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Auguste and Louis Lumière

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Auguste and Louis Lumière
Fratelli Lumiere.jpg
The inventors of the moving picture
  • Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas Lumière
  • Louis Jean Lumière

  • Auguste: (1862-10-19)19 October 1862
  • Louis: (1864-10-05)5 October 1864

  • Auguste: 10 April 1954(1954-04-10) (aged 91)
  • Louis: 6 June 1948(1948-06-06) (aged 83)

Resting placeNew Guillotière Cemetery (location A6)
Alma materLa Martiniere Lyon
  • Charles-Antoine Lumière (1840–1911)
  • Jeanne Joséphine Costille Lumière (1841–1915)
AwardsElliott Cresson Medal (1909)

The Lumière brothers (UK: /ˈlmiɛər/, US: /ˌlmiˈɛər/; French: [lymjɛːʁ]), Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas ([oɡyst maʁi lwi nikɔla]; 19 October 1862 – 10 April 1954) and Louis Jean ([lwi ʒɑ̃]; 5 October 1864 – 7 June 1948),[1][2] were among the first filmmakers in history. They patented an improved cinematograph, which in contrast to Thomas Edison's "peepshow" kinetoscope allowed simultaneous viewing by multiple parties.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Lumiere Brothers: Crash Course Film History #3
  • ✪ Auguste Lumiere y Louis Lumiere: Biografía imprescindible de los hermanos Lumiere


