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G. Lola Worthington

(Alva)

(b Milan, OH, Feb 11, 1847; d West Orange, NJ, Oct 18, 1931).

American inventor, entrepreneur, film producer and businessman. Edison invented numerous electrically based technologies. His father, Samuel Edison (1804–96), and mother, Nancy Matthews Elliot (1810–71), lived very modestly. Home schooled after he performed poorly in school, his formal educational experience lasted only three months. A shrewd businessman his instinctive abilities combined with his innovative inventions furthered his extensive research. He famously “invented” the first practical incandescent light bulb. Nicknamed the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” he established the first large American industrial research laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ.

Credited with developing predominant technical designs and electrically powered mechanisms for numerous devices, his inventions were instrumental toward the arts. Some principal imaginative, mechanical creations are the phonograph, electrically powered generators, individual home electricity, motion picture cameras and audio recordings. Edison patented his first motion picture camera, the “kinetograph,” and began his foray into film. In 1891 his kinetoscope, which allowed individuals to view short films through a peephole at the top of a cabinet, became highly lucrative. In ...

Article

Jeffrey Martin

Medium on which a series of photographic images are recorded on a flexible plastic base in order to produce the illusion of movement when reproduced by projection through a lens or other means. Although ‘film’ has been used by the general public as a catch-all term for any moving image medium, it actually refers specifically to photochemical reproduction.

Three different types of film base have been used in motion picture production. The first, cellulose nitrate, was used from the time it was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1889, through the early 1950s. Cellulose nitrate was durable, withstood repeated projection, and provided a high-quality image. It was also extremely flammable, requiring careful handling in shipping and storage, and the construction of special fireproof projection booths in theatres. It is always identified by the words ‘Nitrate film’ along one edge. Cellulose acetate film was first made available commercially in 1909, but was inferior in strength to nitrate film, and was not widely adopted for theatrical use. It was, however, used exclusively in smaller-gauge film for home and amateur use by the 1920s. In ...