Although my knowledge of early cinematic history is sparse, I think it’s safe to say that moving pictures, in a general sense, weren’t new in 1907. Early experiments with moving images date back to the ‘magic lanterns’ of the 17th and 18th centuries, but really began to pick up steam with the development of several key technologies in the 19th century. These include the lightbulb (for projection), celluloid (for film stock), photography (for images), and intermittent machinery (for moving the image).
That last bit of technology is particularly fascinating to me. From earlycinema.com:
[In 1894] The Cinématographe uses flexible film cut into 35mm wide strips and used an intermittent mechanism modeled on the sewing machine.
The mechanical relationship between the sewing machine and the motion picture has an interesting metaphorical quality to it. The machine drives the needle to stitch together disparate pieces of fabric much like the individual frames are ‘stitched’ together into a persistent moving image. Editing / projection is needlework in its basest mechanical sense. Of course, the advent of digital editing has changed this metaphor somewhat, but the mechanical relationship is intriguing nonetheless.
Some further reading at filmsite.org reveals that many of the established conventions for cinema were already beginning to develop before 1907. To name just a few: special effects (see A Trip to the Moon), non-chronological shooting, film editing, on-location shooting (see The Great Train Robbery), movie ‘stars’, production studios, and even the notion that movies could be commercially viable.
All in all, this is just a bit of rudimentary prep work for the first few films, and both sites I mentioned provide some much-needed historical background for the project. Check ’em out.
Also, according to Blockbuster, I should get my first DVDs either today or tomorrow.