Moscow: Gizlegprom, 1933. 140 pp.: ill. 23x15,5 cm. In original constructivist cardboards by N. Sedel’nikov. Bumped, minor defects of covers, otherwise very good and neat.
Signed and inscribed by the author “To M.A. Kaufman - a colleague in occupation. Moscow. November 20, 1933”. Mikhail Kaufman (1897-1980) was a brother of Denis (known as Dziga Vertov) and Boris Kaufman. All the three dedicated themselves to cinematography and, in particular, motion picture experiments.
Very rare handbook compiled by a self-taught camera operator Vladimir Nilsen (1906-1938) who was passionate about visual effects in cinematography from childhood. His path to the movie industry started in 1926, in emigration, when he had met Sergei Eisenstein on an invitation-only screening of ‘Battleship Potemkin’ in Germany. The following year Nilsen returned to the USSR and joined Eisenstein’s staff making ‘October’ (Ten Days That Shook the World). Two years later Nilsen was blamed, exiled to the Russian North and taught electrotechnics, without interruption in film experiments. In 1933 he had come back to Moscow, attracted to a Soviet jazz comedy ‘Jolly Fellows’ as not only camera operator but co-director. For this movie he created many tricks and effects: for example, thank to hand-drawn portraits, C. Chaplin, B. Keaton and H. Lloyd, who didn’t participate in the picture, nevertheless appeared in it.
This book is dedicated to special effects in contemporary cinematography. It was partly inspired by Kaufman’s work with multiple exposure. As the camera operator, Nilsen analyzes Kaufman’s effects in pictures ‘In Spring’, ‘Man with a Movie Camera’, ‘The Eleventh Year’, explaining them in detail and showing two exemplary frames from them. The still featuring a tiny man, that stands atop a movie camera, was used by a constructivist artist Nikolai Sedel’nikov (1905-1994) for the cover design as well. He also illustrated front endpapers with a photomontage by Dmitrii Debabov (1899-1949) that was one of his early attempts to work with a camera during production of ‘K.Sh.E.’ (Komsomol - Leader of Electrification), the film by female movie director Esfir Shub. In the following decades, he took part in Soviet polar expeditions as a photojournalist. There is his combination of two realistic industrial views, one of them with Lenin monument, shot in different moments. The author regarded works by both camera operators, Kaufman and Debabov, as the most interesting experiments with multiple exposure.
Among other methods to produce special effects were analyzed mattes, chroma keying, using scale models and other props. The author highlighted inventors Ivan (1902-1958) and Vladimir (1908-?) Nikitchenko. Together they developed a portable machine for drawing over film frame, original mattes for special effects.
Only copy located in Getty Institute, according to Worldcat.