Celluloid Ephemera

It’s easy to forget that film was always a tangible, physical medium before the advent of inexpensive digital technologies. Even though the archive’s primary moving image collections are digital by the time they reach us in mpeg, quicktime, or flash formats, many of our assets were originally shot on film. And many of them are self reflexive about the process, as evidenced by some of the items below.

Before Production:

technico1949_00000007.jpgTechnicolor for Industrial Films (ca. 1949): Technicolor was an early color film process in which film was shot on three different film strips (red, green and blue), and then recombined through a special process to produce a unique level of color saturation that modern film stocks – much less digital video – cannot achieve. This film shows industrial film producers how Technicolor can help them showcase their products in a way that really highlights their visual qualities.

alchemis1940_00000005.jpgThe Alchemist In Hollywood (1940): In two parts, Part I and Part II. A film attempting to explain the chemical concepts involved with the production of (primarily) black and white film stocks, or “how the alchemist in Hollywood makes entertainment out of silver.” Even if you don’t fully grasp all the concepts presented here, you can still gain an appreciation to all the steps that went into the early production of film.

Film Production:

behind-lensj.jpgBehind the Lens (1940): An explanation of how certain kinds of special cinematography “see things for science” by allowing us to see how dandelions grow, how tires and suspension absorbs shocks, and how cats land on their feet.

home.jpgHow to Make Home Movies Your Friends Will Want to See Twice: A unique film whose title is fairly self-explanatory. The film is silent, tinted red and thoroughly subtitled to show the viewer how they can make interesting home movies.

calvin-monkeys.jpg#Bfl O {ggGX = STwWcfl x 2s4 (Calvin Workshop) (ca. 1963): This highly entertaining spoof of the filmmaking process shows us how monkeys might do it.

Care of film prints:

murderon1958_00000014.jpgMurder on the Screen (Eastman Kodak sponsored film): Info-tainment at its kooky best, this Kodak-sponsored film leads us through a crime investigation to find out who murdered a once-beautiful film print. Was it Jones the lab man? Smith, the film disributor? Brown, the station director? Or Harris, the projectionist? You’ll have to watch the film to find out …

factsaboutfi_00000008.jpgFacts about Film (1948): This film was intended for anyone who planned on using film in their classroom, library, or at home. It includes tips on how to store, handle and project your film collection.

Written by: Stephanie Sapienza

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