List of cinematic firsts
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This page lists chronologically the first achievements in cinema. The development of cinema is characterised by technological breakthroughs, from early experiments in the recording of day-to-day activity, experiments in colour, different formats and sound. From the 1970s, the development of computer-generated imagery has become integral to the way that films are produced.
In parallel with the developments in technology, its content and the way it reflects society and its concerns and the way society responds to it have changed too. The list attempts to address some of these events.
- Chronophotography is the first time that movement is captured in several frames of print.
- Using a fast-motion series of 24 cameras Eadweard Muybridge films a horse in motion, Sallie Gardner at a Gallop.
- Eadweard Muybridge projects the moving images of Sallie Gardner at a Gallop on a screen when he gave a presentation at the California School of Fine Arts, making this exhibit the earliest known motion picture exhibition.
- Étienne-Jules Marey develops the Chronophotographe, which can take 12 pictures per second.
- In Leeds, England Louis Le Prince films Roundhay Garden Scene, believed to be the first motion picture recorded.
1889 or 1890
- Monkeyshines, by William Kennedy Dickson and William Heise. Believed to be the first film shot in the United States. An experimental film made to test the original cylinder Kinetograph format.
- Dickson Greeting aka Monkeyshines 2, by William Kennedy Dickson is the first public demonstration of motion pictures in the United States. The National Federation of Women’s Clubs are shown a 3 second clip of Dickson passing a hat in front of himself, and reaching for it with his other hand on May 20, 1891 at Edison's laboratory.
- On 28 October 1892 Charles-Émile Reynaud gave the first public performance of a moving picture show at the Musée Grévin in Paris, the Théâtre Optique. The show, billed as Pantomimes Lumineuses, included three cartoons, Pauvre Pierrot, Un bon bock, and Le Clown et ses chiens, each consisting of 500 to 600 individually painted images and lasting about 15 minutes. The film was the first to use perforations.
- Blacksmith Scene, by William Kennedy Dickson. The first Kinetoscope film shown in public exhibition on May 9, 1893 and is the earliest known example of actors performing a role in a film.
- The world's first film production studio, the Black Maria, or the Kinetographic Theater, was completed on the grounds of Edison's laboratories at West Orange, New Jersey, for the purpose of making film strips for the Kinetoscope. Construction began in December 1892
- On April 14, 1894, a public Kinetoscope parlor was opened by the Holland Bros. in New York City at 1155 Broadway, on the corner of 27th Street—the first commercial motion picture house. The venue had ten machines, set up in parallel rows of five, each showing a different movie. For 25 cents a viewer could see all the films in either row; half a dollar gave access to the entire bill.
- Dorlita in the Passion Dance Banned in New Jersey after use in peepshows. Russell Kick quotes the work Censorship as saying it "was probably the first [film] to be banned in the United States."
- la Sortie des Usines, the first film to be made in France.
- Dickson Experimental Sound Film by William Kennedy Dickson. It is the first known film with live-recorded sound and appears to be the first motion picture made for the Kinetophone, the proto-sound-film system developed by Dickson and Thomas Edison.
- First colour film, Annabelle Serpentine Dance by William Kennedy Dickson. The film was filmed in black and white and the frames hand coloured.
- Charles Francis Jenkins displays the Phantascope, the first patented Film projector.
- Incident at Clovelly Cottage by Robert W. Paul and Birt Acres is the first film to be made in the United Kingdom.
- The first building dedicated exclusively to showing motion pictures was the Vitascope Hall, established on Canal Street, New Orleans, Louisiana June 26 — it was converted from a vacant store.
- Later that year on October 19, the Edisonia Hall opened in Buffalo, New York in the Ellicott Square Building. The Edisonia was the first known dedicated, purpose-built motion picture theater in the world.
- Alice Guy-Blaché the first female film director makes La Fée aux Choux (The Cabbage Fairy) acknowledged as the first narrative fiction film.
- In The Kiss, May Irwin and John Rice re-enact the kiss from the New York stage hit The Widow Jones, the first film of a couple kissing.
