#141 Cinematography & Editing

141 Cinematography & Editing
#141 Cinematography & Editing
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Cinematography & Editing is filmmaking. Oscar finally decided to include these important awards in the live telecast.

On Feb­ru­ary 12 the Acad­e­my announced it would not show four award cat­e­gories to home view­ers (to be pre­sent­ed dur­ing com­mer­cials at the event):

  • Cin­e­matog­ra­phy & Edit­ing
  • Live Action Short
  • Make­up & Hair

As Nick Mur­phy (@nickmurftweets) tweeted:

By cutting Cinematography & Editing from the show, the Oscars declare themselves as nothing more than a celebrity & marketing circus.
Photography & editing is filmmaking. It’s as simple as that.

And from Alfon­so Cuarón (@alfonsocuaron), who is nom­i­nat­ed for pro­duc­ing, direct­ing, writ­ing & cin­e­matog­ra­phy for his film Roma:

In the history of CINEMA, masterpieces have existed without sound, without color, without a story, without actors & without music. No one single film has ever existed without CINEMAtography & without editing.

More tweets here, some clever & amusing.

Mr. Cuarón has just described SILENT CINEMA!

We inter­rupt this arti­cle to take you back 100 years…

Alfon­so Cuarón just described the basic ele­ments of all film­mak­ing — cin­e­matog­ra­phy & edit­ing — & my friend Joe Rin­au­do would agree that if you take away the cam­era & the edit­ing block, you don’t have a film! In silent cin­e­ma there is no sound, there is no col­or, & some­times there’s hard­ly a plot or sto­ry. But it is film­mak­ing, because there is cin­e­matog­ra­phy & edit­ing. (Sim­ply decid­ing where to start a film & where to end it, even if it is one con­tin­u­ous scene, is editing.)

Joe is the founder of Silent Cin­e­ma Soci­ety. His vast col­lec­tion of silent films, which he metic­u­lous­ly restores & presents to audi­ences on his 1909 hand-​crank Pow­ers Cam­er­a­graph Mov­ing Pic­ture Machine, is tes­ta­ment to the truth of Mr. Cuarón’s statement. 

Silent Cinema SocietyThat’s Joe Rinaudo with his 1909 Powers Cameragraph, and to the right his American Fotoplayer

Joe Rin­au­do’s pas­sion & pur­pose is to keep silent cin­e­ma alive. It’s amaz­ing how enter­tain­ing silent films are…& how dan­ger­ous the stunts were — in my opin­ion, that’s half the dra­ma right there! Joe is thrilled when the younger mem­bers of the audi­ence come up to him to ask about the films & check out his pro­jec­tor. (He also shows authen­tic glass lantern slides dur­ing reel changes.) This means he’s got future gen­er­a­tions inter­est­ed in the begin­nings of Hol­ly­wood before there even was Hollywood.

Visit SilentCin​e​maSo​ci​ety​.org & subscribe — it’s free.

Spend some time on the web­site, as it is full of fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry & enter­tain­ment. Be sure to lis­ten to Joe play­ing the Amer­i­can Foto­play­er—bet­ter turn down the vol­ume first!

For anoth­er treat, take a look at this clip from last year’s Oscars. Joe Rin­au­do was asked to set up a recre­ation of an itin­er­ant mov­ing pic­ture show, which were shown in small town halls, church­es & tents. This was a tent. (An elab­o­rate one, of course, host­ed by the Acad­e­my.) Joe hand-​cranked sev­er­al shorts through­out the evening, and a few celebri­ties took their hand at crank­ing the 1909 Pow­ers Cameragraph.

Here’s Joe Rin­au­do crank­ing & Robert Israel accompanying:

Next is Gary Old­field crank­ing the vin­tage Pow­ers Mov­ing Pic­ture Machine:

Back to the present: the 2019 Academy Awards

On Feb­ru­ary 12 the Acad­e­my announced it would not show four award cat­e­gories to home view­ers (pre­sent­ed dur­ing com­mer­cials at the event):

  • Cin­e­matog­ra­phy
  • Edit­ing
  • Live Action Short
  • Make­up & Hair

After the Acad­e­my’s announce­ment to exclude the four cat­e­gories from the live tele­cast, there was quite an uproar—read these tweets, some of which are quite fun­ny — which lead to the Acad­e­my to reverse its deci­sion & include all the awards in the telecast.

