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A Short History Of The Camera - Moving Picture Innovations Of The 19th Century
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A Short History Of the Camera  -  Moving Picture Innovations Of the 19th Century

The term, “cinemascope” today, is used to name a lens system used in modern cinemas making curved wide-screen viewing possible. The term rightfully belongs to an early collection of strange animation devices of the 19th Century clearly belonging in the history of the camera as precursors to the photographic version.

Image reflection, thus the mirror, sets the stage for image projection Perhaps as old, or older than animation, both motion and projection are the key elements of the earliest of image projectors known as the magic lantern. The earliest were the camera obscura and mirrors inside which projected the image to an adjustable flat surface. The image could be moved about (though not true animation.)

As absolutely primitive as these concepts are, they were indeed important developments as, without them, none of our high-tech extreme action video capture would not be possible..

The Rise of the Demonic Visitation!

During the Renaissance, horrifying images of demons would be projected during a show which would terrorize folks in the room, especially those unfamiliar with the props, reminding them that demons do in fact exist. These cameras (or projectors proper) were especially designed for slides that were inserted in front of the camera's light source and projecting to the front of the house.

A little steam or smoke added to the eerie effects of a dimmed house!

Late-nite entertainment also meant belly-busting comedies and sultry love stories.

Much later, attempts at creating moving pictures resulted in several new inventions, all of which follow the same concept though with repeat animations of, for example, a horse running, or a dance taking place. Amongst the different methods of animation, we have the following:

Thaumatrope (1824,)

This was an early animation toy developed possibly by Sir John Herschel. This toy was a demonstration of the "phi phenomenon" which denotes the human mind's uncanny ability to perceive patterns within chaos. This invention was often used to demonstrate this phenomenon. The toy itself consisted of a circular disk with two strings through its center. Spinning the disk made two images, one on either side, appear as a single image together.

Phenakistoscope (1831)

Joseph Plateau and Simon von Stampfer co-invented this contraption. It featured a disk with evenly-spaced images that depicted slight movement from one to the next and then spun, creates the artificial effect of continued motion. The end of the animation was matched to the beginning, producing a seamless but repeating animation. Viewing was done through special slots slightly out of kilter with the images themselves being reflected in line with the slots so they could be viewed.

Zoetrope (1834)

Based on the same concepts as the phenakistoscope, but modified as a carousel.

The images were on the walls of the inside of the cylinder, alternating with slots. The slots allowed view of the animation showing on the opposite side of the cylinder. More than one viewer could watch as this method did not require mirrors and could be surrounded by multiple viewers at one time.

It is also interesting to note that this model was realized by a Chinese inventor, Ting Huan during the late the 2nd century AD.

Flip Book (1868)

Patented by John Barnes Linnet, this invention was based on the phenomenon of having a sequence of pictures drawn on the outer edge of the specially-designed pages in a blank book.

When the pages are flipped in quick succession, a cartoon animation would occur from the drawings.

What made these quite successful is that the human mind can focus on a stationary object than a moving one. The animations could be considerably longer than those on the earlier disks due to the space factor on the disks as opposed to the book.

Praxinoscope (1877) A combination of the cylinder with mirrors mounted in the center, making the imagery closer and could be viewed from any angle. The inventor, Charles-Emile Reynaud, also invented a much larger version of the praxinoscope for theatrical-sized entertainment. Mirrors projected the animation onto a screen, making this more of a theatre of sorts.

The Praxinoscope was the first true example of projected animation and helped make way for the coming of roll film for use in animation and moving picture photography. These very important innovations would eventually pave the way for digital high-performing sports cameras today.

To Recap the Above:

  • In this author’s opinion, the term cinemascope rightfully belongs to a small collection of 19th century animation disk and cylinder-rotating devices bearing image sequences.
  • The earliest of these required image projection. Later, the slit was developed that allowed direct viewing and more than one viewer at a time viewing the image.
  • Though a projected image can be moved about in a room, it is not true animation. However, the concepts in this process were adapted to in the devices invented soon after.
  • Between 1824 and 1877, there were several animation devices created and improved, the Thaumatrope Phenakistoscope, Zoetrope, Flip Book and finally the Praxinoscope. The Flip Book was an entirely different process than the others, which were all very similar.

Even with the technology that makes extreme action video capture possible, it is hard to believe that this technology would only get better in the annals of the history of the camera.


Street Talk

Now this is a cool article! Nice work Daniel

Reply
  about 7 years ago

I appreciate the comment. Things have been taking a turn over the last few weeks and it definitely is for the improvement.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Good to hear!

  
  about 7 years ago
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