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King Kong (1933)

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Author Topic: King Kong (1933)  (Read 1443 times)
Stacy Dohm
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« on: August 25, 2007, 09:08:40 pm »


A back projected miniature model of a tyrannosaurus tires to swallow Wray who is perched atop a full-sized dead tree.



Kong was actually an 18 inch high, poseable model, covered with rabbit hair, that was filmed one frame at a time by stop-motion photography artist Willis O'Brien and his crew (Despite some stories no man in an ape suit was ever employed) on miniature sets of the jungle and New York City. While the stop-motion technique had been around for over a decade, O'Brien and other special effect technicians were able to combine it with other techniques, such as rear projection and miniature projection, to place the actors in the shots with Kong in a way not seen before.

In rear projection previously shot footage is projected onto a translucent screen from the rear while additional action is photographed in front of the screen. This allows a model Tyrannosaurus Rex to menace Fay Wray as she sits in a full, sized tree in front of the screen.

Rear projection had been done before, but this was the first time a cellulose-aceate screen was used. Earlier efforts had used sand-blasted glass to achieve the effect, but this limited the size of the surface of the screen. The glass screen also had a noticeable "hot spot" in the center of the projection and was a danger should it break during production. The cellulose screen was flexible and stretched over a frame like canvas. It also reduced the "hot spot" by 50 percent while giving better white highlights and intense blacks. Sidney Saunders, who invented the new screen, earned a special award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the scenes shot in Kong with this process.
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