Filmmaking is one of the most artistic and creative fields. It thrives on constant innovations that have taken the art forward. Irrespective of past filmmakers or the new age contemporary ones, they have all strived to make filmmaking better. Things that are simple for us today posed a quandary once upon a time. Numerous innovations have made filmmaking what it is today. From 1895, when Louise Lumiere gave us the first motion picture camera till date, here are the top five innovations in filmmaking.
Mounting the camera on wheels is no big deal nowadays, but decades ago, during the early years of filmmaking, the camera was stuck in one spot. Segundo de Chomón invented the camera dolly in 1907, thus changing the whole scenario. The camera dolly that is still seen used is quite similar to the early ones, heavy and stable. To take a smooth shot, the key is the weight of the unit and the surface that the dolly rides on. A track, much like a railroad track, is necessary to get smooth tracking shots. Modern dollies are heavy sleds on four wheels that can move in a direction, with a hydraulic lift system for the camera. The cameraman rides on a seat attached to the dolly, and the whole unit is pushed with great accuracy using a dolly. A movie shot of a couple walking down the street is possible because of the metal track laid on the ground beside them.
In the early years, filmmakers pondered on how to make a hand-held shot appear smooth and fluid instead of shaky. Otherwise, the only way to move a camera was either by mounting it on a dolly or by holding it over your shoulder. Cameraman and innovator Garret Brown was frantically searching for a technology that would allow for the smoothness of a dolly, with the freedom of the hand-held technique. Through a lot of trial and error, Garret found the solution. In 1975, he invented a system that used weight distribution and a rotation gimbal to smooth out hand-held shots. The new phenomena called Steadicam required the operator to wear a vest similar to a bullet-proof vest and the camera on the front. Using the gimbal, the camera is mounted onto a flexible ‘iso-elastic’ arm which is attached to the vest. A counterweight distributes the weight of the camera, and then the miracle happens. A smooth steady shoot was taken.
Instead of being invented on a film set, Computer Generated Imaging was invented in a research lab. The early imaging technology was adopted by special effects teams in the early 70s, leading us to the CGI effects of today’s time. The sci-fi western ‘Westworld’ is credited with being the first movie to make use of 2D CGI. That film opened the door for movies like ‘Tron’ and ‘Young Sherlock Holmes’. James Cameron and Steven Spielberg took this ahead with seminal films such as ‘The Terminator’, Jurassic Park’, and ‘Toy Story’.
Sony in the late 1980s introduced digital camera technology on a small scale; it soon had a major impact. In 1995, the Fox broadcast network first used a digital camera for a mainstream television production for the show called ‘Pasadena’. A little slower Major Hollywood films eventually adopted this technology. Director George Lucas was the first to shoot a major motion picture with a digital camera- 2002’s ‘Star Wars Episode ll: Attack of the Clones.’
Stereoscopic Imaging (3-D)
Sony in the late 1980s introduced digital camera technology on a small scale; it soon had a major impact. In 1995, the Fox broadcast network first used a digital camera for a mainstream television production for the show called ‘Pasadena’. Eventually, major Hollywood films adopted this technology too. Director George Lucas was the first to shoot a major motion picture with a digital camera- 2002’s ‘Star Wars Episode ll: Attack of the Clones.’