Fiction: Task 2

Film and Television Timeline

Film and Television Timeline

This project requires me to produce a timeline showing the progression of film and television. The historical timeline can be submitted as a written piece or as a short video with a voice over. I chose to submit my timeline as a written piece with illustrations so I could clearly structure it in chronological order.

The origin of film began with the persistence of vision. Persistence of vision is a phenomenon of the eye in which an after image, an image that continues to appear after it actually disappears. For example, when you look at the sun or a bright light and continue to see the glow after you look away. This is believed to persist for one twenty-fifth of a second on the human retina. This phenomenon founded the idea of the moving image, it was determined in the early days of film that a frame rate of 16 frames per second allowed the human brain to perceive motion, however motion is still perceive at a frame rate as low as 10 per second, this is well demonstrated by flipbooks which were one of the earliest inventions that showed apparent motion through lots of still pictures.

The first piece of film is widely recognised as Eadweard Muybridge’s galloping horse. In 1872 the governor of California, Leand Stanford hired Mr Muybridge, an English photographer living in San Francisco, to settle a $25,000 wager. Stanford stated that during a horse’s full speed run, the horse takes all four legs off the ground, as this was to difficult to see with the naked eye, Eadweard Muybridge was brought in to photograph a horse. Muybridge set up 25 cameras along a race track, each camera was triggered by a thread that would cause the camera to take a picture as the horse rode by. Upon inspection, Muybridge’s experiment not only proved that the horse does indeed take all four legs off the ground at full speed, but also created the blueprint for the moving image. When all the photographs were shown one after the other, Muybridge noticed that it simulated the illusion of motion, as shown below.



After Muybridge’s accidental discovery became acknowledged, scientists and inventors began researching and developing single cameras that could continuously shoot instead of multiple cameras capturing single images at a time. By 1897, Thomas Edison had developed the Kinetograph, the first camera to ever use 35mm celluloid film, thought to be inspired by Muybridge’s invention of the zoopraxiscope which is considered to be the first ever film projector.

1902 saw the first science fiction film in history when French director Georges Melies created ‘Le Voyage Dans La Lune’ (‘A Trip to the Moon’), a short silent film inspired by Jules Verne’s novels ‘From Earth to the Moon’ and ‘Around the Moon’. The film features a group of astronauts being launched into space by a bullet-shaped capsule in an attempt to explore the moon. Melies is credited as the first filmmaker to use special effects such as slow motion, sounds effects and explosions, as seen in this iconic piece of film:



In 1903, Edwin S Porter created ‘The Great Train Robbery’. This iconic film was the first ever to use cross-cutting in editing to show different things happening simultaneously and this made the film much more visually interesting and was therefore a huge success. The film was chosen to be shown at the opening of the first ever Nickelodeon theatre in 1905.

Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov took inspiration from the likes of Edwin S Porter to create another new editing technique that would later be referred to as ‘The Kuleshov effect’. This video demonstrates how we can depict emotion through certain images. The video features a short clip of a man initially showing little emotion; however when the clip is combined with the image of soup, the man appears hungry. The same clip of the man was shown combined with a child in a coffin and again with a posing woman. When the clip was combined with this series of different images, despite the fact that his facial expression does not actually change, different meanings were deduced, thus proving the effectiveness and power of suggestion in film editing. Many other filmmakers have used this technique since and arrived at the same conclusion, hence it is still commonly used in today’s cinema.


In the 1930’s America was suffering from the great depression period and the films from this decade reflected the hardship that the country was going through. Notable films such as The Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland used themes of escapism and fantasy which allowed the audience to experience a sense of relief, away from the current economical crisis. This was also the decade that is sometimes refereed to as Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’. Film’s like ‘The Jazz Singer’ were taking leaps forward in terms of cinema release, with full length, synchronised dialogue that would influence future productions known as ‘the Talkies’ that would all have fully synchronised dialogue throughout, essentially ending the reign of silent movies. This was a hugely important era for film, not just for the industry but for the public too, films were a great way to escape from harsh times in countries affected by World War I and or with damaged economies.


This decade is now seen as an influential time in film history because this was the time of French New Wave, a bold new form of film making pioneered by French film maker Françis Troufault. This movement came about after Troufault wrote an article about the state of cinema at that time in a French magazine. The aricle, entitled ‘A Certain Tendency in French Cinema’ stated in no uncertain terms that French cinema was dead, lacked creativity and was too scrip lead. Troufault aimed to change things in cinema by filming the exact opposite of what he had criticised. His films had no script, no professional actors, no artificial lights, and no rehearsals and there were no plot-lead stories, thus separating film from any other art forms like stage performances. The most notable film from this era is ‘Breathless’, a 1960 film directed by Jean Luc Goddard about a criminal going on the run after killing a police officer. The techniques that were used in this era are still used in film today, techniques like breaking the fourth wall by looking or talking to the camera can be seen in films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Fight Club.

1960 was the year of arguably the most famous film of all time, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The story follows a female secretary who steals $40,000 from her employer’s client and goes on the run. She checks into a remote motel run by a young man who is controlled by his mother. At the time of release, Psycho really pushed the boundaries of film and what was shown to the audience. The famous scene in which the female character is stabbed in the shower was a shocking, brutal and controversial viewing that was the first of its kind.


1970 saw the introduction of VHS (Video Home System) that allowed people to record live TV from their own homes for the first time ever. This technology also allowed people to buy their favourite films and watch them over and over again. This was game changing for the entire film and television industry, the success of productions could now be measured and enhanced by the release of video tapes.

The 70’s also saw the release of many significant films. The Godfather, The Exorcist, Jaws, Star Wars, Alien, Rocky, Monty Python, Airplane and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are just some of the successful productions that made this decade renowned for new and exciting films for all genres.

The 1980’s continued the rise of Hollywood films. The focus switched from disaster and action movies to teen comedies such as, personal favourites of mine, The Breakfast Club and 16 candles. The films from this decade were influenced by the political and social issues and target audiences.

The 1990’s saw a rise in both independent cinema and studios such as Lions Gate, and the use of CGI technology in films, notably Jurassic Park and Titanic. It also saw a rise in popularity within the home media market, although the introduction of DVDs meant VHS sales dropped dramatically as the DVD was more compact, of better quality and significantly more durable.

In recent years the sales for DVD’s have dropped significantly due to the advancements in technology that allow online streaming of films and TV series through online services like Netflix, NowTV and Amazon Prime.