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How did shoot intro backgrounds/titles in the 40's?


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#1 Chris Graham

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 11:04 AM

I love that old classic 2-D B&W feel. How did they get that video look to it? Optical effects? How can I go about doing this today? Specific machine? The cost? I literally want that original look for a small 5min. project.

golden era stylee

Edited by Chris Graham, 22 November 2006 - 11:05 AM.

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#2 John Holland

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 11:14 AM

Hi what do you mean ,"that video look to it " bit confused . John Holland , London.
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#3 Chris Graham

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 11:46 AM

sorry, meant to say, "animated," yet static image. just curious how background effects (which included the titles) were done back in the day.

however, are there any emulating digital effects today that can do this? I doubt it's easy since many background effects back in the day were actually drawn and luminated. titles and bg didn't move, everything was static. just want to know how they did it old school, somewhat standard protocol.
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#4 John Holland

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 12:08 PM

Yes mostly done on animation stands and optical printers. A good book if you can find it is . The Technique of Special Effects Cinematography by Raymond Fielding , Focal Press. its old but has loads about things you are asking about . John Holland ,London.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 12:11 PM

Titles over moving pictures were done in an optical printer, where you had the option of throwing the background plate out-of-focus if you wanted to. You'd have to create hi-con neg and pos hold-out mattes of the titles so that they wouldn't become transparent when exposed over the background. In a way, it is similar to luminence keying in video.

http://en.wikipedia....Optical_printer
http://www.geocities...omp_effect.html
http://members.aol.c...ges/What_6.html

Imagine shooting white letters over a black background on hi-con film stock. If developed into a negative, you'd have black letters over a clear background on the film negative. If you struck a hi-con copy of that, you'd have clear letters over a black background.

You take the negative of your background scene and make a positive of it. You load this positive strip into an optical printer projector with a second strip -- the clear film with black letters -- "bi-packed" (sandwiched) together and project this onto the camera side of the optical printer, loaded with negative film, where you'd now have a negative copy of this positive background except there would be no exposure where the black letters blocked the light.

Now you rewind the negative, load the clear letters over black strip into the projector side, and expose this onto the negative again -- this puts white letters in the image in the "hole" where the black letters held back exposure. Now you process the finished negative, make a print, and you have solid white letters over a moving background image.
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#6 Matthew Buick

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 03:52 PM

Ahh, so that's how it works, that's pretty cool. :D
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#7 K Borowski

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 04:43 PM

I just saw "The Great Escape" in the theatres a couple of weekends ago, and I must say that, seeing optical titles up on the screen for the first time since I can't remember, especially the beautiful shade of red that those titles are, really is a different look than digital titles. They're much crisper and contrastier. On TV and even HD, not "The Great Escape" but other films, the difference is kind of moot, at least to my eyes. I don't notice as much of, or any of a difference unless it is at least a 2K or optical print in a theatre.

Regards,

~Karl
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#8 Tim Partridge

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 02:39 PM

Titles over moving pictures were done in an optical printer, where you had the option of throwing the background plate out-of-focus if you wanted to. You'd have to create hi-con neg and pos hold-out mattes of the titles so that they wouldn't become transparent when exposed over the background. In a way, it is similar to luminence keying in video.

http://en.wikipedia....Optical_printer
http://www.geocities...omp_effect.html
http://members.aol.c...ges/What_6.html

Imagine shooting white letters over a black background on hi-con film stock. If developed into a negative, you'd have black letters over a clear background on the film negative. If you struck a hi-con copy of that, you'd have clear letters over a black background.

You take the negative of your background scene and make a positive of it. You load this positive strip into an optical printer projector with a second strip -- the clear film with black letters -- "bi-packed" (sandwiched) together and project this onto the camera side of the optical printer, loaded with negative film, where you'd now have a negative copy of this positive background except there would be no exposure where the black letters blocked the light.

Now you rewind the negative, load the clear letters over black strip into the projector side, and expose this onto the negative again -- this puts white letters in the image in the "hole" where the black letters held back exposure. Now you process the finished negative, make a print, and you have solid white letters over a moving background image.