I am glad Oscar decid­ed to broad­cast live, the pro­fes­sion­als who bring movies to life through their tech­ni­cal & artis­tic exper­tise, not to men­tion their pas­sion. Their fam­i­lies & friends can rev­el in pride (whether they win or not) as they watch along with mil­lions of view­ers who enjoy the fruits of their labors.

All of the awards are impor­tant, as they each add to the final pro­duc­tion of the phe­nom­e­non­al cat­e­go­ry of enter­tain­ment called cin­e­ma. But how—just how!—could they think to exclude cin­e­matog­ra­phy & editing?

(It would be akin to my indus­try, graph­ic design & adver­tis­ing, leav­ing out pre­sen­ta­tions for lay­out & copy­writ­ing in our award pre­sen­ta­tions — the Clios & Beld­ings. I woud­n’t feel my work was worth any­thing, even if I did­n’t have some awards already.)

I hope the win­ners & nom­i­nees at this year’s Acad­e­my Awards are proud of their achieve­ments — includ­ing those who will be accept­ing the Oscar live on TV for Cin­e­maog­ra­phy, Edit­ing, Live Action Short, & Make­up & Hair.


Full list of winners & nominees, 2019 Academy Awards

The 2019 Oscars aired live on Sun­day, Feb. 24 at 9/​8c on ABC

Best Picture

Green Book (Jim Burke, Charles B. Wessler, Bri­an Cur­rie, Peter Far­rel­ly and Nick Val­le­lon­ga, Producers) 
Black Pan­ther
 (Kevin Feige, Producer)
BlacK­kKlans­man (Sean McKit­trick, Jason Blum, Ray­mond Mans­field, Jor­dan Peele and Spike Lee, Producers)
Bohemi­an Rhap­sody (Gra­ham King, Producer)
The Favourite (Ceci Dempsey, Ed Guiney, Lee Magi­day and Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos, Producers)
Roma (Gabriela Rodriguez and Alfon­so Cuaron, Producers)
A Star Is Born (Bill Ger­ber, Bradley Coop­er and Lynette How­ell Tay­lor, Producers)
Vice (Dede Gard­ner, Jere­my Klein­er, Adam McK­ay and Kevin Mes­sick, Producers)

Actress in a Leading Role

Olivia Col­man (The Favourite
Glenn Close (The Wife
Yal­itza Apari­cio (Roma)
Lady Gaga (A Star Is Born)
Melis­sa McCarthy (Can You Ever For­give Me?)

Actor in a Leading Role

Rami Malek (Bohemi­an Rhap­sody)
Chris­t­ian Bale (Vice)
Bradley Coop­er (A Star Is Born)
Willem Dafoe (At Eter­ni­ty’s Gate)
Vig­go Mortensen (Green Book)

Actress in a Supporting Role

Regi­na King (If Beale Street Could Talk
Amy Adams (Vice)
Mari­na de Tavi­ra (Roma)
Emma Stone (The Favourite)
Rachel Weisz (The Favourite)

Actor in a Supporting Role

Maher­sha­la Ali (Green Book
Adam Dri­ver (BlacK­kKlans­man)
Sam Elliott (A Star Is Born)
Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever For­give Me?)
Sam Rock­well (Vice)


Alfon­so Cuaron (Roma
Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos (The Favourite)
Spike Lee (BlacK­kKlans­man)
Adam McK­ay (Vice)
Pawel Paw­likows­ki (Cold War)

