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Subject: Where does WWII video footage come from? rss

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jumbit
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We all know what WWII videos look like. Three seconds of footage, followed by another three seconds, then another, etc. Never is any context provided for these clips. If in a documentary, the narrator just drones on about something unrelated. If on youtube, some crappy dramatic-sounding music is stapled on. If you're lucky you get fakey-fake stock sound effects added by someone's mixing board. Never do they bother to tell the story shown by the pictures, they just use it as a sort of video background noise.

It often happens that I see a three-second clip of something that looks very interesting, but of course it's immediately cut off. Perhaps it will return later - for another three seconds, making it clear that there is a longer video out there somewhere. It's frustrating.

Then there are the overused clips. Anything on France 1940 will have that one clip of the Panzer II splashing through a stream. Anything on Normandy 1944 will have that one clip of the boats heading for the shore. Anything on the Eastern Front will show that sculpture of the children playing ring-around-the-rosy. And so on.

Where do all these come from? Are they available in full-length anywhere? How about accurate captions? Example: "Battle of XXX, took place in YYY, Russia, May 5 1942" or similar. The only ones I've ever found were newsreels, and I'm not interested in newsreels (the scene is typically staged). I'm talking about combat cameramen or documentary footage or other non-propaganda. I'm aware of archive.org, youtube.com and British Pathe.
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Andy Beaton
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Most governments at the time had some kind of Ministry of Information (or equivalent) whose job was gathering footage for public consumption. A lot of it was staged, but you frequently had cameras run by pro cameramen out in the field gathering footage under fire. They were almost always shot silent for a number of reasons, with sound effects added during post-production. I don't know where you'd get unedited originals now, though.
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David Sims
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Most TV programmes about WWII cite the British Imperial War Museum.
They may be worth contacting for an answer.
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Carl Fung
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A lot of the footage that we haven't seen is probably still classified in government archives. Whatever is free of royalties are the ones that get used over and over again. The same applies to photos as well. Images like Robert Capa's D-Day images (whatever survived) were republished easily because he shot for a magazine and not for the government. The famous Iwo Jima flag raising was filmed and shot (including the original non-staged smaller flag one) but this was widely distributed.
 
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Michael Sommers
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calvinboy24 wrote:
A lot of the footage that we haven't seen is probably still classified in government archives.

At least in the US, I don't think the National Archives takes classified material. And I don't see why any footage from WWII would still be classified.

Quote:
The famous Iwo Jima flag raising was filmed and shot (including the original non-staged smaller flag one) but this was widely distributed.

There were indeed two flag raisings, but neither was staged. The second raising was just to put up a bigger flag, and the decision to do so was made when no photographers were present or expected.

The most famous photo was taken by Joe Rosenthal of the AP.
Quote:
At the top, they {Rosenthal, Bill Hipple of Newsweek, Marine private Bob Campbell, and Marine sergeant Bill Genaust} found the Marines taking down the smaller first flag, and preparing a larger 8' x 4'8" flat to take its place. Rosenthal thought it best to make an overall shot, thirty-five feet away. Walking along, he set his shutter on 1/400th and the lens opening between f8 and f11. On the spot where he wanted to stand he found he was too low, so the threw together rocks and sandbags to stand on, for additional height. Genaust took his position close by, and shouted, "I'm not in your way, am I, Joe?" Rpsenthal yelled, "No [at the same time catching movement from the corner of his eye]—and there it goes!" Joe swung his camera around and made the shot.

The historic photo was unposed, live action. Genaust's 16mm film, exposed at the same time, starts with the Marines in motion.

(The stuff in curly braces is mine; the stuff in square brackets was in the original.)

Rosenthal used a 4x5 Speed Graphic camera. The photos of the first raising had been taken by Staff Sergean Joe Lowry of Leatherneck magazine. Rosenthal and friends had met Lowry coming down the mountain, and had almost decided not to bother going up.

