Thursday, November 6, 2014

Innovations Necessary for the Advent of Cinema:

Innovations Necessary for the Advent of Cinema:
Optical toys, shadow shows, 'magic lanterns,' and visual tricks have existed for thousands of years. Many inventors, scientists, manufacturers and scientists have observed the visual phenomenon that a series of individual still pictures set into motion created the illusion of movement - a concept termed persistence of vision. This illusion of motion was first described by British physician Peter Mark Roget in 1824, and was a first step in the development of the cinema.
A number of technologies, simple optical toys and mechanical inventions related to motion and vision were developed in the early to late 19th century that were precursors to the birth of the motion picture industry:
  • [A very early version of a "magic lantern" was invented in the 17th century by Athanasius Kircher in Rome. It was a device with a lens that projected images from transparencies onto a screen, with a simple light source (such as a candle).]

Monday, November 3, 2014


centre-perforated film, intended for the amateur and semi-professional market in 1899

Bioscope (Charles Urban)
Warwick Bioscope, c1900. Designed in the USA for Urban by Walter Isaacs in 1897 and sold in Britain, this projector used a beater movement 



Cameras, projectors and other motion picture equipment highlighted in the texts are listed here, with the inventor or engineer and/or promoter associated with the machine given in parentheses. Click on the images for higher resolution copies

Muybridge claimed

Muybridge claimed that he first employed this mechanism, which he called a zoopraxiscope, in the fall of 1879, at Sanford's house. A subsequent demonstration of the projector at Marey's studio in 1881 was described in Parisian news- papers. A spectacular demonstration at the Royal Institution in London the following spring brought wide- spread notices in the scientific press.
In 1883 he returned to America and lectured with his zoopraxiscope in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. Largely at the instigation of the painter, Thomas Eakins, who had conducted similar photographic experiments, he was invited to continue his work in Philadelphia under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania. Here, he radically improved his technique. He used dry plates, specially sensitized by the Cramer Dry Plate Company.


Muybridge's work was specifically created for the purpose of stopping action. It was analytical; he strove to freeze motion, to hold still for our contemplation the most rapid muscular movements of man and beast. In doing so he was unwittingly creating the basis for moving pictures. All that was necessary to recreate the motion he had analyzed was to put the individual photographs in rapid succession before the eyes of an audience.
Rough hand-drawn analyses had long been shown in toys, the phenakistoscope or the zoetrope. Marey had tried unsuccessfully to make a scientific study of animal locomotion by this means in 1867. Posed photographs had been projected in sequence by Heyl in Philadelphia in 1870. But Muybridge was the first to show action photographs in one of the primitive motion-picture machines. To do this, he fastened a number of slides on a large disk. On the same axis but revolving in the opposite direction was another disk with slots along its radius. An arc light, a condenser, and a lens threw the images of the slides onto a screen. The motion recreated this way was of very brief duration. Each revolution of the wheel duplicated the previous action on the screen, so that the audience viewed a horse monotonously going through his paces again and again.  

Muybridge resumed

Five years later in 1877 Muybridge resumed the problem of photographing rapid action. Stanford underwrote the experiments, and made available not only his stable, but also the services of one of the engineers of the Central Pacific Railroad, John D. Isaacs. A battery of cameras was built in a shed beside a racetrack to record consecutive phases of motion.
Muybridge first used a mechanical device to trip the shutter-strings were stretched across the track, which the horses broke during their runs before the cameras. These strings were attached to the shutters, which closed, by the action of rubber bands. These shutters Were soon replaced with electrically controlled ones: the circuits were closed by the string method, or by the steel tires of a sulky running over bare wires lying on the ground. Muybridge was awarded two patents in 1879 for these synchronization devices.
The background was covered with rock salt, which gleamed in the sunlight, to give maximum contrast on the slow wet plate. The results were "diminutive silhouettes," not brilliant images but clear enough to furnish evidence for scientific study. A set of prints was deposited in the Library of Congress in 1878, others were published in scientific journals.Stanford formally published the experiments in a handsome quarto The Horse in Motion (1882), with a text by J.D.B. Stillman, and with many drawings after the Muybridge photographs. As Muybridge later complained, they were published "without the formality of his name on the title page."

commercial photographer

By 1872 Muybridge was a capable and successful commercial photographer. In that year Leland Stanford laid a wager with a friend, said to have been $25,000, that a galloping horse lifted all four feet from the ground at once. He asked Muybridge to prove this contention photographically. Using wet plates and under a dazzling California sun, he succeeded in getting faint, highly underexposed plates, which were barely sufficient to settle the wager in Stanford's favor.