TCF112/Early Cinema

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Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

9 May 1893: First public presentation of motion pictures

  • Brooklyn Institute of the Arts & Sciences
  • Blacksmithing scene

Black Maria studio

Characteristics of Edison films

  1. Illuminated by the sun, but shot indoors
  2. Long shot (no close ups)
  3. 30-45 secs
  4. One shot long (no editing)
  5. No camera movement
  6. No real plots/stories
  7. Exhibition
    1. Kinetosope parlors

Patents on motion picture technology

  • Motion Picture Patents Company (aka, The Trust)

August and Louis Lumière

28 December 1895: first public screening, with admission charged

Similarities with Edison films

  1. Sunlight
  2. Long shot (no close-ups)
  3. No editing
  4. Short: 60-70 secs


  1. Scenes of everyday life
  2. Shot outdoors, on "location" (using sunlight)
  3. No actors. Used real people in everyday situations.
  4. Little or no camera movement.
  5. Exhibited as fairground oddity.

Georges Méliès

Similarities with Edison & Lumière films

  1. No editing within scenes.
  2. Long shot.
  3. No camera movement.
  4. Exhibited as fairground oddity.

Differences from Edison & Lumière films

  1. Actively told stories, with real plots.
  2. Fabricated sets.
  3. Actors, acrobats, magicians.
  4. Special effects (camera "tricks").
  5. Hand-coloring.