10 of the great technological advances in the history of cinema

10 of the great technological advances in the history of cinema

The History of Cinema can be told, perfectly, through all the technological advances that have been splashing it. From sturdy and immovable primitive cameras to movies made with just a couple of cell phones, the history of cinema is the story of its pioneers and creators , some of them unjustly forgotten.

On the occasion of the creation of the first 360º doodle in history , which pays tribute to the pioneer of cinematographic fantasy George Méliès, we are going to trace a History of Cinema through 10 great technological advances. George Méliés was, above all, an illusionist with a marvelous imagination who knew how to extract like no one all the fantasy that could fit inside celluloid based on tricks that are still used today.

In the next special we will cite proper names, other times relevant films and other times we will mention the advance itself. All this to try to offer the reader a fair and clarifying History of Cinema .

Alice guy

Pioneer in the history of cinema, ignored by experts in the field for being a woman. Alice Guy laid the original foundations for what we understand as audiovisual language , designing special effects, hand-coloring her own films, and creating the position of producer on a film. The work of George Méliès could not be understood without that of this woman, whose figure deserves to be recognized.

The camera moves

One of the greatest technological advances in the history of cinema was, precisely, to provide the camera with mobility. Before it remained static, running the risk of turning cinema into nothing more than filmed theater. As soon as the camera could be moved, the language was enriched. In the small piece from the Lumière 'Vue du Grand Canal' (1896), recorded by his usual camera operator Alexadre Promio, a lateral traveling can be seen for the first time (when it was not even called traveling) as the camera was located on a gondola in motion .

The Jazz Singer

On October 6, 1927, the first feature film with sound synchronized with the image was released in theaters . In total, it contains twelve minutes of songs and dialogues, synchronized with the image, that forever changed the History of Cinema. From second 37 you can hear Al Johnson declaim his dialogues, which caused the astonishment of the spectators.

Color in the cinema

Before we made reference to Alice Guy and her work when painting, by hand, the frames of her films. Years later, a more artisan work with a rougher aspect than that would be achieved with the arrival of Technicolor , a photographic chemical process that was able to introduce color into celluloid. The cameras could now finally capture a varied palette of colors that added to the films a patina of reality never seen before.

The first film completely shot in this format was Rouben Mamoulian's 'Vanity Fair' .

Other possible worlds: the chroma

Replace a green or blue background with an image that would enrich the film experience, which could transport the viewer to other worlds. Thanks to the chroma we could see Superman fly, for example. A technology improved by the engineer Petro Vlahos, using it in such legendary films as Mary Poppins. Today's cinema cannot be understood without the existence of the green screen.

Motion capture

A technique by which the movements of an actor or actress are recorded and transferred to a digital model for later use in a movie. Among the most important milestones of motion capture is the design of the Gollum character for the Lord of the Rings adaptation. In order to carry out this spectacular effect, the film's engineers were able to create motion capture in real time , ensuring that the actor who played the Gollum interact with the other actors.

The first film in which motion capture was used is 'Sinbad: Beyond The Veil Of Mists' , a dark animated production that passed without pain or glory. The movements of the animated characters were achieved by first recording real actors and actresses on a special camera that triangulated their movements and transferred them to a computer.

Rocky climbs the stairs and nothing moves

Filming in motion and keeping the image static was only achieved when the traveling tracks began to be manufactured. A way of rolling without abrupt movements that, however, could hardly have freedom of movement. But then the Steadicam arrived: by means of a suspension system and counterweights and a straight arm with support for the camera, the operator could run, jump, turn corners and perform any type of movement, achieving a fluid image without shaking.

While it is true that Stanley Kubrick took the cinematographic language to another level thanks to the use of steadicam in 'The Shining' , Rocky Balboa's training was one of the most obvious signs that, thanks to it, cinema was going to change . And boy did he change: along with his invention the sequence shot would emerge: those long, uncut shots that last as long as a complete sequence lasts.


The acronym CGI stands for 'Computer Generated Imagery' or ' Computer Generated Images' . One of the greatest technological advances in the history of cinema in terms of special effects: it was no longer necessary to use crafts to create other imaginary worlds. The first digital animation in the history of cinema appears in the 1973 film 'WestWorld' in which we see a scene from the point of view of a robot.

The CGI was subsequently able to bring back to life, in an absolutely realistic way, already extinct beings such as dinosaurs in Spielberg's classic 'Jurassic Park' .

Goodbye to celluloid roll

The digital format did away with bulky celluloid rolls. The projectors had to adapt to the new format and now the films arrive on hard disk of about 200 GB. A new form of distribution that has radically changed the way of presenting cinema and even shooting it: development does not exist and the image does not deteriorate . Still, like the vinyl fan, there are those who miss the 'physical' feel of celluloid, the visible grain in the image, the signs of the passage of time.