Left: 18th century wood engraving of children viewing a zoetrope, Right: People in line to see Star Wars in 70mm
Left: 18th century wood engraving of children viewing a zoetrope, Right: People in line to see Star Wars in 70mm
Left: 18th century wood engraving of children viewing a zoetrope, Right: People in line to see Star Wars in 70mm
Left: 18th century wood engraving of children viewing a zoetrope, Right: People in line to see Star Wars in 70mm
Left: 18th century wood engraving of children viewing a zoetrope, Right: People in line to see Star Wars in 70mm
Left: 18th century wood engraving of children viewing a zoetrope, Right: People in line to see Star Wars in 70mm
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Frames

Pictures that move have long been a dream of artists and inventors. The magic lantern, an early form of slide projector, could produce limited motion using levers, pulleys and gears, but a general solution began to emerge only with the invention of the phenakistoscope in the 1830s. That device demonstrated that a rapid sequence of still images, or frames, showing incremental changes to a scene is interpreted by the brain as motion.

Like most inventions, cinema was not the product of a lone inventor. Solutions to many distinct problems were needed: instantaneous photography, incremental film transport, image registration, flicker, and projection. Mechanisms were borrowed from watches and sewing machines. Magic lanterns supplied projection technology, as well as a long tradition of projected storytelling. Advances in material science also played a role, including celluloid, roll film, safety film, and reversal film. Edison and the Lumières achieved success in large part by assembling and refining technologies from multiple sources.

