2008 April 12th, 16:52
Project: B&W 1950's Sitcom
I was recently approached by one of my friends to help him with an Art Final Project here at San Diego State University. For his project he is going to use an old antique television (The ones that were built into wood hutches), open it up, and make some modifications to the TV's hutch. He then asked me if I would help him film a mock 1950's B&W sitcom to run on the TV for his project. I agreed, and it sounded like a fun way to experiment with my new HV30.
He wasn't clear as to where we would be shooting, but he is recruiting actors and actresses from our university's theater department to be apart of it. I don't know however if this means we'd get access to use the theater's stages (And more importantly, Lighting!)
I've watched many many episodes of I Love Lucy (As I think we all have done in our lives). I suppose a mock look could be done with increasing the levels of the whites after using a Black and White Filter. I've noticed that while movies during this era had extreme uses of white diffusions and glows around the characters, sitcoms however did not.
However my question is, what are characteristics of these old sitcoms that I could achieve in post, and is there anything else I can do to mimic the look of a 1950's sitcom? Whether it be in post production or just the process of how I film it. I always hear the key to these things is Lighting, Lighting, Lighting, and I think I'll have that taken care of, but was just wondering if there are any other ideas you guys have.
2008 April 12th, 17:59
50's shows were normally Kinescope. (Like the Honeymooners) Kinescope was achieved by videotaping a live broadcast from a monitor Very poor quality, low resolution, high contrast. Normally 1 camera. If you see old Ed Sullivan or Games shows, they are preserved this way.
"I Love Lucy" was pioneering in a few ways. Desi Arnaz (Ricky) insisted that they be filmed rather than Kinescope or shot live. CBS didn't want to spend the money for film so the Arnaz's (Lucy and Ricky) took no pay but the film reels became their property. Hence syndication made them millionaires many times over. While the audience was live, there is OBVIOUS laugh tracks used, in fact you can hear the same woman saying "ut oh" in several episodes. They used 3 cameras to film it in Black and white, so when you watch these shows, you will see film scratches, which post usually has plugins for. Desi's insistence that I love Lucy be filmed is the reason they are so well preserved. Always brightly lite, rarely directional lighting from lamps or windows.
My name is Earl is currently running Earls coma as a 50's sitcom. It is pretty funny, if you go to NBC.com you can watch this seasons episodes. They last 2 have a lot of the 50's sitcom in it.
Last edited by CJDaniels; 2008 April 12th at 18:03.