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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 578 (550)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 578
Page 578

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 578

These definitions should make it clear

that we are not necessarily talking about antipathetic elements. HSound motion pictures, is a term which could be used to describe the valuable program content in both television and motion picture film. It is a term which can also include a large number of elements which are not covered in the definitions above. Motion-picture film, as can television, can be used for advertising, for direct selling, for propaganda, for education, and for any form of transfer of intelligence and information from one person to another. We thus arrive at the conclusion that, basically, it is a motion picture film versus electrical television. which represent intrinsically different media and that if there is any real question of ffwholl will shove ffwho" around, it is a problem of Eastman Kodak, DuPont, and Ansco as against the Telephone Company, Radio Corporation, General Electric, Philco and DuMont rather than broadcasting companies as against so-called motion picture companies. These two latter groups are probably more likely to help each other than to hurt each other as they build talent for each other and make it popular. Motion-picture companies may make films for television and television may supplement feature film fare in theatre programs. On the other hand, television might displace 16-mm. movies in the home or schools in a reasonable period of time and thereby destroy the dream of the film manufacturing companies of an ever expanding market. . The foregoing is an illustration of the fact that all things are not what they seem to the casual and uncritical observer.

Television's Unusual Characteristic

If the purely economic virtues of film and television are considered, television has at least one extremely unusual economic characteristic. It permits simultaneous viewing and hearing in many places of a single event, at the time that event is taking place. At present, it does this somewhat expensively. But, its important characteristic is that it does allow this simultaneously. Where an event is important because its emotional impact depends on rivalry or personality, everyone would like to view and hear it as it happens. Television, alone, can allow them to do that. It cannot allow them to see it later. Film can record it and allow it to be seen later. Time of viewing can be selected. I repeat for emphasis fitime of Viewing can be selected? and can be selected with a view to the comforts and convenience of the audience. In addition an order of precedence can be arranged by which those who see are placed in the same time sequnce as their willingness to pay a large or small amount for that privilege.

Imperfections of Television Pictures

There is a further difference between the two which time will perhaps overcome. Television, so far, has been more or less visually imperfect as compared with motion pictures. These visual imperfections are of two classes, viz., artistic and those inherent in the physical media used.

As far as artistic imperfections are concerned, these are usually a result of the spontaneity and the lack of time which television has to make its record and also are economic. Furthermore, there is more second gueSSing in the making of a good feature motion picture than most of those outside the studios

realize, except when they hear of the A

sorrowful tales of faces left on the cutting room floor. All other items aside, a medium which has the advantage of public tryouts and second guesses hasa real chance to do an effective job on the emotions. Economically, what are known as Grade A features cost for negative and positive from $500,000 to $4,000,000 for from sixty to one hundred and fifty minutes of playing time. This analyzes to a cost of from $8,000 to $25,000 per minute. How such sums can be profitably handled except by a direct return from every possible listener and values in accordance with the benefits received is unknown at the present time. The motionpicture theatre serves as the collector who takes the return, deducts cost of exhibition and forwards the remainder to the producer.

Cinematic Comparisons

As to the relative limitations of the physical media involved, the very best a 35-min. theatrical motion picture can now do would be a comparative standard of 1,200 to 1,400 lines as compared with the theoretical possible 525 at present available on television. All theatres, of course, do not show 1,200 to 1,400 line pictures any more than the television which most of us now see comes anywhere near the 525. Theatrical pictures probably scale down to less than 500 with badly developed or exposed film in badlyhandled projection machines. Sixteenmillimeter motion pictures have correspondingly less ability to delineate. However, good picture quality has advantageous physical characteristics other than sharpness. These characteristics have been described popularly as brilliance and gradation. These two factors can, to some extent, help each other and also aid sharpness and vice-versa. In other words, if suflicient brilliance exists, sharpness can be lowered and satisfactory picture quality obtained. The converse also exists. The viewer seldom realizes unless he is a professional or an expert amateur photographer how these factors supplement one another. Television images to date have been weaker in brilliance than in sharpness. At 525 lines, I should say increasing the number of lines will not add much picture quality unless brilliance is increased above the degree usual at present. And, when the word brilliance is used, we are not referring to the ordinary meaning of the term, namely, absolute maximum light value, but we are referring to the contrast ratio of a perfect white to a perfect black in the picture as compared with the contrast ratios and absolute light values reflected from similar associated and nearby visual objects. Mentally, good brilliance in a picture is the feeling that there is no blacker black nor no whiter white than exists in the picture. Without this, gradation means little and visual definition beyond a certain


point adds nothing to the picture. In this respect the new DuMont black tube adds more to the picture than any improvement I have so far observed.

Production Costs

From this consideration, let us turn to what are known in the motion picture trade as 2B" and 0C" pictures, and What are known in the motion picture trade as shorts. Their costs range from $1,000 to $8,000 per minute with probably a mode or median figure around $2,000 to $3,000 a minute. At these costs, the lower range of picture costs begin to merge with the higher range of sound broadcasting costs. If the relative values of sight and sound as selling media are anywhere near what we are all assuming they are, it is possible that advertisers will be willing to pay to put on advertis ing before their public at an amount

which will correspond to these figures. If they are, motion picture producers for these types of material are going to de velop from television producers and vice versa. It is possible, as has already been announced by one company, that the motion-picture studios turning out this type of film will make them for television or even that television may, to some extent, take the place of them in the theatre. Any short films made for television will have certain advantages over network television. The best hours for

showing can be chosen with ease, either '

on the East Coast or West Coast, or even for repetition if it is found advantageous.

News Presentations

This may be especially true of the motion picture news which will probably combine, where possible, both television news and motion picture news. To rely on television news alone would be to make it impossible for anyone to see any news other than that which is momentarily happening, which at any one time is normally little enough. Anyone who has tried to make up two issues of motion picture news every week, during peace time, is aware of the limitations of available material as are the editors of our great daily neWspapers, who, in absence of conditions where wars and communiques take up space, must sometimes, when crime is quiet, spread their political and sport news rather thin to fill up their papers and allow a satisfactory balance between advertising and reading material.

Available Literary Material

If one examines what literary material meets these two requirements one runs directly up against the short story or the sensational feature article which makes up most of the printed material in our present-day periodical publications. These probably all have just about the right size and amount of content to make them fit into a fifteen-minute or halfhour presentation. Furthermore, they are usually so designed as to be ChOCke full of dramatic episodes or single idea sensation. They have only one Climax and point only one moral. Their literary structure can probably be taken over almost completely into the television techa niquc.


1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 578