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1923
1906
1887
1885
1871
c1830
1600s
1659
1589
Safety Film
Reversal Film
Audion Tube
Dissolving Lantern
Roll Film
Celluloid Film
Instantaneous Photography
Geneva Drive
Magic Lantern
Camera Obscura
1866
1877
c1960
1957
c1950
1950s
1955
2012
1979
1933
1930s
1948
1935
1934
1920s
c1915
1910
1900
1898
1895
1897
1888
1887
1882
1880
1871
1831
1833
Taschen Kinetograph
Faraday's Wheel
Praxinoscope
Zoetrope
Cinè Selic
Red Raven Record
Sonoro Cine Nic
Minicine
Kinderkino Liliput
Ciné-Bias
Mavco Disneyland
Cine Paya
See-A-Song
Motion Slide
Phenakistoscope Record
Le Cinescope
Lenticular Animation Strip
Movie Jecktor
Uncle Sam's Duracolor
Dux Kino
Cine Sonoro Rai
Gramophone Cinema
Ombro Cinéma
L'Animateur
La Pierre Cinematographe
Kinematador
Tachyscope
Théâtre Optique
Muybridge
Marey
Zooprax- iscope
Choreutoscope
Ross Wheel of Life
Phenakistoscope
1983
1970
1968
1967
1965
1964
1962
1959
1958
1956
1955
1953
1954
1839
1952
1942
1947
1932
1930
1926
1927
1923
c1921
1922
1917
1912
1910
1906
1907
1905
1903
1900
1899
c1898
1897
1896
1895
1893
1890
1888
Biograph
Le Prince
Mirographe
Parlor Kinetoscope
Pathé Kok
Lucien Bull Chronophotography
Chrono de Poche
Parnaland
Gaumont- Demeny
Skladanowsky Bioscop
Edison Kinetoscope
Grimoin-Sanson
Aladdin
9.5 mm
Gallus Cinébloc
Pathé Rural
Cinelux
Omnimax
Showscan
IMAX
Motorola Teleplayer
Pik-A-Movie
Super 8
70 mm Blowup
Cinerama from 70 mm
Super Technirama 70
Cinemiracle
Pathé Duplex
70 mm
Vistavision
Cinemascope/ Anamorphic
Vitarama
Cinerama
Cine Skob
Kinescope
Standard 8
Ozaphan
16 mm
Movette
Edison Home Kinetoscope
Plank Cinematograph
Cinematographe Clermont-Huet
Urban Spirograph
Ikonograph
Ernemann Kino
Lumière Wide
Biokam
Veriscope
Joly- Normandin
Edison over Lumière
Cinématographe Lumière
Chronophoto graphe Marey
1980s
1982
1964
c1960
1952
1950
1947
1933
1932
1928
1926
1922
1918
1904
1896
1895
Thomson Color
Dufaycolor
Keller-Dorian
Fujicolor
LPP
Agfacolor
Ektachrome
IB Technicolor
Eastmancolor
Rouxcolor
Lumicolor
Cinecolor
Kodacolor
Herault Trichrome
2-Strip Technicolor
Chronochrome Gaumont
Stenciled
Tinted
Hand-Painted
1945
1993
1991
1974
1970s
1955
1952
1947
c1935
1930s
1930s
1902
1926
1919
DTS Timecode
SDDS
Dolby Digital
Sensurround
Stereo Dual Bilateral Variable Area
70 mm 6-Track Magnetic
Cinerama 7-Track Fullcoat
Movie Sound 8
Dual Bilateral Variable Area
Maurer
Bilateral Variable Area
Dual Unilateral Variable Area
Unilateral Variable Area
Vitaphone
Gaumont Chronophone
Variable Density
1966
c1982
1970
1960s
1952
1935
1934
1925
1902
Stereo-70
Optovision
StereoVision
Kodak-Disney 3D
SpaceVision
8 mm Anaglyph
Dual Strip
Lumière Over-Under
Lumière Anaglyph
Stereoscopik
Bünzli l'Animateur
c2000
1980s
1983
1982
1978
1977
1970s
1973
1971
1968
1960s
c1965
1967
1960
1950s
1959
1939
1922
Mupi V35
Super Cinexin
Pocket Flix
Telejet
Fisher Price Movie Viewer
Phono-Vue
Dux Kino 68
Videotronic
Cinexin Sonoro
Filmoscope
Micro-Movie
View-Master Double-Vue
Technicolor Sound Movie
Polaroid Polavision
Telemax
Cinexin
Teleplayer
Transogram
Filmoscope
Cinebox
Scopitone
Tru-Vue Roll-a-Show
Kenner Easy-Show
Pik-A-Movie
Mills Panoram "Soundies"
Pathé Baby
1963
1950s
1940s
1920s
c1920
1919
1912
1900
1898
1896
1895
Playland Movies
Horrorscope
Le Cinécoloral
Midgette Movies
Rotofoto
Flickergraph
Newspaper Movie Machine
Biofix
Cinematographe Jouet
Petit Biograph Parisian
Kinora
Mutoscope
The Quest for Immersion
Widescreen: Cinemascope to IMAX
Cinemascope used anamorphic lenses, which squeezed the widescreen image horizontally to fit in a single 35 mm frame. When projected, the image was unsqueezed to fill a 2.55:1 aspect ratio. Todd AO and Super Panavision 70 used 70 mm film to fit an unsqueezed 2.2:1 image. Many films achieved aspect ratios of 1.6:1 to 1.85:1 simply with a cropped image on 35 mm film.
IMAX ran 70 mm film through the camera and projector horizontally, allowing a physical frame of 70 x 52 mm. Its aspect ratio of 1.43:1 was barely widescreen, but the large frame provided a much higher resolution image that could be projected onto a 52 x 72 ft. (16 x 22 m) screen to fill the viewer's visual field vertically and horizontally.
The Quest for Immersion
Widescreen: Cinerama
In 1938, Fred Waller, a Hollywood special effects guru, was asked to develop a cinema format for the 1939 World's Fair that would fill a curved screen surrounding the audience. He built a system he called Vitarama that used eleven 16 mm projectors projecting on the interior of a partial spherical dome. Although it wasn't used for the Fair, the Defense Department heard about it at the beginning of World War II and asked him to develop it as a simulator for gunnery training. Waller produced a version with five projectors that was used intensively during the war.
After the war, Waller applied the technology to entertainment. Cinerama projected three 35 mm frames side-by-side on a curved screen. Audiences loved the 2.59:1 aspect ratio and stereo sound, but Cinerama required three cameras and projectors. There were also quality issues that required compromises with the cinematography. Studios were soon working on formats that would have a similar impact for less money and fewer technical issues.
1897
Widescreen
Early Widescreen
The aspect ratio of a film is the projected width:height, independent of the physical width of the film. Aspect ratios greater than the Academy standard of 1.37:1 (which replace the Edison standard) are considered widescreen. A wider aspect ratio fills more of the viewer's peripheral vision, creating a feeling of immersion. Of Fox Grandeur (not in this collection), with an aspect ratio of 2.2:1, American Cinematographer in 1930 wrote “…the wide proportion selected is almost exactly that of natural vision, and removes from the consciousness the dead black borderline which haunts the smaller screens.”
The first widescreen format, Veriscope, was developed for a specific purpose: filming the 1897 Corbett-Fitzsimmons boxing match in its entirety. The aspect ratio was 1.66:1, which encompassed virtually the entire width of the boxing ring. It required a special projector, but it was not unusual at the time for exhibitors to bring their own projection equipment. Other widescreen formats came and went briefly in the 1920s and early 1930s. New formats became less practical financially once theaters equipped themselves for the Academy standard, especially after the investment of adding sound. The onset of the Great Depression didn't help. Fox Grandeur, introduced in 1929, lasted only until 1930.
Addressing New Markets
16 mm / 8 mm
Although cheaper than 35 mm, 16 mm cameras were still expensive for casual use. Kodak went a step further in 1932 with 8 mm film, which launched the home movie era. Color and sound followed. A slightly larger image area was later provided by Super 8. The use of 8 mm film for home movies lasted until the emergence of VHS in the late 1970s.
1923
Opportunities in New Materials
Reversal Film
Before a movie could be projected the negative exposed in the camera had to be printed to a second strip of film. This was expensive, since it used more film stock, and it made the production process more complex. Reversal film, introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1923, produced a finished print on the same strip of film as the negative.
Opportunies in New Materials
Cellophane (Ozaphan)
Another form of safety film was based, counter-intuitively, on cellophane. It was slow-burning and cheaper than celluloid—ideal for home and educational use. Because it was half the thickness of celluloid, a longer film could fit on a single reel. The material was branded as Ozaphan, reflecting the diazotype process used for printing. Ozaphan was used in Germany for 16 mm films and in France for 22 mm (Cinébloc) and 24 mm (Cinélux) film.
Ozaphan was not a format for making home movies. The films were inexpensive but professionally made. The catalog tended towards documentaries and animation, with political subjects added in the leadup to World War II. Unfortunately, the diazotype printing process could produce only black and white films and the last catalog of Ozaphan movies was released in 1958.
1906
Opportunities in New Materials
Safety Film
By the second decade of the 20th century, "projectionist" was a job that required training and often a license. Nitrate film was considered too dangerous for non-professional use in homes, schools, businesses, etc. Cellulose diacetate, a non-flammable plastic introduced in 1906, provided an alternative. Called "safety film" (often printed on the film itself), it was used from the 1910s for narrow-gauge amateur applications. Since cellulose diacetate is not as strong as cellulose nitrate it couldn't be used for 35 mm or wider film. In fact, safety film was not used for theatrical releases until the 1950s, with the development of cellulose triacetate, a more robust plastic. Polyester, an even stronger film base, came into common use in the 1990s.
Addressing New Markets
Narrow-Gauge Film
35 mm film was expensive and the equipment too complex and cumbersome for home, education, and other non-commercial use. One obvious approach to reducing cost was to use narrower gauges, which also decreased the length of film required for a given movie. Narrower gauges also decreased the weight of film and the weight and size of equipment. 15, 17.5 and 20 mm film widths followed. Narrow center perforations between frames let the frame fill the entire film width. The notches on the edges of the film in the Mirographe format allowed the use of a simplified frame advance mechanism. However, these early narrow-gauge formats still used nitrate film and were thus less than ideal for non-professional use.
1895
Competing Formats and Patent Wars
Width, Perforations, Aspect Ratio
Dickson (working for Edison) settled on a film width of 35 mm with four perforations per frame and an image aspect ratio (width:height) of 1.33:1. The Edison format dominated cinema in the U.S., partly through vigorous enforcement of its patents, with significant competition only from the Biograph Company. Biograph used 68 mm film to avoid Edison's patents, printing on celluloid for projection and on cards for use in the Mutoscope "flipbook" viewer. In Europe, numerous competitors to Edison and the Lumières came and went as inventors experimented with different systems (not all represented in this collection).
By 1898 the desire to access a broader selection of content led the Lumières to abandon round perforations and adopt Edison's format. In a now familiar scenario, the emergence of a dominant format led to more content in that format: a virtuous circle that led to the eventual capitulation of competitors—the VHS vs. Beta format war of the late 1970s is one of multiple examples. The Edison format remained the standard for exhibition into the 21st century.
1895
Systems Thinking
The Lumières: A Complete Cinema System
Edison's reluctance to develop a projector left the field open to the brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, who manufactured photography equipment in Lyon, France. Edison's kinetoscope arrived in Paris in late 1894 and by March the Lumières had successfully demonstrated their Cinématographe.
The Lumières were the first to successfully implement a complete cinema system, from camera to printing to projection. They replaced Edison's bulky electric camera with a lighter-weight wooden camera cranked by hand. By adding a light source and substituting a different lens, the same device could be used as a projector. Instead of four perforations on each side of the frame—which suited the sprocket wheel used to advance the film in Edison's camera—they used a single circular perforation on each side. The film was advanced intermittently by a claw mechanism based on the sewing machine, which engaged the perforations and pulled an entire frame into the gate.
1895
Repurposing Existing Technology
Skladanowsky Bioscop
The Skladanowskys were the first to exhibit a motion picture to a paying audience, preceding the Lumières by two months at the end of 1895. Max and Emil Skladanowsky grew up in a family of magic lantern exhibitors. It was common to use two magic lanterns to project alternate scenes—e.g., summer/winter—using a dissolve. Each lantern held one of the scenes and the lanterns were aligned to overlap the projected images. The scene was transformed by simultaneously unblocking and blocking the opposite lanterns.
The brothers framed the problem of swapping one movie frame for the next in terms of this experience. To project moving pictures they used two projectors with two strips of film. The frames alternated between the two projectors, with a dissolve between frames. There was no flicker since the image never went dark as it did in shutter-based machines like the kinetoscope.
Their approach proved too complex and labor intensive, the result of repurposing an existing technology to accommodate a new application, rather than replacing it with a newer, more specialized technology.
1893
The Role of Analogy in Innovation
Edison Kinetoscope
In 1888, after Muybridge suggested combining his zoopraxiscope with the phonograph, Edison resolved to invent a device that would "do for the eye what the phonograph does for the ear." Taking the analogy too literally (a common pitfall for inventors), Edison set his assistant, W.K.L. Dickson, to work building an optical phonograph with miniscule images spiraled around a cylinder. That proved a dead end, but in 1889 Edison attended the Paris Exhibition and spent some time with Marey, who showed him the use of celluloid roll film in his chronophotography exhibit. When Edison returned to his lab, he redirected Dickson to the use of roll film.
Edison gave a public demonstration of a peephole viewer called the Kinetoscope in 1891, and in 1894 began leasing it to arcades and storefront parlors. Leasing nickel-in-the-slot machines was a business model that had served him well with the phonograph. But it also made him reluctant to develop a projector—he was afraid it would cannibalize the kinetoscope business. However, initial interest in the kinetoscope faded quickly and by 1886, Edison agreed to manufacture a projector developed by Jenkins and Armat, which was marketed as "Edison's Vitascope."
Dickson addressed the problem of aligning images from one frame to the next using sprockets and perforated film. This was the unique contribution of Edison's lab (the mechanism had previously been used by Edison with paper tape in telegraph experiments).
1889
A Missing Piece
Cinematographe Marey
By 1888, Marey had demonstrated photographic sequences captured on coated paper strips and by 1892 he had done the same with celluloid. However, like Le Prince, Marey did not use perforated film, which meant the photos weren't captured at regular intervals along the strip. Frames from Marey's camera had to be cut apart by hand and assembled into a film suitable for viewing or projection.
1887
Opportunities in New Materials
Celluloid
Celluloid, the first synthetic plastic, was invented in 1856 by Alexander Parks, a British metallurgist. Where paper roll film is fragile and opaque, celluloid is transparent and relatively strong. In 1889, Eastman commercialized celluloid roll film and it was quickly adopted for moving pictures by Marey and other pioneers like Edison and the Lumières. It is also extremely flammable, however, a risk that wasn't fully addressed until the early 1950s. In the meantime, theater fires were a very real danger.
1888
The Personal Cost
Louis Le Prince
Like Marey, the French artist and photographer Louis Le Prince was inspired by Muybridge to design motion picture devices. By 1888 he had adopted Eastman's paper rolls to shoot moving pictures, several years before the inventions of Edison or the Lumières.
Le Prince continued to work on the problem, but before he could demonstrate a working projector, he disappeared mysteriously in 1890 while on a train trip in France. A photograph was discovered in 2008 of a body found in the Seine the day after he disappeared that resembled Le Prince. Suicide seems the likely explanation (as opposed to the interesting theory that Edison had him killed to steal credit for motion pictures.)
1885
Advances in Materials
Roll Film
Audiences were accustomed to extended narrative in sequences of magic lantern slides. But translating that to moving pictures would require more than the one or two dozen frames available in a device like the zoetrope. Reynaud's chains of hand-painted cells for the Theatre Optique were not a practical solution.
Advances in material science made for one application can unexpectedly remove obstacles to progress in another. In 1885, seeking to broaden access to still photography, the Eastman company released roll film in the form of sensitized paper strips. Early film pioneers Louis Le Prince and Marey quickly recognized that roll film would allow arbitrarily many frames for moving pictures.
1882
Tools for Scientific Investigation
Marey: The Science of Human and Animal Locomotion
Étienne Jules Marey, a physiologist who used mechanical and electrical instrumentation to analyze the motion of humans and animals, was inspired to pursue photographic methods by Muybridge's motion studies. Also influenced by Jules Janssen, who had photographed the transit of Venus across the sun in 1874 with a photographic “revolver,” Marey designed a camera resembling a rifle that took 25 frames at 12 frames per second on a glass disc. It could follow a moving subject, eliminating the need for Muybridge's multi-camera setup.
Marey followed up with a camera that captured stages of motion on a single glass photographic plate. These sequences, in which stages of motion frequently overlapped, were similar in effect to Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase and, in fact, Duchamp acknowledged Marey's motion studies as an inspiration. But like Huygens, the inventor of the magic lantern, Marey considered himself a scientist; he had no interest in using his technology for entertainment.
1880
Projection
Zoopraxiscope
Wanting to demonstrate chronophotography to his lecture audiences, Eadweard Muybridge took a further step towards cinema with a projecting phenakistoscope based on his photographs. Silhouettes of the moving figure were hand painted on a glass disc by tracing the photographs. Hand painting was necessary to stretch the figures to compensate for the distortion caused by the spinning slotted disc that acted as a shutter. Muybridge used the zoopraxiscope for his lectures on human and animal locomotion.
1877
Chronophotography
Muybridge: Photographing Motion
Photographer Eadweard Muybridge was challenged by Leland Stanford to resolve a long-standing question: were all four hooves off the ground at any point in a horse's gallop? In fact, 19th century artists commonly showed galloping horses with all hooves off the ground, but in the wrong position: front legs extended forward and hind legs backward. The reality happened too quickly for human perception to capture. Étienne Jules Marey answered the question in 1873 using non-photographic instrumentation, but the data was somewhat obscure and undramatic.
In 1877, Muybridge set up twelve cameras spaced along a track with tripwires strung across the track. As the horse galloped down the track, the wires were broken and the shutter in each of the cameras was released for a 1/1000 sec. exposure. Although dry-plate photography was not yet available, Muybridge improved the emulsion enough to capture such short exposures. Not only were all four hooves off the ground, but the legs were positioned differently from the artistic convention.
1871
Advances in Materials
Instantaneous Photography: Freezing Time
The advantages of photography over hand drawing or painting were obvious, but at the time, photography was too slow to capture motion: a portrait could require the subject to remain frozen for 20 seconds or more. There were several attempts to construct phenakistoscopes using photographs, but the subjects had to be posed for each state of motion.
So-called “instantaneous photography” was a preoccupation of photographers from the 1850s through the 1870s. Although there were scattered successes, it became common only with the development of dry plate photography in 1878. Instantaneous photography made it possible to freeze phenomena that happened too quickly to see, an important prerequisite for frame-based moving pictures.
1888
Projection
Theatre Optique
Reynaud, a talented artist, wanted to go beyond the twelve frames of a praxinoscope strip to create extended narratives. He addressed this with his Theatre Optique, a projecting praxinoscope that replaced the paper strip with a chain of hundreds of images stored on a reel, with the images hand painted by Reynaud on transparent gel slides. During a show, the reels holding the chain were turned by hand and grommets in between the frames engaged with pins that turned the mirrored cylinder. One frame after another passed in front of an electric lamp and was reflected in the mirrored cylinder. The light from that reflection passed through the projection lens to the screen.
The Theatre Optique was a popular attraction in Paris from 1892 to 1900 and was visited by as many as 500,000 people. The Lumières, soon to invent their own cinema camera and projector, were directly influenced by seeing Reynaud's Theater Optique. But painting frames by hand was not a scalable solution. In fact, Reynaud, obligated by contract, was weighed down by with the task of maintaining old stories and creating new ones. Prior to his death he threw most of his films and hardware into the Seine.
1877
Apparent Motion
Praxinoscope: Pictures That Move
The mechanism by which one frame is swapped for the next is a central enabling technology for moving pictures. It performs two actions: first, the movement of the next frame into position and second, the concealing of that movement. The phenakistoscope used the spinning disc to rotate images into position and the opaque portions of the disc to block the images as they moved. There was a relatively long moment of darkness between brief glimpses of the image.
Charles-Émile Reynaud took a different approach. His invention of 1877, the praxinoscope, had flat mirrors arranged around the axis of the cylinder facing outwards toward a strip of images on the cylinder's inner surface. The animation was viewed in the mirrors, which rotated along with the images, keeping the reflection steady until the next mirror and image replaced it. The current frame was overlaid with the next in a wipe that passed quickly across the image. There was no moment of darkness.
1866
Extending the Work of Predecessors
Zoetrope
To address the limitations of the phenakistoscope, in 1834 William George Horner described an alternative in which the images would be drawn on the interior of a slotted cylinder. Looking through the slots while the cylinder was spun on its vertical axis, the viewer would see the images on the opposite side, thus removing the need for a mirror. It also allowed the animation to be viewed by more than one person at a time.
A similar device was described or constructed by several inventors in the 19th century, but it was William Lincoln in 1867 who patented the definitive form, in which the frames are drawn on a strip of paper placed on the inside of the cylinder below the slots, making it easy to substitute new animations. Lincoln licensed the zoetrope to Milton Bradley and it became extremely popular, so much so that Lincoln later regretted having sold the idea to Milton Bradley for only $5000 (about $130,000 today.)
1833
Simultaneity of Invention
Phenakistoscope: Pictures That Move
Faraday's wheel influenced two inventors: Plateau and Simon von Stampfer, an Austrian mathematician. In 1832 they independently and virtually simultaneously invented a device that could display far more general motion than the mechanisms of magic lantern slides.
It's not uncommon for inventions to appear around the same time—the telephone and the typewriter are other examples. Plateau had seen Faraday's disc and Stampfer had read about it in the Journal of Physics and Mathematics. They both intuited that if a figure or object was drawn beside or below each slot in different phases of motion, the figures would blend together and appear to move continuously. The phenomenon is sometimes called apparent motion, in contrast to the "real" motion of mechanical magic lantern slides. The device became known as the phenakistiscope.
The phenakistiscope had limitations. It required a mirror (or a second disc on the same axis) and only one person at a time could see the animation. The images were dim since the eye was looking at the opaque disc most of the time. Finally, the images were stretched because they moved in the time it took the slot to pass over them.
1831
Scientific Curiosity and the Impulse to Experiment
Faraday's Wheel: An Illusion of Perception
In 1828 Joseph Plateau, a Belgian physicist, noted that when two cogged wheels on a common axis were spun so rapidly that the cogs were a blur, the second wheel appeared fixed when viewed through the cogs of the first wheel.
Soon after, physicist Michael Faraday was shown a similar illusion in the machinery of the Thames Tunnel then under construction. Faraday, a brilliant experimentalist, immediately constructed several devices to investigate (this was around the time he was discovering magnetic induction, the basis for much of our electrical infrastructure). One of those devices was a single slotted disc, which, when spun and viewed in the mirror through its slots, appeared unmoving; the reflected slots were visible only when a slot passed before the eye and were thus always seen at the same position.
1659
Precursors
The Magic Lantern: The Birth of Screen Practice
The Magic Lantern, invented in 1659 by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens, is essentially an inversion of the camera obscura where a scene inside the box is projected outside it. It consists of a lamp, reflector and condenser lens that illuminate a transparent glass slide and a biconvex lens that focuses the image onto a wall or screen.
From the first, the magic lantern aroused a desire for projected motion. Huygens' earliest description includes the projection of a skeleton animated by rotating an image on one glass disc against another. Over time, a variety of mechanisms were used, though the range of motion was limited to what could be achieved by levers, pulleys, gears and linkages.
The desire for storytelling was equally strong. Narrative was achieved through sequences of slides, sometimes using conventions eventually adopted by cinema: montage, fades, dissolves, wipes, pans and flashbacks.
1589
Precursors
The Camera Obscura: Capturing the World in a Box
A camera obscura admits light from a brightly illuminated scene into a darkened room or box by way of a pinhole or lens. The result is a projection of the scene against the interior the box. The phenomenon had been known for centuries when Leonardo da Vinci proposed its use by artists as a guide for drawing or painting. The desire to capture the image directly was ultimately addressed by replacing the screen with a chemically sensitized plate. The resulting device was called simply a camera.
Motion in the original scene is also reproduced. Giovanni Battista della Porta, in his book Natural Magic, proposed staging performances with moving people, animals and scenery outside the room—the first description of a narrative projected on a screen.
PRECURSORS
PRECURSORS
PRECINEMA / OPTICAL TOY
FILM
COLOR
SOUND
3D
FLIPBOOK
CARTRIDGE
CARD
CARD

Pre-Cinema

Each figure is seen through the aperture and as it passes and is succeeded in rapid succession by another and another, differing from the former in attitude, the eye is cheated into the belief of its being the same object successively changing the position of its body.
—John Ayrton Paris, Philosophy in Sport Made Science in Earnest, 1849.

