Thursday, December 4, 2014

Edison's Kinetoscope -- December 4, 2014

The article is from Manufacturer and Builder, July, 1894. The image is from "The Edison Kinetoscope," The Electrical Engineer, 07-November-1894.

Just what the kinetograph and the kinetoscope really will accomplish is known to few people, because of a lack of any authentic and authorized description of the instruments. The comprehensive term for this invention is the kineto - phonograph. The "dual talking machine" is the phono - kinetograph, and the reproducing machine the phono - kinetoscope, in contradistinction to the kinetograph and the kinetoscope, which relate respectively to the taking and reproduction of movable but soundless objects.

The initial experiments took the form of microscopic, pin - point photographs, placed on a cylindrical shell, corresponding in size to the ordinary phonograph cylinder. These two cylinders were then placed side by side on a shaft, and the sound record was taken as near as possible synchronously with the photographic image impressed on the sensitive surface of the shell.

The photographic portion of the work presented many difficulties, and the writers describe at length the efforts that were made to get a film sufficiently sensitive to take the impression in the brief time possible for exposure, and that would give such detail as to bear enlargement. This was finally accomplished, however, and a shutter was invented which gave an exposure of 1/2720th part of a second. The next step, and one which sorely tried the patience and ingenuity of the inventors, was to connect the camera and the photograph (phonograph - JT) so that the action and the accompanying sound should both be recorded exactly simultaneously. The pictures were taken in a specially devised theater, which is described.

The actors, when more than one in number, are kept as close together as possible, and exposed either to the glare of the sun, to the blinding magnesium lamps, or to the light of twenty arc lamps, provided with highly actinic carbons, supplied with powerful reflectors equal to about 50,000 candle-power. This radiance is concentrated upon the performers while the kinetograph and phonograph are hard at work storing up records and impressions for future reproduction.

A popular and inexpensive adaptation of kinetoscopic methods is in the form of the well-known nickel-in-the-slot, a machine consisting of a cabinet containing an electrical motor and batteries for operating the mechanism which acts as the impelling power to the film. The film is in the shape of an endless band fifty feet in length, which is passed through the field of a magnifying glass perpendicularly placed. The photographic impressions pass before the eye at the rate of forty-six per second, through the medium of a rotating, slotted disk, the slot exposing a picture at each revolution, and separating the fractional graudations of pose. Projected against a screen, or viewed through a magnifying glass, the pictures are eminently lifelike, for the reason that the enlargement need not be more than ten times the original size. On exhibition evenings the projecting-room, which is situated in the upper story of the photographic department, is hung with black in order to prevent any reflection from the circle of light emanating from the screen at the other end, the projector being placed behind a curtain also of black, and provided with a single peep-hole for the accommodation of the lens. The effect of these somber draperies, and the weird accompanying monotone of the electric motor attached to the projector, are horribly impressive, and one's sense of the supernatural is hightened when a figure suddenly springs into its path, acting and talking with a vigor which leaves him totally unprepared for its mysterious vanishing. Projected stereocoscopically, the results are even more realistic, as those acquainted with that class of phenomena may imagine, and a pleasing rotundity is apparent, which, in ordinary photographic displays, is conspicuous by its absence.

-- Photo-American.

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