Film — also called movies, the cinema, the silverscreen, moving pictures, motion pictures, photoplays, pictureshows, and flicks — is a field that encompasses motion pictures as an art form or as part of the entertainmentindustry . Because film historically has been the primary medium for displayingmoving images , academics often refer to this field as the study offilm.
Motion pictures are an art form, a popular form of entertainment , anda business. Film is produced by recording "real" people and objects (includingplayed-out fantasy and fakes) with cameras , and/or by animation .
The word film also often refers to photographic film used to make still photographs, or to the flexible strip of plastic covered in alight-sensitive silver halide solution, also called filmstock , on which motionpictures have historically been made.
The images that make up a motion picture are all individual photographs. But when they appear rapidly in succession, the humaneye does not detect that they are separate images. This results from persistence of vision, a phenomenon whereby the eye retainsa visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Although we do not experience the images asindividual photographs, we do notice the differences between them. The brain then perceives these differences as motion.
Today, most motion pictures are still recorded using specially designed cameras that capture the images on rolls of film.After being processed and printed, the film is run through a projector , which shines light through the film so that the images are displayed on a screen. Most movieshave accompanying sound. Some films in recent decades have been recorded using analog video technology similar to that used in television production. More recently, some filmsare being recorded with a digital video camera and later projected using digital projectors and/or transferred to film.
History of cinema
Main article: History of cinema
The earliest use of moving pictures was an outgrowth of magic lanterns and similar optical devices, which could be used to display a sequence of still images in such a way that the eye would perceivethe images as being in motion. Naturally, the images used in these devices had to be carefully prepared and selected to achievethe desired effect. By using pictures that were largely similar, but with slight differences, the presenter could communicate theeffect of motion to the viewer. The underlying principle remains the basis for animation as a cinematic genre .
With the development of photography , and particularly of celluloid film, it became possible to record moving pictures as well. The use of filmalso made it more feasible to use a projection system to display images for audiences, when other techniques sometimes requiredthe individual to look into the device to see the pictures.
The cinema was initially purely a visual art , and the moving pictures cameto be known colloquially as movies. However, when showing motion pictures to audiences, theater owners typically hired musicians to accompany the presentation. The musician, usually a pianist ororganist if the theater had an instrument available, was supposed to play music that would fit the mood of the film at any givenmoment.
Later technological improvements allowed filmmakers to create soundtracks synchronized with the action on the screen. The soundtrack can be recorded separately from shooting the film, but for live-actionpictures many parts of the soundtrack are usually recorded simultaneously. Soundfilms were initially known as "talking pictures", or talkies. From the beginning, however, they included music aswell as speech, and specialist composers of film scores soon emerged.
Development of cinema presentations
The cinema was initially purely a visual art , and the moving pictures cameto be known colloquially as movies. See silent film . However,presenters found it useful to provide a commentator who could narrate the action and fill in dialogue between characters. Withina few years, films began to include subtitles that could display dialogue when the actors on screen "spoke." This rendered the function of a commentator largelyunnecessary.
Rather than leave the audience in silence, theater owners often replaced the commentator by hiring musicians to accompany the presentation. The most common approach was to hire a pianist or organist if the theater had an instrumentavailable. The music to be played was supposed to fit the mood of the film at any given moment.
Later technological improvements allowed filmmakers to create soundtracks synchronized with the action on the screen. The soundtrack can be recorded separately from shooting the film, but for live-actionpictures many parts of the soundtrack are usually recorded simultaneously. Soundfilms were initially known as "talking pictures", or talkies.
The final major step in the development of cinema was the introduction of color . Whilethe addition of sound to film revolutionized the medium, quickly driving out silentmovies and theater musicians, color was adopted more gradually. As color processes improved, more and more movies were filmed incolor, and today the use of color is virtually universal. Unlike photography ,where black-and-white film is still preferred for some purposes,there is little reason not to use color in movies. In the rare exceptions, such as the Steven Spielberg movie Schindler'sList , the choice usually has to do with other artistic reasons.
