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A Bit of the History of Movie Technology

old fashioned movie camera

Movies have played a significant part in all our life since the last hundred years. Originally starting out as a medium that depicted stories with the help of still photography, movie technology history has come a long way and has provoked the evolution of many innovations. Nowadays, movies from all around the world are being made with the latest electronic and computer technologies and more and more emphasis is given to merge the greatest innovations with technology to bring out the best in movies.

It was on 10th Apr, 1895 that the first movie was released. Although it was shown in theaters, but it was black and white and had no sound. This was the silent era of films when electric motors were put to use by the camera and projectors so that the movie runs at a constant speed. Apart from the electric motors, electric lights and floodlights also played quite a significant role when arc floodlights and mercury vapor tubes were used to generate constant speed. It was in the year 1917 on the 3rd of December that a movie named the gulf between was released. This particular movie used Technicolor for the first time and was responsible for bringing the innovation turf of color medium to the movies.

It was during this time that electronics became a major part of movie making. Innovations were carried on by movie makers to use this electronic medium to generate sound. The microphones were used to convert sound to an electrical signal that could either be amplified or could be processed in some other ways electronically and a photocell was installed that could allow the sound, in the form of photograph, to change back into an electric signal. This was then used to create sound with the help of loudspeakers and amplifying tubes. From this time onwards, amplifying tubes were used abundantly for this process.

A major change took place in the movie making area in the year 1920. It was from this time that various theaters started using the technology of electronic devices and sound technology to create the magic of projection systems. In the year 1924, moviola, an editing machine was introduced in the market. Until that time, electronic motors were used to move the shots at constant speed. With the introduction of this machine, all the footage could be combined together and ensured swift movement of shots. On the 6th of August 1926, the first sound movie ‘Don Juan’ was produced. The movie featured John Barrymore and was a joint production of Warner Brothers, Vitaphone, Western Electric and Bell Labs. The movie opened new door for sound technology. Although Don Juan had no dialogues, a year later a movie called The Jazz Singer was released that had proper dialogues and became an instant hit.

It was on 13th May, 1928 that a movie called The Viking was released. It was the first film to use color and have sound together. Although the movie did not have any dialogues, it was still considered a significant technology for the industry. On 18th Nov, 1928 the first Animationmovie called Mickey Mouse was created. On 1st Dec, 1928, The light of New York was released. The movie had proper dialogues and was written in the history of movie technology as the first all talking movie. On the show, released on 18th Feb., 1929 became the first movie that featured dialogues and had full color.

It was after the 1950s that technology took a major turn. Until that time, multi track sound was introduced and magnetic recordings were used. The magnetic recordings scored high in terms of fidelity and could lead to instant playback. During this time Kodak’s Eastman Color was introduced. It paved the way of Technicolor innovation and on 13th June 1952, Kodak Eastman Color Royal Journey, a film that used this technology was released. Since 1970, technological innovation took a major turn. The Dolby technique was introduced that reduced noise level and helped in making the movie making process simpler. This Dolby technology was a delight for theaters and was widely used for presentation of cinema.

Then came the advent of computer generated imagery with the release of Tron, the first entirely computer generated movie in the year 1995. This paved the way for digital technology and revolutionized the movie making process. Movie technology is currently under a revolutionary phase and it would be wrong to say that it is an end to new innovation, it is actually the beginning!

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