Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jess Oppenheimer, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez

Today we honor Jess Oppenheimer, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez for innovating a TV process that we take for granted: filming with multiple cameras (diagram to the right) in front of a live studio audience. While some shows filmed before live audiences and other shows used multiple cameras, the producers of I Love Lucy were the first to put both processes together at once.

This may seem trivial, but the innovation had several implications. First, the multiple cameras allowed for faster, cheaper filming. Since the multiple cameras minimized the number of takes, the live studio audience fed into the energy of the actors without sitting through numerous takes. In my opinion, I Love Lucy's comedic energy is a hallmark for sit-coms, and surely some of that had to do with this innovation.

As producers, Oppenheimer, Ball and Arnez made the decision to allow this innovation to flourish. The method was so successful that many of the beloved American sit-coms, like The Cosby Show and Seinfeld, used the same method for filming. Oppenheimer, Ball and Arnez took a risk, which paid off in great wealth that many of us continue to enjoy today.

I Love Lucy on Wikipedia
Multiple Camera Filming

Check out one of my favorite clips from I Love Lucy.


Mrs. Reed said...

I Love Lucy!! I couldn't get the link to work though.

Mrs. Reed said...

The link works now thanks!

Desilu also produced the first Yours, Mine and Ours movie in 1968. Lucy played the mother. Desilu bought the rights to the story from the author of the book Who Gets the Drumstick?" by Helen Beardsley. She was a widow with 8 kids and married a man with 10 kids and then they had two of their own.