Detail Book: Original Title: Painting With Light; Author: John AltonTodd McCarthy( Introd; Format: Kindle Edition | 1 Edition | Pages | Sales Rank: The artist can paint color, light shape, shadows, highlights, and reflections using a suite of [Alton ], painting is a natural metaphor for lighting composition. Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best known for his highly stylized film noir classics T-Men, He.
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turned off and the lights in the studio go down, and I think about what women them the way Act Like a Lady, Thi Head First Design Patterns. Painting with Light is a reprint of cinematographer John Alton s book that began as a series of articles for International Photographer. Painting with Light JOHN ALTON Introduction by Todd McCarthy Painting_ WITH Painting With Light, the first book on the art of cinematography ever written by.
Best known for his highly stylized film noir classics T-Men, He Walked by Night, and The Big Combo, Alton earned a reputation during the s and s as one of Hollywood's consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less renow Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. No less renowned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he earned an Academy Award in for his work on the musical An American in Paris. First published in , and long out of print since then, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canonical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivalled historical document on the workings of the postwar, American cinema. In simple, non-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques, and choice of locations determine the visual mood of film.
You have to start with small tools, cheap tools, and a lot of DIY tools. Get with the program. Writing with Light, by Vittorio Storaro. This book is about the one thing most cinematography books lack — the tool that is often forgotten — yourself. What are your thoughts, and how do you see and feel light? What should all this mean to you, and how are you going to translate that into your work? Where is your personal voice some call it style going to come from? Many people misunderstand the purpose of this book.
If you do download it, remember that it is his way, not your way. He is just showing you how to think. Learning is a lifelong pursuit. Once you know the basics and start practicing it, the next step is to keep getting better.
Eventually you have to start doing things yourself. You have to learn to teach yourself. Plus, on the end of each chapter is a short recap and suggestions for exercises to practice with. Hai I want to be a cinematographer pls help me what are the book are very important for learn lighting and cinematography.
My 13 year old son likes digital photography and loves his Phantom 4 drone which he saved for 3 years for still owes us money. Is like to encourage his interest in cinematography and wonder which book is best suited for him. He also likes mist and fog and wind…and is very sensory. Thank you. That is some great parentage. As the article ended with, exploration and practice give exposure and experience to move forward in cinema making.
Do encourage your kid to make niche projects, participate in festivals and join interest hubs. Of course, that killed them; he was too fast for them. They didn't like that. He was ready, and the director was left holding the set. He just said to the director, 'I'm ready. Anytime you want to. Very proud of his work on the film, Alton said. Minnelli helped me a lot with the lighting.
I tried out fluctua- tions of light within the shots. I shot in color, but with black-and-white lighting. After Gilks delivered brief thanks at the Oscar ceremony, Alton had only this to say to the audience: Vincente Minnelli for his confidence in our work.
Thank you. Father's Little Dividend, which, thanks in large measure to the camera- man, was finished in a tight six weeks, an un- usually short shoot for Minnelli. Through they were to collaborate twice more, on the color and Cinemascope Tea and Sympathy and Designing Woman.
Alton adored Minnelli. He was a designer, and he had New York stage experi- ence, which complemented my motion picture experience. But his work on this film satisfied no one and, after two weeks, he was fired, accused of shooting in a way that would not permit the colors to match and cut together shot-to-shot and scene-to- scene.
Much of his material was reshot. As punishment, Alton was assigned to Talk about a Stranger, a small feature being directed by a young Dore Schary protege, David Brad- ley, who, up until then, had only made amateur versions of classic texts back in Chicago but had also discovered Charlton Heston Figs. Bradley had observed Alton at work on the ballet sequence, and was both thrilled and ter- rified at the prospect of working with the fa- mous cameraman.
Print courtesy of David Bradley. I liked his style very, very much, he was awfully good. This was sup- posed to be a big humiliation for him, this great man, pulled down and given to me. But nothing was too much trouble, nothing was impossible, it was perfect. We seemed to be like one per- son, and it became almost like father-son, even though I was going out with John Arnold's daughter. There was a lot of friction around MGM between the Schary camp and the Mayer camp, a lot of relatives and friends who had embedded themselves at the studio and didn't want to change their ways.
The latter film is quite rich visually, but Fig. The effects are sumptuous, glamorize the cast, and wouldn't be noticed by most viewers, but are a bit odd if you think about them. The af- fection and respect between director and cam- eraman was mutual.
They had worked together once at Republic, on the West- ern Driftwood in , but during some of Al- ton's periodic vacations from MGM during the mids, they were paired seven times at RKO. Of Dwan, Alton said, "He was a big di- rector at the beginning of the motion picture industry, but he didn't change, he didn't care or bring anything new to it, so that's why he fell off But he was a good director. The last, however. Slightly Scarlet, in , is a major noir, and arguably the best ever shot in color and widescreen RKO's short-lived Su- perscope process.
Saturated in reds includ- ing the hair color of the two female leads and blacks, the film features scenes of confrontation and violence that nearly match the tension and power of those Alton helped create in the late s.
