The Lumiere Brothers: Crash Course Film History #3

The Lumiere Brothers: Crash Course Film History #3


Hi. I’m the internet’s Craig. This is Crash Course Film History. Based on what you’ve probably heard, or
read, or… what I told you last time, you’re probably under the impression that the development
of modern film technology is all thanks to famous inventor Thomas Edison,
and his less-than-famous employee, William Dickson. You’re wrong. I can’t believe how wrong you are. Together, these guys developed two of the first commercially-viable film technologies:
the kinetograph – basically a camera – and the kinetoscope – a single-viewer exhibition
device that you use to watch kinetograph films. But guess what? As was often the case with Edison, a lot of
the credit that’s given to him also belongs to a great many other people. …not me. While Edison and Dickson were setting out
to make moving pictures in New Jersey, lots of other inventors were tinkering with film
technology across the world. In Lyon, France, a pair of brothers saw the
kinetograph and kinetoscope – and said, “We can do better than that!” And they did. Within two years, they invented a lightweight,
all-in-one motion picture device that made movies and exhibited them. They figured out a way to use the camera mechanism
to play back the developed roll of film, projecting bright light through it to show images. Films could be projected on an entire wall
or screen, letting audiences of people experience films, together… It’ll never work. By sheer coincidence – or maybe fate – their
surname means “light.” Say hello to the Lumière Brothers and the
first projected films. [Intro Music Plays] Auguste and Louis Lumière were born in the 1860s in eastern France. In 1870, their father moved the family to
Lyon and opened a small factory that made photographic plates. The family business, like all my businesses, teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, until the brothers took over. They devised machines to help automate the
plant, and invented a new and improved photo plate. By the time they started experimenting with
film technology, the Lumière Brothers had lots of experience in business, engineering,
manufacturing, and photography. They were intrigued by Edison’s motion picture
devices, but quickly saw the flaws: the camera was hard to move, and only one person could
watch a film at a time. So they went back to the basics, and made
a better camera. Remember the intermittent stop-and-go mechanism
– how motion picture cameras need to stop the film long enough to expose one frame to
light, before moving the roll to the next frame? Well, the Lumière Brothers developed a device
around the stop-and-go mechanisms used in sewing machines. They weren’t the only ones tinkering with
this engineering problem, though. Inventors were working independently all over
Europe and the United States, putting the pieces together that will one day become cinema. By 1897, the German optician-turned-film pioneer
Oskar Messter perfected his design for the stop-and-go mechanism, called
the Maltese Cross – named after the medal with the same shape. It’s also called the Geneva Drive, because
it was first invented in Geneva, Switzerland for use in mechanical watches. Messter’s device has really stood the test
of time: we still use a version of it in most projectors today. But, back to the Lumières and their motion
picture camera. Transition PUNCH! Their whole contraption was a compact, portable
box. It was light enough for one person to carry. The camera was operated by a hand crank, so
it didn’t rely on an electric power source. It used the same 35 millimeter film as Edison’s
kinetograph, but it could also develop the film that it shot – no more sending film
off to a lab and waiting for the mail. …I hate waiting for the mail. But, that’s not all, once the film
had been developed, the Lumière device could be reconfigured into a projection machine. So many things in one. It’s so… aw it’s just good. They could run the developed film back through
the intermittent stop-and-go mechanism, and, with a bright light source, the images would
project onto a wall or a screen. This device could do it all. You could carry it with you out into the world,
capture footage, develop the film, and then project it, any time, anywhere, any way you
wanted. Don’t do it vertical though… commentors hate that. Compared to the kinetograph and kinetoscope,
it was kind of like the technological leap from an old school flip phone to a smartphone. The Lumière Brothers wanted to call their
invention the “cinématographe,” which means “writing with movement.” Like Edison, the Lumière Brothers were savvy
businessmen, and secured international patents on all their technology. Doing Edison one better, they saw a lot of
potential in having large, public film screenings. Before the public unveiling of their cinématographe,
they held a series of private parties where they projected films for groups of distinguished
guests, stoking interest and excitement. And then in Paris, on December 28th, 1895,
at the Salon Indien in the basement of the Grand Café, Auguste and Louis Lumière screened
a series of ten short films and changed the world forever. Now, I should mention that this wasn’t technically
the first public screening of a motion picture. That honor, as far as we know, goes to Woodville
Latham, an American chemist and kinetoscope owner, who projected a film of a boxing match
in New York in May, 1895. What set the Lumière Brothers apart was that
they played up the intrigue of their device and gained publicity, plus their superior
image quality and the sheer number of films they presented. This is the movie business, after all, and
hype almost always wins. So the credit for first successful public
screening typically goes to Auguste and Louis Lumière. Sorry, Latham. Better luck next time. Maybe go back to chemistry. Among the films the Lumière Brothers screened
that night was “The Train Arrives at La Ciotat Station.” In the film, a train – you guessed it – arrives
at a station. Kinda spoiled it with the title. In a single, uninterrupted shot, it comes
toward the camera, stops, and the passengers disembark. Legend has it that when the first audience
saw this movie projected on the wall, it was so unfamiliar and realistic that they ran
screaming from the theater, fearing for their lives. In recent years, historians have thrown cold
water on this story for a couple reasons. First, seeing images projected onto walls
