Eastman Kodak would become the first to make celluloid film commercially available, starting in 1889; Thomas Henry Blair emerged in 1891 as the first major competitor for supplying celluloid film. The stock had a frosted base in order to facilitate easier viewing by transmitted back light, and the emulsions from each company were orthochromatic. By November 1891 William Dickson at Edison's lab was using Blair's stock for Kinetoscope tests, and Blair's company remained a main supplier of film to the Edison lab for the next five years. Blair's operation was also crucial to the continued development of motion picture technology through 1892 and 1893, due to temporary shutdowns at Eastman because of problems with their production setup. Eventually patent lawsuits in 1893 led to Blair leaving his American company and starting again in Britain, which allowed Eastman to gradually fill the entirety of the Edison lab's film orders. Blair's new headquarters allowed him to supply many of the key European filmmaking pioneers, including Birt Acres, Robert Paul, George Albert Smith, Charles Urban, and the Lumiere Brothers. The American Blair company was to be short-lived, however, as by 1896 the new movie projector would demand a fully transparent film base that they had difficulty supplying. Eastman shortly thereafter bought the company out, thus consolidating its position as the leading supplier of film stock from then on. These developments also led Louis Lumiere to work with Victor Planchon on adapting the Lumiere "Blue Label" (Etiquette Bleue) photographic plate emulsion for use on celluloid roll film, which began in early 1896 and was brought to full production capacity by the following year.
Eastman's first motion picture film stock incorporated the same emulsion as was used for its still film, which was, like nearly all film emulsion of the time, orthochromatic-sensitive. Film at this point did not have a strictly defined speed; rather, the orthochromatic quality of the stock allowed the film to be processed under a red safelight, while the density was checked as development was occurring. Standard practice until the end of the silent era involved tearing off several inches from the start of each shot and testing development on it. Positive stock was created that would be slower, finer-grained, and of a higher contrast than a negative; all of these characteristics remain consistent to this day.
From 1895, Eastman supplied their motion picture roll film in rolls of 65 feet, while Blair's rolls were 75 feet. If longer lengths were needed, the unexposed negative rolls could be cemented in a darkroom, but this was largely undesirable by most narrative filmmakers. Actuality films were much more eager to undertake this method, however, in order to depict longer actions, and created cemented rolls as long as 1000 feet. American Mutoscope and Biograph was the first known company to use this, for the Jeffries-Sharkey fight on November 3, 1899.
As the quantity of film and filmmakers grew in these early years, the demand for standardization increased in prominence. 35 mm film, largely thanks to the popularity of the Edison and Lumiere camera lines (and their often unauthorized clones) had begun to stabilize as the dominant gauge, but still was usually purchased unperforated, and subsequently punched by the consumer with perforation equipment designed by third parties. Although Edison (4 square perfs per frame on each side) and Lumiere (1 rounded perf per frame on each side) formats - based on the camera designs - were the most common, the perforators were not always precise, and it could be difficult to create prints for the opposite perforation format. Edison's organization of the Motion Picture Patents Trust, though largely ineffective in controlling the burgeoning film industry, was able in 1909 to agree to what would become the de facto standard: 35 mm gauge, with Edison perforations and a 1.33 aspect ratio. These parameters have remained largely constant to the present day.
The Bell and Howell company perforators entered the market in 1908 and very shortly were recognized as exceptional enough to pervade the American industry. Eastman Kodak was also quick to opt to use the machine to pre-perforate their films, which assured the perforation specifications being adopted as the world standard not long after. These perforations, known as BH-type, remain the standard for original camera negative film.
The belle epoque era also saw the creation of numerous small, local film suppliers, the vast majority of which were short-lived due to their smaller production batches, slower emulsions (which were also usually blue-only sensitive rather than orthochromatic), and inferior quality control. Among these companies, Agfa began to produce motion picture film in 1913, but remained a largely local supplier until post-World War I boycotts of popular French films allowed the newly-founded UFA film studio to flourish and thus boosted Agfa's orders.
