Film History for ECSfG

Timeline created by Mrs Nuckey
In Film
  • The Phenakistoscope

    The Phenakistoscope
    Scientists realise that the human eye will perceive motion if a series of slightly different images is placed before it in rapid succession – at least 16 images per second.
    The Phenakistoscope, a spinning disc is invented in 1832
  • The Zeotrope

    The Zeotrope
    The Zeotrope was then invented in 1833 and became a popular toy.
  • The Sewing Machine and Intermittent Mechanisms

    The Sewing Machine and Intermittent Mechanisms
    In 1846 the sewing machine was invented using an ’intermittent mechanism’ which advanced strips of fabric while a needle pierced them. This was important in the birth of cinema as the same mechanism was required in the camera (the strip of film must stop briefly while light enters the lens and exposes the frame, a shutter then covers the frame while another moves into place) and in the projector (each frame must stop for an instant while a beam of light projects it onto the screen.)
  • Rapid Photography is Developed

    Rapid Photography is Developed
    ‘Magic Lanterns’ existed since the 17th century that projected glass slides. The first still photograph was made on a glass plate in 1826 but took an exposure time of 8 hours. It wasn’t until 1878 that rapid photography existed.
  • Eadweard Muybridge and Stop Motion Photography

    Eadweard Muybridge and Stop Motion Photography
    In 1878 Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic skills were called on to prove whether a galloping horse lifts all four hooves off the ground at one point in its sequence of motion. Some already suspected that this was so, but the key moment was too fleeting for the human eye to see. Eadweard Muybridge set up a row of 12 cameras to capture the movement on a series of glass plates, the resulting images are seen as important as they are the first to capture motion in stop-motion photographs.
  • George Eastman and Celluloid Film

    George Eastman and Celluloid Film
    In 1888 George Eastman created a still camera that made photographs on rolls of paper, he named it the Kodak. The following year he introduced flexible celluloid roll film – a breakthrough in the move toward cinema as it would allow multiple images to be displayed in quick succession (unlike glass/ metal).
  • Étienne Jules Marey and the Photographic Gun

    Étienne Jules Marey and the Photographic Gun
    In 1888 Étienne Jules Marey is the first person to combine flexible film stock (using paper) and an intermittent mechanism to photograph motion using a photographic gun shaped like a rifle.
  • Émile Reynaud and his Praxinoscope

    Émile Reynaud and his Praxinoscope
    By 1889, Émile Reynaud is using a large version of his Praxinoscope, mirrors and a lantern to project a series of drawings onto a screen for public performances.
  • Edison, Dickson and the Kinetograph/ Kinetoscope

    Edison, Dickson and the Kinetograph/ Kinetoscope
    Thomas Edison (the inventor of the gramophone and lightbulb) and his assistant W.K.L. Dickson are inspired by the work already done by Eastman and Marey. In 1891 they present the Kinetograph camera and Kinetoscope viewing box. Dickson uses Eastman’s film sliced into strip approximately 35mm wide which is then widely used for the next 100 years! Their machine exposes images at 46 frames per second however, and a much slower speed is used later.
  • The Kinetoscope Parlor

    The Kinetoscope Parlor
    In 1894 the first Kinetoscope parlor is opened in New York, highly profitable as only one person is able to view the film at a time through the peephole, once a coin is inserted.
    Edison and Dickson had also built a small studio called the Black Maria to produce their own 20 second films (that is all the device could hold.)
  • Lumière Brothers and their Cinématographe

    Lumière Brothers and their Cinématographe
    The Lumière Brothers ( Louis and Auguste) invented a projection system and begin producing their own (cheaper) short films in France. Most importantly in 1895, they designed a much smaller camera, the Cinématographe, which used 35mm and an intermittent mechanism. The camera was small and portable and could also be mounted and form part of a projector. They decide to shoot films at 16 frames per second and this became the norm for about 20 years
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    The Brighton School

    “The Brighton School” included George Albert Smith, James Williamson and the lesser known Alfred Darling and Esme Collings. They were still photographers as well as manufacturers of photographic equipment who began making films. They made a wide range of films without, at least in the beginning, any outside influence.They built their studios to accommodate the low light source in England initially using their own families and a few friends as “actors,” .
  • The First Commercial Film Screening

    The First Commercial Film Screening
    On December 28th 1895, the Lumiere brothers presented a 25 minute program of ten films at the Grand Café in Paris including a comic scene e titled ‘The Waterer Watered’. This was the worlds first commercial movie screening. These shows became very popular and soon the brothers were offering twenty shows a day and had spectators lining up outside. They began sending representatives all over the world to show and make films.
  • George Méliès

    George Méliès
    George Méliès was a performing magician who owned his own theatre. He built his own camera and decided to start making films. Melies discovered the possibilities of special effects.
    Melies built elaborate settings in this studio to create fantasy worlds and took great care in manipulating setting, lighting, costume and staging so he is seen as the first master of mise-en-scene.
    One of his most celebrated films was ‘A Trip to the Moon (1902).
  • The Bazar de la Charité Fire

