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A 12-part multi-part look at the history, techniques, movements and people who create the magic of film.
Early Cinema: This program looks at the very birth of cinema in the late 1800s through the talkies in 1928. It is a multi-part look at the history, techniques, movements and people who created the magic that we call motion pictures.
The dawn of the moving image began early in the 19th century with the discovery that a surface treated with a photo-sensitive emulsion would reveal an image when exposed to light. These first photos, or tintypes, were crude forms of photography improved upon by the creation of more flexible photo-sensitive material, or film, which resulted in better still photographic images. Photographic images whose subjects were photographed in slightly different positions could be flipped in rapid succession to create the illusion of subjects in motion. George Eastman, of Eastman-Kodak fame, created a celluloid film stock that could be wound on a reel, resulting in the first actual example of moving images on film. Experiments in the 1890s by W.K.L. Dickson and William Heise, under the auspices of the Thomas Edison Company, resulted in the invention of the Kinetograph, a vertical feed camera which exposed film and had a row of sprockets on each side of the celluloid strip, much like our conventional 35 mm film today.
Featured are early films from Thomas Edison, The Lumiere Brothers and George Melies.
The Golden Age: The Golden Age of Hollywood motion picture making was a period of almost 30 years, beginning in 1928 and ending in the mid-1950s. This program focuses on the classical Hollywood era of the 1930s through the 1950s. The hosts discuss and present clips from some of the films which made this era of Hollywood so memorable including the musical Dixiana, the western (Fighting Caravans), A Star is Born, The Vampire Bat, The Little Princess (Shirley Temple), Father's Little Dividend with Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor.
Directing: This program discuss three big jobs in motion picture making; screenwriting, producing and directing. The director is responsible for the overall feel and look of the film and decides on the use all of the other process of movie making - lighting, editing, mise en scene, cinematography and sound which ultimately reflect the director's control and vision. Explore films from major directors of cinema and learn how a script is formatted. Includes the opening scene from the Howard Hawks film His Girl Friday, Stanley Donen, the 1951 musical Royal Wedding, Vin-cente Minnelli, comedy film Fathers Little Dividend, Frank Capra, 1941 film, Meet John Doe, John Huston, 1953 film Beat The Devi and Michael Gordons 1950 film, Cyrano De Bergerac.
Editing: This program focus's on editing and how this process helps tell the story in a motion picture. The editing process follows some simple steps: takes the raw footage from the camera after it is developed, select the shots and combines them into sequences which will themselves be combined to create an entire motion picture. Completing these steps sounds easy enough, but in reality, editing a film extends beyond arranging shots into a completed project. Deciding which shots to use and their length requires creativity and discernment. Editing is sometimes described as an invisible art, because if the editor performs their job well, the audience, never notice the cuts. We are simply engaged in the story. Editing discusses how a film is cut to create the story we see on the screen. This program features a long take, from the 1950 film Cyrano de Bergerac, Establishing shot, from the 1937 film A Star is Born, A point of view shot, when the camera replaces the eye of the character and we see exactly what the character sees - the opening of Naked Kiss from 1964 and cutting on action, from John Houston's 1954 film Beat the Devil.
Mise-en-scene: Mise-en-scene looks at how filmmakers make decisions about what is put before the camera. It includes costumes, props, set design, positioning of actors and much more. Mise en scène is a term that refers to all visual elements that appear within each frame of a motion picture. Without various features of mise en scène, a moving picture would consist of only a series of flickering black or light-infused frames, since even a colored screen would provide visual information that some might consider an element of mise en scène. A French phrase which translates roughly as œplaced on stage, mise en scène is a broad concept often difficult to define for film because it only exists when considering a combination of elements within the frame or camera's eye. Basically, anything to be filmed ”the setting, the costumes and make-up, the movement, facial expression, and position of actors on screen, and some elements of lighting is considered mise en scène. The concept of mise en scène for film shares a lot with theater production in that props, sets and blocking of actors are all deliberately chosen for particular effects, although the physical space of the stage and theater often limit or dictate how mise en scène is perceived by an audience. Features the Western, Angel and the Badman, silent film, Caligari, costuming Cyrano de Bergerac and lighting (an air of mystery) Film Noir.
Documentary: Documentary talks about some of the different styles of documentary filmmaking from the birth of cinema to the present day. It is a multi-part look at the history, techniques, movements, and people who create the magic that we call motion pictures. Todays program will talk about a style of filmmaking outside of the normal fiction or narrative films that we as audience members are used to seeing, that is, documentary filmmaking. With the birth of cinema in the 1890s, spearheaded by America's Thomas Edison and Frances Louis and Auguste Lumiere, filmmaking progressed in two directions. Edison brought his subjects before a stationary camera to his tarpaper-covered studio called the Black Maria built at West Orange, New Jersey partly because the camera required multiple people to move it. While Edison was bringing people to the Black Maria to have a pie, the Lumiere brothers created the cinematographe. The resulting camera mobility allowed people to go out into the world and both document events and project films. Included are a number of clips from classic documentary films. Features the 1934 documentary Song of Ceylon, 1935 British film Housing Problems, the 1936 film The Plow that Broke the Plainsand, 1938s film The River, Why We Fight and the 1944 film, The Battle of San Pietro. Genre: Film genre, or the classification of film into categories is based upon designated characteristics that distinguish one film from another. Genre explores what characteristics indicate a film genre like horror, musical, Western and comedy and how viewers understand the story put before them. They remain a useful way to categorize and distinguish most films, so that audiences know what to expect. Most film critics agree on ten film genres: action-adventure, comedy, costume films, epics, horror, musical, science fiction and fantasy, suspense, war, and the western. This program discusses the following films and the genre of each - Angel and the Badman, The Road to Bali, Royal Wedding, My Man Godfrey and The Big Combo.
