The Electric Age: Light and Motion


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Professor Mindy McAdams's presentation about the early days of motion pictures

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  • The Electric Age: Light and Motion

    1. 1. The Electric Age Presentation by Mindy McAdams Thursday, Week 12
    2. 2. Electricity and Light <ul><li>1879: Thomas Edison filed a patent for the incandescent light bulb </li></ul><ul><li>1880s: First electric companies in U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>They supplied power for street lights, industrial power, residential lighting, and street car (trolley) services </li></ul>
    3. 3. Spread of Electricity <ul><li>1930s: In the U.S., 90 percent of urban dwellers had electricity in the home </li></ul><ul><li>But only 10 percent of rural homes did </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. government set up the Rural Electrification Administration to “electrify” the countryside </li></ul>
    4. 4. In part, this was an effort to slow or stop the migration of rural people to the cities. It didn’t work.
    5. 5. Immigrants in the U.S. <ul><li>1815-1860: 5 million immigrants settled permanently in the United States – mainly English, Irish, Germanic, Scandinavian and others from northwestern Europe </li></ul><ul><li>1865-1890: 10 million immigrants came – also mainly from northwestern Europe </li></ul><ul><li>1890-1914: 15 million immigrants came– many of whom were Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, Lithuanian, Russian, Greek, Italian, Romanian (Catholics, Jews, Eastern Orthodox, etc.) </li></ul>
    6. 7. The First Movies <ul><li>Eadweard Muybridge </li></ul><ul><li>The Lumi è re Brothers: Cinematograph </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Edison: Kinetoscope </li></ul><ul><li>Film technology </li></ul><ul><li>The Nickelodeon </li></ul><ul><li>Adolph Zukor, producer and distributor </li></ul>
    7. 8. Eadweard Muybridge <ul><li>1872: Leland Stanford hired Eadweard Muybridge (a landscape photographer) to answer a question: Is there ever a moment when a horse has all four hooves off the ground? </li></ul><ul><li>1878: Muybridge rigged a racetrack with a dozen strings that triggered 12 cameras to take a series of photographs </li></ul>
    8. 10. Eadweard Muybridge <ul><li>Muybridge not only proved Stanford right ; he also started the revolution in motion photography that would become movies </li></ul><ul><li>“ He is the man who split the second, as dramatic and far-reaching an action as the splitting of the atom.” </li></ul>– Rebecca Solnit, Muybridge biographer
    9. 11. The Lumi è re Brothers <ul><li>1895: The two brothers (Auguste and Louis) gave the first public film screening ever </li></ul><ul><li>What? About 10 short films lasting 20 minutes </li></ul><ul><li>Where? In the basement lounge of the Grand Cafe in Paris </li></ul><ul><li>It was the first public demonstration of the device they had invented – the “Cinematograph” </li></ul>
    10. 12. The Cinematograph <ul><li>The Lumi è re brothers called their invention the “Cinematograph” </li></ul><ul><li>It was a camera, projector and film printer in one </li></ul><ul><li>The Lumi è res produced more than 1,400 short films </li></ul>
    11. 13. Thomas Edison <ul><li>Invented a camera that could record a sequence of images in a single camera </li></ul><ul><li>1888: Eadweard Muybridge came to visit Edison’s lab </li></ul><ul><li>Muybridge proposed that they collaborate and combine Muybridge’s Zoopraxiscope with Edison’s existing phonograph </li></ul>
    12. 14. Thomas Edison <ul><li>Soon afterward, Edison filed a “caveat” with the U.S. Patents Office describing ideas for a device that would “do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear ” </li></ul><ul><li>Edison called his invention a Kinetoscope: Greek words kineto (meaning “movement”) plus scopos (“to watch”) </li></ul>
    13. 15. Kinetoscope: “Peep Show” <ul><li>Kinetoscope: A wooden cabinet, 18 in. x 27 in. x 4 ft. high </li></ul><ul><li>Peephole with magnifying lenses at the top </li></ul><ul><li>Inside the box: Film, in a continuous band, rolled over a series of spools </li></ul><ul><li>A large, electrically driven sprocket wheel moved the film via sprocket holes punched in the edges of the film </li></ul>
    14. 16. <ul><li>1891: Patent filed for the Kinetograph (the camera) and the Kinetoscope (the viewer) </li></ul><ul><li>1892: Kinetoscope completed </li></ul><ul><li>1893: First public demonstration of the Kinetoscope -- at the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Institute of Arts and Sciences </li></ul><ul><li>1895: Edison sells Kinetophones, with a phonograph added inside the cabinet (sound!) </li></ul>
    15. 17. Inside the Kinetoscope, a continuous loop of film traveled over a series of rollers
    16. 18. Kinetoscope “Parlors” <ul><li>1894: The first Kinetoscope parlor opened, in New York </li></ul><ul><li>Five machines were placed in a row </li></ul><ul><li>A customer could view the films in all the machines for a total of 25 cents </li></ul><ul><li>Kinetoscope parlors soon opened around the United States </li></ul>
