The Soviet Motion Picture Industry

By Trusko, V L; Komar, V G | American Cinematographer, August 1974 | Go to article overview

The Soviet Motion Picture Industry


Trusko, V L, Komar, V G, American Cinematographer


A vast complex of facilities and skilled technicians working together to create the most popular form of entertainment for the Russian people

The Motion Picture Industry in the USSR is an independent branch of multinational culture and economy which combines in a single complex the processes of film production, release printing, film distribution and exhibition, scientific research, designing and manufacture of motion picture equipment.

Thirty-nine motion picture studios in all national republics release annually about 260 feature films, over 2300 scientific-popular, documentary, and educational films and newsreels.

Film presentation is accomplished via 156,000 projection units scattered all over the nation's territory.

The requirements of the cinema network are satisfied by seven release printing laboratories, the annual capacity of which is estimated at over one billion metres of release prints of various formats in many national languages.

Cinema in the USSR enjoys wide popularity and love of the people. In 1972 the figures of attendance exceeded 4.5 billion persons, which means 18.5 annual attendance per person.

Such high interest of the Soviet people in cinema is explained, first of all, by their thirst for information, which builds up a person's world outlook, his moral convictions, aesthetic taste, high spiritual and wide technical level of culture. Of no small importance is also the fact that, in cinema, the conditions of perception more closely approximate the natural conditions of human life perception than is produced by other means of information transmission.

Raising of cinema educational role, stimulation and increase of people's interest in it as a means of satisfying cultural requirements, is the basic task of Soviet cinematography. This task is implemented by a complex of measures directed toward providing higher artistic-aesthetic quality of motion pictures, their stronger emotional effect upon viewers, improvement of technical parameters and conditions of perception upon presentation.

It is quite natural that the process of cinematography development involves a constant urge to bring the theatre conditions of perception nearer to those of human life. This fact called forth the radical qualitative changes that have come in recent years relating to cinematography: transition to colour, improvement of picture and sound quality, widely used large-screen presentation, improvement of viewing conditions at cinema theatres, development of new forms of film shows, general improvement of cinematographic processes based on new technique.

Taking into account that economical and technical advantages of the photographic method predetermine its existence and development as a basic means of image fixation in films during the visible time period, the USSR is carrying out extensive work on further improvement of colour motion picture photographic processes. During recent years the sensitivity of colour negative raw stocks has increased 4-5 times; the chemical-photographic processing has also improved. This allowed for a more rapid changeover to colour. The share of colour pictures in studios production has been raised to 60% and is still intensively increasing. At the same time the production of colour release prints is also growing. In 1972 the printing industry released for distribution 270 million metres of colour prints of various formats and the rate of production is steadily rising now. The production potentialities of imbibition printing factories extend to 50.0 million metres per year.

The growing output of colour films called for technical reconstruction of processing laboratories and printing factories. Extended work has been done on conversion to additive printing of film materials, modernization of printers, etc.

The extensive work on improvement of optics, camera, printing and projection equipment has resulted in higher manufacture and presentation quality of wide-screen anamorphic and 70mm films. …

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