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The Electric Age: Light and Motion

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

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


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