Film, also called movie or motion picture, is a medium used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty or atmosphere by the means of recorded or programmed moving images along with other sensory stimulations. The word “cinema”, short for cinematography, is often used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, and to the art form that is the result of it.
The moving images of a film are created by photographing actual scenes with a motion-picture camera, by photographing drawings or miniature models using traditional animation techniques, by means of CGI and computer animation, or by a combination of some or all of these techniques, and other visual effects.
Traditionally, films were recorded onto celluloid film through a photochemical process and then shown through a movie projector onto a large screen. Contemporary films are often fully digital through the entire process of production, distribution, and exhibition, while films recorded in a photochemical form traditionally included an analogous optical soundtrack (a graphic recording of the spoken words, music and other sounds that accompany the images which runs along a portion of the film exclusively reserved for it, and is not projected).
Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures. They reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment, and a powerful medium for educating—or indoctrinating—citizens. The visual basis of film gives it a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions through the use of dubbing or subtitles to translate the dialog into other languages.
The individual images that make up a film are called frames. In the projection of traditional celluloid films, a rotating shutter causes intervals of darkness as each frame, in turn, is moved into position to be projected, but the viewer does not notice the interruptions because of an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after its source disappears. The perception of motion is partly due to a psychological effect called the phi phenomenon.
The name “film” originates from the fact that photographic film (also called film stock) has historically been the medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist for an individual motion-picture, including picture, picture show, moving picture, photoplay, and flick. The most common term in the United States is movie, while in Europe film is preferred. Common terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the movies, and cinema; the last of these is commonly used, as an overarching term, in scholarly texts and critical essays. In early years, the word sheet was sometimes used instead of screen.
1.1 Preceding technologies
1.2 First motion pictures
1.3 Early evolution
1.6 1950s: growing influence of television
1.7 1960s and later
2 Film theory
2.3 Film criticism
4 Associated fields
5.2 Trailer and teaser
6 Education and propaganda
7.4 Open content film
7.5 Fan film
10 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Main article: History of film
A screenshot of Roundhay Garden Scene by the French Louis Le Prince, the world’s first film
A frame from Roundhay Garden Scene, the world’s earliest surviving film produced using a motion picture camera, by Louis Le Prince, 1888.
Berlin Wintergarten theatre, vaudeville stage at the Berlin Conservatory from the 1940s
The Berlin Wintergarten theatre was the site of the first cinema ever, with a short film presented by the Skladanowsky brothers on 1 November 1895. (Pictured here is a variety show at the theater in July 1940.)
Preceding film in origin by thousands of years, early plays and dances had elements common to film: scripts, sets, costumes, production, direction, actors, audiences, storyboards and scores. Much terminology later used in film theory and criticism apply, such as mise en scène (roughly, the entire visual picture at any one time). Owing to the lack of any technology for doing so, the moving images and sounds could not be recorded for replaying as with film.
The magic lantern, probably created by Christiaan Huygens in the 1650s, could be used to project animation, which was achieved by various types of mechanical slides. Typically, two glass slides, one with the stationary part of the picture and the other with the part that was to move, would be placed one on top of the other and projected together, then the moving slide would be hand-operated, either directly or by means of a lever or other mechanism. Chromotrope slides, which produced eye-dazzling displays of continuously cycling abstract geometrical patterns and colors, were operated by means of a small crank and pulley wheel that rotated a glass disc.
In the mid-19th century, inventions such as Joseph Plateau’s phenakistoscope and the later zoetrope demonstrated that a carefully designed sequence of drawings, showing phases of the changing appearance of objects in motion, would appear to show the objects actually moving if they were displayed one after the other at a sufficiently rapid rate. These devices relied on the phenomenon of persistence of vision to make the display appear continuous even though the observer’s view was actually blocked at the moment a drawing rotated into the location where its predecessor had just been glimpsed. Each sequence was limited to a small number of drawings, usually twelve, so it could only show endlessly repeating cyclical motions. By the late 1880s, the last major device of this type, the praxinoscope, had been elaborated into a form that employed a long coiled band containing hundreds of images painted on glass and used the elements of a magic lantern to project them onto a screen.
The use of sequences of photographs in such devices was initially limited to a few experiments with subjects photographed in a series of poses because the available emulsions were not sensitive enough to allow the short exposures needed to photograph subjects that were actually moving. The sensitivity was gradually improved and in the late 1870s, Eadweard Muybridge created the first image sequences photographed in real-time. A row of cameras was used, each, in turn, capturing one image on a photographic glass plate, so the total number of images in each sequence was limited by the number of cameras, about two dozen at most. Muybridge used his system to analyze the movements of a wide variety of animal and human subjects. Hand-painted images based on the photographs were projected as moving images by means of his zoopraxiscope.