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July 1995, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sylvia Swift <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 5 Jul 1995 16:40:36 -0700
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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On Mon, 3 Jul 1995, Mark C. Pizzato wrote:
> My student was asking about the end of certain films when a black dot grows
> the center of the screen, rather than a cut or fade or dissolve to black--as a
> way to end the movie.
This transition is called an Iris Out, and may be used at the end of any
sequence, not just at the end of a film.  D.W. Griffith used the effect
extensively, but I think I remember reading he didn't invent it.  To get
an iris effect, a rubber diaphragm is fitted onto the lens.  As it slowly
opens (Iris In to the next shot) or closes (Iris Out) it mimics the iris
of the eye, letting in light in proportion to its degree of openness.
Bordwell and Thompson must have a succinct definition of the Iris
transitions.  Irises are usual roundish, but _The Cabinet of Dr.
Caligari_ has lovely diamonds and rhombuses and so on.  Some modern
movies use Iris Ins/Outs as a way of getting an old-fashioned look:
_Chaplin_, _Age of Innocence_, maybe _Dick Tracy_.
Sylvia Swift
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