Animated Feature Film

Spider-​Man: Into the Spider-​Verse (Bob Per­sichet­ti, Peter Ram­sey, Rod­ney Roth­man, Phil Lord and Christo­pher Miller)
Incred­i­bles 2 (Brad Bird, John Walk­er and Nicole Par­adis Grindle)
Isle of Dogs (Wes Ander­son, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jere­my Dawson)
Mirai (Mamoru Hoso­da and Yuichi­ro Saito)
Ralph Breaks the Inter­net (Rich Moore, Phil John­ston and Clark Spencer)


Roma (Alfon­so Cuaron)
The Favourite (Rob­bie Ryan)
Nev­er Look Away (Caleb Deschanel)
A Star Is Born (Mat­ty Libatique)
Cold War (Lukasz Zal)

Costume Design

Black Pan­ther (Ruth E. Carter)
The Bal­lad of Buster Scrug­gs (Mary Zophres)
The Favourite (Sandy Pow­ell)
Mary Pop­pins Returns (Sandy Powell)
Mary Queen of Scots (Alexan­dra Byrne)

Documentary (Feature)

Free Solo (Eliz­a­beth Chai Vasarhe­lyi, Jim­my Chin, Evan Hayes and Shan­non Dill) 
Hale Coun­ty This Morn­ing, This Evening (RaMell Ross, Joslyn Barnes and Su Kim)
Mind­ing the Gap (Bing Liu and Diane Quon)
Of Fathers and Sons (Talal Der­ki, Ans­gar Frerich, Eva Kemme and Tobias N. Siebert)
RBG (Bet­sy West and Julie Cohen)

Documentary (Short)

Peri­od. End of Sen­tence. (Ray­ka Zehtabchi and Melis­sa Berton)
Black Sheep (Ed Perkins and Jonathan Chinn)
End Game (Rob Epstein and Jef­frey Friedman)
Lifeboat (Skye Fitzger­ald and Bryn Mooser)
A Night at the Gar­den (Mar­shall Curry)

Film Editing

Bohemi­an Rhap­sody (John Ottman) 
BlacK­kKlans­man (Bar­ry Alexan­der Brown)
The Favourite (Yor­gos Mavropsaridis)
Green Book (Patrick J. Don Vito)
Vice (Hank Corwin)

Foreign Language Film

Roma (Mex­i­co)
Caper­naum (Lebanon)
Cold War (Poland)
Nev­er Look Away (Ger­many)
Shoplifters (Japan)

Makeup & Hairstyling

Vice (Greg Can­nom, Kate Bis­coe and Patri­cia DeHaney)
Bor­der (Goran Lund­strom and Pamela Goldammer)
Mary Queen of Scots (Jen­ny Shir­core, Marc Pilch­er and Jes­si­ca Brooks)

Music (Original Score)

Black Pan­ther (Lud­wig Goransson)
BlacK­kKlans­man (Ter­ence Blanchard)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Nicholas Britell)
Isle of Dogs (Alexan­dre Desplat)
Mary Pop­pins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

Music (Original Song)

Shal­low” (A Star Is Born
Music and Lyrics by Lady Gaga, Mark Ron­son, Antho­ny Rosso­man­do and Andrew Wyatt

All the Stars” (Black Pan­ther)
Music by Mark Spears, Kendrick Lamar Duck­worth and Antho­ny Tiffith
Lyric by Kendrick Lamar Duck­worth, Antho­ny Tiffith and Solana Rowe

I’ll Fight” (RBG)
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

The Place Where Lost Things Go” (Mary Pop­pins Returns)
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyric by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman

When a Cow­boy Trades His Spurs for Wings” (The Bal­lad of Buster Scrug­gs)
Music and Lyric by David Rawl­ings and Gillian Welch

Production Design

Black Pan­ther (Han­nah Beach­ler and Jay Hart) 
The Favourite (Fiona Crom­bie and Alice Felton)
First Man (Nathan Crow­ley and Kathy Lucas)
Mary Pop­pins Returns (John Myhre and Gor­don Sim)
Roma (Euge­nio Caballero and Bar­bara Enriquez)

Short Film (Animated)

