When Were Movies Invented? A Short History Of Cinema

Oleksandr Derevianchenko
Oleksandr Derevianchenko, Content Writer
ยท13 min read

when movie were invited

Movies are an inseparable part of our life now.

It’s a great source of entertainment. 

Groups of friends gather up to attend a new Marvel movie, couples find comfortable spots to enjoy a comedy together and critics spend their time analyzing a film and uploading their reviews on the Internet.

Movies aren’t only the source of entertainment, as many of us think. Diverse filmmakers put their efforts into creating documentaries that capture our attention, orchestrating a film showing real-life issues happening right now, and soul-touching recordings of a person’s tragic life. The list goes on.

Surely, movies made a revolution in the world of entertainment. 

And we wonder, how and when movies were invented?

Let’s dig into the story of inventing movies!

History of Motion Pictures

It’s hard filming a movie, no doubt. You’ve probably heard this surname - Lumière. It’s a French surname of two brothers - Louis and Auguste. They’re often associated with and credited for creating the first motion picture camera.

It’s not unusual. Around that time, many inventors created similar cameras which worked practically the same way. But Lumière created a camera kit.

It’s one device with three attachments to it. These attachments were a projector (called Cinematographe), film-processing unit and, of course, a portable motion-picture camera itself.

This thing is huge! Just like the promises it brought to the world.

It’s safe to say that the Lumière brothers invented the motion picture camera which allowed them to capture a scene and show it to a mass audience. In 1895, the brothers showed their first-ever moving pictures to a larger audience…without a sound.

They were no sound-capturing technologies invented at that time, so people had to watch movies in silence as the scenes progressed.

There’s also an urban legend going that goes this way.

Lumière brothers showed a motion picture of a train rapidly approaching the screen. The audience thought that the train was going at them and so, scared for their lives, men and women ran for the exit in the hopes of survival…from a moving picture.

Sadly, it’s only an urban legend and cannot be proved nor busted. 

There was no evidence in the forms of police reports, news articles or interviews. But journalists who attended a film said that it’s an unbelievable experience to see unfolding.

An interesting fact though!

Although the Lumière brothers invented such the camera, it wasn’t the first one in the world.

In 1891, the Edison company introduced the world to the Kinetoscope, but only one person at a time could see the pictures moving inside of it.

But 5 years later, the Edison company showed its new invention - a Vitascope projector, the first commercially successful projector in the United States.

Edison couldn’t handle his desire to invent a functioning motion the picture camera with proper projectors. In the process, he established an Edison Size - 35mm of film. 

Just for information, 35mm is the common photographic film size for analogue cameras and motion picture cameras with single lenses. Because how 35mm cameras were widely available, 35mm film predominated the market by the 1960s.

It became the universally accepted film size, although most of the equipment still was undergoing drastic changes to enhance the experience of filming movies.

And don’t get us started with Walt Disney! Although he is popular for making funny cartoons, and starring Loony Toons characters, (and storyboarding, obviously) he’s also well-known for inventing the multi-plane camera. It debuted in a short film called “The Old Mill” in 1937. This camera allowed to film through several layers of drawings, adding depth and richness to the animation.

Adding A Colour

At first, all movies were in black-and-white style. But then inventors started experimenting.

It started with Kinemacolor in 1906. It projected movies through green and red filters, simulating colors in the film. However, this technology was unreliable as it is two-colored technology. Many other colors it could leave either washed out, too bright, or missing entirely.

And this technology wasn’t cost-effective for theatres to install.

Then Technicolor, making the same expensive technology of a two-color filter, developed a color process that imprinted the color on the film itself. But it remained the same old expensive method and many filmmakers got back to filming regular black-and-white movies.

And then three-colored Technicolour appeared. A utilizing dye-transfer technique was used in filming, so the most vibrant moments were colored in the film. But still expensive.

Years went on and on until Technicolour collaborated with Eastman Kodak and improved the same technology, making it reliable and cheaper for filmmakers to buy or rent.

And thus colored movies became a standard.

Adding A Sound In 1927

The two developed technologies that implemented the sound in the movies were the optical stripe and the magstripe.

