Who Invented Cinema? Man’s search to capture and reproduce reality in motion through the manufacture of gadgets is an ancient practice. A clear example of this exploration was the thaumatrope, the magic lantern, or the kinetoscope. In the mid-nineteenth century, photography had kicked off by being based on the technique of capturing images of reality by means of light.

With close observation, the Lumiere brothers were able to draw on Thomas Alva Edison’s kinetoscope, adding contemporary techniques such as Eastman’s roll photography to create the first cinematograph. This device had fundamental aspects that ensured its success: it allowed filming, copying, and projecting a film in a massive way, for more than one spectator at a time.

On December 28, 1895, in Paris, the first cinema function took place in which a series of images of a documentary nature were projected. It remained so for some time, it was considered an important advance, but a minor attraction. It was George Méliès, an illusionist who made use of this new resource for his functions, who showed that in addition to serving as a faithful record of reality, the cinema allowed to recreate it generating fantastic effects.

His manipulation of the technique experimenting with the film, allowed him to show off with tricks such as the disappearance of objects or the fading of scenes. His best-known work is “The trip to the moon” and dates from 1902. These innovations in the field aroused the interest of filmmakers in both Europe and the United States and were the reason for the opening of numerous film studios.

The first films were short, with simple themes and without sound; the functions were generally offered with the accompaniment of a piano and a rapporteur. When was sound incorporated into cinema? Warner Brothers introduced the first effective sound system in 1926: it was called Vitaphone and it consisted of the recording of musical soundtracks and recited texts. The support for these recordings was large discs that were synchronized with what was happening on the screen.

In 1931 the Movietone created by Lee de Forest, allowed to record the sound in a sideband of the film. This method became the standard and made the talkies a global phenomenon.

In the early 1930s, the new medium began to be used in a more versatile, less rigid way. The sound began to be manipulated after the film was rotated and edited, which is known as post-production.

What other major changes took place in the cinema?

Although color had already been experimented with in the cinema in 1906, the technique achieved its perfection around the year 1933, but it was not until the 1950s that its use became widespread. It was the end of black and white cinema. With technological advances, digital cinema appeared, initially recorded on magnetic tape and later distributed on the optical disc. Nowadays, there are more and more devices that allow recording directly in digital format, reducing costs considerably. Gradually, many audiovisual creators have opted for this type of medium, however, the large recording studios continue to use film for their productions.

Digital or celluloid?

There are considerable differences between the two techniques, the most important being that celluloid contains a higher resolution per frame. But the truth is that technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, so experts do not rule out the possibility that in the future cinema will be digital. There are positions that indicate a lack of naturalness in this new format or even question it because they consider that it supposes a cinematographic look very different from the traditional one. This, of course, depends on the preferences of each artist.

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