wouldn’t have been a new experience for a lot of Parisians. Some version of the magic lantern projection
device had been used for education and entertainment since the 17th century, employing a light
source and a lens to project images or paintings from glass plates up onto a wall. Not to mention, most of the Lumière audience
would probably have been aware of kinetoscope films. So chances are no one actually thought a
train was about to drive through the wall and run them all down. More likely, the audience might have shrieked
in delight at the size and clarity of the images projected, and at the sheer magic of
seeing these pictures come to life. Remember, film presents us with the illusion
of reality. And like any good magic trick or optical illusion,
part of the thrill is knowing that what you’re seeing isn’t real, but not being able to
tell how the magician pulled it off. The story of the screaming audience in the
Grand Café also reveals the power film has to create a communal experience. While the technical wizardry of their cinématographe
was groundbreaking, the unique group psychology of movie-going may have been the Lumières’
greatest contribution to film history. When you’re in an audience watching a film,
you’re having a specific, personal experience, but you’re also part of a pop-up community. … and sometimes that community has a has a bunch of kids who won’t be quiet and you’re trying to watch Batman vs. Superman! Think back to the last hysterical comedy you saw in a movie theater, and then tried to
watch again by yourself at home. It’s not the same, is it? Film is this unique artistic medium that can
take on different meanings depending when, where, and with whom you’re watching it. Now, the Lumière Brothers’ films all shared
a few characteristics. They were silent, black-and-white, and uninterrupted
shots that lasted less than a minute – much like the films out of Edison’s Black Maria. But rather than capturing stage performers
and skits, the Lumière films were mini-documentaries, known as “actualités.” They focused on slices of everyday life: two
babies fighting over lunch, a group of workers leaving a factory at the end of the day, and,
of course, trains arriving at stations. These films were financially successful right
out of the gate. The Lumière Brothers’ first screening brought
in 35 francs, at 1 franc per person. And within a month, they were making 7,000
francs per week. that’s… *counting* 7,000 people! Meanwhile, other inventors were making cinématographe-like devices with cool names like the Bioskop and the Theatrograph. Some were directly inspired by the Lumière
Brothers, while others were independent. Thomas Edison saw the financial success the
Lumière Brothers were having and wanted a very big piece of that action – abandoning
the kinetoscope to jump into theatrical projection. Edison and other inventors also began experimenting
with longer films. BORING! But there was a big problem: these longer
film strips kept tearing inside the projector. Enter Woodville Latham. Remember him? The guy who really held the first public
projection of a movie? He held the patent for the Latham Loop, a
different way to feed film into a projector, which involved a pair of small, loose loops
of film – one above and one below the projector’s lens – held in place with extra sprockets. This helped protect the film from vibrations
and tension, which could lead to damage. In 1895, another pair of early film pioneers,
C. Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat, used the Latham Loop in a projector of their own
design and called it the Vitascope. Edison saw this device, bought it outright,
and released it as the “Edison Vitascope,” giving the original inventors almost no credit…
‘cause that’s how Thomas Edison rolled. Throughout all this experimentation, most
people thought of films as a fad that would burn brightly for a few years, and then disappear
– like arsenic as medicine, séances, or Victorian “tear catchers.” Even the Lumière Brothers got out of the
movie business in 1905, because they didn’t see a future for film. Good idea! And it’s true, 50-second Vaudeville performances
and actualités will only entertain audiences for so long. But film was growing into something bigger
– a method of mass communication that was starting to make itself indispensable. As time went on, filmmakers would take cinématographes
to far-flung places, capturing movies of the Amazon Basin, the pyramids at Giza, and the
ruins of Ancient Rome. Suddenly, you could walk into a theater in
Peoria, Illinois and see Sherpas climbing the Himalayas. … Without drugs! In some ways, these kinds of films knit the
world closer together, showing people sights they’d never experience in real life. You can even compare film history to the early
days of YouTube. Sure, we started with Jawed at the zoo, and
cat videos, and kids on dental anesthesia. But that was just scratching the surface of
a medium that has let us create so many weird, wonderful, and important things, and has changed
the way we see ourselves and the world around us. Today, we introduced you to the Lumière Brothers
and their cinématographe, the all-in-one camera, film developing lab, and projector. We learned about the first big public film
screenings, and how people were beginning to have collective movie-going experiences,
as well as very personal ones. We discussed actualités, the snapshots of
everyday life, and how some filmmakers were beginning to push the envelope, exploring
the world and making longer movies. And next time, we’ll talk about the very
first films to tell stories, using editing and special effects to manipulate reality
in exciting new ways. Crash Course Film History is produced in association
with PBS Digital Studios. You can head over to their channel to check
out a playlist of their latest amazing shows, like PBS Infinite Series, The Art Assignment,
and Brain Craft. This episode of Crash Course was filmed in
the Doctor Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio with the help of these nice actualites and our
amazing graphics team, is Thought Cafe.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I love crash course, but for the love of all things good can you guys please fix your editing? Jumpcuts are so fast between each sentence so the video is just one continuous stream of prose with no pauses between sentences. Makes videos much harder to sit through, and was particularly bad on the physics series. Just leave a bit more of a natural pause between sentences and videos would flow at a much better pace.

