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The Evolution of Cinematography

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Black and white movie


What is Cinematography?

Cinematography according to the Encyclopedia Britannica "is the art and technology of motion-picture photography" it involves set, lighting, filters, lenses, camera and general composition of a scene.

Others include use of special effects, movements, film stock and camera angles. Cinematography is done by a Cinematographer therefore let's look closely at the job of a Cinematographer.

A Cinematographer


Who is a Cinematographer?

A Cinematographer or director of photography is responsible for artistic and technical decisions, use of lighting and camera to make films for cinema, television production or music videos.

They use lenses to focus reflective light from material things into real images. These sequencial exposures are later reviewed and processed into motion pictures.



The Evolution and History of Cinematography

In 1830s the Evolution and History of Cinematography gave rise to moving images that involved revolving drums and discs. Three pioneers of this art form were Joseph Plateau, William Horner and Simon von Stampfer.

William Horner a British inventor worked on the Zoetrope a pre-film animation device that achieve an illusion of motion.

While Simon von Stampfer invented the stroboscope a device that uses cylindrical moving object that appear to be in slow motion. The device consists of holes, slots, rotation discs and a flash tube lamp.

The third of the trio Joseph Plateau worked on the phenakistoscope. The phenakistoscope was an effective animation device that enjoyed widespread use because of its fluent illusion of motion.

The chronophotographic gun


Notable development in cinematography

A notable development in cinematography was the 24 stereoscopic camera experiment carried out by Eadweard Muybridge in 1878. By placing the cameras in strategic positions he successfully photographed a horse named "Sallie Gardner" in fast motion.

However in 1882 a French inventor Étienne-Jules Marey developed the chronophotographic gun. The chronophotographic gun was capable of taking 12 consecutive a second.

Other notable inventors that contributed to the rise of films are Charles Francis Jenkins and his projector, Louis and Auguste Lumière and the Cinématographe the first paid projected photographs to a paying audience.

Roundhay Garden Scene


The development of film started with a 2.11 seconds long motion picture "Roundhay Garden Scene,”created in 1888. This film is regarded as one of the earliest known surviving films of that era.

However in 1895 with the invention of the motion-picture apparatus the film industry experienced a rapidly growth.

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Invention of the first successful camera

In 1845, Sir. Francis Ronalds a British
scientist and inventor created the first successful camera. The camera was able to make continuous recordings. His invention was used to make different indications on meteorological instruments.

22 years down the line In 1867, William Lincoln patented the zoopraxiscope a device that showed moving photographs through a slit.



Early Years of Cinematography

The early years of cinematography is traced back to the late 1880s, through the use of multiple photographs to convay an illusion of motion.

The "slides" were few seconds long which captivated the audience of that era. Then in 1895 Louis and Auguste Lumière invented the motion picture apparatus which consisted of a camera and projector.

The art form evolution


Chronological improvements of the medium

Notable development are accredited to Edison's Vitascope projector 1896, mercury lamps for shooting films indoors invented by Cooper Hewitt and Bell and Howell 2709 movie camera 1915.

Old Movies

Some of the oldest movies apart from Roundhay Garden Scene,” are Poor Pierrot (1892), Un bon bock (1892), Blacksmith Scene (1893) and Chinese Opium Den (1894).

Black/White Film


Monochrome, black and white, color films

The films in 1880 movies were generally monochrome, however by 1917, then black and white in the 1950s, and color movies in the 1960s.

Digital cinematography


Digital cinematography

Today digital cinematography is the dominant form of cinematography. Instead of the 35mm film, digital camera uses hard drives, metal-oxide-semiconductor, image sensors and other advanced technology to capture powerful high definition images.

Who invented what?

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Who invented the Zoetrope
    • William Horner
    • Simon von Stampfer
    • Joseph Plateau
  2. Who invented the stroboscope
    • William Horner
    • Simon von Stampfer
    • Joseph Plateau
  3. Who invented the phenakistoscope
    • Simon von Stampfer
    • Joseph Plateau
    • William Horner
  4. Who patented the zoopraxiscope
    • Sir. Francis Ronalds
    • Eadweard Muybridge
    • William Lincoln

Answer Key

  1. William Horner
  2. Simon von Stampfer
  3. Joseph Plateau
  4. William Lincoln

Article on cinematography

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