Bao (Domee Shi and Becky Neiman-Cobb)
Ani­mal Behav­iour (Ali­son Snow­den and David Fine)
Late After­noon (Louise Bag­nall and Nuria González Blanco)
One Small Step (Andrew Chesworth and Bob­by Pontillas)
Week­ends (Trevor Jimenez)

Short Film (Live Action)

Skin (Guy Nat­tiv and Jaime Ray Newman)
Detain­ment  (Vin­cent Lambe and Dar­ren Maho)
Fauve (Jere­my Comte and Maria Gra­cia Turgeon)
Mar­guerite (Mar­i­anne Far­ley and Marie-​Helene Panisset)
Moth­er (Rodri­go Soro­goyen and María del Puy Alvarado)

Sound Editing

Bohemi­an Rhap­sody (John Warhurst and Nina Hartstone) 
Black Pan­ther (Ben­jamin A. Burtt and Steve Boeddeker)
First Man (Ai-​Ling Lee and Mil­dred Iatrou Morgan)
A Qui­et Place (Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl)
Roma (Ser­gio Diaz and Skip Lievsay)

Sound Mixing

Bohemi­an Rhap­sody (Paul Massey, Tim Cav­a­gin and John Casali) 
Black Pan­ther (Steve Boed­dek­er, Bran­don Proc­tor and Peter Devlin)
First Man (Jon Tay­lor, Frank A. Mon­taño, Ai-​Ling Lee and Mary H. Ellis)
Roma (Skip Lievsay, Craig Henighan and Jose Anto­nio Garcia)
A Star Is Born (Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupan­cic, Jason Rud­er and Steve Morrow)

Visual Effects

First Man (Paul Lam­bert, Ian Hunter, Tris­tan Myles and J.D. Schwalm)
Avengers: Infin­i­ty War (Dan DeLeeuw, Kel­ly Port, Rus­sell Earl and Dan Sudick)
Christo­pher Robin (Christo­pher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris Corbould)
Ready Play­er One (Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. But­ler and David Shirk)
Solo: A Star Wars Sto­ry (Rob Bre­dow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scan­lan and Dominic Tuohy)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

BlacK­kKlans­man (Char­lie Wach­tel, David Rabi­nowitz, Kevin Will­mott and Spike Lee)
A Star Is Born
 (Eric Roth, Will Fet­ters and Bradley Cooper)
The Bal­lad of Buster Scrug­gs (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
If Beale Street Could Talk (Bar­ry Jenkins)
Can You Ever For­give Me? (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty)

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Green Book (Nick Val­le­lon­ga, Bri­an Hayes Cur­rie and Peter Farrelly)
The Favourite (Deb­o­rah Davis and Tony McNamara)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
Roma (Alfon­so Cuaron)
Vice (Adam McKay)

Here’s anoth­er cat­e­go­ry that has been exclud­ed every sin­gle year — ever since its one & only pre­sen­ta­tion at the first Acad­e­my Awards:

Best Unique and Artistic Quality of Production

The Acad­e­my Award cer­e­mo­ny was orga­nized for the first time in the year 1929. Lat­er on, with the pass­ing time, it under­went many changes. “Oscar for Best Unique and Artis­tic Qual­i­ty of Pro­duc­tion” is one of the cat­e­gories of awards that had a very short exis­tence in the award cer­e­mo­ny. This cat­e­go­ry was also known as “Best Artis­tic Qual­i­ty of Pro­duc­tion.” It was only award­ed, for the first and last time, dur­ing the first Oscar cer­e­mo­ny, and may be regard­ed an unnec­es­sary vari­a­tion of Best Picture.

In 1929, “Oscar for Best Unique and Artis­tic Qual­i­ty of Pro­duc­tion” was giv­en to Sun­rise: A Song of Two Humans, also known as Sun­rise, an Amer­i­can film direct­ed by Ger­man film direc­tor F. W. Mur­nau. The cen­tral idea of the movie was adapt­ed by Carl May­er, from the short sto­ry Die Reise nach Tilsit — by Her­mann Sud­er­mann. In 1989, this film was reck­oned “cul­tur­al­ly, his­tor­i­cal­ly, or aes­thet­i­cal­ly sig­nif­i­cant” by the Unit­ed States Library of Con­gress and cho­sen for preser­va­tion in their Nation­al Film Reg­istry. In 2002 crit­ics’ poll for the British Film Insti­tute, Sun­rise was named the 7th-​best film in the his­to­ry of Motion Pictures.

