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One of the best sites on the Net is The Internet Movie Database. It contains everything and anything on your favorite movies.

I got this little tidbit from the book The Encyclopedia of Popular Misconceptions by Ferris Johnsen (1994, Citadel Press).

Why do the guys in those old movies move so fast?

What's the deal with all those old movies? 

Everyone seems to move faster than life in those silent reels. 

Charlie Chaplin's tramp seems to have fire in his pants as he scoots across the screen. 

The Keystone Cops bounce all over the place like they have had way too much sugar. 

What's going on here? 

One would think that the cameras simply ran faster back then. 

But then, if the cameras did run faster, why didn't the fools slow them down to make it look like normal speed? 

The reality is that the movies were filmed and shown at normal speed. At least it was the normal speed at that time. 

The problem is that the old movie reels actually turned slower than today. 

The old films moved at 16 frames per second, while modern films move at 24 frames per second. 

What does this mean? 

One second of old vintage film will now be shown on modern equipment in 2/3 of a second - the film runs faster. 

It's kind of like watching the VCR picture with the fast forward button depressed. 

Of course, cameras in the early days of cinematography were not standardized. 

Some actually filmed at rates faster than 24 frames per second, meaning that the characters moved in slow motion. 

What it all boils down to is: 

Slow camera speed equals fast playback. Fast camera speed equals slow playback. 

So relax - Charlie Chaplin did walk at normal speed. There were no bugs-a-biting in his pants causing him to move that fast. 

Useless?  Useful?  I’ll leave that for you to decide.

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