Some performers create new compositions using traditional musical instruments while others add electronic sounds, modern harmonies, rhythms, improvisation and sound design elements to enhance the viewing experience. Donald Sosin and his wife Joanna Seaton specialize in adding vocals to silent films, particularly where there is onscreen singing that benefits from hearing the actual song being performed.
The Silent Film Sound and Music Archive digitizes music and cue sheets written for silent film and makes it available for use by performers, scholars, and enthusiasts. Silent-film actors emphasized body language and facial expression so that the audience could better understand what an actor was feeling and portraying on screen.
Much silent film acting is apt to strike modern-day audiences as simplistic or campy. The melodramatic acting style was in some cases a habit actors transferred from their former stage experience. Vaudeville was an especially popular origin for many American silent film actors. As early as , American viewers had begun to make known their preference for greater naturalness on screen. Silent films became less vaudevillian in the mids, as the differences between stage and screen became apparent.
Due to the work of directors such as D.
Griffith , cinematography became less stage-like, and the development of the close up allowed for understated and realistic acting. Lillian Gish has been called film's "first true actress" for her work in the period, as she pioneered new film performing techniques, recognizing the crucial differences between stage and screen acting.
Directors such as Albert Capellani and Maurice Tourneur began to insist on naturalism in their films.
Hollywood Lighting from the Silent Era to Film Noir
By the mids many American silent films had adopted a more naturalistic acting style, though not all actors and directors accepted naturalistic, low-key acting straight away; as late as , films featuring expressionistic acting styles, such as Metropolis , were still being released. According to Anton Kaes, a silent film scholar from the University of California, Berkeley, American silent cinema began to see a shift in acting techniques between and , influenced by techniques found in German silent film.
This is mainly attributed to the influx of emigrants from the Weimar Republic , "including film directors, producers, cameramen, lighting and stage technicians, as well as actors and actresses. William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, an Edison employee, settled on the astonishingly fast 40 frames per second. Unless carefully shown at their intended speeds silent films can appear unnaturally fast or slow. However, some scenes were intentionally undercranked during shooting to accelerate the action—particularly for comedies and action films.
Slow projection of a cellulose nitrate base film carried a risk of fire, as each frame was exposed for a longer time to the intense heat of the projection lamp; but there were other reasons to project a film at a greater pace. Often projectionists received general instructions from the distributors on the musical director's cue sheet as to how fast particular reels or scenes should be projected. Theaters also—to maximize profit—sometimes varied projection speeds depending on the time of day or popularity of a film,  or to fit a film into a prescribed time slot. All motion-picture film projectors require a moving shutter to block the light whilst the film is moving, otherwise the image is smeared in the direction of the movement.
However this shutter causes the image to flicker , and images with low rates of flicker are very unpleasant to watch. However, by using projectors with dual- and triple-blade shutters the flicker rate is multiplied two or three times higher than the number of film frames — each frame being flashed two or three times on screen.
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During the silent era projectors were commonly fitted with 3-bladed shutters. In the s, many telecine conversions of silent films at grossly incorrect frame rates for broadcast television may have alienated viewers. With the lack of natural color processing available, films of the silent era were frequently dipped in dyestuffs and dyed various shades and hues to signal a mood or represent a time of day. Hand tinting dates back to in the United States with Edison's release of selected hand-tinted prints of Butterfly Dance. Additionally, experiments in color film started as early as in , although it took a much longer time for color to be adopted by the industry and an effective process to be developed.
Red represented fire and green represented a mysterious atmosphere.
Similarly, toning of film such as the common silent film generalization of sepia -toning with special solutions replaced the silver particles in the film stock with salts or dyes of various colors. A combination of tinting and toning could be used as an effect that could be striking.
In it, Annabelle Whitford ,  a young dancer from Broadway, is dressed in white veils that appear to change colors as she dances. This technique was designed to capture the effect of the live performances of Loie Fuller, beginning in , in which stage lights with colored gels turned her white flowing dresses and sleeves into artistic movement.
By the beginning of the s, with the onset of feature-length films, tinting was used as another mood setter, just as commonplace as music. The director D. Griffith displayed a constant interest and concern about color, and used tinting as a special effect in many of his films. His epic, The Birth of a Nation , used a number of colors, including amber, blue, lavender, and a striking red tint for scenes such as the "burning of Atlanta" and the ride of the Ku Klux Klan at the climax of the picture.
Griffith later invented a color system in which colored lights flashed on areas of the screen to achieve a color. With the development of sound-on-film technology and the industry's acceptance of it, tinting was abandoned altogether, because the dyes used in the tinting process interfered with the soundtracks present on film strips. The early studios were located in the New York City area. Others films were shot in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In December , Edison led the formation of the Motion Picture Patents Company in an attempt to control the industry and shut out smaller producers.
