"AHDN" and film speed<BR>

"AHDN" and film speed

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In article <MrLefty-1603950216350001@ip055.lax.primenet.com> MrLefty@PrimeNet.com (Scott Jennings) writes:

>In article <3k825e$jlt@masala.cc.uh.edu>, saki@evolution.bchs.uh.edu
>(saki) wrote:
>> I don't think it was off-key, but it *was* slow, as were the other
>> songs filmed during this sequence at the La Scala. According to
>> Lester, they were filmed at 25 frames per second (fps) instead of
>> 24 fps, to facilitate easy transference to video for the studio
>> monitors seen on-screen. This slows down the playback performance.
>A clarification(?) - The filmed 'performances' were mimes to early mixes
>of the studio tracks for the album, in some cases minus vocal and other
>overdubs, not live performances for the movie.

Yes, that's correct, but because Lester was filming more frames per second than was standard (24 fps being standard), the result was a slight slowdown of real-time performance upon playback---this works out to about four percent, if my mathematician has done his homework. And because the visuals were projected at a slower rate, the studio versions of the songs (to which the Beatles were miming) also had to be slowed to match lip movements.

My impression from a modest number of viewings of "AHDN" (in the neighborhood of 200) suggests that *only* the songs used in the final sequence were slowed; the rest of the film appears to use normal release-speed versions of the songs.

>Also, the difference in
>frame rate would have been done to reduce screen flicker when the
>television monitors were filmed. Your answer implied that the images on
>the monitors were dropped in later - not possible in 1964...

I don't think my answer implies that at all. The video images in the Director's (Victor Spinetti's) control booth are not, of course, matted in (modern cinematic effects allow this to be done digitally and seamlessly nowadays, but pre-"2001", to use a handy demarcation, such detailed matting was not really possible).

What I believe happened (and this is gleaned from Richard Lester's infamous 1970 interview with J. Philip diFranco) is that Lester filmed the stage scene at the La Scala Theatre and used a closedcircuit system to broadcast it to television monitors on the set, so that the Director and crew would appear to be viewing real-time video of the Beatles' performance.

Had Lester filmed video output in the control room at normal 24 fps speed, there would have been what he called a "by-line"---a video flutter, where the picture on the monitor appears to be unstable. Lester says, "You know the difference in terms of synch, if you photograph television tubes, unless you shoot on twenty-five frames instead of twenty-four, which is what we did. So this entire stuff in the La Scala is done on twenty-five frame synch motors".

Lester then touches on how he "did all the punching of all the faders and all this" by himself, since his background in TV production was extensive (in Philadelphia, then in England after he emigrated---this prior to his first short feature in 1960). He was quite proud of having designed a naturallooking video output which would not exhibit any of the heebie-jeebies inherent in filming video at normal shutter speeds.

>The difference between 24 and 25 FRAMES per second would not explain why all
>the new songs for the movie were at the wrong speed, i.e. too slow, thus
>'out of key' (no digital gear back then...), even for ones when no 'tv'
>moitors were in-shot.

Well, as I mentioned, the La Scala sequence required that the prerecorded session music be slowed to match the minimal film slowing. Lester took great pains to design this entire sequence to *look* authentic, whether the camera was trained on the Beatles on stage or in the control room; he was more interested in minimizing visual incongruities, interestingly, than audio!

Lester said he filmed each song performed at the film's finale at least *twice*. When shooting, Lester did not yet know where he would cut away to the control room, with producers scripted to *seem to* fret over camera placement and framing; it appears that by filming the entire sequence at 25 fps Lester retained the option to cut to close ups wherever he wanted, rather than at predetermined moments where "slow" footage happened to exist.

You may also note that occasionally the careful filmmakers mismatch a scene (this pointed out to me by eagle-eyed longtime rmb'er Jay C. Smith). The long-shot will show the Fabs on stage in front of the light-up sign "Beatles"; the close-up of the video monitor, purporting to be the same portion of the performance, shows the Fabs singing in front of the multiple-exposure stop-motion backdrops, a prop no longer really there! This suggests to me that Lester was mixing his two performances of each song, quite by accident, but that both would have been filmed at 25 fps.


"When you play the game of life/You've got trouble, you've got strife...."

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