Category Archives: George Nichols

Shot Length Distributions in the Chaplin Keystones

This week I have another draft of a Cinemetrics paper, this time looking at shot length distributions in Keystone films starring Charles Chaplin and directed by Chaplin, Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand, George Nichols, and Henry Lehrman. You can download the pdf here: Nick Redfern – Shot Length Distributions in the Chaplin Keystones, and the abstract is given below.

Cinemetrics provides an objective method by which the stylistic characteristics of a filmmaker may be identified. This study uses shot length distributions as an element of film style in order to analyse the films by five directors featuring Charles Chaplin for the Keystone Film Company. A total of 17 Keystone films are analysed – six directed by Chaplin himself, along with others directed by Henry Lehrman, George Nichols, Mabel Normand, and Mack Sennett. Shot length data was collected for each film and then combined to create data sets based on the studio style and for each director. The results show that for the distribution of shot lengths in Keystone films starring Chaplin (1) there is no significant difference between films directed Chaplin and the overall Keystone model; (2) there is no significant difference between Chaplin’s films and those of Lehrman, Nichols, and Sennett; (3) there is a significant difference between the films of Normand and the Keystone model but the effect size is small; and (4) there is a significant difference between Normand and the other Keystone filmmakers but the effect size of these differences is again small. This study shows that the distribution of shot lengths can be used to identify how the style of an individual filmmaker relates to a larger group style; and that, in the specific case of the Keystone Film Company, it is the studio style of fast-paced, slapstick comedy that determines the distribution of shot lengths with little variation present in the films of individual filmmakers.

As before, any comments and suggestions are welcome (as is the pointing out of glaring errors).

The raw data was collectde by examining the films frame by frame in my editing software, and can be accessed in a Microsoft Word Document here:

For Microsoft Word 97-2003 (x.doc): Nick Redfern – Shot length distributions in the Chaplin Keystones – data

For Microsfoft Word 2007 (x.docx): Nick Redfern – Shot length distributions in the Chaplin Keystones – data

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