  2. My favorite thing is the way we went from black and white to color film. One lens goes to a beam splitter that is reflected through differently colored lenses. one is red, one is blue, and one is green, Then each of those filtered splits each goes to a separate film, and is developed separately, Then Rather than being finished as black and white, they are finished as white and tint, of red, green, and blue, and are layered together, resulting in color images. Later this would be done with different emulsions that develop with different specific frequencies of light, and in different colors. the first method I described is Technicolor, and the second is how Polaroids work. Of course now almost everything is digital and we just have grids of sensors that detect specific frequencies of light and cluster them together into pixels, which somehow just isn't as cool.

  3. La ventaja de ver las películas en México o en otro país de lengua diferente al inglés donde exhibieron Batman v Superman es que en las salas no había niños porque no pueden leer los subtítulos.

  4. I just wanted to say that I'm loving Crash Course Film History! Film is a vital part of our culture and absolutely worthy of the Crash Course History treatment. Plus, more importantly, it gets you back to punching eagles.

    …No really, I love Film History! I'm excited for the early days of silent film and Hollywood coming up in the next few episodes!

  5. I love modern cinema! about ancient books: I don't know if this can ever happen, but imagine a world where muslims in arab countries would not kill atheists or disbelievers who refuse to
    pay djiya (disbeliever-tax), wouldn't that be better? I wouldn't tell
    you to preach against muslims, but what would you do if someone defended
    the Quran and its implications for disbelievers?

  6. The alternate explanation of the train reaction makes sense. I tried to explain it to my brother once and realized how silly it was.
    Me: It was so unfamiliar that they thought it was real and they were in danger
    Him: Were they stupid?

