as an art form grew out of a long tradition of literature
, narrative drama
, shadow play
, cave paintings
and perhaps even dreams
. In addition, the technology
of film emerged from developments and achievements much further back in human history.
With possible prehistoric origin due to it ocurring naturally, near the year 1600, the camera obscura was referred to by Keppler and perfected by della Porta. Light is inverted through a small hole or lens from outside, and projected onto a surface or screen, creating a projected moving image, indistinguishable from a projected high quality film to an audience, but it is not preserved in a recording. Tarkovsky, in Andrei Rublev, pays homage to this film precursor by including a camera obscura via a hole in the door of a medieval room.
Early elaborate mechanical robots shared with film that information was stored in order to create a moving visual image for entertainment. In the former case, it was stored in the gearing, whereby all of the dances, bells, and whistles could be played back, a precursor to storage of digital media.
Plays and dances had elements common to films- scripts, sets, lighting, costumes, production, direction, actors, audiences, storyboards, and scores. They preceded film by thousands of years. Much terminology later used in film theory and criticism applied, such as mise en scene. Visual moving images and sound was not recorded for replaying as in film.
Shadow dancing, using projected light in combination with acting or dancing, is an ancient art in many world cultures, and includes projection from a light source. Puppetry, another ancient art form, shares elements with animation and claymation.
Ting Huan (丁緩) created an elementary zoetrope in China in 180 AD. A zoetrope is a cylinder lined with snapshots from a sequence of images of a motion, where the motion returns to its starting point at the end. The images are viewed through slits, so each image shows at a fixed time after the last, creating the image of motion, similar to blinking at a fixed interval while wathcing motion. If the "blinks" become close together, this created the illusion of motion. Zoetropes lacked projection of the image, and repeated after one turn of the cylinder.
In 1740 and 1748, David Hume published Treatise of Human Nature and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, arguing for the associations and causes of ideas with visual images, forerunners to the language of film.
Optics developed in the European Renaissance, with a theory of lenses. Electromagnetic theory led to Edison's light bulb. Photographic film was created in the 1800's. Phonographic recording of sound was invented in the 1800's.
Early technological developments and developments in psychology
- c. 500 BC - Mo-Ti, a Chinese philosopher ponders the phenomenology of an upside down image of the outside world beaming through a small hole in the opposite wall in a darkened room.
- c. 350 BC - Aristotle of Greece tells of watching an image of an eclipse beamed onto the ground through a sieve.
- c. 180 AD - Ting Huan (丁緩) creates elementary zoetrope in China.
- c. 1000 - Alhazen experiments with the same optical principle, and writes of the results.
- 1490 - Leonardo DaVinci describes a structure that would produce this effect.
- 1544 - Reinerus Gemma-Frisius, a Dutch scientist, illustrates large rooms built for the purpose of viewing eclipses by this means.
- 1588 - Giovanni Battista Della Porta tips off artists to this trick.
- c. 1610 - Johannes Kepler refers to a construction that utilises this phenomenon as a camera obscura.
- c. 1610 - Della Porta perfected the camera obscura using a convex lens.
- 1671 - Athanasius Kircher projects images painted on glass plates with an oil lamp and a lens, his 'Magic Lantern'.
- 1740 and 1748, David Hume published Treatise of Human Nature and An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, arguing for the associations and causes of ideas with and by visual images, forerunners to developments in the language of film.
- 1798 - Étienne-Gaspard Robert begins his revolutionary phantasmagoria shows
- 1820s - Joseph Plateau: Anorthoscope; Phenakistiscope. Spindle viewers. Flip books.
- 1824 - Thaumatrope induction. Peter Mark Roget presents the persistence of vision to the world in his paper Explanation of an optical deception in the appearance of the spokes of a wheel when seen through vertical apertures. The article is often incorrectly cited as Persistence of Vision with Regard to Moving Objects, or On the Persistence of Vision with Regard to Human Motion, and given an incorrect date.
- 1831 - Faraday's Law of electromagnetic
- 1834 - The Zoetrope (US), a.k.a., the Daedalum (England).
Victorian innovations, c.1860-1901
- 1861 - Henri DuMont patents an apparatus for "reproducing successive phases of motion", British Patent 1,457.