    17. 19. What Kind of Films? <ul><li>“Actuality”: A short non-fiction film produced by American and European filmmakers during the first 10 years of the motion picture industry </li></ul><ul><li>“Actualities” typically recorded famous people and places, and also events of interest to general audiences </li></ul><ul><li>These were the most frequently produced type of film in America until about 1902 </li></ul>
    18. 20. Technology: Film <ul><li>1896: Eastman (Kodak) manufactured the first print film designed for projection </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Now it was no longer necessary to view “motion pictures” individually on the Kinetoscope </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Movies could be projected onto a screen </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1899: The Eastman Co. invented a way to manufacture film in 1,000-foot lengths </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Now it was possible to photograph longer and more complex scenes </li></ul></ul>
    19. 21. The Nickelodeon <ul><li>The first movie houses (theaters) were called “nickelodeons” </li></ul><ul><li>It cost 5 cents to get in </li></ul><ul><li>By 1908, there were nearly 8,000 nickelodeon theaters in the U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>By 1910, there were 10,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Most popular types of films: Comedies and melodramas </li></ul>
    20. 23. Nickelodeon Shows <ul><li>At the nickelodeon, there was live entertainment along with the film – singing, dancing, comedy acts, sound effects </li></ul><ul><li>The whole show lasted 15 to 90 minutes and changed every couple of days (in some cases, even every day) </li></ul>
    21. 24. The Mass Audience <ul><li>“ You have to understand what was happening in this country to see why movies were catching on. From 1900 to 1910, about … 10 million immigrants poured in, and because nickelodeon movies were new , cheap , silent and set up no language difficulties , they became a popular pastime.” – Adolph Zuckor </li></ul>
    22. 25. Adolph Zukor (1873-1976) <ul><li>One of the first people to make big profits in the movie business </li></ul><ul><li>Realized that three elements of the film business were financially dependent on one another: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Production </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribution </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exhibition </li></ul></ul>
    23. 26. Adolph Zukor <ul><li>Made money at first in the fur business </li></ul><ul><li>1912: Started the Famous Players Film Company with a partner </li></ul><ul><li>By 1919, they had made 140 silent films </li></ul><ul><li>Paramount Pictures Corp.: Distributor for films produced by Famous Players </li></ul><ul><li>Zukor bought stock in Paramount to protect his production business </li></ul><ul><li>1935: He became head of Paramount </li></ul>
    24. 27. “ The night of July 12, 1912, was a historic one for the motion picture industry. The elite of the theater world and society figures who would not have been caught viewing a movie, then considered a vulgar form of entertainment, attended the premiere of ‘Queen Elizabeth.’ The movie lasted only 40 minutes, but it has been considered the first feature-length film to be shown in America.” From The New York Times obituary for Adolph Zukor , June 11, 1976
    25. 28. Sound Comes to the Movies <ul><li>1926: Warner Bros. produced a sound film: “Don Juan” </li></ul><ul><li>1927: Considered the first sound film: “The Jazz Singer,’ starring Al Jolson (first film to use voices in a soundtrack) </li></ul><ul><li>Movie theaters all over the world converted their projectors to play “talkies” in the late 1920s and 1930s </li></ul><ul><li>Theaters installed electronic “public address” systems – amplifiers and loudspeakers </li></ul>
    26. 29. Resurgence <ul><li>Transformation from silent films to talkies happened fast </li></ul><ul><li>Within two years, the expensive task of updating the technology – for both movie production and the theaters themselves – was nearly done </li></ul><ul><li>A huge s urge in attendance followed </li></ul><ul><li>By 1931, audiences had increased by 30 million people per week </li></ul>
    27. 30. Surviving the Depression <ul><li>During the Great Depression (1929 – 1941), most of the Hollywood studios suffered financially </li></ul><ul><li>Attendance at movie theaters fell </li></ul><ul><li>But even in the worst of the Depression, movie attendance remained at 60 million to 75 million per week </li></ul><ul><li>Total U.S. population, 1930: 123 million </li></ul><ul><li>Total U.S. population, 1940: 132 million </li></ul>
    28. 31. Effects on Society <ul><li>Who attended nickelodeons and silent films? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Immigrants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Others? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Did early movies play a role in “ disciplining ” or acculturating immigrant and working-class audiences? </li></ul><ul><li>Or did early movies just give the city people some relief from a hard life? </li></ul>
    29. 32. The Electric Age Presentation by Mindy McAdams University of Florida