Altering the Zapruder Film

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Well here we are, off and running with the mystical kludges called Optical Printers, the name which includes ALL the printers in the family Take a look at image #25, it's got the two blue colored overlay pictures that show some equipment.

The diagram on the left (#25) shows the big sucker on the right (looks like he's making opening or closing credits on Panavision film- could be 65mm film also)-- which is called The Oxberry aerial-image animation stand, this is the REAL thing, not a mock up, not a figment of someone's imagination, the REAL deal. Weighs in around 5,000 pounds, usually bolted into a concrete floor, the projector head that sit's on the floor is usually resting on an old *machine lathe assembly*, rock solid not to mention the fact you can control the in and out positions (closer to the mirror on the floor [which makes the image in the process camera -- above -- larger a simulated ZOOM lens effect if you will]) of the projector within 0.001 of an inch. When you dealing with lens openings as small as we're dealing with in this optical printing stuff there is virtually NO room for size tolerances and differences, it's either right on or it DOESN'T work.

Note: the camera on the stand - on the left (marked #1) or the Process camera, I've spoken of these cameras before (they have the film that the new STUFF is going to be photographed on - like a blank videocassette before you make a dub of the Blockbuster movie your not suppose to make) AND the projector[s] on the floor are CONTROLLED by a *synchronized* motor that advances each assembly 1 frame at a time (even more if required). It's critical that you understand these 2 sources work in complete sync with each other. The whole contraption is controlled by that roll around control panel in inset-B. The thing sticking up that looks like a cane in inset-B is the actual frame counter.

So what is aerial image printing ? For that matter what's the definition of aerial image: Lets say you set up a projector in your back yard and got some power to it. Hang a sheet between two trees, getting it nice and taut. Load some film in the projector, aim it at the sheet and turn it on. The image is displayed on the sheet, focus up and enjoy, but only for a second.... Freeze the projector and it's image on the sheet, what do you see? Just a single frame frozen on the sheet, nothing happening, no movement, nada. NOW leaving the projector as is WITH a frozen image being projected onto the sheet, take the sheet down, YES, take the sheet down. What's where the sheet was? Nothing right? Uh-huh there's an AERIAL-Image there, you can't see it but it's there, for that matter, hang a mirror(at a angle) where the sheet was and you've BENT light - actually have a strong enough light in the projector, hang enough mirror's OR put a few strategically placed prisms to bend the light ... well, you get the idea.

Here's a quickie test to see if this system is up and running. System, test, what's all this? Your going to make a *composite* 35mm film clip of an action scene that has one film element that was shot on the WEST side of town(see BB) which I'll call the [foreground scene] and some outdoor background imagery that was shot 10 days ago on the east side of town (see AA) which I'll call the [background scene}. The object here is to combine both scenes into one scene that looks natural. Here's the stuff, 2 ea. 35 mm film clips each 15 second duration 2 ea. stacks of mattes (matte and counter- matte[s]) how many mattes? One for each frame of the 15 second clips (see A and B above) -- do the math ? 35mm frames a second -- well that 360 mattes for 15 seconds based on 24 frames a second, good... impossible? nope, piece of cake, takes about 2.5 hours to do 1 pass so we'll be done in about 6 hours. (REMEMBER one thing here; the Zapruder film has about 15 effective seconds of footage)

Let's start.

Load the 15 seconds of background footage #AA on #1 [the floor projector}, load up the process camera #3 with about 1:00 minute of 35mm raw stock (advance this about 3 feet - that's a good starting point. Turn on the sync motor (remember it controls both the process camera#3 and the floor projector #1 motors AND advancing both 1 frame at a time). Now on #2 the animation stand, put the 1st matte #A on the table (see the holes at the top of the matte, they can only go ONE way). The Director has given you the outline of how the shot is to be composed, you frame up #3 to fit the right composition {this is usually nothing more than moving the camera up or down a little). Once your all framed up the process can begin.

1. ZERO the frame counter for the Process camera #3
2. First frame of projector cued up AA on #1
3. Turn on the sync motor
4. 1st matte #A in place on #2
5. Frames 1-360 exposed sequence: expose 3, advance 1 &3, change 2, expose #3, advance 1&3, change 2 ... until all 360 cycles are completed.

THEN rewind #3 to it 1st frame on the counter (remember the one you zeroed out asthe very first step in the process), load up film clip #BB in #1 (after you remove the other film of course) get it all cued up to it's first frame. DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING ON THE PROCESS CAMERA - don't even touch it. Mount the 1st counter-matte-#B on #2 -- then start the process till the 360 mattes are completed.

BTW-once your all set up each cycle (720 in total) should take about 5 seconds each, you can do the math.

When all the frames have been exposed remove the film magazine from #3 and process the exposed film, what you'll receive from the lab will be a composite positive/or negative depending on what type of film you shoot in #3

The preceding process is how some in fact think certain part's of the Zapruder were in fact altered, this process can create the illusion of film *floating* in certain instances ...