The first photographic processes, developed at the beginning of the nineteenth century, involved light-sensitive emulsions requiring long exposure times to capture any permanent image, therefore were not suitable for shots of moving images. It was not until the 1870’s that emulsions sensitive enough to take a photograph in a fraction of a second became practically available, although a single photographic plate was needed for each picture.
On June 11, 1878, Eadward Muybridge developed a system of placing individual stills cameras set alongside a track to record the normal movement of men, horses and other animals. This film was created using 12 cameras, over 20 ft, set parallel to the track over on which the horse ran. As the horse galloped, it engaged trip wires to fire the camera and take a picture. All of these still pictures were assembled and viewed one after the other.
George Eastman (founder of Kodak), developed a sensitized strip of celluloid film in 1888. This discovery marked the end to calm….From then on, inventors in Europe and America vied with one another to patent cincmatic devices, and studied each others’ patents with equal frenzy.
Cinema was finally born in 1895, when the first successful method for filming and projecting moving pictures, the Cinematographe, was introduced in Paris.
By the end of the 1880’s all elements required to make moving pictures had fallen into place in the US. Thomas Edison had already recorded sound with his invention of the Phonograph, then took up the challenge to develop an apparatus for recording moving images.
In 1888, he entrusted his assistant WKL Dickson, with the task of inventing something on his behalf. By late 1890, Dickson developed the Kinetograph.
On August 28, 1895, Alfred Clarke used a Kinetoscope to film a recreation of the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots at a studio in Edison, NJ.
This project was the first known special effect.
To create the illusion of a royal beheading Clarke first filmed the Queen as she knelt before the executioner. After the axe was raised, the camera was stopped so the actress could leave and be replaced with a dummy.
When filming resumed, the axe was dropped and the Queen’s head appeared to be separated from its shoulders.
It was soon realized that moving pictures could be projected on to a screen, and a paying audience would gather for each presentation. The Lumiere brothers (Auguste and Louis) wanted to exploit this new medium for financial gain. They produced the following films…..
It soon became clear that because no particular system had a unique selling point, the only way to make a successful business of film would be to produce films that told a story, rather than simply filming simple actions.
Soon, sound, color and widescreen would be developed within a few years.