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A Brief History of Film and Digital Cinema

1829 1839 Mid 1800s 1873 1877 1878 By Jim Mendrala Dauguerre joins Nipce to pursue photographic inventions. Fox Talbot in England produces photographs. Motion devices are used as parlor games. Drawings revolving quickly around a spindle produce the illusion of motion. French astronomer Pierre Janson invents a device, inspired by a revolver, to track an astronomical event. A single camera registers 12 images per second at a regular interval. Thomas Edison records sound onto a cylinder. Eadweard Muybridge, survey photographer, is hired by a horse breeder to answer questions about horses' gaits. He sets up a special track with 12 cameras which are exposed by the horse tripping a series of wires and creates 12 still photographs. Muybridge increases the number of cameras to 24 and invents the Zoopraxiscope to show their images in sequence. Edison invents the electric light. Etienne Marey, a French scientist interested in the study of motion, creates a "photographic gun" to capture images in time. Edison meets with Muybridge to discuss uniting the Zoopraxiscope with Edison's phonograph in order to reproduce images and sounds simultaneously. Marey's first film projector uses clear film, developed by George Eastman, on an endless belt. Edison meets Marey, adopts his use of celluloid strip film. Edison adds equidistant perforations along both sides of the film to assist in smooth projection and debuts the Kinetoscope, a "peep show" viewing machine, at the Chicago World's Exposition. Edison sells Kinetoscope to storefront penny arcade operators who set them up as one of their attractions. Common subjects are one-minute long shots of vaudeville performers, strong men, trick dogs, dancers and acrobats. The Lumire brothers in France develop the first portable camera and present the first public screening of projected film. The mobile camera allows for new exterior images of far off places, people at the beach, city street life, trains and ambulances rushing by. In an early fictional skit, a boy tricks gardener into spraying himself with water. Edison demonstrates his motion pictures in public showing at Music Hall in New York City on April 23rd. Films are added to Vaudeville theater programs as the concluding number. Neighborhood storefront arcades include projected films for a nickel to capitalize on a working class public that can't afford a 25 vaudeville admission. These "Nickelodeons" are hugely

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successful. Manufacturers need to supply their equipment purchasers with films. They set up internal production units and also buy films from freelance cameramen. The Spanish-American war inspires patriotic simulations. Audience-titillating risqu subjects feature a women's calf momentarily bared. Mlis makes "trick films," playing with the camera's mechanical abilities. Edwin S. Porter comes to work for Edison as a filmmaker. A strike by vaudeville performers causes theater owners to explore new ideas to attract and maintain business. For the first time they present all-film programs and are surprisingly successful. "All-movie" storefront theaters begin to spring up, some marketing themselves as fit for women and children. Porter directs Life of An American Fireman and The Great Train Robbery, beginning to use more shots, more locations and actual stories with suspense and movement, The public becomes interested in this more complete, novel-like storytelling. Comic chases and westerns become quite popular. In France, Path colors black and white films by machine. An animated cartoon film is produced. Edison ruthlessly pursues control over the income from his inventions until all but one of the major film producers are under license to his company, forced to only sell or rent their films to licensed distributors and exhibitors. Production units start traveling to Los Angeles to continue filming through winters. Florida and Cuba were also tried, but LA offers accessible and varied locations from mountain to desert to sea, plus cheap, non-union labor and low humidity. The storefront movies grow so successful, there are over 600 in the greater New York area alone. D.W. Griffith starts directing films at Biograph and develops a more complex filming style, using more shots, putting the camera closer to actors' faces and intricate editing techniques. In effect, Griffith consolidates a new way of communicating, a language that expresses and capitalizes on unique resources of motion pictures. William Fox takes over vaudeville houses, lowers prices to 5 or 10, fills half the program with films and turns a profit. The nine principal producing companies organize the Motion Picture Patent Company. They use equipment and process patents to cement control of all phases of the business: production, distribution and exhibition. Independent film production companies spring up to service non-licensed distributors which the Patent Co. had deemed to small to bother with. Independents begin showing and advertising the names of actors and directors, helping to attract