The motion picture industry
Even before the widespread use of sound and color, simple black-and-white movies quickly gained a hold on the publicimagination. The making and showing of motion pictures became a source of potential profit within a few years after the processwas invented. In this way, the cinema eventually contributed to the decline of the vaudeville world it came from. Instead, motionpictures became a separate industry, with dedicated theaters andcompanies formed specifically to produce and distribute films.
The first theater designed exclusively for cinema opened in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1905 . Thousands of such theaterswere built or converted from existing facilities within a few years. In the United States , these theaters came to be known as nickelodeons , because admission typically cost a nickel (5 cents).
The popularity of the cinema has made motion pictures the largest industry in entertainment . The visual element of cinema needs no translation, giving the motion picture a universal powerof communication. As a result, popular movies can become worldwide attractions, especially with the addition of dubbing or translated subtitles to communicate the dialogue. Motion picture actors can becomemajor celebrities and command huge fees for their performances. Already by 1917 , Charlie Chaplin had acontract that called for an annual salary of 1 million dollars.
The cost of hiring star performers, along with expenses related to technological advancements, has led cinema production toconcentrate under the auspices of movie studios . In the United States, muchof the industry is centered around Hollywood . Otherregional centers exist in many parts of the world. In addition, advances in affordable film making equipment have led to numerousindependent film productions with far lower production costs than previously possible.
With modern technology, digital recording techniques have been applied to both the video and audio aspects of motion pictures.This has produced a gradual movement away from the medium of film.
When it is initially produced, a film is normally shown to audiences in a movie theater . Typically, one film is the featured presentation. A feature film is sometimes defined as anyfilm more than 60 minutes in length (90-120 minutes is typical, and a few films run up to 4 hours or more). Before showing thisfilm, the theater may have shorter presentations or advertising .Historically, the feature presentation was often preceded by newsreels and short films , especially animation .Today, the bulk of the material shown before the feature film consists of previews for upcoming movies (also known as trailers ).
Originally, all films were made to be shown in movie theaters. The development of television has allowed films to be broadcast to larger audiences, usually after the film is no longer beingshown in theaters. Recording technology has also enabled consumers to rent or buy copies of films on video tape or DVD (and the older formats of laserdisc , VCD and SelectaVision —see also videodisc ), and Internet downloads may be available and havebecome significant revenue sources for the film companies. Some films are now made specifically for these other venues, beingreleased as made-for-TV movies or direct-to-video movies. These areoften considered to be of inferior quality compared to theatrical releases.
Development of film technology
Film consists of a transparent celluloid , polyester , or other plastic coated with an emulsion containinglight-sensitive chemicals. Silver nitrate was the first type of filmused to record motion pictures, but due to its flammability was eventually replaced by safer formats.
Originally moving picture film was shot at various speeds using hand-cranked cameras ; then the speed for mechanized cameras and projectors was standardized at 16 frames per second, whichwas faster than much existing hand-cranked footage. A new standard speed, 24 frames per second, came with the introduction ofsound. Improvements since the late 1800s include the mechanization of cameras, allowingthem to record at a consistent speed, the invention of more sophisticated filmstocks and lenses , allowing directors to film inincreasingly dim conditions, and the development of synchronized sound, allowing sound to be recorded at exactly the same speedas its corresponding video.
As a medium, film is not limited to motion pictures, since the technology developed as the basis for photography . It can be used to present a progressive sequence of still images in theform of a slideshow. Film has also been incorporated into multimedia presentations. However, film also creates problems in terms of preservation and storage, and the motion picture industry isexploring digital alternatives to film. Film preservation ofdecaying film stock is a matter of concern to both film historians and archivists, and to companies interested in preservingtheir existing products in order to make them available to future generations (and thereby increase revenue).
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