—article from Awards & Shows where you’ll find information about Oscar Awards, Filmfare Awards, Zee Cine Awards, Star Screen Awards, Grammy Awards, IIFA Awards, and Golden Globe Awards


Concept & Design

This poster was a lot of fun! I was able to pull from my col­lec­tion of “Gold­en Age” movie titles which were, for the most part, hand-​lettered, & when col­or was intro­duced, shown in vivid hues. I select­ed a peri­od font, Arca­dia, and paired it with my own hand-​lettered ver­sion of a “cin­e­mat­ic title amper­sand”— based on what would nor­mal­ly be writ­ten as “Pro­duced by” or “Direct­ed by” in hand-​lettered script.

I added a bit of motion blur to the back­ground, and over-​saturated the col­ors in true Tech­ni­col­or style.

As you can see, the back­ground image is inspired by a hor­ror scene — a typ­i­cal high­way in rush-​hour traffic.

Enjoy the Oscars

 Please comment here.

Production notes for #141 Cinematography & Editing:
Original size: 20x30 inches

Program: Adobe Photoshop
Font: Arcadia

Ampersand: Chaz DeSimone, hand-​drawn (Photoshop)
Stock image: aerial view of I‑40 highway in N. Carolina from Blue Ridge Parkway by digidream /​ deposit​pho​tos​.com  (altered by Chaz DeSimone)
Twitter feeds: article at Time​.com
Other editorial credits as noted in article.
&” replaces “and” in all text, including quotations, headlines & titles.
You may repost the image & article. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#101 One Hundred & One

One Hundred & One

 #101 One Hundred & One
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This is a high-​resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

Do you see spots?

The idea for Amper­Art #101, One Hun­dred & One, was eas­i­er than giv­ing a dog a bone. After strug­gling with a con­cept for #100, this one was fun & easy.

One of my fond­est child­hood mem­o­ries is sit­ting in the Alex The­ater (Glen­dale, Cal­i­for­nia) with my fam­i­ly, enjoy­ing this humor­ous, enter­tain­ing, upbeat movie by Dis­ney, One Hun­dred and One Dal­ma­tions. We sure laughed at the antics of ever-​hungry Rol­ly, the chub­by dal­ma­tion pup­py. Even as a young­ster, I could tell there was some­thing unique & con­tem­po­rary about the styling of the ani­ma­tion. It was sketchy in a con­tem­po­rary fash­ion due to the first-​ever use of scan­ning the pen­cil sketch­es direct­ly onto ani­ma­tion cels with the Xerox process. The col­or was still brushed in by hand between the lines, but the tedious trac­ing of the ani­ma­tors’ pen­cil lines with pen & ink was removed from the process. 

This process could eas­i­ly have been used as an exam­ple for the pre­vi­ous Amper­Art #100, Mile­stones & Goals. But the movie itself is the mile­stone, so I saved the art­work for #101 One Hun­dred & One.

Please comment here.

 Incongruent styles.

One Hundred and One Dalmations Movie PosterI was intrigued by the inno­v­a­tive Xerox process & the sketchy style it ren­dered for this movie. Not only did the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process cre­ate effi­cien­cy, it ren­dered a whole new style of art­work. Research­ing the let­ter­ing for the movie title, I was not so impressed with the col­ors for the poster. While the movie’s styling of char­ac­ters & back­grounds was snap­py & con­tem­po­rary, the poster was not. It was all pri­ma­ry col­ors & a less-​than-​cohesive assem­blage of visu­al ele­ments. But I did go ahead & trace the let­ter­ing (orig­i­nal­ly hand-​drawn) & designed an amper­sand to match, for the Amper­Art #101 One Hun­dred & One edi­tion. The edges of the spots & shad­ows are just slight­ly blurred, to retain the most­ly hard-​edge style (due to tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions) of the period.

