Magazine article American Cinematographer

Ask ASC

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Ask ASC

Article excerpt

It's possible that no other sphere of human endeavor is as self-congratulatory as the film industry. We have the LA Critics Awards, the IDA Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Golden Globes, and our own fledgling ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, just to name a few recent fetes, this year the annual flood of awards ceremonies, which peaked on March 26th with the Academy Awards, gave rise to a baffling question. Extensive research in the ASC library proved fruitless, and an informal survey of awards ceremony attendees yielded some wellintended advice, but no conclusive results. Any help from our readers on this one would be appreciated: "How do you tell when a cumberbund is upside down?"

Q: In the meantime, this request for information came from Howard A. Phillips of Roslindale, Massachusetts:

"I am seeking as much information as possible concerning the André Débrie company and its line of Parvo/ Super-Parvo cameras. Also, I understand that a book exists describing historical motion picture cameras from Europe and the U.S. (a British publication, I believe); any suggestions on locating it? Thanks in advance for any assistance."

A: In 1908, Joseph Débrie and his son Andre designed the first Parvo camera. The Parvo (meaning compact) introduced the box shaped concept in order to reduce bulk. It was readily accepted by cinematographers and through the years many models used the same solidly built bronze mechanism and specially treated wooden body (five layer walnut). Years later the first all metal (aluminum) appeared, and other improvements were gradually added, e.g. focusing device, automatic dissolve, etc. With the coming of sound, many adaptations were made, leading to the model "L" which soon attained wide popularity.

Débrie-made instruments gave international renown to the French camera industry, and more than 8,000 were sold in world markets. The Parvo was used extensively throughout Europe, and in America competed with the thenreigning Bell & Howell. In the Soviet Union, Serge Eisenstein employed Parvos in many of his productions shot by Edouard Tissé. The popularity drove manufacturers in other European countries to copy the most important characteristics of the Parvo.

The Super Parvo appeared in 1932 equipped with a noiseless movement conceived specially for shooting sound films. This camera immediately outdated all other cameras with sound padding, since it was almost noiseless but of compact size - it was one of the smallest and most easily handled cameras to take 1000' magazines. …

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