Before the invention of cinema in the 1890s, the phenakistoscope and subsequent inventions used sequences of images to create moving pictures. The images were typically lithographed drawings and only short sequences were practical. From the early 1830s up until the invention of cinema, there were three key inventions: the phenakistoscope, the zoetrope and the praxinoscope, each improving on the one it followed.

Phenakistiscope

The phenakistoscope was introduced in 1833 by Joseph Plateau, a Belgian physicist, and independently and almost simultaneously by Simon von Stampfer, an Austrian mathematician. At the time, there was active scientific interest in perceptual illusions related to motion. To investigate one such illusion, the English physicist Michael Faraday constructed a radially slotted disc that spun on a horizontal axis. When held up to a mirror and viewed through the slots, the reflected disc appears unmoving, since the reflected slots are visible only when a slot is passing before the eye and are thus always seen at the same position. Persistence of vision causes the view through the slots to persist across the intervals when the eye is looking at the opaque part of the disc.

Both Plateau and Stampfer had seen Faraday’s disc. Plateau realized that identical figures drawn on the disc, one for each slot, would also appear fixed. He went a step further and intuited that if each of the figures represented a slightly different state of motion, the figures would blend together, creating the appearance of continuous movement. This proved to be the case when Plateau constructed the device known as the phenakistoscope. He believed the apparent motion was the result of persistence of vision, although it turns out to be the result of other visual processing in the brain.

The phenakistoscope is a successful demonstration of apparent motion, but as a device it has several weaknesses. Only one person can view the image at a time. The image is dim because the eye spends most of its time looking at the opaque areas between the slots. Finally, because the image moves in the short time it takes the shutter to pass over it, objects in the animation are stretched horizontally.

  • Ackermann Fantascope

    1833–1840s (?)
    Based on Plateau's design

    Ackermann Fantascope

    1833–1840s (?)
    Based on Plateau's design

    Ackermann Fantascope

    1833–1840s (?)
    Based on Plateau's design

    Ackermann Fantascope

    1833–1840s (?)
    Based on Plateau's design

    Ackermann Fantascope

    1833–1840s (?)
    Based on Plateau's design
  • Giroux

    1833–1840s (?)

    Giroux

    1833–1840s (?)

    Giroux

    1833–1840s (?)

    Giroux

    1833–1840s (?)

    Giroux

    1833–1840s (?)
  • Ross Wheel of Life

    1871–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope for a magic lantern

    Ross Wheel of Life

    1871–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope for a magic lantern

    Ross Wheel of Life

    1871–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope for a magic lantern

    Ross Wheel of Life

    1871–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope for a magic lantern

    Ross Wheel of Life

    1871–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope for a magic lantern
  • Mica Wheel Of Life

    1870s–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope disc made of mica

    Mica Wheel Of Life

    1870s–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope disc made of mica

    Mica Wheel Of Life

    1870s–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope disc made of mica

    Mica Wheel Of Life

    1870s–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope disc made of mica

    Mica Wheel Of Life

    1870s–early 1900s
    Projecting phenakistiscope disc made of mica
  • Gramophone Cinema

    1920s
    Spun on a gramophone turntable

    Gramophone Cinema

    1920s
    Spun on a gramophone turntable

    Gramophone Cinema

    1920s
    Spun on a gramophone turntable

    Gramophone Cinema

    1920s
    Spun on a gramophone turntable

    Gramophone Cinema

    1920s
    Spun on a gramophone turntable
  • Phenakistoscope Record

    1979–present

    Phenakistoscope Record

    1979–present

    Phenakistoscope Record

    1979–present

    Phenakistoscope Record

    1979–present

    Phenakistoscope Record

    1979–present
  • Phenakistoscope Top

    Early 1900s

    Phenakistoscope Top

    Early 1900s

    Phenakistoscope Top

    Early 1900s

    Phenakistoscope Top

    Early 1900s

    Phenakistoscope Top

    Early 1900s

Zoetrope

A zoetrope is a cylinder that spins on a vertical axis. A paper strip with a sequence of images is placed around the interior below regularly spaced vertical slots and the animation is viewed through the slots. As with the phenakistoscope, the slots act as shutters so the images are seen only for short moments at fixed intervals. Unlike phenaskistoscope, the zoetrope allows multiple people to view the animation at the same time, although it doesn't solve the problem of dim or distorted images.

English mathematician William George Horner first described a version the zoetrope, which he called the daedaleum, in 1834. Several people patented devices zoetrope-like devices in the 1860s. The familiar version and the first to be commercialized was invented by the American William Ensign Lincoln while he was an undergraduate at Brown University. Horner's daedaleum had placed the drawings directly on the cylinder between the slots. Lincoln moved the slots higher on the cylinder so that a separate paper strip with the drawings could be placed below, allowing animations to be easily swapped. He patented it in 1867, giving it the name zoetrope and licensed it to Milton Bradley, the games manufacturer. It sold extremely well.

  • Milton Bradley

    1866–present

    Milton Bradley

    1866–present

    Milton Bradley

    1866–present

    Milton Bradley

    1866–present

    Milton Bradley

    1866–present
  • Whitte's Moviescope

    1865–present

    Whitte's Moviescope

    1865–present

    Whitte's Moviescope

    1865–present

    Whitte's Moviescope

    1865–present

    Whitte's Moviescope

    1865–present
  • L'Animateur

    1900
    For a simple zoetrope with four slots.

    L'Animateur

    1900
    For a simple zoetrope with four slots.

    L'Animateur

    1900
    For a simple zoetrope with four slots.

    L'Animateur

    1900
    For a simple zoetrope with four slots.

    L'Animateur

    1900
    For a simple zoetrope with four slots.
  • Zoetrope Bottom Disc

    1865–1900s
    A disc that was placed in the bottom of a zoetrope

    Zoetrope Bottom Disc

    1865–1900s
    A disc that was placed in the bottom of a zoetrope

    Zoetrope Bottom Disc

    1865–1900s
    A disc that was placed in the bottom of a zoetrope

    Zoetrope Bottom Disc

    1865–1900s
    A disc that was placed in the bottom of a zoetrope

    Zoetrope Bottom Disc

    1865–1900s
    A disc that was placed in the bottom of a zoetrope
  • See-A-Song

    c. 1955
    Electric zoetrope toy with a 78 rpm record for sound

    See-A-Song

    c. 1955
    Electric zoetrope toy with a 78 rpm record for sound

    See-A-Song

    c. 1955
    Electric zoetrope toy with a 78 rpm record for sound

    See-A-Song

    c. 1955
    Electric zoetrope toy with a 78 rpm record for sound

    See-A-Song

    c. 1955
    Electric zoetrope toy with a 78 rpm record for sound

Praxinoscope

The praxinoscope, invented in 1877 by Charles-Émile Reynaud, replaces the slots of the zoetrope with flat mirrors arranged in an outward-facing circle around the axis of the cylinder. The illustrated paper strip is placed on the interior of the cylinder, just as with the zoetrope. The animation is viewed by looking at the reflection of the strip in the mirrors. As the cylinder turns, each mirror follows its frame, holding it in a relatively fixed location until the next frame comes around. The transition between frames consists of a horizontal “wipe” during which one frame slides over another. There are no intervals of darkness, so the image is brighter than for the zoetrope and phenakistoscope.

Reynaud also developed a projecting praxinoscope. This evolved into the Théâtre Optique, which projected extended animations using frames hand-painted on a long chain of gelatin plates. These were exhibited commercially for several years, but were too labor intensive and couldn't compete with photographic cinema like Edison’s or the Lumières’.

  • Praxinoscope Strip

    1877–present

    Praxinoscope Strip

    1877–present

    Praxinoscope Strip

    1877–present

    Praxinoscope Strip

    1877–present

    Praxinoscope Strip

    1877–present
  • Praxinoscope Theater

    1879–c. 1910

    Praxinoscope Theater

    1879–c. 1910

    Praxinoscope Theater

    1879–c. 1910

    Praxinoscope Theater

    1879–c. 1910

    Praxinoscope Theater

    1879–c. 1910
  • Red Raven Record

    1957–1970s
    Viewed by placing record on a turntable with a reflective, faceted cylinder at the center

    Red Raven Record

    1957–1970s
    Viewed by placing record on a turntable with a reflective, faceted cylinder at the center

    Red Raven Record

    1957–1970s
    Viewed by placing record on a turntable with a reflective, faceted cylinder at the center

    Red Raven Record

    1957–1970s
    Viewed by placing record on a turntable with a reflective, faceted cylinder at the center

    Red Raven Record

    1957–1970s
    Viewed by placing record on a turntable with a reflective, faceted cylinder at the center
  • Praxinoscope Toy

    1950s (?)
    For a small praxinoscope spun on a central post

    Praxinoscope Toy

    1950s (?)
    For a small praxinoscope spun on a central post

    Praxinoscope Toy

    1950s (?)
    For a small praxinoscope spun on a central post

    Praxinoscope Toy

    1950s (?)
    For a small praxinoscope spun on a central post

    Praxinoscope Toy

    1950s (?)
    For a small praxinoscope spun on a central post
  • Mamil Moviton Record

    c. 1960–1970s
    A version of the Red Raven record manufactured in Italy

    Mamil Moviton Record

    c. 1960–1970s
    A version of the Red Raven record manufactured in Italy

    Mamil Moviton Record

    c. 1960–1970s
    A version of the Red Raven record manufactured in Italy

    Mamil Moviton Record

    c. 1960–1970s
    A version of the Red Raven record manufactured in Italy

    Mamil Moviton Record

    c. 1960–1970s
    A version of the Red Raven record manufactured in Italy
  • Makolnoa Record

    1960s
    Israeli version of the Red Raven record

    Makolnoa Record

    1960s
    Israeli version of the Red Raven record

    Makolnoa Record

    1960s
    Israeli version of the Red Raven record

    Makolnoa Record

    1960s
    Israeli version of the Red Raven record

    Makolnoa Record

    1960s
    Israeli version of the Red Raven record

Film

The dream of being able to project moving illuminated images on a wall or screen is almost as old, in the history of humanity, as the dream of flight.
—Laurent Mannoni, The Great Art of Light and Shadow

Although the phenakistoscope had demonstrated the principle of apparent motion, true cinema waited on several advances in technology. Photography, invented in the late 1830s, was a virtual necessity. Charles-Émile Reynaud‘s Théâtre Optique, with its chains of hundreds of hand-painting images, was a tour de force that was impractical in general. Before photography could be useful, however, it had to become fast enough to capture at least 16 or so images per second. So-called “instantaneous” photography didn't become routine until the late 1870s. Finally, photographing extended sequences of frames required something other than glass plates; celluloid was invented in 1856 and roll film in 1881.

As with many other new media, early inventors were often motivated by scientific goals. Instantaneous photography was taken up by scientists like Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne-Jules Marey, who used sequences of images to study human and animal locomotion. With the invention of the Kinetoscope, a nickel-in-the-slot arcade-style viewer, Thomas Edison and his engineer, W. K. L. Dickson brought motion pictures into the world of entertainment and commerce. Edison initially thought that projecting movies would ruin the arcade business and the French brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière were the first to implement the entire process of cinema, from camera to projector. Numerous inventors sought to improve the devices and the period was characterized by stealing of credit, patent wars and theft of intellectual property. In the end, no one inventor can be given sole credit. Marey, Edison, the Lumières and others knew each other's work and built upon it.

Although movie theaters replaced magic lantern shows as public entertainment, cinema benefited from the long history of the magic lantern, which provided both projection technology and an audience accustomed to stories and entertainment projected on a screen. Cinema was a continuation of years of what Musser has called "screen practice": techniques for assembling narratives from visual building blocks.

Formats Chronologically

Although Edison had already adopted in 1893 what went on to become the standard format—35 mm, four perforations per frame, 1.33:1 aspect ratio—subsequent years saw a variety of formats differing in gauge(width), aspect ratio (frame width/height), and the number, location and geometry of perforations (or perfs). Sometimes different widths or perforations helped get around patents. Narrower formats also allowed the use of less durable safety film for home movies instead of the highly flammable cellulose nitrate used for 35 mm film. For a discussion of film formats see One Hundred Years of Film Sizes.

