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The First Cinemas

On December 28, 1895, the Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, unveiled their Cinématographe for the first time to the public. Paris was filled with the buzz and excitement about the event because up until now it had only been shown at private screenings.

Almost everyone had heard about Thomas Edison’s peephole Kinetoscope that showed motion but to only one viewer at a time. It was rumoured that the day’s event at the Grand Cafe would surpass anything ever seen! Once the audience settled, they thrilled to eight short films that featured episodes of French life projected onto a screen that everyone could view together at the same time.

The Lumière brothers were no novices to the picture business. France had already begun to see filmmakers entering the country to make films more cheaply. The equipment used to produce these motion attractions were bulky and required studios to be built around them. The Lumières had not only re-envisioned motion picture making but had also re-worked the equipment that a filmmaker required. The camera-projector was lightweight, portable, and hand-cranked. It took sequential frames and projected them at a much slower rate of speed, 16 frames per second, which meant money savings in film used. They had taken out patents in France and in England before the great public showing on this day. They were ready to roll. In the next few months, they had opened cinema theatres in New York, Berlin, London, and Brussels.

Within five years, the Lumière brothers had produced the first newsreel. They were projecting sharp, clear film onto a screen 30 m (99 ft) x 24 m (79 ft), distributing films for filmmakers, and planning to simplify and specialize in the design, manufacture, and sale of their own equipment.

An animated detail of the Lumière Cinématographe – camera, projection, and film:

B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage