History of Film

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At the moment, I just want to get this idea out there, so that contributions and ideas can be made, though very soon I will begin piecing this together.

In the meantime, feel free to make contributions.

Note - Before you begin reading, you should probably be aware that there is no definitive history of film as all the technologies were being invented by different people in different parts of the world. Also, a lack of commercialism by some of the inventors of the 19th Century has meant they don't recieve the recognition they deserve.

Also, moving pictures itself isn't a single technology, but rather a mix of around 3 or 4 main technologies (and several others tagged on for fine tuning)

The Magic Lantern and The Projector

The original Magic Lantern was a simple projector that was illuminated by candles and oil lamps. It is believed that the Magic Latern was invented by Athanasius Kircher in 16441. However, it should be noted that a drawing of what appears to be a Magic Latern can be found in the drawings of Leonardo Di Vinci.

Camera Obscura

Literally translated from the Latin as 'a dark room', the Camera Obscura works on the principle that in a darkened room with only a single 'pinhole' light-source, an image of the outside view from the hole will be projected onto the back wall opposite the hole.

The Camera Obscura was known to humans long before the advent of photography2, yet wasn't used to capture images, merely retain them in one place. The principle that the camera obscura relies on to project the far-away image, called Pinhole Images can itself be traced back to fifth century China and reportedly, Aristotle (384-322 BC) was familiar with the concept. The Camera Obscura allowed such people as Leonardo da Vinci to paint/draw images in great detail without having to focus on a far-away object.

Roget, 1824

A theorist. Debate rages about whether he laid the groundwork for moving pictures from his article "Explanation of an optical deception in the appearance of the spokes of a wheel seen through vertical apertures. (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 18253, 131-140.)". For some reason, over the years this essay has been renamed "Persistence of Vision with Regard to Moving Objects" in order to make it sound like he was a theorist on moving pictures deliberately ('persistence of vision' is commonly misunderstood to be one of the principles that make moving pictures appear to move). The principle of 'persistance of vision' has been observed since ancient times and first appears in its current form in a describtion of scientific discussion by Chevalier d'Arcy in 1765.

Thaumatrope, 1826

Phenakistiscope, 1833

The Phenakistiscope was invented by Belgian Joseph Plateau at around the same time as Austrian Simon Ritter von Stampfer was inventing his Wheel of Life. Both devices consisted of a pair of discs on a single axle. One disc was adorned with a small number of sequential drawings; the second disc was equipped with eye slits. By spinning the first disc behind the second disc, the slits acted as a shutter and created for the viewer the illusion of movement. It may seem a rudimentary and simplistic form of animation today, but in 1833 it was revolutionary. For the first time, people were able to see 'moving pictures'.

Goodwin, 1887

Invented celluloid film in 1887

There does not seem to be a general consenus amongst film historians as to what the birth year of film was. There are some who put it as early as the 1880's and others who claim it to be as late as 1897. Nonetheless, film/moving pictures were born when celluloid film was combined with the early cameras. Lumiere is often quoted as the inventor of modern moving pictures, though it was probably Donisthorpe or Le Prince.

Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince, 1888

In 1888, what is believed to be the first photographed and projected motion picture was made by Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince when he filmed his in-laws Whitley and his son Adolphe Le Prince in the garden of their house in Leeds, England.

Marvelous Cinematograph, 1895

Jean Acmé Leroy was giving movie shows for a paying public in Clinton, New Jersey in February 1895, using his device called the Marvellous Cinematograph.

1At least, this is the first time evidence has been found of his latern2The Camera Obscura first featured as part of an illustration in a book by Johannes De Fontana in 14203Delivered to the Royal Society on 9th December 1824

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