  • Chronophotographe Marey

    1889–1898
    90 mm, unperforated

    Chronophotographe Marey

    1889–1898
    90 mm, unperforated

    Chronophotographe Marey

    1889–1898
    90 mm, unperforated

    Chronophotographe Marey

    1889–1898
    90 mm, unperforated

    Chronophotographe Marey

    1889–1898
    90 mm, unperforated
  • Edison Kinetoscope

    1889–present
    35 mm, 4-perf frames—still the standard for 35 mm film

    Edison Kinetoscope

    1889–present
    35 mm, 4-perf frames—still the standard for 35 mm film

    Edison Kinetoscope

    1889–present
    35 mm, 4-perf frames—still the standard for 35 mm film

    Edison Kinetoscope

    1889–present
    35 mm, 4-perf frames—still the standard for 35 mm film

    Edison Kinetoscope

    1889–present
    35 mm, 4-perf frames—still the standard for 35 mm film
  • Le Cinématographe Lumière

    1895
    35 mm, 1 perf

    Le Cinématographe Lumière

    1895
    35 mm, 1 perf

    Le Cinématographe Lumière

    1895
    35 mm, 1 perf

    Le Cinématographe Lumière

    1895
    35 mm, 1 perf

    Le Cinématographe Lumière

    1895
    35 mm, 1 perf
  • Skladanowsky Bioscop

    1895–1897
    54 mm, 2-perf

    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    1895–1897
    54 mm, 2-perf

    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    1895–1897
    54 mm, 2-perf

    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    1895–1897
    54 mm, 2-perf

    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    1895–1897
    54 mm, 2-perf
  • Joly-Normandin

    1896–1897
    35 mm, 5-perf

    Joly-Normandin

    1896–1897
    35 mm, 5-perf

    Joly-Normandin

    1896–1897
    35 mm, 5-perf

    Joly-Normandin

    1896–1897
    35 mm, 5-perf

    Joly-Normandin

    1896–1897
    35 mm, 5-perf
  • Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demenÿ

    1896–1897
    60 mm

    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demenÿ

    1896–1897
    60 mm

    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demenÿ

    1896–1897
    60 mm

    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demenÿ

    1896–1897
    60 mm

    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demenÿ

    1896–1897
    60 mm
  • Veriscope

    1897
    63 mm, 5-perf. The first full-length feature film

    Veriscope

    1897
    63 mm, 5-perf. The first full-length feature film

    Veriscope

    1897
    63 mm, 5-perf. The first full-length feature film

    Veriscope

    1897
    63 mm, 5-perf. The first full-length feature film

    Veriscope

    1897
    63 mm, 5-perf. The first full-length feature film
  • Grimoin-Sanson

    c. 1897
    65 mm, 5-perf

    Grimoin-Sanson

    c. 1897
    65 mm, 5-perf

    Grimoin-Sanson

    c. 1897
    65 mm, 5-perf

    Grimoin-Sanson

    c. 1897
    65 mm, 5-perf

    Grimoin-Sanson

    c. 1897
    65 mm, 5-perf
  • Parnaland

    1897–1909
    35 mm, center perf

    Parnaland

    1897–1909
    35 mm, center perf

    Parnaland

    1897–1909
    35 mm, center perf

    Parnaland

    1897–1909
    35 mm, center perf

    Parnaland

    1897–1909
    35 mm, center perf
  • Parlor Kinetoscope

    c. 1900
    45 mm unperforated paper film

    Parlor Kinetoscope

    c. 1900
    45 mm unperforated paper film

    Parlor Kinetoscope

    c. 1900
    45 mm unperforated paper film

    Parlor Kinetoscope

    c. 1900
    45 mm unperforated paper film

    Parlor Kinetoscope

    c. 1900
    45 mm unperforated paper film
  • Biokam

    1898
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Biokam

    1898
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Biokam

    1898
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Biokam

    1898
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Biokam

    1898
    17.5 mm, center perf
  • Lumière Wide

    1900
    75 mm, 8 round perfs

    Lumière Wide

    1900
    75 mm, 8 round perfs

    Lumière Wide

    1900
    75 mm, 8 round perfs

    Lumière Wide

    1900
    75 mm, 8 round perfs

    Lumière Wide

    1900
    75 mm, 8 round perfs
  • Gaumont-Demenÿ Chrono de Poche

    1900
    15 mm, center perf

    Gaumont-Demenÿ Chrono de Poche

    1900
    15 mm, center perf

    Gaumont-Demenÿ Chrono de Poche

    1900
    15 mm, center perf

    Gaumont-Demenÿ Chrono de Poche

    1900
    15 mm, center perf

    Gaumont-Demenÿ Chrono de Poche

    1900
    15 mm, center perf
  • Mirographe

    1900
    20 mm. Perfs are open notches on edges of the film

    Mirographe

    1900
    20 mm. Perfs are open notches on edges of the film

    Mirographe

    1900
    20 mm. Perfs are open notches on edges of the film

    Mirographe

    1900
    20 mm. Perfs are open notches on edges of the film

    Mirographe

    1900
    20 mm. Perfs are open notches on edges of the film
  • Ernemann Kino

    1903–1913
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ernemann Kino

    1903–1913
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ernemann Kino

    1903–1913
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ernemann Kino

    1903–1913
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ernemann Kino

    1903–1913
    17.5 mm, center perf
  • Ikonograph

    1905–c. 1909
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ikonograph

    1905–c. 1909
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ikonograph

    1905–c. 1909
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ikonograph

    1905–c. 1909
    17.5 mm, center perf

    Ikonograph

    1905–c. 1909
    17.5 mm, center perf
  • Lucien Bull Chrono-Photography

    c. 1905
    35 mm, high-speed motion capture

    Lucien Bull Chrono-Photography

    c. 1905
    35 mm, high-speed motion capture

    Lucien Bull Chrono-Photography

    c. 1905
    35 mm, high-speed motion capture

    Lucien Bull Chrono-Photography

    c. 1905
    35 mm, high-speed motion capture

    Lucien Bull Chrono-Photography

    c. 1905
    35 mm, high-speed motion capture
  • Vertical Anamorphic

    c. 1910 (?)
    35 mm, image squashed vertically, purpose unknown

    Vertical Anamorphic

    c. 1910 (?)
    35 mm, image squashed vertically, purpose unknown

    Vertical Anamorphic

    c. 1910 (?)
    35 mm, image squashed vertically, purpose unknown

    Vertical Anamorphic

    c. 1910 (?)
    35 mm, image squashed vertically, purpose unknown

    Vertical Anamorphic

    c. 1910 (?)
    35 mm, image squashed vertically, purpose unknown
  • Edison Home Kinetoscope

    1912
    22 mm, three rows of 4 × 6 mm frames

    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    1912
    22 mm, three rows of 4 × 6 mm frames

    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    1912
    22 mm, three rows of 4 × 6 mm frames

    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    1912
    22 mm, three rows of 4 × 6 mm frames

    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    1912
    22 mm, three rows of 4 × 6 mm frames
  • Pathé Kok

    1912–1934
    28 mm, 1 perf on one side, 3 on the other

    Pathé Kok

    1912–1934
    28 mm, 1 perf on one side, 3 on the other

    Pathé Kok

    1912–1934
    28 mm, 1 perf on one side, 3 on the other

    Pathé Kok

    1912–1934
    28 mm, 1 perf on one side, 3 on the other

    Pathé Kok

    1912–1934
    28 mm, 1 perf on one side, 3 on the other
  • Movette

    1917
    17.5 mm, 2 round perfs

    Movette

    1917
    17.5 mm, 2 round perfs

    Movette

    1917
    17.5 mm, 2 round perfs

    Movette

    1917
    17.5 mm, 2 round perfs

    Movette

    1917
    17.5 mm, 2 round perfs
  • Gallus Cinébloc

    1922
    22 mm, 2 perfs per frame, cellophane base

    Gallus Cinébloc

    1922
    22 mm, 2 perfs per frame, cellophane base

    Gallus Cinébloc

    1922
    22 mm, 2 perfs per frame, cellophane base

    Gallus Cinébloc

    1922
    22 mm, 2 perfs per frame, cellophane base

    Gallus Cinébloc

    1922
    22 mm, 2 perfs per frame, cellophane base
  • Pathé Baby

    1922–1960's
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1960's
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1960's
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1960's
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1960's
    9.5 mm, center perfs
  • 16 mm

    1923–1960s
    16 mm

    16 mm

    1923–1960s
    16 mm

    16 mm

    1923–1960s
    16 mm

    16 mm

    1923–1960s
    16 mm

    16 mm

    1923–1960s
    16 mm
  • Ozaphan

    1920s - 1960s
    16mm, cellophane

    Ozaphan

    1920s - 1960s
    16mm, cellophane

    Ozaphan

    1920s - 1960s
    16mm, cellophane

    Ozaphan

    1920s - 1960s
    16mm, cellophane

    Ozaphan

    1920s - 1960s
    16mm, cellophane
  • Pathé Rural

    1927–1941
    17.5 mm, 1 perf

    Pathé Rural

    1927–1941
    17.5 mm, 1 perf

    Pathé Rural

    1927–1941
    17.5 mm, 1 perf

    Pathé Rural

    1927–1941
    17.5 mm, 1 perf

    Pathé Rural

    1927–1941
    17.5 mm, 1 perf
  • Cinélux

    1931
    24 mm, unperforated, cellophane base

    Cinélux

    1931
    24 mm, unperforated, cellophane base

    Cinélux

    1931
    24 mm, unperforated, cellophane base

    Cinélux

    1931
    24 mm, unperforated, cellophane base

    Cinélux

    1931
    24 mm, unperforated, cellophane base
  • 16 mm Optical Sound

    1932–2003
    Optical sound, perfs on only one side to accommodate soundtrack

    16 mm Optical Sound

    1932–2003
    Optical sound, perfs on only one side to accommodate soundtrack

    16 mm Optical Sound

    1932–2003
    Optical sound, perfs on only one side to accommodate soundtrack

    16 mm Optical Sound

    1932–2003
    Optical sound, perfs on only one side to accommodate soundtrack

    16 mm Optical Sound

    1932–2003
    Optical sound, perfs on only one side to accommodate soundtrack
  • Pathé Rural Sonore

    1932–1941
    17.5 mm, optical sound

    Pathé Rural Sonore

    1932–1941
    17.5 mm, optical sound

    Pathé Rural Sonore

    1932–1941
    17.5 mm, optical sound

    Pathé Rural Sonore

    1932–1941
    17.5 mm, optical sound

    Pathé Rural Sonore

    1932–1941
    17.5 mm, optical sound
  • Standard 8

    1932–1990's
    8 mm, 1 perf

    Standard 8

    1932–1990's
    8 mm, 1 perf

    Standard 8

    1932–1990's
    8 mm, 1 perf

    Standard 8

    1932–1990's
    8 mm, 1 perf

    Standard 8

    1932–1990's
    8 mm, 1 perf
  • 9.5 mm Optical Sound

    1937–1960
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    9.5 mm Optical Sound

    1937–1960
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    9.5 mm Optical Sound

    1937–1960
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    9.5 mm Optical Sound

    1937–1960
    9.5 mm, center perfs

    9.5 mm Optical Sound

    1937–1960
    9.5 mm, center perfs
  • Cine Skob

    1942–early 1960s
    40 mm, chromolithography on paper

    Cine Skob

    1942–early 1960s
    40 mm, chromolithography on paper

    Cine Skob

    1942–early 1960s
    40 mm, chromolithography on paper

    Cine Skob

    1942–early 1960s
    40 mm, chromolithography on paper

    Cine Skob

    1942–early 1960s
    40 mm, chromolithography on paper
  • Kinescope

    c. 1947–late 1970s
    16 mm optical sound, recording of live TV to film

    Kinescope

    c. 1947–late 1970s
    16 mm optical sound, recording of live TV to film

    Kinescope

    c. 1947–late 1970s
    16 mm optical sound, recording of live TV to film

    Kinescope

    c. 1947–late 1970s
    16 mm optical sound, recording of live TV to film

    Kinescope

    c. 1947–late 1970s
    16 mm optical sound, recording of live TV to film
  • Vitarama


    Vitarama


    Vitarama


    Vitarama


    Vitarama


  • Cinerama

    1952–1963
    3-strip, 35mm, 6 perf + 7-track magnetic sound

    Cinerama

    1952–1963
    3-strip, 35mm, 6 perf + 7-track magnetic sound

    Cinerama

    1952–1963
    3-strip, 35mm, 6 perf + 7-track magnetic sound

    Cinerama

    1952–1963
    3-strip, 35mm, 6 perf + 7-track magnetic sound

    Cinerama

    1952–1963
    3-strip, 35mm, 6 perf + 7-track magnetic sound
  • Cinemascope/
    Anamorphic

    1953–present
    Widescreen squeezed horizontally

    Cinemascope/
    Anamorphic

    1953–present
    Widescreen squeezed horizontally

    Cinemascope/
    Anamorphic

    1953–present
    Widescreen squeezed horizontally

    Cinemascope/
    Anamorphic

    1953–present
    Widescreen squeezed horizontally

    Cinemascope/
    Anamorphic

    1953–present
    Widescreen squeezed horizontally
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen (Flat)

    1953–present
    Non-anamorphic widescreen on 35 mm film

    1.85:1 Widescreen (Flat)

    1953–present
    Non-anamorphic widescreen on 35 mm film

    1.85:1 Widescreen (Flat)

    1953–present
    Non-anamorphic widescreen on 35 mm film

    1.85:1 Widescreen (Flat)

    1953–present
    Non-anamorphic widescreen on 35 mm film

    1.85:1 Widescreen (Flat)

    1953–present
    Non-anamorphic widescreen on 35 mm film
  • VistaVision

    1954–c. 1980s
    35 mm horizontal-pull 8-sprocket negative, reduced to standard 35 mm print

    VistaVision

    1954–c. 1980s
    35 mm horizontal-pull 8-sprocket negative, reduced to standard 35 mm print

    VistaVision

    1954–c. 1980s
    35 mm horizontal-pull 8-sprocket negative, reduced to standard 35 mm print

    VistaVision

    1954–c. 1980s
    35 mm horizontal-pull 8-sprocket negative, reduced to standard 35 mm print

    VistaVision

    1954–c. 1980s
    35 mm horizontal-pull 8-sprocket negative, reduced to standard 35 mm print
  • VistaVision

    1975–2010s
    For compositing

    VistaVision

    1975–2010s
    For compositing

    VistaVision

    1975–2010s
    For compositing

    VistaVision

    1975–2010s
    For compositing

    VistaVision

    1975–2010s
    For compositing
  • 70 mm

    1955–1970
    2.2:1 aspect ratio with 6-track magnetic sound on both sides of film.