- 1861 - The Kinematoscope is invented. This is a series of stereoscopic pictures on glass plates, linked together in a chain, and mounted in a box. The viewer turns a crank to see moving images.
- 1872 - Eadweard Muybridge designs the zoopraxiscope. French astronomer Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen develops a camera with a revolving photographic plate that makes exposures at regular, automatic intervals.
- 1877 - Muybridge begins experimenting with "serial photography" (or "chronophotography"), taking multiple exposed images of a running horse (see main Muybridge article).
- 1878 - George Eastman manufactures photographic dry plates the same year Thomas Edison invents the first electric incandescent light bulb, archaically known as a magic lantern.
- 1880 - Muybridge begins projecting his studies of figures in motion.
- 1881 - Louis Lumiere develops a "dry plate" process with gelatin emulsion.
- 1882 - Etienne-Jules Marey, a French physiologist, makes a series of photographs of birds in flight. Hannibal Goodwin sells an idea to George Eastman, who markets it as "American film" : a roll of paper coated with emulsion.
- 1886 - Louis Le Prince patented his process for "the successive production of objects in motion by means of a projector".
- 1887 - Ottomar Anschütz creates the electrotachyscope, which presents the illusion of motion with transparent chronophotography.
- 1888 - Louis Le Prince exhibited (projected) films in October made with his receiver (camera) at the Whitley factory in Hunslet, Leeds and in Oakwood Grange, Leeds.
- 1889 - William Friese Greene developed the first "moving pictures" on celluloid film, exposing of film at Hyde Park, London. George Eastman improves on his paper roll film, substituting the paper with plastic.
- 1890 - Friese Greene patents his process, but was unable to finance manufacturing of it, and later sold his patent.
- 1891 - Edison patents the Kinetoscopic camera developed by his employee William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, which takes moving pictures on a strip of film. A lighted box was used to view the pictures, the viewer was required to turned a handle to see the pictures "move". First called "arcade peepshows", these were to soon be known as nickelodeons. Fred Ott's Sneeze is the first Kinetographic film.
- 1893 - Edison Laboratories builds a film studio, in West Orange, New Jersey, dubbed the Black Maria. It was built on a turntable so the window could rotate toward the sun throughout the day, supplying natural light for the productions. At the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, Muybridge gives a series of lectures on the Science of Animal Locomotion in the Zoopraxographical Hall. He used his zoopraxiscope to show his moving pictures to a paying public.
- 1894 - Louis Lumiere invents the cinematograph a single-unit camera, developer, and movie projector. Kinetoscopes, meanwhile, were popular and profitable. On January 7, W.K. Dickson receives a patent for motion picture film.
- 1895 - The Arrival of a Train premiered on a large screen December 28 at the Grand Cafe in Paris, France. Louis and his brother Auguste Lumiere also filmed Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory that year, while in the US Woodville Latham combined a Kinetoscope with a projecting device. People were avidly watching nickelodeons on Broadway in New York City.
- 1896 - Edison loses W. K. Dickson who joins with other inventors and investors to form the American Mutoscope Company. The company manufactured the mutoscope as a rival to the Kinetoscope and, like Edison, produced films for its invention. Expanding on the idea, American Mutoscope then developed the "biograph" which was a projector allowing films to be shown in theatres to a large audience rather than in single-user nickelodeons. Edison entered the competition for development of a large projector he called the Vitascope. This year also debuted the work of first female film director, Alice Guy-Blaché's The Cabbage Fairy. Vitascope Hall in New Orleans opened in June of this year.
- 1897 - US President William McKinley's inauguration was filmed, the first US newsreel. In England the Prestwich Camera is patented.
- 1898 - Thomas Edison captures various scenes of the Spanish-American War which include training and marching troops, unloading ships, as well as some battle scenes. This marks the Spanish-American War as the first war to be documented on film.
- 1899 - With the success of the biograph, American Mutoscope changed its name to American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. In England Edward R. Turner and F. Marshall Lee create chronophotographic images through red, green and blue filters and project them with together with a three-lens projector.
- 1900 - Synchronized sound was first demonstrated in at the Paris Exposition with a sound-on-disc system.