Tag "special effects"
Letters Rain Down in Movie Title (Apr, 1940)

Letters Rain Down in Movie Title

Amateur cinematographers who wish to inject a touch of originality into their home movie titles will find the following trick quite interesting. Unlike the familiar stunt of having groups of letters suddenly fly into view and arrange themselves in the form of a title, this effect is that of a quantity of letters raining past the view. At intervals certain ones affix themselves at random to the easel to spell out the title.


APPARENTLY the scope of color photography will never be exhausted. J. Clarence McCarthy now comes up with an idea —and a whole new bag of tricks and small-scale props—for striking table-top shots. Here are some of the results with his own treasured transparencies projected for the background. He tells on page 182 how this fascinating new hobby can be pursued and shows in drawings how the table sets for these and other photos were made.



In a little workshop in Los Angeles, Calif., sits a man who for your amusement distorts normal looking movie actors and actresses into freaks. He is James Herron, and he makes the lenses by which strange distorted effects are produced in some motion picture comedies.

Mad Doctors and Bug-Eyed Monsters (May, 1956)

Mad Doctors and Bug-Eyed Monsters

Out-of-this-world gizmos are an easy sideline for this talented family of authentic scientists.

FIFTEEN years ago Oscar Dallons stood in a laboratory and watched a doctor connect an artificial lung to a patient who appeared to be at death’s door. In a few seconds the patient’s blood began circulating through the glass tubing of the apparatus, gradually growing redder as it was purified before being returned to his body. Improvement in his condition was immediately noticeable and he was soon out of danger. In 1955 Dallons observed a demonstration that duplicated the other to a marked degree and while the first had amused him, he was amazed by the second.

MAKING Movie Actors Disappear (Apr, 1939)

MAKING Movie Actors Disappear

AN ACTRESS passes her hand down in front of her body—and her head, shoulders, waist, and feet vanish in succession from the screen. These views show how the disappearing stunt is done, in the recent motion picture “Topper Takes a Trip.” Projecting an individual frame of the film on a screen, Roy Sea-wright, movie magician, painted out a little of Constance Bennett’s figure and rephotographed the frame on a few film. With each of thirty-three succeeding frames, he painted out a bit more. Corresponding sections of the background were printed on the final trick film in perfect register, through masks that covered all but the previously blocked-out portion of every frame.

MAKEUP SECRETS of Movie HORROR Pictures (Feb, 1933)


When you shudder at the sight of frightful characters in horror movies, it is usually the makeup man who is responsible for your thrills. Read here how he creates actors that terrify you.


FROM the depths of an ancient casket a bony and shriveled hand stretched back across history thirty-seven centuries to snatch a scroll from a terror-stricken actress.

Deep, gray lines of age streaked the hand. Dust fell from ancient fingers. Yet it moved, actually grasped the parchment, and disappeared from the screen.

Outside the camera angle sat Boris Karloff. It was his hand whose antiquity the camera revealed, a hand “mummified” earlier in the morning by Jack Pierce, movie make-up expert, who recently produced a living mummy in the person of Karloff, complete in 1500 feet of rotted cloth bandages, wrinkled skin, closed eyes and the yellow hair of a person dead many centuries.



by EARL THEISEN – Honorary Curator of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles Museum.

When the director calls for floods, train wrecks, and volcanoes, the miniature men create the scenes. Read how they produce these effects.

BEHIND the studio walls tucked off in a corner may be found the miniature department. It is hidden away where persons will not interfere with its work or find out its secrets.

To the miniature man everything is possible from the fabrication of airplane crashes, train wrecks, explosions, floods, to the bringing to life on the screen of prehistoric monsters. In this department of the studios is filmed those things that cannot be photographed or are too dangerous to be photographed in full size. The miniature men are specialists in reproducing literally on a table top practically anything that occurs in real life.



BURSTING bombs failed to stop scores of German soldiers charging across the scarred battlefield under cover of night. The ground was rent by machine-gun bullets. Soldiers dropped hopelessly in barbwire entanglements.

It was the World War all over again for many American Legion men and ex-German soldiers acting as extras during the filming of The Road Back. Every exploding shell and spattering of machine gun fire brought back memories of war’s deadliness. But this was a movie war—nobody was being killed! Hollywood’s explosive experts, through years of experience, have developed tricks that make acting in a movie war safer than crossing a busy highway.

Creating MOVIES in a TEST TUBE (Mar, 1936)

Creating MOVIES in a TEST TUBE

Cobwebs of rubber cement, ice cream from potatoes, candy windows, rain that is not wet, these and others movie chemists conjure.


IN THE motion picture world it is not possible to control nature. The movie-makers must fabricate artificial snow storms; glass that will not cut; fogs that can be controlled; bubbling, hot lava from volcanoes that are not erupting; and thousands of other things which are needed in creating movies. It is the chemist with his test tubes and laboratories who makes effects possible in great movie production. He is called upon to satisfy the various demands of the director at a moment’s notice.

To produce the effect of brisk coldness, such as vapor coming from the breath of an actor, dry ice, which is made from carbon dioxide, is placed in the mouth. Because of the extreme cold of this dry ice, the result is a mist coming from the mouth similar to the one seen in cold climates. So as not to freeze the mouth, the dry ice is placed in a container in the actor’s mouth. This same chemical “dry ice” is used in scenes where steaming tea kettles and boiling water is seen. The dry ice makes the water seem to boil.

Action Titles Pep Up Your Movies (Dec, 1940)

This stuff looks like it was a hell of a lot harder before iMovie.

Action Titles Pep Up Your Movies


TITLES containing or implying action do much to improve home movies, and making them can be just as much fun as shooting regular scenes. You can easily devise many ingenious titles your audience will be certain to appreciate.

Taking a picture of a title upside down, then turning the piece of film around and splicing it so the action is reversed is an old trick, but one for which new variations are constantly being contrived by 16-mm. movie makers. Charles H. Taylor, of Chicago, suggests two such variations.