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  1. FS 101 Universal Language of Silence

  2. Introduction • Last Week: • C19th visual media • Early cinema • This Week: • Silent cinema • Development of film ‘language’ • NOTE: Quiz # 1 next week

  3. Thursday: 1 2:30 S101 5 3:30 P3015 6 3:30 W4-209 7 3:30 S103 8 3:30 StM123 9 4:30 P2015 10 4:30 StM122 11 4:30 S102 Friday: 13 12:30 StM101 14 12:30 StM102 17 1:30 StM101 18 1:30 StM102 S =Seminary P= Peters W = Woods StM = St. Mike’s Tutorial Information

  4. For Tutorial Presentations • Multi-media facilities • Overhead projector • Black board or white board • TV cart • Tutorial Leaders will bring the TV carts • TV and VCR - - - BUT No DVD • TIME your pres and clips (5 mins)

  5. Asking Questions (outside of class) • Tutorial leaders: • Ask them first - not me • Lectures: • NO: do not ask me ques before lecture • YES: in 10 min break before film screening • Email: • Courtesy and respect • Formal: like asking us in person

  6. Evaluation • Presentation 10% • Quizzes (x3) 20% • Essay 25% • Final Exam 35% • Attendance/participation 10%

  7. For Quizzes, you are responsible for: Lectures Readings Films Not tutorials Not presentations NOT to test memorisation ie dates, names, etc But to for you to demonstrate your understanding of the main ideas of course ie. what does this have to do with film? Quiz # 1 – Next Week

  8. Example • 1. Eisenstein argues the films of Griffith had little impact on Soviet filmmaking in the 20s • True or False • Which of the following was NOT a subject of one of the short films in Primitives&Pioneers? • a) people playing chess • b) people playing hide and seek • c) people sitting a train • d) people driving a car

  9. Layout of Quiz • Different kinds of question: • multiple choice • true or false • short answer • Lots of choice • ie. answer 12 out of 20 ques • 30 mins • On readings, lectures, and films • Important ideas from each week/topic

  10. HOWEVER… • DO NOT GUESS!!!! • Wrong answers carry a penalty (negative mark) • Right answer = 1 mark • No answer (blank) = 0 marks • Wrong answer = -½ mark • ie.there is a possibility to get less than 0 • Better to leave blank than guess

  11. What to Study • Readings: • Main ideas, people, events • Main arguments • Lectures: • main ideas/arguments • Website: www.wlu.ca/~wwweng/faculty/pgates • Films: • Important contribution/example • Main characters, events, themes

  12. Quizzes • BRING • Your own pencils • Lead/HB - you need to make dark marks • Pen WILL NOT work • AND AN ERASER • More than one circle and you don’t get a point

  13. If you miss a quiz… • If you are ill and have a doctor’s note • Or some other major impediment • Then you can make-up the quiz • HOWEVER: • The version you write = longer answers • ie significantly more writing • Not multiple choice, true or false, etc

  14. Last Week • C19th optical innovations and toys • Birth of cinema • Early films 1895-1903 • Individual viewing films • ie. Kinetoscope • Mass viewing in cinema • ie. Cinematographe

  15. Kinetoscope [open] Vitascope Kinetoscope Vitascope

  16. Shifts in Exhibition – 1890s • Projection and commercialisation • ie Edison: • From kinetoscope (1893) • To vitascope  (1896) • Early to mid 1890s = Kinetoscope parlors • Pay per film – view 1min through eyepiece • Then go to the next machine to see another film • Mid to late 1890s = Projection • shorts shown in music hall, vaudeville, fairgrounds

  17. 1900s = Nickelodeon • After 1906, develop of narrative system • ie. a formalised way to tell stories visually • Pay a nickel to watch longer 1 reel films • up to 12 mins • By 1910 • over 10,000 Nicklelodeons • attracting 26 m customers each week!

  18. A nickelodeon theater in PittsburgClaimed to be the first in US (The Moving Picture World [1907])

  19. Audience • Cheap tickets attract: • working class • growing pop of immigrants • Ques: why these audiences?

  20. Universal Language • Didn’t need to know English • Didn’t need to be literate • International capabilities • Replace intertitle cards with other language • Like Esperanto? • language introd in 1887 by Dr. L.L. Zamenhof • Inteligentaj personoj lernas la internacian lingvon. • Intelligent people learn the international language.

  21. From East to West • New York = original centre of film • 1st film studio = 1899 • Move to Hollywood • 1st film studio = 1910

  22. By 1915 • Films became more sophisticated • Film industry shift from one- and two-reel films… • To feature-length films • ie. one hour or longer • Encourages: • More complicated plots • And character development • Ques: Why make longer films? • Note: Charlie Chaplin’s The Tramp was released in 1915

  23. Profit (it is a business afterall…) • Hoping to attract greater profits • Through attracting more people to cinema • Specifically middle-class audiences • Nicer venues – tickets more expensive • Longer films w/ more complicated plots • More films based on literary classics • Like Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1917) • Note: 1st film based on a Dickens’ story - Scrooge (1901)

  24. Narrative Film • Between 1902 + 1903, the average length of a film grew from 50 ft to 600 ft • By 1904: • narrative film = 53% of all films • By 1908: • N=narrative film = 96% of all films • Exhibitors free to • Edit sequence and duration of scenes • Provide narrative commentary for action

  25. Film Language • But longer means more complicated • Need editing • A way to organise the material • Maximise narrative clarity • Avoid confusing the viewer • A kind of language of visual storytelling

  26. Editing • EDITING: • selection of significant event details and • placing details into comprehensive whole • MONTAGE: • term originally referred to the editorial assembling of film segments • Montage today: • describes a rapid succession of images that convey a single concept

