In the 18th century, filmmakers had developed a process of screening motion images through a magic lantern, which acted as a light source and a projector. During this period, huge milestones were made where shadow play was a common film practice that allowed filmmakers to showcase actions by focusing on the characters’ shadows. In the early 1800s, different professionals were involved in developing a color illusion, which allowed filmmakers to focus on the immediate surroundings when portraying characters in their movies. During this period, cinematographic presentations were among the film milestones that dictated the approaches that subsequent generations would use to advance technologies to produce films. Towards the end of the 19th century, the first projected movie was showcased, allowing individuals to watch projected films that lasted long.
Before the realization of projected motion pictures, previous attempts led to the development of inconsistent films unsynchronized. Even though they still attracted public audiences, individuals watched the movie due to the absence of alternatives. Subsequent film production attempts saw the development of advanced technologies and innovations such as the mutoscope, which allowed one person to view the rolling motion picture before projecting it to the audience. In 1912, D.W. Griffith produced The Musketeers of Pig Alley, where the follow focus technique was used (Gunning, 2018). Unlike other films, the follow focus concept allowed the producer to operate the camera manually and focus on specific objects, making the outcome enjoyable to the audience. Unlike autofocus systems that can switch to other undesired objects, the follow focus system of operation ensured that camera operators would focus on specific items that advance the film’s thematic concern.
In 1898, filmmakers observed the importance of editing to enhance continuity and allow the audience to relate with the central thematic concerns expressed in the film. Initially, editing was only used to introduce new scenes and guide the viewers through a process of comprehending the vital thematic concerns associated with the film. By using editing to enhance film continuity, individuals began embracing films as a tool to communicate ideas because of the smooth flow that provokes viewers’ thought process. Likewise, the first expansive development of continuity technique allowed filmmakers to categorize scenes into a sequence that told a story, which people could follow. Importantly, discontinuity brought a different perspective towards film development where editors could incorporate non-related scenes to distract the viewer from the desired continuity. Techniques such as regular jump cuts, eyeline matches, and the camera’s circling were introduced to promote discontinuity throughout the film.
Griffith, in The Lonedale Operator, developed a unique director’s style that allowed the audience to recognize his films. Given that early cinema did not have a credits segment, many people realized Griffith’s camera movements and other assorted techniques that differentiated his movies. In this film, Griffith introduced three scenes where he exposed the audience to an enabling environment to interact with the characters and connect with their emotional perspectives (McEwan, 2018). He used a close-up to capture a wrench that the girl had pretended to be a gun, giving the audience an advantage over the film’s characters. It is worth noting that close-ups in movies were uncommon and provided Griffith with an edge over other filmmakers in the industry.
Gunning, T. (2018). DW Griffith and the Primal Scene. A Companion to DW Griffith, 137.
McEwan, P. (2018). The Legacy of Intolerance. A Companion to 533.