the beginnings: late 19th century film technology
While the experience of watching movies on smartphones may seem like a drastic departure from the communal nature of movie viewing as we conceive of it today, in a way, viewing small format for a single viewer is a return to the first roots of cinema. . In 1891, inventor Thomas Edison, along with William Dickson, a young lab assistant, devised what they called the kinetoscope, the camera used to capture images for Edison’s kinetograph, a device that would become the forerunner of the image projector. moving. the kinetoscope was a cabinet with a window through which individual viewers could experience the illusion of a moving image. Europe 1789-1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, Vol. 1, sv “cinema”, by alan williams, gale virtual reference library. “the kinetoscope”, British Movie Classics, http://www.britishmovieclassics.com/thekinetoscope.php. a strip of perforated celluloid film, a type of thin, transparent film that was coated with light-sensitive chemicals to record images. with a sequence of images quickly wound between a light bulb and a lens, creating the illusion of movement. britannica online, s.v. “kinetoscope,” http://www.britannica.com/ebchecked/topic/318211/kinetoscope/318211main/article. The images that viewers could see on the Kinetoscope captured events and performances that had taken place at the Edison Film Studio in East Orange, New Jersey, especially for the Edison Kinetograph, the first motion picture exhibition of Thomas Edison that allowed a single viewer to experience the illusion of a moving image. (the camera that produced kinetoscope film sequences): circus performances, dancers, cockfights, boxing matches, and even a dental extraction by a dentist. David Robinson, From Peep Show to Palace: The Birth of American Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 43-44.
As the Kinetoscope gained popularity, the Edison Company began installing machines in hotel lobbies, amusement parks, and penny arcades, and soon Kinetoscope lounges opened, where customers could pay around 25 cents for admission to a bank of machines. country. However, when friends and collaborators suggested that Edison find a way to project his Kinetoscope images for public viewing, he apparently refused, saying such an invention would be a less profitable venture. sv “history of cinema”. http://www.britannica.com/ebchecked/topic/394161/history-of-the-motion-picture; robinson, from peep show to palace, 45, 53.
Because Edison had not obtained an international patent for his invention, variations of the Kinetoscope were soon copied and distributed throughout Europe. this new form of entertainment was an instant hit, and various mechanics and inventors, seeing an opportunity, began to play around with methods of projecting the moving images onto a larger screen. However, it was the invention of two brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, manufacturers of photographic supplies in Lyon, France, that achieved the greatest commercial success. In 1895, the brothers patented the cinematograph, the lightweight movie projector, created by Auguste and Louis Lumière, which also functioned as a camera and printer, allowing multiple people to view moving images at the same time. (from which we get the term cinema), a lightweight movie projector that doubled as a camera and printer. Unlike Edison’s Cinematograph, the Cinematograph was light enough to easily shoot outdoors, and over the years the brothers used the camera to shoot more than 1,000 short films, most of which depicted scenes from life. everyday. In December 1895, in the basement room of the Grand Café, Rue des Capucines in Paris, the Lumières staged the world’s first commercial film screening, a sequence of some 10 short scenes, including the brother’s first film, workers leaving of the Lumière Factory, a segment that lasts less than a minute and shows workers leaving the family’s photographic instrument factory at the end of the day, as shown in the still frame here in Figure 8.3. age of industry and empire, s.v. “cinema”.
believing that audiences would be bored watching scenes they could just as easily observe on a casual stroll through the city, louis lumière called the cinema “an invention without a future”, louis menand, “gross points”, new yorker , February 7, 2005, http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/02/07/050207crat_atlarge. But the demand for films grew at such a rapid rate that soon Lumière company representatives were traveling throughout Europe and the world, showing half-hour screenings of the company’s films. while the cinema initially competed with other popular forms of entertainment (circuses, vaudeville acts, theater companies, magic shows, and many others), it would eventually supplant these various entertainments as the main commercial attraction. February 7, 2005, http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2005/02/07/050207crat_atlarge. A year after the first commercial screening of Lumières, competing film companies were offering moving-image acts in music halls and vaudeville theaters across Britain. In the United States, the Edison Company, having purchased the rights to an improved projector they called the Vitascope large-screen motion projector made by Thomas Edison, held its first motion picture screening in April 1896 at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall. in herald square, new york city.
The film’s profound impact on its early viewers is hard to imagine today, inundated as many are by video images. however, the sheer volume of reports of first-time audiences’ disbelief, delight, and even fear at what they were seeing suggests that seeing a movie was an overwhelming experience for many. Moviegoers were amazed at the realistic detail in movies like Robert Paul’s Raging Seas at Dover, and people sometimes panicked and tried to flee the theater during movies where moving trains or carriages hurtled toward the audience. . David Robinson, From Peep Show to Palace: The Birth of American Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 63. Even the public’s perception of film as a medium was considerably different from contemporary understanding; the moving image was an improvement over photography, a medium with which viewers were already familiar, and perhaps this is why early films documented events in short segments but did not tell stories. During this “novelty period” of cinema, audiences were more interested in the movie projector phenomenon itself, so vaudeville theaters advertised the type of projector they were using (e.g., “the vitascope, the Edison’s Last Wonder”) Andrei Ionut Balcanasu, Sergey V. smagin and stephanie k. thrift, “edison and the lumiere brothers”, cartoons and cinema of the 20th century, http://library.thinkquest.org/c0118600/index.phtml?menu=en%3b1%3bci1001.html., instead of the names of movies.britannica online. sv “history of cinema”. http://www.britannica.com/ebchecked/topic/394161/history-of-the-motion-picture
by the end of the 19th century, as public enthusiasm for the novelty of moving images gradually faded, filmmakers were also beginning to experiment with the possibilities of cinema as a medium in its own right (not simply, as It had been considered until then, as a documentation tool, analogous to the camera or the phonograph). Technical innovations allowed filmmakers like Parisian movie theater owner Georges Méliès to experiment with special effects that produced seemingly magical transformations on screen: flowers turned into women, people disappeared in puffs of smoke, a man appeared where a woman appeared. woman had just stood and other similar tricks. David Robinson, From Peep Show to Palace: The Birth of American Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 74-75; Encyclopedia of the Age of Industry and Empire, s.v. “cinema”.
méliès, a former magician, not only invented “trick-movie films containing techniques, originally used by georges méliès, such as stop-motion photography that made objects disappear, reappear and transform”, that producers in england and The United States began to imitate, but it was also he who transformed cinema into the narrative medium it is today. Whereas before, filmmakers had only created single-shot movies lasting a minute or less, Méliès began stitching these short films together to create stories. his 30-scene trip to the moon (1902), a film based on a jules verne novel, may have been the most watched production in cinema’s first decade. david robinson, from peep show to palace: the birth of american cinema (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), 441. However, Méliès never developed his technique beyond treating the narrative film as a staged theatrical performance; his camera, which represents the point of view of an audience in front of a stage, never moved during the shooting of a scene. In 1912, Méliès premiered his last commercially successful production, The Conquest of the Pole, and from then on he lost an audience to filmmakers experimenting with more sophisticated techniques. Encyclopedia of Communication and Information (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2002), sv “Méliès, Georges”, by Ted C. jones, gale virtual reference library.