how did they edit movies before computers

how did they edit movies before computers

how did they edit movies before computers

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The history of cinema traces the main stages that mark its evolution, both technical and aesthetic.

Cinema was born at the end of the 19th century. Although animation dates back to at least the 17th century, with “Le thaumatrope”, it was not until 1891 that the first patent relating to the animation of photographic images and the successful production of images appeared. a first film camera. The collective show that may result takes birth a few months later.

In numerous articles and books, one can still read today, and more especially in France, that “the inventors of cinema are the Lumière brothers”1. They develop and build a machine allowing to record then to project in public moving photographic views, which they baptized the cinematograph. At the time, the press, invited to the first Lumière screenings, spoke not of the cinematograph, but of the “kinetoscope (or kinetograph) of the brothers”. res Light »2. On December 22, 1895, when Auguste and Louis Lumière presented their invention to the scientists of the Société d’encouragement, they still called it “projection kinetoscope” or “Lumiè kinetograph”. ¨re» their camera and viewer3. The camera, invented by Thomas Edison and his main collaborator, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson in 1891, the Kinetograph camera, the first camera, and the device allowing to see individual films, the kinetoscope, are cited as references, proof of their functional anteriority. “The tapes shot by Dickson are, strictly speaking, the first films.†4 The invention of the Lumière brothers, or more exactly that of Louis Lumière and his engineer, Jules Carpentier is both a camera and a projector (and even a copy printer), which will appeal to wealthy amateurs.

With the possibility of seeing animated photographic views on the big screen, the Lumière brothers launched the spectacle of films around the world, which had been sketched out by the kinetoscope in the Kinetoscope Parlors . The Lumière cinematograph immediately appears not only as an important improvement on the inventions of Dickson-Edison and Reynaud, but also as a fatal competitor to all animated shows pre-existing or emerging in 1895.

In French, the apocope of the trademark Cinématograph, the cinema, will impose itself in everyday language in a few years. But in other countries, it’s moving pictures, movies, and also cinema, and not cinema. The Larousse Encyclopedia states: “This worldwide impact will lead many historians to consider December 28, 1895 as the birth date of cinema5”. She evokes the projection that the Lumière brothers organize in Paris, for the general public, in the Indian Salon of the Grand Café, at no 14 boulevard des Capucines, but it was not the first It was a time when moving photographic images were shown to the public. Admittedly, the success of the screenings at the Grand Café gives a new start to the exploitation of films, as Edison still practiced it successfully in 1895 in another form in his many Kinetoscope Parlors, explains with humor Édouard Waintrop, film critic and general delegate of the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival. “Whereas Mr. Edison has developed a small box with very weak lighting, which allows only one or two isolated people to experience this phenomenon of animated images, the Lumieres have chosen a system which makes it possible to share the experience with a whole assembly6».

“Louis and Auguste Lumière had sworn to sign all their inventions together, but we now know that some of them belong to the youngest, Louis. This one was not only the inventor of the cinematograph, this device which allowed, for the first time, the projection on a screen of an animated photograph of some duration. He also made films, sketched an aesthetic through practice, trained operators, defined most of the cinematographic genres we know today»7. To make them the initiators of the animated projections on the big screen could seem abusive, since it was their compatriot Émile Reynaud who, on October 28, 1892, organized the first animated projection on the big screen of the first cartoon. When their exclusive paternity of the cinema was mentioned, Louis Lumière himself did not claim as much and corrected the assertion which made him and his brother their sole inventors. , as reported by Maurice Trarieux-Lumière, grandson of Louis Lumière and president of the Association Frères LumièreÂ: “My grandfather always recognized with a perfect probity, I bear witness to it, the contributions of Janssen, Muybridge and Marey, inventors of chronophotography, Reynaud, Edison and above all Dickson»8.

