Visual communication
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Visual communication. Motion Pictures. Motion pictures. “Movies” - a term for motion pictures that are produced primarily for entertainment. i.e. Hollywood “Films” – motion pictures that are primarily non-fiction or “art” films. i.e. documentaries, biographies, foreign and independent films.

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Visual communication l.jpg

Visual communication

Motion Pictures

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Motion pictures

  • “Movies” - a term for motion pictures that are produced primarily for entertainment. i.e. Hollywood

  • “Films” – motion pictures that are primarily non-fiction or “art” films. i.e. documentaries, biographies, foreign and independent films

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Technical background

  • The illusion of movement

  • Persistence of vision

  • Still images projected in rapid succession

  • Frame rate = the number of still pictures projected per each second to create the illusion of constant fluid motion

  • Flicker (critical fusion) rate = the number of frames required each second to eliminate visible flicker

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Frame rates

  • Original motion pictures were based on a frame rate of sometimes 12-16 frames per second

    • Images appeared jerky with noticeable flicker

  • 12 frames per second (fps) is the minimum to create the illusion of seamless motion

  • 18 (fps) is the minimum to avoid flicker

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Frame rates

  • “Home movie” formats (8 millimeter) used 18 fps

  • Commercial films use 24 fps

  • Television uses 30 fps

  • In modern motion pictures, the shutter projects each frame twice to reduce flicker

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  • Persistence of vision (animation) first demonstrated by Eadweard Muybridge

  • Muybrigde was settling a bet on whether all 4 of a horse’s left the ground at any point in its gallop

  • Arranged a series of still cameras along the track with trip wires

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  • Edison invented the kinetoscope

  • Used Eastman roll film

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  • The penny arcade

  • Machines that cost a penny to view

  • Some adult content

  • Edison also developed a projection device based on the kinetoscope called the “kinetograph”

  • Operated on electricity – Edison’s pet project

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  • Robert Paul bought the Edison Kinetograph and gave it a crank

  • This was the first movie camera

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  • Lumiere Brothers (French) used the “cinematographe” to both record and show films

  • Lumiere films were documents of daily life

  • They exhibited the films at night in the towns and villages where they filmed

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Thomas Edison

  • Pioneer filmmaker

  • Created documents of daily life and simple acts

  • Also pioneered in fantasy and drama

  • Edison built a studio on a turntable to make films – turned to make use of sunlight

  • The “Black Maria” was covered with black tar paper

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George Melies

  • A surrealist - magician and filmmaker

  • The inventor of special effects

    • Accidentally discovered the “stop trick” disappearance effect

    • Pioneered other science fiction effects

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  • D.W. Griffith

    • “Birth of a Nation”

    • The “blockbuster”

    • Epic drama about the Civil War

  • Nanook of the North

    • The first documentary

    • About an Eskimo

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  • Nickel = 5¢

  • Odeon = roofed theater

  • Neighborhood theaters in early 20th century

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Sound in the movies

  • Early films were silent – sometimes with live musical accompaniment

  • RCA Vitaphone system used 78 rpm records synchronized with the silent film

  • Now film sound is recorded onto the film optically

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The movies

  • Sound helped the industry grow

  • Studios grew and their control expanded

  • The movie industry was controlled by a few huge studios that were vertically integrated

    • Production, talent, distribution, exhibition

  • United Artists – Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin – formed as reaction to the big studios

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  • Sex scandals

    • Culminating in the Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle scandal in which he assaulted a minor

  • House Un-American Activities Commission

    • The “Red Scandal”

    • Joe McCarthy

    • Blacklist

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Threats to the movies and how they responded

  • Radio siphons off audience

    • Movies introduce color

      • Technicolor

  • Television siphons audience

    • Movies introduce wide screen

      • Cinerama – 3 cameras

      • Cinemascope – Panavision

    • Movies create ornate palaces

    • Other gimmicks

      • 3-D, Smell-a-vision, Sensurround

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  • Color television challenges the movies

    • Movies respond double features

      • Giving birth to the “B” movie

      • Cheap movies to be shown with a big budget movie

    • Drive ins

  • Other media still challenge the movies

    • Surround sound

    • Cineplex

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Technical considerations

  • Film width

    • 8 mm – home movies

    • 16 mm – independent and documentary

    • 35 mm – commercial film production

    • 70 mm – super wide screen

    • Imax – 70 mm projected horizontally

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Technical considerations

  • Aspect ratio

    • 5 X 3 = “flat” prints

    • 16 X 9 = “anamorphic” wide screen – “Cinemascope”

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Technical considerations

  • Color

  • The principle of color photography was introduced by James Clerk Maxwell in the 1800s with additive color

  • Color in the movies

    • Hand tinting

    • Kinemacolor – 2 color process

    • Technicolor – 3 color process

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Technical considerations

  • Early films used hand-cranked cameras

  • Lighting was not available to allow indoor filming with deep focus

  • Lens optics did not permit “deep focus”

  • Early sound films used “blimped” cameras that were extremely large and heavy

  • The camera did not move – only panned and tilted – and not often

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Technical considerations

  • Films are shot “MOS” – silent

  • Sound is added in post production

    • Looping

    • ADR – “automatic dialogue replacement”

    • Foleying

  • Sound tracks include dialogue, score and sound effects (Foley)

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  • The Hays Code

    • Named for William Hayes former Postmaster General of the United States

    • The U.S. Motion Picture Production Code

  • Replaced by the Motion Picture Association of America

    • G – M – R – X

    • M replaced by GP

    • Now G – PG – PG13 – R – NC17

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The language of filmmaking

  • The shot

    • The basic component of filmmaking

    • a shot is a continuous strip of motion picture film, created of a series of frames, that runs for an uninterrupted period of time. Shots are generally filmed with a single camera and can be of any duration

  • Shots are assembled into scenes

    • Scenes share a common location

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  • Stereotypes in the movies

    • Racial

    • Gender

    • Cultural

    • Other?

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Contemporary issues

  • Foreign Marketing

  • Product placement

  • Merging technologies marry film, vide, and computers

  • Future directions

    • CGI

    • Interactivity

    • ???