Alton masterfully organized his pools of light to separate the characters and their com- peting interests. For examples of how Alton still sometimes seemed to put special effort into particular scenes, one need only look at the early sequence featuring mobster Ted de Cor- sia and his hoods, the follow-up scene between de Corsia and John Payne, and the climactic shoot-out.
Alton's signature lighting is clearly evident, but Harry Essex's di- rection is so inept, and takes so little advantage of the action's three-dimensional possibilities, that even a climactic fight on the exposed inte- rior stairway of Los Angeles' Bradbury Building proves more laughable than exciting. Still, Alton's crowning post-Oscar achieve- ment was, ironically enough, a low-budget, down-and-dirty film noir. Arriving toward the end of the noir cycle in , Joseph H.
Lewis's The Big Combo was not seen as anything other than a cheap Allied Artists crime program- mer at the time, but is now ranked by buffs Fig. One last time, Alton pushed his impulse toward severe black- and-white contrasts and silhouetting of char- acters to the limit. Many scenes are clearly lit with only one source, and the final shot, with the figures of a man and woman outlined in a warehouse against a foggy nightscape and illu- minated by a single beacon, makes one of the quintessentially anti-sentimental noir statements about the place of humanity in the existential void.
Perhaps the first scholarly American critic to single out Alton's work, Paul Schrader, in his essay Notes on Film Noir, argued that the cinematography of The Big Combo "is so nearly identical" to that of T-Men "that one has mo- mentary doubts about the directorial differ- ences between Mann and Lewis.
In each film light only enters the scene in odd slants, jagged slices and verticle or horizontal stripes. Bertrand Tav- ernier recalled that, "French critics in Cahiers du Cinema and Positif, who had praised Alton since T-Men, now cited him as among Holly- wood's greatest talents. In June , he jumped back into the low-budget field to shoot a two-bit black- and-white science-fiction entry, 12 to the Moon, for his friend David Bradley.
John was very interested in considering the light that would be on the moon, and he had never done a space picture. His splendid widescreen work on that picture, which was released the following sum- mer, turned out to be his last.
However, Frankenheimer could tell from the first moment that he and Alton were incompatible. It was just not my kind of shooting. He was used to working with direc- tors who perhaps were not so specific as I was about how to shoot a scene, who let him do what he wanted.
I knew I wanted a gritty, semi- documentary look, and he was lighting a lot of things that weren't even going to be in the shots. It was painful because I had great re- spect for him and I'm sorry it didn't work out.
But I find that, if it doesn't work at the begin- ning, it's not going to get better. He wanted to retire early. I'd see him when he came back to Hollywood once a year to keep up his citizenship standing.
I started traveling. I had a lot of money, about one million, and no children. I had three houses in Hollywood, and we sold one. We never told anybody where we were, even the family.
I always give them away to friends. Ifyou have a toothache, as soon as you start painting, it stops. When you paint, you lose all pain through the concentration. I wanted to do quality. I thought about coming back later, but I found that the industry had changed.
Critically and historically neglected, save for the odd noir specialist such as Schrader, through most of the s and s, Alton was still "a bit of a legend with some ofus at USC [University of Southern Cali- fornia] in the late s," according to John Bailey.
He created an aura of the artistic temperament. Like Gordon Willis in this generation, who thinks like an artist and isn't afraid to speak of himself that way, it was clear that here was a man who didn't consider himself just another worker bee in the stu- dio system.
Just as Gordon's work is so dra- matic and different and so polarized genera- tional feelings, so did John's. There were other wonderful cameramen who were doing excel- lent work in noir, such as Nicholas Musuraca, but I don't think they had quite the presenta- tion, or personality, that John had.
John's work didn't just call attention to itself, it did so ag- gressively. The style was more stark, more un- compromisingly severe than those of other peo- ple working around the same artistic area. If there's an Alton legacy, it's of the journey, and his own uncompromising aesthetic. Alton sent back a letter thanking him for the in- vitation to the Colorado festival but declined it due to "previous, uncancelable commitments" and unpredictable travel plans.
This was in , and am still enjoy- ing it," Alton wrote. Luddy and his Pacific Film Archive colleague Sally Armstrong tried again the following year, and Alton responded to the latter that, while in South America in , "I became very ill, and was forced to return home. I am still very ill, and my condition was diagnosed as 'FUO,' a jungle fever of unknown origin.
I have my own 'Energy Problem,' that is, to regain my energy. Although his wife Rozalia died without warning of heart failure in , Alton met and married another woman, Billie Roberts, the following year. A year younger than Alton, she died in Alton finally emerged into the public eye in February While making our documen- tary Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematogra- phy, my colleagues Arnold Glassman and Stuart Samuels and I had been frustrated in our at- tempts to secure an interview with Alton, but still included some examples of his work with Anthony Mann.
Two days before the Los An- geles premiere, I received a call from Darren Weinstock, Alton's step-grandson, who informed me that Alton had read about the film in the Los Angeles Times and wanted to know if he could come see it.
