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Ted McCord (cinematographer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ted McCord, A.S.C.
McCord (left) filming Deep Valley, 1947
Thamer D. McCord

(1900-08-02)August 2, 1900
DiedJanuary 19, 1976(1976-01-19) (aged 75)
Years active1921–1966

Ted McCord, A.S.C. (August 2, 1900 – January 19, 1976) was an American cinematographer.[1]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Slowing down time (in writing & film) - Aaron Sitze


I got in my first car accident when I was sixteen. I had just gotten my license and I was driving home when a car pulled into the intersection and bang! It hit me. It had happened that quick. Bang! But when I play that memory back, it doesn't take two seconds. I see the tires of the car rolling through the stop sign, I have time to think, "You know, I think that car is going to hit me." I see the right-hand corner of the hood crumple up like tin foil, I see the red paint flake off and drift off into the air, I can see all of that, like it's happening in slow motion. In my memory, that experience takes ten seconds. But why? Why did that memory play back longer than the actual time it took? This is an interesting phenomenon and it's not just for car accidents, a roller coaster, or a first kiss. These events seem to take longer than they actually take. But why? And when it comes to writing about that experience, how do I get that peculiar feeling across? How do I slow down time as a writer? To get the answer, we have to visit Hollywood. You see, the way filmmakers create slow motion will tell us a lot about how writers can create slow motion. First, let's remember how film works. When the camera turns on, it's not recording motion, it's taking lots and lots of individual pictures. Then when those pictures are played back in the projector, they blend together and create the appearance of motion, like a flip book. So, let's imagine that a camera man needs to film his actress skipping through a field of daisies in regular motion. Ready, action. She skips across the field, he records it, and...cut. Let's say for the sake of easy math that our camera man took 50 pictures, 50 little frames on that length of film. Now, let's take that film and play it back at the rate of 50 frames per 5 seconds. This rate is constant, the projector will always go at the same speed. It's easy, we got 50 frames, so our film takes 5 seconds. She skips across the field... ...and cut! So, then, how do we slow down time in film? How do we create slow motion? Maybe this is a surprise, but we don't take less pictures, we take more pictures. Ready, action! She skips across the field, he records it, and cut. Now we have a lot of film, a long length, let's say 100 frames long. Now, when we play it back, it takes a longer time to get through, and there's the actress in slow motion. Skipping through the field of daisies! Which brings us now to writing. When you're writing a narrative, you may want to use slow motion in one of your scenes. It's a cool effect, just like it is in Hollywood, and it draws the reader's attention to important moments. Well, here's how you do it. You see, when we read, our brain makes the words into pictures and the pictures blend into action. So what we read is what we see in the time it takes us to read it. For example, imagine you're writing a narrative about your game-winning free throw in the championship game. Here's a moment as a writer that you might want to slow down time to really capture the second-by-second tension produced by the scene. You concentrate, you put the pencil to paper, you really want to slow down time, you write, "I shot the ball in the hoop. Time slowed down. Then we won." To read that, takes two seconds; therefore, your reader imagines a scene that takes two seconds. Ball goes up, comes down, done. See, even though you wrote, "time slowed down," you didn't achieve that effect for your reader. Just saying it doesn't make it happen. Now, let's take what we make about film, time slows down with more pictures, and try again. This time write A LOT more. "I bent my knees and held the ball loosely. Letting the ball bounce on the floor once more, I gathered my thoughts. This was the moment. My right arm extended as I released the ball with a gentle flick, it rotated slightly as it arched toward the rim. I held my breath. The ball nudged the back rim, falling through the net with a gentle, satisfying swish. And the crowd exploded from their seats." See, we just slowed down time through our writing. The bottom line is this: there are moments in life that take longer than they actually take. When you're planning out your narrative, think about those moments, those snippets of life that took longer than the watch: the moment of hearing bad news, the moment of hearing good news, the moment of exhilaration when you realize you hit the jump, or the moment when you realize you aren't going to land it. Once you identify these moments in your narrative, you can use this effect of slow motion when you write. Just remember, it's not enough to say, "time slowed down" and it's not enough to throw a couple adjectives in a sentence and call it done either. Descriptive writing is good writing, that's true. But if you want to express the feeling of slow motion in life, you have to actually take up more physical space on the page, use more film so to speak. In doing so, you will create tension and keep your reader interested. And that way, the next time you write, you'll control the camera of your own writing.


Born in Sullivan County, Indiana, McCord received three Academy Award nominations. The first two Johnny Belinda (1948) and Two for the Seesaw (1962) were for black-and white cinematography, and the third The Sound of Music (1965)[2] was for color.[3][4]

McCord died of cancer in Glendale, California at the age of 75.[5] He is interred at Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

Selected filmography

Year Film Director
1921 Sacred and Profane Love William D. Taylor
1930 The Fighting Legion Harry Joe Brown
1930 Sons of the Saddle Harry Joe Brown
1931 Freighters of Destiny Fred Allen
1933 Somewhere in Sonora Mack V. Wright
1936 Senor Jim Jacques Jaccard
1943 Action in the North Atlantic Lloyd Bacon
1947 Deep Valley Jean Negulesco
1948 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre John Huston
1948 Johnny Belinda Jean Negulesco
1948 June Bride Bretaigne Windust
1949 Flamingo Road Michael Curtiz
1949 The Lady Takes a Sailor Michael Curtiz
1950 Young Man with a Horn Michael Curtiz
1950 The Damned Don't Cry Vincent Sherman
1950 The Breaking Point Michael Curtiz
1951 Goodbye, My Fancy Vincent Sherman
1951 Force of Arms Michael Curtiz
1951 I'll See You in My Dreams Michael Curtiz
1956 East of Eden Elia Kazan
1957 The Helen Morgan Story Michael Curtiz
1958 The Proud Rebel Michael Curtiz
1959 The Hanging Tree Delmer Daves
1960 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Michael Curtiz
1962 Two for the Seesaw Robert Wise
1965 The Sound of Music Robert Wise
1966 A Fine Madness Irvin Kershner

Oscar nominations


  1. ^ Leemann, Sérgio. "Photographs of Ted McCord". A Certain Cinema. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Screenshots from The Sound of Music". Cinema Squid. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Ted McCord Biography". Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  4. ^ Latimer, William (November 6, 1949). "Bogart—Sans Bacall". The Sydney Morning Herald. p. 4.
  5. ^ "Ted McCord, Cameraman, Was Nominated for 3 Oscars" (PDF). The New York Times. January 26, 1976. p. 26.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 April 2023, at 13:32
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