A to Z of Motion Picture


Acres, Birt

American born photographic business owner based in England. Met Robert Paul and together develop a camera for Paul's Kinetoscope copies. The two parted company and Acres patented his Kinetic camera and developed a projector - The Kineopticon. (Go to topic)


Name given to a particular genre of film in early cinema history - usually used to describe films which showed real life events such as the Workers leaving the Lumière factory.

American Mutoscope and Biograph

The name adopted by the KMCD Syndicate which was made up of partners Henry N. Marvin, Herman Casler, W.K.L. Dickson and Elias Koopman. Their first motion picture machine was the Mutoscope - a peephole device followed by a projector - the Biograph.

A to Z of Motion Picture
A to Z of Motion Picture


Robert Paul's projector, formerly called the Theatroraph, opened at the Alhambra in London on March 25 1896.

Animal Locomotion

The name given to the experiments and subsequent publication of Eaedweard Muybridge.

Armat, Thomas

A student of the Bliss School of Electricity, who with Charles Jenkins developed a motion picture projection device - the Phantoscope Projector which they patented in May 1895.

Arrival of a Train

Made in 1896 by Louis Lumière, Arrivee d'un train en gare a La Ciotat, demonstrates a movement towards the camera from right to left which became a standard method for staging action for the next few years. Audience reaction to the film was great - stories tell of patrons backing away from the screen to avoid the oncoming train.


Bamforth and Company

In the years that proceeded the "Birth" of Cinema, Bamforth was a well established company making and selling lantern slides and picture postcards in Holmfirth, Yorkshire. The advent of film turned James Bamforth to filmmaking with early productions one shot shorts and actualities.

Big Swallow, The

Made around 1901 The Big Swallow is an interesting film which only makes complete sense when accompanied by the original commentary. It shows the inventiveness of the films made by the Brighton School.


The name given, firstly to the camera used to take films for the Mutoscope peepshow device and secondly, the name given to the American Mutoscope Company's through the film projector.

Black Maria

The nickname given to the first movie studio, built from wood and tar paper on the instruction of W.K.L Dickson in the grounds of Edison's Orange County Studio. It was Edison's staff who gave it its name thanks to its supposed similarity to the police wagons of the period.

Brighton School

The most notable of all the British filmmakers during the first few years of cinema. Based in and around the seaside town the group's principle members were George A. Smith and James Williamson.


Carbutt, John

Philadelphia based seller of photographic materials who introduced celluloid film to Edison and Dickson in 1888.

Casler, Herman

Designed and built the Mutoscope with Henry Marvin after speaking to Dickson regarding a cheaper alternative to Edison's Kinetoscope. Co-Founded the KMCD Syndicate which later became the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.

Chase Pictures

A popular genre in early motion pictures evident in Paul's The (?) Motorist of 1906.


The Lumière Brothers' motion picture device. Unique thanks to its incorporation of camera, printer and projecting capabilites in the same housing. Light and portable, the Cinématographe could be taken around the world filming subjects. (Go to topic)



The orginal name for Horner's adaption of the Phenakistoscope until it was renamed the Zoetrope by American William Lincoln in 1867.

Dickson, W.K.L

The man responsible for most of the motion picture experimentation at Edison's Company. Developed the Kinetograph, Kinetoscope as well as providing the basis for Casler's Mutoscope. (Go to topic)


Eastman, George

Devised a still camera which could make photographs on rolls of sensitized paper in 1888 - called the Kodak. In 1889 he introduced celluloid roll film.

Edison, Thomas A.

American Inventor who developed, among other things the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and helped with the development of the kinetoscope peephole viewer. (Go to topic)


Unpopular projector developed by the Lathams, included a loop system which was to become a significant addition to motion pictures throughout history to the present day it became known as the Latham Loop. The Eidoloscope was also known as the Panoptikon Projector.



Another name for Plateau's Phenakistoscope.

Fitzhamon, Lewin

An associate of Cecil Hepworth who worked on many Hepworth produced films particularly Rescued By Rover in 1905.

