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Cinema & Film History – Arts & Humanities

In this lesson we study About cinema and film history as part of Arts & Humanities.


Most familiar and easily accessible art form

Purpose and Function – Much like Theatre
– Personalize the spectrum of human emotions
– Confront/Examine the human condition
– Fantasy
– Escapism
– Entertainment

Film history

Initially, films were still pictures pulled across a projector
– Frame-Individual picture
– 24 frames per second


– Tells a story
– Basic literary constructs
– Controlled setting
– Genre films
– Professional actors/crew


– Not actors, real people in real situations
– Real time
– May use narrative structure
– Focus on reality

Eadweard Muybridge

1878 “Galloping Horses”

George Eastman

1884 – Developed celluloid film

– Originally created for the still camera, it made motion pictures possible
Flexible and allows light to pass through

What was the first film in America?

Fred Ott’s Sneeze in 1889

– By William Dickson (working for Thomas Edison) begins using celluloid film
– Watched through a Kinetoscope

Auguste and Louis Lumiere

credited with the world’s first public film screening on December 28, 1895

Lumieres’ show:
– Workers leaving the Lumiere Factory
– Arrival at Lyon
– A Baby’s Meal

Where was the Lumiere’s film screening?

Basement of a Paris café

First theater opens to the paying public


1905 Movie theaters

– Admission = $.05-$.10 for a 15-60 minute production
– Audiences sat on benches, wooden seats
– Front display = hand painted signs
– Actors stood behind screen and spoke dialogue in synchronization with the action on the screen
– Sound effects were made with noisemakers behind the screen

Where did Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, MGM get there start?

as Nickelodeon exhibitors

The Great Train Robbery

Based on a true robbery by Butch Cassidy

– First Western
– First to use editing as a storytelling technique
– One of the first to use panning and close-ups
– Moved from documentary to narrative

First Theaters

– Built expressly for showing movies – 1910
– Beginning of feature-length films
– Single Piano Player

The Movie Palace


– Accommodated thousands
– Opulent architecture and furnishings
– Included lounges, restaurants, nurseries and hospitals
– Full orchestras replaced the single piano

What was the First Talkie?

“The Jazz Singer” in October 6, 1927

– “Vitaphone”
– Silent picture with musical accompaniment on disc
– Four talking sections with synchronized dialogue

By 1929, how many movie theaters had converted to sound?



Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz


Fantasia, The Grapes of Wrath


Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon


Bambi, Casablanca

What resulted in diminished popularity after WWII?


How do studios try to regain viewers?

– 3D
– “Sensurround”
– Technicolor
– Cinerama, Panavision, CinemaScope, etc.

Drive-in Movies (Rise)

Capitalized on automobile obsession
– Air conditioning rare and expensive

Theme park atmosphere evolved
– Restaurants
– Playgrounds/Swimming pools/Amusement parks
– Laundromats
– Motels

Drive-in Movies (Decline)

Air conditioning more widespread
– “Suburbinization”

Real estate prices
Rising taxes
Zoning regulations

The Platter System

7 to 8 reels of film to be spliced into one large reel which was coiled onto a round table called a “platter”

– Allowed the projectionist to prepare and start the film and not attend to it until the end of the movie
– Allowed one projectionist to work up to 8 screens

What became the more affordable form of film?



Doesn’t suffer the image degradation (scratches, dirt, damage) typically found in analog format

June 18, 1999 (U.S.)

Texas Instrument’s DLP Cinema projector technology was publicly demonstrated on two screens in Los Angeles and New York for the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

February 2, 2000 (Europe)

Texas Instrument’s DLP Cinema projector technology was publicly demonstrated, one screen in Paris for the release of Toy Story 2

December 2000

15 digital cinema screens in North America
11 in Western Europe
4 in Asia
1 in South America

How many of the world’s cinema screens are now digitized?

98.2% (May 2016)

Why does Quentin Tarantino want to retire?

Because of the rapid conversion to digital

He cannot project from 35 mm prints in the majority of American cinemas

Trailer (Preview)

An advertisement or a commercial for a feature film that will be exhibited in the future at a cinema

The term “trailer” comes from their having originally been shown at the end of a feature film screening

Effective “mini-movies” to entice viewers

Product Placement

An advertising technique used by companies to subtly promote their products through a non-traditional advertising technique, usually through appearances in film, television, or other media

A company will often pay a fee to have their product used, displayed, or significantly featured in a movie or show

How are product placement ads often initiated?

through an agreement between a product manufacturer and the media company in which the media company receives economic benefit


Film producers license the right to sell film-related products to other companies

The sale of movie-related products can not only generate substantial revenue, but the presales of merchandising rights can sometimes contribute to a film’s production budget

How much did The Lord of the Rings trilogy attract in merchandising revenues?

over $1.2 billion

Breakdown of a Dollar at the Box Office

34.4¢ — Film rental
26.6¢ — Labor
24.5¢ — Rent, mortgage, overhead
9¢ — Advertising

Leaving only:
3.5¢ — Profit (before taxes)

1890-1900s Visual Effects

Georges Melies – accidentally discovering “stop-action”

Soon using stop-action, double-exposure, fast and slow motion, dissolves, and perspective tricks

1910s Visual Effects

Editing, camera movement, shot composition, and lighting

Dissolves, effects in-camera. split-screen and double exposures

1920s Visual Effects

Combining full-size sets with miniatures using mirrors, models, animation,matte painting, rear projection, and full-scale mechanical effects

1939 Visual Effects

first Academy Award in Special Effects given to “The Rains Came”

1950s Visual Effects

larger-than-life-formats such as CinemaScope, VistaVision, Cinerama, and 3-D

1970 Visual Effects

Star Wars – George Lucas

Lucas’s technicians built first computer-controlled camera (motion-control)

1980s Visual Effects

Computer Graphics (CG) start becoming more common

Star Trek, Return of the Jedi, TRON

1990s Visual Effects

Effects become digitally controlled

Terminator 2, Toy Story, Titanic