If you wish to study the styling of the dal­ma­tions & oth­er char­ac­ters, this thumb­nail will enlarge to a size­able image.

Image shown for ref­er­ence & edu­ca­tion­al pur­pos­es only. ©Dis­ney 


Many crit­ics boo-​hooed the rough-​hewn look of Dis­ney’s One Hun­dred and One Dal­ma­tions. They said the lush­ness of hand-​inked line had van­ished. Well, yes, it did. But it was replaced by a snap­py new look, akin to jazz vs clas­si­cal. They each have their place, & they each have their fans & fol­low­ers. I real­ly like the look of this film, & the new Xerox process made ani­mat­ing all those spots pos­si­ble. It was the per­fect sto­ry con­cept to make use of the inno­v­a­tive imag­ing tool.

Who is to say ani­ma­tion must be hand-​inked & hand-​painted? Some of the finest ani­ma­tion today has nev­er been near a brush, pen or even acetate cel & it blows away the crude ani­ma­tion of even the finest ear­ly Dis­ney clas­sics. I will admit, though, that I will always pre­fer to watch the orig­i­nal 1938 Snow White & the Sev­en Dwarfs to the most incred­i­ble CGI remake.

 Please comment here.

chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at Des​i​moneDesign​.com, my com­mer­cial graph­ic design web­site. It’s most­ly about design, typog­ra­phy, print­ing, pub­lish­ing & mar­ket­ing, but on occa­sion I’ll divert to a side­ways top­ic that just can’t escape my rant­i­ng & raving.

Production notes for #101 One Hundred & One:
Original size: 20x30 inches

Programs: Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop
Lettering: Traced from original movie poster
Ampersand: Designed to match style of original movie poster lettering
Movie poster: ©Disney (shown for reference & educational purposes)
You may repost the AmperArt image. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#99 Laurel & Hardy

Click this image to download hi-​rez pdf:

Laurel & Hardy AmperArt

#99 Laurel & Hardy
Click to view full-​size or download hi-​rez image for gallery-​quality printing & framing.
This is a high-​resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

Joe RinaudoAmper­Art #99, Lau­rel & Hardy, was inspired by my best friend of fifty years, Joe Rin­au­do, whom I met in sev­enth grade. We were both into “old stuff” — I col­lect­ed & refur­bished old office machines (mimeo­graphs & type­writ­ers) & Joe col­lect­ed 16mm films of ear­ly cin­e­mat­ic com­e­dy — Char­lie Chap­lin, Buster Keaton, the Key­stone Cops, Fat­ty Arbuck­le , & of course Lau­rel & Hardy. I sure had fun going to his house & watch­ing those old films. As a teenag­er he already had a large col­lec­tion of 16mm films, both silent & sound. Lat­er, Joe began invest­ing in 35mm silent films & acquired a Power’s 1909 Cam­er­a­graph Mod­el 6 Motion Pic­ture Machine which he restored to pris­tine con­di­tion. He also became an expert at restor­ing the old films & acquired vast knowl­edge about the ear­ly cin­e­ma industry.

Vis­it SilentCin​e​maSo​ci​ety​.org, Joe’s new web­site for old entertainment.