Friese Greene, William

Enthusiastic and erratic English experimenter whose overoptimistic claims that he had solved the problems of photographing and projecting motion pictures seems only to have served to add stimulus to others, notably Edison.


Gammon, Frank

One half of entreprenueral partnership Raff and Gammon who organised the marketing for Edison's Kinetoscope as well as the Vitascope in subsequent years.

Gilmore, William E.

Became general manager of Edison's interests in April 1894. A tough, abrasive figure, frictions developed between him and Dickson which resulted in Dickson's resignation from the company.

Grand Cafe, Paris

The location for the first public exhibition of the Lumière Cinématographe on Paris' Boulevard des Capucines.

Great Train Robbery, The

Perhaps the greatest film of the first decade of cinema, directed by Edwin S. Porter and made in 1903 thanks to its use of sophisticated camerawork and editing.


Herschel, Sir John

Discussed ideas of Persistence of Vision.

Haggar, William

A showman with a travelling Cinématographe show touring fairgrounds in Wales and the West of England, Haggar made many films in locations close to where they would be shown - like many showmen.

Horner, William George

The inventor of the Zoetrope or Daedalum in 1834.


Intermittent Movement

The idea that a sequence of photographs viewed in a continuous motion would appear blurred without some sort of intermittent movement device, briefly stopping one image which is replaced by the next.


Jenkins, Charles Francis

Developed a peepshow machine similar to the Kinetoscope which he called the Phantoscope, and along with partner developed a projecting Phantoscope.


KMCD Syndicate

The partnership of Elias Koopman, Henry Marvin, Herman, Casler and W.K.L. Dickson. Developed the mutoscope and the through the film projector the biograph. Also known as The American Mutoscope and Biograph Company. Kineopticon The projector developed by Birt Acres after his split with Robert Paul.

Kinetic Camera

Camera patented by Birt Acres shortly after his split with Robert Paul Kinetograph Camera developed by W.K.L. Dickson for use with the Kinetoscope Peephole viewer.


Floor-standing motion picture viewer. Basically a wooden box, the Kinetoscope had a eye-hole in the top where customers could watch the electrically controlled film. (Go to topic)


Small box camera developed by George Eastman. Koopman, Elias A businessman and partner in the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company.

Koster and Bial

Owners of the Music Hall in New York City where "Edison's" Vitascope made its debut. Organised by Edwin S. Porter.


Latham, Woodville; Otway; Gray

Father, Woodville and sons, Otway and Gray. Developed a projector based on the Kinetoscope's continuous movement of film with a synchronised shutter (rather than the intermittent movement seen elsewhere) but they increased the film width to two inches and the film running between two spools rather than in one continous band. Their Panoptikon projector enjoyed mild success.

Latham Loop

The Latham loop first appeared in the Latham's projector - the Eidoloscope. The loop was implemented to avoid undue strain on the film as the intermittent movement pulled it through the heavy spools. A loop of slack film from which the intermittent movement was supplied stopped the film from jerking which often caused film to break or sprocket holes to tear.

Lumière, Antoine

Father of the famous Lumière brothers, Antoine introduced the brothers to the idea of motion pictures after seeing Edison's Kinetoscope in action.

Lumière, Auguste and Louis

Often referred to as the fathers of modern film, the Lumière brothers contributed greatly to motion picture history. Their motion picture device, the Cinématographe combined camera, printer and, with the addition of a lantern, projector in a handy box. (Go to topic)


Magic Lantern

Used successfully from the 17th Century Magic Lanterns worked very much like modern slide projectors work. A Bright light from inside the box illuminated hand-painted glass slides which were focused by a lens. The were incredibly popular with travelling showmen and vaudeville performers.

Marey, Etienne Jules

French physiologist Marey was, like Muybridge interested in the study of animal locomotion and had been making studies by mechanical means when he met Muybridge in 1881. Marey, like Muybridge decided to make attempts at motion capture using photographic means and using astronomer Pierre-Jules-Cesar Janssen's "photographic revolver" idea Marey created a photographic gun in 1882.

