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What did they use before.....?


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#1 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 12:17 PM

I got to wondering about a few items and procedures in film/TV production.


When did the C-stand get invented? What did they use before the C-stand?


What did crews use before camera/grip tape? Did they tape things or just use "hardware" to secure things And Velcro. How did movies get made prior to Velcro?


How did early cameras get powered? Initially, cameras had that hand-crank. But what about after that? Batteries? How heavy/big were they?


How loud and big were the earliest generators? Did they have to be set far far far away from a set?



Just a few. Anyone else have questions like this? Please add them!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 01:52 PM

When did the C-stand get invented? What did they use before the C-stand?


What did crews use before camera/grip tape? Did they tape things or just use "hardware" to secure things And Velcro. How did movies get made prior to Velcro?


How did early cameras get powered? Initially, cameras had that hand-crank. But what about after that? Batteries? How heavy/big were they?


How loud and big were the earliest generators? Did they have to be set far far far away from a set?



Just a few. Anyone else have questions like this? Please add them!


The C-stand was created by the Century Lighting Company -- I don't know the dates, but if you look at the TCM book of photos of studio production called "In the Picture" (beautiful book of b&w behind-the-scenes photos), you start to see crude versions of C-stands by the early 1930's. The gobo head is the main thing that seems different. I also noted that old flags were wooden in the late 1920's photos and had a circular hole cut into them for some sort of clamping/grabbing purposes.

Electric cameras were powered by the stage power, either DC or AC. I'm not sure if "wild" motors used DC power but sync-sound motors had to use AC power (looking at a 1970's listing of specs for a Mitchell.)

They had cloth tape back then, and c-clamps, etc. but wood and nails were a common stage technique to brace and hold things together. You can see photos of car rigs even from the 1970's that were still using 2x4 wood boards instead of speed rail.

Hollywood stages back then probably had their own power generation plant.
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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 02:14 PM

Remember when nearly all decent-budget productions were shot on film?
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#4 John Sprung

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 02:53 AM

Well, instead of the plastic diffusion materials we have now, like 216 or tough frost, in the old days they used spun glass. It was made of real glass, and itchy like the fiberglass insulation that's still used in construction. Asbestos insulation was used in the high temperature parts of lighting instruments where we have teflon now. And carbon arcs -- in the old days, there were little ones, like the DuArc broad. Changing carbons and adjusting them was a major pain. Some things really do get better. Before velcro, we used more tape....



-- J.S.
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#5 David Rakoczy

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 08:06 AM

Check out the VW sized Camera in the behind the scenes bonus footage of ROPE. How they moved that camera the way they did was amazing! Remember Duece Boards and Gang Boxes?! 110 and 220 open ended connection boxes that seemed to accept the foot of a C Stand perfectly? Four hole Gang Boxes with asbestos lined Cable that could barely be bent onto a circle? Everything was built 'into' a truck, now, everything is built 'onto' Carts so it can be moved off the truck and onto the Set! Running Arcs was fun and I am grateful I had the opportunity to be an Arc angel for a while. Things have gotten much better equipment wise... not so sure camera wise tho.
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#6 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 04:50 PM

Electric cameras were powered by the stage power, either DC or AC. I'm not sure if "wild" motors used DC power but sync-sound motors had to use AC power (looking at a 1970's listing of specs for a Mitchell.)


Wild motors were DC. Not sure about the voltage, probably 24 or 36 volts. They ran off of car batteries.

Location sync would use a multi-purpose motor. Which was a 96 volt DC motor piggy backed onto an AC selsyn sync motor. This was wired to another selsyn sync motor which ran the sound recorder.

The DC motor turned the AC motor which turned the camera and ran the sound recorder motor.

The 96 volt battery was 8 car batteries mounted on a base.

the 96 volt batteries were still being used in the late 70s. When I was at PSI back then I had to unload one being returned. One of the batteries was leaking an ruined a new shirt i was wearing.
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#7 John Sprung

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 07:02 PM

There were two ways to get sync. Selsyn motors as Leo describes, and the synchronous AC motors that David cites. AC synchronous motors are basicially giant versions of the ones that power old fashioned AC alarm clocks. Selsyns were used in post production, because they maintain sync as they ramp up from zero to 24 fps. That way you could put any number of sound dummys on their start marks, and run them all in sync.

