During his tenure with Paramount Pictures, Fred Waller was primarily known as a master technician, but he also picked up a director's megaphone in the 1930's to create an extensive list of short subjects totallying well over 350, many featuring top Negro performers in the Harlem area.
Waller is either checking the film to actor distance while directing a short subject or this photo shows him measuring G.I.s for new uniforms. One of Waller's later inventions was a camera that could fully measure a man for a suit in 1/30 second.
Among the luminaries that Waller directed in featurettes was Duke Ellington. Some of the films were made in Harlem's famous Cotton Club.
Note: Many of the Waller musical shorts are available from under the title "Hollywood Rhythm". http://www.kino.com
Fred Waller is seen reviewing a script with featured players Florence Hill and Bessie Dudley in Harlem's famed Cotton Club. The film is Bundle of Blues starring Duke Ellington, produced in 1933. In addition to Ellington, Waller directed featurettes starring Fats Waller (absolutely no relation), and Billie Holiday and many other notable performers of the day.
In addition to his musicals, Waller did countless documentaries on items that he found interesting, including birds, frozen fog, deep sea delicacies, and even a life size functional recreation of a Rube Goldberg cartoon that Goldberg himself said would not work. It worked.