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Alan Smithee (also Allen Smithee) is an official pseudonym used by film directors who wish to disown a project. Coined in 1968 and used until it was formally discontinued in 2000, it was the sole pseudonym used by members of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) when a director, dissatisfied with the final product, proved to the satisfaction of a guild panel that they had not been able to exercise creative control over a film. The director was also required by guild rules not to discuss the circumstances leading to the movie or even to acknowledge being the project's director.
- "Alan Smithee" | 2018-07-09 | 38 Upvotes 9 Comments
The Kuleshov effect is a film editing (montage) effect demonstrated by Soviet filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1910s and 1920s. It is a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation.
- "Kuleshov effect" | 2019-01-02 | 151 Upvotes 31 Comments
Toyetic is a term referring to the suitability of a media property, such as a cartoon or movie, for merchandising tie-in lines of licensed toys, games and novelties. The term is attributed to Bernard Loomis, a toy development executive for Kenner Toys, in discussing the opportunities for marketing the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, telling its producer Steven Spielberg that the movie wasn't "toyetic" enough, leading Loomis towards acquiring the lucrative license for the upcoming Star Wars properties.
- "Toyetic" | 2017-12-19 | 74 Upvotes 5 Comments
WGA screenwriting credit system
The Writers Guild of America (WGA) writing credit system for motion pictures and television programs covers all works under the jurisdiction of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW). Since 1941, the Screen Writers Guild and then the WGA has been the final arbiter of who receives credit for writing a theatrical, television or new media motion picture written under their jurisdiction. Though the system has been a standard since before the WGA's inception, it has seen criticism.
- "WGA screenwriting credit system" | 2017-01-29 | 32 Upvotes 15 Comments
The zoöpraxiscope (initially named zoographiscope and zoogyroscope) is an early device for displaying moving images and is considered an important predecessor of the movie projector. It was conceived by photographic pioneer Eadweard Muybridge in 1879 (and built for him by January 1880 to project his famous chronophotographic pictures in motion and thus prove that these were authentic). Muybridge used the projector in his public lectures from 1880 to 1895. The projector used 16" glass disks onto which Muybridge had an unidentified artist paint the sequences as silhouettes. This technique eliminated the backgrounds and enabled the creation of fanciful combinations and additional imaginary elements. Only one disk used photographic images, of a horse skeleton posed in different positions. A later series of 12" discs, made in 1892–1894, used outlines drawn by Erwin F. Faber that were printed onto the discs photographically, then colored by hand. These colored discs were probably never used in Muybridge's lectures. All images of the known 71 disks, including those of the photographic disk, were rendered in elongated form to compensate the distortion of the projection. The projector was related to other projecting phenakistiscopes and used some slotted metal shutter discs that were interchangeable for different picture disks or different effects on the screen. The machine was hand-cranked.
The device appears to have been one of the primary inspirations for Thomas Edison and William Kennedy Dickson's Kinetoscope, the first commercial film exhibition system. Images from all of the known seventy-one surviving zoopraxiscope discs have been reproduced in the book Eadweard Muybridge: The Kingston Museum Bequest (The Projection Box, 2004).
...it is the first apparatus ever used, or constructed, for synthetically demonstrating movements analytically photographed from life, and in its resulting effects is the prototype of the various instruments which, under a variety of names, are used for a similar purpose at the present day.
As stipulated in Muybridge's will the original machine and disks in his possession were left to Kingston upon Thames, where they are still kept in the Kingston Museum Muybridge Bequest Collection (except for four discs that are in other collections, including those of the Cinémathèque française and the National Technical Museum in Prague).
Muybridge also produced a series of 50 different paper 'Zoopraxiscope discs' (basically phenakistiscopes), again with pictures drawn by Erwin F. Faber. The discs were intended for sale at the 1893 World's Fair at Chicago, but seem to have sold very poorly and are quite rare. The discs were printed in black-and-white, with twelve different discs also produced as chromolithographed versions. Of the coloured versions only four different ones are known to still exist with a total of five or six extant copies.
The Zone System is a photographic technique for determining optimal film exposure and development, formulated by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer. Adams described the Zone System as "[...] not an invention of mine; it is a codification of the principles of sensitometry, worked out by Fred Archer and myself at the Art Center School in Los Angeles, around 1939–40."
The technique is based on the late 19th century sensitometry studies of Hurter and Driffield. The Zone System provides photographers with a systematic method of precisely defining the relationship between the way they visualize the photographic subject and the final results. Although it originated with black-and-white sheet film, the Zone System is also applicable to roll film, both black-and-white and color, negative and reversal, and to digital photography.
- "Zone System" | 2022-03-18 | 23 Upvotes 12 Comments
Soundies are three-minute American musical films, produced between 1940 and 1947, each displaying a song, dance, and/or band or orchestral number. Produced professionally on 35 mm black-and-white film, like theatrical motion pictures, they were printed on the more portable and economical 16 mm film.
The films were shown in a coin-operated "movie jukebox" named the Panoram, manufactured by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago. Each Panoram housed a 16 mm RCA film projector, with eight Soundies films threaded in an endless-loop arrangement. A system of mirrors flashed the image from the lower half of the cabinet onto a front-facing screen in the top half. Each film cost 10 cents to play, with no choice of song; the patron saw whatever film was next in the queue. Panorams could be found in public amusement centers, nightclubs, taverns, restaurants, and factory lounges, and the films were changed weekly. The completed Soundies were generally made available within a few weeks of their filming, by the Soundies Distributing Corporation of America.
Several production companies filmed the Soundies shorts in New York City, Hollywood, and Chicago: James Roosevelt's Globe Productions (1940–41), Cinemasters (1940–41), Minoco Productions (owned by Mills Novelty, 1941–43), RCM Productions (1941–46), LOL Productions (1943), Glamourettes (1943), Filmcraft Productions (1943–46), and Alexander Productions (1946) led by William D. Alexander). The performers recorded the music in advance, and mimed to the soundtrack during filming.
The movie-jukebox idea developed several imitations and variations of the technical design; the most successful of these imitators were the Techniprocess company (managed by Rudy Vallee) and the Featurettes company, which used original novelty songs and usually unknown talent (17-year-old Gwen Verdon appears in a couple of the Featurettes as "Gwen Verdun"). As Soundies quickly gained most of the market for jukebox films, the other companies disbanded, and some sold their films to the Soundies concern.
- "Soundies" | 2022-05-12 | 40 Upvotes 12 Comments