Film is a term that encompasses motion pictures as individual projects, as well as the field in general. The origin of the name comes from the fact that photographic film (also called filmstock) has historically been the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. more...
Many other terms exist — motion pictures (or just pictures), the silver screen, photoplays, the cinema, picture shows, flicks — and most commonly movies.
Films are produced by recording actual people and objects with cameras, or by creating them using animation techniques and/or special effects. They comprise a series of individual frames, but when these images are shown rapidly in succession, the illusion of motion is given to the viewer. Flickering between frames is not seen due to an effect known as persistence of vision — whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Perhaps of more relevance is what causes the perception of motion — a psychological effect identified as beta movement.
Film is considered by many to be an important art form; films entertain, educate, enlighten and inspire audiences. The visual elements of cinema need no translation, giving the motion picture a universal power of communication. Any film can become a worldwide attraction, especially with the addition of dubbing or subtitles that translate the dialogue. Films are also artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them.
History of film
Mechanisms for producing artificialy created, two-dimensional images in motion were demonstrated as early as the 1860's, including the zoetrope and the praxinoscope. These machines were outgrowths of simple optical devices (such as magic lanterns), and would display sequences of still pictures at sufficient speed for the images on the pictures to appear to be moving. Naturally, the images needed to be carefully designed to achieve the desired effect — and the underlying principle became the basis for the development of film animation.
With the development of celluloid film for still photography, it became possible to directly capture objects in motion in real time using the new medium. Early versions of the technology sometimes required the viewer to look into a special device to see the pictures. By the 1880's, the development of the motion picture camera allowed the individual component images to be captured and stored on a single reel, and led quickly to the development of a motion picture projector to shine light through the processed and printed film and magnify these "moving picture shows" onto a screen for an entire audience. These reels, so exhibited, came to be known as "motion pictures".
Motion pictures were purely visual art up to the late 1920s, but these innovative silent films had gained a hold on the public imagination. When films began to tell stories, instead of just record brief events, exhibitors sometimes provided a commentator to narrate the action, but this became unnecessary with the development of printed intertitles containing the actors' dialogue and other written, descriptive material as part of the visual experience. Rather than leave the audience in silence, theater owners would hire a pianist or organist or a full orchestra to play music fitting the mood of the film at any given moment. By the early 1920s, most films came with a prepared list of sheet music for this purposes, with complete film scores being composed for major productions.
In 1922, new technology allowed filmmakers to attach to each film a soundtrack of speech, music and sound effects synchronized with the action on the screen. These sound films were initially distinguished by calling them "talking pictures", or talkies.
The next major step in the development of cinema was the introduction of color. While the addition of sound quickly eclipsed silent film and theater musicians, color was adopted more gradually. The public was relatively indifferent to color photography as opposed to black-and-white. But as color processes improved and became as affordable as black-and-white film, more and more movies were filmed in color after the end of WWII, as the industry in America came to view color an essential to attracting audiences in its competition with television, which remained a black-and-white medium until the mid-60s. By the end of the 1960s, color had become the norm for film makers, and by the 1980s, an expectation of the younger generations by then comprising the majority of the audience for commercial films. Only in rare exceptions is black-and-white film now used; the choice is motivated by artistic reasons. Film presented today in black-and-white, like the recent release Sin City, tends to have a greater dramatic tone and can be an inspired throwback to older cinema.
Origins of motion picture arts and sciences
Film as an art form grew out of a long tradition of literature, storytelling, narrative drama, art, mythology, puppetry, shadow play, cave paintings and perhaps even dreams. In addition, the technology of film, also emerged from various developments and achievements in human history.
About 400 BC - Mozi a Chinese philosopher ponders the phenomenology of an upside down image of the outside world beaming through a small hole in the opposite wall in a darkened room.
c. 350 BC - Aristotle tells of watching an image of an eclipse beamed onto the ground through a sieve.
c. 1000 - Alhazen experiments with the same optical principle, and writes of the results.
1490 - Leonardo DaVinci describes a structure that would produce this effect.
1544 - Reinerus Gemma-Frisius, a Dutch scientist, illustrates large rooms built for the purpose of viewing eclipses by this means.
1588 - Giovanni Battista Della Porta tips off artists to this trick. He used the Camera Obscura or Dark Room to help painters paint pictures with depth and .
c. 1610 - Johannes Kepler refers to a construction that utilises this phenomenon as a camera obscura.
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