Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

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Darren Nemeth

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Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

PostSun May 31, 2015 11:11 am

Excerpted from "Motion Picture Photography For The Amateur" by Herbert C. McKay, 1924.

This paragraph describes what determines a proper length for silent film titles.

The author's "standard gauge film" is another way of saying 35mm.

As of 1924 practically all 35mm camera's speed was geared for 16 frames per second, according to the book.

The duration described is one foot of 35mm film at 16fps = one second. Half a foot is half a second.

One second per word for the first ten words and half a second for all words following.

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Marr&Colton

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Re: Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

PostMon Jun 08, 2015 3:54 am

Wouldn't it be great if these rules were still held today! How many times have credits rolled for TV or recent films that flew by
far faster than even a very literate person's ability to comprehend!
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Re: Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

PostMon Jun 08, 2015 5:23 am

Do you think so? It seems very long to me.
The above for example would be on screen for 10 full seconds. The average (modern) subtitle is not supposed to last more than 4. Although this takes getting used to, I guess.

This system sounds as if it could be more or less true with the films I've seen?
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Re: Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

PostMon Jun 08, 2015 7:49 am

Spiny Norman wrote:Do you think so? It seems very long to me.
The above for example would be on screen for 10 full seconds. The average (modern) subtitle is not supposed to last more than 4. Although this takes getting used to, I guess.

This system sounds as if it could be more or less true with the films I've seen?


It does seem too long. There are some fast pace action silent era films with shorter durations.
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Re: Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

PostMon Jun 08, 2015 2:49 pm

I think they were slow readers in the silent days! :D
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Re: Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

PostMon Jun 08, 2015 6:15 pm

Pauline Kael complained that she got restless watching silents (as a girl and then later as a critic) because she was a fast reader and would be sitting there twiddling her thumbs while most of the rest of the audience, slower than she, made their way through the remaining part of the intertitle.
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Re: Proper duration of titles according to 1924 text book.

PostTue Jun 09, 2015 3:19 am

filmnotdigital wrote:Pauline Kael complained that she got restless watching silents (as a girl and then later as a critic) because she was a fast reader and would be sitting there twiddling her thumbs while most of the rest of the audience, slower than she, made their way through the remaining part of the intertitle.
It might be just like with camera movements and other effects: If you notice that it's there, then they're doing it wrong.

The fewer title cards, the better the movie. The most heavily intertitled film that I know is "The vocation of André Carel" (Switserland 1925). And it ruins the whole thing.
Or does that unjustly favour the expressionistic genre? They can't all be Last Laughs and Lodgers...
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