Altering the Zapruder Film

(Page 7)

Well here we are, we’re going to look at a few graphics that cover’s HOW this film alteration could of been pulled off. We’re dealing with a piece of 8mm film roughly 25 feet in length give or take a foot or two.

Our area of interest the assassination footage covers about 14+ feet ( we’re not talking about a whole hell of a lot of footage here. I consider it a short cut actually.

aside: (Last year I did 32 effects inserts totaling 9.5 minutes of finished material into one 44 minute documentary for television (video). Of course this is 37+ years after the DEED, things have changed for us with the advent of computers, however the techniques have NOT and for experienced Optical Printer guy’s this is a piece of CAKE - provided of course they have a mapped out plan of attack, that by-the-way comes with the territory in this kind of trade). For those interested I posted earlier Sunday on the forum a recent *job description*from the web for a Optical Printer, ye might want to take a gander at it.

It’s 7:00PM the 22nd of Nov ‘63 Zapruder has in his possession:

(1) Split 8mm Camera Original of the assassination

(3) Un-Split 8mm [16mm width] Optical print[s] of the above around 10:00 PM the same night he drops by the Secret Service off and drops off:

(2) Un-Split 8mm [16mm width]

the next morning he cut’s a deal with Stolley of Life and he turns over:

either -- (1) 8mm split Camera Original of the Assassination and/or

[1] 8mm Un-split - 16mm width Optical print ...

there a little confusion about this on Schwartz’s part (Zapruder’s partner) he recollects either the camera original was delivered to Stolley (Life) or the optical print was a few day’s later, in any case Stolley got one or the other on the 23rd of November ‘63 and the other followed in a few day’s around the 27th I think.

so that left Abe with what legally and technically:

Nothing -- evidently not even the family footage that was part of the film package ... well not exactly nothing, 100 grand + not to mention his estate has cleaned up with 16mil recently [ sounds like the kind of rate Marlon Brando get’s for 20 seconds of big screen time].


Let’s assume I got my hands on a 8mm Split 1st generation Zapruder optical print (from the group of three above that were created from the camera original. Before that let’s deal with this little issue:

Editing time factors, it can’t be done, there’s not enough time ... yadada, yadada, yadada. Baloney, in my estimation there was about 2 month’s to get the done. With 1963 equipment and standards and techniques would take about a bout 2-3 weeks of lab time,max. We’re not doing a 300 minute version of Doctor Zhivago here.

What do you need to control? 4 pieces of celluloid, 2 of those in Secret Service control, the other 2 in the hands of Life Magazine. What’s the big deal? Life dribbles out a few frames here and there, those that saw the film first hand that 1st day will remember NOTHING but JFK’s brains blown on to the streets of Dallas.

Back to my assumption, I’d fully map out the film and it’s frames (assassination side B) top to bottom -- on paper with frame count, then I’d wait for instructions on what the producer/director wants to accomplish with the finished piece of NEW film. Or, I’d wait to be told exactly what to do. When the word came to prepare for an edit with some optical effects, I’d figure *which* is the best system at my disposal for the job, which is what you see in graphic #1, a straight across optical printer with a bi-pak facility (which we won’t use but who knows it might come in handy later on, it’s those 2 extra film reels in the back of the projector on the left].

Let’s look at Graphic #2, the projector on the left, is where the Zapruder 8mm optical print will be laced up, fed from the bottom to the top (in optical-printers lingo *heads up*] the WHITE overlay depicts the 8mm film path.

The process camera on the left is where we’ll be going next.

See the next set of images.

Graphic #3

Let’s get the *8mm intermittent*, that’s the film gate assembly, claw , etc and correct sprocket stuff set up on the projector head on the left, that’s the white overlay there. Lace up the 8mm Zapruder assassination optical print, that film format is represented by the color GREEN green(you could look at this as if your going to make a VHS copy of a movie you just rented from the video rental store]. Over to the process camera, load a 16mm film magazine, represented by the color BLUE with film and we’re just about ready to go ... Nothing fancy here, just making a 16mm optical print (a 16mm copy if you will) BTW, this will be the last time 8mm will be touched until the answer print is delivered to the client, whoever that might be.

Graphic #4

The 8mm is loaded and ready on Proj.A - Process camera on the right is set and ready to film (record if you will for all you video buffs), turn on the projector light on “A “ on the left and roll the process camera on the right - there it is in REAL time 20 seconds, we got a 16mm copy of the assassination. To the soup with the 16mm negative [ you may opt out to make another 16mm copy for backup, who know’s what the wind is going to blow] , process then view for quality... Quality is good, let’s move forward.

Graphic #5

we’re going to make a 35mm print of the 16mm print we just got out of the soup and dryer. We’ll do the same process again but with the 16mm we just made, lace it up in the projector on the left ( of course you replace the 8mm intermittent with the 16mm intermittent -- all right already, the project lens stuff], turn the projector light back on and roll both machine, it’s not necessary for a “ALL QUIET ON THE SET”. 20 seconds later we got a 35mm optical print [maybe a backup 35mm too?] of the 16mm optical print of the 8mm optical print that was made in Dallas at Jamieson Film. Co. from the Zapruder camera original. Quality? If it’s set up right, with the right filter pak and the proper light housing setup’s and proper film gamma settings, you could NOT distinguish any of these “prints” from the camera original.

Graphic #6

For your general info, this graphic show’s going from 35mm directly to 8mm (back to the original Zapruder Film size) and we’re bypassing the 16mm stage.