Silent Film – style

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    • #37313

      Hi, I’m considering making a silent film.To get the correct “feel” of this, is it suggested to use the “aged film” look, b/w and/or the flickering often associated with this style of movie?

      I havent really seen any silent films, but these normally include subtitles, correct? If so, are they used as overlays or are they their own seperate “clip?”

      Thanks for the help

  • #165295

    Insomeof myfilm classes we watched a bunchof oldsilentfilms.

    The ones we watched were on DVD and were “digitallyremastered”.They didn’thave the “sepia” look (Ithink what youmean by oldfilm look – kindofa brownishtint?).They were obviously blackandwhitethough.

    And ofcourse,theyhad that “flicker” look.Through myreadingand whatIlearned from professors (whichIcan only hopehavesome truthtothem :-P) thisflicker,andalsothefactthat silentfilms look fast was becausethey wererecordedslowerthanwhenthey were playedback.Most silentfilms wererecordedat 16 frameper second (thefilm booksaid most,so Idon’tknow howmany actually were),and played backat afaster speed (whichIcan’trememberoffthetopof myhead andamtoolazytogo look up :-P).

    If youcansomehow mimicthe higher frame playback, that might give you the bestresults?I’m not sure whatthe best wayofdoingthisissinceIdon’tknowwhat kindofcamera(s) you plantouse.

  • #165296

    Most silent films used a slate with titles between cuts. Overlays came later.



  • #165297

    I plan on using a Panasonic AG-DVC7

  • #165298

    any editor can do the aged effect, iMovie hd does it well. (it add the flicker and scratches and b+w conversion.)

    you could experiment with slowing the clip down, applying the aged film filter, then speeding it back up…..

    any camera will do for this. the image quality back then wasn’t high def.

    You may also want to look for some old movie music in the public domain (piano). and stick a card in a bicycle wheel and spin the wheel for some foley sound (to mimic) of an old projector running film….

    also watch some old movies!

    the lighting is vital (and cheap to recreate). as is a uv filter with some petrolium jelly for soft focus, and or shooting through some panty hose.

    a lot of talc powder on your talent with overdone eyeshadow and mascara!

  • #165299

    Also Magix Movie Edit Pro 14 Plus has a preset that does the old film look. Just drop it on the clip and it adds the sepia tone, film scratches and jitter. You can grab a trial copy and try it here:



  • #165300

    Yeah, I know how to do the effect. I just wasnt sure if it was “accepted” to recreate the look for silent movies or if they should be brought into the 21st century. Thanks for the suggestions though (i never would have thought of the index card)

  • #165301

    Since you mentioned you weren’t familiar with silent films, I thought you might like to see a typical movie short and get a better feel for them. It isn’t the technical issues that seem to have been covered more or less adequately, but the style of doing things. Take the title cards for dialog, they were practically always in serif script font. And the black around close-ups is classic silent style. Not to mention that virtually all shots are static and set just below eye level. But that’s probably more than you want to know.

    So anyway, this link connects to a Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle short called “Scarecrow” (1920) filled with classic slapstick. Hope you enjoy this classic comedy.

  • #165302

    Actually, that helps a lot (not too much). I really appreciate the help!

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