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    2.2:1 aspect ratio with 6-track magnetic sound on both sides of film.

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    2.2:1 aspect ratio with 6-track magnetic sound on both sides of film.

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    2.2:1 aspect ratio with 6-track magnetic sound on both sides of film.

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    2.2:1 aspect ratio with 6-track magnetic sound on both sides of film.
  • Pathé Duplex

    1956–1957
    4.75 mm, horizontal pull

    Pathé Duplex

    1956–1957
    4.75 mm, horizontal pull

    Pathé Duplex

    1956–1957
    4.75 mm, horizontal pull

    Pathé Duplex

    1956–1957
    4.75 mm, horizontal pull

    Pathé Duplex

    1956–1957
    4.75 mm, horizontal pull
  • Cinemiracle

    1958
    3-strip, 35 mm, similar to Cinerama

    Cinemiracle

    1958
    3-strip, 35 mm, similar to Cinerama

    Cinemiracle

    1958
    3-strip, 35 mm, similar to Cinerama

    Cinemiracle

    1958
    3-strip, 35 mm, similar to Cinerama

    Cinemiracle

    1958
    3-strip, 35 mm, similar to Cinerama
  • Super Technirama 70

    1959–1986
    Filmed in anamorphic, horizontal-pull 35 mm, then unsqueezed and printed to 70 mm

    Super Technirama 70

    1959–1986
    Filmed in anamorphic, horizontal-pull 35 mm, then unsqueezed and printed to 70 mm

    Super Technirama 70

    1959–1986
    Filmed in anamorphic, horizontal-pull 35 mm, then unsqueezed and printed to 70 mm

    Super Technirama 70

    1959–1986
    Filmed in anamorphic, horizontal-pull 35 mm, then unsqueezed and printed to 70 mm

    Super Technirama 70

    1959–1986
    Filmed in anamorphic, horizontal-pull 35 mm, then unsqueezed and printed to 70 mm
  • Cinerama from 70 mm

    1962–1963
    Middle of 3 strips, printed from 65 mm Todd-AO

    Cinerama from 70 mm

    1962–1963
    Middle of 3 strips, printed from 65 mm Todd-AO

    Cinerama from 70 mm

    1962–1963
    Middle of 3 strips, printed from 65 mm Todd-AO

    Cinerama from 70 mm

    1962–1963
    Middle of 3 strips, printed from 65 mm Todd-AO

    Cinerama from 70 mm

    1962–1963
    Middle of 3 strips, printed from 65 mm Todd-AO
  • 70 mm Blowup

    1963–present
    Filmed in 35 mm then blown up and printed to 70 mm

    70 mm Blowup

    1963–present
    Filmed in 35 mm then blown up and printed to 70 mm

    70 mm Blowup

    1963–present
    Filmed in 35 mm then blown up and printed to 70 mm

    70 mm Blowup

    1963–present
    Filmed in 35 mm then blown up and printed to 70 mm

    70 mm Blowup

    1963–present
    Filmed in 35 mm then blown up and printed to 70 mm
  • Super 8

    1965–present
    8 mm film, narrow perfs

    Super 8

    1965–present
    8 mm film, narrow perfs

    Super 8

    1965–present
    8 mm film, narrow perfs

    Super 8

    1965–present
    8 mm film, narrow perfs

    Super 8

    1965–present
    8 mm film, narrow perfs
  • Panacolor Pik-A-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical soundtrack

    Panacolor Pik-A-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical soundtrack

    Panacolor Pik-A-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical soundtrack

    Panacolor Pik-A-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical soundtrack

    Panacolor Pik-A-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical soundtrack
  • Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, 2 video tracks

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, 2 video tracks

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, 2 video tracks

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, 2 video tracks

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, 2 video tracks
  • IMAX

    1970–present
    70 mm, horizontal pull

    IMAX

    1970–present
    70 mm, horizontal pull

    IMAX

    1970–present
    70 mm, horizontal pull

    IMAX

    1970–present
    70 mm, horizontal pull

    IMAX

    1970–present
    70 mm, horizontal pull
  • Omnimax

    1970–present
    Filmed through fish-eye lens on IMAX film for projection onto inside of a dome

    Omnimax

    1970–present
    Filmed through fish-eye lens on IMAX film for projection onto inside of a dome

    Omnimax

    1970–present
    Filmed through fish-eye lens on IMAX film for projection onto inside of a dome

    Omnimax

    1970–present
    Filmed through fish-eye lens on IMAX film for projection onto inside of a dome

    Omnimax

    1970–present
    Filmed through fish-eye lens on IMAX film for projection onto inside of a dome
  • Showscan

    1983–1990s
    70 mm, 60 frames per sec.

    Showscan

    1983–1990s
    70 mm, 60 frames per sec.

    Showscan

    1983–1990s
    70 mm, 60 frames per sec.

    Showscan

    1983–1990s
    70 mm, 60 frames per sec.

    Showscan

    1983–1990s
    70 mm, 60 frames per sec.

Gauge

The width, or gauge, of film has varied widely over the years—from as small as 3 mm up to 90 mm. Gauge has several implications. A narrower gauge doesn't have to be as strong as a wider gauge, which was important in the days when highly flammable cellulose nitrate was used in theaters. For home use, 28 mm and smaller gauges could be made of less robust and less flammable materials. Wider gauges also spread the image over a larger physical area of the film, thus providing a higher resolution. Finally, narrow gauges were less expensive and the associated equipment smaller and lighter.

  • 4.75 mm

    1956
    Pathe Duplex (horizontal pull)

    4.75 mm

    1956
    Pathe Duplex (horizontal pull)

    4.75 mm

    1956
    Pathe Duplex (horizontal pull)

    4.75 mm

    1956
    Pathe Duplex (horizontal pull)

    4.75 mm

    1956
    Pathe Duplex (horizontal pull)
  • 8 mm

    1932–1990's
    Standard 8

    8 mm

    1932–1990's
    Standard 8

    8 mm

    1932–1990's
    Standard 8

    8 mm

    1932–1990's
    Standard 8

    8 mm

    1932–1990's
    Standard 8
  • 8.75 mm

    1968–mid 1970s
    Motorola Teleplayer

    8.75 mm

    1968–mid 1970s
    Motorola Teleplayer

    8.75 mm

    1968–mid 1970s
    Motorola Teleplayer

    8.75 mm

    1968–mid 1970s
    Motorola Teleplayer

    8.75 mm

    1968–mid 1970s
    Motorola Teleplayer
  • 9.5 mm

    1938–1960
    Pathescope

    9.5 mm

    1938–1960
    Pathescope

    9.5 mm

    1938–1960
    Pathescope

    9.5 mm

    1938–1960
    Pathescope

    9.5 mm

    1938–1960
    Pathescope
  • 15 mm

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    15 mm

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    15 mm

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    15 mm

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    15 mm

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche
  • 16 mm

    1923–1990's

    16 mm

    1923–1990's

    16 mm

    1923–1990's

    16 mm

    1923–1990's

    16 mm

    1923–1990's
  • 17.5 mm

    1926–1941
    Pathé Rural

    17.5 mm

    1926–1941
    Pathé Rural

    17.5 mm

    1926–1941
    Pathé Rural

    17.5 mm

    1926–1941
    Pathé Rural

    17.5 mm

    1926–1941
    Pathé Rural
  • 20 mm

    1900
    Mirographe

    20 mm

    1900
    Mirographe

    20 mm

    1900
    Mirographe

    20 mm

    1900
    Mirographe

    20 mm

    1900
    Mirographe
  • 22 mm

    1922
    Gallus Cinebloc

    22 mm

    1922
    Gallus Cinebloc

    22 mm

    1922
    Gallus Cinebloc

    22 mm

    1922
    Gallus Cinebloc

    22 mm

    1922
    Gallus Cinebloc
  • 24 mm

    1931
    Cinelux

    24 mm

    1931
    Cinelux

    24 mm

    1931
    Cinelux

    24 mm

    1931
    Cinelux

    24 mm

    1931
    Cinelux
  • 28 mm

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    28 mm

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    28 mm

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    28 mm

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    28 mm

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok
  • 35 mm

    1889–present

    35 mm

    1889–present

    35 mm

    1889–present

    35 mm

    1889–present

    35 mm

    1889–present
  • 50 mm

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    50 mm

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    50 mm

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    50 mm

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    50 mm

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope
  • 54 mm

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    54 mm

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    54 mm

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    54 mm

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    54 mm

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop
  • 60 mm

    1896–1897
    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demeny

    60 mm

    1896–1897
    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demeny

    60 mm

    1896–1897
    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demeny

    60 mm

    1896–1897
    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demeny

    60 mm

    1896–1897
    Chronophotographe Gaumont-Demeny
  • 63 mm

    1897
    Veriscope

    63 mm

    1897
    Veriscope

    63 mm

    1897
    Veriscope

    63 mm

    1897
    Veriscope

    63 mm

    1897
    Veriscope
  • 65 mm

    c. 1897
    Grimoin-Sanson

    65 mm

    c. 1897
    Grimoin-Sanson

    65 mm

    c. 1897
    Grimoin-Sanson

    65 mm

    c. 1897
    Grimoin-Sanson

    65 mm

    c. 1897
    Grimoin-Sanson
  • 70 mm

    1955–1970
    Todd AO

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    Todd AO

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    Todd AO

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    Todd AO

    70 mm

    1955–1970
    Todd AO
  • 75 mm

    1900
    Cinématographe Lumière

    75 mm

    1900
    Cinématographe Lumière

    75 mm

    1900
    Cinématographe Lumière

    75 mm

    1900
    Cinématographe Lumière

    75 mm

    1900
    Cinématographe Lumière
  • 90 mm

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    90 mm

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    90 mm

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    90 mm

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    90 mm

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

Aspect Ratio

The ratio of image width to height, or aspect ratio, can significantly affect the viewing experience. Studios were interested in providing an immersive experience, so over time, aspect ratios tended to increase.

  • 1.1:1

    c. 1897
    65 mm Grimoin-Sasson

    1.1:1

    c. 1897
    65 mm Grimoin-Sasson

    1.1:1

    c. 1897
    65 mm Grimoin-Sasson

    1.1:1

    c. 1897
    65 mm Grimoin-Sasson

    1.1:1

    c. 1897
    65 mm Grimoin-Sasson
  • 1.13:1

    1896–1897
    35 mm - Joly-Normandin

    1.13:1

    1896–1897
    35 mm - Joly-Normandin

    1.13:1

    1896–1897
    35 mm - Joly-Normandin

    1.13:1

    1896–1897
    35 mm - Joly-Normandin

    1.13:1

    1896–1897
    35 mm - Joly-Normandin
  • 1.33:1

    1891–1932
    35 mm silent film standard

    1.33:1

    1891–1932
    35 mm silent film standard

    1.33:1

    1891–1932
    35 mm silent film standard

    1.33:1

    1891–1932
    35 mm silent film standard

    1.33:1

    1891–1932
    35 mm silent film standard
  • 1.37:1

    1932–present
    35 mm Academy ratio

    1.37:1

    1932–present
    35 mm Academy ratio

    1.37:1

    1932–present
    35 mm Academy ratio

    1.37:1

    1932–present
    35 mm Academy ratio

    1.37:1

    1932–present
    35 mm Academy ratio
  • 1.43:1

    1970–present
    IMAX

    1.43:1

    1970–present
    IMAX

    1.43:1

    1970–present
    IMAX

    1.43:1

    1970–present
    IMAX

    1.43:1

    1970–present
    IMAX
  • 1.5:1

    1954–1980s
    VistaVision

    1.5:1

    1954–1980s
    VistaVision

    1.5:1

    1954–1980s
    VistaVision

    1.5:1

    1954–1980s
    VistaVision

    1.5:1

    1954–1980s
    VistaVision
  • 1.66:1

    1897
    Veriscope

    1.66:1

    1897
    Veriscope

    1.66:1

    1897
    Veriscope

    1.66:1

    1897
    Veriscope

    1.66:1

    1897
    Veriscope
  • 1.85:1

    1953-present
    Standard cinema widescreen

    1.85:1

    1953-present
    Standard cinema widescreen

    1.85:1

    1953-present
    Standard cinema widescreen

    1.85:1

    1953-present
    Standard cinema widescreen

    1.85:1

    1953-present
    Standard cinema widescreen
  • 2:1

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    2:1

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    2:1

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    2:1

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey

    2:1

    1889–1898
    Chronophotographe Marey
  • 2.2:1

    1955–present
    70 mm

    2.2:1

    1955–present
    70 mm

    2.2:1

    1955–present
    70 mm

    2.2:1

    1955–present
    70 mm

    2.2:1

    1955–present
    70 mm
  • 2.39:1

    1959–1967
    70 mm, Super Technirama 70

    2.39:1

    1959–1967
    70 mm, Super Technirama 70

    2.39:1

    1959–1967
    70 mm, Super Technirama 70

    2.39:1

    1959–1967
    70 mm, Super Technirama 70

    2.39:1

    1959–1967
    70 mm, Super Technirama 70
  • 2.59:1

    1952–1962
    3-Strip Cinerama

    2.59:1

    1952–1962
    3-Strip Cinerama

    2.59:1

    1952–1962
    3-Strip Cinerama

    2.59:1

    1952–1962
    3-Strip Cinerama

    2.59:1

    1952–1962
    3-Strip Cinerama

Perforations

Perforations in cinema film are engaged by a mechanism to advance the film in both the camera and projector. They were the most important contribution to cinema by Edison and, in particular, his engineer W. K. L. Dickson, solving one of its central challenges: to register or align one frame after another precisely in the film gate. The inability to register frames had prevented Marey and others from reliably projecting their chronophotography. Because their cameras couldn't guarantee that frames were equal distances apart, Marey, Le Prince and Skladanowsky were all forced to cut the frames out and assemble them into the final film

Perforations vary in placement and shape. Space taken up by perforations can't be used for the image, so narrower perforations are used in some formats, e.g., Super 8. Narrow gauges have sometimes used a single center perforation on the frame line for the same reason. A soundtrack takes additional space away from at least one side of the film; in the case of 16 mm film, this means that perforationss are dropped entirely on one side. The shape of perforations has also varied to make them less prone to breakage and to improve frame registration.

