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Cinematography Filmmaking Technology

“On the Set with Video Assist” and Jimmie Songer

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Photo from the Jerry Lewis Comedy Museum.

While I was at CineGear Expo, I met Michael Frediani at the SOC booth and thanked about about his research into Jerry Lewis and told him I would post his article on video assist. I also included an article from the 695 Quarterly about Jim Songer about his development of thru the lens video assist. There is a lot of debate on the topic of who “invented” video assist. Like most technical innovations there is no one single inventor, but many improvements from each contributor. Here is the earlier post about Jerry and video assist.

Audio interview: Jerry Lewis + Peter Bogdanovich

Video assist section starts at 1:09:09.

Jerry Lewis was an influence on Francis Ford Coppola.
ONE FROM THE HEART, Francis Ford Coppola, 1982
ONE FROM THE HEART, Francis Ford Coppola, 1982

Francis Ford Coppola later developed his own “electronic cinema” previsualization called Image and Sound Control. 

As well as being an entertainer, “Jerry Lewis was a major innovator in motion pictures,” stated director Francis Ford Coppola. “His invention of putting a video camera next to the motion picture camera so he could play it back and direct himself, has been used for decades by every director in the movie industry. I watched him on the set of The Ladies Man in 1961 and was amazed by his groundbreaking innovation, the Video Assist.”

The wonderful book DROIDMAKER by Michael Rubin has more info.

Two articles from Peter Glaskowsky at CNET.

Video assist predates Jerry Lewis ‘patent’

Jerry Lewis and the elusive Video Assist patent

This illustration, from an article written by Jim Songer for American Cinematographer magazine, shows a Panavision camera with the video assist subsystem integrated into the loading door. Jim Songer and Video West
This illustration, from an article written by Jim Songer for American Cinematographer magazine, shows a Panavision camera with the video assist subsystem integrated into the loading door. Jim Songer and Video West
 

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