Jump to content


Photo

Home movies in 1912?


  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 27 July 2010 - 09:09 AM

A friend is researching a book on the Titanic. It seems that Daniel Marvin (the son of Harry, one of the founders of the Biograph company) had a movie camera and shot some footage while on board.

Anyone know what format that's likely to be? We're talking April 1912.

My friend seemed surprised that I didn't know... :lol:
  • 0

#2 Stuart Page

Stuart Page
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 41 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Auckland, New Zealand

Posted 27 July 2010 - 09:27 AM

A friend is researching a book on the Titanic. It seems that Daniel Marvin (the son of Harry, one of the founders of the Biograph company) had a movie camera and shot some footage while on board.

Anyone know what format that's likely to be? We're talking April 1912.

My friend seemed surprised that I didn't know... :lol:


According to KODAK FILM HISTORY

1912
Eastman provides Cellulose Acetate Base film to Thomas A.
Edison, Inc., Orange, NJ for use in Home Kinescopes
Kodak Supplied 22mm wide film containing 3 linear rows of pictures
with perforations between the rows.
  • 0

#3 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 27 July 2010 - 09:28 AM

The plot thickens...

"In the early years of the century Biograph had a lawsuit with The Edison Group (which was tied to Thomas Edison laboratories) over claims of patent infringment for making films using the Edison Camera. However, Henry Norton Marvin's Company had in their employ, a former employee of the Edison group who had been instrumental in inventing the camera in the first place. He developed another camera, which got around the patent restrictions, and in the meantime, the Business Manager of Biograph, a fellow named Kennedy, had purchased the rights to the Latham Loop, the process that enabled the film to run in a continuous loop behind the lens. The lawsuit resulted in an arranged Association between The Edison Group and Biograph."

"a continuous loop behind the lens" ? Huh? What format's that then? I kind of regret volunteering to find out now...


EDIT - ah we posted at the same time.

Edited by Karel Bata, 27 July 2010 - 09:30 AM.

  • 0

#4 Robert Costello

Robert Costello
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 62 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 27 July 2010 - 09:33 AM

A friend is researching a book on the Titanic. It seems that Daniel Marvin (the son of Harry, one of the founders of the Biograph company) had a movie camera and shot some footage while on board.

Anyone know what format that's likely to be? We're talking April 1912.

My friend seemed surprised that I didn't know... :lol:



likely-
Home Kinetoscope, Pathe Kok (28mm), Duoscope (17.5mm)...

all listed as released in 1912 on

http://en.wikipedia....of_film_formats

but it could have been something else-
  • 0

#5 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 27 July 2010 - 09:37 AM

The Kinetoscope was Edison's wasn't it? Latham developed the Eidoloscope, but that's the projector.

Here's a still from the film Posted Image
  • 0

#6 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 27 July 2010 - 11:45 AM

Yay, my two favorite things; the cinema and the Titanic!

I've been a Titanic afficionado since the tender age of seven or eight, and can supply some answers.

Indeed, there was a Daniel Marvin on board, traveling home with his wife after a honeymoon in Europe. His father was the founder of Biograph, which collaborated with D.W. Griffith on his critical early films prior to his breakthrough epic "The Birth of a Nation." In early February, 1912, Daniel's wedding (or rather, a reenactment of it) was filmed and touted as the first moving picture of a wedding ceremony!

Sadly Daniel Marvin died in the sinking, and lore has it that his widow was so stricken by the loss that she destroyed the print of the wedding. Whatever the case may be, today that film is considered lost.

Getting back to the subject at hand. There most DEFINITELY WAS a movie camera on board Titanic. Lawrence Beesley, a survivor from 2nd class, wrote one of the key accounts of the disaster, and is considered one of the most reliable witnesses. He clearly states seeing "a young American kinematograph photographer and his young wife, evidently French," who on April 10th filmed the ship's departure from Southampton, including it's near miss collision with another steamer moored nearby.

