No matter who a person thinks invented the motion picture camera, whether it was Louis Lumiere or Thomas Edison, I’m sure they had no idea what it would become at the turn of the century. Motion pictures, has become an entertainment medium like no other. From Fred Ott’s Sneeze to Psycho to Being John Malkovich, the evolution from moving pictures to a pure art form has been quite amazing. Different steps in filming techniques define eras in one of the most amazing ideas that was ever composed. Silent to Sound. Short to long. Black and white to color. Analog to Digital.
All were important marks in the History of Motion Pictures. “It’s different than other arts. It had to be invented” As for the creation of the present day video camera is still in some debate nearly a century later. But, whether you think it was Thomas Edison and William Dickson inventing the kinetoscope or Luis Lumiere coming up with the suit-case-sized cimematographe, the idea, maybe not so hard to conceive now, must have been baffling to the common person in 1895. Edison was already a well-credited inventor by he time he and William Dickson created the kinetoscope.
They started the idea of the kinetoscope using the idea of persistence of vision. Persistence of vision is the time that it takes for the images to be recorded in your eye. After receiving the impression of the image, the eye retains the impression of and image, between 1/10th and 1/20th, after it has disappeared. The projector, which is designed with this in mind, compensates for that, with a constant stop and go motion. It plays the image long enough for each image to be interpreted by the eye. The stop and go motion of the film gives the image of motion.
If it didn’t stop-and-go than the images I person sees would be blurred. Suppose each exposure on a filmstrip was 1/500th of one second long. And the film is filmed at 24 frames per second. Therefore one second is equal to 24/500 frames. That means that only 5% of the film is actually being presented. And the human eye compensates, and the spectator thinks he is seeing motion and about 95% percent more than he or she actually is. An average length for a movie these days is roughly one and one half-hours long. In reality you are seeing only 41/2 minutes of pure film. The brain makes up the rest.
Knowing this, Edison set out to make a motion picture machine. Edison saw no commercial value in it, which is somewhat ironic, but still decided to make it anyway. In an interview in 1887 he said, “It is possible to devise an instrument, which should do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear. ” Edison assigned the aforementioned, William Kennedy Dickson to pursue the research and development of his idea. Dickson discovered is that they machine must use light. That may seem very obvious but light was fairly new and somebody had to come up with the idea it must be incorporated in Edison’s idea.
For film, Dickson used a 1 and inch wide strip of celluloid. Celluloid was brittle and broke easily but it continued to be used. George Eastman discovered a better substance for film. It was called Eastman film. Eastman had developed the film for Edison’s already invented kinetograph. So using that name, Dickson developed a machine he called the kinetoscope. Thomas Edison first saw the kinetoscope in 1889. The patent rights were granted in 1893, two years after Edison had applied for what he called “an apparatus for exhibiting photographs of moving objects. ”
Even though, at the time he was working on the kinetoscope, Dickson had effected the projection of a motion picture onto a screen, Edison had refused to put projection machines on the market. When Norman Raff, the company who manufactured the kinetoscope, proposed that they do so, Edison was reported to have replied that the company was selling kinetoscopes for $300 to $350 and making a profit. They said that if they sold machines around the country, people could see films simultaneously in large groups. Edison thought that there would be use for about ten kinetoscopes.
On top of that, another company created a motion picture machine they called the pantopticon. Which was first displayed in public on May 20th, 1895, in New York City. At the same time a man name Thomas Armat was creating a stop-motion device for the two machines. Edison was informed of Armat’s invention and in early 1896 the two men reached an agreement to manufacture a projection machine incorporating both devices. The machine was marketed under Edison’s name but was labeled “Armat design” Together they chose the new name for their machine. The vitascope.
On April 14, 1896, under the headline “Edison’s Latest Triumph,” the New York Times reported: “Thomas A. Edison and Albert Bial have perfected arrangements by which Edison’s latest invention, the vitascope, will be exhibited for the first time anywhere at Koster & Bial’s Music Hall. Edison has been working on the vitascope for several years. The vitascope projects upon a large area of canvas groups that appear to stand forth from the canvas, and move with great agility and facility, as though actuated by separate impulses. In this way the bare canvas before the audience becomes instantly a stage upon which living beings move about.
Mr. Bial said yesterday: “I propose to reproduce in this way at Koster & Bial’s scenes from various succesful plays and operas of the season, and well-known statesmen and celebrities will be represented as, for instance, making a speech or performing some important act or series of acts with which their names are identified. No other manager in this city will have the right to exhibit the vitascope. Edison was delighted about the new machine and started thinking of ways to use it. He constructed a building for making films. It was all based on large pole and could be rotated.
The rotation was needed so that light could enter from any angle from the ceiling and windows. The building was called the kinograph theatre. It was later nicknamed The Black Maria, because of the fact that the building was covered in tarpaper. Edison was appointed the first director. His first actor was a man named Fred Ott. He was one of Edison’s employees in his testing labs Ott had a reputation of sneezing very loudly in the testing lab. The first movie that they made was a close up of Mr. Ott sneezing. They called it: Fred Ott’s Sneeze.
It was the first motion picture ever recorded on film. For the first 20 years of motion picture history most silent films were short, only a few minutes in length. Before directors considered it a real art, they would just film being crazy, doing fun and ridiculous antics. They would last only a few short minutes. In the early 1910’s the films became more complex and greater in length. One of the first major developments in the motion picture industry was a very natural step to follow. They shot the scenes in an arranged order, or as they will be mentioned hereafter, arranged scenes.
