Une étude très intéressante sur les trucages utilisés par L. Starewitch surtout dans L’Horloge magique (1928), mais pas seulement, avec une très utile comparaison avec les effets réalisés par Willis O’Brien un peu plus tard pour King Kong (1933).
manque peut-être une meilleure connaissance du contexte dans lequel a travaillé
L. Starewitch, notamment en France, qui éviterait d’écrire par exemple
que son studio était situé dans «
Le studio de Ladislas Starewitch était, en France, à Fontenay-sous-Bois, dans la banlieue parisienne, à mi chemin entre les studios de Montreuil-sous-Bois et ceux de Joinville-le-Pont.
si L. Starewitch était très discret sur sa façon de travailler en Russie,
cette attitude a bien changé en France. Il a accueilli Bogdan Zoubovitch
deux ans dans son studio, pendant les tournages de L’Horloge magique (B. Zoubovitch y tient un rôle) et
La citation de Charles Ford est extraite de : Charles FORD : « Ladislas Starewitch, the pionier with puppets on films has persevered despite war and revolution » dans Film in review, avril 1958, pp.190-192 et 216.
Pour connaître la façon dont L. Starewitch a vécu et travaillé en France :
* WLadisLas JEWSIEWCKI : Ezop xx wieku, Wladislaw Starewicz pionier filmu lalkowego i sztuki filmowej, Wydawnictwa Radia i Telewizji, Varsovie 1989, 231 pages et photographies. (qui comprend quelques erreurs).
* Léona Béatrice et François MARTIN : Ladislas Starewitch, 1882 – 1965, Le cinéma,..., rend visible les rêves de l’imagination, L’Harmattan, Paris, 2003
Cette étude de Maria Belodubrovskaya a été présentée dans le cadre
du Collegium 2007 du Festival du film muet à Pordenone, Italie, où elle a été
the Magic: Special Effects in Ladislas Starewitch’s L'Horloge
Starewitch is one of those cinemagicians whose name
to stand in film history beside those of [Georges]
Emil Cohl, and [Walt] Disney.” Charles
Like film historian Charles Ford, nearly every commentator who writes
about Ladislas Starewitch calls him a cinemagician and a great cinematic pioneer.
What they typically refer to is Starewitch’s role in developing the
stop-motion puppet animation film. Although the technique of animating
three-dimensional objects through freeze-frame cinematography was invented no
later than 1897, from 1910 to the 1930s Starewitch was indeed its most prolific
and sophisticated practitioner.2 During this time he created over forty
narrative puppet films that struck the viewer by their fantastic effects.
However, Starewitch’s contribution to film history is not limited to his role
as an early stop-motion animator. His artistic practice also involved persistent
innovation with special-effects cinematography. Several of his animated films
included shots combining not only puppets with miniature sets, but also puppets
with live-action footage, puppets with still images, and even conventional
live-action with animated live-action.3 In fact, it is for his special effects
as much as for his puppetry that he deserves a reputation as a
“cinemagician” and a pioneer.
The role of Starewitch as a special-effects innovator has hardly been
acknowledged. When commentators mention the technical sophistication of his
films, they rarely elaborate. Fellow animator Simon Pummell is aware that
“Starewitch never lets himself off the technical hook” but provides only one
example: a matte shot in Fetiche Mascotte
(The Mascot, 1933)
his tribute to the artist,
Starewitch’s Russian producer, Alexander Khanzhonkov, mentions cinematographic
innovation but only in the context of Starewitch’s live-action features, the
making of which Khanzhonkov witnessed. He writes: “Starewitch’s contribution
to the development of methods of trick cinematography was not insignificant, and
his achievements in cinematographic technique deserve their own study. For
myself I can say that he successfully used multiple exposures and the technique
of filming against black velvet [to obtain footage of actors against an empty
background], and he widely used a mobile camera.”5
One reason that little in known about Starewitch’s cinematographic
techniques is perhaps that he guarded his secrets. On one occasion, when asked
to demonstrate his methods during the making of Strekoza i muravei (The
Dragonfly and the Ant, 1913), Starewitch apparently went “suddenly silent,
then looked at [his interlocutor] fiercely and said: ‘I can neither tell you
nor show anything more. It is a secret. Go and see my film [...], it will soon
be finished.’”6 Whatever the logic behind this reported attitude—the
knowledge that his techniques were unique or, more likely, the desire to
preserve the impression of amazement that his films unfailingly generated—today
we have a chance to learn more about Starewitch’s secrets, thanks to
invaluable efforts such as the Starewitch retrospective at the 2007 Le Giornate
del Cinema Muto and restoration work on Starewitch’s films by Léona Béatrice
In this essay I discuss the techniques of special-effects cinematography
in Starewitch’s L'Horloge magique (The
Magic Clock, 1928). First, I explore the special effects that Starewitch had
used up to 1928. Second, I discuss his innovative work with them in L'Horloge
magique. Finally, I compare special effects in this film to its most
celebrated contemporary counterpart, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B.
