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Auguste and Louis Lumiere

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The Lumiere (pronounced: [lymje??]) brothers, Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas [o?yst ma?i lwi nikola] (19 October 1862, Besancon, France – 10 April 1954, Lyon) and Louis Jean [lwi ???] (5 October 1864, Besancon, France – 6 June 1948, Bandol), were the first filmmakers in history. They patented the cinematograph, which in contrast to Edisons "peepshow" kinetoscope allowed simultaneous viewing by multiple parties. Their first film, Sortie de lusine Lumiere de Lyon, shot in 1894, is considered the first true motion picture.


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The Lumiere brothers were born in Besancon, France to Claude-Antoine Lumiere and Jeanne Josephine Costille Lumiere. They moved to Lyon in 1870, where both attended La Martiniere, the largest technical school in Lyon. Their father, Claude-Antoine Lumiere (1840–1911), ran a photographic firm where both brothers worked for him: Louis as a physicist and Auguste as a manager. Louis had made some improvements to the still-photograph process, the most notable being the dry-plate process, which was a major step towards moving images.

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It was not until their father retired in 1892 that the brothers began to create moving pictures. They patented a number of significant processes leading up to their film camera, most notably film perforations (originally implemented by Emile Reynaud) as a means of advancing the film through the camera and projector. The original cinematographe had been patented by Leon Guillaume Bouly on 12 February 1892. The brothers patented their own version on 13 February 1895. The first footage ever to be recorded using it was recorded on March 19, 1895. This first film shows workers leaving the Lumiere factory.

First film screenings

The Lumieres held their first private screening of projected motion pictures in 1895. Their first public screening of films at which admission was charged was held on December 28, 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Cafe in Paris. This history-making presentation featured ten short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumiere a Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory). Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds.

It is believed their first film was actually recorded that same year (1895) with Leon Boulys cinematographe device, which was patented the previous year. The cinematographe � a three-in-one device that could record, develop, and project motion pictures � was further developed by the Lumieres.

The public debut at the Grand Cafe came a few months later and consisted of the following ten short films (in order of presentation):

  1. La Sortie de lUsine Lumiere a Lyon (literally, "the exit from the Lumiere factory in Lyon", or, under its more common English title, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory), 46 seconds
  2. Le Jardinier (lArroseur Arrose) ("The Gardener", or "The Sprinkler Sprinkled"), 49 seconds
  3. Le Debarquement du Congres de Photographie a Lyon ("the disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon"), 48 seconds
  4. La Voltige ("Horse Trick Riders"), 46 seconds
  5. La Peche aux poissons rouges ("fishing for goldfish"), 42 seconds
  6. Les Forgerons ("Blacksmiths"), 49 seconds
  7. Repas de bebe ("Babys Breakfast" (lit. "babys meal")), 41 seconds
  8. Le Saut a la couverture ("Jumping Onto the Blanket"), 41 seconds
  9. La Places des Cordeliers a Lyon ("Cordeliers Square in Lyon"�a street scene), 44 seconds
  10. La Mer (Baignade en mer) ("the sea [bathing in the sea]"), 38 seconds

The Lumieres went on tour with the cinematographe in 1896, visiting Brussels (the first place a movie was played outside Paris on the Galleries Saint-Hubert on March 1. 1896), Bombay, London, Montreal, New York and Buenos Aires.

The moving images had an immediate and significant influence on popular culture with LArrivee dun Train en Gare de la Ciotat (literally, "the arrival of a train at La Ciotat", but more commonly known as Arrival of a Train at a Station) and Carmaux, defournage du coke (Drawing out the coke). Their actuality films, or actualites, are often cited as the first, primitive documentaries. They also made the first steps towards comedy film with the slapstick of LArroseur Arrose.

Early color photography

The brothers stated that "the cinema is an invention without any future" and declined to sell their camera to other filmmakers such as Georges Melies. This made many film makers upset. Consequently, their role in the history of film was exceedingly brief. In parallel with their cinema work they experimented with colour photography. They worked on a number of colour photographic processes in the 1890s including the Lippmann process (interference heliochromy) and their own bichromated glue process, a subtractive colour process, examples of which were exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. This last process was commercialised by the Lumieres but commercial success had to wait for their next colour process. In 1903 they patented a colour photographic process, the "Autochrome Lumiere", which was launched on the market in 1907. Throughout much of the 20th century, the Lumiere company was a major producer of photographic products in Europe, but the brand name, Lumiere, disappeared from the marketplace following merger with Ilford. They also invented the color plate which really got photography on the road.

Other early cinematographers

The Lumiere Brothers were not the only ones to claim the title of the first cinematographers. The scientific chronophotography devices developed by Eadweard Muybridge, Etienne-Jules Marey and Ottomar Anschutz in the 1880s were able to produce moving photographs, as was William Friese-Greenes chronophotographic system, demonstrated in 1890, and Thomas Edisons Kinetoscope (developed by W K-L Dickson), premiered in 1891. Since 1892, the projected drawings of Emile Reynauds Theatre Optique were attracting Paris crowds to the Musee Grevin. Louis Le Prince and Claude Mechant had been shooting moving picture sequences on paper film as soon as 1888, but had never performed a public demonstration. Polish inventor, Kazimierz Proszynski had built his camera and projecting device, called Pleograph, in 1894. Max and Emil Skladanowsky, inventors of the Bioscop, had offered projected moving images to a paying public one month earlier (November 1, 1895, in Berlin). Nevertheless, film historians consider the Grand Cafe screening to be the true birth of the cinema as a commercial medium, because the Skladanowsky brothers screening used an extremely impractical dual system motion picture projector that was immediately supplanted by the Lumiere cinematographe.

Although the Lumiere brothers were not the first inventors to develop techniques to create motion pictures, they are often credited as among the first inventors of the technology for Cinema as a mass medium, and are among the first who understood how to use it.


Auguste and Louis Lumiere Wikipedia

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