Even though digital is the medium of choice these days, for about a hundred years or so, film reigned supreme. Pictures, movies, and even audio was recorded on film-like tapes. Movies – and film in particular – have changed dramatically over the course of their lifetimes, and it’s interesting to wonder if film will even exist in 50 years.
For the sake of posterity and looking back at how primitive original film and movie
technology was, we thought we would dig up 10 fun facts about the history of film. In the future, when our kids have no idea what film is, we can point back to these zany facts and remind them that the world wasn’t always iPads, cell phones, and USB sticks.
1. 1890S: FILM INVENTED
This is how far back motion pictures go. The first moving picture cameras were invented towards the late 1800s, and movies
were boring. They were a single scene, about a minute long, and they were silent. Except...
2. SOMETIMES BANDS ACCOMPANIED THESE MOVING PICTURES
What fun would it be sitting in a theatre while some random, everyday scenes scrolled by silently on a screen? Awkward. To make up for the lack of sound in the film, a band would play live music while the movie ran.
3. 1897: PAN SHOT DEVELOPED
This is the year that the pan shot was first invented. Before, cameras were stationary, so you had to move the entire camera and tripod to get any kind of movement. This is where the word pan comes from – panorama is the name of a shot made with a panning camera.
4. 16 FRAMES PER SECOND
This is the speed that early cameras filmed. By today’s standards it’s pretty slow. For perspective, modern 35mm cameras film
at 25 FPS. If you want your mind blown, some modern video games are played at 250 FPS.
5. 13 FRAMES PER SECOND
The minimum speed that the human brain needs in order to process consecutive images as movement. Anything less than that, the human brain will process each frame as a separate picture. 16 is pretty close to 13, which is why old movies look so choppy and unnatural.
6. 1906: FIRST FEATURE LENGTH FILM
The Australian film The Story of the Kelly Gang
was the first feature length film in history
. It was over an hour long, and the reel length was about 4,000 feet. It was almost lost forever, but a few pieces of the film surfaced in 1975 which helped preserve some of the history-making movie.
7. 1907: FIRST MOVIE THEATERS OPENED
Before 1907, most movies were shown in traditional theaters or in carnivals. With the advent of movie theaters, the films became an attraction in themselves.
8. 11 MINUTES
A standard reel of film that runs at 25 FPS is 1,000 feet long. This 1,000 feet of film will produce about 11 minutes of footage. That means that projectionists had to change reels many times during a single movie to keep it going uninterrupted. Ask Tyler Durden what you can do with that information.
9. 17.7 REELS
came out in 1997 when film reels were still the only way to project a movie. With a run time of 3 hours and 15 minutes, each copy of Titanic was 17.7 reels long. That means, at 25 FPS, it consisted of over 17,700 feet of film. That’s over 3 miles for a single movie.
Most movies theaters these days use digital video projectors. The technology
is called DLP which means Digital Light Processing. Since modern films are projected digitally, movie studios don’t ship huge reels of films to the theaters anymore. Now, they just send the videos via the internet, satellite, or hard drive. Boring.