This couple is often assumed to be the Marvins, but there are two problems: 1) the Marvins traveled first class, which was segregated from 3rd and 2nd, where Mr. Beesley would have been. Also, Mrs. Marvin was an American!

Instead, the couple he saw is almost undoubtedly William Harbeck, a noted documentary filmmaker who had shot footage in Alaska, Colorado and most notably, San Francisco immediately after the quake of '06. The woman was a Miss. Yvois, who was likely Harbeck's misstress (they carried tickets with sequential serial numbers, strongly suggesting they were purchased at the same time).

Harbeck was returning from a trip in Europe which involved the sale of some of his films, as well as the purchase of new supplies. On board the Titanic he had no less than five new movie cameras, and 110,000 feet of film! The person who sold the gear to him later stated that he personally loaded one of the cameras with film, so that Mr. Harbeck could record anything of interest on the voyage.

There is some speculation that he was hired by White Star to document the voyage. It is just as likely that he was doing what we all are inclined to do under the circumstances: take pictures!

Sadly, both Mr. Harbeck and Miss Yvois were lost, along with any film he shot.

The prospect that the footage may still survive, in the cold depths of the North Atlantic too deep for light to penetrate, has long been the dream and hope of all Titanic scholars. And indeed, a few frames of a film print were recovered from the wreck of the Lusitania. But that was a positive print, and it was at a depth of a few hundred feet.

Harbeck's film is 2 1/2 miles down, and those cans would have long ago succumbed to the 1000 pounds per square inch of pressure exerted by the ocean, and have been slowly corroded by the saltwater. And since he never had a chance to process the film, it is highly unlikely that, if any film was retrieved, that its latent images could be retrieved.

Hope this answers your questions!

BR
  • 0

#7 Simon Wyss

Simon Wyss
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1405 posts
  • Other
  • Basel, Switzerland

Posted 27 July 2010 - 11:55 AM

There have always been amateurs with standard film cameras, you know, 1⅜" wide film. Small gauge home cinema really began after WW I. Charles Pathé and George Eastman agreed upon that only safety stock shall be given into the hands of amateurs.

The so-called Latham loop is the idea of Eugène Augustin Lauste (1857—1935), a former Edison employee. Hence the verbal-oral confusion with the “lost loop” in camera, to be found in Anton Wilson's Cinema Workshop for instance.

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson (1859—1934), who left Edison in May 1895, teamed with Casler, Marvin, and Koopman to incorporate the AMC. Since Dickson was the one who designed practically all Edison movie apparatus as well as that 1⅜" pellicle, perforated along both edges with rounded-corner rectangular holes, he knew precisely how to circumvent the Edison patents and caveats. Thus, he had built the Biograph camera, a very special thing. This camera takes film 2¾" wide and perforates it right during the run. The outpunch drops nicely beneath the tripod leaving a trace which sometimes helped the Edison spies locate the enemy's activities. The camera had also a suction pump that secured an even film before the aperture.

More wide film was in use before 1900. Oscar Depue purchased 60-mm. stock from Eastman in 1898. The Lumière prepared for the World Fair of 1900 with 75-mm. film.

The first small gauge was the split format, Dickson's width cut in half. You have the Birtac in 1898, the Biokam of Darling and Wrench around 1900, “La Petite” of Hughes at the same time, Vitak of Wardell plus the Kino of Ernemann in 1902.
  • 0

#8 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 27 July 2010 - 02:34 PM

There have always been amateurs with standard film cameras, you know, 1⅜" wide film.


Yes, even more so in the early days when cameras were relatively less expensive. I have a 35mm Ensign Cinematograph, circa 1900 - 1910, which was sold here in department stores. There were enough wealthy passengers on Titanic that it's entirely reasonable that several of them may have had cameras. I've seen 35mm home movies made by Henry Ford, not sure if they were as early as 1912, though.