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the public to their film and drawing talent to their companies. The Patent Co. envelops over 60 licensed distributors, creating the monopolistic General Film Co. After a conflict with General Film Co. in which his supply of films was cut off, Fox becomes convinced that a distributor needs to control his own supply and resolve to integrate verticallycontrolling production, distribution and exhibition. Production output of the independent film companies grows to nearly equal that of the Patent Co. companies. In an election year move, the Wilson administration sues the Patent Co. for restraint of trade. Motorized movie cameras replace hand cranks. While in California for the winter, Griffith secretly makes a 4-reel film (a length not allowed under Patent Co. rules). Biograph is unhappy and delays distribution. Griffith quits and moves to an independent production company. Theater builders begin making palatial and sumptuous movie palaces to draw greater audiences. Mack Sennett hires Charlie Chaplin, who perfects the silent comedy. Production companies and their studios begin to congregate in the Los Angeles area. To ensure profits, they develop an intricate system for releasing films in a way that guarantees a certain income, no matter what the quality of an individual film. Griffith's Birth of a Nation premiers. At 2 hours, it is meant to prove the epic power and grandeur of cinematic expression and to appeal to a relatively untapped audience -The American elite. The Justice Department declares the Patent Co. an illegal conspiracy. Harry Aitken establishes Triangle pictures and finances it by selling shares - the first time a film company goes public. "Hollywood" blossoms into a large-scale industry, with bureaucracy, hierarchies and its own particular lifestyle of both high-flying gaiety and abject desperation. But this rapid growth and vertical integration requires capital and the studios become increasingly dependent on stockholders and bankers. Commercial radio broadcasting begins. While plowing a field, 14-year old Philo Farnsworthenvisions capturing images by scanning them with electrons along furrowlike rows. Film attendance begins to decline, perhaps as a combined result of radio and more affordable cars. The studios' financial struggles increase, particularly as expensive majestic movie palaces drain money from their pockets. Don Juan is released with an orchestral accompaniment and sound effects on a disc. Others print a sound track on a hidden optical band along the edge of the film. However, most studios

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are busy fighting legal battles and are also reluctant to make the required investment in new equipment and technology. However, William Fox and the Warner Bros. take the plunge. The Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences is formed in Hollywood. The Warner Bros. The Jazz Singer opens in New York to great acclaim. It is, in fact, only a partial "talkie" - with musical numbers and a few lines of dialogue only. But the audiences clamor for more. Farnsworth captures the first electronic image. As all the studios switch to talkies, the restrictive needs of the new technology temporarily forces a regression in films' storytelling and visual energy. However, in a few years, the ever intensive industry solves the problems by developing quieter camera motors and lights, and more flexible sound equipment and techniques. Again, this all requires capitol, as well as a dependence on the sound companies, particularly Western Electric, a subsidiary of AT&T. Academy accepts Fox/Case sound track system resulting in the Academy film format. The Fox Grandeur (wide film) is shown in first release film. A motion picture is shown in color, but the technique is not used widely. The stock market crashes. The studios hang on for awhile, bolstered by the people's love of sound movies and their need to escape the harsh realities of the times. Sound expands industry-wide. Despite efforts to draw audiences, such as offering concessions and nightly drawings and give-aways, the Depression catches up with the studios, and many go into receivership or bankruptcy. There is a rash of take-overs and mergers. Three-color Technicolor is used briefly in a live action film. The Production Code Administration begins enforcing a set of rules designed to ensure morality in the movies. Filmmakers turn to making light, romantic screwball comedies and films of classic novels. Farnsworth produces the first demonstration of a working television system. Eastman Kodak develops Kodachrome color film. Becky Sharp is the first all color feature length film. Daily demonstration broadcasts were being made by Harry Lubke from the Don Lee Broadcsting System radio studios at 7th & Bixel streets in Los Angeles using a 300 line 24-frame progressive system. The Justice Department files anti-trust suits against eight film companies, but is satisfied for a time by a consent decree promising alterations of the studios' restrictive and extremely profitable booking practices.