It is unfortunate that in the first decades of the 21st century, the fable of the Lumière brothers, the only inventors of cinema, is still present in the majority of articles or books on cinema. ©ma9, still alive with the Lumière Institute itself, of which we can quote an introductory sentence: “In the autumn of 1894, Antoine Lumière spoke to his two sons Louis and Auguste to ask them to take an interest in these animated images over which Thomas Edison and a few other magnificent pioneers then stumbled»10. These “magnificent pioneers”, the Edison-Dickson couple are nevertheless at the origin of the first films of the cinema, as asserts Laurent Mannoni, curator at the Cinémathèque française des apparatuses of pre-cinema and cinema: the first films were recorded by the “Kinetograph (in Greek, writing of movement)†: camera of the American Thomas Edison, patented on August 24, 1891, using perforated 35 mm film and an intermittent film advance system by “ratchet wheel”11. The “magnificent pioneers” did not stumble before the impossible: they had already found, both Dickson and Reynaud12. “One hundred and forty-eight films were made between 1890 and September 1895 by Dickson and William Heise inside a studio built in West Orange, the “Black Maria”, a rail-mounted structure , adjustable according to the sun »13.

There remains a huge technological gap between the creation of Louis Lumière (the Cinematograph camera, registered trademark) and that of the Edison-Dickson duo, the Kiné camera tographe, the prototype for all future cameras. However, the Lumière Institute has changed its claims somewhat and the famous hangar of the first film, presented as the place where the first film in history was shot, is now designated “the location of the Premier-Film Lumière.†14 Which does not diminish the genius of Louis Lumière15! Building the machine called the cinematograph therefore does not amount to inventing what is at the heart of the 7th Art, its very essence, films16. No films, no cinema, no audiovisual! However, still for Laurent Mannoni, “the cinema [did not] appear miraculously in 1895”, and “the industry of ‘moving photographs’ was able to hatch, in the years 1890, thanks to customs and practices established for centuries »17.

The four fundamental stages of the invention of the cinema, therefore of what is the very object of cinematographic creation: films, if we except the invention of silver gelatin18 , a gelatinous emulsion – made from elements of animal origin – containing a suspension of silver bromide crystals, the foundation of silver photography, which primarily concerns photography, can arranged chronologically as follows:

To designate the research that preceded the invention of the first cinema films, and which did not use flexible celluloid film, we speak, according to the authors, of precinema23, or “archaeology”, “haute-époque” for the period prior to 189517. The date of 1888 can sometimes be retained as a separation between the pre cinema and the cinema, the invention of flexible celluloid film by John Carbutt and its commercialization by the industrialist George Eastman in 1888 in the form of rolls 70 mm wide being the sine qua not to start a show that would become a cultural industry. Admittedly, Reynaud used another material, also 70 mm wide but made up of independent squares of gelatin to more easily color them and locate them in relation to each other by transparency. These squares were assembled and formed a single band which unrolled from one reel to another passing through a projection system, not mechanical, but optical.

The majority of film historians, like the American Charles Musser24, do not have the same definition of pre-cinema, and classify Edison and Reynaud in this category, on the grounds that the Edison’s mode of viewing was not projection, and that Reynaud’s film was not the 35mm film we still know today. But, based on these remarks, the Lumière brothers’ 35 mm film with round perforations at the rate of a single set per photogram was not the standard cinema film either. two sets of four rectangular perforations per photogram developed by the Edison-Dickson duo. Which would lead in an absurd way to putting the invention of the Lumière brothers in the pre-cinema. On the other hand, nowadays viewing systems are most often foreign to projection (televisions, personal computers, crystal or plasma screens, smartphones), but do not pr © feel no less documentary films, cinema fictions or television series. The supports themselves have also diversified, and the 35 mm will soon come under museology, at least in cinematographic shooting. Digital discs and other digital data carriers are inexorably imposing themselves. For today’s historian, cinema should not be reduced to the definition of his first appearances on the big screen.

The phenomenon of retinal persistence was observed in the 18th century by the Franco-Irish Chevalier d’Arcy, who made a rotating disc on the perimeter of which a hot coal was fixed. From a rotational speed of seven revolutions per second, the hot coal gives the illusion of a continuous luminous circle, “that could only be attributed to the duration of the feeling»25. The “sustaining sensation”, known as retinal persistence, is often mistakenly considered by moviegoers and the general public to be the basis for the perception of movement in cinema26. In reality, this passive physiological phenomenon, linked to the retina, intervenes secondarily.

