Some of the important uses of tire optical printer are not recognized as special effects in the finished film, and often are not apparent as such even to skilled motion-picture technicians. One of these applications is the field of "doctoring" by modifying scenes which, for a variety of reasons, may not be acceptable for use. This includes salvaging scenes that are completely unusable due to some mechanical failure or human error during photography, and also the modification of stock film material through the various methods noted to fit specific requirements. Many expensive retakes have been avoided by the ingenious application of such optical-printing reclamation techniques.
The liquid, or immersion, film gate produces dramatic results in the removal of scratches.
Citizen Kane is an excellent example of scene modifications created on the optical printer during the postpro-duction period. New ideas were applied to existing production scenes for which new supplementary scenes were photographed and integrated to enhance and create various new concepts.
In It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, an important scene was photographed in which a truck was supposed to back into a shack and knock it over. The breakaway shack was rigged to collapse when wires were pulled on cue. Signals became crossed, and the shack was pulled down well before the truck touched it. A very costly retake was indicated, so the optical printer was called to the rescue. The task of correcting the error through a split screen seemed relatively simple until it was discovered that the camera panned with the falling shack. It then became necessary to plot and move the split matching point frame-by-frame on the optical printer to follow the pan. Through this traveling split-screen technique, the progress of the shack's falling action was delayed until the truck had reached the point of impact. Perhaps the entire cost of the optical printer was saved by this salvaging job alone. Such clever techniques have been used many times to bring explosions close to people working in a scene, such as in One Minute to Zero, where a line of so-called refugees was "blown to bits" by artillery shelling. Split screens in motion, and trick cuts, with superimposed smoke and flame, did the job in a most effective maimer.
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