  • Unperforated

    1931
    Cinelux

    Unperforated

    1931
    Cinelux

    Unperforated

    1931
    Cinelux

    Unperforated

    1931
    Cinelux

    Unperforated

    1931
    Cinelux
  • Notches, Both Sides

    1900
    Mirographe

    Notches, Both Sides

    1900
    Mirographe

    Notches, Both Sides

    1900
    Mirographe

    Notches, Both Sides

    1900
    Mirographe

    Notches, Both Sides

    1900
    Mirographe
  • 1 Perf, Center

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    1 Perf, Center

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    1 Perf, Center

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    1 Perf, Center

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche

    1 Perf, Center

    1900
    Gaumont Chrono de Poche
  • 2 Perfs, Center

    1912
    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    2 Perfs, Center

    1912
    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    2 Perfs, Center

    1912
    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    2 Perfs, Center

    1912
    Edison Home Kinetoscope

    2 Perfs, Center

    1912
    Edison Home Kinetoscope
  • 1 Perf, Both Sides

    1923–1990's
    16 mm silent

    1 Perf, Both Sides

    1923–1990's
    16 mm silent

    1 Perf, Both Sides

    1923–1990's
    16 mm silent

    1 Perf, Both Sides

    1923–1990's
    16 mm silent

    1 Perf, Both Sides

    1923–1990's
    16 mm silent
  • 2-Perf, Both Sides

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    2-Perf, Both Sides

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    2-Perf, Both Sides

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    2-Perf, Both Sides

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop

    2-Perf, Both Sides

    1895–1897
    Skladanowsky Bioscop
  • 1 Perf, One Side

    1932–1941
    Pathe Rural Sonore

    1 Perf, One Side

    1932–1941
    Pathe Rural Sonore

    1 Perf, One Side

    1932–1941
    Pathe Rural Sonore

    1 Perf, One Side

    1932–1941
    Pathe Rural Sonore

    1 Perf, One Side

    1932–1941
    Pathe Rural Sonore
  • 3 Perfs / 1 Perf

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    3 Perfs / 1 Perf

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    3 Perfs / 1 Perf

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    3 Perfs / 1 Perf

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok

    3 Perfs / 1 Perf

    1912–1934
    Pathé Kok
  • 4 Perfs, Both Sides

    1889–present
    Edison

    4 Perfs, Both Sides

    1889–present
    Edison

    4 Perfs, Both Sides

    1889–present
    Edison

    4 Perfs, Both Sides

    1889–present
    Edison

    4 Perfs, Both Sides

    1889–present
    Edison
  • 5 Perfs, Both Sides

    1896–1897
    Joly-Normandin

    5 Perfs, Both Sides

    1896–1897
    Joly-Normandin

    5 Perfs, Both Sides

    1896–1897
    Joly-Normandin

    5 Perfs, Both Sides

    1896–1897
    Joly-Normandin

    5 Perfs, Both Sides

    1896–1897
    Joly-Normandin
  • 6 Perfs, Both Sides

    1958
    Cinemiracle

    6 Perfs, Both Sides

    1958
    Cinemiracle

    6 Perfs, Both Sides

    1958
    Cinemiracle

    6 Perfs, Both Sides

    1958
    Cinemiracle

    6 Perfs, Both Sides

    1958
    Cinemiracle
  • 1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1894
    Lumiére prototype

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1894
    Lumiére prototype

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1894
    Lumiére prototype

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1894
    Lumiére prototype

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1894
    Lumiére prototype
  • 1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1895
    Lumiére

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1895
    Lumiére

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1895
    Lumiére

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1895
    Lumiére

    1 Perf, Round, Both Sides

    1895
    Lumiére
  • Oblong perf, both sides

    mid-1890s
    Lumiére experimental

    Oblong perf, both sides

    mid-1890s
    Lumiére experimental

    Oblong perf, both sides

    mid-1890s
    Lumiére experimental

    Oblong perf, both sides

    mid-1890s
    Lumiére experimental

    Oblong perf, both sides

    mid-1890s
    Lumiére experimental
  • Edison over Lumiére

    mid-1890s

    Edison over Lumiére

    mid-1890s

    Edison over Lumiére

    mid-1890s

    Edison over Lumiére

    mid-1890s

    Edison over Lumiére

    mid-1890s
  • 2 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1917
    Movette

    2 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1917
    Movette

    2 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1917
    Movette

    2 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1917
    Movette

    2 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1917
    Movette
  • 8 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1900
    75-mm-cinematographe-lumiere

    8 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1900
    75-mm-cinematographe-lumiere

    8 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1900
    75-mm-cinematographe-lumiere

    8 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1900
    75-mm-cinematographe-lumiere

    8 Perfs, Round, Both Sides

    1900
    75-mm-cinematographe-lumiere
  • 9 Perfs (3 Per Color)

    1918
    Chronochrome Gaumont

    9 Perfs (3 Per Color)

    1918
    Chronochrome Gaumont

    9 Perfs (3 Per Color)

    1918
    Chronochrome Gaumont

    9 Perfs (3 Per Color)

    1918
    Chronochrome Gaumont

    9 Perfs (3 Per Color)

    1918
    Chronochrome Gaumont

Film Base

Film in a movie projector is subject to a variety of abuses: extreme heat from the lamp (a carbon arc lamp for much of the 20th century), tension as it's spooled to and from the reels, stress as it's dragged forward by the sprocket holes and stopped abruptly in the film gate 24 times a second (16 frames per second in the early days of cinema). Commercial cinema standardized on 35 mm film and, at the time of cinema's invention, the only photographic base strong enough at that gauge was cellulose nitrate. Cellulose nitrate has one major drawback, however: it's extremely flammable. It contains its own oxygen and releases it while burning, meaning it can't be smothered—it will even burn underwater. The last place you'd want to position something like that is a few inches from a carbon arc lamp. Theater fires were inevitable—one of the first killed 140 people in 1897. Home cinema got around the problem by adopting narrower gauges requiring less strength from the film base, but commercial theaters used nitrate film until around 1950, when it was finally replaced by cellulose triacetate and, eventually, polyester.

  • Paper

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    Paper

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    Paper

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    Paper

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope

    Paper

    1888–1898
    American Parlor Kinetoscope
  • Cellulose Nitrate

    1889–1951
    Dangerously flammable

    Cellulose Nitrate

    1889–1951
    Dangerously flammable

    Cellulose Nitrate

    1889–1951
    Dangerously flammable

    Cellulose Nitrate

    1889–1951
    Dangerously flammable

    Cellulose Nitrate

    1889–1951
    Dangerously flammable
  • Cellulose Diacetate

    1912–1940's
    28 mm safety film

    Cellulose Diacetate

    1912–1940's
    28 mm safety film

    Cellulose Diacetate

    1912–1940's
    28 mm safety film

    Cellulose Diacetate

    1912–1940's
    28 mm safety film

    Cellulose Diacetate

    1912–1940's
    28 mm safety film
  • Cellophane

    1920's–1960's
    Ozaphan 16 mm

    Cellophane

    1920's–1960's
    Ozaphan 16 mm

    Cellophane

    1920's–1960's
    Ozaphan 16 mm

    Cellophane

    1920's–1960's
    Ozaphan 16 mm

    Cellophane

    1920's–1960's
    Ozaphan 16 mm
  • Cellulose Triacetate

    1948–1990's
    Replaced nitrate film for commercial exhibition

    Cellulose Triacetate

    1948–1990's
    Replaced nitrate film for commercial exhibition

    Cellulose Triacetate

    1948–1990's
    Replaced nitrate film for commercial exhibition

    Cellulose Triacetate

    1948–1990's
    Replaced nitrate film for commercial exhibition

    Cellulose Triacetate

    1948–1990's
    Replaced nitrate film for commercial exhibition
  • Polyester

    1955–present
    Much stronger than cellulose

    Polyester

    1955–present
    Much stronger than cellulose

    Polyester

    1955–present
    Much stronger than cellulose

    Polyester

    1955–present
    Much stronger than cellulose

    Polyester

    1955–present
    Much stronger than cellulose

Sound-on-Disc

When cinema was invented, the phonograph had been in existence for ten years. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound existed virtually from cinema's inception: in an 1888 visit with Edison, Muybridge suggested combining his zoopraxiscope (a projecting phenakistoscope) with the phonograph. Starting in the early 1900s, two basic approaches were taken: sound-on-disc, in which a phonograph or gramophone is synchronized with the projector, and sound-on-film, where the audio is stored on the film itself by optical or magnetic means.

Early efforts were hampered by inadequate audio technology. Before electronic amplification, phonographs used horns to project their sound acoustically—hardly adequate to fill a theater. The usual recording technique of having the performer stand directly in front of a large horn was a non-starter on a movie set. Microphones existed but were of low quality. It took the invention of the vacuum tube and years of work by film companies and industrial laboratories like Western Electric, RCA and Bell Labs to bring the “talkies” to life.

  • Gaumont Chronophone

    1902–mid-1910s
    Sound-on-disc for Gaumont's Chronophone system

    Gaumont Chronophone

    1902–mid-1910s
    Sound-on-disc for Gaumont's Chronophone system

    Gaumont Chronophone

    1902–mid-1910s
    Sound-on-disc for Gaumont's Chronophone system

    Gaumont Chronophone

    1902–mid-1910s
    Sound-on-disc for Gaumont's Chronophone system

    Gaumont Chronophone

    1902–mid-1910s
    Sound-on-disc for Gaumont's Chronophone system
  • Vitaphone

    1926–1931
    For a Vitaphone short released in July 1927, several months before the The Jazz Singer

    Vitaphone

    1926–1931
    For a Vitaphone short released in July 1927, several months before the The Jazz Singer

    Vitaphone

    1926–1931
    For a Vitaphone short released in July 1927, several months before the The Jazz Singer

    Vitaphone

    1926–1931
    For a Vitaphone short released in July 1927, several months before the The Jazz Singer

    Vitaphone

    1926–1931
    For a Vitaphone short released in July 1927, several months before the The Jazz Singer
  • Columbia Victor

    1929–1930
    Walt Disney's The Merry Dwarves, a Silly Symphony animation

    Columbia Victor

    1929–1930
    Walt Disney's The Merry Dwarves, a Silly Symphony animation

    Columbia Victor

    1929–1930
    Walt Disney's The Merry Dwarves, a Silly Symphony animation

    Columbia Victor

    1929–1930
    Walt Disney's The Merry Dwarves, a Silly Symphony animation

    Columbia Victor

    1929–1930
    Walt Disney's The Merry Dwarves, a Silly Symphony animation
  • Hollywood Flexo Sound-On-Disc

    1931
    Movie soundtrack on 16 in. flexible disc

    Hollywood Flexo Sound-On-Disc

    1931
    Movie soundtrack on 16 in. flexible disc

    Hollywood Flexo Sound-On-Disc

    1931
    Movie soundtrack on 16 in. flexible disc

    Hollywood Flexo Sound-On-Disc

    1931
    Movie soundtrack on 16 in. flexible disc

    Hollywood Flexo Sound-On-Disc

    1931
    Movie soundtrack on 16 in. flexible disc
  • International 16mm Film Co.

    c. 1931
    Musical soundtrack for a 16 mm film

    International 16mm Film Co.

    c. 1931
    Musical soundtrack for a 16 mm film

    International 16mm Film Co.

    c. 1931
    Musical soundtrack for a 16 mm film

    International 16mm Film Co.

    c. 1931
    Musical soundtrack for a 16 mm film

    International 16mm Film Co.

