Film stock

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Film stock is photographic film on which motion pictures are shot and reproduced.

Contents

History

1889–1899

Modern motion picture film stock was first created thanks to the introduction of a transparent flexible film base material, celluloid, which was discovered and refined for photographic use thanks to the work of John Carbutt, Hannibal Goodwin, and George Eastman. Prior to this, most motion picture experiments were performed using paper roll film, which made it difficult if not impossible to view the developed film as a single continuous moving image without other complex apparatus. Furthermore, the paper film was much more fragile than celluloid.

Eastman Kodak would become the first to make celluloid film commercially available, starting in 1889; Thomas Henry Blair emerged in 1891 as the first major competitor for supplying celluloid film. The stock had a frosted base in order to facilitate easier viewing by transmitted back light, and the emulsions from each company were orthochromatic. By November 1891 William Dickson at Edison's lab was using Blair's stock for Kinetoscope tests, and Blair's company remained a main supplier of film to the Edison lab for the next five years. Blair's operation was also crucial to the continued development of motion picture technology through 1892 and 1893, due to temporary shutdowns at Eastman because of problems with their production setup. Eventually patent lawsuits in 1893 led to Blair leaving his American company and starting again in Britain, which allowed Eastman to gradually fill the entirety of the Edison lab's film orders. Blair's new headquarters allowed him to supply many of the key European filmmaking pioneers, including Birt Acres, Robert Paul, George Albert Smith, Charles Urban, and the Lumiere Brothers. The American Blair company was to be short-lived, however, as by 1896 the new movie projector would demand a fully transparent film base that they had difficulty supplying. Eastman shortly thereafter bought the company out, thus consolidating its position as the leading supplier of film stock from then on. These developments also led Louis Lumiere to work with Victor Planchon on adapting the Lumiere "Blue Label" (Etiquette Bleue) photographic plate emulsion for use on celluloid roll film, which began in early 1896 and was brought to full production capacity by the following year.

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