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Evolution of the Cinema: Silent Film, Talkies, Colour Film, Digital Age, 3D Films

Evolution of the Cinema: Silent Film, Talkies, Colour Film, Digital Age, 3D Films.

Evolution of the Cinema 

(Film Studies)

Evolution of the Cinema: Silent Film, Talkies, Colour Film, Digital Age, 3D Films

The world of cinema has come a long way since it first began in the 1800s. The past 200 years have marked a remarkable change in the world of cinema with creative experimentation and technological advancements. Each new film movement and film-making technique helped pave the way for subsequent innovations, which we now know and love. In one word, we can say that this continuous evolution of the cinema world is a skillful strategy of various artists.

    Let us know the evolution of important moments in film history:

    👉 Silent movies, the new age of Cinema

    Silent movies were just that – movies that had no talking or music. To provide drama and excitement to the film, silent film projectors played live music by piano, organ and other instruments with the action on screen. Silent film producers came up with famous films like Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Circus and many more.

    The era brought us many silent film stars, such as Charlie Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd and Pearl White. When talking pictures began in 1929 some actors and actresses continued their careers in film, while others did not.

    The silent film entertained people for decades and provided a springboard for the art of talking, and movies as we know them today.

    However, the movie business started very modestly. In the 1800s, many inventors such as Thomas Edison and the Lumiere Brothers worked on machines that projected images. This led to the silent film era from 1894 to 1929.

    👉 What are talkies?

    Since the invention of the camera and the creation of the moving picture, the entertainment industry has continued to innovate how art and technology are used to bring stories to the big screen. As Hollywood began to increase production in the 1920s, advances in cameras, film editing, and sound became defining points in the evolution of cinema. One of the most influential developments that changed how films were shot to how background actors were used was the introduction of talkies.

    Talkies get their name from the recorded dialogue that is played in sync with the images on the screen. The films of the silent film era (1894-1929) were mainly recorded and played without sound. Most of these films rely on inter-title text to explain key plot points and live pianists, organists, and orchestras to provide the score and sound in the theater. As technology improved, recorded dialogue made its way into films and the "narrator picture" was born.

    Warner Bros., a fledgling studio at the time, was one of the first companies in Hollywood to take an interest in sound technology and invested heavily in the Vitaphone sound-on-disc system. In 1926, they released Don Juan, the first full-length film to feature a synchronized score and sound effects using this method. Although the film itself lacked dialogue, musical shorts and a recorded speech by Will Hess, (president of Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America and founder of Central Casting) accompanied the feature. In his speech, Hayes said, "My friends, no story written for the screen is as dramatic as the screen story."

    In 1927, another Warner Brothers film, The Jazz Singer, became the first feature with recorded dialogue, although the spoken lines were only heard in two scenes. A year later, Lights of New York became the first ever feature-length feature and, due to its commercial success, set Hollywood on a path that ended the silent era and paved the way for movies as we know them today.

    👉 Color films - Beginning   

    From the silent films of the 1890s, our first filmmakers began experimenting with tinting and toning to bring our visual experience closer to reality. These efforts were far from today's standards, although necessary steps in the development of kinemacolor[1] (1908–1915) and Technicolor[2].

    Technicolor made their first color film, The Gulf In Between (1917), in their two-color system. The introduction of sound in 1927 created problems, but by 1932, Technicolor had perfected its three-color process that did not affect sound recordings. Technicolor offers vibrant color in a sustainable process that is unprecedented from anything before.

    Herbert T. Kalmus (1881-1963) was regarded to be the founder and president of Technicolor. His wife, Natalie Kalmas (1878–1965), saw the entrepreneurial potential of Technicolor and began selling it in Hollywood and Europe. He oversaw the entire coloring process, became Technicolor's chief director, and referred to himself as the "Ringmaster of the Rainbow". He oversaw key operations related to color, including lighting, camera, set design, costumes and post-production. His credits on IMDB include nearly 400 films. He was the lead color director on such well-known color films as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Disney's first color cartoon, Flowers and Trees (1932).

