American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 85

Walsh (right) observes the set alongside the hooded camera used by Edeson,
as "script girl" Marie Boyle (lower right corner) looks on.

"Even though the lenses I used were the
product of what is probably the most
efficient and exacting optical firm in the
world, I found that I had to test at least
ten or a dozen individual lenses to
obtain one which met all of my tests
perfectly." In the same article, Edeson
mentioned using a 50mm lens for The
Big Trail; based on original Mitchell
Camera purchase orders uncovered by
Bennett, it's also possible the cinematographer would have had 75mm,
105mm and 150mm lenses at his
disposal.
For Edeson, nothing about
shooting The Big Trail was going to be
easy. Film running through Grandeur
cameras, for example, had a tendency to
buckle and curl, not only ruining the
film but also burning out camera motors
- a tough problem to overcome in
remote locations. Several motors would
be burned out in just the first week of
shooting in Arizona.
Yet the most onerous aspect of
shooting with the Grandeur - especially for personnel trained during the
silent era - was having the cameras
controlled by a sound truck, so that
audio and picture could be properly
synchronized. For camera veterans like
Edeson, it was a case of the cart pulling

the horse - sometimes almost literally.
In the film's colorful production
log, "The Log of The Big Trail," Hal
Evarts describes tracking shots with 50
crewmembers hauling a dozen cables
stretched from a sound truck to a twotiered camera sled - supporting three
70mm Grandeur cameras and three
conventional 35mm cameras - being
pulled by 20 mules. If the mules got out
of line, the shot would be thrown out of
focus. "Not so simple," as Evarts drily
puts it, "this taking of a talking picture in
the open."
Further complicating matters was
that each take had to be perfect, both for
picture and for sound, because audio
dubbing technology was still in its
infancy. "They had to have incredible
discipline on the set to avoid costly
mistakes in sound," notes legendary
sound designer Ben Burtt. "Actors had
to know their lines; you couldn't drop
something off-camera without ruining
the take. It must have been an amazing
process."
The primitive state of postproduction audio also dictated that Edeson
would be photographing five different
casts, one each for the English, Spanish,
Italian, French and German-language
versions of the film. What's more, the
85


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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
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 52
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
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 59
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
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 74
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 75
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 76
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 77
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
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 86
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 87
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 88
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 89
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 90
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 91
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 92
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 93
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 94
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 95
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
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 106
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 107
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 108
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 109
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 110
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 111
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 112
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 113
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 114
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 115
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 116
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 117
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 118
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 119
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 120
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover4
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