Derek Meddings in an interview from the mid 1980s concerning his years as a titles artist:

It was quite a Department. We did a lot of American films, a lot of cowboy films. We used to re-title American cowboy films, do the Spanish versions, the German versions, the French versions. You were just copying a typed sheet, everybody's name, of course, was the same but their trade was in German or French. We had a department that used to reproduce the backgrounds. Because they couldn't send a unit to the Arizona desert to film the background again, what we used to do was to paint the background. You'd put it in a projector, project it onto a board like a matte shot and you would draw it all out. If you could find a clip in the film that didn't have the titles over it you would use that as a reference for colour and you would sit there and paint, photographically reproducing this background. The titles would then be put on the top as an overlay, so if it was a moving background with a stagecoach galloping towards you, when we did the foreign versions the stagecoach would not be moving. One day the particular fellow who did this was ill, and they needed somebody who could paint the backings, so I volunteered. When he returned I was given the job of painting the backgrounds and he supervised the running of the Department. So that was my first break into painting for a film, and not just doing titles.
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#9 Stephen Williams

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Posted 07 December 2006 - 02:52 PM

Titles over moving pictures were done in an optical printer,


Hi,

Double exposure in camera was a favourite trick, using a Mitchell with a dissolve shutter. Clearly only worked for 'B' roll material, but with time, patience & care........

Another method was lettering on a sheet of glass, in front of the camera.

Shooting the titles on Hi Contrast stock & Bi-Packing in camera.

Stephen
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#10 Christophe Collette

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 05:10 PM

Hi, I watched the Beauty and the Beast by Jean Cocteau last night and there is a ton of optical printing in this beautiful movie... The end scene where the Beast turns back to human and flies with Beauty in the sky is really gorgeous althought you can see the plate the two images not imbricking together...

I'd like to try optical printing for music videos....

C
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#11 Dominic Case

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 06:09 PM

Titles over moving pictures were done in an optical printer,

Ahh, so that's how it works, that's pretty cool.

I'd like to try optical printing for music videos....

Is there anyone else reading this thread who suddenly feels quite old?
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#12 James Erd

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Posted 21 December 2006 - 06:32 PM

At my university we actually had a very strange and enormous piece of equipment that had been made for animating titles. It looked like something out of a machine shop with knobs and cranks all over it. The table or perhaps it was the rostrum stood about four feet high. It was about five or six feet long and four feet wide. Solid machinery.

Sadly it was missing a lot of parts and no one knew how to use it. Most people didn't even know what it was. I wish I had a picture of it.
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#13 Stephen Williams

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 04:56 AM

At my university we actually had a very strange and enormous piece of equipment that had been made for animating titles. It looked like something out of a machine shop with knobs and cranks all over it. The table or perhaps it was the rostrum stood about four feet high. It was about five or six feet long and four feet wide. Solid machinery.

Sadly it was missing a lot of parts and no one knew how to use it. Most people didn't even know what it was. I wish I had a picture of it.


Hi,

Probably cost the universtiy $50,000 - $100,000 and possibly made by Oxberry.

Stephen
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#14 James Erd

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 05:42 AM

Hi,

Probably cost the universtiy $50,000 - $100,000 and possibly made by Oxberry.

Stephen


I suspect it was donated rather than purchased. There was also an old studio camera that took glass plates 24" square. I would like to have taken that one with me when I graduated.

I don't think there was enough of it left to call it a an Oxberry. The last time I saw it was about 11 years ago so the memory begins to fade. Mostly I just remember thinking how'd they get that thing in the building :blink:
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#15 Stephen Williams

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Posted 22 December 2006 - 06:24 AM

. Mostly I just remember thinking how'd they get that thing in the building :blink:



Hi James,

Thats easy, in pieces! Having moved Animation Stands & Optical through the smallest of staircases in London's 'Soho' I can tell you anything is possible!

Stephen
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