See how it works


The Working Cinématographe

The cinématographe was a combination camera-projector (and printer). The drawing on the left shows it in operation as a camera; the animated graphic on the right is a closer view of the hand-cranked projection process. In the right-hand drawing, the smaller apparatus to the right is the projector component of the cinématographe itself; as in Figure 2.16, a magic-lantern lamphouse is being used as a light source. The cinématographe used cellulose-based 35mm film, with one sprocket hole per frame and a screen format of 4:3. It recorded and projected at a rate of 16 frames per second, and with a maximum capacity of 100 feet of film stock, it was limited to the projection of 90-second sequences. Louis Lumière described the scientific applications of the cinématographe in an article published in the October 1895 issue of the periodical La Nature:

The apparatus devised by Messieurs Lumière will be of considerable assistance to the photographic study of motion. Not only does it enable us to capture movement in its various stages, but we can recompose it at will, since the crank is hand-operated. Motions can be slow, very slow if we wish, so that no detail escapes our attention; and then, subsequently, we can accelerate it, should we so desire, back to normal speed. We shall then possess absolutely perfect reproduction of real movement.

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