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'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:17 am
by Brooksie
I've come across a couple of what might be caused 'half-sized' stills in my collecting - publicity photos printed on regular 8"x10" paper, but at half the regular size, resulting in a large white border around the photo, like so:

Image

Does anyone know whether this was supposed to serve any particular purpose? You'd think that if the intention was to catch the eye, they'd have wanted the image as big as possible.

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:12 am
by missdupont
I've seen these from multiple studios, Paramount and Warner Bros. in particular, but Columbia too.

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:01 am
by Paul Penna
Was it the practice to contact-print production still negatives? What film/plate sizes were commonly in use over time? These particular issues may not be entirely relevant to this question, but knowing the processes involved could provide clues.

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 11:26 am
by martinola
Contact printing seemed to be the preferred method of printing back then. It could be that the more candid shots were done with something like a Speed Graphic shooting 4x5 negatives. I suppose if they liked a particular shot for display purposes, they could then have made an 8x10 printing negative made for mass production. (I used a lab in Hollywood that did mass printing of head shots that way into the late 1990s.) On the other hand, most print media would have had no trouble using a 4x5 image. Just a thought.

Martin

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 12:26 pm
by Brooksie
Based on the 8x10 negatives for stills that occasionally come up for sale, I figured that contact printing was the main method used. It would make sense - no worrying about keeping an enlarger in focus, etc.

There may be something to the idea that these were informal shots taken with a more compact camera. I've particularly noticed this in the examples from Columbia. I was surprised to even see a still code on some of them, because they looked more like snapshots than staged stills.

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 6:00 pm
by missdupont
It's not a surprise to see still codes on these, as they're scene stills just like anything on 8x10. Many of these are in Paramount's key books at the Herrick and most have the original snipes on them as well.

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:41 pm
by silentfilm
Image
I recently acquired a similar still, although much earlier. This is William Collier, Sr. (with phone) and Walter Edwards (with tray) in The No-Good Guy (1916).

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 10:43 pm
by missdupont
Virtually everything from the 1900s to the mid-teens is 5x7, is only around 1920 when the focus becomes 8x10.

Re: 'Half Sized' Stills?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2017 3:09 pm
by Brooksie
Here's another one that came up for sale recently, from Monogram's Dillinger (1945) - again, very informal and snapshot-like. The more of these I see from the late 30s and early 40s, the more I'm inclined to suspect that martinola's theory is correct.

Image