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November 2000, Week 2


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Donald Larsson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tue, 14 Nov 2000 12:01:02 -0600
TEXT/PLAIN (38 lines)
R. Inglis requests:

> Could anyone tell me when the projection rate of films began to shift from
> 16 frames/s. to the now-standard 24 frames/s.?  Were the 16 frames/s. films
> also shot at that speed, or were they shot at 24 and sped up in the
> projection booth?  Did one film spark the change-over, or was it a general
> trend brought on by other factor/s?

Others here can probably give more precise anwers, but in general, the
standardization of the 24 fps speed was a result of the acceptance of
sound in film after THE JAZZ SINGER.  Film and soundtrack speed had to
be coordinated with each other consistently in all theaters. The 16 fps
for silent film is really an abritrary figure, since both cameras and
projectors were often hand-cranked, and the actual speed of a silent
film could vary quite a bit.  There was a trend towards faster
projection speeds by the late 1920s as a way of reducing flicker and
giving a smoother image, but there was still quite a bit of variety.

That is one reason that transfers to new prints or video that
automatically assume a need to compensate for a speed of 16 (18 or 20)
fps can be disastrous.  We have a video, for example, of Keaton's
COLLEGE that because of such a transfer makes everything look like it's
in slow motion!

Don Larsson

Donald F. Larsson
English Department, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

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