Today, besides run­ning Rin­au­do’s Repro­duc­tions, his Vic­to­ri­an lamp busi­ness which repro­duces & cus­tom designs superb light­ing fix­tures of the Vic­to­ri­an, Crafts­man & Art Deco peri­ods (you’ll find many of his lamps through­out the Dis­ney parks — yes, those mas­sive chan­de­liers in the Empo­ri­um are his), Joe Rin­au­do con­tin­ues to col­lect, restore, & host itin­er­ant shows of the silent era, as that is his ulti­mate pas­sion. He fre­quent­ly lec­tures & hand-​cranks his beau­ti­ful antique pro­jec­tor at the Acad­e­my of Motion Pic­ture Arts & Sci­ences — to pro­duc­ers, direc­tors & stars, many of whom have lit­tle knowl­edge of how their indus­try start­ed. They are always in awe when Joe presents his shows (in full turn-​of-​the-​century cos­tume, no less). He also hosts small­er itin­er­ant shows, sim­i­lar to when pro­jec­tion­ists would trav­el from town to town where there were no for­mal the­aters & project at a hall, church, or even inside a tent —hence the term “tent show.” Twice a year Joe teams up with able assis­tant Gary Gib­son & organ­ist extra­or­di­naire Dean Mora at the Mighty Wurl­itzer to present a spec­tac­u­lar show com­plete with col­or­ful glass lantern slides at inter­mis­sion (or when the film breaks). This event is held at the Nether­cutt in Syl­mar, Cal­i­for­nia, usu­al­ly in Octo­ber & February.

Most recent­ly Joe has formed an orga­ni­za­tion called Silent Cin­e­ma Soci­ety “for the preser­va­tion & pre­sen­tion of the art & tech­nol­o­gy of silent cin­e­ma.” (It was orig­i­nal­ly named SCAT — Silent Cin­e­ma Art & Tech­nol­o­gy — but we’re still try­ing to obtain that domain.) I had the plea­sure of cre­at­ing Joe’s web­site, SilentCin​e​maSo​ci​ety​.org, where you’ll find most inter­est­ing & enter­tain­ing infor­ma­tion about the art as well as the tech­nol­o­gy of the silent cin­e­ma era. Be sure & sub­scribe to his newslet­ter, “The News­reel,” to learn of upcom­ing silent film shows & news in gen­er­al. (It’s always excit­ing when a 100-​year-​old lost reel is found in a store­room or attic, usu­al­ly pris­tine but so frail that it must be han­dled gen­tly & with the great­est cau­tion, as old nitrate film is spon­ta­neous­ly combustible.)

See Laurel & Hardy in Burbank June 4, 2016

Joe’s upcom­ing Clas­sic Silent Come­dies itin­er­ant show will be held in Bur­bank, Cal­i­for­nia, Sat­ur­day June 4, 2016, at 7pm. Joe will hand-​crank his 1909 Pow­er’s pro­jec­tor as Scott Lasky embell­ish­es each scene with live piano accom­pa­ni­ment. Gary Gib­son will project glass lantern slides of the era. The show is near­ly 2 hours with light refresh­ments for sale. Admis­sion is $10. Full details here.

Joe Rin­au­do is espe­cial­ly excit­ed about this show, fol­low­ing the sur­pris­ing turnout for the show in March. The audi­ence was a live­ly, young crowd inter­est­ed in this old tech­nol­o­gy & art form, the results of pro­mot­ing the event on Face­book. More on that sto­ry here& a bizarre scene of a danc­ing pig.

Adding sound to silent…


Joe Rinaudo playing his American Fotoplayer. Plug your ears!

Although ear­ly films were silent, as in no dia­log or record­ed music, there was plen­ty of sound in most the­aters. Large the­aters employed an orches­tra. Small­er the­aters & those with low­er bud­gets relied on a pho­to­play­er. The pho­to­play­er (“pho­to” from pho­to­play & “play­er” from play­er piano) was built specif­i­cal­ly to pro­vide music & sound effects for silent movies. These machines appeared around 1912 & were used in medi­um sized the­aters. Pho­to­play­ers were inex­pen­sive to oper­ate because you didn’t have to be a musi­cian to play them — they were also playable by way of play­er piano rolls. But the per­son at the bench did change rolls & add the sound effects, as you can see in this demonstration.

Joe Rin­au­do is play­ing his Amer­i­can Foto­play­er in the video above, which was fea­tured on Huell Howser’s Cal­i­for­nia Gold.