This company dominated the industry as both a vertical and horizontal monopoly and is a contributing factor in studios' migration to the West Coast. The Motion Picture Patents Co. The company produced and released 1, films between and , including the first film serial ever, The Million Dollar Mystery , released in Actors costumed as cowboys and Native Americans galloped across Scott's movie ranch set, which had a frontier main street, a wide selection of stagecoaches and a foot stockade.
The island provided a serviceable stand-in for locations as varied as the Sahara desert and a British cricket pitch. War scenes were shot on the plains of Grasmere, Staten Island.
The Perils of Pauline and its even more popular sequel The Exploits of Elaine were filmed largely on the island. So was the blockbuster Life of a Cowboy , by Edwin S. Company and filming moved to the West Coast around The following are American films from the silent film era that had earned the highest gross income as of The amounts given are gross rentals the distributor's share of the box-office as opposed to exhibition gross. Although attempts to create sync-sound motion pictures go back to the Edison lab in , only from the early s were the basic technologies such as vacuum tube amplifiers and high-quality loudspeakers available.
The next few years saw a race to design, implement, and market several rival sound-on-disc and sound-on-film sound formats, such as Photokinema , Phonofilm , Vitaphone , Fox Movietone and RCA Photophone Warner Bros was the first studio to accept sound as an element in film production and utilize Vitaphone, a sound-on-disc technology, to do so.
Thus the modern sound film era may be regarded as coming to dominance beginning in For a listing of notable silent era films, see List of years in film for the years between the beginning of film and The following list includes only films produced in the sound era with the specific artistic intention of being silent. Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien 's acclaimed drama Three Times is silent during its middle third, complete with intertitles; Stanley Tucci 's The Impostors has an opening silent sequence in the style of early silent comedies. While not silent, the Mr.
Bean television series and movies have used the title character's non-talkative nature to create a similar style of humor. In , Charles Lane directed and starred in Sidewalk Stories , a low budget salute to sentimental silent comedies particularly Charlie Chaplin 's The Kid.
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The German film Tuvalu is mostly silent; the small amount of dialog is an odd mix of European languages, increasing the film's universality. Guy Maddin won awards for his homage to Soviet era silent films with his short The Heart of the World after which he made a feature-length silent, Brand Upon the Brain! Shadow of the Vampire is a highly fictionalized depiction of the filming of Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau 's classic silent vampire movie Nosferatu Werner Herzog honored the same film in his own version, Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht Some films draw a direct contrast between the silent film era and the era of talkies.
Sunset Boulevard shows the disconnect between the two eras in the character of Norma Desmond , played by silent film star Gloria Swanson , and Singin' in the Rain deals with Hollywood artists adjusting to the talkies.
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Peter Bogdanovich 's film Nickelodeon deals with the turmoil of silent filmmaking in Hollywood during the early s, leading up to the release of D. Griffith 's epic The Birth of a Nation Special release prints with titles in several different languages were produced for international distribution.
Stage plays have drawn upon silent film styles and sources. In , the H. This film maintained a period-accurate filming style, and was received as both "the best HPL adaptation to date" and, referring to the decision to make it as a silent movie, "a brilliant conceit". The French film The Artist , written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius , plays as a silent film and is set in Hollywood during the silent era.
It also includes segments of fictitious silent films starring its protagonists. The Japanese vampire film Sanguivorous is not only done in the style of a silent film, but even toured with live orchestral accompiment. Blancanieves is a Spanish black-and-white silent fantasy drama film written and directed by Pablo Berger. The American feature-length silent film Silent Life started in , features performances by Isabella Rossellini and Galina Jovovich , mother of Milla Jovovich , will premiere in The film is based on the life of the silent screen icon Rudolph Valentino , known as the Hollywood's first "Great Lover".
After the emergency surgery, Valentino loses his grip of reality and begins to see the recollection of his life in Hollywood from a perspective of a coma — as a silent film shown at a movie palace, the magical portal between life and eternity, between reality and illusion. Right There is a short film that is an homage to silent film comedies. The British animated film Shaun the Sheep Movie based on Shaun the Sheep was released to positive reviews and was a box office success. Aardman Animations also produced Morph and Timmy Time as well as many other silent short films. The American Theatre Organ Society pays homage to the music of silent films, as well as the theatre organs that played such music.
With over 75 local chapters, the organization seeks to preserve and promote theater organs and music, as an art form. The Globe International Silent Film Festival GISFF is an annual event focusing on image and atmosphere in cinema which takes place in a reputable university or academic environment every year and is a platform for showcasing and judging films from filmmakers who are active in this field. Silent Times has won best silent film at the Oniros Film Festival.