Schoedsack’s King Kong (1933). I
argue that Starewitch’s work ranks among, and perhaps above, some of the most
sophisticated achievements of his generation of special-effects artists and
suggest that further attention to his cinematographic work may bring us closer
to a comprehensive appreciation for his art.
L'Horloge magique was not the first animation film in which Starewitch used special
effects. As early as 1912, Starewitch included in his Mest’ kinematograficheskogo operatora (The Cameraman’s Revenge) a scene in which his characters, Mr. and
Mrs. Beetle, watch a movie at an outdoor movie theater. The movie, called The
Adulterous Husband, is a “documentary” about Mr. Beetle’s affair, which
the Grasshopper, the cameraman, has caught on camera earlier in the film to
punish Mr. Beetle for stealing his mistress, the Dragonfly. This scene is
presented in a composite shot combining the “film within a film,” projected
upon the miniature screen of the movie-theater set, and the set itself. 7
The impression that an actual live projection inside the set was filmed
to create this scene is extremely strong. The three-dimensional miniature screen
is turned at approximately a thirty-
degree angle to the surface
of the frame. The footage on the miniature screen is perfectly aligned with its
surface, so that it looks as if the footage itself is projected at a
thirty-degree angle. (This rules out the possibility that rear projection was
used to create this scene, as a rear-projected image would have been aligned
with the surface of the frame.)8 The footage wiggles slightly, mimicking the way
actual projection looked during the 1910s. Throughout most of the show the
audience of beetles is completely still, further simulating the impression that
the scene was shot
live rather than animated.
In addition, the heads of Mr. and Mrs. Beetle seated in the first row appear to
cast shadows on the lower portion of the screen as if blocking the light from an
actual projector at the back of the theater. How was this remarkable scene
I would suggest that Starewitch made stills from the footage we see
earlier in the film and then animated these stills by placing them sequentially
shot by shot upon the miniature screen.
Such stills would have been
easy enough to produce. The beetle characters that Starewitch was working with
at the time were about three inches tall. This means that the stills needed to
be a workable five-by-seven inches in size. No additional filming had to be done
to produce the stills.
The Adulterous Husband features the same footage we see earlier in the film. Although it is
supposed to contain the footage from the cameraman’s camera, what we see in
fact are the shots complete with the camera and the cameraman. Moreover, the
actions of characters in both the film itself and The Adulterous Husband are exactly the same. Finally, the fact that
the figures of the Beetles seated in front of the miniature screen overlap with
it confirms that the images on the screen had to be physically inserted into the
set,9 as any kind of a traveling-matte technique— conceivable but not yet
invented in 1912—would not have allowed for such seamless overlapping.10
By 1920 Starewitch uses matte shots to create special effects. In his Dans
les Griffes de l’araignée (In the
Spider’s Grip, 1920), he designs a scene in which the Moth, a fashionable
In the late 1920s Starewitch continues to work with matte shots and
starts experimenting with rear projection—now to combine live-action with
puppet animation. In
Neither one of these two composite shots produces a narratively
convincing encounter between Nina and the puppets. Nina does not interact with
the puppets, and her space in the frame is visibly different from their space.
In the two films that followed
It is clear that Nina’s performance is projected from behind the set
upon a miniature screen that formed the perpendicular opening of the stage. The
rear-projected footage in the composite shots looks very bleached out, which is
especially noticeable in comparison with the crosscut sections where this same
footage is perfectly contrasted. There are at least three reasons why the image
looked this way, given that it was produced in the 1920s. First, rephotography
of a rear-projected image always reduced the contrast of the original image
because of loss in image resolution. Second, the bright light used in the rear
projector necessarily overemphasized the light areas of the image. Third, in
order to make the rest of frame visible, the cinematographer may have been
forced to overexpose it, making the projector-lit part brighter. All of these
drawbacks betray the composite nature of the shot.
The drawbacks of rear projection are important because at the end of
1920s special-effects artists in all major film-producing countries worked to
overcome them by developing new approaches to composite cinematography.