Magstripe is easily described as a tape in the tape recorder but applied to the film itself. It’s much harder to edit the sound as you would have to begin filming from the beginning.

Optic stripe was encoded, if the quiet scenes appear, sounds become opaque. If scenes get louder, sounds are transparent.

Though, the first-ever method to add the sound was via photographic discs or cylinders. The system was proven ineffective. Soon, it was replaced with an optical soundtrack which was recorded along with the film.

As of now, it’s much easier to add sound after shooting a scene, using microphones and other sound recording technologies to better convey the sounds of the scene. It goes along with dubbing, sound design, dialogues, etc.

Traditional Aspect Ratio

As we mentioned before, Edison size (35mm) became a worldwide standard for all filmmakers across the globe. The pictures had the aspect ratio of 4:3 or 1:33:1. The first number refers to the width of a screen and the second is for the height.

With the implementation of optical sound, the Academy of Motion picture Sounds approved a new aspect ratio standard of 1.37:1

It hasn’t been changing much since that time.

16:9 aspect ratio is used mainly in television and digital television, as well as gaming. We discussed why this aspect ratio dominates today’s market.

The Rise of the Film Industry

After the release of Jazz Singer in 1927, the whole industry shook. It was the first film to feature sounds.

The introduction of sound and colour in the filming industry revolutionized it. New studious with enough budget to create films steady took the opportunity to start first. These were the notorious Hollywood, Paramount Pictures, etc.

Actresses, singers, actors, and people who were performing on stages became the first actors to play scenes in the new and unusual industry which was thriving among the people. They played major roles and thus contributing to the new generation of entertainment.

Genres started appearing. From making a movie about a moving train or a silent comedy, filmmakers experimented with westerns, musicals, action, animation and so on. Industry proved to be flexible and diverse.

With the largest studious we know to this day, movies established themselves as a new form of art, consisting of captivating storytelling, charming or despicable characters and iconic moments that made it to this day.

The Golden Age of Hollywood

Since the addition of sound to the movies, the industry saw the opportunity in developing more and more films. And, as more and more theatres appeared showing films, Hollywood rose to the top.

It’s called the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1930s as actors flew to California to become a part of Hollywood.

As a result, many high-quality films were produced and distributed across the US, bringing actors to fame and studio to riches.

As you guessed, this is how Hollywood became popular and started its way to establishing its dominance in the world of cinema.

It’s safe to say that Hollywood had its Golden age starting from 1930 and ending at the beginning of the 90s. It’s the time they felt more innovative and risk-taking, experiencing genres, sounds, music and storylines. They could afford it, considering their flow of budget and a huge community of actors.

The Golden Age of Hollywood was affected by the Great Depression of the 20s. Sure, Americans became poor, but as the stock market increased, thus the salaries Americans were getting, citizens went to the cinema theatres in pursuit of escapism - forgetting about the troubles of the outside world.

It seemed that everything in Hollywood was going pretty well. With money flowing in and active actors, they felt successful.

That was until they encountered their first competitor - television.

The Rise and Fall of Hollywood

But what exactly affected the major success of Hollywood in the domestic market of the US?

It’s Thomas Edison.

in 1891, Thomas Edison created and patented a Kinetograph - the camera that allowed people to film a series of pictures and then view it through the projector he also invented.

For the first 30 years, the invention only allowed to film pictures without a sound, so it became an era of silent films. That was until the 20s when people discovered to add sounds to the film and thus formed a new era of cinema.

Even such an invention made an impact on America. As a result, more than 5000 theatres were constructed across the states for all people to see moving pictures.

But the Golden Ages end eventually. It ended with the rise of television.

Television simply suggested a variety of TV programs, shows and performances for a relatively low price. You buy it once - you keep it forever.

The only stopping power was that the TV wasn’t colourful and had a small list of channels to watch, but these problems were fixed by 1953.

By the 1960s, most families had their own TV sets to watch at peaceful times.

Are Movies Less Popular Now?

Well, there are lots of opinions on this.

Even after the Golden age ended and television thrived among the worldwide audience, it doesn’t mean that cinema absolutely disappeared from the entertainment industry.

If you desire to see a new movie that is exclusive, engaging and can hide secrets, you still can and want to buy tickets to watch them. As a matter of fact, cinema is a great way to socialize with other movie enjoyers like yourself!