And so it was that John Al- ton received an ovation from a packed house in the presence of Conrad Hall, Haskell Wexler, Vilmos Zsigmond, Laszlo Kovacs, and about a dozen other luminaries in his field. At the screening, Alton happened to sit across the aisle from an old Hungarian compatriot, direc- tor Andre de Toth; they had not seen each other since dining at the Little Prague restau- rant in Hollywood more than fifty years before.
Over Labor Day Weekend , John Alton finally made the trip to the Telluride Film Fes- tival, where audiences can only be said to have responded rapturously to the dazzling excerpts from his work and to his charming, somewhat mischievous personality. Slight and ever the bo- hemian in his ever-present beret, Alton held forth at two public question-and-answer ses- sions before hundreds of people, as well as at a smaller group discussion, and was approach- able for more casual encounters throughout the weekend.
He said that the mountain air and al- titude made him feel more vigorous than usual, and he clearly thrived on the attention. After all, it was the first time in his life that he was in front of the public answering questions about his life's work. After avoiding it for so long, he loved it. A month later, Alton flew to Austria to at- tend the Vienna Film Festival, which organized an impressive symposium on the enormous contributions of Viennese exiles to Hollywood, then proceeded to Israel, where he spent many weeks with his surviving sister, Esther.
In Jan- uary , he received the Lifetime Achieve- ment Award voted him by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and at the ceremonies met Steven Spielberg, who enthused at length about the veteran cinematographers work.
Alton has observed that, no matter where he goes, "It's a strange thing that, when I travel to all these festivals, they show all the small, dark pictures we made in 12 days, not the big pictures we took months to shoot. After many revi- sions and excisions, the book was bought by Macmillan and published in to good criti- cal reception and sales.
Still, the book may not have done Alton a lot of good within the in- dustry, as it was offered as evidence that he held himself above others in his field, that he was a self-ordained expert on all matters photo- graphic. As a proponent of using little light, he set himself up for attack from establishment traditionalists who regarded Alton's methods as crude, unsophisticated, even amateurish.
Amer- ican Cinematographer, which had spotlighted Alton so frequently over the years, took eight years to review the book, and even then Fig.
The volume, the magazine stated in , is of "in- terest to the student cinematographer, but un- fortunately it falls far short of the mark set by its title because the author has kept his text so concise as to be almost an abridgement" Fig. In its 14 brief chapters, the book takes the reader through both the basics and refinements of motion picture photography, from elemen- tary lessons about light sources to sophisticated notions about how to create very precise effects for specific artistic ends.
The described means to achieve them, of course, are rooted in s technology, and discussions of the equipment available are linked with the period when Alton was doing his most memorable work.
As such, the book represents a trip back in time, a mas- ter class as taught by the industry's foremost iconoclast just as he was about to vault from successful obscurity to great renown within his profession.
Recalling the profound impact Paint- ing with Light had upon him as a student, Allen Daviau noted, "At the time the book came out, no one was going to tell you any secrets about cinematography, and he had instructions! It was the only case of an insider telling you what he did.
It was a basic book from a master, and that was so important. This was the one and only book at the time that had some 'how to' to it. You just learned a lot of the tricks of the trade. The influence the book had on a whole group of us was tremendous — we studied cinematog- raphy through Painting with Light.
Later, I en- joyed watching him break his own rules in some of his films. But because of the influence of the book, I've always looked at Alton as this teacher who also did these great films.
So his impact as a cinematographer was doubled or tripled by the fact of this book. Painting with Light may be outdated in spots as far as the how is concerned; today, film is faster, cameras are smaller and more mobile, lenses are sharper, and, in the professional arena, there are not as many rules. But the what and the why are universal and not influenced by changing technology.
Such issues as emotion and dramatic effect represent the essence of motion pictures, and Alton very clearly lays out how to master them strictly through the use of light and lens.
The book is a lesson in basic, ob- jective photographic wisdom, couched in a per- sonal, idiosyncratic expression ofprinciples and priorities. As such, it is to be treasured by any- one with even a passing interest in motion pic- ture lighting and photography.
Print courtesy of Telluride Film Festival. Looking back at 92, Alton observed, "As far as my life is concerned, if I had it to do all over again, I'd do it exactly the same. There are very few people that have the kind of success that I've had. When you enjoy your work, you live.
I was very happy in what I did. In the morn- ing, I always felt like a kid, going to the studio. It's what made my life a very fascinating life" Fig.
However, the titles that follow are the only ones that can be verified: Auer RKO 70 minutes Mr. Almost without ex- ception every lighting effect achieved in motion pictures can be accomplished equally well in still photography when the opera- tor has the know-how. To acquaint the reader with certain new methods and materials, the author has reproduced photo- graphs and line cuts illustrating every application and technique mentioned in the text matter of this book; every tool, gadget, and trick of the Hollywood lighting experts mentioned in this book is illustrated and discussed in detail.
Special sections of the book treat other significant aspects of lighting such as the best means of achieving maximum effects in personal lighting in the home and elsewhere. Display lighting of all kinds is also covered. If there is a philosophy in this book, it might be thought of in terms of the author's sincere desire to share the fruits of his experience with kindred souls who also delight in capturing bits of light at rest on things of beauty. Hollywood xli My deepest appreciation to: Aubrey Schenck, Executive Producer of the Eagle Lion Studios, who placed the facilities of the entire plant at my disposal.
