Chapter XXXI


Making the Movies by Ernest A. Dench
New York, The Macmillan company, published 1915 (now in the Public Domain)

pp. 136-138

You may exclaim, on glancing at this title, "What have motion pictures to do with floriculture?" Let me say here that the benefit is mutual that they should be allied in the way they are and are going to be.

Probably, at some time or other, when you have visited a photoplay theater, there has been a film on the program of the educational order. As you saw the speeding up in the growth of a plant you wondered whether you were really dreaming. For if crops could be raised at such a hustling pace, any grower should be able to reture from business affluent in short order.

To see the whole life of a plant on the magic screen within the space of five minutes or so is nothing short of marvellous, because Dame Nature never permits herself to be revealed at work. How is it done, then? Surely the whole thing is a sham. Not at all, believe me.

A motion picture director, on selecting a flower to picturise, say from seed to blossom, begins at the right season, with special lens attached to the camera. The seed is first sown in a transparent pot so that the roots can also be filmed. When it has developed into a sturdy seedling, suitable quarters are found into which it is transplanted. From the time the seed germinates, the motion picture machine photographs its growth at fifteen intervals during the day until the subject is completed. When the finished film is pruned down to a market length and explanatory matter added, it appears that the film magician has stolen a march on Nature with a vengeance. It is the showing of these separately taken pictures in rapid succession that gives the perfect illusion. There is a film now showing that displays how plants are attracted by light and turn away from dark places. As you can appreciate, the work involved an enormous amount of patience and failures are by no means unknown.

The French producing concerns make a specialty of this class of motion pictures. They produce them for the good of the cause of cinematography rather than in hopes of financial gain, for, as yet, educationals are not a particularly paying proposition. This explains why our producers present them only now and then.

To obtain the fullest worth out of movies of this sort the plants must be reproduced in their natural colors. There are certain processes whereby the colors are painted n by a stencil process afterwards. This is not a true-to-life method, for the tints are liable to run into each other and may not be of the correct shade.

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