Exploring the Speed of Silent Comedy Film – test #5

Ever slam your hand in a door? This is what we played with in the last of the five videos. There’s a way to do this safely and make it look real, using the ersatz sleight-of-hand of the speed-up of silent film

We took this at 12 fps, or we started at 16 or 14 and then found the best results were with “cranking” at 12 and adjusting our movements.

The basic mechanics of this is that Joel or Danny puts their fingers right near where the lid of the piano bench would crush them, then Danny or Joel closes the lid, and whoever’s turn it was with the fingers would recoil. The speed-up of silent film elides the time between the closing of the lid and the recoil. This gives the slam-ee a little more latitude to create a more exaggerated or extreme physical reaction.

When you watch this, note also the physical economy of the person whose fingers are about to get squashed, as well your eyes’ own misdirection to the slammer so you’re not really paying much attention to the way the slam-ee is positioning their hand.

With silent film and its speedup, violence can be safe, appear to be painful, and be darn funny.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these videos and my explanations of how we made them. I will be posting more about the language of silent film in the coming days and weeks.

Previous posts in this series:


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