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June 2005, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 4 Jun 2005 16:45:17 EDT
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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In a message dated 6/4/05 2:16:33 PM, [log in to unmask] writes:

> Last night I watched _The Stenographer's Friend Or What Was Accomplished by 
> an Edison Business Phonograph_ (1910) on the More Treasures DVD. It looked 
> like the right side of the image was cut off. I understand that in the silent 
> period the part of the film that now holds the optical soundtrack used to 
> hold more picture information, although the ratio was pretty much the same. 
> Reportedly, this is the reason the cheapo DVD of _His Majesty, the Scarecrow of 
> Oz_ (1914) is cropped down the LEFT side. I would think that the optical 
> soundtrack could be only on one side of the image. It's certainly possible that 
> this film was poorly framed. Otherwise, it's not the quality I would expect 
> from such a collection. Is it just that Elmo doesn't make a device for 
> transferring silent-width film? You'd think they could make special machines for a 
> project of this magnitude. 

I think the only Elmo involved with films these days lives on Sesame Street. 
Only public domain distributors have ever used the Elmo for transfers. The 
Rank Cinetel machines came in about 1985 or so and between the Ranks (Gold, Ursa, 
Ursa 2, etc.), the Spirit, and similar multimillion (literally) dollar 
machines, that's all that's used for these kind of transfers. Trust me on this, by 
the way, after 25 years, I've been through them all.

It's worth checking out why this happened but in most cases, it's because 
when the lab made a negative or print in the 1930s to 1960s, that's what they did 
-- cut off the left side of the image to accommodate sound aperture film. It 
was cheaper than making an optical reduction. That was the problem with The 
Wedding March for many, many years until the Photoplay restoration. It could be 
that this is the only surviving material left on Stenographer's -- or the most 
accessible -- but I'm sure it's not because they went "cheap" on the 

Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (201) 767-3117 or (800) 603-1104 (in the US)
Fax: (201) 767-3035
Email: [log in to unmask]

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