General Requirements

A pin-registered motion-picture camera should be employed for filming all stationary background plates. Since the plate will later be re-photographed in combination with a live foreground scene, often employing the use of a solid set piece, the slightest amount of film movement due to poor registration will be readily detectable. It is not absolutely necessary, but desirable, that a pin-registered camera be employed for filming traveling plates. A full camera aperture is desirable, although an Academy aperture may be employed if it is the only size available. VistaVision and 65mm cameras are also often used. The larger negative areas lead to finer-grained, sharper composite images. Medium-speed emulsions are the usual choice of most background plate camera men for grain and sharpness. High-speed negative may be used under special circumstances.

Exposure should be on the full side; if in doubt, slightly overexpose rather than underexpose. A crisp, full-scale print with rich blacks and clean highlights is desirable. A muddy print made from a thin, underexposed negative is unsatisfactory and would be very difficult to match when the composite scene is later photographed. Backlighted scenes, except for effects such as sunlight shimmering on water, should be avoided. Background plates fall into two distinct categories: stationary and traveling.

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