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introduction1.1 A Brief History of Pictures in Motion


praxinoscopeAlthough we may think of cinema as a modern invention, the history of motion pictures goes back almost 150 years to the early days of photography. At this time audiences were entertained by optical toys like the zoetrope, praxinoscope and magic lantern, which created an illusion of motion by rotating sequences of still images.

All these devices exploited a phenomenon known as the persistence of vision - the basic principle of any animation. The effect deceives the brain into believing that still images are in motion as they flash before the eye. This is because the retina retains each picture for a tenth of a second before processing the next. Running at 25 frames per second (fps), industry standard film animations make movement seem 'natural'. The rate of frames per second affects how smooth a movement appears to the eye.

ZoetropeWith the invention of celluloid film, subjects could be captured in motion in real time. In the USA a primitive movie camera, called the Kinetograph, was developed in 1889.

In France at around the same time two brothers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, invented the Cinématographe, a portable combined camera and projector. They gave the first public screening of a motion picture in 1895 when their movie of an oncoming train is said to have caused a stampede as people tried to get out of the way of the train!.

When the first cinema opened in 1905 the movie era truly began.

The history of video is more recent, starting little more than forty years ago with the invention in 1965 of the Sony Portapak, the first hand held camera and video tape recorder. The Portapak revolutionized movie technology, making it accessible and affordable outside the world of commercial film and television for the first time. It may seem unwieldy and cumbersome today when we can capture video digitally with small hand-held camcorders, cheap digital cameras and even mobile phones, but its invention marked the first step towards movie-making for all.

Movie strip

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