  7. For a Crash Course in the topic Literature/English, please could you make a video all about the following topics please

    *An inspector Calls by J.B Priestley
    *Mother Courage by Brecht
    *The Playwright Brecht
    *The Playwright Artuad
    *Woyzeck
    *A Christmas Carol
    *The Handmaidens Tale
    *Harry Potter-Why Is It A Success?
    *The Hunger Games- What Do The Many Symbol's Mean?
    *Jekyll and Hyde book
    *Shakespeare Twelfth Night
    *Shakespeare A Mid-Summer's Night Dream
    *Shakespeare's The Tempest

    It would really be helpful for school and upcoming exams.
    Thank you 🙂

  8. Something that I love about this series is that it has given made me more confident in my opinions of games. Film was once viewed as a shallow fad like video games often are. Someday though, I'm positive that the general public will have a much higher view of them.

  9. What is the deal with spending 30 seconds on "What we learned today"? Don't think we can remember 8 minutes ago?

  10. The only problem with all crash course, films, history, etc. They always speak so fast, that is hard to comprehend.

  11. I'm pretty sure the cinématographe couldn't develop films, they had to send out back to Lyon for development, which partly explains why they didn't win the films war in the US because they had to wait a few month to show pictures

  12. thx for this awesomely ha bisky vid i love this way better then being in a classroom i just get to learn while i am half asleep in my bedroom

  13. I reallyyyyu wish I could go back in time and show some marvel movie to scientists in the 40s just to get a reaction

  14. Not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand I'm very disappointed that the German Skladonowsky brothers's Bioscop only gets such a small mention when it was a huge step forward in film technology and they held the first commercial public screenings of Europe in Berlin one month before the brothers Lumière, spawning the world's first commercial film theater (the oldest continuously running movie theater "Pionier 1907" can still be found in former Germany, now Poland).
    On the other hand, however, their invention was far inferior to the Lumière's Cinématographe and in the end they couldn't compete because of a lack of financial means and entrepreneurship to improve and market their Bioscop projector.
    I guess around this time there were so many inventions by so many people and everyone wanted to be the first guy to have invented this awesome piece of technology that you can't really tell who really made the most important invention that spawned cinema as we know it today. Everyone somehow played an important role in the rise of movies and film theaters.
    And it makes kinda sense that everyone is a little biased around that topic, so I can see why you would mention tons of "Americans" instead of all the other French, German, English and Scottish (yes, Dickson was a Scotsman after all) inventors of that time who made crucial contributions to the surge of the film industry at that time. But it's kinda nice to know how they all got inspired by each other to improve their inventions and to take the next step forward.
    So in the end we should just be happy about that the movie camera and projector were invented and that they could all improve their technologies simultaneously without suing each other like crazy (like Samsung and Apple did e.g.).

    Fun fact: The German word for movie theater (Kino) is directly derived from an abbreviation of the French Cinématographe (in Romanian a movie theater is still formally called "cinematograf") and the Dutch word "bioscoop" [and derived from Dutch: Indonesian (bioskop), Javanese (biyoskup), Sundanese (bioskop)], the Serbian word (Биоскоп) and the Croatian word (bioskop) for movie theater are all directly derived from the German Bioscop. I love how one can see how cultures influence each other just by looking at a word~

  15. So far this series has been really american biased. The early history of cinema is more complex and involve people of several countries. U basically gave a large amount of credit to Edison and scratched everybody else. Fun and easy going videos, but they cant be taken as a serious guide to movie history

  16. I find it hard to believe that the Lumiere Brothers actually developed film in their camera, as stated in the video. Developing film in the camera would have required pouring corrosive development chemicals into a camera body made of wood and filled with oiled gears made of metal. It's much more likely that the camera was used as a printer to expose developed negatives to unexposed film stock in order to create a positive print for projection. This was called an all-in-one camera, because it was used to take film., then it was used as a film printer by re-exposing the negative to make a positive print, and finally it was used to project film by attaching a separate light source. But, when it comes to developing the film, it's much more likely that this was carried out in the normal way, by using vats of chemicals in a dark room, not in the camera. I think the video is misleading, it should have said the camera could also be used as a film printer, not to develop the film.

  17. You will probably never see this comment but notice that somehere in a little town in south of France youre video is use by an english teacher to introduce me and my classmate to origin of cinema By the way it was great Have
    a nice day to people who will read that ^^

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