In 1830, an experiment by the Briton Michael Faraday, using a rotating toothed wheel (a sort of circular saw made of wood, cardboard, or light metal, since called Faraday’s wheel), started ©shows that if we look at the wheel in motion, the eye cannot identify each of the teeth, it perceives the wheel as a continuous disc27. On the other hand, if we observe the image of this wheel in a mirror through the teeth, the brain perceives the wheel as being immobile, the teeth appearing well separated from each other. This is what the Belgian Joseph Plateau also noticed in 1832, and which he interpreted as proof of the existence of retinal persistence. To obtain this sensation, he noticed by experiment that it was necessary for the wheel to turn at the rate of 12 teeth passing through a point in one second, close to the 7 revolutions per second determined by the Chevalier d ‘Arcy.

Wanting to demonstrate his theory, Joseph Plateau manufactures the same year his Phénakistiscope with drawn vignettes and the same number of slots (or slits). Plateau imagines that “if the speed is great enough for all these successive impressions to bind together and not enough for them to merge, one will believe to see each of the small figures gradually changing state”28.

Joseph Plateau’s interpretation is correct with regard to seeing the wheel seen directly, when the disk appears to be continuous, toothless, because retinal persistence causes a blurring effect, like a camera does when he takes a tenth of a second, or a fiftieth of a second shot of a character in rapid motion (running or jumping): the arms and legs are not visible in detail on the photograph, but appear as a fuzzy mass. All photographers, even amateurs, know this phenomenon whose remedy is simple: choose a shorter exposure, hundredth of a second, or better, thousandth of a second.

But the second phenomenon (the moving wheel which appears motionless when seen in the mirror through the rotation of the teeth) is given by another characteristic of human perception, discovered by Max Wertheimer29 at the beginning of the 20th century, which is called “the beta effect” (still confused today with the phi effect, another phenomenon highlighted in also by Wertheimer), a phenomenon of interpretation of vision by the brain, which explains our perception of moving animated images30. It’s the brain’s ability to identify two flashing lights, far apart, as a single bright object that it thinks it sees moving.

“A good example is given by the giant fixed luminous arrows staggered one behind the other, in cascade, which signal on the motorways a tightening of traffic or a deviation, and which light up and go out one after the other, giving the illusion of a single arrow which would move in the direction indicated31 .»

It is the beta effect which gives the illusion that the image of each tooth of the Faraday wheel is linked to the image of the previous tooth, and so on, giving the impression – dangerous! – that the wheel is immobilized. The image seen in the mirror is actually a decoy, an illusion given by the posterior cortical area of ??the brain, that area which analyzes vision and transforms it into perception, an interpretation of vision . Apparent immobility explains how the brain perceives the succession of numerous photograms of a film as being part of the same object, unaware that it is a succession of distinct objects. This is how the brain interprets the vision of the different positions of a character in a film, a series of still photograms, as being the character in motion.

To thwart the phenomenon of retinal persistence which would bring a blur making it impossible to perceive each position of the wheel, by a mask effect thwarting the following image, it is the teeth themselves, through which we have to look at the image, which interrupt this persistence, erase it in a way, it is the refresh rate, as we say for a computer screen. And it is for this reason that in one of these scientific toys which were invented during the 19th century, called optical toys, we look at the succession of vignettes drawn through slits or by through rotating mirrors, the passage between each slit or between each face of the mirror ensuring by sealing the refreshment of the spectator’s vision. In cinema, it is the role of the shutter – rotary or guillotine for certain cameras – in cameras and projection devices32. The academic Jacques Aumont underlines well, in his studies on the cinema, the paradoxical handicap which the retinal persistence presents at the level of the perception of the movement and the need to erase it with each frame change:

“The detailed information would be temporarily suppressed with each black between successive photograms (note: the black which corresponds to the passage of the shutter in front of the lens to mask the displacement of the film, and which records a black separation between each photogram) and this masking would be precisely what would explain that there is no accumulation of persistent images due to retinal persistence33.

