how did the term "Silver Screen" come about?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Keith_R, Nov 23, 2001.

  1. Keith_R

    Keith_R Screenwriter

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    This is probably a dumb question but I was wondering where did the term Silver Screeen originate from? we use it all the time to the refer to the movie theater but is there an actual reason why we use it? where does this term come from?thanks.
     
  2. Scott Littlefield

    Scott Littlefield Stunt Coordinator

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    My assumption would be that it comes from the fact that the screen the film is projected on is silver...
     
  3. David Susilo

    David Susilo Screenwriter

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    During the b/w era, the screens were used to be silver to give better greyscale rendition of the movie.

    Now it's no longer true, it's just pure white.
     
  4. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The screens had a silvery look to them (I think it was a silver-coated screen) to give better reflection.

    Nitrate film also had a lot of silver in the film's chemical composition. The silver content was dropped when safety film came into being (I think silver was still used for IB Tech prints because metal based dyes won't fade like Eastmancolor veggie dyes.)

    Nitrate film was very dangerous, but it did give a beautiful image.
     
  5. Joseph Goodman

    Joseph Goodman Stunt Coordinator

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    All photographic film still uses silver halide crystals to capture an image. Starting in the 1970's, the silver content in film was reduced for several reasons, among them being environmental factors, and the rising cost of silver. While the film stocks of today are certainly finer grained than those of years past, it can be argued that the higher silver content in older stocks lent an extra amount of "luminousity" to both color and black & white images.
     
  6. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Actually, in color film processing, all of the silver is bleached out, leaving only the developed dyes in the emulsion. Developed silver is one color only - black.
    There are, of course, exceptions. In some of the great Todd-AO roadshow prints - Moby Dick comes to mind - they would do something called "skip bleach" which would leave some of the silver in the print, allowing for a deeper black.
    Black and white films - actually shot and/or distributed on black and white film stocks form the image directly with the silver. Black and white on 'chromogenic' stocks, however, use a black dye, and have no silver in them. (Chromogenic stocks are black and white films that are processed in standard color negative chemistry.)
    The basic chemical process for a film print that goes into the theater is fairly simple: after the backing is washed off, there is a 'color developer' that develops the exposed silver and forms 'dye clouds' around the silver crystals. Next is the bleach/fix that removes undeveloped dyes and all silver. Classically, there was a formaldahyde stabalizer step, but that is falling out of favor. After the stock was dried, then it would have some lubricating wax coated onto it.
    Back to the original question, I had always assumed that the term 'silver screen' involved the metalic coated screens on which the picture was projected. It is interesting to note that newer Imax screens, particularly in 3-D theaters, are moving back to the silvered screen.
    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  7. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Well, screens are light grey, so I'd assume they used Silver Screen, since it sounded better than Slightly Grey Screen[​IMG]
     

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