucks ... and food stamps!) —being responsible for quite a bit of the technical information— and I'm getting a little tired of seeing only Roger's name associated with it! Obviously, Roger isn't necessarily obliged to mention my name each and every time someone compliments him on the book, but I have no problem unshamefully doing it myself. From time-to-time. As well, I'd like to add my "thank you" for your kind comments!

    Best,

    Christopher

    .
    christopher -

    i understand you are editing mark wangerin's book as well.
    any idea when that will be on the shelves ?

    thanks!
    john

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