Source: John Faber, Great News Photos, revised 2nd ed., New York: Dover, 1978.
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James D. Williams
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Right on, jumbit!
I see quick-clips all the time mixing RAF with Italian with American and Pacific and Russian.
Of course, yer average Joe or Jane won't spot 'em. Theresa got mixed up in Brad Pitt's Fury,cuase she couldn't recognize a Sherman or a SDKfZ.
Maybe you have to Google "film libraries".
There's lots of Nazi prop on Youtube, so you know that's German, same for any dated clips from any country.
Especially USA documentaries dated from the 1950/60's like "Victory at Sea" or "The Twentieth Century".
All the German and Italian films were "captured".
Oh, I imagine a lot of "authentic" footage can be from elaborate training exercises or, as you say, staged.
Like that shot of a V-2 coming down and exploding, yuck, yuck. A friend of mine didn't realize it was, it had to be, a film of a test failure.
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Michael Sommers
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George Brinton wrote:
Like that shot of a V-2 coming down and exploding, yuck, yuck. A friend of mine didn't realize it was, it had to be, a film of a test failure.

The purpose of testing is to uncover flaws. If the test in question revealed a flaw, it was a success, not a failure.
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Andrew Miller
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It might be worth checking the British Pathé archive:

http://www.britishpathe.com
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K G
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http://www.proquest.com/products-services/World-War-II-Throu...

Overview
During World War II, American movie-goers were kept up to date with events at home and on the war fronts by twice-weekly newsreels produced by five major film companies. The newsreels were conceived as part of the entertainment package that accompanied the feature film.

As war drew closer to America, concern grew as to whether this was the proper use of the information potential of Hollywood films in a time of crisis. In June 1940 Hollywood established the New York-based Motion Picture Committee Cooperating for National Defense. For the next two years, the committee assisted the federal government in "informing the American people with regard to vital aspects of the defense effort" through newsreels. Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7,1941, the committee changed its name to the War Activities Committee--Motion Picture Industry (WAC).

National Film Library Formed In February 1942, the Library of Congress Film Project was begun. This covert government operation was designed to secure information without raising cries of censorship. The Office of Facts and Figures (OFF)--a branch of the Office of War Information (OWI) established by Roosevelt--set up a three-year program of film analysis whose recommendations would be used to build a selective film collection.

In addition to features and short films, the Library of Congress sought all newsreels and news-related films that recorded significant events and occurrences. It is from this archive that the newsreels in this collection were taken.

Newsreels Preserved for the Future Over the 36 months of the Library of Congress Film Project, its analysts studied 1,506 newsreels. The Library of Congress selected 49 newsreels from 1942-1943, 119 newsreels for 1943-1944, and 104 newsreels from 1944-1945. The 272 newsreels are indexed by their release dates. Some sample titles from the collection are:

Bombing of Malta
Nimitz Decorated
Rommel's Retreat in Africa
Damage at Pearl Harbor
Nazis Retreat in Russia
Mme. Chiang
Red Cross Rally
Hitler and Mussolini

Included in the collection is the newsreel content analysis page which contains the basic information concerning the issue and the list of topics with titles and length of each story, with a total time for the issue. Following the analysis sheet is the narrator's texts for each story supplied by the studio. These scripts are of particular importance, for in many instances the newsreels themselves are not preserved with their original soundtrack although the films are intact. Finally, an issue sheet providing a clear indication of the priorities of the various stories as conceived by the newsreel editor is included.
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K G
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https://archive.org/details/wwIIarchive
 
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jumbit
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Welshmilla wrote:
It might be worth checking the British Pathé archive:

http://www.britishpathe.com


Kluvon wrote:


Both of which I indicated in my original post that I was already aware of. wow What I'm really looking for is complete original footage instead of the three-second clips that you always see in WWII film.
 
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K G
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jumbit, I hoped to be helpful--not only to you but to others who might be interested. Apologies for bothering you.
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