Term Paper: History and Progression of Film Cinema Technology

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¶ … progression of Film / Cinema Technology

One of the more important names in the history of cinema technology is that of the Englishman, Eadwaerd Muybridge, 1830 to 1904, who was at the outset a photographer and an inventor of technologies beyond his own times, and who became famous for his photographic studies of the locomotion of animals and of human beings, at the end of the nineteenth century. One example of his work is the 'Horse in Motion'. It was in the year 1870 when, at a racecourse in Sacramento, California, Eadweard set up a row of twelve cameras, spaced out equally all along the race track, to record the galloping movement of one single horse, in order to prove his theory that all four of the horse's feet would be off the ground when it was running fast. He was to repeat the same experiment a few years later using a set of twenty four cameras. These pictures were widely recognized and published during the late 1800's, and they were more often than not cut into small strips and used in what was known as the 'Praxinoscope', which was invented by Charles Emile Reynaud in the year 1877.

This was, in fact, the world's first 'movie machine', in which a series of images could be projected on to a screen made for the purpose. In 1879, Eadwaerd Muynaird, not to be outdone, invented his own 'Zoopraxiscope', which would be able to display his 'stop action' strips of photographs. This turned out to be a primitive motion picture projection machine, which would be able to recreate movement by projecting images in an extremely rapid fashion, onto a screen. The pictures would be printed on a rotating glass disc. At around the same time, during the 1900's, the Parisian innovator and physiologist Etienne-Jules Marey was studying and recording the bodies of animals in motion, using photography. He soon created and developed a camera which would be able to take multiple, or twelve, to be exact, photographs of animals or of human beings, per second, on the same camera plate, and not a single photograph on a single plate as Eadwaerd had done earlier, and this later came to be known as 'chronophotography'.

These chronophotographs revolutionized motion cinema, and the fact that these motions would be recorded on strips of glass plates or on sensitized paper, also known as celluloid film, which would pass through a camera of his own invention, made the equipment extremely valuable, and soon, Etienne-Jules Marey was able to achieve a frame rate of thirty images per second. French-born Louis Le Prince in 1888 devised and created a camera, on which one would be able to take motion picture films, and it must be stated that the work of the three inventors of technology in cinema, Muybridge, Marey and Le Prince laid the groundwork for the development of motion picture cameras, and also of projectors.

This can in fact be referred to as the first stepping stone for the development of cinema. George Eastman was able to, a few years later; create and invent a more stable form of celluloid film, when he happened to produce the sensitized paper roll film, which would later prove to be an extremely useful invention, and also a very convenient Kodak Film Camera, used even today in some parts of the world, which used the roll film to take photographs, and even later, he was able to improve on the paper roll film be adding a layer of synthetic plastic which was coated with gelatin, also known as 'celluloid' to the paper roll, and joining them with emulsion.

Thomas Alva Edison and his assistant, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, created the 'Kinetophonograph', or the 'Kinetoscope', an invention that would effectively synchronize sound with the moving image. The images would be seen from a projector, and the sound would be from a phonograph record. This invention proved to be one of the most important reasons for the emergence of motion pictures during the 1890's. The camera in fact was designed to capture movement or motion with a synchronized 'shutter and sprocket' system, which would be able to move the 35 mm wide film through the camera when the pictures were being shot. This motion picture camera set the standard for the motion picture cameras that are in use today. In 1891, Dickson also invented a projector, which was in effect an 'optical lantern', a large bulky floor standing device that would allow one user at a time to view images in motion as they would be rotated inside a cylinder with a lamp light. This devise, also known as the 'kinetoscope' was demonstrated for the first time at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in 1893.

However, it must be noted that it was around this time that the first modern screen projectors were being created and this meant that the kinetoscope was not very popular. In the same year, the world's first film studio, or the first Kinetographic Theater' was created, and this was the 'Black Maria'. This was a tar paper covered dark room, with a retractable roof where films would be taken, most of which were crude home movies of a train passing, for example. The famous 'Holland Brothers' soon opened the first Kinetoscope Parlor at '1155 Broadway' in New York City, and this was where movies were exhibited commercially, for money, to an audience. Soon, more Kinetoscope Parlors opened in other states like in San Francisco, Atlantic City, and Chicago. The themes of these movies would be mundane, like women dancing, a dog terrorizing a rat, and so on.

The 'Golden Age' of cinema in Hollywood generally refers to the time when sound was incorporated into cinema, and when the concept of a studio had caught on. This was in fact the veritable heyday of the Hollywood Studio System, with outputs from several important sources like Universal, MGM, Columbia, Warner Brothers, Paramount Studios, and the Twentieth Century Fox. It was during the 1930's that genre films began to gain in popularity, and some of these were musicals, comedies, westerns, dramas, and cartoons. Some examples are 'Dracula' produced in 1931, King Kong in 1933. The very first 'Technicolor' production was launched by Walt Disney in the form of short animations, which were later on made into feature films like 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' made in the year 1938, and 'Bambi' made in 1940. Other celebrated movies made during this time were 'Gone with the Wind 'and 'Casablanca' and these were examples of the high technical developments in cinematic techniques in the cinematic field during that time. Fantasia came up with 'Fantasound', a movie that employed the newly developed 'film sound recording' and 'playback techniques' as well.

It must be noted that as these movies mentioned above came to be created, so did various types of special effects which involved actually fooling the viewer into thinking that he was in fact seeing something in motion, when all he was seeing was a series of still images projected in a rapid fashion, so as to simulate movement. Visual effects, on the other hand, were produced using miniatures and paintings. Gradually, when the techniques of manipulating light and shadows and also of manipulating the camera into differing view points were discovered, and there were very many types of lenses to choose from, the quality of cinema began to improve dramatically. Words and titles could be added, frame rates could be faster, and the technique of 'close up' shots was discovered. This gave the film a very good aesthetic appeal, and close ups of a beautiful face would naturally charm the viewer into wanting to see more cinema.

Today, there are such advanced technologies in cinema such as Cell Animation, Claymation, Scale Modeling, and the use of Computer Generated Images to add to the special effects wihtin a film, and these add to the intense appeal of any movie. Howevre, what must be remembered is the fact that the special effects of the older days were also equally significant, given the lack of technology that was evident at that time, and one of the very first special effects to be used in a film was in 1895 in a film entitled 'The Execution of Mary Queen of Scots', wherein Mary would be decapatitated on screen. The technique used was a dummy and a substitution shot, and the entire audience was fooled into thinking that Mary's head had indeed been chopped off. At about the same time, editing and the usage of specialized props in a film came into the picture, and in 1937, a fully animated film was created by Disney, called 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs'.

All the pictures were drawn by hand, something that had not been done before, for a movie. In 1970, the first 'edit droid' was introduced by Lucas, and the same technique is today referred to as 'non-linear editing'. This is a form… [END OF PREVIEW]

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