Different film reels throughout the history of film
Different film reels throughout the history of film
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10 Facts About Filmmaking and the History of Film

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By Christian Roemer

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 – although revolutionary at the time – we thought we would dig up 10 fun facts about the history of film and cinematography. After all, film has been around for more than 130 years, believe it or not. Technology has come a long way, and in the future when kids have no idea what film is, which is already happening today, we can point to these facts and remind them that the world wasn’t always a digital playground full of cell phones and USBs.

1. WHEN WAS FILM INVENTED? THE 1890S

Motion pictures date all the way back to the 1890s when the first moving picture cameras were invented. However, the very first moving picture – The Roundhay Garden Scene – was actually a product of the 1880s. In 1888, French inventor Louis Le Prince filmed his family prancing around in a circle in a whopping two second clip. While that seems insignificant now, it’s innovation is what would eventually lead to commercialized cameras and motion pictures. 

 

Before the advancement of the Hollywood scene, movies were somewhat boring. They started out short and only included a single scene that was about a minute long. They were typically silent - except...

2. THE EARLIEST SHORT FILMS WERE SOMETIMES ACCOMPANIED BY BANDS

What fun would it be sitting in a theatre while random, everyday scenes scrolled by silently on a screen? Awkward. To make up for the lack of sound in a film, sometimes a band would play live music while the movie was playing. After all, who wants to hear someone going to town on a bag of popcorn in a deaf theater?

3. THE PANORAMA SHOT WAS DEVELOPED IN 1987

1987 is the year panning cameras were first used in film production, meaning the pan shot, also known as the panorama shot, was invented then. Before, cameras were stationary, so you had to move the entire camera and tripod to get any kind of movement. This was a huge advancement in film making and cinematography as an art form.

4. EARLY CAMERAS FILMED AT 16 FRAMES PER SECOND (FPS)

By today’s standards, a 16 frames per second speed is 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. But hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

5. 13 FRAMES PER SECOND IS THE SLOWEST SPEED THE HUMAN BRAIN WILL PROCESS IMAGES CONSECUTIVELY

13 FPS is the minimum speed that the human brain needs in order to process consecutive images as movement. Anything less than that and the human brain will process each frame as a separate picture. 16 FPS is pretty close to 13, which is why old movies look so choppy and unnatural.

6. THE FIRST FEATURE-LENGTH FILM WAS PRODUCED IN 1906

The Australian film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was the first feature length film in history. You can see the cast, box office, and budget details on IMDB. It was over an hour long, and the reel length was about 4,000 feet. To put that in perspective, a small 5-inch reel of film holds up to 200 ft., a 6-inch holds 300 ft. and a 7-inch 400 ft. Depending on the size of the reel that, movie is housed in, that’s at least 10 reels of 7-inch film and at most 20 reels of 5-inch film. Imagine that! 

 

Crazy enough, it was almost lost forever, but a few pieces of the The Story of Kelly Gang film surfaced in 1975, which helped preserve some of the history-making movie.

7. THE FIRST MOVIE THEATERS OPENED IN 1907

Before 1907, most movies were shown in traditional theaters or at carnivals. With the advent of movie theaters, the films became the main attraction themselves.

8. A 1,000 FOOT LONG FILM WILL PRODUCE 11 MINUTES OF FOOTAGE AT 25 FPS

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 at movie theatres had to change reels many times during a single motion picture to keep it going uninterrupted. Unlike today, where everything is digital and automated.

9. THE TITANIC MOVIE WAS 17.7 REELS LONG WHEN RELEASED

Titanic 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.  For reference, the Titanic was 883 feet long … that’s nearly 20 Titanic's long.

10. MOVIE THEATRES NOW USE DIGITAL LIGHT PROCESSING (DLP)

Most movie theaters these days use digital video projectors. The technology is called DLP which stands for Digital Light Processing. Since modern films are projected digitally, movie studios don’t ship huge reels of film to the theaters anymore, which in reality is a giant time and money save. Now, they just send the videos via the internet, satellite, or hard drive. Another huge advancement in the film industry!

 

The improvements in film have brought many different ways for individuals to capture and create their own movies and memories over the years. Whether you have tapes, film, photos, or audio recordings, Legacybox can help digitize your memories so they can be enjoyed by generations to come.

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