Marvin, Henry

Part of the KMCD Syndicate, Marvin was an engineer and friends with W.K.L Dickson. It is to Marvin, along with Herman Casler that Dickson gave advice about a simple alternative to the Kinetoscope, an alternative which became the Mutoscope.

Méliès, Georges

French director Méliès, pioneered some of the first special effects in film history. combining camera trickery and vaudeville illusions, Méliès created fantasic worlds a kin to the writings of Jules Verne. (Go to topic)


An idea attempted by Dickson and Edison when developing the Kinetoscope. The microphotographes would be arranged around a cylinder as tracks were laid on a phonograph cylinder.


The only surviving film from the cylinder kinetoscope - laboratory assistant Sacco Albanese dressed up and "fooled around" for a bonus of $1.50.

Mutograph Camera (Biograph)

A camera designed for taking pictures to be used in the Mutoscope peephole device. Originally called the Biograph, this name was later given to the KMCD Syndicate's through the film projector.


A Peephole device, similar in size to the Kinetoscope. Instead of using film, the Mutoscope used a flick-book principle where a sequence of photographs were mounted on a drum inside the cabinet. When the drum was spun, the photographs flipped giving the impression of movement. The Mutoscope needed no electricity or special lighting and the playback of the film could be controlled by the handle. (Go to topic)

Muybridge, Eadweard

Englishman, Muybridge was a successful photographer when he was approached by Leland Stanford. Stanford, governor of California wanted to take "instantaneous" photographs of his horse in order to settle a dispute as to whether all four hooves left the ground at the same time.

He acheived this by setting a battery of twelve cameras along side the track. The shutter of each camera was attached to a trip wire which exposed a frame as the horse ran and tripped the shutter. Muybridge adapted the phenakistocope to project which he called the Zoopraxinoscope and travelled giving lectures on Animal Locomotion.



Typically storefront theatres or Kinetoscope parlours, so-called as they would often charge a nickel for entry.


Ott, Fred

A worker at Edison's Factory was chosen to be photographed in "The Sneeze" - one of the first recording made for the Kinetoscope.



Another name for the Lathams Eidoloscope

Paul, Robert

British Born engineer, who, in 1894 was asked to make some Kinetoscope copies - realising he would need films for this device he turned to Birt Acres and together they began work on a camera based on Marey's chronophotographe but used 35mm film. The two entered into a ten year business agreement which lasted just six weeks before they fell out. Paul developed a projector on his own - the Theatrograph and gave regular screenings at Music Halls around London. (Go to topic)


Word used to describe single viewer attractions such as the Kinetoscope and the Mutoscope - gaining its name from the fact you have to peep into a eye-hole to view the show.

Persistence of Vision

The idea that if you run lots of sequencial images past the eye with some sort of intermittent device, the brain will be fooled into thinking that what you are seeing his actually moving.

Phantom Rides

Popular in early cinema - a camera is mounted on the front or the rear of a train or other vehicle as the train moves. This can be seen the Lumière's Leaving Jerusalem film. Phenakistoscope An optical toy which illustrates the Persistence of Vision principle. Two disks are mounted on the same axis, the first has slots in it around the edge, the second, sequential pictures. When spun in alternate directions and viewed through the holes in the mirror - the images appear to move.


Edison's sound recorder - sound is etched into the tinfoil covering of a cylinder.

Photographic Gun

Developed by Marey based on ideas by Janssen, it was used primarily for the study of birds in flight

Plateau, Joseph

Taking Farday's wheel as an example Plateau developed an optical toy - the phenakistoscope. Porter, Edwin S. Film Maker of such classics as The Great Train Robbery and Life of an American Fireman.


An optical toy, similar to the Zoetrope, but instead of viewing the images through the slots the images are reflected in several mirrors. Developed by Emile Reynaud. (Go to topic)


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Raff, Norman Charles

One half of entreprenueral partnership Raff and Gammon who organised the marketing for Edison's Kinetoscope as well as the Vitascope in subsequent years.