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Gone With the Wind is released. It relies heavily on special effects such as painted glass mats and optical compositing to create the illusion of spacious plantation mansions and daring rides through burning cities. New York World's Fair shows television to the public and regular television broadcasting begins. New York World's Fair demonstrates first public demonstration of 3-D movies. A Pennsylvania appliance store owner tries to boost television sales by bringing a better signal into his valley town, thus developing cable technology. During World War II, sales of TVs are halted and film producers return to black and white filming. The Justice Department re-opens its anti-trust suit. 97% of the population owns a radio and listens to it 4-6 hours a day but moviegoers only go to the movies 3 times a month. Movie attendance begins to fall even further, perhaps as new parents stay home with their "baby boom" babies. Hearings by the House Un-American Activities Committee lead to blacklists and a spate of timid and tepid films. Television is introduced on a widespread basis. By 1951, there are 1,500,000 TV sets in the U.S. A court declares that vertical integration of studios and exhibitors violates anti-trust laws and must cease. Samuel Goldwyn writes an article, "Hollywood in the Television Age," in which he suggests that, to compete, the film industry has three choices: 1. own their own television stations 2. deliver first run movies to homes via telephone wires in an early version of pay-TV 3. develop large-screen theatre television so that one "print" can be carried by leased wires simultaneously to thousands of theatres. None of the three options are pursued. Option 1 doesn't seem advisable with the court pursuing antitrust actions, Option 2 involves competing with established TV networks for room on the dial, and Option 3 would mean a complete unraveling of the intricate releasing system. The studios turn to other ideas... Stereoscopic 3-Dimensional films succeed in gaining a brief period of audience interest. The large-screen Cinerama system is developed, using multiple projectors to create a visual spectacle certainly not available on a home TV set. However, it is quite expensive and cumbersome and would require a major re-tooling of theaters. 20th Century Fox develops CinemaScope, in which the use of an anamorphic lens allows the illusion of wider screen projection with the simple change-out of one part. Other studios follow with VistaVision and PanaVision. Without a guaranteed-profitable first run, stars and their drawing power become even more important to the studios.

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Television begins broadcasting in color on a regular basis. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents Ampex with an Oscar for technical achievement. "Smell-O-Vision" is introduced and quickly rejected by the public. Interest in foreign, "art" and classic films increases as the children of television discover there is something more. The Godfather is released and is a huge hit. The studios begin to look for more of such "home run" films. Service electric, a cable system in Pennsylvania, offers pay TV, calling it Home Box Office. Sony markets the first Betamax VCR for home viewing and recording of video and JVC quickly follows with VHS. Cable reaches its mature form, becoming a means for delivering new and varied types of programing through specialty and payper-view channels. Dolby Laboratories introduces Dolby Stereo for movies. Lucas' Star Wars and Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind are released and are hits, relying on good storytelling but also breaking into new special-effects territory. Philips markets the first video laser disc player. Computers for individual use develop rapidly in both power and speed and infiltrate the film business. Computer-based non-linear editing systems are introduced and within a few short years dominate post-production. Likewise, digital media for sound recording and processing quickly become the norm. Computer-generated special effects in Terminator 2 are visually stunning and firmly established the computer as the most powerful special effects tool yet developed. The first public demonstration of digital cinema. Pacific Bell and Sony Pictures Entertainment sent the movie Bugsy from the lot in Culver City to the Anaheim Convention Center where a theater had been setup...100s attended and it recieved more news coverage than any other single event in telephone history. A reel of film is projected at Skywalker Sound in Los Angeles, with the sound track being transmitted simultaneously into the screening room from Skywalker Sound in Northern California. DirecTV is launched, using satellites in geosynchronous orbit to beam signals to a small receiving dish at each user's home. Toy Story is released, the first completely computer-generated feature film. CD-ROM disks are able to store a full-length feature film. Computers reach higher saturation in homes and businesses. The development of the hyper text transfer protocol allows mainstream America to join in a world-wide network of computers and computer users. DVDs are introduced and quickly surge to popularity and