Among the foremost problems with the film stocks of this era was that they were all manufactured on a nitrate film base, which was a derivate of guncotton and thus highly flammable. Additionally, nitrate fires were notoriously difficult to put out, as even full submersion in water will not stop the fire. This had led to a significant number of fatal accidents in theatrical projection booths, where the heat of the projector lamp made ignition most likely. As the amateur filmmaking market slowly developed at the beginning of the 20th century, Kodak began to develop a more heat-resistant "safety base" which could be easily projected without incident even at home by those with no prior experience. Early tests in 1909 showed cellulose diacetate to be a viable replacement base, and Kodak began selling acetate-base films the following year in 22 mm widths for Edison's work on the Home Kinetoscope, which was commercially released in 1912. In the wake of the availability of safety film, more amateur formats began to adopt it, and several, including Kodak's own 16 mm format, were designed specifically so that the only film stocks released for the format specifications would be safety base.
Kodak also continued to refine their camera negative stock during the late 1910s, releasing Cine Negative Film Type E in 1916 and Type F (later known as Negative Film Par Speed Type 1201) in 1917. As both of these orthochromatic films were no faster than previous offerings, it has been suggested that the improvements most likely were in regards to granularity and sharpness.
Conversion of the industry from orthochromatic to panchromatic stocks was initiated by Kodak over the course of the decade. First used for exterior sequences in The Last of the Mohicans in 1920 and originally only available as a special order product, the stock's increased sensitivity in the red-light range meant greater overall light sensitivity and made it an attractive option for day for night shooting. Kodak financed a feature in 1922 shot entirely with the panchromatic stock, The Headless Horseman, in order to promote the stock when it was introduced as a standard option; however, the fairly higher price of the stock compared to the orthochromatic emulsion meant that no other films would shot entirely with the panchromatic stock for several years. The cross-cutting between panchromatic and orthochromatic stocks also was noted to cause continuity problems particularly with regard to costume tones, and thus was often avoided. The dominance of orthochromatic film lasted until the mid 1920s due to Kodak's lack of competition in the panchromatic market; Gevaert emerged onto the market in 1925 with a dual product line of an orthochromatic stock with limited color sensitivity as well as a full panchromatic stock, Pan-23. This latter product likely encouraged Kodak to respond, and in 1926 they lowered the price of panchromatic stock to parity with the standard orthochromatic offering. Without any economic barrier remaining, the panchromatic stock began to overtake the orthochromatic stock's market share within a few years, as the cinematographers gradually became more familiar with the stock. With similar panchromatic offerings also made around the same period by Agfa and Pathe, the shift to panchromatic stocks had largely been completed by 1928.
Before 1941, none of the color film processes for professional motion pictures used a color emulsion film stock. Kinemacolor (1908–1914), Technicolor processes 1 through 4 (1917–1954), and Cinecolor used one, two or three strips of monochrome film stock sensitized to certain primary colors or exposed behind color filters in special cameras. Technicolor introduced a color reversal stock, called Monopack, for location shooting in 1941; it was basically a 35mm version of Kodachrome that could be used in standard motion picture cameras. Eastman Kodak came out with the first 35mm color negative stock, Eastman Color Negative film 5247, in 1950. A higher quality version in 1952, Eastman Color Negative film 5248, was quickly adopted by Hollywood for color motion picture production, replacing both the expensive three-strip Technicolor process and Monopack.
While black and white film has no color temperature itself, the silver halide grains themselves tend to be slightly more responsive to blue light, and therefore will have daylight and tungsten speeds - e.g. Kodak's Double-X stock is rated 250D/200T, since the tungsten light will give slightly less exposure than an equivalent amount of daylight.
Due to the specialized nature of the exposure and the higher degree of control afforded by the film lab equipment, these intermediate and release stocks are specially designed solely for these applications and are generally not feasible for camera shooting. Because intermediates only function to maintain the image information accurately across duplication, each manufacturer tends to only produce one or two different intermediate stocks. Similarly, release print stocks usually are available only in two varieties: a "normal" print or a deluxe print (on more-costly print film like Kodak Vision Premiere) with slightly greater saturation and contrast.