Charles Chaplin Animation This project has been a labour of love from its inception in 1990. Initially a five hundred-word piece for a small town newspaper, it has grown into a full-blown study into the most celebrated art form ever discovered. An on-again, off-again relationship due to many other commitments, THE HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF CINEMATOGRAPHY tells the story of how moving pictures achieved their motion. It includes those responsible for the numerous inventions designed and built which pointed us in a cinematic direction.
  As I have stated from the beginning, the facts must be presented to allow the reader the opportunity to decipher and place into context those devices and developments that fit into history, and discard the rest.  
  I have always felt it vital to furnish the necessary elements in full, which even remotely relate to the fields of photography and cinematography. I believe this timeline provides a substantial glimpse into that history. My purpose in writing this book was never to commence any controversy over the genesis of cinema. I believe the year that it was born (if any) can be deduced by the reader on the well documented material provided in this text. Our purpose then is to provide factual data from the earliest possible sources. We will allow the reader to decide on the importance of genealogy.  
  I have attempted to compile and document the history of the discovery from every corner of the subject and world. The intention was to consider the chronology complete upon the year 1895 or at least the last decade of the 19th century. This has been a difficult task to achieve. Not so because of the lack of information or the obscurity of it. On the contrary, it has been a trying affair, in that upon new discoveries of commentaries, histories and books, the story seems not to want to end. This is true more so in the area of the world wide web. The medium did not exist for this writer when the project was started. In fact, only from 1997 onward was it used. The bulk of source material however remains with the printed page.  

Poster Of 'The Great Train Robbery' 1903
Eighteen Colorized Frames From Porter's  'The Great Train Robbery'  1903
The film "The Great Train Robbery" was shot in 1903 by Edwin Porter, and included this now-famous, yet forgotten scene of one of the outlaws firing his six shooter directly at the camera. The chamber contained a blank, but at the time, and for the next decade, this scene was remembered as one of only a few which in the very early days of film, scared audiences out of their seats. The Lumiere train comes to mind as another scary scene never before seen or experienced by early filmgoers. Ironically, the weapon is fired directly at the very invention that allows it to be photographed. Porter's movie has been inaccurately hailed as the first film to tell a story. The longest to date at 11 (or 12 depending on which cut you see) minutes in length, The Great Train Robbery allowed the theatre operator to receive a copy with the gunfighter shooting at the camera either at the beginning, or end of the film. Far Left; accompanying poster, Near Left; Eighteen colorized frames from The Great Train Robbery.

  Link upon link provides more and more information to a point well beyond saturation. However, for the most part the websites I have found hold the same information as that in printed form. However, new thoughts and perspectives from historians have allowed me to peer into the past from multiple angles always tracking the makers of cinema, always discovering the dates, names and devices crucial to this chronology. Several of these have been logged in the Bibliography/Webography.  
  A site that gave us immense difficulty due to size was Adventures In Cybersound. This was a joy to discover and pleasure to dissect. Saturation of information is not adequate enough to explain the sure volume and content of Russell Naughton’s work. I found this to be a true challenge just from a research point of view. High marks are given to him and any others attached to that project. His comments and suggestions are especially appreciated.  
  In completing the chronology to 1900, I felt it unwise to close without mentioning some of the many expansions of the medium up to and including the first decade as well as some of the milestones attached to the industry, the studios and early stars. The inclusion of sound and colour for instance were two pivotal events which gave maturity and a sense of realism to film, if that can be said. Also, some of the first players and directors deserve mention if only for their contribution by association. We then leave the chronology, venturing into the world of the flickering screen, with bullets and trains heading straight for us, and where a sneeze is the most exciting event of the day.  

Following the initial public uses of various projectors throughout the world to provide cinema showings, the medium continued to grow at light-speed. Many of the improvements to period cameras and projectors were made in the decade they appeared. Such was the enthusiasm and devotion of the men who spawned this new and exciting art. However, further discoveries in the next two decades advanced cinematography into a more complete form just as Muybridge had suggested when he said;

"The combination of a Kinetoscope and Phonograph has not been satisfactorily accomplished. There can however be but little doubt that in the future . . . an entire opera with the gestures, facial expressions, and songs of the performers with all the accompanying music, will be recorded and reproduced by an apparatus for the instruction or entertainment of an audience. And if the photographs have been made stereoscopically, and each series be independently and synchronously projected on a screen, a perfectly realistic imitation of the original performance will be seen, in the apparent "round", by the use of properly constructed binocular glasses."


Extant film: Leeds Bridge Traffic of 1888 from L. A. A. Le Prince

This is the second earliest strip of film we have today (one frame, right). It is of the Leeds Bridge in Leeds England, and was photographed in late October 1888 by LOUIS AIME AUGUSTIN LE PRINCE (1841-1890). Although never shown publicly, or announced to the world, Le Prince presented his cinematography of the "Leeds bridge traffic" in the Whitley factory seven years before the Lumiere's cafe presentation. Le Prince used non-perforated sensitised paper for these frames which remain twenty in all. SEE the Leeds Bridge Traffic come to life HERE.

Single Frame From Le Prince's 1888 'Leeds Bridge Traffic

  After studying the history of moving pictures, we must remember that nothing really moves, only the image on the retina, frame, by frame.  
  Paul Burns    
Main Page Contents Preface Introduction Bibliography Related Sites Critiques About The Author Copyright Information 900bc-1399 1440-1599 1600-1649 1650-1699 1700-1749 1750-1799 1800-1829 1830-1849 1850-1859 1860-1869 1870-1879 1880-1884 1885-1899 1890-1894 1895 - 1900 Planetel Communications Top of Page
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