Adv4 m the invention and early years of cinema part i
The invention and earlyyears of cinema – Part I adv4m
The birth of cinema• Cinema was invented in the 1880s-1890s at the tail-end of the Industrial Revolution alongside other inventions such as the telephone (1876), phonograph (1877) and automobile (1890s).• Like them, film became an invention that became the basis of a large industry.• However, before film (as we know it) could be invented, several other technological discoveries had to occur.
Preconditions for motion pictures• Before cinema could be invented, several conditions had to be in place: – persistence of vision – Ability to photograph images (quickly) in order to create a line of successive pictures – Ability to photograph images on a clear, flexible material – Ability to project images
Persistence of vision• Persistence of Vision – the characteristic of the human eye that allows it to continue to perceive an image for a fraction of a second after it disappears.• This property of vision was explored greatly during the 1800s.• Several optical toys were marketed that gave an illusion of movement by using a small number of drawings, each altered somewhat, on a spinning device. When spun, persistence of vision would cause the human eye to blend these still images, creating the illusion of movement.
Optical Toys The phenakistoscope (left) and zoetrope (above).
Early PhotographyFirst still photographtaken (1827), using aglass plate technique.Claude Niepcesphotograph “The Viewfrom a Window at LeGras” took nearly eighthours to expose.
Early ProjectionThe forerunner to the modernprojector, a device called the MagicLantern was the only means by whichone could project an image in theearly 1800s. Magic Lanterns utilizedconcave mirrors behind a light sourceto gather light and project it through aslide with an image painted onto it.The light rays crossed an aperture(which is an opening at the front ofthe apparatus), and hit a lens. Thelens projected an enlarged picture ofthe original image from the slide ontoa screen.
Development of new technologies• As Magic Lantern shows, optical toys and the art of photography gained popularity, inventors began to experiment by combining these technologies to create new, more exciting ones.• One such example is Emile Reynaud’s Projecting Praxinoscope.• The Projecting Praxinoscope was a spinning drum, much like the Zoetrope, but one in which viewers saw the moving images in a series of mirrors rather than through slots. Around 1882, Reynaud devised a way to use a lantern with additional mirrors to project images on a screen, and then began to use long, broad strips of hand-painted frames. These were the first public exhibitions of moving images, though the effect on the screen was jerky and slow.
Towards Moving Pictures . . .• As photographic exposure times became quicker (split-second exposures were possible by 1878) and photographs were no longer recorded on glass or metal (George Eastman devised a camera in 1888 that made photographs on rolls of sensitized paper called the Kodak), potential for creating moving photographic images became greater.
Muybridge and Motion• In order to settle a bet as to whether horses hooves left the ground when they galloped, Edweard Muybridge capitalized on new photographic technologies.• At a California race track, he set up a bank of twelve cameras with trip- • Muybridge’s still photos of a wires connected to their shutters. galloping horse. When exhibited in Each camera took a picture when the rapid succession, these stills gave horse tripped its wire, creating a the illusion of movement (due to successive line of photos depicting persistence of vision) and the horse galloping. therefore became one of the best known precursors to motion pictures.
Kinetoscope• Thomas Edison and his assistant W.K.L. Dickson, already the inventors of the phonograph and electric light bulb, decide to design machines for making and showing moving photographs.• Called the Kinetograph camera and Kinetoscope viewing box, their inventions were ready for patenting and demonstration in 1888.• Using Eastman film cut into inch wide strips, Dickson punched four holes in either side of each frame allowing toothed gears to pull the film through the Kinetoscope peepshow device.
Mutoscope• In late 1894, Herman Casler patented the mutoscope, another peepshow device.• This differed from the kinetoscope as the mutoscope used flip-cards in its interior (instead of a strip of film) to give the illusion of movement.• W.K.L. Dickson terminated his relationship with Edison and partnered with Casler, creating the American Mutoscope Company, which became a dominant force in early filmmaking.
Lumiere Brothers• In 1894, two brothers from France, Louis and Auguste Lumiere design a camera which serves as both a recording device and a projecting device. They call it the Cinématographe.• The Cinématographe used flexible film cut into 35mm wide strips.• The camera shot films at sixteen frames per second (rather than the forty six which Edison used), this became the standard film rate for nearly 25 years.
Early Cinema• Due to the inventions of Edison, Dickson, the Lumiere Brothers and Casler, the invention of the cinema was largely completed by 1897.• However, cinema in 1897 was a significantly different entertainment medium than it is today.• Most films were nonfiction and were referred to as actualities or actuality films.• These were films that simply captured reality – workers leaving a factory, a baby eating lunch, a theatre performer dancing, a travelogue or film of a distant land, a fire carriage racing to a fire.
Arrival of a Train• Although it was not part of the Lumiere Brothers’ first public film showing, Arrival of a Train (L’arrivee d’un train en gare de La Ciotat) is among their most famous films.• It was first publicly projected in January 1896.• Typical of films of the day, Arrival of a Train is a single, unedited view illustrating an aspect of everyday life – a train pulling into a station.• Less than 1 minute in length, the film is composed in one continuous, unedited, real-time shot.
Georges Melies• A performing magician who owned his own theatre, Georges Melies decided to add films to his program after seeing the Lumiere Cinematographe in 1895.• Accustomed to performing and thinking imaginatively, Melies did not create actuality films, but creative movies that were replete with camera tricks, elaborate scenery, theatrical sets and fantastical stories.• Melies often incorporated stop-motion and other special effects to create more complex and magic and fantasy scenes.
A Trip to the Moon• From the late 1890s to the early 1910s, Melies films were widely successful.• Among his most celebrated works is his 1903 film A Trip to the Moon (Voyage a la lune), known for its elaborate mise en scene and fantastical story.• However, as filmmaking evolved, Melies tended to preserve his theatrical tendencies. By 1912, his small company was in debt and he stopped producing films, having made 510 films of which about 200 survive.• He died in 1938, after decades of working in his wife’s candy and toy shop.
Summary• Several technological developments had to be in place in order for the medium of film to be invented.• There were many people who contributed to the invention and development of early film – early photographers, inventors and filmmakers such as Niepce, Muybridge, Edison, Lumiere Brothers all made signficant contributions.• As is the pattern with film development throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, the innovations and discoveries of one filmmaker gave the next something upon which he could build (cause and effect relationship).• The developments made in early cinema from the 1880s to the mid- 1900s laid the necessary foundations for the development of classical Hollywood style as well as the industry’s business structure that would emerge in the 1910s.