Saturday, January 21, 2012

Reading Response #7 - History of the Discovery of Cinematography

"The History of the Discovery of Cinematography" was an interesting read on how people throughout history developed "moving pictures"that built the foundations of cinematography as known today. Although countless individuals made contributions, there were several that I found particularly fascinating.

It's almost not surprising that Leonardo da Vinci contributed much to motion pictures. On top of everything else he did, he dissected what went on in the camera obscura, which was a device that displayed its surroundings on a screen. Although very rudimentary by today's standards, the overall effect is not entirely different from modern cameras. Leonardo moved the concept forward by providing detailed explanations and diagrams of the device.

Another cool step forward was the Phasmatrope, created by Henry Heyl in 1870. It combined the persistence of vision (which is the afterimage the eye sees in fast-motion situations - thanks, Ian and Rachael!) and posed photographs to give the illusion of a moving picture - just like a movie.

Finally, as a sort of extension of the Phasmatrope, Hermann Casler's Mutoscope was also pretty cool. It allowed for the flipping of pictures in succession by a crank. Finally, footage could be viewed by a large audience and movies as we know them now were made possible (with help from other devices, of course).

All of this history and rapid gain in technology makes me wonder where cinematography will be in a hundred years. Perhaps then "movies" will be so immersive that the video-rendering of today will seem as archaic as that of the camera obscura from our point in time. Nevertheless, I'm definitely grateful for all those who helped advance video creation to where it is now.

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