-- J.S.
  • 0

#9 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 28 July 2010 - 03:06 AM

Thanks for the comprehensive replies! I'll just send my friend a link to here, and I'm sure she'll be delighted. The book is a tie-in to a TV program later this year and a bit hush-hush at the moment, but as soon as there's a broadcast date I'll post a link here.

I love Anton Wilson's Cinema Workshop - it's where I learnt what a T-stop was! Actually I've had several conversations over the years with professional stills cameraman who have no idea what one is, and one who thought I was making it up! I hope everyone here does... :o
  • 0

#10 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 28 July 2010 - 05:19 PM

Well what do we have here? http://www.imdb.com/...856/plotsummary

"Over 90 years later, Biograph has recovered and acquired the actual film images taken aboard the Titanic, believed to have been taken by Marvin."

How would they have done that if it was at the bottom of the ocean? :huh:
  • 0

#11 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 29 July 2010 - 04:32 AM

This is very odd. I posted a question on the Encyclopedia Titanica boards and it's disappeared off the listings, though the thread itself is still there at the url: http://www.encyclope...html?1280356367

Biograph appear legit http://www.biographc...htdocs/home.htm

I Google the film http://www.google.co...old" +recovered and it's listed all over the place, but no-one's talking about it. And I would have thought it would be a hot topic!

Any of this make sense to you Brian..?

:(

Edited by Karel Bata, 29 July 2010 - 04:33 AM.

  • 0

#12 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 29 July 2010 - 10:43 AM

First off, here's your thread. There's been one reply thus far, but he seems as much in the dark as you and I.

http://www.encyclope...html?1280412389

I'm doing a bunch of digging as well, and have not come up with much to terribly substantive.

It looks legit, and i REALLY, REALLY want to believe it is so, because as far as I am aware, the only known footage of the Titanic was a few brief Pathe clips taken of the ship as she was nearing the end of her fitting out, in February of 1912. I've never heard of any footage taken on board, so this discovery if true, could be earthshattering for the Titanic community.

That said, we've gotta take this with a hefty dose of salt. There's a lot that doesn't seem right. First off, a discovery of this magnitude would, you'd think, make the news. I mean, new Titanic footage, shot by a man on his honeymoon, and fortuitously saved in a lifeboat and then uncovered nearly a century later? It's copy that writes itself, and it's the kind of publicity you CAN'T buy. When a company is so cagey about releasing details, to me it seems to say they're not telling much because there is not much to tell, or the reality is far more mundane.

And there are so many variables. The claim is the footage left with his wife in a lifeboat. That takes foresight, considering few believed the ship would actually sink. And why would the footage have gone unseen for so long? It would have been a goldmine for Biograph. Maybe the wife thought the memories were too painful and hid the film away. I don't know.
Not to mention, it's never been entirely clear if Marvin had a camera with him on board ship. As I said in my prior post, while there DEFINITELY was a camera on board, it almost certainly belonged to William Harbeck and his mistress, who were likely confused for the Marvins (since Daniel Marvin was much more high profile than Harbeck).


There's just an awful lot of variables here.

Then again, considering the near miraculous circumstances surrounding the recovery of the lost 25 minutes of "Metropolis," nothing is out of the realm of possibility. I intend to follow up with Biograph personally and get some answers.

Best,

BR
  • 0

#13 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 29 July 2010 - 01:05 PM

Thought you'd be interested.

So my link reappeared. Maybe it was awaiting approval since it was my first post there? You usually get told that. No big deal, just added to the air of mystery.

Someone at Biograph has gone to some trouble to get this film listed all over the net. Or maybe those other sites have bots that simply copy what they find on IMDB? Which suggests that entry has been there a while. Odd too that the links on the Biograph site go nowhere.

But really, this should be MAJOR news! But it's not.

Have I stumbled on a scam? Like Hitler's diaries?
  • 0

#14 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 29 July 2010 - 02:54 PM

Well I tried the office numbers of both their New York and Hollywood offices. Both said the number was non working. Not a good sign at all.

But their myspace and facebook pages are current, so there's hope. I wrote them, and hopefully there'll be some answers coming.