- The first example of object manipulation and stop-motion animation was the short film by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton called The Humpty Dumpty Circus.
- King John is the first film adaptation of the work of William Shakespeare. The film features Herbert Beerbohm Tree in the title role and features the death scene from King John.
- Edward Raymond Turner's children. Recently discovered to be the first attempt at color filming. 
- Humorous Phases of Funny Faces directed by J. Stuart Blackton is the first 2D animated film.
- The Story of the Kelly Gang by Charles Tait is the first feature film to be released.
- January 19, Variety publishes reviews of two films, An Exciting Honeymoon and The Life of a Cowboy by Edwin S. Porter. These are believed to be the first film reviews published.
- L'Enfant prodigue is the first feature film produced in Europe.
- A Visit to the Seaside is the first film to use Kinemacolour.
- The Assassination of the Duke of Guise is the first film to have a score specifically written for it, by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns.
- The first full length feature film produced in the United States, an adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel Les Misérables.
- For the first time, the rights to adapt a novel are bought from a publisher, (Little, Brown & Company who published Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona. The film is made by D.W. Griffith.
- D.W. Griffith makes In Old California, the first film to be made in Hollywood.
- The first movie stunt. A Stuntman jumps from a burning balloon into the Hudson River.
- With Our King and Queen Through India, a documentary recording Indian celebrations around the coronation of George V, is the first feature film to be released in colour, using the Kinemacolour system.
- First display of 3D film at the Astor Theatre, New York on June 10. The presentation consisted of three one-reelers: two travelogues and the film Jim the Penman.
- The first animated feature film was El Apóstol by Quirino Cristiani from Argentina.
- The Gulf Between directed by Wray Bartlett Physioc is the first feature film to use Technicolour.
- The first colour feature film made in Hollywood, The Toll of the Sea, starring Anna May Wong.
- First feature film in 3D. The Power of Love by Nat Deverich, which premiered at the Ambassador Hotel Theater in Los Angeles on September 27.
- The Jazz Singer starring Al Jolson is the first feature film with recorded dialogue, using the Vitaphone system. The Jazz Singer is also the first musical film.
- Napoleon by Abel Gance is the first film to be filmed in the widescreen format.
- Lights of New York, directed by Bryan Foy is the first all talking feature film.
- Wings, directed by William A. Wellman is the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
- The First Academy Award ceremony takes place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Los Angeles on May 1. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans wins the award for "Unique and Artistic Production" (denoting artistic strength) and Wings wins the award for "Outstanding Picture, Production" (denoting technical production quality). Both awards were eliminated and merged the next year into the single Best Picture category. Emil Jannings and Janet Gaynor won the awards for best actor and actress, which were awarded for work in a number of different films throughout the year. Acting categories were later narrowed to honor work on a single film.
- Fox introduced Fox Grandeur, the first 70 mm movie format.
- On with the Show is the first feature film in colour and with sound.
- Peludopolis by Qirino Christiani is the first animated feature with sound.
- The 1925 film Police Patrol is the first film to be broadcast on television by W2XCD, Passaic, New Jersey in six parts between 6–11 April.
- The first animation to use the full, three-color Technicolor method was Flowers and Trees made by Disney Studios. The film was also the first to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.
- Love Me Tonight by Rouben Mamoulian is credited as the first film to use a zoom lens.
- The Venice Film Festival runs from 6–21 August, the first film festival.
- A reissue of Abel Gance's 1927 film Napoleon by Abel Gance is the first film to have a stereo soundtrack.
- Becky Sharp, starring Miriam Hopkins is the first film in three-strip Technicolor.
- First African American to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress: Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind, 1939)
- Walt Disney's Fantasia is the first film with surround sound, using Disney's Fantasound system.
- First twins to win the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay: Julius and Philip Epstein, (Casablanca, 1942)
- First African-American man to receive an Academy Award: James Baskett (Honorary Academy Award for his portrayal of "Uncle Remus" in Song of the South, 1946) (See also: Sidney Poitier, 1964)
- The first British Academy Film Awards ceremony takes place with The Best Years of Our Lives, winning the award for best film.