Reynaud, Emile

The man responsible for the incredibly important (in terms of cinema history) and extremely popular Praxinoscope. He adapted his invention, which was similar to Horner's Zoetrope, allowing the animated shorts to be projected.


Sheffield Photo Company

A photographic business run by Frank Mottershaw and based in Norfolk street, Sheffield. Made many celebrated British films which included "A Daring Daylight Robbery" which not only thrilled its audiences when shown in America but also gave American filmmakers notable examples of fluid editing techniques.

Smith, George Albert

A fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Smith was already well known for his lantern slide lectures on scientific subjects. Smith made a major contribution to the development of early film form and experimented with many optical effects such as superimposition to suggest dreams, parallel action, reverse action and filmic continuity. In "Mary Jane's Mishap" he uses two wipes to achieve a transition between a wide shot and a close up.

Sneeze, The

One of the first films made by Dickson for the Kinetoscope features Fred Ott, an Edison employee. The film was made at the request of Harpers Weekly who wanted photographs to illustrate an article on the Kinetoscope.

Stampfer, Simon

Stampfer created an optical toy which was remarkably similar to William Horner's Zoetrope. Amazingly his invention was produced independently and almost simultaneously to Horner in Stampfer's home in Vienna. He called his toy the Stroboscope.

Stanford, Leland

Railroad chief and Governor of California, Stanford commissioned Eadweard Muybridge, a noted photographer to take some photographs of his horse to settle a bet as to whether all four horse's hooves leave the ground simultaneously.


Almost identical optical toy to the Zoetrope, produced independently by Simon Stampfer.



One of the first optical toy's, the Thaumatrope was a simple affair invented by John Ayrton Paris who in 1826. It consisted of a cardboard disc with thread attached to each side. One either side of the disc were painted or drawn, simple pictures.

When the disc was spun with the thread, the two images appeared to superimpose on top of each other. Examples of such discs include the caged bird - on one side was a bird sitting on a perch, on the reverse a cage - when spun the bird appears to be sitting on its perch inside the cage.

Theatre Optique

The name given to a form of theatrical entertainment based around Reynaud's Praxinoscope. Up until 1892, Animated Pictures had predominantly been repetitive cycles. Reynaud's idea was to paint each individual frame on a glass slide which in turn would be joined together into a flexible strip. The images were in turn projected from behind onto a screen. Reynaud's Theatre Optique came remarkably close to something resembling cinema, all that lacked was the photography.


Robert Paul's projector which he developed after parting company with Birt Acres. Details of his invention were first published in February of 1896.


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The result of work carried out by Thomas Armat after his split with Charles Jenkins was originally called the Phantoscope. A projecting device based on Edison's Kinetoscope Armat showed his new invention to entrepreneurs Raff and Gammon who showed it to Edison with a view to marketing it. Edison agreed and the name was changed to "Edison's Vitascope". (Go to topic)


Williamson, James A.

The owner of a chemist shop and a photographic business in Hove near Brighton on the South coast of England, Williamson's first contact with the cinema was through the processing of other filmmakers films. He began to make films of his own at the end of 1897 with his first efforts mainly "Actualities". Williamson'a films are recognised for developing the basics of continuity of action, moving from shot to shot in different locations. His films include, "The Big Swallow" and "Fire".


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An optical toy invented by William Horner in 1834 but which lay undeveloped commercially until 1867 when it was patented in England by M. Bradley and in America by William F. Lincoln (it was from him that the device received its name).

The Zoetrope, or Daedalum was an adaptation of the principles which existed with the Phenakistoscope. It was constructed of a drum on a central axis. On the inner side of the drum was placed a sequence of pictures on strips of paper. The outside of the drum had slits cut into the surface. When the drum was spun and the pictures viewed through the slits - the images appeared to move. (Go to topic)


A large, projecting phenakistoscope, devised by Eadweard Muybridge to show hand painted reproductions of his Animal Locomotion slides. Muybridge used the Zoopraxinoscope as an accompaniment to his lecture tour of Europe in 1881.

Thoughts on the Vitascope

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