THE ORIGINS OF SCIENTIFIC CINEMATOGRAPHY is a documentary film series directed by Virgilio Tosi. The films complement Tosi’s book Cinema Before Cinema, using archive film and original equipment to show how cinematography had its origins not in the music hall or the fairground, but in the laboratory, as scientists of the 19th and early 20th centuries attempted to find new ways of seeing and measuring the natural world.
1) The first film of the series is dedicated to the astronomer P. J. Janssen, the photographer E. Muybridge and the physiologist E. J. Marey, whose research combined to form the basis of scientific cinematography. This compilation of documentary film sequences is intended for use in teaching. Arranged chronologically in six sections, it supports the thesis that cinematography had its roots in science. The sequences present Janssen's "photographic revolver" (1873/74), designed to record the passage of Venus in front of the Sun, Muybridge's development of serial photography of human and animal locomotion (1878-87), Marey's "photographic gun" (1882), his models of the "chronophotograph" (1882-93) along with his first research films. These early cinecameras have been recorded in several European museums, animations explain how they were operated, original films and serial images are shown also as moving pictures.
2) Technical further development of the scientific cinematography initiated by the pioneers Janssen, Marey and Muybridge. In the period from 1883 to 1914, eight cinematographic enthusiasts (A. Londe, H. Sebert, O. Anschütz, E. Kohlrausch, G. Demeny, L. Bull, R. v. Lendenfeld and P. Nogues) from different occupations (photographer, officer, teacher, scientific-technical assistant) developed different cinematographic instruments. These devices for the preparation of series and film images with natural and flash illumination (von Lendenfeld, Bull) and their reproduction (Anschütz, Demeny) were used to document and analyse processes in humans as animals as well as in ballistics (Sebert).
3) This compilation film contains sequences from the first scientific films, which were produced in the period between 1895 and 1911. The fields covered are biology, medicine, technical sciences, mathematics and ethnology. Most of the pictures were made using industrially fabricated film cameras and by using special recording devices for time-lapse and high-speed as well as micro- and X-ray cinematography. Some sequences were reconstructed from series photographs.