Starewitch was no exception, and in his L'Horloge
magique he offered some very impressive solutions. In fact, I would argue
that this film presents the most complicated and polished special effects that
Starewitch had accomplished to date.
L'Horloge magique is composed of two parts. The first part deals with the making and
operation of a magic clock, assisted by a little girl (Nina). The second part,
“The Enchanted Forest,” involves a
dream experienced by Nina, where she enters the magic world of the clock,
apparently dies, and is resurrected as a princess. With the exception of two
shots with superimposed foreground columns in the first part, most of the
special effects in the film are reserved for the second part. For instance, it
is here that we see two instances of composite shots combining foreground action
and rear projection, both of which are vast improvements over the sequences I
When Nina wakes up as a princess, she follows a flower on a walk through
the magic kingdom. At several moments during this walk, the live footage of Nina
appears in the background of shots featuring the animated flower in the
foreground. What is remarkable about these shots is that they come very close to
producing a convincing impression that Nina and the flower share the same space.
This impression is achieved through the distinct choice of lighting that
accompanies both components of these composite shots.
The live-action footage of Nina is filmed in such a way that Nina
receives very little light, so that in some of the shots she appears as a dark
silhouette upon the lighter background of the sky. When an image as dark as this
is rear-projected upon the final scene, its brightness is
severely reduced. (This
effect is probably also enhanced by filtering either the rear-projection screen
or the camera lens.) At the same time, the lighting of the foreground featuring
the flower-guide and some rocks and plants is limited to one very low-intensity
source. All we see are black silhouettes with slight lighting highlights. The
rear-projection screen is also framed by the dark contours of the miniature set,
creating the impression that Nina is about to enter a dark alcove now occupied
by the flower. Narratively, these shots appear to be somewhat discontinuous, as
the overall action occurs in broad daylight and these shots look as dark as
night.12 Nevertheless, they work beautifully as special effects. Although the
resolution and contrast of the original live-action footage are still sacrificed,
as is unavoidable with rear projection, the visible discrepancy between the
foreground and the background in the composite images is successfully reduced by
this effective lighting design.
The second instance of a masterful combination of animated action with
rear projection involves the scenes where the puppet character of Ondin, the
water spirit, jumps in and out of rear-projected water. What we see is a tiny
section of the water’s edge, where the water is heavily shaded by plants and
the bank sports a busy collection of leaves and flowers. These
images of the water’s
edge are similar to the ones described just above in that the rear-projected
image is framed by the miniature set and occupies only about one-half of the
frame. In addition, the color and lighting designs of both the animated and the
rear-projected segments match visually: both feature highly contrasted and
evenly distributed blocks of light and dark. All of this helps the
rear-projected image to easily merge with the animated foreground. However, what
makes the components of the shots look virtually seamless is the perfect
coordination of the background image with the actions of the puppet. Every time
Ondin seems to jump in or out of the water—in fact, he jumps up and out of the
frame or appears on the set from behind its edge— the background image
features ripples that would realistically appear if someone jumped in or out of
the water. That is, Ondin seems to be entering the rear-projected image!
These shots are done so skillfully that it is hard to believe that they
are composites, although they would be impossible otherwise. There is no doubt
that the images of water are rear-projected. The images unmistakably feature
real water, and it is impossible to animate real water shot by shot at the same
time as one animates puppets. Additional confirmation is
provided by the image of
the same water, which is included on its own during a crosscut section between
Ondin underwater and the surface. As compared to this image, the background
images in the composite shots lack deep blacks and are less sharp, thus
signaling that rephotography was involved. Finally, it made sense to use rear
projection. It could easily allow Starewitch to coordinate the background image
as precisely as he did, as rear projection provides one with the chance to run
the preexisting footage back and forth as much as one needs until the matching
action is found.
These special effects represent only one subset in the collection of
spectacular special effects that Starewitch designed for L'Horloge magique. The other subset involves combining animated
live-action with animation or with live-action without the use of rear
During her initial entry in the enchanted forest, Nina haplessly steps on
a flower, thus attracting the attention of Sylph, the air spirit, and other
forest creatures, who apparently make her shrink in size. The diminished Nina
sees a forest spirit; it scares Nina, and she runs away. In the next scene Nina,
still tiny, runs into a pair of forest creatures, gets frightened, and again
makes her escape. Nina’s shrinking in the first scene is a special effect in
itself, produced as it is by printing successively smaller images of Nina in the
laboratory. One can tell that the images were indeed photographically reduced
rather than just reproduced from images of Nina filmed at different distances.