Leslie Vaughn and his Still Department. Robert Jones and his Electrical Department. Harry Strainge and his Grip Department, all of whom were helpful in getting the necessary industrial illustrations. Kodachromes by Ted Weisbarth.
Production stills by George Hommel and Ted Weisbarth. All other pictorial illustrations by the author, unless otherwise indicated. Visiting the studio, as we arrive at the gate we meet the first director, who claims that without him there would be no shooting. How right he is; as the gateman, he holds the keys to the studio. They call him Traffic Director, who directs all the tourists to the different stages.
He shows us the bench on which people wait for the bus. It is called The Board of Directors. The Director. But the man whose work interests us most is the Director of Photography. Production of a motion picture involves the work of hundreds, and in many cases thou- sands, of people. Into a motion picture go the dream of the writer, careful planning, sched- uling, and budgeting by the production de- partment, design of production and construc- tion of sets by the art department, fashion design and costumes by the wardrobe depart- ment, rigging and illumination by the elec- trical department, and film development and printing by the laboratory.
The photograph- ing of a film is not unlike a concert. The work of many artists results in a series of pictures impressed on a narrow strip of film; that is motion picture photography. The Photographic Staff A large staff is necessary to assist in the photography of a picture.
It consists of sep- arate little departments, each with its own peculiar functions. Most of these skilled art- ists and technicians have their own depart- ment heads, but on the set they work under the supervision of the cameraman. The different crews are the following: Camera crew 2. Electrical crew 3. Grip and his department 4. Process department 5. Special effects department 6. Green department 7. Stand-by painter 8. Stage make-up artists and hairdressers 9. Stage wardrobe men and women Stand-ins Laboratory contact man.
They handle the cameras, lenses, and the loading and unloading of the film. The second camera- man operates the camera during the shooting and does the panning and tilting, while the technician follows focus.
The assistant holds the number slate and keeps the report of scenes shot. Thus is handled the mechanical end of the photographing of the picture. On larger sets, or on scenes such as fights, accidents, aeroplane take-offs, fires, explo- sions, etc. In this dif- ficult task his right-hand man is the chief elec- trician, or gaffer, who is in charge of the elec- trical crew on the set. Under the gaffer's orders are the rigging gaffer and his crew who do the preliminary work of placing the reflectors in their predesignated places.
They also operate the crane or boom, and the camera dolly. The key-grip has his best boy, or assistant, the boom operator, and other helpers, assistants, and laborers. This problem has been solved by process photography. In most Hol- lywood studios, one particular large stage is set aside for background process scenes, but there are also portable background machines which can be brought on to any set.
In some studios the director of process is in charge, but in others the director of photography super- vises the front illumination, and the process department takes care of the balance. In his work he is assisted by the greenman. Some studios have their own green depart- ments; others have their work done by out- side landscape artists who own huge nurseries and glass houses, and have ready any speci- men of tree, plant, flower, of any country of the world the script may call for.
The green department can also reproduce a jungle or a forest right on the stage. If a required tree or plant is not available, the greenman constructs it of cardboard or plas- ter. Each company, when shooting, has its own greenman and his assistants, the number de- pending upon the size of the set to be photo- graphed. They stand by to dress shine the greens of the set, to move bushes, or to do any other "green" duty. There are problems that may be solved by a slight spray of black paint, a touch of eggshell to bring out a highlight, or by the change of a color.
For this work each production unit has a stand-by painter on the set. Kisses ruin the lip make-up and leave rouge marks on cheeks, the hair gets mussed up, or a backlight ac- centuates one single hair standing up against a dark background. Hair styles must match, faces must be kept clean and fresh, and at times tears must be created right on the spot.
For these purposes the make-up artists and hairdressers are always on the set. On sets where there are dancers, skaters, or other artists with parts of their bodies exposed, male and female body make-up artists are also required. However, minor changes often are required on the set. A dress is torn, coffee is spilled on a shirt front, a but- ton is missing, or pants need to be pressed. Any one of a thousand other minor incon- veniences may arise which would cause a seri- ous delay in production if not attended to immediately.
Hence, when shooting, the pres- ence of a wardrobe man or woman is required on the set at all times. The Outstanding Stand-ins The lighting of artists, whether in a long shot or a close-up, necessarily takes time.
Win- ter pictures sometimes are made in the sum- mertime why, I don't know , and it is not very pleasant to be constantly exposed to the terrific heat of the powerful lights needed for modern motion picture photography. Espe- cially is this true when heavy fur coats must be worn. Furthermore, the time required for lighting can be utilized by rehearsal of lines. Therefore each star and fea- tured player is entitled to have someone sim- ilar in type, stature, figure, color of hair, etc.
