Cinématographe


Cinématographe
   The Cinématographe was the film camera and projector developed by Louis and Auguste Lumière in 1895. It is, properly speaking, the first true motion-picture camera and projector, and it is from the name of this device, which literally means "moving writing" that the term cinema is derived.
   Lumière was not the first to conceive of the projection of moving pictures. In fact, all of the four pioneers of the cinema in France, which included Charles Pathé, Léon Gaumont, and Georges Méliès, were all working on similar technologies at approximately the same time, as were other inventors. Their work, in turn, was based on the work of predecessors who stretch back to the invention of the Magic Lantern, the first widely used projector for moving images, which was developed in the seventeenth century. The Magic Lantern projected still images that were painted onto glass slides. These images were "moved" via mechanisms in the projection apparatus. Such devices were extremely popular and widely available during the course of the nineteenth century.
   Toward the end of that century, a number of important predecessors to the Cinématographe were produced, such as Edweard Muy-bridge's Zoopraxiscope, developed in 1879, and Étienne-Jules Marey's Chronophotographe, developed in 1888. The Zoopraxiscope, like the Magic Lantern, projected images reproduced onto glass. Instead of slides, however, Muybridge's machine used a series of glass disks that held sequences of individual photographs. These disks were rotated by the Zoopraxiscope during projection, in order to produce the effect of motion. The Chronophotographe exploited the use of roll film, developed by George Eastman in 1888. Marey's device was a camera that recorded images on a continuous roll of film and then projected them in an intermittent motion. Practically speaking, the Chronophotographe had all the necessary characteristics of a motion picture camera, but the images taken by the camera were spaced at intermittent intervals, which disrupted the effect of continuous motion. This was a problem that Marey was not able to resolve.
   Thomas Edison saw Marey's device in 1889, and inspired by it, he went on (with the members of his lab) to develop the Kinetoscope in 1891. The Kinetoscope was also a machine capable of recording and projecting images in such a way as to suggest motion. The Kinetoscope photographed images while a shutter in the camera opened and closed rapidly. The same shutter moved when these images were reprojected and viewed via a peephole viewer in the device. The effect of the shuttered photography and shuttered viewing also created the effect of motion.
   The Cinématographe was really the first apparatus capable of recording and externally projecting images in such a way as to convey motion. The other important innovation in the Lumière brothers' machine was that it allowed for the recording of an image on a roll of 35mm film, and also resolved the problems of intermittent motion that existed with earlier devices. The other key distinction with the Lumière machine was that it was quickly reproduced and marketed as a result of the family's rather large photography business. This more or less guaranteed its status as the dominant film camera and projector at the time of the development of commercial cinema.

Historical Dictionary of French Cinema. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

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