Movie...short for motion picture.

A motion picture is simply a series of still pictures shown quickly so they simulate motion. While that can include something as simple as pieces of paper with crudely drawn pictures on them, this writeup is more geared to movies as we know them today, movies on film.

A Technical History

Movies took off in the late 19th century with the invention of the motion picture camera. Louis Lumiere is credited with this invention, called the Cinematographe in 1895, but he really was not the first. Thomas Edison had created a device called the Kinetoscope in 1891, but the Kinetoscope could only show a movie to one person at at time. Lumiere's invention was the first to combine a portable motion-picture camera, film processing unit and projector, and it was his camera that showed the first movie in a theater with more than one paying person. It was exciting stuff, they showed workers leaving a local factory at their test screening, and for the first real screening, they basically showed home movies. On second thought that may be better than much of Hollywood's offerings today, but I digress.

Sounds and the Movies

In the beginning movies were silent. If you wanted music or sounds, you hired a orchestra, or the operator of the projector made his own sound effects. There were efforts to synchronize gramophones and phonographs to the movie, but these were largely unsuccessful. The first truly sucessful method for sound at the movies was the Vitaphone system developed by Warner Brothers, it was used in the 1927 movie "The Jazz Singer". It worked, but was not ideal (it used records that broke a lot). The eventual system adopted in 1928 arose from an amalgamation of Lee de Forest and Theodore Case's Phonofilm system with Charles A. Hoxie's Photophone system. Subsequent developments in sound have been the Dolby system, and more recently digital sound in the forms of Dolby digital which is on the film and Digital Theatre Sound (DTS), these are used in movies today.

Color movies

Oddly enough, color did not seem all that important to the motion picture indusrty. Movies in color had been around for decades (since 1906), but as late as 1954, more than one half of the films shot were still shot in black and white. If there was a film that had color in it in the 30's and 40's it was shot in Technicolor a process where a special camera was used that split the image and recorded on three strips of black and white film simultaneously. Red, green, and blue filters were used to filter the light to the three strips respectively. A proprietary printing process translated the images from the developed strips into the color prints projected in the theatres. The downside of Technicolor? It was very expensive. Even so, Technicolor was the dominant coloring process until the mid' 1950's, when Kodak's Eastman Color process made its debut, and gained the upper hand.

There are many other facets to the movies and hopefully someone can node them, I just wanted to get this node off to a good start.

Mov"ie (?), n.

A moving picture or a moving picture show; -- commonly used in pl.

[Slang or Colloq.]


© Webster 1913

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