Hi. I'm the internet's Craig. This is Crash Course Film History. Based on what you’ve probably heard, or read, or… what I told you last time, you’re probably under the impression that the development of modern film technology is all thanks to famous inventor Thomas Edison, and his less-than-famous employee, William Dickson. You're wrong. I can't believe how wrong you are. Together, these guys developed two of the first commercially-viable film technologies: the kinetograph – basically a camera – and the kinetoscope – a single-viewer exhibition device that you use to watch kinetograph films. But guess what? As was often the case with Edison, a lot of the credit that’s given to him also belongs to a great many other people. ...not me. While Edison and Dickson were setting out to make moving pictures in New Jersey, lots of other inventors were tinkering with film technology across the world. In Lyon, France, a pair of brothers saw the kinetograph and kinetoscope – and said, “We can do better than that!” And they did. Within two years, they invented a lightweight, all-in-one motion picture device that made movies and exhibited them. They figured out a way to use the camera mechanism to play back the developed roll of film, projecting bright light through it to show images. Films could be projected on an entire wall or screen, letting audiences of people experience films, together... It'll never work. By sheer coincidence – or maybe fate – their surname means “light.” Say hello to the Lumière Brothers and the first projected films. [Intro Music Plays] Auguste and Louis Lumière were born in the 1860s in eastern France. In 1870, their father moved the family to Lyon and opened a small factory that made photographic plates. The family business, like all my businesses, teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, until the brothers took over. They devised machines to help automate the plant, and invented a new and improved photo plate. By the time they started experimenting with film technology, the Lumière Brothers had lots of experience in business, engineering, manufacturing, and photography. They were intrigued by Edison’s motion picture devices, but quickly saw the flaws: the camera was hard to move, and only one person could watch a film at a time. So they went back to the basics, and made a better camera. Remember the intermittent stop-and-go mechanism – how motion picture cameras need to stop the film long enough to expose one frame to light, before moving the roll to the next frame? Well, the Lumière Brothers developed a device around the stop-and-go mechanisms used in sewing machines. They weren’t the only ones tinkering with this engineering problem, though. Inventors were working independently all over Europe and the United States, putting the pieces together that will one day become cinema. By 1897, the German optician-turned-film pioneer Oskar Messter perfected his design for the stop-and-go mechanism, called the Maltese Cross – named after the medal with the same shape. It’s also called the Geneva Drive, because it was first invented in Geneva, Switzerland for use in mechanical watches. Messter’s device has really stood the test of time: we still use a version of it in most projectors today. But, back to the Lumières and their motion picture camera. Transition PUNCH! Their whole contraption was a compact, portable box. It was light enough for one person to carry. The camera was operated by a hand crank, so it didn’t rely on an electric power source. It used the same 35 millimeter film as Edison’s kinetograph, but it could also develop the film that it shot – no more sending film off to a lab and waiting for the mail. ...I hate waiting for the mail. But, that's not all, once the film had been developed, the Lumière device could be reconfigured into a projection machine. So many things in one. It's so... aw it's just good. They could run the developed film back through the intermittent stop-and-go mechanism, and, with a bright light source, the images would project onto a wall or a screen. This device could do it all. You could carry it with you out into the world, capture footage, develop the film, and then project it, any time, anywhere, any way you wanted. Don't do it vertical though... commentors hate that. Compared to the kinetograph and kinetoscope, it was kind of like the technological leap from an old school flip phone to a smartphone. The Lumière Brothers wanted to call their invention the “cinématographe,” which means “writing with movement.” Like Edison, the Lumière Brothers were savvy businessmen, and secured international patents on all their technology. Doing Edison one better, they saw a lot of potential in having large, public film screenings. Before the public unveiling of their cinématographe, they held a series of private parties where they projected films for groups of distinguished guests, stoking interest and excitement. And then in Paris, on December 28th, 1895, at the Salon Indien in the basement of the Grand Café, Auguste and Louis Lumière screened a series of ten short films and changed the world forever. Now, I should mention that this wasn’t technically the first public screening of a motion picture. That honor, as far as we know, goes to Woodville Latham, an American chemist and kinetoscope owner, who projected a film of a boxing match in New York in May, 1895. What set the Lumière Brothers apart was that they played up the intrigue of their device and gained publicity, plus their superior image quality and the sheer number of films they presented. This is the movie business, after all, and hype almost always wins. So the credit for first successful public screening typically goes to Auguste and Louis Lumière. Sorry, Latham. Better luck next time. Maybe go back to chemistry. Among the films the Lumière Brothers screened that night was “The Train Arrives at La Ciotat Station.” In the film, a train – you guessed it – arrives at a station. Kinda spoiled it with the title. In a single, uninterrupted shot, it comes toward the camera, stops, and the passengers disembark. Legend has it that when the first audience saw this movie projected on the wall, it was so unfamiliar and realistic that they ran screaming from the theater, fearing for their lives. In recent years, historians have thrown cold water on this story for a couple reasons. First, seeing images projected onto walls wouldn’t have been a new experience for a lot of Parisians. Some version of the magic lantern projection device had been used for education and entertainment since the 17th century, employing a light source and a lens to project images or paintings from glass plates up onto a wall. Not to mention, most of the Lumière audience would probably have been aware of kinetoscope films. So chances are no one actually thought a train was about to drive through the wall and run them all down. More likely, the audience might have shrieked in delight at the size and clarity of the images projected, and at the sheer magic of seeing these pictures come to life. Remember, film presents us with the illusion of reality. And like any good magic trick or optical illusion, part of the thrill is knowing that what you’re seeing isn’t real, but not being able to tell how the magician pulled it off. The story of the screaming audience in the Grand Café also reveals the power film has to create a communal experience. While the technical wizardry of their cinématographe was groundbreaking, the unique group psychology of movie-going may have been the Lumières’ greatest contribution to film history. When you’re in an audience watching a film, you’re having a specific, personal experience, but you’re also part of a pop-up community. ... and sometimes that community has a has a bunch of kids who won't be quiet and you're trying to watch Batman vs. Superman! Think back to the last hysterical comedy you saw in a movie theater, and then tried to watch again by yourself at home. It’s not the same, is it? Film is this unique artistic medium that can take on different meanings depending when, where, and with whom you’re watching it. Now, the Lumière Brothers’ films all shared a few characteristics. They were silent, black-and-white, and uninterrupted shots that lasted less than a minute – much like the films out of Edison’s Black Maria. But rather than capturing stage performers and skits, the Lumière films were mini-documentaries, known as “actualités.” They focused on slices of everyday life: two babies fighting over lunch, a group of workers leaving a factory at the end of the day, and, of course, trains arriving at stations. These films were financially successful right out of the gate. The Lumière Brothers’ first screening brought in 35 francs, at 1 franc per person. And within a month, they were making 7,000 francs per week. that's... *counting* 7,000 people! Meanwhile, other inventors were making cinématographe-like devices with cool names like the Bioskop and the Theatrograph. Some were directly inspired by the Lumière Brothers, while others were independent. Thomas Edison saw the financial success the Lumière Brothers were having and wanted a very big piece of that action – abandoning the kinetoscope to jump into theatrical projection. Edison and other inventors also began experimenting with longer films. BORING! But there was a big problem: these longer film strips kept tearing inside the projector. Enter Woodville Latham. Remember him? The guy who really held the first public projection of a movie? He held the patent for the Latham Loop, a different way to feed film into a projector, which involved a pair of small, loose loops of film – one above and one below the projector’s lens – held in place with extra sprockets. This helped protect the film from vibrations and tension, which could lead to damage. In 1895, another pair of early film pioneers, C. Francis Jenkins and Thomas Armat, used the Latham Loop in a projector of their own design and called it the Vitascope. Edison saw this device, bought it outright, and released it as the “Edison Vitascope,” giving the original inventors almost no credit… ‘cause that’s how Thomas Edison rolled. Throughout all this experimentation, most people thought of films as a fad that would burn brightly for a few years, and then disappear – like arsenic as medicine, séances, or Victorian “tear catchers.” Even the Lumière Brothers got out of the movie business in 1905, because they didn’t see a future for film. Good idea! And it’s true, 50-second Vaudeville performances and actualités will only entertain audiences for so long. But film was growing into something bigger – a method of mass communication that was starting to make itself indispensable. As time went on, filmmakers would take cinématographes to far-flung places, capturing movies of the Amazon Basin, the pyramids at Giza, and the ruins of Ancient Rome. Suddenly, you could walk into a theater in Peoria, Illinois and see Sherpas climbing the Himalayas. ... Without drugs! In some ways, these kinds of films knit the world closer together, showing people sights they’d never experience in real life. You can even compare film history to the early days of YouTube. Sure, we started with Jawed at the zoo, and cat videos, and kids on dental anesthesia. But that was just scratching the surface of a medium that has let us create so many weird, wonderful, and important things, and has changed the way we see ourselves and the world around us. Today, we introduced you to the Lumière Brothers and their cinématographe, the all-in-one camera, film developing lab, and projector. We learned about the first big public film screenings, and how people were beginning to have collective movie-going experiences, as well as very personal ones. We discussed actualités, the snapshots of everyday life, and how some filmmakers were beginning to push the envelope, exploring the world and making longer movies. And next time, we’ll talk about the very first films to tell stories, using editing and special effects to manipulate reality in exciting new ways. Crash Course Film History is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. You can head over to their channel to check out a playlist of their latest amazing shows, like PBS Infinite Series, The Art Assignment, and Brain Craft. This episode of Crash Course was filmed in the Doctor Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio with the help of these nice actualites and our amazing graphics team, is Thought Cafe.