Hence the name stand-in, or second team. The stand-ins just stand or sit, as the case may be, or mechan- ically go through the different actions the scene calls for, dress exactly like the first team or at least in similar tone. They stand in un- til the lights are ready, and walk through the scene a few times to check the light. When all is ready for the actual photography, the prin- cipals are paged. Some stand-ins have made the grade and have become famous stars.
The Laboratory Contact Man With lighting alone we still do not have photography. An important part is the proc- essing of the film in the laboratory.
The direc- tor of photography has no time to be present while the processing is going on. For this purpose a laboratory contact man is appointed, who sees to it that all of the cameraman's in- structions are carefully carried out. Tools of Motion Picture Photography Just as the painter must have brushes of different properties, paints of many colors, canvas, an easel, and other equipment to paint a picture, so must his fellow artist, the direc- tor of photography, have his implements to make a painting of as many as possible of the hundreds of setups required for a feature length motion picture.
Merriman Photo. Figure 2 shows a Bell and Howell Eyemo camera designed for greater porta- bility than the studio camera. On a camera of the latest model, only one lens is mounted at one time, but all are interchangeable by means of a bayonet fit- ting. FILTERS When photographing exteriors we some- times would like to accentuate clouds, darken blue skies, make night shots in the daytime, or emphasize certain parts of the landscape.
For these purposes we add filters, which may be either of glass or of gelatin. This invention of the au- thor's is similar in form to a slide rule, and has different filters mounted on it, each over a round hole. Over the filters slides a special Fig. The most frequently used are glass disks which come in different grades, the choice depending upon the degree of diffusion desired.
Besides these commer- cially available beautifiers, each director of photography has developed his own glamor- izers such as gauzes of different densities and colors. With modern labora- tories came chemical engineers, and with them came science; today photography is based on science.
If we want a good negative we must expose the film correctly. The human eye is not entirely reliable when subject to light changes, and is far from being as accurate as the photoelectric cell in an exposure meter. Technicolor has developed a spe- cial meter for use in its process of color photography. The old-fashioned number slate is be- ing replaced gradually by an internal number- ing mechanism. Time has proved these prophets wrong. Today the director of photography has operators, assistants, techni- cians, and loaders to help him.
All this is mentioned as preface to another improvement which I am about to suggest, an improvement as revolutionary as the cam- era motor was in its time.
Many of us who were so fortunate as to be able to help save democracy have seen the automatic machine gun tiltheads installed in planes. During the great blitzes the casualty rate of machine gun- ners was very high.
Something had to be done about it, and something was done. This new J tilthead was invented, and no longer did the machine gunner have to stick out his head. Instead of operating the gun and aiming it, he looked through the finder.
When he moved the finder, tilted, or panned, the machine guns turned and converged automatically with it, aiming at the target with the greatest accu- racy. If this instrument was so useful, why couldn't it be utilized successfully for pro- duction of motion pictures? It would make an ideal automatic tripod freehead. Tripods have improved somewhat since the original tripod head was loosened and with the aid of a club was used as the first freehead.
The converted machine gun head would be quite an improvement over the present wheel-driven one. Just imagine the operator looking through a finder, and as he turns it by the slightest touch simultaneously tilting and panning the camera, getting exactly and accurately the same field of composition seen in the finder. It would be a definite step forward in meth- ods of motion picture production.
Just as paint- ers use different brushes for different results, so does a director of photography utilize vari- ous types of reflectors for the variety of light effects which he may have in mind.
We try to imitate light effects that we know exist in nature. In outdoor scenes they are either sun- light for day scenes or moonlight for night. Inside they are sunlight for daylight and in- candescent or any other artificial light for night. To create these shadows, to beautify, to keep light off the lens, to operate the dolly or crane, and for a thou- sand other missions, the grip and his tool kit come in very handy.
Wherever the cameraman goes he is fol- lowed by the grip and his trunkful of magic gadgets. Many of these tricks have no names, but all have their special purposes, and are used at some time or other during the pro- duction of a picture.
Many of them are de- scribed in what follows. On stone floors, or where the tripod points would puncture, scratch, or do other harm, we use a triangle under it. There are three kinds: On hard floors, a triangle keeps a camera from slipping. This is done with a heavy metal chain, turnbuckle, and stage screw. This method is used also when shooting on a moving train, car, truck, or on the deck of a moving ship at sea. The dolly is a four-wheeled vehicle pushed by the grip's assistant.
It holds the blimp of the old type camera, and the camera within the blimp. The camera can be changed quickly from a position little above floor level to a position six feet above the floor Figs. Dollies have hard rubber wheels, and pas- sage over a nail or the slightest obstruction would cause a jump on the screen. To avoid this, the dolly is moved on metal or wooden tracks that come in sections of four, six, and ten feet.
A rug is placed under the entire length of the tracks to absorb floor squeaks and to silence the steps of the assistant grip who pushes the dolly. Platforms are made of wood, and are adjustable from two to six feet; for a twelve-foot platform, one of the six-footers is placed on top of another, and they are braced heavily to avoid acci- Fig. Platforms are used also to place high lamps or sun reflectors. The new type steel tubular parallel rises from five feet to twenty feet Fig. There is also a folding adjust- able parallel which is available in heights of four and six feet Figs 7, 8.