gaining critical mass. Digital cinema demonstrations to the public begin. On June 19th in four theatres, two on the West coast and two on the East coast. Lucas Films and 20th Century Fox debuted Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace as the first major motion picture theatrically exhibited as digital cinema using a Pluto digital storage system in the D-5 compression format. The Ideal Husband is shown at Infocomm in digital cinema. This was one of the last demonstartion using the Hughes/JVC ILA projector. Tarzan, Toy Story 2 and Bicentennial Man are released by Disney in the new digital cinema format using the QuVIS wavelet based compression algorithms. February, digital cinema demonstrations go international with two theaters equipped in London, England, one Manchester, England, one in Brussels, Belgium, one in Paris, France and one in Tokyo, Japan for all digital showings of Toy Story 2. March 6th, Christie Systems, Inc. announced today that it has been selected as the first OEM to manufacture digital cinema projectors using Texas Instruments DLP Cinema? technology. The agreement will allow Christie to develop the Christie DigiPro? series of digital projectors using DLP Cinema projection technology. Mission to Mars (March), Dinosaur (May) and Fantasia 2000 (June) are released by Disney in the digital cinema format. June 6th, 20th Century Fox, Qwest, Cisco, Texas Instruments, QuVis, Barco Projection Systems, Eastern Acoustic Works, and Sigma Design Group demonstrate the world's first digital cinema network distribution and exhibition system. The movie was "Titan AE" The Blair Witch Project becomes a hit primarily through marketing on the Web and Web-borne word of mouth. Studios realize the potential power of this new realm to bring them their film audiences. However, others also realize the new technology is, in itself, a new medium in which there is the potential to create a new sort of entertainment, a new sort of storytelling. Yet others begin to use the Web as an alternate means of distribution for personal, independent and undiscovered motion picture entertainment. More international digital cinema theatres were added in: Tlanepantla, Mexico, Seoul, Korea, Dusseldorf and Munich, Germany, Madrid and Barcelona, Spain. December 14th, Sunset Post, Inc., Glendale, CA opens the first



THX certified Digital Cinema Mastering Theatre. As of January 1st there are 32 theatres in the world equipped to display digital cinema. Over 1.9 million movie patrons have seen 15 different movies in the digital cinema format. January, Japan opens the first totally digital cinema theatre. March 7th, Technicolor Digital Cinema demonstrates, at ShoWest, Qualcomm's Adaptive Block Size Discrete Cosine Transform (ABSDCT) image compression algorithm. April 23rd, Qualcomm, a pioneer in digital cinema technology, has entered into a development license agreement with Teranex, Inc., to demonstrate ABSDCT image compression technology on the Teranex video computer platform. July 17th, Jurasic Park III opens at Lowes Universal Studios Cinemas on two screens in the Digital Theatre Interim Mastering (DTIM) format using for the first time "MPEG 2 Plus" constant quality compression based on the MPEG 2 compression standard. The multi-screen digital cinema theatre used a server, provided by the Grass Valley Group, to feed two Christie "DigiPro" DLP "black chip" projectors. The film was transfered using a Cintel "C-Reality" telecine. Color correction was done on a Da Vinci 2K and was screened on Sunset Digital's (formerly Sunset Post) THX certified DCinemastage. December 7th, "Ocean's 11" opened in 19 Technicolor Digital Cinemas. 6 new theatres have been added bringing the total worldwide digital cinema theatres up to 40. Technicolor Digital Cinemas use the Qualcomm's ABSolute (formerly ABSDCT) image compression technology and the QDEC-1000 decoder system. As of March 1st digital cinema technology has now been exposed to over four million movie-goers throughout the world. These digital cinema demonstrations began on June 18th 1999. Since that time, over 30 movies have been released in an all-digital form, including: 'The Perfect Storm', 'Spy Kids', 'Shrek', 'Final Fantasy' and 'The Spirits Within'.


The total number of digital cinema theatres now is over forty with the addition of the Shanghai Paradise Theatre in Shanghai, China and The Palace Theatre in Budapest, Hungary. March 5th, Director George Lucas shows a "Star Wars Episode II" trailer shot entirely on digital 24-frame progressive high definition. The footage was shown at Showest in Las Vegas, Nevada and was projected digitally using DLP Cinema

technology. Seven major motion picture studios form NDC/Newco to set new standards for digital cinema. May 16th, Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones" opens in more than 94 digital cinema theatres worldwide. The digitally mastered film shot entirely on digital 24frame progressive high definition is said to be the first film to skip traditional film photography. Multiple digitally mastered film inter-negatives were made of Star Wars to generate the traditional film prints delivered to conventional, non-digital cinema theatres. July 1st, There are now no less than six digital titles competing for the 120 screens in the United States, four of which are: Star Wars, Windtalkers, Scooby-Doo and Spirit and Lilo and Stitch.