The Motion Picture Editing Process
When the film has gone through a series of laboratory processes, it comes back to the dramatic director to be "cut," that is, to be assembled in relation to the sequence of time and climactic effect.
The director, with a man or woman cutter at his side, spends days in a projection room. The film is clipped and joined according to his instructions. The success of a picture may depend upon the skill of a director in cutting.
A BATTERY OF CAMERAS
An array of a dozen or more cameras is assembled to make the scenes of a big picture.
The highest standards of picture production now demand backgrounds, lighting and photography as expert as the acting and direction. With the help of powerful lights, the indoor studio can be flooded with rays stronger than sunlight and more easily regulated. Rain never interferes with the making of scenes under a studio roof. Every day is a sunny day where the Sun are burns.
My studio at Orienta Point, Long Island Sound, has no outdoor stage. Even in California, directors are forsaking the sunlit stage for the studio equipped with the latest " Kliegs " and "Cooper-Hewitts." Exteriors are often built in the studio with better results than if made on the " lot " or " on location."
FILMING ACTION IN CAB INSIDE A STUDIO
There are few settings an author can call for that the producer cannot provide. This shows how an episode was pictured in a photoplay made from the popular novel "In the Bishop's Carriage"
The world moves fast; and nothing in the world has moved so fast as the moving pictures. In a decade and a half they have advanced from an experiment to a tremendous industry. Half a billion dollars is spent in the United States every year in making photodramas, comedies, educational films, animated cartoons, and news reels.
Besides the investment in production, there is the cost of experiment in the machine work. We are still improving the super-camera that takes the motion picture snapshots, still trying to increase the speed of the lens, to shorten the focus, to perfect that important piece of mechanism, the tripod.
The superiority of modern motion picture photography is due entirely to the short focus of the lens, which permits actors to move about the scene at will, without blurring the outlines.
Today, the director has many novel devices at his command—the " fade-in " and "fade-out," the "flashback," the "close-up," "mist pho tography," the vignette, double exposure, the multiple print.
Had I had the business discernment to patent certain of these effects, I would have realized more money than I could have earned in a hundred years by making pictures.
When I first photographed players at close range, my management and patrons decried a method that showed only the face of the story characters. Today the close-up is employed by nearly all directors to bring a picture audience to an intimate acquaintance with an actor's emotions.
When, during the filming of "Birth of a Nation," I proposed making a "long shot" of a valley filled with soldiers, I met flat opposition from my staff. Until that time a screen army had numbered half a dozen uniformed men. The rest of the forces were left to the imagination.
WORKING UP "ATMOSPHERE"
Music has been found valuable in making motion pictures. Here the director is explaining the scene he is about to photograph while a violinist supports his words with music that puts the actors into the spirit of the scene
I adopted the "flash-back" to build up suspense, which till then had been a missing quantity in picture dramas. Instead of showing a continuous view of a girl floating down stream in a barrel, I cut into the film by flashing back to incidents that contributed to the scene and explained it. The photoplay of the present would be counted an arid thing without the diversion supplied by these now familiar aids.
Within late years a daylight screen has been perfected. The combination of the voice and the motion picture has long been an ideal of Mr. Edison and other inventors. I adapted parts of "Dream Street" to the use of improved "talking pictures."
I believe there are great opportunities in the field of the phonograph-projector. Colored photog raphy offers fascinating possibilities. By the use of processes recently patented, subdued natural colors are accurately registered, without the "jumping" that formerly marred the beauty of the tinted picture.
There is a big margin for improvement in the methods of distributing and exhibiting pictures. I hope the time will come when patrons will not be allowed to enter a theater except at the beginning of a photoplaythat the casual hospitality of the picture theater of today will not exist.
The public will then regard the performance with the respect they now show for stage plays. This is one phase of the problem that engages us all—how to translate a manufacturing industry into an art, and meet the ideals of cultivated audiences.
For, paraphrasing Walt Whitman, "To have great motion pictures, we must have good audiences, too."
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF ON THE SILVER SHEET—Assassinaton of President Lincoln, "Birth of a Nation"
Source: THE MENTOR, Volume 9, Number 6, July 1, 1921, Pages 10-12