American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 84

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Visions of Grandeur

Crewmembers set up lights on location.

before he and Walsh reteamed for
1929's In Old Arizona, Hollywood's first
outdoor sound Western. For that
production, Edeson experimented with
camouflaging microphones - a vital
technique in the early sound era - and
earned his first Oscar nomination.
None of these challenges, however,
could have fully prepared Edeson for
the biggest new thing in cinematography circa 1930: Grandeur.
The Fox Grandeur camera, also
known as the "Mitchell FC" (Mitchell
Fox camera), was the mad, unwieldy
creation of studio mogul William Fox's
engineers. Running a newly devised
70mm, 4-perf version of the 1928
Eastman Type II Cine Negative
Panchromatic film, the hefty cameras
more than doubled the width of
conventional cinema images (48mm
versus 21mm in actual image width)
and featured a bold 2.13:1 aspect ratio.
They also left more than twice the usual
84

April 2015

amount of film space for an optical
sound track (.240 mils versus .100 mils),
a vital advantage in the new sound era.
William Fox had conceived the
Grandeur system to revolutionize the
cinema. With astonishing prescience, he
had predicted the threat of broadcast
television to Hollywood as early as the
late 1920s, reasoning that audiences
wouldn't pay to attend movies if they
could watch entertainment at home for
free. His solution was simple: go big. As
Fox would tell Upton Sinclair (in the
1933 book-length interview Upton
Sinclair Presents William Fox), "I reached
a conclusion that the one thing that
would make it possible to compete with
television was to use a screen ten times
larger than the present screen, a camera
whose eye could see ten times as much
as at present." It was the same solution
Hollywood would adopt in the 1950s
with such formats as Cinerama, ToddAO and CinemaScope, and later with
American Cinematographer

Imax. "William Fox saw the threat to
the movie industry even then," says
John Hora, ASC. "And he put his
money where his ideas were."
One of Fox's Grandeur cameras
can be seen on display at the Hollywood
Heritage Museum; another, in more
complete condition, was shown to AC
by private collector Richard Bennett.
Seen in person, what immediately
stands out about the Grandeur is its
enormous size. With a fully loaded
70mm magazine, it's easy to imagine
the Grandeur rivaling later 15-perf
Imax cameras for sheer immobility. A
Grandeur shoot would not move
quickly.
For Arthur Edeson's purposes,
however, the most pressing aspect of
Fox's Grandeur cameras was their need
for high-quality lenses befitting the
extraordinary image resolution of
70mm film. Writing about The Big
Trail in AC (Sept. '30), Edeson noted,



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - April 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 9
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 10
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 11
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 12
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 13
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 14
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 15
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 16
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 17
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 18
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 19
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 20
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 21
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 22
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 23
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 24
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 25
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 26
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 27
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 28
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 29
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 30
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 31
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 32
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 33
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 34
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 35
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 36
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 37
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 38
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 39
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 40
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 41
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 42
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 43
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 44
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 45
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 46
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 47
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 48
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 49
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 50
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 51
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 53
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 54
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 55
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 56
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 57
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 58
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 60
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 61
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 62
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 63
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 64
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 65
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 66
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 67
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 68
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 69
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 70
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 71
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 72
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 73
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 76
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 78
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 79
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 80
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 81
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 82
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 83
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 84
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 85
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 96
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 97
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 98
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 99
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 100
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 101
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 102
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 103
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 104
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 105
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 107
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 109
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 120
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover4
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