Jewish World Review Oct. 11, 2002 / 5 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Love, in Quicktime

By Mark Kellner | LOS ANGELES Marriage proposals are as varied as the people who make them, but Lainie Belitz had no idea what her computer-wielding boyfriend, Joshua Rafofsky, had in store for her, until the house lights in the movie theatre went down.

Miss Belitz and Mr. Rafofsky were no strangers to technology or each other: they met via an online dating service, an exchange of e-mails led to a meeting at a coffee shop in Los Angeles, and from there a romance began. Though both were movie buffs, neither was "in the business," as is said here: she's a project manager for a large insurance group, he runs a computer consulting firm that helps small companies with their information technology issues.

But Mr. Rafofsky, who says he got his first computer at age 13 (he's 30 now) and "never used a typewriter," is an aficionado when it comes to the Apple Macintosh, and now is a virtuoso in the use of iMovie, an Apple-created software program that lets people create and edit short digital films.

All this came together one Wednesday evening a few months back, when Mr. Rafofsky took Ms. Belitz to The Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles, which is believed the only film house in the U.S. devoted to silents. They were a little late for the beginning of a Buster Keaton feature, and after that film ended, Mr. Rafofsky told his girlfriend to stay in her seat.

Another film, sepia-toned and scratchy, then filled the screen. It was a short about a young man searching for love, describing his "dream girl" to a caricature artist on the promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., and ending up with a sketch - and a search for "The Girl In The Picture."

As old-time piano music played, "our intrepid hero" encounters women in supermarkets, on unsuccessful dates, and finally in a dimly lit bar where a potential match stands up and towers over him. The movie's final scene is at an outdoor coffee shop, where Mr. Rafofsky unrolls the sketch one last time, turns it towards the camera and mouths a proposal.

I wasn't in the theatre that night, but I'll bet there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Miss Belitz said yes, family appeared from the shadows for a quick celebration, and the couple will be married in New York City in February of 2003. A magazine called "Bridal Guide" received a contest entry from the couple, and editors there aptly decided that Mr. Rafofsky and Miss Belitz were "America's most romantic couple." I understand that Bethesda, Md.-based cable network The Learning Channel will feature the nuptials on its ''A Wedding Story'' television program.

Along with being a romantic, Mr. Rafofsky was also one of America's most inventive single men: Using a borrowed digital camera, his Macintosh skills, iMovie and an Adobe Corp. program called "After Effects" to give the film that "silent movie" look, he created something that was very professional, even though he insists this is his very first effort at making a short film. I've seen the movie - you can view it online at -- and it looks thoroughly professional; its impact was direct and touching.

Apple Computer, which has an interest in promoting its iMovie editing software and QuickTime streaming media software, featured Mr. Rafofsky's film in an e-mail newsletter and it's drawn e-mail responses from around the world. One correspondent wrote, "The best art is not done for fame or money, but for love," Mr. Rafofsky related in a telephone interview.

There's no talk of an Academy Award yet, but it's clear that Mr. Rafofsky's work has won him an even greater prize.

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JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

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