Incredible GIFs explain how silent film effects were achieved


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/10/incredible-gifs-explain-how-si.html


#2

The part at the end isn't a camera trick, Keaton actually did that.

Says it all.


#3

Wow. I had no idea GIFs have been around that long.


#4

And it's hard to tell in that little clip, but it should also be remembered he was alone on the motorcycle riding on the handlebars. How did he do that!?


#5

The video demonstrating how Mary Pickford kissed herself is taken from the excellent documentary Hollywood.

Something that has disappeared due to numerous copyright entanglements.


#6

The filter technique used for "healing" the lepers (and later for the transformation scene in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) was described in a nifty little book I had as a kid called Movie Monsters by Alan Ormsby, although he presented it as something you could do in front of a live audience.


#7

I had that book!! I got it at a garage sale when I was really little and tried doing as many of the monster effects as I could. I remember that it had instructions for all the movie monsters including Blackula and Blackenstein, which tells you when it was written. I thought about this exact page when i saw the 'leper' gif in the link. Thank you. (EDIT: there's copies of this book on AbeBooks for up to $300.)


#8

I think it's plausible you could do it in front of a live audience. The audience would see the change in lighting of course, but that change could be motivated by the dramatic situation. Remember the live audience won't necessarily get as good a view as cameras do in modern movies.


#9

Lots of old school effects are pretty simple yet innovative and real looking. They used matt paintings a lot in the original Star Wars trilogy.


#10

They should teach this in every 3rd grade science class. Especially the motorcycle stunt driving.


#11

If you haven't, you should rent "King Kong (2005)". Not for the movie, which is shit, but for the documentary on the DVD about Peter Jackson stopping production so that he could assemble a team to re-shoot a scene cut from the original King Kong using only technology available at the time.


#12

He was crazy.
One of the stories I have heard he got swept up in rapids and nobody would jump in to help him for fear of his temper, when he came up on shore downstream his words were "did you get that?".


#13

Interesting.


#14

also in the new star wars films [or at least the force awakens]. They look fucking great


#15

And the crew was afraid to say no because they knew he'd jump right back in. I forget where I heard this, and it may not be true, but for the house stunt in "Steamboat Bill" the cameraman simply turned the camera on and walked away because he refused to witness what he was sure would be Keaton's death.


#16

That stunt broke his left arm, didn't it?


#17

A primer that people could use to do effects on the cheap these days. Not everyone can afford the CGI for movies.


#18

Sounds like the original Klaus Kinski.


#19

And they looked great too. All the Bespin shots were beautiful.

In all FX the most important thing is good planning.


#20

I'd also recommend "The Invisible Art: The Legends Of Movie Matte Painting. It's an incredible book on the whole history of glass paintings, hanging miniatures and all the rest of it. It's amazing to realize that most of those iconic images from classic films were, in reality, painting.

Here's the link to the Invisible Art book: https://www.amazon.ca/Invisible-Art-Legends-Movie-Painting/dp/0811831361