The other thing they used to use more of in the old days is rope and sash cord. Grips, like sailors, knew how to tie knots.





-- J.S.
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#8 John Brawley

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 07:29 PM

Just a few. Anyone else have questions like this? Please add them!


What did they use before DIT's ?

What did they use before 35mm lens adaptors ?

What did they use before Mobile Phones ?

What did they use before Email ?

(might not be serious. sorry)

jb
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#9 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 08 December 2009 - 08:29 PM

Their brains.
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#10 Karel Bata

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 10:42 AM

Anyone remember life before CG? On a Barrie Joll shoot where we needed some fancy titles with a highlight travelling across the surface. The lettering was made out of plastic by some specialist company, mounted on something black and set on a base that pivoted about a vertical axis. To get the highlight a mizar was set to give a small reflection, which (from the the camera's viewpoint) 'moved' left to right as the background was pivoted slightly.

My daughter now wants a 'real' stills camera using film for Xmas, so I'm getting her a 70's Pentax with motorwind etc off eBay
http://farm4.static...._994c6c6267.jpg
It's just arrived, and man, I'd forgotten these things were made of solid metal! Unbelievably well engineered.
Ah, the good old days... :lol:
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#11 Royce Allen Dudley

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 12:12 PM

Remember when nearly all decent-budget productions were shot on film?


I remember when almost all indies were shot on film...it's only been about 10 years...but now film is clearly the exception on budgets with fewer than 7 figures.
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#12 Tom Jensen

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 01:03 PM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the video tap. The days are gone when the director would stand by the camera and actually watch the performance of the actor and let the operator worry about framing.
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#13 Chris Keth

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 04:43 PM

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the video tap. The days are gone when the director would stand by the camera and actually watch the performance of the actor and let the operator worry about framing.


What did the camera crew do before video tap? Enjoy their job. :P :lol:
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#14 John Sprung

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 08:55 PM

What did the camera crew do before video tap? Enjoy their job. :P :lol:


And before Arri introduced the reflex viewfinder, they had rackover and the parallax finder on the side of the camera. You didn't have to keep your left eye closed and your right pressed against the eyeycup. It was a lot more comfortable over a long day, much like operating on a small HD display now.






-- J.S.
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#15 John Brawley

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Posted 12 December 2009 - 09:42 PM

You didn't have to keep your left eye closed and your right pressed against the eyeycup. It was a lot more comfortable over a long day, much like operating on a small HD display now.


A good operator shouldn't close their left eye on any camera. It causes eye strain if you do.

jb
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#16 timHealy

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 10:31 AM

What did the camera crew do before video tap? Enjoy their job. :P :lol:


I worked on a Sidney Lumet movie call Night Falls on Manhattan where there was no video tap and Sidney just sat next to the camera during takes and watched his actors. It was a very enjoyable film without the clutter of video village. On the other hand I just recently worked on Step Up 3 HD and 3D. The village turned into a city and was a ball and chain for production. I found the experience a bit painful.

Best

Tim
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#17 timHealy

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 10:36 AM

How loud and big were the earliest generators? Did they have to be set far far far away from a set?


The earliest generators were DC. You can see pictures of them if you stop by Mole Richardson in LA or along the walls in Kaufman Astoria in Queens, NY. They took up a whole truck.

I have never seen one run so I don't know how loud there were but during the silent era it wouldn't really matter anyway.

Best

Tim
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#18 Tom Jensen

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 01:35 PM

A good operator shouldn't close their left eye on any camera. It causes eye strain if you do.

jb


I'm not sure about that. I know a lot of great operators that close one eye when they operate. A bad operate closes his right eye.
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#19 Paul Bruening

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 02:35 PM

How far back do you want to go? Swapping those glass plates out at 16 per second was a challenge.

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#20 Tom Jensen

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 03:09 PM

How far back do you want to go? Swapping those glass plates out at 16 per second was a challenge.


Paul, what's really funny about this picture is that you never see anyone smile from that era of photography. The instructions were to always sit really still and don't smile.
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