A film, also called a movie, motion picture or moving picture, is a work of visual art used to simulate experiences that communicate ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere through the use of moving images. These images are generally accompanied by sound, and more rarely, other sensory stimulations. The word "cinema", short for cinematography, is often used to refer to filmmaking and the film industry, and to the art form that is the result of it.
The moving images of a film are created by photographing actual scenes with a motion-picture camera, by photographing drawings or miniature models using traditional animation techniques, by means of CGI and computer animation, or by a combination of some or all of these techniques, and other visual effects.
Traditionally, films were recorded onto celluloid film stock through a photochemical process and then shown through a movie projector onto a large screen. Contemporary films are often fully digital through the entire process of production, distribution, and exhibition, while films recorded in a photochemical form traditionally included an analogous optical soundtrack (a graphic recording of the spoken words, music and other sounds that accompany the images which runs along a portion of the film exclusively reserved for it, and is not projected).
Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures. They reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment, and a powerful medium for educating—or indoctrinating—citizens. The visual basis of film gives it a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions through the use of dubbing or subtitles to translate the dialog into other languages.
The individual images that make up a film are called frames. In the projection of traditional celluloid films, a rotating shutter causes intervals of darkness as each frame, in turn, is moved into position to be projected, but the viewer does not notice the interruptions because of an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after its source disappears. The perception of motion is partly due to a psychological effect called the phi phenomenon.
The name "film" originates from the fact that photographic film (also called film stock) has historically been the medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist for an individual motion-picture, including picture, picture show, moving picture, photoplay, and flick. The most common term in the United States is movie, while in Europe film is preferred. Common terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the movies, and cinema; the last of these is commonly used, as an overarching term, in scholarly texts and critical essays. In early years, the word sheet was sometimes used instead of screen.
The art of film has drawn on several earlier traditions in fields such as oral storytelling, literature, theatre and visual arts. Forms of art and entertainment that had already featured moving and/or projected images include:
shadowgraphy, probably used since prehistoric times
camera obscura, a natural phenomenon that has possibly been used as an artistic aid since prehistoric times
shadow puppetry, possibly originated around 200 BCE in Central Asia, India, Indonesia or China
magic lantern, developed in the 1650s, also used in the multi-media phantasmagoria shows that were popular from 1790 throughout the first half of the 19th century and could feature mechanical slides, rear projection, mobile projectors, superimposition, dissolving views, live actors, smoke (sometimes to project images upon), odors, sounds and even electric shocks.
The stroboscopic animation principle was introduced in 1833 with the phénakisticope and also applied in the zoetrope since 1866, the flip book since 1868, and the praxinoscope since 1877, before it became the basic principle for cinematography.
Experiments with early phenakisticope-based animation projectors were made at least as early as 1843. Jules Duboscq marketed phénakisticope projection systems in France between 1853 and the 1890s.
Photography was introduced in 1839, but at first photographic emulsions needed such long exposures that the recording of moving subjects seemed impossible. At least as early as 1844, photographic series of subjects posed in different positions have been created to either suggest a motion sequence or to document a range of different viewing angles. The advent of stereoscopic photography, with early experiments in the 1840s and commercial success since the early 1850s, raised interest in completing the photographic medium with the addition of means to capture colour and motion. In 1849, Joseph Plateau published about the idea to combine his invention of the phénakisticope with the stereoscope, as suggested to him by stereoscope inventor Charles Wheatstone, and use photographs of plaster sculptures in different positions to be animated in the combined device. In 1852, Jules Duboscq patented such an instrument as the "Stéréoscope-fantascope, ou Bïoscope". He marginally advertised it for a short period. It was a commercial failure and no complete instrument has yet been located, but one bioscope disc has been preserved in the Plateau collection of the Ghent University. It has stereoscopic photographs of a machine.
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