Insects, with ultra-short nerve links, perceive the world on average at 300 images per second34. They would only see, if they wanted to go to the cinema, a lazy succession of different but perfectly still images.

The “parlor toys” or optical toys, favored by a wealthy public, were intended to develop scientific curiosity in the minds of children from good families. Joseph Plateau’s Phénakistiscope is one of these parlor toys.

Modern zoetrope, adapted from the Englishman William George Horner (1833)

a modern photographic Folioscope, adapted from the Flipbook by Englishman John Barnes Linnett (1868)

Zoopraxiscope by British photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Sketched kick of a donkey (1879)

the projection Praxinoscope by Frenchman Émile Reynaud (1880)

Eadweard Muybridge and his famous French equivalent Étienne-Jules Marey, develop various machines or optical processes with a more scientific than commercial aim, to try to decompose, and thus to study the movements of human beings or animals, and in general any phenomenon too fast to be analyzed by sight (examples: falling of a drop of water, explosions or chemical reactions).

“This knowledge could not be acquired by simple observation, because the most sustained attention, concentrated on the action of a single muscle, has great difficulty in grasping its phases. activity and rest, even at the slowest pace. How then could one hope to simultaneously capture the action of all the muscles of the limbs at all phases of a fast pace.

They want to show clearly, through a dazzling succession of photos, the mechanism of walking, running or jumping in humans, or how the bird activates its wings, how the cat always falls on his legs, etc. It is not their intention to make a show out of their work; recreational recreation of the movement is not their primary concern. The co-founder of Cahiers du cinéma, André Bazin, spiritual father of François Truffaut, remarked pertinently:

“Cinema owes almost nothing to the scientific spirit… It is significant that Marey was only interested in the analysis of movement, not at all in the inverse process which made it possible to recompose it. HAS”

Moreover, the scientific challenge protects these photographers because their models are active in front of the camera in puri naturalibus, in other words completely naked, and outside. In Victorian times, it was unthinkable to present these photos to the general public without a solid scientific or medical justification (paintings of nudes are not as outrageous as nudes in photos).

It was undoubtedly a bet, launched between a wealthy horse owner and opponents, which enabled Eadweard Muybridge to set up an expensive experiment in 1878, sponsored by the amateur of pure -bloods. It is a question of knowing at what moment, during its gallop, the feet of a horse leave the ground together. By tradition, all equestrian painting represented, until this experiment, the four limbs of the horse in extension, as if it were crossing an obstacle37. Muybridge lines up along a race track twelve then twenty-four ultra-fast shutter cameras (500th of a second), activated one after the other by metal wires stretched in through the passage of a galloping horse. Several attempts are necessary. During one of them, the horse leads the dark chambers which break. The system is transformed: the wires, after triggering the snapshots, come off and prevent the cameras from being swept away by the passage of the animal38. The photographs obtained prove that a galloping horse never leaves the ground in a position of extension of the limbs (except during a jump). All four of his hooves lose contact with the ground only once, as his legs come together under his body.

The challenge has been won thanks to chronophotography, the name given by Etienne-Jules Marey to his work. To support his demonstration, Muybridge imagined in 1880 the Zoopraxiscope, which starts from the illusion of movement to arrive, by slowing down then stopping the machine, to describe each phase of the studied movement. He immediately launched the sale of his machine and his records and began with the city of San Francisco39. In 1893, Muybridge presents in the United States, at the Universal Exhibition in Chicago, projections of images painted on Zoopraxiscope, according to chronophotographs, intended for the general public, always with the same aim. pedagogical to show the different phases of a gesture.

For his part, Etienne-Jules Marey developed in 1882, with the same scientific concern to break down a movement too fast to be analyzed by the human eye, his photographic gun which, in one second, records in burst twelve photographs on small circular supports out of glass (like a revolver). Marey’s photographic rifle is often mistakenly considered the first camera. The purpose of this device was not to reconstruct the movement, and the twelve negative vignettes obtained on glass were examined by the scientists one by one, thanks to the separate positive prints s, or together, thanks to a superposition of photographs40.

In 1888, Marey abandoned the glass plate, preferring the paper support, then during the summer of 1889 the flexible and transparent roll in cellulose nitrate invented by the American John Carbutt, all two marketed by George Eastman — the future Kodak — who is now releasing it in Europe following the 1889 World’s Fair. Marey successfully adapted the latter to his photographic rifle then, the same year e, he developed, with his collaborator Georges Demenÿ, a film camera equipped with a swinging cam mechanism, capable of advancing the flexible celluloid film in synchronism with the closing of a shutter in order to obtain a photographic decomposition of the movement, no longer on the same plate, but image by image on a continuous unperforated roll. This “photochronographic” camera — the word “chronophotography” will be officially retained in 1889 — is patented on October 3, 189041,42. The Cinémathèque française keeps around 420 original negative rolls of Marey and Demenÿ from 0.11 m to 4.19 m in length produced from 1890 on rolls of chronophotographic film in celluloid, such as Mounted Bixio Horse (28 photographs), Walking Bixio Horse (61 photographs), Horse hitched to a car on Boulevard Delessert, exterior scene taken from a window of Marey’s home ( 36 photographs) or even The Wave and Fencing Scenes made in 1890 in Naples, where he has a residence, and kept at the Etienne-Jules Marey Museum in Beaune43. Although we have been able to watch them since, they were not cinema films at the time. During projection attempts, the dragging of the non-perforated film could in fact generate photograms with variable dimensions whose overlap in viewing was not satisfactory, a defect linked to any cam device swing. Marey tries from 1892 to realize a chronophotographic projector adapted to these tapes with the help of Demenÿ, but ends up giving up this project and by declaring in 1894: “Arrived at this point of our research, we learned that our trainer had obtained an immediate solution to the problem in another way, it seemed appropriate to postpone further attempts”44. In 1893, Demenÿ had thus produced a projector with negative bands45, but it was not improved and did not leave the laboratory of Marey, who, due to differences of opinion with Demenÿ on the commercial exploitation of such processes will prefer to separate from his collaborator in 1894.

In 1891, Demenÿ began to produce devices independently. He cuts and glues a series of vignettes taken from the chronophotographic film onto a rotating glass disc, thus creating the phonoscope, patented March 3, 189246,47, where the pronunciation of the syllables of a few words is broken down into 22 photographs, with a view to language learning by students at the National Institute for Deaf Youth in Paris. During the first international photography exhibition, which opened on April 20, 1892 at the Champ-de-Mars in Paris48, he was the first to carry out public chronophotographic projections on screen, with this device comprising a three-dimensional cycle. It’s short (one or two seconds or so) and repetitive at the discretion of the operator, although similar to that of optical toys. “Demenÿ, popularizing the experiments of Marey’s laboratory, had shown for the first time the animated portrait of a man saying: Long live France! or I love you!, a year before the similar chronophotographic projections added to his zoopraxiscope by Muybridge. This revelation of a split-second animated close-up was a revelation the importance of which Edison himself underlined. late in the face of the advances of the other inventors and two months after the first public projection of the Lumière brothers on screen, that he suitably adapts the new chronophotographic camera, patented e on October 10, 1893, which he had had to develop for lack of being able to use his previous patents filed by Marey, to then finalize the projection version only during the first half of 1896 .

One of the greatest collectors of films and cinema equipment, James Card, the American Henri Langlois (creator of the French Cinematheque), who created in 1948, in the luxurious and huge (50 rooms) house of George Eastman in Rochester, the first cinema museum, believes that the history of cinema should begin in 1880, with the invention of the Zoopraxiscope by Eadweard Muybridge50. The intention is relevant, because it is true that without the scientific work of Faraday, Marey and Muybridge, without forgetting William George Horner, they are not industrialists, as gifted and curious as Thomas were. Edison and the Lumière brothers, or a draughtsman as clever and talented as Émile Reynaud, who would have allowed the blossoming in the human mind of a scientific idea worthy of a madman: record the movement of life, and reproduce it at will.