Cinderella was one of the first arranged scenes/movies made. It was made in 1899. There were 20 total scenes in the movie, which totaled to be 410 feet of Eastman film. It went through the entire Cinderella fairy tale. From Cinderella cleaning the kitchen, to her triumph in the end. Other young, aspiring filmmakers said the movie “augmented by marvelous tricks, scenic effects, dissolving views, ballets, and marches. In which 35 people participated. ” The ability to record sound that was synchronized with the recorded images was discovered in 1929.
Few silent films were made after that, with the exception of Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin was the biggest silent film star at the time. His character, who wore floppy over-sized shoes, a bowler hat, and his ever-present cane. When the silent era ended, Chaplin refused to go along with sound in films. Some of his last movies he made in the 1930’s City Lights and Modern Times were some of his best ever. In most of his movies he represented the “little guy,” the underdog, someone who used wit and whimsy to defeat his adversaries. Along with sound came stars.
People would swoon and idolize over actors and actresses. Stars had contracts with various studios. Some of those studious include: 20th-Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Columbia Pictures, and Warner Brothers. Many of those companies are still very profitable and successful today. However, in the early part of the century the contracts worked very differently than they do today. It was comparable to modern day professional sports. An actor or director had a contract with a studio. Much like a basketball player has a contract with a specific team.
They would only work for that studio. However studios often “borrowed” actors or directors in trust that the favor would repay them in the future. That part is unlike sports. Movie stars also worked on more than one project at a time and often were expected to come up with about five movies every year. Using Humphrey Bogart as an example, he starred in 36 films between 1934 and 1942, which is unheard of today. Casablanca was one of four pictures her did in 1943. When English director Alfred Hitchcock made his first American film in 1940 (Rebecca), he joined the other directors of American Studios.
He was known as “the master of suspense” His first attempt at making a film, which was titled Number 13, never finished. In 1922 he collaborated in the direction of Always tell your Wife. He had gone to Germany and filmed The Pleasure Garden. While in Germany he learned a new style of filming that is evident in his American movies. Among the peculiar techniques were wide angles, crooked camera shots, and fast motion. He came to America and became one of the countries best-loved directors. Some of his best, and most famous work includes: Psycho, Vertigo, and The Rear Window. For one reason or another the 1950s have slipped past us.
Perhaps it was because of the focused efforts of Americans to win World War II and the disappointments of the 1960s (“the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement, and the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are some other type of distractions”). It’s too bad they probably were going to make some good movies. They were an era of economic growth for the “haves” in America, and an era of renewed separation of the races in this country. Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954) signaled the beginning of a new era in race relations in this country. Where were the 1950s?
In the 1950s some of America’s greatest actors played characters who were past their prime, emotionally vulnerable, with fragile egos. Bette Davis stars as an aging actress manipulated by an aggressive younger actress in All About Eve; Humphrey Bogart plays a broken-down alcoholic in The African Queen and a psychotic naval captain in The Caine Mutiny; Gary Cooper is an aging sheriff who stands down the bad guys one last time (with the help of Grace Kelly) in High Noon; Jimmy Stewart returns to the screen after an interlude as a Western star to appear in two Hitchcock films, Rear Window and Vertigo.
In both films he plays middle-aged men who have suffered debilitating injuries psychological and physical. There are a wide variety of genres, which have changed the effects in films. All of these slowly evolved into a completely separate genre. They have been entertaining us and giving us new insights. From Sci-fi , Drama, and Action, these genres have changed their issues. As movie genres have widely expanded, old ones have been forgotten and new ones have been discovered. The Sci-fi genre is probably one of the oldest yet still alive in movies today.
Sci-fi started out as space exploration to the moon. Finding aliens on planets in these movies were common. Years past by and better technology went into them. Special effects were brought in by using computers and blue screens to generate more life-like images in to today’s movies. Especially in the recently released Dinosaur, which uses the latest and most up to date technology that is available. Back in the 30’s and 40’s, movie effects were horrible. You could see the model spaceships attached to strings as they were hovering around.
In addition, drama films have changed through the years with more social issues. A Few Good Men, Dead Man Walking, Forrest Gump, and The Grapes of Wrath all had one thing in common. They all came from that genre. One movie that stands out from the crowd was Gone with the Wind. A story of dramatic Civil War action with love scenes that touched peoples hearts. However, in today’s movies like Forrest Gump and Dead Man Walking, they deal with realistic problems in the 1990’s. The majority of today’s Drama films deal with issues that are happening in the real world, such as AIDS, drugs, and crimes.
Movie genres seem to change their main concerns sometimes. Most notably was the western genre. It depicted the lives and times of cowboys, Native Americans, and settlers in the western United States. The Westerns usually romanticizes life in the western and southwestern United States from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. Stars of these Westerns were usually Clint Eastwood and John Wayne in films such as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Stagecoach. Now however, rarely anybody makes these types of movies any more.
It has become an action genre, with fast paced plots and excitement. The location of this genre also has moved to bigger and more dangerous cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Films such as Passenger 57 and Die Hard are becoming more popular, as they feature hostages and innocent people being attacked and killed. In conclusion, movie issues have changed, but they still are deep within our hearts with memorable moments and imitated lines. Also, they have become an American past time and a prominent occasion in our everyday life style.