    c. 1931
    Musical soundtrack for a 16 mm film
  • Movie Sound 8

    1947–1948
    12 in. sound-on-disc for short 8 mm films

    Movie Sound 8

    1947–1948
    12 in. sound-on-disc for short 8 mm films

    Movie Sound 8

    1947–1948
    12 in. sound-on-disc for short 8 mm films

    Movie Sound 8

    1947–1948
    12 in. sound-on-disc for short 8 mm films

    Movie Sound 8

    1947–1948
    12 in. sound-on-disc for short 8 mm films
  • Ameridisc

    1965
    7 in. flexidisc

    Ameridisc

    1965
    7 in. flexidisc

    Ameridisc

    1965
    7 in. flexidisc

    Ameridisc

    1965
    7 in. flexidisc

    Ameridisc

    1965
    7 in. flexidisc
  • DTS

    Digital sound-on-disc
    1993–present
    CD-ROM synced to timecode on film

    DTS

    Digital sound-on-disc
    1993–present
    CD-ROM synced to timecode on film

    DTS

    Digital sound-on-disc
    1993–present
    CD-ROM synced to timecode on film

    DTS

    Digital sound-on-disc
    1993–present
    CD-ROM synced to timecode on film

    DTS

    Digital sound-on-disc
    1993–present
    CD-ROM synced to timecode on film

Sound-on-Film

The first feature-length sound film, released in 1927, used sound-on-disc, but the technology had inherent limitations. Synchronizing a gramophone to a film projector was difficult and unreliable. Records wore out quickly. Recording sound on records also made film editing extremely difficult. By the mid-1930s the industry had moved almost completely to optical or magnetic sound-on-film

  • Variable Density

    1919–late 1950s

    Variable Density

    1919–late 1950s

    Variable Density

    1919–late 1950s

    Variable Density

    1919–late 1950s

    Variable Density

    1919–late 1950s
  • Unilateral Variable-Area

    1930s–c. 1970

    Unilateral Variable-Area

    1930s–c. 1970

    Unilateral Variable-Area

    1930s–c. 1970

    Unilateral Variable-Area

    1930s–c. 1970

    Unilateral Variable-Area

    1930s–c. 1970
  • Dual-Unilateral Variable-Area

    mid-1930s–1960s

    Dual-Unilateral Variable-Area

    mid-1930s–1960s

    Dual-Unilateral Variable-Area

    mid-1930s–1960s

    Dual-Unilateral Variable-Area

    mid-1930s–1960s

    Dual-Unilateral Variable-Area

    mid-1930s–1960s
  • Bilateral Variable-Area

    c. 1935–present

    Bilateral Variable-Area

    c. 1935–present

    Bilateral Variable-Area

    c. 1935–present

    Bilateral Variable-Area

    c. 1935–present

    Bilateral Variable-Area

    c. 1935–present
  • Mono Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1945–1970s

    Mono Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1945–1970s

    Mono Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1945–1970s

    Mono Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1945–1970s

    Mono Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1945–1970s
  • Maurer

    mid-1930s–1950s

    Maurer

    mid-1930s–1950s

    Maurer

    mid-1930s–1950s

    Maurer

    mid-1930s–1950s

    Maurer

    mid-1930s–1950s
  • Stereo Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1970s–present

    Stereo Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1970s–present

    Stereo Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1970s–present

    Stereo Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1970s–present

    Stereo Dual-Bilateral Variable-Area

    1970s–present
  • Sensurround

    1974–1979

    Sensurround

    1974–1979

    Sensurround

    1974–1979

    Sensurround

    1974–1979

    Sensurround

    1974–1979
  • SDDS

    1993–present

    SDDS

    1993–present

    SDDS

    1993–present

    SDDS

    1993–present

    SDDS

    1993–present
  • Dolby Digital

    1991–present

    Dolby Digital

    1991–present

    Dolby Digital

    1991–present

    Dolby Digital

    1991–present

    Dolby Digital

    1991–present
  • DTS Timecode

    1993–present

    DTS Timecode

    1993–present

    DTS Timecode

    1993–present

    DTS Timecode

    1993–present

    DTS Timecode

    1993–present
  • 7-Track Magnetic

    Cinerama
    1952–1963

    7-Track Magnetic

    Cinerama
    1952–1963

    7-Track Magnetic

    Cinerama
    1952–1963

    7-Track Magnetic

    Cinerama
    1952–1963

    7-Track Magnetic

    Cinerama
    1952–1963
  • 4-Track Magnetic

    Cinemascope
    1953–1983

    4-Track Magnetic

    Cinemascope
    1953–1983

    4-Track Magnetic

    Cinemascope
    1953–1983

    4-Track Magnetic

    Cinemascope
    1953–1983

    4-Track Magnetic

    Cinemascope
    1953–1983
  • 6-Track Magnetic

    70 mm
    1955–1990s

    6-Track Magnetic

    70 mm
    1955–1990s

    6-Track Magnetic

    70 mm
    1955–1990s

    6-Track Magnetic

    70 mm
    1955–1990s

    6-Track Magnetic

    70 mm
    1955–1990s
  • Magoptical

    1957–1970s

    Magoptical

    1957–1970s

    Magoptical

    1957–1970s

    Magoptical

    1957–1970s

    Magoptical

    1957–1970s
  • 3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


    3-Track Magnetic


Color

The quest for color extended from the birth of photography in 1839 well into the 20th century. Along the way, many color processes, both experimental and commercial, were used to create movies. The earliest examples of color movies didn't involve color photography at all—colors were added by hand painting or stenciling color onto black & white film, or by dipping film in dye baths. (Similar techniques were used with photographs, magic lantern slides and stereoviews.)

Since color photography first appeared in 1861, it has almost always meant storing three channels of light intensity, corresponding to the three types of receptors that sample the spectrum in the eye. The three channels can be combined using additive or subtractive methods. Additive processes store intensity for each color separately, either as three images that are superimposed when projected or by breaking a single image up in various ways into tiny “pixels” storing color information, which are combined by the brain when viewed. Subtractive processes superimpose three transparent images that act as filters to remove the correct amounts of red, green and blue light.

  • Hand Painted

    1895–c. 1904
    Hand-painted directly on film

    Hand Painted

    1895–c. 1904
    Hand-painted directly on film

    Hand Painted

    1895–c. 1904
    Hand-painted directly on film

    Hand Painted

    1895–c. 1904
    Hand-painted directly on film

    Hand Painted

    1895–c. 1904
    Hand-painted directly on film
  • Tinted

    1896–c. 1949
    Select scenes dipped in dye

    Tinted

    1896–c. 1949
    Select scenes dipped in dye

    Tinted

    1896–c. 1949
    Select scenes dipped in dye

    Tinted

    1896–c. 1949
    Select scenes dipped in dye

    Tinted

    1896–c. 1949
    Select scenes dipped in dye
  • Stencil

    1904–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Stencil

    1904–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Stencil

    1904–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Stencil

    1904–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Stencil

    1904–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye
  • Pathé Stencil

    1922–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Pathé Stencil

    1922–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Pathé Stencil

    1922–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Pathé Stencil

    1922–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye

    Pathé Stencil

    1922–1928
    Hand-cut stencils, frames tinted with dye
  • Chronochrome

    1918
    3-frames projected simultaneously through filters

    Chronochrome

    1918
    3-frames projected simultaneously through filters

    Chronochrome

    1918
    3-frames projected simultaneously through filters

    Chronochrome

    1918
    3-frames projected simultaneously through filters

    Chronochrome

    1918
    3-frames projected simultaneously through filters
  • 2-Strip Technicolor

    1922–c. 1930
    2 strips of film shot through filters and glued together

    2-Strip Technicolor

    1922–c. 1930
    2 strips of film shot through filters and glued together

    2-Strip Technicolor

    1922–c. 1930
    2 strips of film shot through filters and glued together

    2-Strip Technicolor

    1922–c. 1930
    2 strips of film shot through filters and glued together

    2-Strip Technicolor

    1922–c. 1930
    2 strips of film shot through filters and glued together
  • Keller-Dorian

    1922–1930
    3-color additive, lenticular screen

    Keller-Dorian

    1922–1930
    3-color additive, lenticular screen

    Keller-Dorian

    1922–1930
    3-color additive, lenticular screen

    Keller-Dorian

    1922–1930
    3-color additive, lenticular screen

    Keller-Dorian

    1922–1930
    3-color additive, lenticular screen
  • Herault Trichrome

    1926
    3 color frames projected in sequence

    Herault Trichrome

    1926
    3 color frames projected in sequence

    Herault Trichrome

    1926
    3 color frames projected in sequence

    Herault Trichrome

    1926
    3 color frames projected in sequence

    Herault Trichrome

    1926
    3 color frames projected in sequence
  • Kodacolor

    1928–1935
    Keller-Dorian adapted by Kodak for 16 mm

    Kodacolor

    1928–1935
    Keller-Dorian adapted by Kodak for 16 mm

    Kodacolor

    1928–1935
    Keller-Dorian adapted by Kodak for 16 mm

    Kodacolor

    1928–1935
    Keller-Dorian adapted by Kodak for 16 mm

    Kodacolor

    1928–1935
    Keller-Dorian adapted by Kodak for 16 mm
  • Cinecolor

    1932–1955
    2 color strips glued to front and back of film

    Cinecolor

    1932–1955
    2 color strips glued to front and back of film

    Cinecolor

    1932–1955
    2 color strips glued to front and back of film

    Cinecolor

    1932–1955
    2 color strips glued to front and back of film

    Cinecolor

    1932–1955
    2 color strips glued to front and back of film
  • Lumicolor

    1933–1955
    Autochrome process on celluloid

    Lumicolor

    1933–1955
    Autochrome process on celluloid

    Lumicolor

    1933–1955
    Autochrome process on celluloid

    Lumicolor

    1933–1955
    Autochrome process on celluloid

    Lumicolor

    1933–1955
    Autochrome process on celluloid
  • Dufaycolor

    1933–1958
    3 color additive, mosaic screen

    Dufaycolor

    1933–1958
    3 color additive, mosaic screen

    Dufaycolor

    1933–1958
    3 color additive, mosaic screen

    Dufaycolor

    1933–1958
    3 color additive, mosaic screen

    Dufaycolor

    1933–1958
    3 color additive, mosaic screen
  • Rouxcolor

    1947–c. 1949
    4 frames projected simultaneously through color filters

    Rouxcolor

    1947–c. 1949
    4 frames projected simultaneously through color filters

    Rouxcolor

    1947–c. 1949
    4 frames projected simultaneously through color filters

    Rouxcolor

    1947–c. 1949
    4 frames projected simultaneously through color filters

    Rouxcolor

    1947–c. 1949
    4 frames projected simultaneously through color filters
  • Thomson Color

    1947–1949
    3-color additive, lenticular

    Thomson Color

    1947–1949
    3-color additive, lenticular

    Thomson Color

    1947–1949
    3-color additive, lenticular

    Thomson Color

    1947–1949
    3-color additive, lenticular

    Thomson Color

    1947–1949
    3-color additive, lenticular
  • Eastmancolor

    1950–1980s
    3-color subtractive

    Eastmancolor

    1950–1980s
    3-color subtractive

    Eastmancolor

    1950–1980s
    3-color subtractive

    Eastmancolor

    1950–1980s
    3-color subtractive

    Eastmancolor

    1950–1980s
    3-color subtractive
  • IB Technicolor

    1952–2002
    Imbibition dye-transfer

    IB Technicolor

    1952–2002
    Imbibition dye-transfer

    IB Technicolor

    1952–2002
    Imbibition dye-transfer

    IB Technicolor

    1952–2002
    Imbibition dye-transfer

    IB Technicolor

    1952–2002
    Imbibition dye-transfer
  • Ektachrome

    c. 1960–present
    3-color subtractive

    Ektachrome

    c. 1960–present
    3-color subtractive

    Ektachrome

    c. 1960–present
    3-color subtractive

    Ektachrome

    c. 1960–present
    3-color subtractive

    Ektachrome

    c. 1960–present
    3-color subtractive
  • Agfacolor

    1964–2004
    3-color subtractive

    Agfacolor

    1964–2004
    3-color subtractive

    Agfacolor

    1964–2004
    3-color subtractive

    Agfacolor

    1964–2004
    3-color subtractive

    Agfacolor

    1964–2004
    3-color subtractive
  • LPP

    1982–1993
    Low-fade 3-color subtractive

    LPP

    1982–1993
    Low-fade 3-color subtractive

    LPP

    1982–1993
    Low-fade 3-color subtractive

    LPP

    1982–1993
    Low-fade 3-color subtractive

    LPP

    1982–1993
    Low-fade 3-color subtractive
  • Fujicolor

    1980s–present
    3-color subtractive

    Fujicolor

    1980s–present
    3-color subtractive

    Fujicolor

    1980s–present
    3-color subtractive

    Fujicolor

    1980s–present
    3-color subtractive

    Fujicolor

    1980s–present
    3-color subtractive

3D

By the time cinema was invented, the stereoscope had been a fixture of middle-class parlors for decades. The evolution of photography and cinema have been driven partly by a desire for ever-increasing realism, and it was natural to imagine moving pictures in stereo, particularly as television began to encroach on the movie business.

3D media (excluding holograms) store the slightly different views seen by each eye as two separate images. In the typical stereoviewer, those images are positioned side-by-side and viewed through lenses that focus each eye on the correct image. But this only works for one person at a time; it isn't useful for an audience. Still, a number of approaches to creating movies for single person viewers were developed—see, for example, the Bünzli l'Animateur below.

Fortunately, there are other ways to store and project the two images. Anaglyph stereo, which had been around since the 1850s, superimposed the left and right images in different colors. The two images could then be separated using glasses with a different color filter for each eye. The colored images could be superimposed on the film itself (subtractive anaglyph) or, more commonly, stored separately on one or two strips of film, projected through color filters and superimposed on the screen (additive anaglyph). Since the early 1950s, the images have instead been projected through polarizing filters and viewed through polarizing glasses.

