Wide Exterior Night Lighting in 1923

From American Cinematographer, Startling Electrical Comparisons in 'Hunchback' 1923 and 1939 by Earl Miller (February 1940)

No Inkies in 1923

In 1923, incandescent lights were not used for motion pictures. The street set was a few feet longer and wider than the one used in the 1939 production. There were only fifty-six 24-inch sun arcs in the entire industry in Hollywood.

We needed every one for our night shots, and Universal arranged to rent all but one. Every night for seven long weeks all the sets in other studios were stripped of 24-inch sun arcs. They were loaded on trucks and hauled to Universal. We used them until 5am, but had to return them to the proper studio and have them set and ready to burn by 8am.

Whenever possible, we left the lights on the trucks all night instead of building parallels. This accounts for the number of trucks showing in the panoramic picture accompanying this story.

Every light used in the 1923 production was an arc. Some of the 24 inch had automatic feed, but in addition to these there were more than 450 other arcs, all of which were hand fed. All lights had to be trimmed at least twice every night and some three times.

Yes, we actually shot every night, all night, for forty-nine straight nights. At one time (and it would be the time it rained the hardest) my crew and I worked five days and six nights straight, rigged all day and shot all night; never took our shoes off; cat-napped between shots.

Six Months' Work

Finally on June 3, 1923, the last reel was in the can, and in spite of all the work and worry everyone who worked on or in that picture will tell you that we had lots of fun making it.

Here are a few of the electrical statistics:
(8) portable generators
(2) 300kw stationary generators
(6) 150kw transformers

The peak load was approximately 37,500 amperes.

1 comment:

I am always open to relevant, professional feedback, opinions and critical critique.

go raibh maith agat!