In regard to the "black dot" that opens and closes:  It's called the
"Iris" and was used in many silent films.  If you will recall, the
Production Designer of the 1995 Academy Awards used this as the theme for
the set of the awards, tying in the old Charlie Chaplin comedy films with
the theme of the awards as a tribute to comedy.  The presenters (most of
them) stood behind the closed iris and then walked out through it onto
the stage toward the audience as it opened.  The Iris is a visual effect
taken from how a camera's apeture and shutter work.  Is this what you
were asking about?
Fiona C. Quick
University of Minnesota
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