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An introduction to the history of cinematography

Identify key points in the development of the motion picture industry. Identify key developments of the motion picture industry and technology.

Identify influential films in movie history. The movie industry as we know it today originated in the early 19th century through a series of technological developments: Since then, the industry has seen extraordinary transformations, some driven by the artistic visions of individual participants, some by commercial necessity, and still others by accident.

The history of the cinema is complex, and for every important innovator and movement listed here, others have been left out.

  1. Many films are produced internationally—either made in various countries or financed by multinational companies that have interests across range of media.
  2. In the late 1940s, only 12 percent of features were in color; however, by 1954 after the release of Kodak Eastmancolor more than 50 percent of movies were in color Britannica Online.
  3. Adding colour Colour was first added to black-and-white movies through tinting, toning and stencilling. Not only did The Great Train Robbery establish the realistic narrative as a standard in cinema, it was also the first major box-office hit.
  4. At the same time, Kodak came out with a multilayer film stock that made it possible to use more affordable cameras and to produce a higher quality image.

Nonetheless, after reading this section you will understand the broad arc of the development of a medium that has captured the imaginations of audiences worldwide for over a century. In 1891, the inventor Thomas Edison, together with William Dickson, a young laboratory assistant, came out with what they called the kinetoscopea device that would become the predecessor to the motion picture projector. The kinetoscope was a cabinet with a window through which individual viewers could experience the illusion of a moving image Gale Virtual Reference Library British Movie Classics.

A perforated celluloid film strip with a sequence of images on it was rapidly spooled between a light bulb and a lens, creating the illusion of motion Britannica.

As the kinetoscope gained popularity, the Edison Company began installing machines in hotel lobbies, amusement parks, and penny arcades, and soon kinetoscope parlors—where customers could pay around 25 cents for admission to a bank of machines—had opened around the country.

However, when friends and collaborators suggested that Edison find a way to project his kinetoscope images for audience viewing, he apparently refused, claiming that such an invention would be a less profitable venture Britannica.

An Introduction to Film Analysis

Porter, a projectionist and engineer for the Edison Company. Not only did The Great Train Robbery establish the realistic narrative as a standard in cinema, it was also the first major box-office hit.

Between 1904 and 1908, around 9,000 nickelodeons appeared in the United States. The Motion Picture Industry Emerges As the demand for motion pictures grew, production companies were created to meet it.

  • However, it was technically cumbersome, and widescreen cinema did not begin to be extensively used until the introduction of CinemaScope in 1953 and Todd-AO in 1955, both of which used single projectors;
  • And much as it does today, the news media liked to sensationalize the lives of celebrities to sell stories.

At the peak of nickelodeon popularity in 1910 Britannica Onlinethere were 20 or so major motion picture companies in the United States. However, heated disputes often broke out among these companies over patent rights and industry control, leading even the most powerful among them to fear fragmentation that would loosen their hold on the market Fielding, 1967. The MPPC was a an introduction to the history of cinematography group that pooled the most significant motion picture patents and established an exclusive contract between these companies and the Eastman Kodak Company as a supplier of film stock.

The Rise of the Feature In these early years, theaters were still running single-reel films, which came at a standard length of 1,000 feet, allowing for about 16 minutes of playing time. As exhibitors began to show more features—as the multiple-reel film came to be called—they discovered a number of advantages over the single-reel short.

For one thing, audiences saw these longer films as special events and were willing to pay more for admission, and because of the popularity of the feature narrativesfeatures generally experienced longer runs in theaters than their single-reel predecessors Motion Pictures.

As it turns out, the feature film was one factor that brought about the eventual downfall of the MPPC. Today, few people would recognize names like Vitagraph or Biograph, but the independents that outlasted them—Universal, Goldwyn which would later merge with Metro and MayerFox later 20th Century Foxand Paramount the later version of the Lasky Corporation —have become household names. Hollywood As moviegoing increased in popularity among the middle class, and as the feature films began keeping audiences in their seats for longer periods of time, exhibitors found a need to create more comfortable and richly decorated theater spaces to attract their audiences.

Some producers realized that the growing demand for new work could only be met if the films were produced on a regular, year-round system. However, this was impractical with the current system that often relied on outdoor filming and was predominately based in Chicago and New York—two cities whose weather conditions prevented outdoor filming for a significant portion of the year.

Different companies attempted filming in warmer locations such as Florida, Texas, and Cuba, but the place where producers eventually found the most success was a small, industrial suburb of Los Angeles called Hollywood.