First time a toilet is ever recorded on camera is in Psycho.
- First movie with African-American interracial marriage: One Potato, Two Potato, actors Bernie Hamilton and Barbara Barrie, written by Orville H. Hampton, Raphael Hayes, directed by Larry Peerce
- First African-American man to win the Academy Award for Best Actor: Sidney Poitier (Lilies of the Field, 1963) (See also: James Baskett, 1948)
- Tiger Child, the first film in the IMAX format is made. Directed by Donald Brittain and produced by Roman Kroitor and Kichi Ichikawa, it premiered at Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan at the Fuji Group Pavilion.
- The first permanent IMAX theatre, Cinesphere is built on the grounds of Ontario Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- First use of 2D computer animation in a significant entertainment feature film, Westworld. The point of view of Yul Brynner's gunslinger was achieved with raster graphics.
- The Young Teacher is the first film to be commercially released on VHS.
- Steadicam is used for the first time in a production: Hal Ashby's Bound for Glory, however John Schlesinger's Marathon Man, released the same year is the first to be commercially released.
- Superman: The Movie is the first film with a computer-generated title sequence.
- Looker by is the first film to feature a CGI human character, Cindy. Also, first use of 3D shaded CGI.
- For Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, ILM computer graphics division develops "Genesis Effect", the first use of fractal-generated landscape in a film. Bill Reeves leads the Genesis Effect programming team, and creates a new graphics technique called Particle Systems.
- The Last Starfighter uses CGI for all spaceship shots, replacing traditional models. First use of 'integrated CGI' where the effects are supposed to represent real world objects.
- In Young Sherlock Holmes, Lucasfilm creates the first photorealistic CGI character, 'stained glass knight' with 10 seconds of screentime.
- Tin Toy by John Lasseter becomes the first computer-animated short film to win an Academy Award.
- The Rescuers Down Under is both Disney's first theatrical sequel and the first 2D animated film to be animated significantly on computers.
- Casper, the first CGI lead character in feature-length film (preceded Toy Story by six months). First CGI characters to interact realistically with live actors.
- Toy Story by John Lasseter is the first feature film to be made entirely using CGI.
- First digital cinema projection in Europe by Philippe Binant with DLP CINEMA technology for the release of Toy Story 2.
- O Brother, Where Art Thou by the Coen brothers is the first feature film to be entirely color corrected by digital means.
- Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within is the first feature film to use motion capture to create characters.
- Russian Ark by Alexander Sokurov is the first feature film to be shot entirely in uncompressed high definition video. It is also the first feature film to consist of a single unedited take.
- Able Edwards, the first movie with all-CGI backgrounds and live actors.
- The Polar Express by Robert Zemeckis, the first CGI movie that used motion capture for all actors.
- Clegg, Brian (2007). The Man Who Stopped Time. Joseph Henry Press. ISBN 978-0-309-10112-7.
- "Cantor exhibit showcases motion-study photography". Stanford University. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- "Eadward Muybridge (1830-1904)". International Photography Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- William, David. Life in the United Kingdom: The Land and the People. New Africa Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-9987-16-017-4.
- "133 Years of Film:1889/1990 - Monkey Shines No. 1". Rowhtree.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- "PFSL : Blacksmith Scene". Silent Era. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- Robinson (1997). p. 23.
- The machines were modified so that they did not operate by nickel slot. According to Hendricks (1966), in each row "attendants switched the instruments on and off for customers who had paid their twenty-five cents" (p. 13). For more on the Hollands, see Peter Morris, Embattled Shadows: A History of Canadian Cinema, 1895–1939 (Montreal and Kingston, Canada; London; and Buffalo, New York: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1978), pp. 6–7. Morris states that Edison wholesaled the Kinetoscope at $200 per machine; in fact, as described below, $250 seems to have been the most common figure at first.
- Kick, Russ (2004). The Disinformation Book Of Lists. The Disinformation Company. List 68: "16 Movies Banned in the U.S.", Pages 236–238. ISBN 0-9729529-4-2.