The pho­to­play­er used a fas­ci­nat­ing com­bi­na­tion of piano, organ pipes, drums, & var­i­ous sound effects designed to nar­rate the action of any silent film. Ped­als, levers, switch­es, but­tons, & pull cords were all used to turn on the xylo­phone, beat a drum, ring a bell, cre­ate the sound of thun­der, or chirp like a bird.

When sound films came into being in the late 1920’s, the pho­to­play­er became passé. Of the thou­sands of Amer­i­can Foto­play­ers made dur­ing their hey­day, sad­ly less than 50 sur­vive, & of those only 12 are known to be in play­ing con­di­tion. One of those 12 is in Joe’s liv­ing room. & his neigh­bors ask him to leave the door open when he’s play­ing the instru­ment, as they love the hap­py sound.

Joe dis­cuss­es the Amer­i­can Foto­play­er in depth, with video & pho­tographs, here.


Laurel & Hardy: greatest comedy duo of all time

Quot­ed from The 25 Best Com­e­dy Duos by Mar­tin Chilton at The Telegraph:

Writer Kurt Von­negut once said that his favourite come­di­ans were Lau­rel & Hardy. “I used to laugh my head off at Lau­rel & Hardy,” said the author of Slaughterhouse-​Five. “There is ter­ri­ble tragedy there some­how. These men are too sweet to sur­vive in this world & are in ter­ri­ble dan­ger all the time. They could so eas­i­ly be killed.” What sur­vives of the come­di­ans – Amer­i­can Hardy died in 1957 & English-​born Lau­rel died in 1965 – is 107 films released between 1921 & 1951. Their catch­phrase was: “Well, here’s anoth­er nice mess you’ve got­ten me into!” & their mix­ture of slap­stick, word­play & utter­ly charm­ing com­e­dy makes them the great­est com­e­dy duo of all time. The Music Box, which depicts the pair’s hap­less attempts to move a piano up a large flight of steps, won the first Acad­e­my Award for Live Action Short Film (Com­e­dy) in 1932. “Those two fel­lows we played,” Oliv­er Hardy told an inter­view­er, “they were nice, very nice peo­ple. They nev­er got any­where because they were so very dumb, only they did­n’t know they were dumb.”

Above all, Lau­rel & Hardy are won­der­ful­ly, uplift­ing­ly, silly:

Ollie: “Call me a cab.”
Stan: “You’re a cab.”

(Anoth­er Fine Mess, 1930)



Lau­rel & Hardy’s influ­ence is alive & well in The Simp­sons. Home­r’s repeat­ed use of the word “D’oh” was inspired by Jim­my Fin­layson, the mus­ta­chioed Scot­tish actor who appeared in 33 Lau­rel & Hardy films.


Another fine nice mess (d’oh)

The famous catch phrase of Lau­rel & Hardy, from Anoth­er Fine Mess, is often mis­quot­ed as “Well, here’s anoth­er fine mess you’ve got­ten us into.” The actu­al phrase in the film is “Well, here’s anoth­er nice mess you’ve got­ten me into.” 


Laurel & Hardy

This scene is from “The Stolen Jools,” a short made in 1931 “with more prominent stars than have ever before appeared in any one feature” as stated at the beginning of the film. The stars appeared as cameos to help raise funds for the National Variety Artists tuberculosis sanitarium. You can watch the entire film here on YouTube. It’s great to see all the old stars in one film & there are some funny lines & gags.

Who is your favorite comedy team with an ampersand?

Lau­rel & Hardy? Abbott & Costel­lo? Burns & Allen? Lucy & Desi? Mar­tin & Lewis? French & Saun­ders? Tom & Jer­ry? Wal­lace & Gromit? Any others?

Com­ment here (or below if you see a big blue box).


chaz sez ...

Check out the new “chaz sez” blog at Des​i​moneDesign​.com, my com­mer­cial graph­ic design web­site. It’s most­ly about design, typog­ra­phy, print­ing, pub­lish­ing & mar­ket­ing, but on occa­sion I’ll divert to a side­ways top­ic that just can’t escape my rant­i­ng & raving.