  27. Early Cinema • Last week - not much editing • Especially within scenes • They did use cuts between shots • Melies tended just to use tableaux • So cut from one long shot to the next • All the action happened within the frame • Emphasis on actors/props moving • NOT the camera or the frame • [Melies “Trip to the Moon” (1902)]

  28. D.W. Griffith b 1875 d 1948 • Joined film business in 1907 • Apprentice with Edwin S. Porter • His film career began w/ Edison studios • as an actor • Then w/ American Biograph • as an actor • Asked to direct one-reelers

  29. Father of film technique? • 45 + films directed or supervised 1908-1913 • Some scholars say Griffith is: • the ‘father of film technique’ • Others say not an innovator though: • ‘an intuitive refiner and extender of existing cinematic methods’ • G combined these methods w/conventions of: • Victorian art, literature, and drama • In order to tell stories more effectively

  30. Refinement - film as art • Variation of camera position • Close-ups used more often • Intertitles for narrative clarity • Editing innovation • Longer films - 3 ½ hour film • Use of Camera Iris for softened edges

  31. Billy Bitzer – his cameraman • Relationship begins at Biograph • Develop the Iris shot • whereby corners are softened in the frame • Close-up • Cutting on action • Crosscutting

  32. Iris Shot • Born out of logic in film language • You want to draw viewer’s attention to a specific detail/part of the frame • So you black out the rest of frame • Develops fade-out by: • closing iris diaphragm slowly • What do film’s do now instead?

  33. The Close-Up • Not invented immediately in film • Griffith was a pioneer of this technique • For drawing attention to detail • you cut from the long shot • to a close-up

  34. Cutting on Action • This is where a cut is made in conjunction to a character’s movement • Side shot of cowboy mounting horse - swings up • CUT to new shot from front as he settles • picks up reins and giddy-ups and away • [following movement helps hide the cut through logic of related actions]

  35. Parallel Editing • In 1909 Bitzer and Griffith introduce: • Cross-cutting or intercutting • between two parallel sequences • Especially in the last-minute rescue • to build suspense • becomes a trademark • notable for their rhythm and consistency of geography in such seqs

  36. Geography • Constructs a logic as characters move through space • You know where one location is in reference to another • Therefore also the characters • Chase scene from Birth of a Nation

  37. Birth of a Nation (1915) • Celebrated for artistic and filmic innovation • Reviled for its racism • Based film on controversial book + play • “The Clansman” by Thomas Dixon • Adaptation to increase box-office sales

  38. Racism and Propaganda • Griffith innovated film as a tool of persuasion • B of N is a film about heroes (Clansmen) • defeating the villains (African-Americans) • who threaten their women (incl Lillian Gish) • You identify with heroes • Emotional connection means that politics are easily overlooked • good v evil rather than black v white

  39. Filmic apology • Broken Blossoms as his apology • ‘positive’ rep of an Asian man • Also an adaptation • story by Thomas Burke in Limehouse Nights • Called “The Chink and the Child” • [The racist epithet is product of its time] • From hypersexual African-American villains • To effeminate Asian hero • Is this progress? You decide

  40. Broken Blossoms • Griffith’s last masterpiece • First commercial success after B of N • Shot entirely in studio in 18 days • Lots of rehearsal; no retakes • Little footage not used • Impressionistic cinematography – soft • Tinted in pastels • His most integrated, personal + poetic

  41. D.W. Griffith • With Broken Blossoms • One critic wrote that Griffith: • ‘had far exceeded the power of the written word’ • Another dubbed him: • “The Shakespeare of the Screen”

  42. Lillian Gish • “I never approved of talkies. Silent movies were well on their way to developing an entirely new art form. It was not just pantomine, but something wonderfully expressive” • “Those little virgins, after five minutes you got sick of playing them - to make them more interesting was hard work.”

  43. The Arrival of Sound • First 20 years of film = Silent • Sound arrives in 1927 • Sound = • not necessarily improvement • Silent film = • an art by mid-1920s • ie.Sunrise (Murnau 1927)

  44. The Power of Silent Film • According to journalists, intellectuals, social workers, clergymen, and filmmakers • Film was a “universal language” • Griffith told Lillian Gish that she was • “working in the universal language that had been predicted in the Bible, which was to make all men brothers because they would understand each other. This could end wars and bring about the millennium”

  45. Never Silent • By 1889, WKL Dickson achieved: • sound synchronization w/ Kinetograph • also synchronized phonograph recording in • France, Germany, and the UK • Silent film always accompanied by: • Live sound effects machines • Live music was employed • organ or piano music • full orchestral scores with cue sheets

  46. Studio Resistance • Problems: • great expense converting to sound-proof studio • great expense converting movie theatres • large backlog of silent films • What happened? • overseas market decimated • star system thrown into disarray

  47. New ‘Talkie’ Technology • Sound-on-Disc • Problems with going out of synch • Sound-on-Film • Always synched to image • Some studios invest in one or other • Second one wins! (ie Warner Bros) • Some studios lose out

  48. First “Talkie” • The Jazz Singer (1927) • Warner Bros. builds first sound studio • Make and release The Jazz Singer • Becomes a monumental hit • Studios rush to convert to sound

  49. Problems of Early Sound • When movies first started to talk • They stopped moving! • You get “Canned Theatre” • ie. put a theatrical performance in a film can…

  50. “Canned Theatre” • Between 1928 and 1931 • filmmaking regressed to early cinema style • static long shots / tableaux scenes • Because cameras in sound-proof booths • Editing reserved for scene transitions • Lost from silent film: • cross-cutting, montage, fluid camera