By John Bennett
The birth and production of the commercial full-length movie, beginning in the very beginning of the 20th century (The Story of the Kelly Gang (1906, Australia), with a running time of between 60-70 minutes)(), up until today has changed dramatically. Before the advent of the practical use of recorded sound synchronization, these years were commonly referred to as the “silent era”. Though recorded audio was certainly available, recorded synchronization with the speaking characters was problematic.() These movies were in black and white and were very rough, owing to the camera operator having to crank the camera manually. Therefore, projection speeds were inconsistent and were often choppy and would speed up and slow down according to the abilities of the camera man to maintain turning regularity. The movies also suffered from the problems of poor lighting giving the movie a very grainy and unstable appearance.()
The actors and actresses of this time had to over emphasize their body movements and facial expressions so that the movie audience could understand the actor’s emotions and to add to the understanding of the storyline as speech during this time was not an option. Dialogue was represented in the exaggerated body language and the use of placards between interactions to make the plot of the movies clearer to the audience. Makeup was also heavily used to accent the facial features to help express facial expressions due to the poor lighting conditions. As this type of film making progressed over the next several years’ better cameras were developed and a better understanding and development of lighting allowed for better quality in the production of the movie. ()
Showings of silent films always featured live music, either with an organist, pianist, live singers or even with a full orchestra. Music was an essential element to the silent movie, giving it atmosphere and an emotional undertone for each scene.()...