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Preceding film in origin by thousands of years, early plays and dances had elements common to film: scripts, sets, costumes, production, direction, actors,audiences, storyboards, and scores. Much terminology later used in film theory and criticism apply, such as mise en scene (roughly, the entire visual picture at any one time). Owing to an absence of technology for doing so, moving visual and aural images were not recorded for replaying as in film.
In the 1860s, mechanisms for producing two-dimensional drawings in motion were demonstrated with devices such as the zoetrope, mutoscope andpraxinoscope. These machines were outgrowths of simple optical devices (such as magic lanterns) and would display sequences of still pictures at sufficient speed for the images on the pictures to appear to be moving, a phenomenon called persistence of vision. Naturally the images needed to be carefully designed to achieve the desired effect, and the underlying principle became the basis for the development of film animation.
With the development of celluloid film for still photography, it became possible to directly capture objects in motion in real time. An 1878 experiment by English photographer Eadweard Muybridge in the United States using 24 cameras produced a series of stereoscopic images of a galloping horse, is arguably the first "motion picture", though it was not called by this name. This technology required a person to look into a viewing machine to see the pictures which were separate paper prints attached to a drum turned by a handcrank. The pictures were shown at a variable speed of about 5 to 10 pictures per second, depending on how rapidly the crank was turned. Commercial versions of these machines were coin operated.
By the 1880s the development of the motion picture camera allowed the individual component images to be captured and stored on a single reel, and led quickly to the development of a motion picture projector to shine light through the processed and printed film and magnify these "moving picture shows" onto a screen for an entire audience. These reels, so exhibited, came to be known as "motion pictures". Early motion pictures were static shots that showed an event or action with no editing or other cinematic techniques. The first public exhibition of projected motion pictures in America was shown at Koster and Bial's Music Hall in New York City on the 23rd of April 1896.
Ignoring W. K. L. Dickson's early sound experiments (1894), commercial motion pictures were purely visual art through the late 19th century, but these innovativesilent films had gained a hold on the public imagination. Around the turn of the 20th century, films began developing a narrative structure by stringing scenestogether to tell a story. The scenes were later broken up into multiple shots of varying sizes and angles. Other techniques such as camera movement were realized as effective ways to portray a story on film. Rather than leave the audience with noise of early cinema projectors, theater owners would hire a pianist or organist or a full orchestra to play music that would cover noises of projector. Eventually, musicians would start to fit the mood of the film at any given moment. By the early 1920s, most films came with a prepared list of sheet music for this purpose, with complete film scores being composed for major productions.
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