For this purpose we use the crane or boom. The small baby boom is used for small sets Fig. Low Position Fig.
High Position Even though a crane has rubber-tired wheels, tracks are used in some studios where the floor is not entirely level. These tracks are made of wooden boards of different lengths. This is all very simple, but if the direc- tor wants to make a shot that starts with an insert of a ball on top of a table Fig. As the camera Fig. This problem has been partially solved by having an extra grip pull up sections of the track as we truck back.
However, this is dan- gerous, for the view finder on the camera does not indicate what goes on underneath y t T T t Position B Fig. The tracks now in use are made up of sec- tions that join straight on; therefore it is dif- ficult to detach one section from another. With the new type of track shown in the diagram these k: Figure 12 illustrates a section of the track. End A of the section hooks on to end B of the preceding section.
The ends are not cut straight, but diagonally, thus making it possible to pull sections back, also eliminating the bump as the dolly wheel crosses from one section to another Fig. The new track is inexpensive to manufacture; in fact the track now in use may easily be converted into the new type. Considering the time that is lost with the old tracks and also the possible retakes, the new tracks would soon pay for themselves.
In order to hold the movie-goer's at- tention, future films will have to move as fast if not faster than life itself. No matter how modern the camera dolly or how stream- lined the boom may be, they are both becom- ing a bit too slow. In some studios where stages were not built for this extra weight, tracks have to be laid. Floors are uneven and bumpy, and it takes entirely too many re- hearsals to make a good shot. The solution for constant, smooth, and fast camera movement is use of the destycrane.
It is called that because its arm, like that Fig. Its design and operation are very simple Fig. There are four parallel rails running in one direc- tion, built on the ceiling of the stage.
On these rails a platform runs between points C and D. Underneath the platform there are two more rails and on these the carriage holding the crane arm runs between the points A and B.
During the rehearsal of the scene the camera- man gives all necessary instructions to the 9 boom operator in the cabin, who carries them out in the take. It is all done electrically. The assistant cameraman is also in the cabin and follows focus by remote control.
There is a phone connection between cam- eraman and boom operator. The camera has a horizontal pan of degrees and vertical tilt of degrees. In other words the desty- Fig. It can go from an insert of a book on a shelf to an extreme long shot holding almost the entire stage. The construction and installation of the destycrane may be a bit costly, but consid- ering the saving of time and improvement of the motion picture technique, it will more than pay for itself the first year.
Besides it will open new horizons to the imaginative cinematographer, writer, and director. The wildest of T-Men-ish ideas can be realized at short notice and with little or no difficulty. The free movement of destycrane allows us to shoot entire scenes without as much as one cut. Destycrane is definitely a step forward in streamlining the studio, and no modern motion picture stage can well afford to be without it.
It is employed also for transport- ing sections of a set from the carpenter shop to the stage where the set is assembled Fig. GOBO Goboes are wooden screens made in vari- ous sizes and used primarily to cut light from reaching the lens.
There are other purposes for which this photographic tool is used. In night shots where the background is jet black, we place a platform with a lamp on it right in the picture, and cover up with a black gobo; it is a perfect black camouflage.
If a light happens to hit the finder from behind the camera, it obstructs the vision of the cam- era operative; a gobo may be used to remedy this too. To absorb light, goboes are painted black Fig. A double gobo which can be raised to a height of ten feet is known as a folding slider. It also is made of wood and is painted black.
FLAG When there is no room for large goboes for cutting off light, a flag is used. This is really a miniature gobo, named because of its shape when mounted on a stand. It may be of ply- wood, but is much lighter if made of black cloth with a metal frame.
A wooden flag is painted black to absorb light. Flags come in different sizes: They are made of black cloth or of wood painted black. Their size permits cutting off the light of a row of backlight reflectors.
They usually are mounted on overhead stands Fig. A target three inches in diameter is called a dot Fig. Targets also come in halves, called half-targets Fig.
Targets may be made of opaque black cloth on metal frames, or of wood painted black. There are also scrim targets in different sizes and in single, double, and triple layers Fig. It is used for beautifying purposes of diffusing, softening, or cutting off light. If it has no frame, and one end is open, it is called open end scrim. Scrims come in different densities, single, double, and triple Figs. The chin scrim is a U-shaped scrim in single, double.
Bhdes are small flags used for cutting off light, or when only a thin shadow is required, as in light surgery. They come in solids, or in single, double, or triple scrim Figs. CLIP The clip is a tiny flag that can be clamped on the reflector, camera, matte box, or the like Fig. Cookies are really flags with different designs cut out of them. The designs sometimes resemble natu- ral ones like that of a tree branch with leaves, a dead branch without leaves, a bouquet of flowers, etc.
They come in solid wood which throws opaque shadows, or for softer transparent shadows are cut also from celo celloglass , a transparent glass-like material. Sizes vary from that of a flag to that of a tar- get Figs. When the broad soft, shadowless lamp is fresh and sends light in all directions into either the eye of the cameraman or into the lens, an ear is placed on it. This is really a flag with a hole in it Fig. The gooseneck is part of a goose- neck lamp, without the lamp, of course; the gadgets are soldered, clamped, or screwed to the end.