- "THE BOOTLEG FILES: "DICKSON EXPERIMENTAL SOUND FILM"". Filmthreat.com. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- Richard Misek. Chromatic Cinema: A History of Screen Colour. p. 15. ISBN 978-1-4443-3239-1.
- "The guide to British Cinema and Movie History background". britishcinemagreats.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "Where was the first permanent movie theatre in the United States located?". bestofneworleans.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- "Help us find the Edison". Buffalo Film Festival. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
- "Alice Guy Blache". The Herstory Network. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "The May Irwin Kiss". picureshowman.com. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- "King John". BFI. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
- Elliot, Kamilla. Dickens on Screen. p. 117. ISBN 978-0521001243.
- "World's first colour moving pictures discovered". Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- Beckerman, Howard (2003-09-01). Animation: the whole story. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-58115-301-9. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Chichester, Jo. "Return of the Kelly Gang". The UNESCO Courier (UNESCO) (2007 #5). ISSN 1993-8616.
- "Today in 1907 - Variety publishes first movie reviews". things-and-other-stuff.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "A Visit to the seaside". Allmovie.com. Retrieved 2012-02-16.
- Davis, Richard (1999). Complete Guide to Film Scoring, Berklee Press, Boston. ISBN 0-634-00636-3, p. 17
- "History of Hollywood". Hollywoodzing.com. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
- "3D Movie Firsts". 3DGear.com. 18 May 2011.
- "The Untold Story of Argentina's Pioneer Animator". awn.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "The Gulf Between - 1918 - Technicolor Premiere, Buffalo NY". Buffalo Film Festival. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "silentera.com". silentera.com. Retrieved 2010-10-14.
- "Movie Sound Chronology". Spannerworks.net. 18 May 2011.
- "Napoleon - Significance". Lesliehalliwell.com. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- "Vitaphone (1928-31)". georgegroves.org. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "History of the Academy Awards". Oscars.org. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "PFSL:On with the Show (1929(". silentfilmera.com. Retrieved 2012-02-18.
- "ETF - W2XCD Passaic New Jersey". Earlytelevision.org. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "Short Film of the Day:Disney's 'Flowers and Trees'". Filmschoolrejects.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "Between action and cut". National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "La Biennale di Venezia - History of the Venice Biennale". labiennale.org. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "First Cannes Film Festival". History.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "The Bafta Film Awards in numbers". The Radio Times. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- GreenCine.com: "Black Cinema", by David Hudson (no date) Note: Asian-American interracial marriage had previously been portrayed.
- "IMAX'S Chronology of Techonological (sic) Events". IEEE Canada, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Retrieved 2008-02-22.
- "History". Imax.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- Bowles, Scott (2004-09-15). "'Sky Captain' takes CGI to limit". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
- Visual and Special Effects Film Milestones - Part 9
- "Steadicam history". Steadi-onnfilms.com.au. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- Visual and Special Effects Film Milestones - Part 10
- Netzley, pg. 49.
- Pegoraro, Rob (June 29, 2008). "Incredibles, Inc; The story of how computer programmers transformed the art of movie animation". The Washington Post. p. W8.
- Visual and Special Effects Film Milestones - Part 11
- Netzley, 246.
- Visual and Special Effects Film Milestones - Part 12
- "The Short Films That Saved Pixar". openculture.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "Three Pixar execs get special Oscars". San Francisco Chronicle. February 1, 1996. Retrieved March 12, 2009.
- "Titanic sinks competitors without a trace". BBC. February 25, 1998. Retrieved February 19, 2007.
- Cahiers du cinéma, n°hors-série, Paris, April 2000, p. 32. Cf. also Histoire des communications, 2011, p. 10.
- Robertson, Barbara (2006-05-01). "CGSociety — The Colorists". The Colorists. The CGSociety. p. 3. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "Motion CaptureResources - History". motion-capture-system.com. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- "Russian Ark". Artificial Eye. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
- Netzley, Patricia D. Encyclopedia of Movie Special Effects. Checkmark Books, 2001.