One part of the effect of Nina’s diminution is produced by the very same image
that gets progressively smaller and smaller: in it Nina’s position, hair, and
the shadows on her gown remain precisely the same. However, Starewitch
complicates the diminution effect even further by making Nina and the animated
puppet directly respond to each other within the same composite shot. In the
second of these two scenes, the composite elements are complicated yet again, as
Nina interacts with two puppets instead of one and seems to share their
What makes these two scenes remarkable is not only that they involve a
diminished and animated live image of Nina—let me call it animated live-action—but
also that live footage of Nina appears at the same time in front of the
background and behind the animated
action in the foreground. In the first scene there is a moment in which the
puppet steps in front of Nina,
covering up a portion of
her image with his arm. At the beginning of the second scene, Nina seems to be
placed behind the puppets, which look slightly back at her. However, at the end
of the scene, Nina’s image is visible in front of one of the puppet’s legs.
The quality of Nina’s image as opposed to the background image rules
out that rear projection was used to create these composite shots. The
backgrounds in the two scenes portray forest landscapes—large trees and small
bushes, respectively—located at a distance from the characters. The background
of the first scene is probably a painting, as it looks diffused and somewhat
artificial. The background of the second scene appears to be an out-of-focus
photograph. In comparison with these backdrops, which clearly suggest depth and
a variety of hues, Nina’s image is flat, contains only whites and light grays,
and lacks sharpness without being out of focus. This is particularly noticeable
as compared to the footage of Nina included in the crosscut sections of the two
scenes. Here Nina’s image is very sharp and perfectly contrasted. Although
there are hardly any halos, Nina’s images bleed somewhat: their contours
change slightly from image to image and at times dissolve into the background.
All of this suggests not only that Nina’s image has been rephotographed more
than once, which would have been done already to produce the diminished Nina,
but that rephotography or reprinting has also been used to combine Nina with the
rest of the scene. That is, it suggests that Starewitch used some kind of a
traveling-matte technique to create these composite shots.
In the 1920s, a traveling-matte process involved creating a dark matte of
the detail to be inserted in the background scene. First, this dark matte was
photographed or printed against the background scene to create a negative image
of the background but leave the portion masked by the matte unexposed. Second,
that same strip of film was photographed again, now with the light image of the
detail placed in front it. This exposed the previously unexposed portion, and
the composite image was produced. The matte was created by either using the
negative of the image of the detail filmed against a pitch-black background (provided
the detail was light enough for its negative to be able to block light and
surrounding background was dark enough to produce transparent film) or by
drawing a set of transparencies with the dark mask of the detail that was than
transferred onto a filmstrip.
This process allowed special-effects artists to place an actor in front
of any background. Typically, when this was achieved, nothing else was required.
Starewitch, however, went further. He also wanted to build his images in such as
way that his puppets appeared in front of the matted-in detail (Nina). Although
this additional manipulation required at least double the time, testing, and
precision, he could accomplish it in one of two ways. He could either create
additional traveling mattes, now with the puppets matted over the images of
Nina, or he could produce complex initial mattes of Nina that already
incorporated the areas that needed to later allow for the puppets.
Whatever the exact process used, the resulting special effects produced
by Starewitch here are extraordinary. Nina seems to effortlessly move within the
space of the animated set.
Although her image is
somewhat bleak and flat, she is clearly discernible from the set’s background.
At the same time, Nina’s image looks very convincing within the animated space,
as we can clearly see her complicated body movements, and the play of light and
shadow on her tiny face and gown is very legible.
In the following section of L'Horloge
magique, Starewitch expands on the traveling-matte technique to produce even
more spectacular results later in the film. This time he uses composite
cinematography to combine not Nina’s live performance and puppetry, but the
tiny animated figure of Nina and live footage of an actor’s hand. Moreover,
here the composite elements not only share the frame and overlap, but also
interact intensely with each other.
During the crosscutting that opens the first scene in the section, Nina,
in a medium shot, climbs from behind a rock. She sees the man approaching her,
screams, and hides. The man reaches with his hand towards the camera, and in the
next shot we see his (left) hand in a relatively long shot reaching from behind
the foreground rocks, lifting Nina from behind a small rock in the middleground
center and setting her on top of that rock. The hand proceeds to tap Nina on top
of her head, to tickle her body repeatedly on the side, and finally to pick her
up by the waist with two fingers and to take her out of the frame. In the second
scene the man shakes Nina in both hands and then opens his (right) hand to see
what has happened to her. On his hand we see Nina, who kicks her legs, turns
over, and eventually gets up, only to fall to her death through his fingers.
