History of Filmmaking: The Major Developments Throughout The Years

History of Filmmaking: The Major Developments Throughout The Years
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The history of filmmaking goes as far back as the 1860’s when optical devices like magic lanterns were used to display images in rapid sequence, giving the illusion of motion. Through the last hundred years or so, filmmaking has evolved from simple moving drawn pictures to colored moving images of the real world with music and sound. Let’s take a trip through the history of filmmaking, shall we?


The birth of filmmaking can be attributed to the basic principles of animation where several static drawn images with subtle differences are displayed in rapid succession to give viewers the illusion of movement. Projection devices were used in the late 1800’s to give audiences this kind of entertainment. With carefully designed drawings, motion projection devices slowly evolved into a medium that provides constant fluid motion, often showing a narrative.

Moving Picture Shows

As the 1800’s drew to a close, photography played a major role in filmmaking. Filmmakers started using photos of the real world with the same projection technique. The silent era of moving picture shows has begun, and the term “movies” was born. As more and more movies were created in the beginning of the 1900’s, filmmakers decided to introduce narration to accompany the moving pictures which was at the time a purely visual form of art. Commentators were hired by film presenters and they provided narration to the movie’s story, often filling in dialogue between characters in the moving pictures. As the years passed in the early 1900’s, subtitles were introduced to movies, making voice commentators irrelevant. The commentators were usually replaced by pianists and musicians within the theaters to provide background music to the moving pictures.

Music and Sound

Musicians inside theaters provided mood to the moving pictures. Eventually, music was fully integrated into movies without the use of live musicians. The developments in technology in the mid 1900’s made it possible for filmmakers to add soundtracks that are synchronized with the moving pictures. Talking pictures, or “talkies”, were born. Pretty soon, people who specialize in providing soundtracks and speech to moving pictures emerged. Paving the way for a smoother and more fluid marriage between moving pictures, music and sound. Eventually, the final major development in filmmaking came into play: color.


With the introduction of color into movies, filmmaking has become a fully visual medium. Movies in color did not quickly take over the entire filmmaking industry as quickly as the introduction of music and sound did. It was gradually used by filmmakers who were just starting to explore the possibilities of moving pictures. Adding color to the equation was a total game changer. This paved the way for more crisp and visually stunning imagery in movies, and by the end of the 1900’s, are already pushing the boundaries of the medium. Black and white movies are no longer the norm. However, movies without colors are still being made, but this is to satisfy some artistic vision by the director and not because of visual or technical preference.