Posted in astronomy, chemistry, communication and networking, electronic imaging and displays, museum

Science behind the movies

20 interesting tid-bits of knowledge from Discover Magazine:

1  The first celluloid roll film was developed in 1887 by Hannibal Goodwin, an Episcopalian minister from Newark, New Jersey.

2  In 1891 Thomas Edison’s company demonstrated the Kinetograph, the first motion picture camera, but never got around to creating a projector for playback.

3  Instead, the company acquired manufacturing rights to a machine called the Vitascope. One of the conditions of the deal was that Edison be credited as the inventor.

4  Some things never change: Edison’s early film loops included one showing “cooch” dancers; another reenacted the decapitation of Mary, Queen of Scots—arguably the first horror flick.

5  In 1908, after indecency complaints, New York City closed down all Kinetoscope (peep-show) movie parlors.

6  Three decades before The Jazz Singer, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson created a film short with synchronized sound. It showed two men dancing as he played a violin.

Many familiar movie sounds are simple audio illusions. Crunchy snow? Ice layered with cornstarch. Birds in flight? Leather gloves flapping. Heads getting squished? Frozen heads of lettuce… getting squished.

8  Walla is a term for the murmur of a crowd—another audio illusion. Several people saying “walla, walla, walla, walla” sounds like a large group talking.

9  One of the earliest color film processes, Kinemacolor, relied on an illusion too. Black-and-white film was projected through rotating red and green filters, fooling the eye into seeing color.

10  Time reversal is another standard film trick. When Moses parts the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments, the moviemakers filmed water pouring into a tank and then ran the footage backward.

Read the full list.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.