  • Bünzli l'Animateur

    1900
    3D movie printed on paper

    Bünzli l'Animateur

    1900
    3D movie printed on paper

    Bünzli l'Animateur

    1900
    3D movie printed on paper

    Bünzli l'Animateur

    1900
    3D movie printed on paper

    Bünzli l'Animateur

    1900
    3D movie printed on paper
  • Stereoscopik

    1925
    Coming attraction slide for one of the first commercial 3D films

    Stereoscopik

    1925
    Coming attraction slide for one of the first commercial 3D films

    Stereoscopik

    1925
    Coming attraction slide for one of the first commercial 3D films

    Stereoscopik

    1925
    Coming attraction slide for one of the first commercial 3D films

    Stereoscopik

    1925
    Coming attraction slide for one of the first commercial 3D films
  • Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    One of several experimental anaglyph films made by the Lumières

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    One of several experimental anaglyph films made by the Lumières

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    One of several experimental anaglyph films made by the Lumières

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    One of several experimental anaglyph films made by the Lumières

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    One of several experimental anaglyph films made by the Lumières
  • Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    Experimental, alternative colors

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    Experimental, alternative colors

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    Experimental, alternative colors

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    Experimental, alternative colors

    Lumière Anaglyph

    1934
    Experimental, alternative colors
  • Lumière

    1935
    Over-under, horizontal pull, the solution finally adopted by the Lumières

    Lumière

    1935
    Over-under, horizontal pull, the solution finally adopted by the Lumières

    Lumière

    1935
    Over-under, horizontal pull, the solution finally adopted by the Lumières

    Lumière

    1935
    Over-under, horizontal pull, the solution finally adopted by the Lumières

    Lumière

    1935
    Over-under, horizontal pull, the solution finally adopted by the Lumières
  • 8 mm Anaglyph

    1960s–1980s
    Left and right images printed in cyan and red

    8 mm Anaglyph

    1960s–1980s
    Left and right images printed in cyan and red

    8 mm Anaglyph

    1960s–1980s
    Left and right images printed in cyan and red

    8 mm Anaglyph

    1960s–1980s
    Left and right images printed in cyan and red

    8 mm Anaglyph

    1960s–1980s
    Left and right images printed in cyan and red
  • Stereo-70

    1966–1994
    Soviet 70 mm side-by-side

    Stereo-70

    1966–1994
    Soviet 70 mm side-by-side

    Stereo-70

    1966–1994
    Soviet 70 mm side-by-side

    Stereo-70

    1966–1994
    Soviet 70 mm side-by-side

    Stereo-70

    1966–1994
    Soviet 70 mm side-by-side
  • SpaceVision

    1970–present
    Over-under: left/right frames alternate

    SpaceVision

    1970–present
    Over-under: left/right frames alternate

    SpaceVision

    1970–present
    Over-under: left/right frames alternate

    SpaceVision

    1970–present
    Over-under: left/right frames alternate

    SpaceVision

    1970–present
    Over-under: left/right frames alternate
  • Optovision

    1970–present
    Over-under

    Optovision

    1970–present
    Over-under

    Optovision

    1970–present
    Over-under

    Optovision

    1970–present
    Over-under

    Optovision

    1970–present
    Over-under
  • StereoVision

    1970–1990s
    Left and right images squeezed side-by-side

    StereoVision

    1970–1990s
    Left and right images squeezed side-by-side

    StereoVision

    1970–1990s
    Left and right images squeezed side-by-side

    StereoVision

    1970–1990s
    Left and right images squeezed side-by-side

    StereoVision

    1970–1990s
    Left and right images squeezed side-by-side
  • Kodak-Disney 3D

    c. 1982–c. 1994
    70mm side-by-side

    Kodak-Disney 3D

    c. 1982–c. 1994
    70mm side-by-side

    Kodak-Disney 3D

    c. 1982–c. 1994
    70mm side-by-side

    Kodak-Disney 3D

    c. 1982–c. 1994
    70mm side-by-side

    Kodak-Disney 3D

    c. 1982–c. 1994
    70mm side-by-side

Film Cartridge

Any ribbon-like medium stored on reels, whether film, magnetic tape or recording wire, can be tricky to load or rewind. Film can break, jam or unreel itself onto the floor. This was a particular problem for home users, especially children. There were also applications like video jukeboxes that required automatic play, and thus automatic threading. As with audio and video tape, cartridges provided a solution.

  • Pathé Baby

    1922–1950s
    9.5 mm, center perforated, silent

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1950s
    9.5 mm, center perforated, silent

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1950s
    9.5 mm, center perforated, silent

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1950s
    9.5 mm, center perforated, silent

    Pathé Baby

    1922–1950s
    9.5 mm, center perforated, silent
  • Kenner Easy-Show

    mid-1960s–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Kenner Easy-Show

    mid-1960s–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Kenner Easy-Show

    mid-1960s–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Kenner Easy-Show

    mid-1960s–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Kenner Easy-Show

    mid-1960s–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent
  • Tru-Vue Roll-a-Show

    1960's
    8 mm, silent

    Tru-Vue Roll-a-Show

    1960's
    8 mm, silent

    Tru-Vue Roll-a-Show

    1960's
    8 mm, silent

    Tru-Vue Roll-a-Show

    1960's
    8 mm, silent

    Tru-Vue Roll-a-Show

    1960's
    8 mm, silent
  • Transogram

    1960s
    8 mm, silent

    Transogram

    1960s
    8 mm, silent

    Transogram

    1960s
    8 mm, silent

    Transogram

    1960s
    8 mm, silent

    Transogram

    1960s
    8 mm, silent
  • Panacolor Pik-a-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical sound

    Panacolor Pik-a-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical sound

    Panacolor Pik-a-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical sound

    Panacolor Pik-a-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical sound

    Panacolor Pik-a-Movie

    1967–1973
    Twelve 8 mm tracks on 70 mm film, optical sound
  • Videotronic

    1967–1968
    Super 8 mm, magnetic sound

    Videotronic

    1967–1968
    Super 8 mm, magnetic sound

    Videotronic

    1967–1968
    Super 8 mm, magnetic sound

    Videotronic

    1967–1968
    Super 8 mm, magnetic sound

    Videotronic

    1967–1968
    Super 8 mm, magnetic sound
  • Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, magnetic sound

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, magnetic sound

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, magnetic sound

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, magnetic sound

    Motorola Teleplayer

    1968–mid1970s
    8.75 mm, magnetic sound
  • Dux-Kino 68

    1968–late 1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Dux-Kino 68

    1968–late 1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Dux-Kino 68

    1968–late 1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Dux-Kino 68

    1968–late 1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Dux-Kino 68

    1968–late 1970s
    8 mm, silent
  • Technicolor Magi-Cartridge

    1968–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Technicolor Magi-Cartridge

    1968–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Technicolor Magi-Cartridge

    1968–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Technicolor Magi-Cartridge

    1968–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Technicolor Magi-Cartridge

    1968–1972
    Super 8, silent
  • Technicolor Sound Movie

    1968–1970s
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Technicolor Sound Movie

    1968–1970s
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Technicolor Sound Movie

    1968–1970s
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Technicolor Sound Movie

    1968–1970s
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Technicolor Sound Movie

    1968–1970s
    Super 8, magnetic sound
  • Bohn Benton Institor

    1969
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Bohn Benton Institor

    1969
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Bohn Benton Institor

    1969
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Bohn Benton Institor

    1969
    Super 8, magnetic sound

    Bohn Benton Institor

    1969
    Super 8, magnetic sound
  • Bolex Multimatic

    1969–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Bolex Multimatic

    1969–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Bolex Multimatic

    1969–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Bolex Multimatic

    1969–1972
    Super 8, silent

    Bolex Multimatic

    1969–1972
    Super 8, silent
  • Auto 8

    1970–mid-1970s
    8 mm and Super 8, silent

    Auto 8

    1970–mid-1970s
    8 mm and Super 8, silent

    Auto 8

    1970–mid-1970s
    8 mm and Super 8, silent

    Auto 8

    1970–mid-1970s
    8 mm and Super 8, silent

    Auto 8

    1970–mid-1970s
    8 mm and Super 8, silent
  • Cinexin

    1971–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Cinexin

    1971–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Cinexin

    1971–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Cinexin

    1971–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent

    Cinexin

    1971–mid-1970s
    8 mm, silent
  • Fisher Price Movie Viewer

    1973–c. 1987
    8 mm, silent

    Fisher Price Movie Viewer

    1973–c. 1987
    8 mm, silent

    Fisher Price Movie Viewer

    1973–c. 1987
    8 mm, silent

    Fisher Price Movie Viewer

    1973–c. 1987
    8 mm, silent

    Fisher Price Movie Viewer

    1973–c. 1987
    8 mm, silent
  • Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 10

    1970s
    10 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 10

    1970s
    10 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 10

    1970s
    10 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 10

    1970s
    10 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 10

    1970s
    10 min. Super 8, magnetic sound
  • Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 20

    1970s
    20 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 20

    1970s
    20 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 20

    1970s
    20 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 20

    1970s
    20 min. Super 8, magnetic sound

    Fairchild Movie Pak Seventy 20

    1970s
    20 min. Super 8, magnetic sound
  • Telemax

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telemax

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telemax

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telemax

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telemax

    1970s
    Super 8, silent
  • Telemax Lunga Durata

    1970s
    "Long Duration" Telemax cartridge

    Telemax Lunga Durata

    1970s
    "Long Duration" Telemax cartridge

    Telemax Lunga Durata

    1970s
    "Long Duration" Telemax cartridge

    Telemax Lunga Durata

    1970s
    "Long Duration" Telemax cartridge

    Telemax Lunga Durata

    1970s
    "Long Duration" Telemax cartridge
  • Telejet

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telejet

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telejet

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telejet

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Telejet

    1970s
    Super 8, silent
  • Cinevisor

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Cinevisor

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Cinevisor

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Cinevisor

    1970s
    Super 8, silent

    Cinevisor

    1970s
    Super 8, silent
  • Videomatic Super 8

    1970s
    Super 8, color, silent

    Videomatic Super 8

    1970s
    Super 8, color, silent

    Videomatic Super 8

    1970s
    Super 8, color, silent

    Videomatic Super 8

    1970s
    Super 8, color, silent

    Videomatic Super 8

    1970s
    Super 8, color, silent
  • Cassette Super 8

    c. 1973
    Super 8, silent

    Cassette Super 8

    c. 1973
    Super 8, silent

    Cassette Super 8

    c. 1973
    Super 8, silent

    Cassette Super 8

    c. 1973
    Super 8, silent

    Cassette Super 8

    c. 1973
    Super 8, silent
  • Mupi V35

    mid-1970s–c. 1980
    Super 8, silent

    Mupi V35

    mid-1970s–c. 1980
    Super 8, silent

    Mupi V35

    mid-1970s–c. 1980
    Super 8, silent

    Mupi V35

    mid-1970s–c. 1980
    Super 8, silent

    Mupi V35

    mid-1970s–c. 1980
    Super 8, silent
  • Kenner Movie Viewer

    1975–1979
    8 mm, silent, with viewer In unopened box

    Kenner Movie Viewer

    1975–1979
    8 mm, silent, with viewer In unopened box

    Kenner Movie Viewer

    1975–1979
    8 mm, silent, with viewer In unopened box

    Kenner Movie Viewer

    1975–1979
    8 mm, silent, with viewer In unopened box

    Kenner Movie Viewer

    1975–1979
    8 mm, silent, with viewer In unopened box
  • Polaroid Polavision

    1977–1979
    Additive color, Super 8, silent

    Polaroid Polavision

    1977–1979
    Additive color, Super 8, silent

    Polaroid Polavision

    1977–1979
    Additive color, Super 8, silent

    Polaroid Polavision

    1977–1979
    Additive color, Super 8, silent

    Polaroid Polavision

    1977–1979
    Additive color, Super 8, silent
  • Pocket Flix/Mini-Movi

    1978
    8 mm, silent

    Pocket Flix/Mini-Movi

    1978
    8 mm, silent

    Pocket Flix/Mini-Movi

    1978
    8 mm, silent

    Pocket Flix/Mini-Movi

    1978
    8 mm, silent

    Pocket Flix/Mini-Movi

    1978
    8 mm, silent
  • View-Master Double-Vue

    late 1970s
    Super 8, silent

    View-Master Double-Vue

    late 1970s
    Super 8, silent

    View-Master Double-Vue

    late 1970s
    Super 8, silent

    View-Master Double-Vue

    late 1970s
    Super 8, silent

    View-Master Double-Vue

    late 1970s
    Super 8, silent
  • Micro-Movie

    1982–early 1990s
    8 mm, silent

    Micro-Movie

    1982–early 1990s
    8 mm, silent

    Micro-Movie

    1982–early 1990s
    8 mm, silent

    Micro-Movie

    1982–early 1990s
    8 mm, silent

    Micro-Movie

    1982–early 1990s
    8 mm, silent
  • Filmoscope

    early 1980s
    8 mm, silent

    Filmoscope

    early 1980s
    8 mm, silent

    Filmoscope

    early 1980s
    8 mm, silent

    Filmoscope

    early 1980s
    8 mm, silent

    Filmoscope

    early 1980s
    8 mm, silent
  • Super Cinexin

    1980s