DK Science: Cinema

In a cinema movie, many still photographs are projected onto a screen in quick succession. Our eyes do not see them as separate still photographs, but blend them into a single moving image. Early movies had black and white pictures and little or no sound. Modern movies are colourful, have realistic sound, and use DIGITAL EFFECTS.


The first “movies” were little more than mechanical toys. The phenakistoscope, invented in 1832, has a series of still pictures printed around the surface of a large cardboard disc. Each picture depicts one stage of a continuous movement. When you spin the disc quite fast and stare at a single point, the pictures merge together and give the illusion of movement.


Filming is an expensive process, so it is usually planned in advance. After writers provide a story, artists sketch the scenes that need to be filmed on a storyboard. The director (who is responsible for the overall look of a movie) uses this to work out how to arrange cameras, lighting, and other equipment.


Movie sound is usually recorded at the same time as the filming. The sound may need to be edited in a recording studio like this one. The sound editor’s job is to make sure the sound is exactly in step with the pictures. He or she is also responsible for adding music (called the score) to the movie.


Movie action can be very dramatic and exciting when seen on the gigantic screen of an IMAX cinema. The screen is so big that it completely fills your field of view (what you can see), and you easily forget the people and other things around you. That is why you feel so affected by the action on the screen.


A movie camera works in much the same way as a still camera and has many of the same components. Instead of taking only one photograph, it takes 24 separate photographs each second. A motor inside the camera works a mechanism that pulls film past the lens from a large spool. Small, square holes punched along the edges of the film ensure that the film is pulled through steadily and at exactly the right speed.


Cinema, as we call it today, was invented by the French brothers Auguste (1862–1954) and Louis (1862–1948) Lumière. They developed the first practical film projector, a machine they called the cinèmatographe, in 1895. Also in that year, they made the first ever motion picture and opened the first cinema to show movies.


Computers can be used when movies require dazzling special effects that would be impossible to create in real life. The effects are called digital because they are created with digital technology. Movies that need digital effects are turned into a series of digital photographs. Once in digital form, they can be edited, mixed with animation, and changed in other ways.

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley