Digital Film Tools Film Stocks 14 Championship Honey A
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Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its CGI (computer generated image) animated films, created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer, and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 film "Futureworld," Catmull worked out concepts that become the foundation for computer graphics that followed.Expanded essay by Andrew Utterson (PDF, 2525KB)
Independently produced motion picture recordings of famous boxing contests were a leading factor in establishing the commercial success of movies in the late 19th century. Championship boxing matches were the most widely popular sporting contests in America in that era, even though the sport was banned in many states in the 1890s. Soon after Nevada legalized boxing in 1897, the Corbett-Fitzsimmons title fight was held in that state in Carson City on St. Patrick's Day of that year. The film recorded the introductions of famous personalities in attendance and all 14 of the fight's three-minute rounds, plus the one-minute breaks between rounds. With a running time of approximately 100 minutes, "The Corbett-Fitzsimmons Fight" was the longest movie produced at that time. Films of championship matches before 1897 had been unsuccessful because they ended too quickly with knockouts, leaving movie audiences unwilling to pay high-ticket prices to see such short films. "Corbett-Fitzsimmons" was a tremendous commercial success for the producers and contestants James J. Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons (the victor), generating an estimated $750,000 in income during the several years that it remained in distribution. This film also is deserving of a footnote in the technical history of motion pictures. Producers of early boxing films protected their films from piracy by engineering film printers and projectors that could only accept film stock of a proprietary size. The film prints of the fight were manufactured in a unique 63mm format that could only be run on a special projector advertised as "The Veriscope."Photograph of the fight
As "Forrest Gump," Tom Hanks portrays an earnest, guileless "everyman" whose open-heartedness and sense of the unexpected unwittingly draws him into some of the most iconic events of the 1960s and 1970s. A smash hit, it has been honored for its technological innovations (the digital insertion of Gump seamlessly into vintage archival footage), its resonance within the culture that has elevated Gump (and what he represents in terms of American innocence) to the status of folk hero, and its attempt to engage both playfully and seriously with contentious aspects of the era's traumatic history. The film received six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Directed by David Anspaugh, Gene Hackman stars as a high school basketball coach who takes his team to the state championship finals. Based on the true story of a 1954 small-town Indiana team and its coach, the film is at times bleak and at others inspiring. The drab palette of this straight-from-the-heartland tale foreshadows an America on the verge of change. Dennis Hopper as the town's basketball-loving drunk was nominated for an Oscar. With Barbara Hershey and Sheb Wooley.
Alleged to be Walt Disney's personal favorite from all of his many classic films, "Mary Poppins" is based upon a book by P.L. Travers. With Travers' original tale as a framework, screenwriters Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi, with the aid of songwriters the Sherman Brothers (Richard M. and Robert B.), fashioned an original movie musical about a most unusual nanny. Weaving together a witty script, an inventive visual style and a slate of classic songs (including "A Spoonful of Sugar" and "Chim Chim Cher-ee"), "Mary Poppins" is a film that has enchanted generations. Equal parts innocent fun and savvy sophistication, the artistic and commercial success of the film solidified Disney's knack for big-screen, non-cartoon storytelling and invention. With its seamless integration of animation and live action, the film prefigured thousands of later digital and CGI-aided effects. The cast, headed by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke, also includes Jane Darwell, Glynis Johns and Ed Wynn, "Mary Poppins" has remained a "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" achievement.
One of the most popular movie musicals of all time, "The Sound of Music" is based on the true story of the Trapp Family Singers. Julie Andrews stars as Maria, a young nun in an Austrian convent who is sent off by the Mother Superior (Peggy Wood) to be governess for the children of widower Captain Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). Maria wins over the children and eventually the stern captain, and the two fall in love and marry, only to return from their honeymoon as the Nazis overtake their country. The family covertly flees Austria to safety during a public musical performance. Directed by Robert Wise with a screenplay by Ernest Lehman, the film features nearly a dozen tunes including the infectious "Do-Re- Mi," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "Edelweiss," "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" and the title song. It earned numerous awards including best picture and best director Oscars, and solidified the status of Julie Andrews as bona fide movie star, a feat she began with "Mary Poppins."
Orson Welles directed, coscripted and costarred in one of cinema's most influential and audacious suspense dramas about a honeymoon couple (Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh) being terrorized by corrupt officials (Welles and Akim Tamiroff) on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border. The shadow-drenched cinematography of Russell Metty is remarkable and stands out right from the film's opening shot from high above in one long extended take. Expanded essay by Michael Sragow (PDF, 596KB) Movie still
This two-color (green-blue and red) film was produced as a demonstration reel at the Paragon Studios in Fort Lee, New Jersey under the direction of Kodak scientist John Capstaff. It features leading actresses Mae Murray, Hope Hampton, and Mary Eaton posing for the camera to showcase Kodachrome's superiority in capturing their translucent complexions and colorful costumes. Early on, color in film was achieved through laborious processes such as painting individual film frames by hand or overlaying stencils on prints and applying colors in sequence. These color additive methods were complicated and costly, and companies sought more efficient ways to reproduce the true colors of nature. Leading the way in the U.S. was Technicolor in 1912 and Eastman Kodak in 1914. Studios incorporated two-color sequences using Kodachrome and the rival Technicolor film stocks until three-strip Technicolor became the industry standard in the late 1930s.Expanded essay by James Layton (PDF, 388KB)
Under the auspices of the Office of War Information's Bureau of Motion Pictures, Frank Capra directed a series of seven government training and propaganda films under the unifying title "Why We Fight." The films were narrated by Walter Huston, and most of the footage came from newsreels, studio libraries, government footage and from British and Russian sources. Capra and his crew had very few tools of the trade available to them: No actors, no dialog, no lighting, no sets. The one tool they did have was editing and the strength of "Why We Fight" lies in its editing. The seven titles in the series are "Prelude to War,""The Nazis Strike," "Divide and Conquer," "The Battle of Britain," "The Battle of Russia," "The Battle of China" and "War Comes to America."Expanded essay by Thomas W. Bohn (PDF, 397KB) 2b1af7f3a8