The Lumière brothers were born in Besançon, France, to Charles-Antoine Lumière (1840–1913)[3] and Jeanne Joséphine Costille Lumière, who were married in 1861 and moved to Besançon, setting up a small photographic portrait studio where Auguste and Louis were born. They moved to Lyon in 1870, where son Edouard and three daughters were born. Auguste and Louis both attended La Martiniere, the largest technical school in Lyon.[4] Their father Charles-Antoine set up a small factory producing photographic plates, but even with Louis and a young sister working from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. it teetered on the verge of bankruptcy, and by 1882 it looked as if they would fail, but when Auguste returned from military service the boys designed the machines necessary to automate their father's plate production and devised a very successful new photo plate, 'etiquettes bleue', and by 1884 the factory employed a dozen workers.

Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France
Cinématographe Lumière at the Institut Lumière, France

When their father retired in 1892 the brothers began to create moving pictures. They patented several significant processes leading up to their film camera, most notably film perforations (originally implemented by Emile Reynaud) as a means of advancing the film through the camera and projector. The original cinématographe had been patented by Léon Guillaume Bouly on 12 February 1892.[5] The brothers patented their own version on 13 February 1895.[6] The first footage ever to be recorded using it was recorded on 19 March 1895. This first film shows workers leaving the Lumière factory.

The Lumière brothers saw film as a novelty and had withdrawn from the film business in 1905. They went on to develop the first practical photographic colour process, the Lumière Autochrome.

Tomb of the Lumière brothers in the New Guillotière Cemetery in Lyon
Tomb of the Lumière brothers in the New Guillotière Cemetery in Lyon

Louis died on 6 June 1948 and Auguste on 10 April 1954. They are buried in a family tomb in the New Guillotière Cemetery in Lyon.

First film screenings

The Lumières held their first private screening of projected motion pictures in 1895. This first screening on 22 March 1895 took place in Paris, at the "Society for the Development of the National Industry", in front of an audience of 200 people – among which Léon Gaumont, then director of the company the Comptoir géneral de la photographie. The main focus of this conference by Louis Lumière were the recent developments in the photograph industry, mainly the research on polychromy (colour photography). It was much to Lumière's surprise that the moving black-and-white images retained more attention than the coloured stills photographs.[7] The American Woodville Latham had screened works of film 2 months later on 20 May 1895.[8] The first public screening of films at which admission was charged was a program by the Skladanowsky brothers that was held on 1 November 1895, in Berlin.[9]

The Lumières gave their first paid public screening on 28 December 1895, at Salon Indien du Grand Café in Paris.[10] This history-making presentation featured 10 short films, including their first film, Sortie des Usines Lumière à Lyon (Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory).[11]

Lumières La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon 1895
Lumières La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon 1895

Each film is 17 meters long, which, when hand cranked through a projector, runs approximately 50 seconds.

The world's first film poster, for 1895's L'Arroseur arrosé
The world's first film poster, for 1895's L'Arroseur arrosé

It is believed their first film was recorded that same year (1895) with Léon Bouly's cinématographe device, which was patented the previous year. The date of the recording of their first film is in dispute. In an interview with Georges Sadoul given in 1948, Louis Lumière tells that he shot the film in August 1894. This is questioned by historians (Sadoul, Pinel, Chardère) who consider that a functional Lumière camera didn't exist before the end of 1894, and that their first film was recorded 19 March 1895, and then publicly projected 22 March at the Société d'encouragement pour l'industrie nationale in Paris. The cinématographe — a three-in-one device that could record, develop, and project motion pictures — was further developed by the Lumières.[12]

The public debut at the Grand Café came a few months later and consisted of the following 10 short films (in order of presentation):[13]

  1. La Sortie de l'Usine Lumière à Lyon (literally, "the exit from the Lumière factory in Lyon", or, under its more common English title, Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory), 46 seconds
  2. Le Jardinier (l'Arroseur Arrosé) ("The Gardener", or "The Sprinkler Sprinkled"), 49 seconds
  3. Le Débarquement du Congrès de Photographie à Lyon ("the disembarkment of the Congress of Photographers in Lyon"), 48 seconds
  4. La Voltige ("Horse Trick Riders"), 46 seconds
  5. La Pêche aux poissons rouges ("fishing for goldfish"), 42 seconds
  6. Les Forgerons ("Blacksmiths"), 49 seconds
  7. Repas de bébé ("Baby's Breakfast" (lit. "baby's meal")), 41 seconds
  8. Le Saut à la couverture ("Jumping Onto the Blanket"), 41 seconds
  9. La Places des Cordeliers à Lyon ("Cordeliers Square in Lyon"—a street scene), 44 seconds
  10. La Mer (Baignade en mer) ("the sea [bathing in the sea]"), 38 seconds

The Lumières went on tour with the cinématographe in 1896, visiting Brussels (the first place a film was played outside Paris on the Galleries Saint-Hubert on 1 March 1896), Bombay, London, Montreal, New York City and Buenos Aires.