BR
  • 0

#15 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 29 July 2010 - 03:20 PM

Some curious stuff on the Biograph site, like Mr. Jack in the dressing room :lol: Looks like part of a series.

There's a news page last updated this 2006 http://www.biographc...ut_us/news.html

But this IMDB page was created in February - http://www.imdb.com/...856/maindetails

It's very odd for a virtually dormant company to have just sat on such a goldmine. Can copyright still persist on this footage?
  • 0

#16 John Sprung

John Sprung
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4635 posts
  • Other

Posted 30 July 2010 - 12:43 AM

Can copyright still persist on this footage?


Sure it can. All they have to do is a little post work. That new post work is a new creative product, which they can copyright. Nobody else has access to the source material, so it's not public domain, as it's never been marketed before.




-- J.S.
  • 0

#17 Thomas R Bond II

Thomas R Bond II

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Other

Posted 30 July 2010 - 01:36 PM

Sure it can. All they have to do is a little post work. That new post work is a new creative product, which they can copyright. Nobody else has access to the source material, so it's not public domain, as it's never been marketed before.




-- J.S.


Hello, I'm Thomas R. Bond II with Biograph Company. We appreciate your interest in our 'Titanic' project. Unfortunately because of confidentiality in production of this (As most companies) cannot reveal sensitive information, but we can certain information. 1. Yes, Marvin did have a camera on the Titanic, from what I was told by Blanche Sweet it was a Pathe 1909 handcrank. 2. Yes, there was film taken aboard the Titanic, on that I can only make that statement though there is alot more but again due to confidentiality I cannot reval details. 3. Yes, films that are Biograph not only copyright, but also our trademark. 4. Yes, we are VERY legitimate. On our phone lines, we are switching over lines and sometimes it is difficult to get thru. You are certainly welcome to check us out on Google, since we have many business loistings and a major internet presence. We are always hapopy to answer any question (We can) and our email is biograph@biographcompany.com Thank you!

Attached Images

  • AB Logo.jpg

  • 0

#18 Brian Rose

Brian Rose
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 896 posts
  • Student
  • Kansas City area

Posted 30 July 2010 - 04:19 PM

Hello, I'm Thomas R. Bond II with Biograph Company. We appreciate your interest in our 'Titanic' project. Unfortunately because of confidentiality in production of this (As most companies) cannot reveal sensitive information, but we can certain information. 1. Yes, Marvin did have a camera on the Titanic, from what I was told by Blanche Sweet it was a Pathe 1909 handcrank. 2. Yes, there was film taken aboard the Titanic, on that I can only make that statement though there is alot more but again due to confidentiality I cannot reval details. 3. Yes, films that are Biograph not only copyright, but also our trademark. 4. Yes, we are VERY legitimate. On our phone lines, we are switching over lines and sometimes it is difficult to get thru. You are certainly welcome to check us out on Google, since we have many business loistings and a major internet presence. We are always hapopy to answer any question (We can) and our email is biograph@biographcompany.com Thank you!


Hey Tom, Brian R. writing. I'm the one who has made some inquiries, and I just want to thank you for posting! Your news is quite exciting, and I hope you will forgive my earlier comments about your legitimacy. It was nothing against you, but rather a bit of healthy skepticism. You can understand, in the field of Titanica, there are often times when we hear about a new photo or film footage (the most common is someone saying they have a photo of the actual sinking) and 99 times of a 100, it comes to nothing, and so it has become somewhat ingrained in us to take everything with a dose of salt until we have seen it with our own eyes.

Your words breed great confidence, and I'll be sure to share them. I can say there are many who will welcome what you have to offer, very much!

Understanding your need to maintain confidentiality, but will there be at any point in the near future some kind of press release? I think where many of us were initially confused was that such a huge discovery had slipped beneath the news radar, so to speak. I'm sure some kind of announcement would be most appreciated! Encylopedia-Titanica is a great group who could be a potential asset to you, and I know would buy the final film.