    Although Technicolor was gaining popularity, it was expensive—ultimately expensive. In 1950, Eastman Kodak marketed its more affordable three-color system, EastmanColor[3]. Although Technicolor still created a legacy with such era-defining films as The Godfather (1973) and Susperia (1977). In the 1990s, filmmakers began to switch to digital. Film reels were expensive, and advances in digital cameras to more with less money. Digital video has become a style in itself, and finally, cameras are competing with each other with pixels, higher definition and color range. Digital color-grading created new tones with vibrant colors that inspired audiences like never before. The Matrix (1999), shot on film, digitized with digital intermediate finishing—a cyberpunk world admired for its dark-green tones.

    Now, color-grading is a niche field, with coveted software that offers a variety of capabilities, an industry favorite being DaVinci Solutions. For blockbusters and independent films, color-grading has become an essential part of the budget.

    👉 Digital Age of Movies

    The world of digital cinema opened in the 1990s and the first digitally shot and post-produced feature film was 'Windhorse'. It was shot in 1996 in Tibet and Nepal.

    Digital cinematography is the process of capturing (recording) a motion picture using a digital image sensor instead of film stock. This practice has become dominant as digital technology has improved in recent years. Since the mid-2010s, most films around the world are captured as well as distributed digitally.

    Many vendors have brought products to market, including traditional film camera vendors such as Arri and Panavision, as well as newer vendors such as RED, Blackmagic, Silicon Imaging, Vision Research, and companies traditionally focused on consumer and broadcast video equipment, such as Sony, GoPro , and Panasonic.

    As of 2017, professional 4K digital film cameras were roughly equivalent to 35mm film in their resolution and dynamic range capabilities; however, digital film still has a different lo than analog film. Some filmmakers still prefer to use analog picture formats to achieve the desired results.

    However, the digital movie camera era would have two profound effects on movies. CGI—computer-generated imagery—became cheaper and more reliable to create—bringing blockbuster special effects to more and more movies and television shows. It will make it easier to distribute movies digitally, leading to where we are now. Thanks to online digital streaming services like Netflix or HBO Max, we love watching today's movie premieres right in your own home.

    👉 3D movies – the Modern Era

    The first 3D film to use polarized glasses instead of anaglyph was Transition, which was first shown at Expo '86 in Canada. The positive result was that with theses glasses a member of the audience could watch the movie from any corner of the room without noticing any distortion on the screen (a major problem that faced early 3D movies). Not long after, many studios revived their interest in 3D filmmaking, and many theme parks began adding new attractions that employed the technology.

    The early 2000s saw a genre shift in studio 3D filmmaking: instead of low-budget horror films, they focused on fantastical, family-friendly adventure films such as Spy Kids 3D, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lovegirl (2003 and 2005), and The Polar Express (2004). The box office performance of such films made studios realize the financial potential of 3D. They basically started converting 2D to 3D films, which was considered impossible in the analog days of yesteryear, but became much easier to achieve with the rise of digital technology. The first film to successfully go through this process was 2006's Superman Returns. By then, many other companies like Dolby 3D and Master image 3D had jumped on the band wagon, and most of them had already ditched the old anaglyph glasses for the more modern polarized ones. And then, James Cameron's Avatar (2009) came to screening.

    👉 Conclusion

    Finally, 3D technology for cinema, online streaming platforms for home entertainment, and the rise of documentary film as a commercial genre, more sophisticated home theater systems, special edition DVDs, and the globalization of cinema – this was the first decade of the 21st century.

    In short, the continuous evolution of film technology has brought about a paradigm shift in how films are made as well as consumed. Cinema has revolutionized production, distribution and overall experience. Today, films are made with high-tech digital cameras, computer-generated effects are added in postproduction, and shown to a global audience not only in theaters, but also on websites and online streaming platforms.

    [1] Kinemacolor is a process for producing color pictures that was used commercially from 1908 to 1914. This process was first discovered by George Albert Smith in 1906.

    [2] Technicolor is a specification for a process of creating color motion pictures by superimposing three primary colors to create a final color print.

    [3] EastmanColor is a trade name associated with various film and processing technologies used by Eastman Kodak for color motion picture production. It refers to George Eastman, the founder of Kodak.


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