Magazine article American Cinematographer

Through Research, the Russians Get the Best from Their Own Resources

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Through Research, the Russians Get the Best from Their Own Resources

Article excerpt

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following article, reproduced by permission from the August 1971 issue of TODAY'S CINEMA TECHNOLOGY, was written by David Samuelson, FBKS, BSC, upon his return from the 1971 Moscow Film Festival. Mr. Samuelson is Technical Director of Samuelson Film Service Limited, and because he was himself, for many years, a working cameraman, we feel that his reactions to his Moscow visit, as expressed in the article which follows, will be of interest to AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER readers.)

The nation that has an Institute, NIKFI, which spends £2 million a year purely on research, development and the improvement of motion picture and allied equipment may be expected to produce some very impressive results.

The Russians do.

For instance, for the Expo 70 Exhibition in Osaka in 1970 they decided to develop a new format, "Vario 70" which in essence is a 70mm picture of twice the normal height.

This involved the designing and building of three special ten-hole pulldown 70mm cameras, a continuous contact printer, an optical printer which can print from either "Vario 70," normal 70mm or 35mm normal or anamorphic negatives and five special projectors. A prodigious undertaking, and a highly successful one, by any standards.

NIKFI has 23 specialised research laboratories where the work of designing and testing every type of equipment and material used in film production and presentation is carried out including, of course, that of presenting stereo films without glasses.

Of the 18,500 million people in the world who visit a cinema every year, 4,700 million of them do so in the Soviet Union. Thus the concept of reducing production costs by the use of lightweight compact multi-purpose equipment is not a primary aim. When you finally make 1,000 prints off a single feature film, who worries whether the 5K lamp you used took one man or two to lift?

They have a film school in Moscow where 1,000 students complete a five year course which covers every aspect of film making from practical laboratory experience to set design, lighting and directing.

The equipment at the disposal of the students is on a lavish scale. It includes five Russian-built studio reflex cameras (not dissimilar from a Mitchell BNCR), a powerful microscope film camera for scientific work and a sophisticated computer operated animation rostrum, to name but three items any one of which any of our British film schools would be delighted to possess.

At a time when studios elsewhere in the world languish and struggle for their very existence Mosfilm Studios is, by today's standards, unique. …

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