Through all of this action Nina, who is the size of the hand’s thumb, is
vigorously moving her arms and body to fight off the hand’s approaches.
The composite shots used in this section are even more complicated than
the ones portraying Nina’s encounter with the forest creatures, as both
elements in the shots were initially filmed live and both make complex movements.
As before, the differences between the images of Nina and the images of the hand
confirm that traveling mattes were used. Although the hand fully matches the
color and focus schemes of the rocks behind it (both display a full range of
tones from white to black with grays predominating), Nina’s image is white,
flat, not contrasted, and bleeds slightly. What is puzzling about these
composite shots, however, is that the hand does not move as smoothly as it might
have if live footage of it was used without any manipulation. Instead, its
movements are jerky, as if it was filmed either at slow speeds or though
stop-motion. Although I can only guess as to why this might be the case, one
fact provides a possible clue: both the hand and Nina move during both scenes,
but only the hand gets blurry. The reason for this is probably that out of all
the live footage of Nina that was recorded, only clearly discernible images were
used to create composite shots, as blurry images do not produce the clear
contours required for successful traveling mattes. From this it follows that a
number of frames of Nina’s footage turned out to be unusable and had to be cut.
Because the hand’s motions had to last for as many frames as Nina’s motions,
a number of images might have been also cut out from the footage of the hand.
The reason that the jerkiness is more noticeable with the hand than with Nina is
because the hand is a lot larger in the frame and because its motions are a lot
smoother to begin with.
Despite the slight jerkiness of the hand’s image, Nina’s struggles
with the hand look exceptionally convincing. This is because the hand’s and
Nina’s actions are meticulously coordinated, as if Nina is indeed responding
to the hand. Moreover, during several moments Nina’s body is positioned behind
the hand’s thumb or index finger but in front of the rest of the fingers. Most
amazingly, the hand’s index finger casts a shadow on Nina’s gown whenever it
is close enough to her to do so realistically, and Nina’s contours in turn
cast shadows on the back of the set. One would think that this could only have
been possible if the actor was literally holding the puppet of Nina in his hand.
Indeed, later in the film, and even perhaps at the very end of both scenes
described here, Starewitch substitutes a Nina puppet for Nina. However, there is
no doubt that what we see for most of the duration of these remarkable scenes is
indeed live footage of Nina. Thus, the shadows must have either been added
through additional matte work or by a careful coordination of objects placed
opposite the light outside the frame.
It is hard to overvalue Starewitch’s sophistication as a
special-effects artist. As I hope to have shown, all one needs to do is look
closely at what Starewitch is doing in his films.
However, one other way to
appreciate his innovations is to compare them to the work of his contemporaries.
Both rear projection and traveling mattes were used by
Although the film features extremely complicated special effects and its
achievements are many and undeniable, when it tries to do exactly what
Starewitch did in L'Horloge magique
five years earlier, it fails to surpass Starewitch’s finesse. Although live
actors in foreground sets are often portrayed in front of rear-projected spaces,
they never convincingly enter them, as Ondin enters the water in the scene I
discuss above. The elements that comprise the composite shots either look too
different or feature a clearly discernible dividing line. When a rear-projected
live actor interacts with an animated character in the foreground set, the two
never respond to each other in the perfectly coordinated way that Starewitch’s
characters do in L'Horloge magique:
their responses are appropriate but approximate. For instance, when Ann is
featured in a tiny cave on the side of the image of fighting Kong, she appears
to bewitnessing the fight and responds to it by acting scared and agitated.13
However, as opposed to the way Nina responds to forest creatures in
Starewitch’s scenes, Ann’s movements do not precisely reflect upon the
progression of the fight. As for the quality of the rear-projected images
themselves, with the exception of one scene where heavy diffusion on the set
blends it with the background, the rear-projected backgrounds in King Kong tend to look bleak and flat.
