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Early Film Production Methods

Where We Made the Movies

Early filmmakers had two restrictions that governed how and where films were made. First, early film required a great deal of light for proper exposure, and controlled lighting systems had yet to be invented. So filmmakers looked for ways to maximize sunlight. Rooftop studios, rotating studios with removable roofs, outdoor studios, and glass studios are some of the most common solutions. Click through the images above for famous examples and more information (some of this will be on the exam!).

The last image above shows the second restriction filmmakers struggled with–the size of the cameras. While the Cinematographe was fairly small, many of the early systems had extremely large and bulky cameras, making shooting on location extremely difficult. However, inventors were working on solving this problem–and by 1912, we see the development and standardization of smaller, more portable cameras, such as the Bell & Howell camera.

Early Film Production Methods

A Brief History of Movie Cameras

Bell & Howell Camera

The Bell & Howell all-metal camera, c. 1912. Bell & Howell became a significant contributor to the development of motion picture camera technology – especially in the direction of smaller, lighter, and consumer-friendly. Click the button to page through a┬ábrief slideshow on the history of motion picture cameras.

Early Film Production Methods

Production Mode: The Cameraman System


Early cinema’s production system is called the “Cameraman System” because it made a single individual responsible for all the technical and artistic elements of making a film. No doubt this was extremely stressful!