A Litte More About Fred

Ok, so, I’ve been busy working so I’m sure we will return to the actual business of this blog soon, and I will write more, but I wanted to say a little more about the video of Putting on the Ritz, which was in my last post.

So, whats so cool about that video is how obvious, yet smooth the manipulations are. I think I’m so used to seamless special effects that it surprises me how happy the simple tricks in this dance piece make me. The seemingly magnetic backwards-flying cane, for example: I’m pretty sure that they just shot him dropping a cane and then put the film back in in reverse.

But thats the thing. It plays on the fact that Fred could drop a cane with such precision that it could read in reverse like that. Later in the peice, with the Multiple Freds, this really pays off. In this case I’m pretty sure that they shot it all on the same set with the same camera angle and Regular Fred moved across the set doing the dance over and over, thus becoming Multiple Fred, when they overlaid the film. Correct me if I’m wrong, since I’m not sure if you can do that. I LOVE how cool it looks: you can see that each Multiple Fred is dancing slightly differently. They’re not off, just caught up in things.

It seems to me that the tricks really work because they are imperfect, because there is variation. Its like dressing a set — you never make things too neat, or else it feels contrived. The imperfections in Multiple Freds’ dancing makes the Multiple Freds seem real. Its sort of like Fred becomes his own set dressing…. maybe with dance it makes sense for set dressing to be in motion.


About meredithries

Meredith is a set designer living in Brooklyn, NY. See her work at: www.meredithries.com This is a repurposed old blog. Because continuity is important. Malaprop is a malapropism
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2 Responses to A Litte More About Fred

  1. butterbeard says:

    Actually the dropping cane trick was done with a concealed floor trigger mechanism. The multiple Freds was achieved by filming a few versions of Astaire, and superimposing them later. Astaire referred to it as a split screen effect but that doesn’t seem right. Though I had always heard it was a rear projection effect as opposed to a post effect but it looks a little too good for RP. I’ll see what I can find out.
    They filmed everything else for Blue Skies first, then Astaire rehearsed this number for 5 weeks then they shot it.
    – Bryan

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