When you think about it, film has only been around for a little over a century. In that time, the language of cinema has expanded from a single, static medium to include all kinds of other forms: live-action, animation, and even video games. Modern moviegoers frequently have to ask themselves questions about what constitutes "real" cinema — and what defines an Oscar-winning movie.
The oldest film ever discovered dates back to 1888 and is a silent short titled "Roundhay Garden Scene." It was named after the garden in which it was shot (the Fenton Gallery and Museum of Art) and features a brief, 10-second clip of an unidentified man walking across a grassy field.
Read on to find out more.
How was it made?
If you want to know the history of film or video, you've got to look back at the technology that made it possible: cameras. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth even more. And what was photography in the 1800s? It started with one man: Louis Le Prince. He was the first to use a single lens for taking pictures, giving birth to movie-making technology.
Louis Le Prince was an innovator in early cinema, as he developed a device for capturing moving pictures film clips. Aided by his third and final patent for a single-lens camera, Le Prince recorded the earliest known film in 1887.
What was it?
"Roundhay Garden Scene" is the first-ever film in existence, and it’s only 2 seconds long. The film was shot in Roundhay Garden, a suburb of Leeds, England in 1888. It shows Le Prince (the father) walking with his mother and father-in-law and a family friend. There’s no sound — it’s 2 seconds of pure visual magic.
French inventor Louis Le Prince was an enterprising chap — just take a look at the catalog of his many creations. His first invention (cameras weren't his only passion) was an electric stage light that allowed theatres to host plays through the night. Because of his work in stage lighting, he was awarded a medal by the French Academy of Sciences — which was, at the time, one of the highest honours a scientist could receive.
Although the world was entering a new age of technology, tragedy struck before Le Prince had the chance to see his inventions flourish. His son was shot dead in 1890 after he testified against a competitor, and two years later Le Prince disappeared.
A century of developments
From 1888 to 2022, film and camera technology has grown remarkably. In fact, it's advanced the film industry in ways that we never would have imagined (have you seen 3+ hour films?)! With all of these improvements, there is a real lack of time and commitment for enthusiasts, who may not have as much time to spend on learning new techniques.
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