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The History of Movies and Filmmaking

 The earliest use of moving pictures was an outgrowth of simple optical devices (such as magic lanterns) which display still images in a rapid sequence. Such device include the projection zoetrope and the projection praxinoscope. Such early motion projection devices were demonstrated as early as the 1860's. Reel-based film projection was not demonstrated until the late 1880's, with many advancements contributed by Thomas Alva Edison. By the early 20th century, films such as The Great Train Robbery innovated on the art of film-making.

By using pictures that were largely similar, but with slight differences, the presenter could communicate the effect of motion to the viewer. Naturally, the images used in these devices need to be carefully designed to achieve the desired effect. The underlying principle remains the basis for the cinematic genre known as animation.

Celluloid Film Changes Filmmaking
With the development of photography, and particularly of celluloid film, it became possible to directly capture motion in the real world. Previous techniques sometimes required individuals to look into a special device to see the pictures, but translucent film made it feasible to use a projection system to display images for an entire audience. These "moving picture shows" came to be known colloquially as movies.

Cinema: A Visual Art
The cinema was initially purely a visual art, and many silent films were created. Presenters soon found it useful to provide a commentator who could narrate the action and fill in dialogue between characters. Within a few years, films began to include subtitles that could display dialogue when the actors on screen "spoke." This rendered the function of a commentator largely unnecessary.

Music and Sound In Movies
Rather than leave the audience in silence, theater owners often replaced the commentator by hiring musicians to accompany the presentation. The most common approach was to hire a pianist or organist if the theater had an instrument available. The music to be played was supposed to fit the mood of the film at any given moment. Later technological improvements allowed filmmakers to create soundtracks synchronized with the action on the screen. Sound films were initially known as "talking pictures", or talkies. From the beginning, however, they included music as well as speech, and specialist composers of film scores soon emerged.

Movies in Color
The final major step in the development of cinema was the introduction of color. While the addition of sound to film revolutionized the medium, quickly driving out silent movies and theater musicians, color was adopted more gradually. As color processes improved, more and more movies were filmed in color, and today the use of color is virtually universal. Unlike photography, where black-and-white film is still preferred for some purposes, there is little reason not to use color in movies. In the rare exceptions, such as the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler's List, the choice usually has to do with other artistic reasons.


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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