But it is hard to forget the reasons that prompted both Muybridge and Marey to divulge the results of their experiments to the general public, which were to teach new knowledge or to correct false knowledge. It should be remembered that “chronophotography (from the Greek kronos, time, photos, light, and graphein, to record), brings together laboratory work that aims to suspend time to analyze the movement of living subjects, human beings or animals, of what Marey calls with a magnificent term, “the animal machine”. But the adepts of chronophotography do not seek the spectacular, only scientific experience counts for them. scientifique, même si l’invention du Zoopraxiscope et sa commercialisation en direction du grand public peuvent apparaître effectivement comme un premier pas vers ce spectacle. En raccourci, c’est ce que fait de nos jours la Cité des sciences à Paris, elle est une organisatrice de spectacles et d’expositions, certes, mais son but n’est pas le spectacle, il est la sensibilisation et l’initiation du public à la recherche scientifique.

Pourtant, de l’aveu même de Thomas Edison52, ce sont les expérimentations de chronophotographie de Muybridge et de Marey, ainsi que le Zootrope de William George Horner, qui lui ont inspiré les recherches dont le terme sera l’invention du Kinétographe et l’enregistrement des premiers films du cinéma.

Dans les années 1880, partout dans le monde, de nombreux chercheurs travaillent à mettre au point un système permettant l’enregistrement du mouvement sur un support argentique, et sa restitution. Leurs motivations sont avant tout commerciales, celui qui trouvera la machine adéquate verra sa fortune et sa gloire assurées.

Le Français Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince fabrique un appareil et en dépose le brevet en 1887. C’est une variante inversée du fusil photographique de Marey, produisant par rafale une série de 16 photographies prises par 16 objectifs dont l’ouverture se fait l’un après l’autre, devant autant de plaques de verre enduite d’émulsion photosensible. Il remplace par la suite les plaques, trop lourdes, par un ruban de papier enduit d’une substance photosensible (quelques années plus tard, Edison et les frères Lumière utiliseront aussi le papier pour leurs premières expérimentations) et il fabrique ensuite un prototype d’appareil de prise de vues à un seul objectif, le Mark2, avec un déplacement du ruban photo après photo. Fin 1888, Le Prince réussit plusieurs essais sur papier, dont Le Pont de Leeds et Une scène au jardin de Roundhay (qui sont des titres qu’il n’a pas donnés lui-même et qui sont apparus cinquante ans plus tard dans un souci de classement), mais il n’arrive pas à les projeter, ni même à les visionner en mouvement, elles restent une série de photographies, semblables aux résultats de la chronophotographie, et même en deçà , puisque Muybridge est capable, lui, de boucler le cycle « enregistrement-reproduction » avec son Zoopraxiscope, et cela, dès 1880. Ainsi, l’expérimentation de Le Prince tourne court. Bien sûr, il fait breveter en France son appareil à objectif unique, le Mark2, qui est sans doute la première vraie caméra de cinéma, mais le dépôt d’un brevet n’est pas un garant de la finalité d’une invention, et donc de sa réalité concrète, et ce qui est certain, c’est que Le Prince n’a pas breveté d’appareil de visionnement.

Cependant, on peut supposer que si le chercheur n’avait pas disparu mystérieusement corps et âme en 1890 après être monté dans un train Dijon-Paris, il aurait poursuivi ses recherches et aurait bénéficié, comme Thomas Edison et plus tard les frères Lumière, du support souple transparent de John Carbutt, mais le sort en avait décidé autrement.

Les essais de Le Prince ont été reportés en 1930 sur du film souple 35 mm, alors que le cinéma était déjà adulte et en plein essor, et Une scène au jardin de Roundhay, par exemple, peut être visionnée depuis comme une curiosité du pré-cinéma, mais Louis Aimé Le Prince n’a jamais eu l’occasion de la regarder en mouvement. Primo : les bandes en papier sont très fragiles, et si elles réussissent à résister au passage unique dans un appareil de prise de vue, en revanche elles ne sauraient résister aux visionnements répétés. Secundo : les bandes en papier ne sont pas assez transparentes pour permettre une projection, même de qualitÃ

how did they edit movies before computers


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