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The History of Film. The Beginnings. Thomas Alva Edison Credited with developing movies as we know them Invented the electric lightbulb Invented the Kinetoscope in 1889, seen as the forerunner to the present-day movie camera. The Birth of Filmmaking.

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the beginnings
The Beginnings
  • Thomas Alva Edison
    • Credited with developing movies as we know them
    • Invented the electric lightbulb
    • Invented the Kinetoscope in 1889, seen as the forerunner to the present-day movie camera
the birth of filmmaking
The Birth of Filmmaking
  • The earliest movies did not revolve around a major plot
  • Composed of random action scenes (circus acts) that dazzled for their technology more than they entertained
  • When the novelty began to wear off, filmmakers returned to the drawing board
  • The next generations were films that actually told stories…birth of film as a narrative art form
music in silent films
Music in Silent Films
  • Technically, never were silent films
  • Before sounds, scenes were accompanied by live music and sound effects
  • Initially, music was provided by a pianist or organist in the theater that improvised on the spot
  • In 1909, the Edison Company introduced cue sheets that outlined the action of the film to help musicians plan appropriate music
the talkies
The “Talkies”
  • Edison and other inventors worked for many years to synchronize sound with the action of the film
  • The first successful attempt was accomplished through a phonographic machine call the Vitaphone…used to create the 1st talking film, The Jazz Singer (1927)
  • The Vitaphone solved the problem of synchronization but it was far from ideal…the machine required careful supervision and coordination during each showing
  • These problems were eliminated by the breakthrough of the soundtrack, a perforated strip along the film’s edge containing coded representations of the sound
  • Only speech sounds were originally recorded on the soundtrack – hence the name “talkies”
setting slugline
  • Describes the physical location of the scene
  • Alignment is to the left margin
  • Format






  • This describes what is happening on the screen, and which characters (if any) are involved.
  • Aligned to the left
  • Character names appear in ALL CAPS within the description
  • Example


BEVERLY picks her way through the ransacked room. Cue sticks, books, papers—everything has been searched. She stoops to pick up a photo of a young boy.

character names dialogue
Character Names/Dialogue
  • Character Names appear centered and in ALL CAPS
  • Dialogue is indented from the left
  • Single spaced



Did I ever tell you about the time your father and I went to the airport? It was a trip.

  • Describes what the character is doing while they are speaking, who the character is speaking with, or how they are speaking



(walking around the kitchen picking up toys and trash)

How does a child make such a mess? I just picked up these toys yesterday.

establishing character
Establishing Character
  • In a novel, character traits are established through colorful adjectives and descriptive phrases
  • In a filmmaking, character traits are communicated through actions and behaviors
  • An effective musical score can help to establish character
  • Character Themes: melodies associated with a particular character that recur throughout the film
character themes
Character Themes
  • Usually restated each time the character appears on the screen
  • Similar to the “hook” of a pop song
  • Can serve as a memory aid…help the viewer subconsciously recall events and conversations that occurred earlier in the film
  • Character themes usually exhibit a style or melody form that overtly suggests traits of the character in question
providing psychological insight
Providing Psychological Insight
  • An effective musical score can give the viewer a glimpse inside a character’s mind
  • The creative and thoughtful use of film music can convey character’s thoughts and feelings
  • This helps establish a subtle yet powerful connection between the audience and characters
  • Empathy: the sharing of another person’s feelings or emotions; “standing in another person’s shoes”
consistency and continuity
Consistency and Continuity
  • A final purpose of movie music’s expressivity is to give a film coherence and continuity
  • There should be a consistency in the style of music
  • Restating the opening theme at the end is a commonly used technique for tying the film together
  • Music can also be used to foreshadow how a film’s plot develops
  • Foreshadow: suggest actions or events before they happen
getting started
Getting Started
  • The process of creating the soundtrack begins after the film has been edited and is in it’s final cut
  • The music director meets with the producer and director to spot the music
    • Spot: to determine which scenes should have music
  • Composers must work rapidly because the film is in the final stages of completion
  • The final step in the process is dubbing, putting all the elements of sound – dialogue, sound effects, and music – onto one soundtrack
  • During this process the sound levels are adjusted to create the right balance
  • In the dubbing process some music is almost lost because it is treated as mere background