Film History 1


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This presentation was designed for a high school film production class - it provides a visual accompaniment to a lecture on Film History. This module covers the period from the beginnings of photography through the early days of exhibition. Projectors and projection techniques are featured.

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Film History 1

  1. 1. Film History Lecture prepared 11/07/09 by John M. Grace I.A.T.S.E. member and film instructor D.A.T.A. Charter High School Albuquerque, New Mexico Some illustrations and copy courtesy of Part 1
  2. 2. Film History “ The motion picture today is the greatest medium of expression the world has ever known. [It is] capable of giving life and form to all ideas, practical and emotional ...Its only limitation [is] human ingenuity. John Seitz, ASC, 1930 ." … and it all started over a bet
  3. 3. Film History In 1904 Edward Muybridge, an Englishman, needed to settle a $25,000.00 bet. He believed that a galloping horse had all four feet off of the ground at the same time but others said that this was impossible. The problem was that galloping hooves move too fast for the eye to see.
  4. 4. Film History To settle the bet indisputable proof was needed. In an effort to settle the issue once and for all an experiment was set up in which a rapid sequence of photos was taken of a running horse. When the pictures were developed it was found that the horse did indeed have all four feet off the ground for a split-second.
  5. 5. Film History Why is this significant? In doing this experiment they found out something else  — something that becomes obvious from the illustrations of the horse on the left. That discovery would soon make that $25,000 look like pocket change.
  6. 6. Film History When a series of still images of a moving object are viewed at a certain speed the illusion of motion is created. In the case of Muybridge’s series of still photos, when they were presented sequentially at 0.1 second intervals they created the illusion of continuous motion. This is Muybridge’s actual footage
  7. 7. Film History Later, we would give impressive names to the two factors that created this illusion of motion — the illusion that lies at the base of both motion pictures and television. This is Muybridge’s actual footage
  8. 8. Film History The Phi Phenomenon explains why, when your view a series of slightly different still photos or images in rapid succession, an illusion of movement is created in the transition between the images. This is Muybridge’s actual footage
  9. 9. Film History Persistence of Vision is the phenomenon that explains why the intervals between the successive images merge into a single image as our eyes hold one image long enough for the next one to take its place. This is Muybridge’s actual footage
  10. 10. Film History In the illustration on the left an illusion of motion is created, even when pictures are presented at a slow rate. Motion picture projectors present images much faster, at 24-frames per-second. This high speed makes the transition between images virtually invisible. This is Muybridge’s actual footage
  11. 11. Film History In 1822, Frenchman Joseph Nicepce was the first to produce a basic photographic image. But, in 1839 Louis Daguerre patented a process that could actually be considered photography. His photos were referred to as daguerreotypes. The earliest known photograph - 1822
  12. 12. Film History There were obvious problems with this process. The only way to capture images was to make metal plates light-sensitive by painting them with a liquid solution while you were in a darkroom. You would need to expose them in a camera before they dried and then return to the darkroom to develop them. An 1837 Daguerreotype photograph
  13. 13. Film History An inventor by the name of Hannibal Goodwin greatly simplified the process in 1889, when he developed a transparent, pliable film base called celluloid. The next step was to create long strips of film where a series of still pictures could be captured in rapid succession. Film now comes in lengths up to 1000’
  14. 14. Film History Cameras and projectors were developed that could do this at a rate of 16 frames per-second. (The rate was later moved up to 18 frames, and eventually to 24 FPS.) A few years later, George Eastman standardized film widths for cameras and projectors to 16 and 35 mm. George Eastman and Thomas Edison
  15. 15. Film History Once standardized, motion picture film was 35mm wide and had sprocket holes on each side.  Gear teeth fit into these holes to pull the film through cameras and projectors at a steady rate. Sound was added later on one side of the film next to the sprocket holes. George Eastman’s 35mm Film Format
  16. 16. Film History Soon, a host of devices were invented to entertain anyone who wanted (for a price) to watch "moving images." Unfortunately, all of these devices had the disadvantage of only having an audience of one. A viewer would look through a peephole at a series of drawings or photos presented in rapid sequence. Thomas Edison’s Kinetograph
  17. 17. Film History The Edison profits came from the sale of machines and prints, not from exhibition to the general public. . . . From the Edison viewpoint, one machine for every viewer was more to be desired than a hundred or more viewers for every machine. Kinetoscope Parlor in 1899
  18. 18. Film History As he had with the phonograph, Edison misjudged how the market was to develop. He thought the money was in the kinetograph and the kinetoscope; he didn’t think people would want to sit in audiences to see an image on a screen.  Thomas Edison’s Kinetograph
  19. 19. Film History This turned out to be a major miscalculation. According to popular belief, it was the Lumière brothers in France who first did what Edison didn't want to do - to create a projector that could show motion pictures on a screen for an audience.  They called it the cinematographe. The Lumiere Cinematographe 1896
  20. 20. Film History In 1895, the Lumieres shot a series of 30 to 60 second films that they showed in a Paris cafe and charged a one-franc admission to see. These films covered such fascinating topics as a man falling off a horse and a child trying to catch a fish in a fishbowl.
