Cinematograph

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Cinématographe Lumière at the Musée de la Photographie, France

A cinematograph is a motion picture film camera, which also serves as a film projector and printer. It was invented in the 1890s.[notes 1]

There is much dispute as to the identity of its inventor. Some argue[who?] that the device was first invented and patented as "Cinématographe Léon Bouly" by French inventor Léon Bouly on February 12, 1892. Leon Bouly coined the term “cinematograph”, which translates in Greek to “writing in movement”.[1] It is said[by whom?] that, due to a lack of money, Bouly was not able to pay the fee for his patent the following year, and Auguste and Louis Lumière's engineers bought the license.

Popular thought,[who?] however, dictates that Louis Lumière was the first to conceptualise the idea, and both Lumière brothers shared the patent. They made their first film, Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon, in 1894. The film was publicly screened at L'Eden, the world's first and oldest cinéma, located in La Ciotat in southeastern France, on September 28, 1895. The first commercial, public screening of cinematographic films happened in Paris on 28 December 1895 and was organised by the Lumière brothers.[2] The cinematograph was also exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1900. At the Exposition, films made by the Lumière Brothers were projected onto a large screen measuring 16 by 21 meters (approximately 52.5 x 69 feet).[3]

Several versions of cinématographes were developed, including ones by Robert Royou Beard, Cecil Wray, Georges Demenÿ, Alfred Wrench, and that of the Lumière brothers.[4]

The cinematograph is sometimes associated with the “birth” of cinema or the dawn of a new age of film that replaced the pre-cinema era.[1]

Invention[edit]

The cinématographe Lumière in projection mode

Louis Lumière worked with his brother Auguste to create a motion picture camera superior to Edison’s kinetoscope. The Lumières endeavored to correct the flaws they perceived in the kinetoscope to create a machine capable of both sharper images and better illumination. The Cinématographe weighed only 16 lbs., which allowed for ease of transportation and placement. As well, the cinematograph was manually operated by a hand-crank, as opposed to Edison’s electrically powered camera which was not readily portable. Furthermore, while Edison’s kinetoscope could only be viewed by one person at a time through an eyepiece, peep show style, the cinematograph could be projected onto a screen to be viewed by a large audience of people simultaneously.[5]

The cinematograph produced a sharper projected image than had been seen before due to its design, in which a kind of fork held the film frame behind the lens in place using the perforations in the sides of the film strip. In 1897, the Lumières further added to their invention by using a glass flask of water as the condenser to concentrate the light onto the film frame and absorb heat. The flask also acted as a safety feature, as the light would no longer be focused onto the flammable film if the glass were to break due to overheating or accident.[3]

Popularity[edit]

The cinematograph became a popular attraction and pastime for people all over the world. The Lumière Brothers took their machine as far and wide as China and India.[5] Movies shown through its projector were enjoyed by people of all classes and social standings. The cinematograph was used to show films in nickelodeons, where even the poorest classes could pay the entry fee. It was exhibited at fairs and used as entertainment acts in vaudeville houses in both Europe and the United States. While vaudeville is typically associated with the middle class of people, the machine also found its way into more sophisticated venues, where it appealed to the artistic tastes of high society.[1]

The Lumières held their first private screening of projected motion pictures on March 22, 1895. Their first public screening of films at which admission was charged was held on December 28, 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris. This history-making presentation featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory in Lyon).[6] Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Note that this was not the first 'moving picture' device. Louis Le Prince had built early devices in 1886. His 1888 film Roundhay Garden Scene still survives.
  1. ^ a b c Abel, Richard. Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. 1st ed. London: Routledge, 2004.
  2. ^ Louis Lumière, The Lumière Cinematograph. In:Fielding, Raymond (1979). A technological history of motion pictures and television: an anthology from the pages of the Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. University of California Press. pp. 49–51. ISBN 0-520-03981-5. 
  3. ^ a b Cinematograph, Louis Lumière. “1936 the Lumière Cinematograph.” SMPTE Journal 105, no. 10 (October 1, 1996): 608–611.
  4. ^ "Machines". Who's Who of Victorian Cinema. British Film Institute. 
  5. ^ a b Gomery, Professor Douglas, and Clara Pafort-Overduin. Movie History: A Survey. Taylor & Francis, 2011.

External links[edit]