The history of cinema is, to a great extent, the history of technical innovation. This year we have seen the end of motion picture film production from Fuji (leaving Kodak the sole producer of celluloid), the compulsory addition of digital projectors to every major theater, and 3D cinema as the new experimental landscape.
A review of the 1924-1931 issues of American Cinematographer in the Media History Digital Library’s Technical Journals Collection serves as a reminder that changes in film technologies have long been greeted with a sophisticated range of excitement and skepticism from industry professionals.
Highlights from 1924 issues include Eastman’s introduction of “at home cinema” with the Cine-Kodak and Kodascope (January), an article from M.P.D.A. President Fred Niblo on slow motion as educational tool (March), and speculation on the future invention of a “camera phone” as conceived by A.S.C. Member Jackson J. Rose (December).
Issues from 1926 present silent film star Richard Barthelmess’ convictions on the need for “good projection” (April), innovations in amateur cinematography (June), and photographic challenges in the first production of a Vitaphone film (September).
The issues from 1931 reflect major changes in cinema technology, production, and presentation, specifically the rise of portable devices, color, and sound.
Notable articles from 1931 include the perks of filming in Mexico by A.S.C. President Hal Mohr (February), a discussion on depth of field in the advent of wide lenses (April), and innovations in the MGM film lab (October).
Long running features of this title include names and photos of members, business announcements, articles on screen definition, and a wealth of product advertisements.
The 1924-1931 issues of American Cinematographer are available for your reading and exploration. Your support and donations to the Media History Digital Library make this open resource possible.