  21. 21. Film History While the Lumière films were “actualities” shot outdoors on location, Edison’s films featured circus or vaudeville acts that were shot in a small studio before a stationary camera,. In both cases the films were composed of a single unedited shot with little or no narrative content. The Lumiere film café circa 1895
  22. 22. Film History Edison eventually saw the light and devised his own camera and projector but he didn't have much confidence in the long-range value of motion pictures. When he paid for patents, he didn't pay the extra $150 to secure the international copyright, a mistake that would cost him millions in the coming years. An early US Edison “nickelodeon”
  23. 23. Film History Meanwhile, numerous inventors from around the world introduced their own "movie machines." In fact, so many motion picture devices appeared at about the same time that no one person can truly be credited with the invention. Alfred Wrench’s Cinematographe 1898
  24. 24. Film History During this time, vaudeville (small theaters that featured short dramatic skits, comedy routines, and song and dance numbers) was quite popular. In order get one-up on the competition and fill in time between acts, vaudeville theaters started featuring short films. A vaudeville theater in the early 1900’s
  25. 25. Film History As the 1900s dawned, vaudeville expanded into nickelodeons, which were small storefront-type theaters that featured films (accompanied by piano music and sound effects) along with one or two vaudeville acts.  As the name suggests, admission was only a nickel. A vaudeville theater in the early 1900’s
  26. 26. Film History As films got more popular and longer, the vaudeville acts disappeared from the nickelodeons and the motion picture theater was born - if you can call a small room with wooden benches a motion picture theater. As their popularity grew, films had to be changed often. A nickelodeon in the early 1900’s
  27. 27. Film History In the early days, film action resembled a short stage play. The action was continuous and uninterrupted.  This allowed a new film to be released every few days. Within a couple of years there were thousands of nickelodeons in operation leading to a worldwide boom in the exhibition of films. Pioneers of Film Editing
  28. 28. Film History Obviously, early studios had to turn out large numbers of films to meet the demand. The studios of the early 1900s were appropriately called "film factories."  At that time they were primarily located in New York and New Jersey but that would soon change. Georges Méliès film studio circa 1905
  29. 29. Film History Edison’s New Jersey studio was affectionately dubbed the “Black Mariah”. It featured hot metal walls and an attached darkroom for processing the exposed footage. Edidon’s “Black Mariah”
  30. 30. Film History Rumor has it that the whole idea of cutting from one scene to a another resulted from a director on a tight schedule. Due to a camera malfunction, a scene was lost and there wasn’t time to shoot it all over again. To keep from falling behind he left out the missing footage. Pioneers of Film Editing
  31. 31. Film History After viewing "the mistake," it was concluded that the "lost" footage wasn't really necessary and the jump in action actually speeded things along. By the late 1800s, it was accepted practice to stop and reposition the camera and to cut directly to a totally different scene to tell a story. Pioneers of Film Editing
  32. 32. Film History In 1903, Edwin S. Porter, an employee of Thomas Edison, shot the first narrative film, The Great Train Robbery . The film featured a dramatic story line and cross cutting between different locations and camera angles. It had 14 scenes and lasted 12 minutes, making it an epic of its day. Pioneers of Film Editing
  33. 33. Film History Actually, Porter “borrowed” some of his ideas from some European directors - and in particular from a Frenchman named Georges Méliès, who is credited with virtually inventing special effects with his film, Trip to the Moon. Crude by today’s standards, the film wowed audiences in 1902. Trip to the Moon introduced Special Effects
  34. 34. Film History One of the very first films produced in the United States, called The Kiss, was based on a scene from the stage play, "The Widow Jones ." Groups tried to get the film banned because it showed a man and a woman kissing - something that moralists of the time thought was obscene . The Kiss that started an uproar
  35. 35. Film History Responding to public and political pressure of the day, the U.S. Supreme Court officially denied motion pictures the same First Amendment freedom that was being given to the press, literature, and the theater. They used the argument that films were amusements and not artistic works. The Kiss that started an uproar
  36. 36. Film History As a result of the Supreme Court decision, most states elected boards to make sure that films shown in their area adhered to their particular view of morality. Almost 50 years later, the Supreme Court finally reversed itself, allowing films the same First Amendment protection as other mass media. The Kiss that started an uproar
  37. 37. Film History At this point there still wasn't sound or color. Dialogue appeared as full-frame text on the screen after actors spoke their lines. Later, the dialogue was superimposed over the picture, as shown here. The advantage of this was that it was easy to dub dialogue into any language for other countries. Subtitles ruled the theaters for 30 years
  38. 38. Film History The celluloid film was wound on reels, as shown on the left.  Since the reels only held about 12 minutes of film, they regularly had to be changed during filming. If the production was longer than one reel, there was an intermission while the reels were switched. Antique projection booth
  39. 39. Film History Later, two projectors were used so that the film reels could be alternated between projectors, making an instant switchover possible. Today, continuous projection is possible with one projector since the reels are edited together and fed from a turntable mechanism. Contemporary projection booths