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James Malamatinas

Water ripple dissolves in 'In Which We Serve'

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I'm in the midst of reading the David Lean biography which has been fascinating, particularly learning how he started as an Editor (and quickly became regarded as Britain's best by many). I'd strongly recommend it to anyone interested in the man.

In conjunction with reading the book I'm taking the time to watch his filmography too, starting with 'In Which We Serve'. I've just finished and one of the things that caught my eye was rippling dissolve effect they use when transitioning from the scenes of the men in the water to the flashbacks. I've tried finding it on YouTube but although the full film is there the quality is not very good.

‚ÄčIf anyone remembers the effect I'm referring to, do you also know how it was done? I've done some research and there seems to be multiple possibilities but I couldn't find anything concrete.

Thanks in advance.

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A ripple dissolve is done in an optical printer by using a rotating or sliding piece of glass that goes from clear to rippled, between the projector and the camera, so you increase the effect frame by frame when rephotographing the A side of the dissolve from a positive onto a dupe negative, and then you decrease the effect frame by frame when doing the B side of the dissolve.


A relative to this was the use of rippled glass moving frame by frame across artwork to achieve an underwater effect in "Pinocchio".

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Thanks David, that's exactly what I was looking for - having grown up a little late to experience optical printing the techniques, how it was used fascinates me. Slowly trying to make my way though Raymond Fielding's "Techniques of Special Effects Cinematography"...

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