Figure 3.28

How to Make an Expanding Head

Imagine first of all that, at the back end of the ramp, there’s a large black screen. The box in which Méliès is seated and the smaller front screen are also black. Because they will photograph as black, none of these areas will be visible when superimposed over another black background—namely, the area filling the proscenium in the center of the main set (see Figure 3.18). Note, too, that the camera remains stationary. The image of Méliès’ head, therefore, will get bigger—ultimately occupying the entire frame—as the trolley is pulled toward the camera; it will get smaller—filling less and less of the frame—as the trolley is moved away from the camera. In order that the cameraman can adjust the focus as the box moves along the trolley, the floor is carefully premarked to provide cues. The inflation of the tête de caoutchouc is thus achieved by filming as the box is pulled toward the camera; the effect of deflation is achieved by running the trolley backwards.

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