View Full Version : Getting a "silent movie" look??

06 June 2003, 10:29 AM

wondering if anyone might know of a good way to get a silent movie type of rendering? I am not so good at compositing, animation is what I do, but I got this idea on a short clip that I want to do, that it should resemble 1910-1920's silent movies, scrathes marks etc in "film" is easily done, but how about the actual frame rate? that is whats makes it look the way it does isn't it? so how did those old movie projectors work and at what framerate was movies usually shot in that time and a what framerate was it playback on? To me it looks like the fps varies, how to acheive that? Basically: How can it be redone??


06 June 2003, 11:00 AM
Those cameras were driven by hand, and typically they would crank too slow making the movie appear faster than realtime when played back at 24 fps in the theatre. One thing you can do is to make the entire picture jump and flicker very fast, I think that is what's give you the jerky look, also the focus would probably sway back and forth, you can simulate that with a blur or defocus effect, remember to add the grain and scratches on top of the defocus, and of course sepia grading as well as dust and scratches. Check out the cinelook plugins for that.

06 June 2003, 11:19 AM
Also there was an element of 'vignette-ing' around the lens: the centre tended to be sharp, but lost focus as it headed toward the edges.

Wide shots tended to be much 'crisper- than close-ups.

For the question of variable camera speeds.... often within the same shot!- have a look at this

Camera ops would change the cranking speed if the sun came out to preserve the exposure.

I would create the variable time effect in something like AfterEffects with time-remapping: you want the frame-rate change to be smooth- try and match the effect to what you see on screen: speeding up for the chase/comedy and slowing down for the tradegy/romance.

Theres was also a 'pulsing' that came from the shutter or from the film flapping in the gate: I would experiment with regularly rasiing and lowering the Gamma settings throughout the piece.

I'm going to a silent movie festival in September, so I'll take some notes! :)


06 June 2003, 03:09 PM
Thanks RichardB & opacity!

it seems the average fps was at 16 when filming back then according to numbers in that article, should be fairly easy to animate with that as "timebase".

But it seems doable to get that old silent movie look from what you are saying, even for me being not that skilled at composition it just might be doable,


06 June 2003, 04:28 PM
Try cutting a Few frames here and there.

It also helps gives that Jerky movement

CGTalk Moderation
01 January 2006, 10:00 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.