Thanks again, and best of luck with the endeavor!

Sincerely,

Brian Rose
  • 0

#19 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 30 July 2010 - 07:40 PM

It looks legit, and i REALLY, REALLY want to believe it is so, because as far as I am aware, the only known footage of the Titanic was a few brief Pathe clips taken of the ship as she was nearing the end of her fitting out, in February of 1912. I've never heard of any footage taken on board, so this discovery if true, could be earthshattering for the Titanic community.

I've asked about this on the AMIA-L list of film archivists. Archivists are a naturally conservative lot, but consequently extremely rigourous in thier research. Overnight there have been several comments. Generally it seems that there is footage, but taken on the Titanic's similar-looking sister ship the Olympic, and also the Carpathia, which carried many of the survivors on to New York.

The BFI has a copy of what may well be the film in question - detailed shotlist here. The description ends with the words "this newsreel is a fake".

Biograph may announce itself to be the sucessor to the original Biograph company, but I'm not clear what that means, if anything. The chances of discovering new footage of any sort that shows the Titanic would seem to be very very slight (though not impossible). The chances of this being the ultimate holy grail: film shot during the sinking, also very very slim. The chances of unprocessed images surviving 98 years on the ocean floor, negligible. The chances of rumours of new footage appearing almost exactly a century after the sinking - almost certain.

It also appears that "there¹s a good book ³The Titanic and Silent Cinema² by Stephen Bottomore which talks about some of this fakery." Check Google Books.
  • 0

#20 Karel Bata

Karel Bata
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 487 posts
  • Director
  • London - a rather posh bit

Posted 31 July 2010 - 09:00 AM

However it works out, this will prove very interesting. Mr. Bond, you are in for a lot of scepticism!

What confuses matters enormously is that many early movies were re-enactments. Nowadays they are frowned upon (unless it's a biopic and labelled as such) but re-staging an event has a long history going back to oil paintings, and earlier, which in themselves are a re-enactment of a moment. Before photography newspapers would print an artist's impression of what an event looked like, and even after photos became commonplace events would be re-staged for the camera - the most infamous perhaps being the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. But even by then it was a practice frowned upon. Back in 1912 re-enactments were rife. In fact, a certain Miss Dorothy Gibson starred in a movie about her own survival of the Titanic disaster - "A Startling Story of the Seas Greatest Tragedy - A FILM WITHOUT PARALLEL" Eclair Film Co. (is that the same Eclair camera co perchance?) I'd love to see that one!

So maybe it's no surprise that Daniel and Mary Marvin had already re-enacted their own wedding for the camera - which is where the still above comes from (and my bad for not researching that properly). And since Daniel's father, Henry Marvin, was one of the founders of the Biograph company, doing that was almost to be expected. But would Henry re-stage the death of his own son? And then leave it in a vault? (There's a movie there in itself methinks :D )

It's not impossible that Mary brought the roll of film back with her and handed it to her father-in-law, who put it in a vault where it has sat ever since. And no-one has ever mentioned it, nor has any employee there ever noticed it... But how likely is that?

Here's a question - what kind of condition would such a film be in if it's just sat in a vault all this time without receiving any special care..?

Anyway, here's a tidbit, in the Cameron film when the Carpathia arrives it encounters flotsam on the waters's surface, among which is... the movie camera itself! One could surmise, if that had really happened, that someone fished it out of the water... :lol:

Either way, if they handle it right, I think these Biograph chaps have got a hit on their hands!
  • 0


FJS International, LLC

CineLab

Visual Products

rebotnix Technologies

Opal

Ritter Battery

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Wooden Camera

Technodolly

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Abel Cine

The Slider

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Metropolis Post

rebotnix Technologies

Aerial Filmworks

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Rig Wheels Passport

Ritter Battery

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Paralinx LLC

The Slider

Abel Cine

Opal

CineLab

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Technodolly

Glidecam

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Tai Audio