Lighting: This program focus's on lighting and how a cinematographer and lighting engineer work together to showcase what is put before the camera. Lighting is a crucial component to filmmaking because it enables the director to say, Look here, not there, or to light up an entire scene so we can peruse what's in the film's frame. Without light we are left with this “LIGHTS OFF “ nothing. We need light to see the film and we need lighting engineers to handle and control the lighting so the director can attain the look they want. Quite often what makes an average production exceptional is the lighting. This program discusses what tools are used to create different lighting set-ups and uses a number of examples to illustrate how this important element is decided. Lighting design falls into two categories, High-Key lighting and Low-Key lighting. High-Key lighting provides relatively bright, even illumination of the film frame or scene, the kind the director and producer of a big-scale musical productions may choose to showcase 60 dancers and 20 chorus singers and their elaborate costumes. Low-key lighting is focused lighting with strong contrast. Low-key lighting creates fast fall-off, which means that the image goes from light to dark very quickly, falling off into shadows or darkness. Low-key lighting works well in horror films, or any film in which a director wishes to create suspense or keep you guessing what is in the dark, inky shadows on the outskirts of the frame. This program discusses the following films and the lighting of each “ Royal Wedding (musical) the scene is brightly lit throughout in both, wide and medium shots. Night of the Living Dead (horror) to enhance the suspense, the lighting creates shadows which heighten the mystery. Flying Deuces (comedy) like a musical, relies on a high-key lighting set-up, eliminating almost all shadows.
Cinematography: Cinematography looks at what a camera operator is responsible for and how they make the decisions to create the look the director desires. This segment will focus on cinematography, or camera work and how this tool helps in the creation of the story. The role of the camera operator, or cinematographer, can be highly artistic while simultaneously requiring significant scientific and technical knowledge to be performed well. From the birth of motion pictures in the 1890s to the talkies of the late 1920s, cinematography was of paramount importance to successful narrative, since in the absence of dialogue to record, footsteps or closing doors to anticipate, or music to incorporate, the camera could capture the moving image only. In the first decade of motion pictures, the role of the cinematographer or camera operator and director were one and the same, but as cinema evolved, the duties of the director and cinematographer diverged. In this program we review Academy Award winner, James Wong Howe, who pioneered dollying and handheld camera techniques as well as the use of unconventional light sources. We take a look at his 1938 film Algiers, which earned Howe his first Academy nomination for Best Cinematography, focusing on the moving camerawork.
Sound: Sound investigates the various types of sound, how they are recorded, and how they are incorporated in a film. Besides the visuals in moving pictures, sound also contributes to part of those magical effects. This program will focus on sound design and how life can be breathed into a project through the use of carefully selected and carefully placed sounds. When we think about or talk about them, we can categorize all sounds into one of three categories: dialogue or voice, music, and sound effects. Sound effects can be sounds that occur naturally within the film itself or sounds that add to the overall impact that the film presents. Music is quite often not part of the film itself, but a musical track that adds to the mood of the film. Both music and sound effects are usually classified as either diegetic or non-diegetic sounds. Simply put, non-diegetic sounds are those which do not occur within the film, while diegetic sounds occur inside of the films action. This program features diegetic and non-diegetic music in the 1950 film D-O-A Atmospheric sound known as foleying in Meet John Doe and manufactured sound elements (suspenseful mood music, a ray gun emission, the whirling of flying spaceships) in the 1953 Killers From Outer Space.
Overseas Cinema: In this program we global, or look at global cinema. While American cinema has had a wide-spread influence on world popular cultures almost from the beginning, many other nations have had significant national film traditions that have also had an influence. But, rather than provide a panoramic view of each national cinema, we're going to concentrate on some of the most influential world film movements and filmmakers since the beginning of cinema. Includes some of the major foreign film movements, such as Italian Neo-Realism and French New Wave.
Animation: This program looks at animation, a style of filmmaking that gained popularity during the silent era of the 1920s and has remained extremely popular from the 1930s to the present day. Animation still remains a labor-intensive and time-intensive process as the artists and crafts people behind contemporary animated programming are still essentially applying the same processes as the early animation pioneers - two frames per image, holds and cycles and synchronization. This program includes two practical animated tutorials as well as some classical animation from the early 1900s.
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