THE CINEMA IN FLUX

The Evolution of Motion Picture Technology from the Magic Lantern to the Digital Era

by Lenny Lipton

The first of its kind, this book traces the evolution of motion picture technology in its entirety. Beginning with Huygen’s magic lantern and ending in the current electronic era, it explains cinema’s scientific foundations and the development of parallel enabling technologies alongside the lives of the innovators. Product development issues, business and marketplace factors, the interaction of aesthetic and technological demands, and the patent system all play key roles in the tale.

The topics are covered sequentially, with detailed discussion of the transition from the magic lantern to Edison’s invention of the 35mm camera, the development of the celluloid cinema, and the transition from celluloid to digital. Unique and essential reading from a lifetime innovator in the field of cinema technology, this engaging and well-illustrated book will appeal to anyone interested in the history and science of cinema, from movie buffs to academics and members of the motion picture industry.

Welcome!

Learn about The Cinema in Flux and Its Author

The Table of Contents reflects the depth and breadth of the book. The subtitle says it all: ” The Evolution of Motion Picture Technology from the Magic Lantern to the Digital Era.”

American inventor, author, and songwriter, was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940.

Scroll through a sample collage of 70 of the inventors discussed in the book.

“A Masterpiece of historical documentation!”

— Lorem Ipsum

The Evolution of Motion Picture Technology from the Magic Lantern to the Digital Era

From the Author’s Preface

From the Author’s Preface

From the
Author’s Preface

The Cinema in Flux is a book that follows a vision of cinema’s technological evolution in alignment with that of a number of modern cinema scholars. But not so long ago, for others who have written about it, cinema begins with inventions of Eastman’s film, Edison’s camera, and the LumièresCinématographe, notions that have contributed to the popular view of the subject. This impression is conveyed by dutifully noting that the magic lantern is a preamble to the big event, relegated to the archeological nether regions of “pre-cinema,” which include prehistoric cave paintings, along with nods to Chinese, Indian, and Javanese shadow puppet shows. The idea that the era of the magic lantern is not pre-cinema but cinema itself, and not some archaic backwater, is based on the most fundamental definition of cinema technology, which in my view is the projection of motion.

“The most complete and accurate account of the technology behind movies, from the camera obscure to the modern digital era.”

— Lorem Ipsum

Reviews

Here's what some of the top critics and academics
are saying about The Cinema in Flux.

Here's what some of the top critics and academics are saying about The Cinema in Flux.

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Calliope Grey
6 monts ago
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Hector Aldo
2 months ago
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Silvia Cruz
4 months ago

About the Author,
Lenny Lipton

About the Author of
The Cinema in Flux

Lenny Lipton, an American inventor, author, and songwriter, was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940. He was the lead inventor of the technology that enabled the film industry to project feature films in 3-D. He founded StereoGraphics Corporation in 1980 and in 1981 demonstrated the flickerless stereoscopic projection technique that is the basis for 80,000 theatrical cinema installations. He is the primary inventor of the ZScreen electro-optical modulator, introduced in 1988 and used for molecular modeling and aerial mapping visualization. In 1996 he was honored by the Smithsonian Institution for the invention of CrystalEyes, introduced by StereoGraphics in 1989, the first electronic eyewear for stereoscopic visualization such as molecular modeling, aerial mapping, and medical imaging. NASA used it to remotely drive the Mars Rovers and Lockheed to design the upgrade for the Hubble Space Telescope. He has been granted more than 70 United States Patents in the field of electronic stereoscopic displays.

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“The most complete and accurate account of the technology behind movies, from the camera obscure to the modern digital era.”

— Springer

Gallery of Technology Greats

The Inventors

Gallery of Technology Greats

The Inventors

“Split into digestible sections and accompanied by plenty of illustrations.”

— Springer

Editing Portraits for The Cinema in Flux
Editing Portraits for
The Cinema in Flux

How the Many Portraits in the Book Were Created

Obituary portrait of Sponable
Obituary portrait of Sponable

T he Cinema in Flux is a book that has more than 570 illustrations, more than 70 of which are pictures of people who contributed to the history of motion picture technology. In some cases I was not able to find a good quality image of the person, which was the case for Earl Sponable, head of Fox’s research and development efforts for nearly half a century. I found only a few images of Sponable, all of poor quality, the best of which was his obituary portrait.

I think that the reader shouldn’t have to look through a barrier of blemishes, halftone dots, and other artifacts, to appreciate a photo, but a “restoration,” which might consist of removing spots and scratches and improving the tonality of the image, may not work if it is based on a low resolution source. In such a case overpainting using Photoshop techniques were used for the portrait of Sponable.

Photoshoped Sponable portrait
Photoshoped Sponable portrait
Thomas Alva Edison Scanned from book
Thomas EdisonScanned from book

The Edison image presented a different challenge. Most of the images I use in Flux came to me as digital files, such as those from the collection of the Cinémathèque Française or the internet, but in the case of Edison, the one I liked the best was from Paul Spehr’s book The Man Who Made Movies: W.K.L. Dickson (New Barnet, UK: John Libbey Publishing Ltd., 2008).

There are many images of Edison, many of which were photographed in his later years, but I wanted a picture of him in his prime portraying his inventive, thoughtful, and playful nature. The image I scanned from Spehr’s book was good, but I thought I’d interpret it to make it more vital, so I used techniques of filtering and painting in Photoshop that some people call paintography, but I think it’s not an inadequate term; I call the process I used infiltration.

Edison in his later years
Edison in his later years
Colored sketch of Edison derived from the scan
Colored sketch of Edison derived from the scan

For the Edison photo a great deal of trial and error took place over a period of three years. I finally used a Photoshop technique to simulate a sketch that I then colored, blurred, and combined with the monochrome scan of Edison. I then painted over the blended images, which gave the result you see here.

I like it because it appears to be hand colored, but somewhat haphazardly, with unplanned effects that I find to be pleasing. Something comes across that I haven’t seen in other photos of the man; here Edison looks wistful.

Click to view slideshow.
Scanned and colored line drawing combined and overpainted

“Split into digestible sections and accompanied by plenty of illustrations.”

— Springer

Magic Lantern with crocodile silhouette and two circular sides
An ingenious real motion mechanical slide. A crocodile silhouette moves as the plunger (lower right) is pushed and two circular sides rotate to produce a rippling waterfall effect as the crank is turned. (Cinémathèque Française.)
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“Shows how competing technological, cultural, economic, and legal factors shaped the cinema and TV industries.”

— Springer