Hollywood proved to be an an introduction to the history of cinematography location for a number of reasons. Not only was the climate temperate and sunny year-round, but land was plentiful and cheap, and the location allowed close access to a number of diverse topographies: By 1915, more than 60 percent of U. The Art of Silent Film While the development of narrative film was largely driven by commercial factors, it is also important to acknowledge the role of individual artists who turned it into a medium of personal expression.

The motion picture of the silent era was generally simplistic in nature; acted in overly animated movements to engage the eye; and accompanied by live music, played by musicians in the theater, and written titles to create a mood and to narrate a story.

  • It is commonly thought that the origins of the magic lantern go back to the early 17th century, almost two hundred years before the first photographs were made;
  • This wide-screen format increased the immersive quality of the theater experience;
  • Because Edison had originally conceived of motion pictures as an adjunct to his phonograph, he did not commission the invention of a projector to accompany the Kinetograph;
  • This is a derivative of Understanding Media and Culture;
  • At the peak of nickelodeon popularity in 1910 Britannica Online , there were 20 or so major motion picture companies in the United States;
  • The first film to achieve international distribution mainly through piracy , Le Voyage dans la lune was an enormous popular success.

Within the confines of this medium, one filmmaker in particular emerged to transform the silent film into an art and to unlock its potential as a medium of serious expression and persuasion. He found that by practicing parallel editingin which a film alternates between two or more scenes of action, he could create an illusion of simultaneity. Griffith used this technique to great effect in his controversial film The Birth of a Nation, which will be discussed in greater detail later on in this chapter.

Combating Censorship As film became an increasingly lucrative U. On the one hand, these celebrities were idolized and imitated in popular culture, yet at the same time, they were criticized for representing a threat, on and off screen, to traditional morals and social order. And much as it does today, the news media liked to sensationalize the lives of celebrities to sell stories. When Arbuckle hosted a marathon party over Labor Day weekend in 1921, one of his guests, model Virginia Rapp, was rushed to the hospital, where she later died.

Reports of a drunken orgy, rape, and murder surfaced. Many feared that movies and their stars could threaten the moral order of the country. Because of the nature of the crime and the celebrity involved, these fears became inexplicably tied to the Artbuckle case Motion Pictures. Even though autopsy reports ruled that Rapp had died from causes for which Arbuckle could not be blamed, the comedian was tried and acquitted for manslaughter, and his career was ruined.

In response to this perceived threat, state and local governments increasingly tried to censor the content of films that depicted crime, violence, and sexually explicit material. Deciding that they needed to protect themselves from government censorship and to foster a more favorable public image, the major Hollywood studios organized in 1922 to form an association they called the Motion Picture Producers and Distributers of America later renamed the Motion Picture Association of America, or MPAA.

Among other things, the MPAA instituted a code of self-censorship for the motion picture industry. When representatives from Western Electric offered to sell the an introduction to the history of cinematography the rights to a new technology they called Vitaphone, a sound-on-disc system that had failed to capture the interest of an introduction to the history of cinematography of the industry giants, Warner Bros.

Little did they anticipate that their gamble would not only establish them as a major Hollywood presence but also change the industry forever. The pairing of sound with motion pictures was nothing new in itself. Edison, after all, had commissioned the kinetoscope to create a visual accompaniment to the phonograph, and many early theaters had orchestra pits to provide musical accompaniment to their films. Even the smaller picture houses with lower budgets almost always had an organ or piano.

A very short history of cinema

In 1926, Warner debuted the system with the release of Don Juan, a costume drama accompanied by a recording of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra; the public responded enthusiastically Motion Pictures.

The film was a major breakthrough. Audiences, hearing an actor speak on screen for the first time, were enchanted Gochenour. By 1929, three-fourths of Hollywood films had some form of sound accompaniment, and by 1930, the silent film was a thing of the past Gochenour. The hand-painting technique became impractical with the advent of mass-produced film, and the tinting process, which filmmakers discovered would create an interference with the transmission of sound in films, was abandoned with the rise of the talkie.

However, because only two colors were used, the appearance of The Toll of the Sea 1922The Ten Commandments 1923and other early Technicolor films was not very lifelike.

By 1932, Technicolor had designed a three-color system with more realistic results, and for the next 25 years, all color films were produced with this improved system. Despite the success of certain color films in the 1930s, Hollywood, like the rest of the United States, was feeling the impact of the Great Depression, and the expenses of special cameras, crews, and Technicolor lab processing made color films impractical for studios trying to cut costs. Rise and Fall of the Hollywood Studio The spike in theater attendance that followed the introduction of talking films changed the economic structure of the motion picture industry, bringing about some of the largest mergers in an introduction to the history of cinematography history.

By 1930, eight studios produced 95 percent of all American films, and they continued to experience growth even during the Depression. The five most influential of these studios—Warner Bros. Some of the most acclaimed movies in history were released during this period, including Citizen Kane and An introduction to the history of cinematography Grapes of Wrath.