Century stands are tripods used to hold flags and other heavier gadgets. One stand is 44 inches high, and the heavy over- head stand rises from 6 feet to 25 feet. To hold a tree branch, a tree branch adapter is fastened to a heavy Century stand; this can be used inside or outside with sunlight Fig. To hold gags together and to clamp them, an Adapter clamp is used. These include: Pullman or one-step Three-step, often used by cameramen for the higher setups Apple box, similar to the one-step Furniture blocks, which are small three- steps made of 2-inch by 4-inch joist, to provide heights of 2, 4, and 6 inches Cupblocks, which are similar to furniture blocks but with hollow sides for legs of chairs, for greater safety Risers, little platforms, 2, 4, and 6 inches in height The grip transports his equipment in a large grip's truck, a grip box, and a grip kit.
The grip's personal tool kit is a belt containing simple tools and rolls of tape used to cover up high spots, blemishes, or defects on sets. Stepladders of various heights are part of the grip equipment.
If the grip wants to get the next picture, he must see to it that the cameraman is com- fortable at all times. For this purpose he car- ries what is known as the red apple stool.
It is mounted on a portable and demountable stand that rises from 6 feet to 12 feet Fig. The tin is somewhat weaker than the mirror, but hotter than the gold or silver reflectors. It comes in different sizes, with metal or wood frames on which the scrim net is stretched. There are small but- terflies in round and square shapes, medium- sized ones 4 feet by 4 feet Fig. It consists of a hollow cylinder with room enough inside for an arc lamp; it is mounted on a large stand and may be rotated in either direction and at various speeds.
Shadows may be painted on the surface, or little cutouts may be made for train window effects Fig. The drum can be demounted, and tree branches, cookies, or other objects mounted to its frame for different types of shadow effects Fig.
From tlie point of view of illumination, a scene consists of sets, props, and people. The Set In the early days of the motion picture, films were made out in the open, on their natural locations. As the industry grew and prospered, when stories were laid in foreign countries, and in difficult terrain to which it was impossible to take the entire production staff, location sets were built, illuminated by natural sunlight.
This practice was later im- proved by placing the set on a revolving platform which turned with the sun, thus taking advantage of the direct sun rays all day long. As the stories grew in scope, sets became larger and more expensive. Privacy was needed, so the industry moved inside, into barns which have gradually developed into the huge modern sound stages of today.
Exact replicas of faraway locations, such as the desert of Africa, the jungles of South America, or the streets of Vienna, are still built on the back lot, or on private ranches specially reserved for shooting purposes. Reproductions of original exterior or inte- rior locations are called sets. When built in- side on a sound stage, the sets are divided into two classes: To facilitate lighting, sets must be built with as many breaks as possible, and not made up of flat walls.
The more doors, windows, heavy moldings, or other breaks, the better. A staircase, columns, and other foreground pieces all add to the beauty of the set. All woodwork should have a shine, just as in real life. Of utmost importance is the color of the set.
In black-and-white photography most colors photograph well. However, one warm color easily blends into another.
In order to separate faces from the background, cold colors are usually recommended for the paint- ing of sets. For pictorial effect several shades of blue are used. Cold colors are easier and faster to light, and the results are much bet- ter.
Warm-colored sets may have a pleasant psychological effect upon the artists, the crew, and visiting executives, but do not justify the poor photography which results when com- bined with warm-colored faces. Props All articles that are used to decorate the set, be they furniture, glassware, flowers, or silk curtains, are called props.
While on the subject of props, we may as well mention that in the early days of motion picture photography shiny props were said to photograph badly.
As a matter of fact, some cameramen have new automobiles milked sprayed with a chalk and water solution or water paint even today, to eliminate any possible specular reflection.
Highlights, the life of photography, were puttied down; no wonder some of the pictures were so flat. To- day we know that with the new antihalo film, the more shiny props we have on the set, the better. Without the sparkling highlights of glazed china, silverware, plate-glass mirrors, copper dishes, and other highly reflective ob- jects, a set would photograph very dull indeed.
People When the preliminary set lighting is com- pleted, the director of the picture rehearses the scene with the principal artists while the stand-ins stand by and watch. When the re- hearsal is over, stand-ins and extras step in for the final lighting, while principals retire to continue rehearsing lines, change ward- robes, or have the final touches of make-up and hairdress checked. Rigging for Illumination The preparatory work of placing the reflec- tors in their respective positions is called rig- ging the set.
The average height of a set is about ten feet, although higher sets are often built in various dimensions for particular scenes. Sets usually have three walls, with one wall wild, that is, movable on roller jacks. This wild wall may be entirely eliminated if it happens to be in the way for certain setups.
Adjoining the top of the set, suspended on chains from the stage ceiling, are the plat- forms for the reflectors Figs. In most studios these platforms consist of 2-inch by 4-inch joists, joined together into units, leav- ing enough room behind the reflectors for the electricians to walk by, with a railing completely around for the safety of the oper- ators.
