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Departments of the Studio

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DEPARTMENTS OF THE STUDIO Among the more important studio departments which contribute to the production of modern pictures are : Architectural.—This department deals with the designing and construction of sets used in production. These must be architec turally correct according to the locale and period of the story, and must be planned to facilitate the playing of scenes which occur in them. Especially trained architects study the screen play and provide designs which are executed by skilled construction forces.


In the major studios the costume department is al most an industry within an industry. Frequently thousands of players must be supplied with dress, accurate in detail, within the space of a few days, necessitating the employment of many skilled workers. Famous designers create special costumes for stars and principal players. Independent costume companies supply the needs of the smaller organizations.


The casting department co-operates with producers and directors in the selection of players for the speaking roles in their productions. In Hollywood, a separate central agency is maintained by the larger studios for the employment of super numeraries or "extra players." Research.—To assure the closest possible approach to accuracy of scene, costume, and custom in the modern photoplay, studios have instituted extensive research departments. Comprehensive libraries are maintained as well as compilations of data relating to special subjects. The architectural and costume departments depend in a large measure upon the work of the research depart ment. Photoplays dealing with historical subjects often require months of research during which minute details relating to the period are checked in an effort at complete accuracy. In many instances, data obtained from little-known sources have resulted in the reproduction of historical scenes with remarkable fidelity to fact.


This department, under the supervision of an editor, considers story material which may be suitable to production. Stage plays, novels, original stories, and magazines are read by a corps of experienced persons capable of judging dramatic values. Material approved by the editor is usually submitted to producers and to the production head for final acceptance or rejection.


Before the start of actual production it is necessary to prepare a complete screen play, including a description of all scenes and all dialogue spoken by the various characters. This is required not only for the guidance of the director in the making of the picture but for casting, planning the most economical method of production, and for budgeting production costs. Skilled writers are employed in this work, including highly successful novelists and writers of stage plays. Many are retained under

contract by the larger studios; others are engaged for individual pictures. Often a screen play is the work of two or more writers in collaboration.


In the translation of the screen play into film it is customary to photograph individual scenes from a number of dif ferent camera positions so as to permit a change from one "angle" to another at the most effective point in the completed pic ture. This process and the rephotographing of scenes to obtain the desired interpretation result in the exposure of film greatly in excess of that used in the final photoplay. With the co-operation of the director, the selection and assembly of scenes and angles is in the hands of film editors, many of whom have made a dis tinct art of their work, the particular use of "close-ups," "me dium angles," and "long shots" having a decided effect in the creation of pictorial and dramatic values. Since sound is recorded on film separate from the picture, its assembly becomes a com panion operation controlled by the necessity for maintaining synchronization of sound and picture film. So important is the work of this department that the effectiveness of the entire picture may depend upon its proper execution.


The millions of feet of film consumed annually in the making of motion pictures requires large laboratories for the developing of negative from the cameras. Some of the larger companies maintain laboratories for this purpose but a consider able portion of the work is done by independent laboratory organ izations.


This department controls the electrical equipment of the studios and performs those functions necessary to the illumination of sets incident to the photographing of scenes. Its personnel is large and its work of great importance.


The photographing of a modern photoplay is in the hands of a chief cinematographer who directs the lighting of sets for the best photographic effects and has complete control of everything relating to the camera. Actual operation of the latter is usually entrusted to skilled assistants. Many of the pictorial values contributing to present-day motion pictures are the result of the artistry of the cinematographer.


This department is in charge of all matters relating to recording, and is one of the most important in the making of modern pictures. The delicate recording mechanism requires the highest skill in its maintenance and operation. The process of "dubbing" is performed by this department. Frequently as many as seven or eight sound tracks must be combined into the final track used in the picture. (J. L. LA.)