King Kong also includes many
scenes in which traveling mattes are used to combine live actors with animated
characters. However, only rarely do the animated characters interact directly
with live-action characters in composite shots the way the giant hand handled
Nina in L'Horloge magique. In fact,
almost every time that the animated animals hold humans in their
hands or mouths, puppets
are substituted for actors.14 There are two exceptions. During Ann’s initial
encounter with Kong, there is a moment when he lifts her up in the air, and we
actually see a live image of the actress in Kong’s hand. This moment flashes
past extremely quickly, which may be related to the fact that the image of Ann
does not merge easily with the image of Kong. Ann’s image radiates intensely,
which is probably the result of overexposure that was necessary to create a
workable traveling matte. And it bleeds into the surrounding image, making the
composite shot unconvincing. Late in the film there is another scene in which
the animated Kong holds Ann in his hand and touches her with his fingers. Just
like Nina, live-acting Ann appears to be both in front of Kong hand and behind
his fingers. Although the image is very impressive, one can see that it is a
composite. Ann’s part of the image lacks contrast in comparison with Kong’s
image, and there is a clear dividing line where the animated image of Kong’s
body meets the rear-projected image of Kong’s hand holding Ann.15
It would certainly be impossible to argue that King
Kong is a lesser achievement than L'Horloge
magique. Overall it accomplishes incomparably more in terms of special
effects than Starewitch’s film. However, when O’Brien and Starewitch are
trying to do the same—to convincingly show a direct interaction between
live-action and animated action—Starewitch
seems to achieve a more
seamless result. This achievement becomes even more significant if we remember
that as opposed to O’Brien, who worked with a team of experienced
special-effects experts at a major studio (RKO) and had the best available
technology at his disposal, Starewitch planned and realized his special effects
entirely with the help of only one assistant, his daughter Irène, and at a
home-based artisanal studio in rural France.
All the special-effects techniques I have discussed here—stills
replacement,16 matte work, rear projection, and traveling mattes—are extremely
time-consuming and difficult to implement. It is almost inevitable that the
rear-projected background would end up looking visibly different from whatever
foreground the artist films in front of it. Traveling mattes are exceptionally
difficult to align precisely, and the slightest miscalculation or technological
imperfection makes them appear mismatched.17 All were subject to intense
innovation from the 1910s on. I have argued that Starewitch was at the forefront
of this innovation from the very beginning. Moreover, in the 1920s he perfected
these techniques entirely on his own, without the immediate benefit of the
latest technological developments of his contemporaries.18 In this context, he
was able to produce extraordinary special effects in both their design and
execution, and his special effects certainly rivaled and perhaps surpassed some
achievements of his most celebrated counterparts. I suspect that Starewitch’s
work harbors further insights into his pioneering achievements in cinematography.
The study of his films may not only lead us to a more comprehensive appreciation
of the art behind his magic, but may also help us learn more about the artisanal
mode of film production during the silent era.
1 Quoted in Pilling, Jayne,
ed. Starewicz, 1882-1965.
2 On the history of
stop-motion animation, see, e.g., Rickitt, Richard. Special
Effects: the History and Technique.
3 Along with animation
films, Starewitch also made at least twenty live-action features, on which he
acted primarily as a cameraman, but also as a director, scriptwriter, set
designer, and actor.
4 Pummell, Simon, “Of
Rats and Men,” Sight and Sound (May
1995), p. 61.
5 Khanzhonkov, Aleksandr.
“Pervyi mul’tiplikator” [The First Animator]. Iz
istorii kino, vol. 7.
6 Quoted in Tsivian, et
al., p. 202.
8 Rear projection was first
used in 1913 and so was presumably conceivable a year earlier.
9 The miniature screen is
actually fitted with tiny supports that seem designed to hold the stills in
10 The earliest
traveling-matte process was invented by Frank D. William in 1916.
11 Rear projection of
backgrounds is also featured in Le Rat de
ville et le rat des champs (The Town
Rat and the Country Rat, 1926).
12 It is possible that when
originally projected in the 1928 these images did not look this dark.
13 The image of Ann is rear
projected upon a small screen mounted in the set using a process developed for King
Kong. It could be argued, however, that Starewitch anticipates this idea in
his rear-projected stage opening in
14 Every time we see Ann in
a closer shot inside of Kong’s hand, the giant hand is part of the set rather
15 For more on special
effects in King Kong see, e.g.,
Morton, Ray. King Kong: The History of a
Movie Icon from Fay Wray to Peter Jackson.
16 I use the term
“replacement” here in parallel with the term “replacement animation”
used in animation literature, which designates a type of stop-motion animation
where the puppet is replaced rather than moved between the
17 On the development and
complications of both processes see, e.g., Fielding, Raymond. The Technique of Special Effects Cinematography.
18 For instance, major
breakthroughs in rear-projection screens and optical printing were made during
the making of King Kong, and
Starewitch certainly could not have immediately benefited from them.
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