The platforms are divided into bays. Each bay generally holds three reflectors, and has one operator assigned to it. Ceilinged-in sets are lit entirely from the floor.
Experiments are now being made with the object in mind of eliminating all over- Fig. When successful, produc- tion cost will be reduced considerably. Lighting Equipment Inside the dark barns, sunshine was no longer available, so a new source of illumina- tion had to be found Fig.
First it was necessary to illuminate the sets, props, and people to a degree permitting them to regis- ter properly on the film; second, to reproduce the different light effects of life. Theatrical lights were brought out from Broadway.
The first lamps used for illumination were mercury- vapor lights. They were followed by theatri- cal arcs and spots. Later on came the incan- descent lamps, or inkies, which we now use in combination with arc lamps. The following 19 Fig. The Brute Fig. The Molarc ampere model Fig. The special Marine lens is corrected for spherical aberration, and the brightness of the illuminated area is there- fore greatest at the center, tapering off at the edges.
In this way dark centers and ghost pat- terns are eliminated. Although this lamp is designed primarily to furnish light of con- stant spectral quality for color photography, it finds extensive use wherever illumination of high uniform intensity is required.
The Molare ampere model , also known as the 90, provides illumination of medium intensity. Because it may be adjusted to give any beam divergence between 8 and 44 degrees, it is suitable for all types of light- Fig.
The beams from several lamps can be overlapped without building up spots of high intensity. The Duarc Figs. It may be tilted for either floor illumination or over- head lighting. The lamp is supplied with a sandblasted diffuser in three sheets, which prevents radiation of injurious ultraviolet rays; clear glass also can be supplied if required.
The diffuser frames are of a design which prevents escape of leak light, and permits de- mounting the glass for changing or cleaning. The overhead scoop is a twin arc lamp, used suspended, for illumination of backdrops where a Duarc would be too heavy. Still in use, but gradually disappearing, are the 65 Fig. Each is equipped with Fresnel lens and means for adjusting the beam from a narrow spot to a flood. The Junior Solarspot Fig. They are used when the greater illuminating power of the Senior lamps is not required.
Their equipment is similar to that of the larger lamps. An accessory called the Foco Spot Fig. The attachment includes a condensing lens, a disk in which are cut apertures of various shapes, and an objective lens.
The Dinky-Inkie Figs. The single broad Figs. The Cinelite Fig. It uses a watt or a watt bulb in a domed reflector, and provides a soft light. A diffuser may also be held before the bulb in a diffuser frame.
It is fast- ened to a swinging arm, and is moved slowly up, down, right, and left, as the effect re- quires. If we were to photograph the real in- terior of a rocking airplane or ship with a motion picture camera, we would notice that the shadows do not remain still, but move up or down according to the movement of the plane or ship.
Most sets are stationary and cannot be rocked, and the effect of a station- ary keylight is accordingly a steady shadow. To achieve the illusion that the plane or ship is rocking, the shadows must move; the swing- ing keylight was designed for this purpose. The boomlight Fig. It is so adjusted that the lamp maintains a con- stant angle of adjustment up to 45 degrees from horizontal.
The boomlight is also called the menace because of its bad habit of falling over if not carefully balanced. The Streamlight is a step forward in motion picture illumination by the author. Visiting tourists and front office executives often ask why it takes so long to light a set — why this expensive, complicated system of illumina- tion — why all the men and reflectors — when in real life the weirdest light effects can be ob- tained merely by lighting a match, a tiny candle, or by turning an electric switch.
The answer is that it is not that simple. Lighting for motion pictures is a different problem from that of illuminating for the supersensitive human eye. These often repeated questions made me think, nevertheless. We must admit that rig- ging and lighting have not changed much, if at all, in the past few years. We had a very good excuse in the war. But with the fighting over, and with television, radar, and use of atomic energy now realities, it is about time to start looking for improvements.
Take, for instance, a simple scene in a small hotel room. The script calls for Mr. X to enter the dark room and turn the light switch which lights a single suspended electric lamp bulb.
Now for this insignificant scene we have two crews — a rigging crew to set the reflectors, dim- mers, etc. All this, of course, takes time. The scene is now ready to be shot. But it seldom works in the first take. Either the turning of the switch is late, or the lights come on in several installments for a single bulb. So another take, and another, until one is printed. On the screen it still looks unreal, something is strange about it. After having experimented with several ideas to simplify set illumination, I have worked out an invention as a suggestion for improvement.
It is a new reflector called the Streamlight, and is a combination of three kinds of lamps, senior, junior, and broad Fig. The streamlight is suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the set. It has an arm around it so as to enable us to angle it. It includes one senior in the center, pointing straight down, illuminating the floor, furni- ture, props, and the people directly below it. Around the senior, six juniors are built at an angle of about 30 degrees; these light the 27 Fig.
Above the juniors, around the entire circumference of the lamp, is a strip of lamps for filler light. This can be made up either of tubes or bulbs. This light overlaps on the walls from where the juniors left off Fig. The Streamlight is con- trolled entirely by its own dimmer box Fig.