In the period previous to the 1930’s, the predom

In the period previous to the 1930’s, the predominant form of filmmaking was that of the crank camera. This is not to say that motor-driven cameras were not possible. However, the motors to advance the film were so large that they were simply too cumbersome to be effective. Thus, it was the cameraman himself who would crank the film at a steady rate to expose the frames. When it came to showing the film, on the other hand, motor driven projectors were quite convenient, and by the 1920’s a standard 24 frames per second was established for projecting films. Filming, however, remained unstandardized due to the inherent variation in recording speeds, since it depended directly on the cameraman. An experienced cameraman was capable of filming an entire film at approximately the same speed, yet often variations were made in the recording speed for dramatic effect. Decreasing the number of cranks, for example, exposed fewer frames and thus when projected at the standard 24 frames created the frenzied action that characterized much of the Vaudeville cinema. The French filmmaker Georges Melies was among the first to employ changing backdrops and costumes to tell his story. Up until that point many film were only a few minutes long taking place on a single set. Changing sets and costumes opened a vast range of new possibilities and spurred further growth in the fledgling industry. As the film industry expanded in America, filmmakers found and increasing need for to establish a single location at which they could build sets and film undisturbed. The bright sunlight, relative stability of climate, and varied terrain found in California made it an ideal place to film, much of the reason for the industry’s concentration there. During this time, films were shot on a single reel, resulting in filmstrips that were only 15-20 minutes. Independent producers pioneered the use of double reel filmmaking during the years before the First World War. Thi…

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