    The Bazar de la Charité Fire
    On May 4, 1897 during a film screening in Paris, a curtain was ignited by the fuel lamp of the projector. This started a fire which killed around 125 people, mostly from the Upper Class. Following this, cinema became less attractive and films were mainly exhibited by travelling fairgrounds.
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    The Nickleodeon Boom

    From 1905 to 1907 the American film industry saw the rapid multiplication of film theatres. These were small stores, with less than 200 seats. It cost a nickel to enter (hence the term nickelodeon.) This is when movie going became more of a regular entertainment. There was almost always some sound accompaniment - often a piano accompaniment, sometimes actors stood behind the screen and spoke the dialogue and appropriate sound effects were also created.
  • The Birth of Hollywood

    The Birth of Hollywood
    During the early 1910s, LA emerged as the country’s major production center; it had clear dry weather to allow filming outdoors without disruption and a variety of landscapes including ocean, desert, mountain, forest and hillside. Hollywood was the suburb where many studios were established.
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    The Silent Era of Hollywood

    The Silent Age of Hollywood is generally held to have lasted from 1911, with the opening of the first Hollywood studios, to 1927, with the release of The Jazz Singer, the first movie to include scenes with synchronized speech. Influential Directors of this period include D.W. Griffith and Charlie Chaplin, there are many more!
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    Classical Hollywood or the Golden Age

    American commercial film making became increasingly concerned orientated toward storytelling and continuity of narrative. Film makers developed the use of camera work, acting, lighting and editing into a system now known as the classical Hollywood cinema. Film makers came to believe that a film should guide the spectator's attention, whilst early films had been confusing and difficult to follow, attention was now on a linear chain of narrative cause and effect.
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    French Expressionism and Surrealism

    Film movements in France also offered alternative to the emerging Hollywood tradition. . It was characterised by camera and editing techniques which both augmented the beauty of the image and evoked characters’ psychological states. Mood and suggestion took precedence over plot. 
    Surrealists were more radical, they created films that would perplex and shock ordinary audiences. Surrealists sought to capture the flow of consciousness as a tumble of sensations and memories.
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    German Expressionism

    Expressionism had first been important in painting, and was quickly taken up by the theatre, literature and architecture. The movement emphasized inner feelings or ideas over replicating reality, and was characterised by simplified shapes, bright colours and gestural marks or brushstrokes. This allowed film-makers to explore something very different to what was being created in Hollywood.
  • The Hollywood Studio System

    The Hollywood Studio System
    In the 1920s, the American film industry established a structure known as the studio system. Within a company, film making tasks were now carefully divided among specialists, and each project was overseen by a producer who managed the budget and schedule. Thomas Ince pioneered the use of detailed shooting scripts.
  • The Introduction of Sound

    The Introduction of Sound
    In 1927, Warner Brothers release The Jazz Singer; the first film with synchronized sound, using records. Prior to this films were accompanied by live music from either a piano, organ or full orchestra. Films with sound were referred to as ‘talkies’.
  • Colour Film - Technicolour

    Colour Film - Technicolour
    In the 1930s the firm Technicolour introduced an improved system where the light coming into the camera lense was split and recorded on three strips of film, one registered red, the other green, and the third blue. Images were then created for each strip and treated with colour dyes, gelatin were then used to absorb the dyes, to blend and create the original colour scene. This created a very saturated colour image. first seen in the 1932 Disney cartoon Flower and Trees.
  • French New Wave Cinema

    French New Wave Cinema
    These were critic turned film directors who were associated with the film magazine Cahiers du cinéma, the publication that popularized the auteur theory in the 1950s. The theory held that certain directors so dominated their films that they were virtually the authors of the film.
    This group rejected the French film making establishment and admired commercial Hollywood – seeing artistry in the work of some US Directors.
  • VHS and homeviewing

    VHS and homeviewing
    In the 1970s Japan developed the VHS and by 1977 these tape cassettes were being sold internationally, allowing people to view films at home.
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    The New Hollywood

    Vertically integrated studios (those that controlled the production, distribution and exhibition of films) were banned. There was also a sharp drop in cinema attendance due to the popularity of TV.
    The industry was saved by blockbuster mentality.   New directors were young and educated at film school instead of coming up through the ranks of the studio system. The big three directors that emerged at this time were Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
  • DVD is Invented

    DVD is Invented
    The DVD was first invented in 1995, in 2005 it replaced VHS.
  • Digital Film and the use of HD Cameras

    Digital Film and the use of HD Cameras
    In May 1999, George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace was released. Four screens tested prototypes of digital projectors. Lucas then shot the second Star Wars using a HD camera and declared he wouldn’t use film again.
  • Online Streaming Begins

    Online Streaming Begins
    In 2006, online services started selling movie downloads.
    Netflix began mailing DVDs in 1997 and offered streaming from 2007.
  • 3D Camera Use

    3D Camera Use
    In the 1980s the large format IMAX system was used for documentaries in 3D. Prior to this there was some experimentation with 3D in the 1950s. Another push to innovate in this area began in the mid-2000s. James Cameron commissioned a 3D camera system for his 2003 film Ghosts of the Abyss. It was then used on his blockbuster Avatar (2009) which became the highest grossing film to date.