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Squish

I've been watching "Edison: Invention of the Movies" which includes 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', and I found the intertitles a lot better in that than other more frustrating and boring stuff I'd seen, though it was confusing nonetheless. The earlier you go in the silent era, the less effective the use of intertitles become in explaining the action. Worse yet, sometimes they explain the action itself, then go through the motions like "The Doctor finds the note", and then you see a guy sneak in skulk around and gee! finds a note! There is nothing worse than watching a silent film where two people talk to one another simply for the sake of filling time.

Thom

I'm with you, literal titles can be as frustrating as the most ambiguous ones. I haven't reached a film in the project with dialogue interitles (I think I'm very close now) so I can't comment on that yet. But, it's surprising to me that so few of the very early filmmakers grasped the idea that in the silent format just a little bit of explanation can go a long way to creating a more satisfying viewing experience.

Thom

You know what the most disturbing thing in this film turned out to be? That ubiquitous Pathé rooster (not very well) hidden in every scene. You can see it clearly in the second photo above. Talk about branding. I spent about two weeks after seeing this asking my more devout friends what a rooster had to do with Jesus. :-)

jmac

T, this is fascinating, and I agree that the film stills are so gorgeous! Jesus is totally eye candy. :) Where did you find this film?

This is a great blog!

Thom

J - thanks for the kind words. You just made my day. I found this film on a two-fer DVD (with From the Manger to the Cross) at Netflix.

There is something so attractive looking about the Pathé stencil tinting process, isn't there? Yet it has this otherworldly look to it too. I wonder if there is a plug-in to recreate this look in the digital realm?

jmac

I cannot believe this film is on Netflix. My faith is renewed . . . :)

Would After Effects do this type of stencil tinting?

Thom

After Effects...hmm, I think you're right. I remember painting some simple industrial animations in that program that were kind of tinted-looking. OK J, I challenge encourage you to take a stab at getting this tinted look into your next experimental film (if anyone can do it you can, and I want first peek at it too). In return I'll only say nice things about your work forevermore...deal? Whatsay?

jmac

I'm not ready for After Effects!!! But I just painted some film and scanned that into Final Cut Pro, and it looks sooo cool! I'll keep you posted on that.

And what about your work in video? Maybe it's time that you learn After Effects? :) Then you can tell me how to tint the film!

Thom

Touché :) How can I see the painted film you're working on, J? That's waaay cooler than AE. Is any of it posted on your blog? I'm going over there now to look for it.

Thom

I just picked up a book about that aforementioned sneaky Pathé rooster: The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900-1910 by Richard Abel. I'm going to get to the bottom of this mystery. . .

jmac

Hi again, I'm just beginning to edit the hand painted footage in FCP. I will do a post with stills as soon as I make some progress on this new piece. You should still try AE!

Thom

Wonderful news J! I'll have my eyes set to stunned I'm sure :) I don't own AE, but if I remember correctly there is a tint effect in the prog. You just select and apply it. Looking forward to your stills.

Thom

I just ran across a bit more info about this film and my speculation that a narrator might have been present at screenings. On January 4, 1909 the New York Times ran a story about the "moving picture Passion play" that included the following info:

"At the side of the stage stood a deep-voiced man who quoted passages of the Gospel in illustration of the pictures..." the story also reveals that the narrator also explained some of the more obscure parts of the picture.

Ah, another cinema mystery solved.

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