Stories of innovation: The cinematograph

Stories of innovation: The cinematograph

What: The Cinematograph

Who: The Lumière Brothers (Louis and Auguste)

When: 1894

The cinematograph story: During the late 19th century, when photography was becoming more accessible than ever, a man named Muybridge wanted to settle a bet about horses. To prove that they do lift all four legs off the ground at times while running, he rigged a series of cameras together to take several pictures of a horse in motion.

Around the same time, Edison had just invented the phonograph, and wanted to set pictures to the music. He assigned a colleague WKL Dickson to the task and the kinetoscope was born.

But it was really the Lumière brothers who took this technology to the next level, patenting the cinematograph; a camera and projector combined. The term cinematograph had already been coined by a man named Léon Bouly but due to lack of finances he was unable to hold onto the patent. So it was the Lumière brothers who introduced large audiences to the motion picture – in contrast to Edison’s kinetoscope, which was more of a peep show. They went on to create the first films in cinema history, including Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory. (Watch all their early films here.)

Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory

Impact and legacy: The creation of the cinematograph was a crucial step during a time of explosive experimentation that started more than a century of developments in the world of motion pictures. Whether its five hours of a man sleeping, courtesy of Andy Warhol, James Cameron’s 3D smurfs or Tourism New Zealand’s The Hobbit, we’ve got the cinematograph (and photography) to thank for the countless hours of movie entertainment we enjoy today.

Do you have an innovation, invention or clever idea that needs an audience? Tell your story by entering the 2013 New Zealand Innovation Awards here and get the opportunity to take it to the world.