However, postwar inflation, a temporary loss of key foreign markets, the advent of the television, and other factors combined to bring that rapid growth to an end. In 1948, the case of the United States v. Paramount Pictures—mandating competition and forcing the studios to relinquish control over theater chains—dealt the final devastating blow from which the studio system would never recover.

Control of the major studios reverted to Wall Street, where the studios were eventually absorbed by multinational corporations, and the powerful studio heads lost the influence they had held for nearly 30 years Baers, 2000. Issues in Political Economy, 11 Summer: Television Presents a Threat While economic factors and antitrust legislation played key roles in the decline of the studio system, perhaps the most important factor in that decline was the advent of the television.

In an attempt to win back diminishing audiences, studios did their best to exploit the greatest advantages film held over television. For one thing, television broadcasting in the 1950s was all in black and white, whereas the film industry had the advantage of color. While producing a color film was still an expensive undertaking in the late 1940s, a couple of changes occurred in the industry in the early 1950s to make color not only more affordable, but more realistic in its appearance.

In 1950, as the result of antitrust legislation, Technicolor lost its monopoly on the color film industry, allowing other providers to offer more competitive pricing on filming and processing services.

At the same time, Kodak came out with a multilayer film stock that made it possible to use more affordable cameras and to produce a higher quality image. In the late 1940s, only 12 percent of features were in color; however, by 1954 after the release of Kodak Eastmancolor more than 50 percent of movies were in color Britannica Online. Another clear advantage on which filmmakers tried to capitalize was the sheer size of the cinema experience. With the release of the epic biblical film The Robe in 1953, 20th Century Fox introduced the method that would soon be adopted by nearly every studio in Hollywood: This wide-screen format increased the immersive quality of the theater experience.

Nonetheless, even with these advancements, movie attendance never again reached the record numbers it experienced in 1946, at the peak of the Golden Age of Hollywood Britannica Online. HUAC and the Hollywood Blacklist The Cold War with the Soviet Union began in 1947, and with it came the widespread fear of communism, not only from the outside, but equally from within.

Introduction to History of Cinema

In the highly conservative and paranoid atmosphere of the time, Hollywood, the source of a mass-cultural medium, came under fire in response to fears that subversive, communist messages were being embedded in films. These 10, later known as the Hollywood Ten, were fired from their jobs and sentenced to serve up to a year in prison.

The History of Cinema: A Very Short Introduction

The studios, already slipping in influence and profit, were eager to cooperate in order to save themselves, and a number of producers signed an agreement stating that no communists would work in Hollywood. Over 324 individuals lost their jobs in the film industry as a result of blacklisting the denial of work in a certain field or industry and HUAC investigations Georgakas, 2004; Mills, 2007; Dressler, et.

Down With the Establishment: These four films in particular grossed so much money at the box offices that producers began churning out low-budget copycats to draw in a new, profitable market Motion Pictures. While this led to a rise in youth-culture films, few of them saw great success. Blockbusters, Knockoffs, and Sequels In the 1970s, with the rise of work by Coppola, Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, and others, a new breed of director emerged.

These directors were young and film-school educated, and they contributed a sense of professionalism, sophistication, and technical mastery to their work, leading to a wave of blockbuster productions, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977Star Wars 1977Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981and E. The computer-generated special effects that were available at this time also contributed to the success of a number of large-budget productions.

History of the motion picture

In response to these and several earlier blockbusters, movie production and marketing techniques also began to shift, with studios investing more money in fewer films in the hopes of producing more big successes. With the opening of Jaws, one of the five top-grossing films of the decade and the highest grossing film of all time until the release of Star Wars in 1977Hollywood embraced the wide-release method of movie distribution, abandoning the release methods of earlier decades, in which a film would debut in only a handful of select theaters in major cities before it became gradually available to mass audiences.

Additionally, corporations sought revenue sources beyond the movie theater, looking to the video and cable releases of their films.

  • However, people would continue to make films in black and white until the late 1950s;
  • Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast Detroit;
  • At first, films were very short, sometimes only a few minutes or less;
  • And they all have their special place in the story, and history of cinematography;
  • From Peep Show to Palace;
  • In 1903, in response to the needs of theatre owners, Harry J.

Introduced in 1975, the VCR became nearly ubiquitous in American homes by 1998 with 88. And the newly introduced concept of film-based merchandise toys, games, books, etc. The 1990s and Beyond The 1990s saw the rise of two divergent strands of cinema: The capabilities of special effects were enhanced when studios began manipulating film digitally. Early examples of this technology can be seen in Terminator 2: