Monday, October 3, 2016

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2014) by Year # 0042 - WESTINGHOUSE WORKS, PANORAMA VIEW STREET CAR MOTOR ROOM (G.W. Bitzer, 1904, USA, 6m, BW)


(G.W. Bitzer, 1904, USA, 6m, BW)



A camera moving forward on an overhead crane gives a traveling view of men working on machinery. Carts carrying parts and pieces of machinery pass by on rails; cranes lift machinery; and men perform their various duties, including hammering objects.

Title in Biograph photo catalog, v. 6 [MI] and Biograph Co. prod. records [MI]: Panorama motor room, Westinghouse works

United States : American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, 1904.


Original main title lacking.

Camera, G.W. "Billy" Bitzer.

Filmed April 21, 1904, probably at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Co. in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Westinghouse Works

Westinghouse Works, 1904 is a collection of 21 American short silent films, each averaging about three minutes in length. The films were taken from April 18, 1904 to May 16, 1904 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and document various Westinghouse manufacturing plants. They were made by G. W. Bitzer of the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, were shown at the Westinghouse Auditorium at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, and may have been made for that purpose. At least 29 films were shot. The films are now part of the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

The films in the collection of the Library of Congress are:

    Assembling a generator, Westinghouse works
    Assembling and testing turbines, Westinghouse works
    Casting a guide box, Westinghouse works
    Coil winding machines, Westinghouse works
    Coil winding section E, Westinghouse works
    E Girls taking time checks, Westinghouse works
    Girls winding armatures
    Panorama exterior Westinghouse works
    Panorama of Machine Co. aisle, Westinghouse works
    Panorama view street car motor room
    Panoramic view aisle B, Westinghouse works
    Steam hammer, Westinghouse works
    Steam whistle, Westinghouse works
    Taping coils, Westinghouse works
    Tapping a furnace, Westinghouse works
    Testing a rotary, Westinghouse works
    Testing large turbines, Westinghouse works
    Welding the big ring
    Westinghouse Air Brake Co. Westinghouse Co. works (casting scene)
    Westinghouse Air Brake Co. Westinghouse Co. works (moulding scene)
    Westinghouse Air Brake Co. Westinghouse works

Gottfried Wilhelm "Billy" Bitzer

Gottfried Wilhelm "Billy" Bitzer (April 21, 1872 – April 29, 1944) was a pioneering American cinematographer notable for his close association with D. W. Griffith.


Prior to his career as a cameraman, Bitzer developed early cinematic technologies for the American Mutoscope Company, eventually to become the Biograph Company. He admired and learned the art of motion picture photography from Kinetoscope inventor W.K.L. Dickson, who directed the early Biograph shorts on which Bitzer cut his teeth. Until 1903, Bitzer was employed by Biograph primarily as a documentary photographer, and from 1903 onward primarily as the photographer of narrative films, as these gained popularity. (Hendricks 1964, pp. 5)

In 1908 Bitzer entered into his first collaboration with Griffith. The two would work together for the rest of Bitzer's career, leaving Biograph in 1913 for the Mutual Film Corporation where Bitzer continued to innovate, perfecting existing technologies and inventing new ones. During this time he pioneered the field of matte photography and made use of innovative lighting techniques, closeups, and iris shots.

Bitzer provided assistance during Griffith's directorial debut, 1908's The Adventures of Dollie, which was shot by Arthur Marvin. He eventually succeeded Marvin as Griffith's regular cinematographer, working with him on some of his most important films and contributing significantly to cinematic innovations attributed to Griffith. In 1910, he photographed Griffith's silent short, In Old California, in the Los Angeles village of "Hollywoodland", qualifying Bitzer as, arguably, Hollywood's first Director of Photography. The apex of Bitzer and Griffith's collaboration came with The Birth of a Nation (1915), a film funded in part by Bitzer's life savings, and the epic Intolerance (1916).

For all his innovation, Bitzer did not survive the industry's transition to sound, and in 1944 he suffered a heart attack and died in Hollywood in relative obscurity.

His autobiography, Billy Bitzer: His Story, was published posthumously in 1973.

In 2003, a survey conducted by the International Cinematographers Guild named him one of the ten most influential cinematographers in history. Bitzer, it is said, "developed camera techniques that set the standard for all future motion pictures." Among Bitzer's innovations were

    the fade out to close a movie scene;
    the iris shot where a circle closes to close a scene;
    soft focus photography with the aid of a light diffusion screen;
    filming entirely under artificial lighting rather than outside;
    lighting, closeups and long shots to create mood;
    perfection of matte photography.

Selected filmography

Edgar Allan Poe (1909), a silent movie by D.W. Griffith (director), Frank E. Woods (screenwriter) and Billy Bitzer (camera), inspired by Poe's poem The Raven.

Cameraman G. W. "Billy" Bitzer and director D. W. Griffith on location in the snow filming Way Down East (Griffith, 1920). Bitzer stands behind a Pathé camera.

    2 A. M. in the Subway (1905)
    The Lonely Villa (1909)
    The Sealed Room (1909)
    Edgar Allan Poe (1909)
    A Corner in Wheat (1909)
    In the Border States (1910)
    The Lonedale Operator (1911)
    Enoch Arden (1911)
    The Girl and Her Trust (1912)
    The Female of the Species (1912)
    A Beast at Bay (1912)
    An Unseen Enemy (1912)
    The Painted Lady (1912)
    The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912)
    The House of Darkness (1913)
    Death's Marathon (1913)
    The Mothering Heart (1913)
    The Battle at Elderbush Gulch (1914)
    Judith of Bethulia (1914)
    The Avenging Conscience (1914)
    The Birth of a Nation (1915)
    Intolerance (1916)
    Hearts of the World (1918)
    The Great Love (1918)
    The Greatest Thing in Life (1918)
    A Romance of Happy Valley (1919)
    The Girl Who Stayed at Home (1919)
    True Heart Susie (1919)
    Scarlet Days (1919)
    Broken Blossoms (1919)
    The Greatest Question (1919)
    The Idol Dancer (1920)
    The Love Flower (1920)
    Way Down East (1920)
    The White Rose (1923)
    America (1924)
    Drums of Love (1927)
    The Battle of the Sexes (1928)
    Lady of the Pavements (1929)

Further reading

G. W. (Billy) Bitzer, Billy Bitzer: His Story (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1973), ISBN 978-0-374-11294-3
David W. Menefee, Sweet Memories (Menefee Publishing Inc., 2012), ISBN 1469966956

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