Although television made it easier to watch captivating programs, late-night shows, cartoons, etc., it doesn’t offer all of the options available. Movies are one of them.

But truth be told - movies lost their place at the top of the entertainment industry.

However, some journalists tend to tell us that things aren’t as bad as we’re thinking they are. COVID didn’t destroy the cinema industry entirely and it will see a happy end after all with hitting all-time highs and downs at the time. Like things were used to. 

Although we expect to see a glimmer of hope for the cinema, it’s an undeniable truth that cinemas have lost their popularity. Sceptics are thinking that movie theatres became the place for Marvel/DC fans, horror fans and parents who follow their kids to watch a new cartoon.

But we are sure that once there was a time when movies were on top, visited by hundreds if not thousands of clients and brought up a generation of movie enjoyers.

It’s the 80s.

The Best 80s

When we think about the greatest times of the filmmaking industry, we cannot ignore the fact that the American 80s were the most fruitful decade for studious to release a masterpiece after a masterpiece.

It’s no doubt that studios took huge risks and experimented with various ideas, wasting their budget on something they wouldn't think of spending on.

As we mentioned before, storytelling plays a huge role in movies. Of course, you can’t just show a movie without a proper story. Even documentaries have one.

Let’s take for example the Terminator. in 1984, people came to the cinema and saw a really strange story about a robot from the future hunting down the woman whose unborn child will save humanity from total annihilation by artificial intelligence. Weird, right?

But this film is iconic. Many of us tend to re-watch the film from time to time. Being the 80s classic, the sound design is incredible, Arnold is a funny character to watch, although he plays a dangerous machine and the overall story is decent. It’s a film we come back to.

Or the Die Hard. It’s a Christmas movie filled with immense action, comedic and iconic moments, a great storyline and bald but young and charming Bruce Willis. The effects, the story, characters, sound design - it’s top-notch and we come back to re-watch it, even with our family.

But what makes a film a great film?

What did the 80s movies that pushed forward the filmmaking industry?

It’s not only the effects and design. It’s planning.

Planning on what the story is going to be about, how it will progress over time and what and where should be placed to make up the atmosphere of the 80s.

What’s so special contributed to the looks of these movies?

Movie Industry Now

Movies are more popular than ever. Despite the COVID Pandemic in the world, in 2020 film industry alone earned a whopping $80 billion.

But, as with all things in the world, things have changed.

Online theatres, such as Netflix, Disney+, and HBO became dominants in the film distribution market. Watching movies is no longer about going to a special place and enjoying yourself with other people. Now, it reshaped and taken the form of staying-at-home.

But it wasn’t for too long. 

Netflix has been losing its audience since Q1 of 2022. Reasons were their own content problems. Also, they increased the price of their services. And, to spice things up, many online theatres took the success model of Netflix and streamed their own premium content.

The result? Losing more than 200.000 subscribers and expecting to lose more. Over 300 workers lost their jobs and share prices dropped by 70%.

It seems that Netflix is losing its popularity with little chance to regain those lost subscribers back. While the company is struggling with its own problems, who is coming back to the stage to regain its popularity?

And the answer is simple. Cinemas!

As the COVID pandemic is slowly fading away with proper medical practises and successful vaccination, fewer restrictions are applied by the governments and people finally can breathe the air of freedom.

And that includes cinemas! 

Box offices are finally getting a healthy amount of profits by selling tickets for massively well-known movies like “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru”.

The last one proved to be a major success, scoring a whopping $1 billion in box office sales and even starting a new trend - Gentleminions.

There is no denying the receding popularity of movies since 2002. Watching Oscar Awards is no fun anymore for the sake of entertainment and seeing who receives the award next. Although it’s fun to watch only for the memes.

And filmmaking studios are committing their time to generate and distribute content via streaming services. Young people want to consume products digitally and content producers see that.

As for the means of producing the films, the methods are complete.

Sounds are mostly recorded after shooting scenes, colouring films is no longer a problem and distributing movies is easier than ever.

Will we see a groundbreaking invention that will change the film industry forever? We think so. Though we know one thing.

Methods and instruments will stay the same.

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