In 1896, only a few months after the initial screenings in Europe, films by the Lumiere Brothers were shown in Egypt, first in the Tousson stock exchange in Alexandria on 5 November 1896 and then in the Hamam Schneider (Schneider Bath) in Cairo.[14][15]

The moving images had an immediate and significant influence on popular culture with L'Arrivée d'un Train en Gare de la Ciotat (literally, "the arrival of a train at La Ciotat", but more commonly known as Arrival of a Train at a Station) and Carmaux, défournage du coke (Drawing out the coke). Their actuality films, or actualités, are often cited as the first, primitive documentaries. They also made the first steps towards comedy film with the slapstick of L'Arroseur Arrosé.

Early colour photography

Autochrome colour picture by Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud of North-African soldiers, Oise, France, 1917.
Autochrome colour picture by Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud of North-African soldiers, Oise, France, 1917.

The brothers stated that "the cinema is an invention without any future" and declined to sell their camera to other filmmakers such as Georges Méliès. This made many film makers upset. Consequently, their role in the history of film was exceedingly brief. In parallel with their cinema work they experimented with colour photography. They worked on a number of colour photographic processes in the 1890s including the Lippmann process (interference heliochromy) and their own 'bichromated glue' process,[16] a subtractive colour process, examples of which were exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900. This last process was commercialised by the Lumieres but commercial success had to wait for their next colour process. In 1903 they patented a colour photographic process, the Autochrome Lumière, which was launched on the market in 1907.[17] Throughout much of the 20th century, the Lumière company was a major producer of photographic products in Europe, but the brand name, Lumière, disappeared from the marketplace following merger with Ilford.[18] They also invented the colour plate, which really got photography on the road.

Other early cinematographers

The Lumière Brothers were not the only ones to claim the title of the first cinematographers. The scientific chronophotography devices developed by Eadweard Muybridge, Étienne-Jules Marey and Ottomar Anschütz in the 1880s were able to produce moving photographs, and William Friese-Greene's "machine camera", patented in 1889, did so on a strip of film.[19] Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope (developed by William Kennedy Dickson), premiered publicly in 1894.[20]

Since 1892, the projected drawings of Émile Reynaud's Théâtre Optique were attracting Paris crowds to the Musée Grévin. Louis Le Prince and Claude Mechant had been shooting moving picture sequences on paper film as soon as 1888, but had never performed a public demonstration. Polish inventor, Kazimierz Prószyński had built his camera and projecting device, called Pleograph, in 1894. Max and Emil Skladanowsky, inventors of the Bioscop, had offered projected moving images to a paying public one month earlier (1 November 1895, in Berlin). Nevertheless, film historians consider the Grand Café screening to be the true birth of the cinema as a commercial medium, because the Skladanowsky brothers' screening used an extremely impractical dual system motion picture projector that was immediately supplanted by the Lumiere cinematographe.[21]

Although the Lumière brothers were not the first inventors to develop techniques to create motion pictures, they are often credited as among the first inventors of the technology for cinema as a mass medium, and are among the first who understood how to use it.

See also

Their house in Lyon is now the Institut Lumière museum.
Their house in Lyon is now the Institut Lumière museum.



  1. ^ "Louis Lumière, 83, A Screen Pioneer. Credited in France With The Invention of Motion Picture". The New York Times. 7 June 1948. Retrieved 29 April 2008.
  2. ^ "Died". Time. 14 June 1948. Retrieved 29 April 2008. Louis Lumière, 83, wealthy motion-picture and colour-photography pioneer, whom (with his brother Auguste) Europeans generally credit with inventing the cinema; of a heart ailment; in Bandol, France.
  3. ^ "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  4. ^ Gina De Angelis (2003). Motion Pictures. The Oliver Press. ISBN 978-1-881508-78-6.
  5. ^ "Brevet FR 219.350". Cinematographes. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Brevet FR 245.032". Cinematographes. Retrieved 12 November 2013.
  7. ^ Chardère 1985, p. 71.
  8. ^ Burns, Paul. "1895 Major Woodville Latham (1838–1911)"., October 1999. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Who's Who of Victorian Cinema". Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  10. ^ 28 December 1895.
  11. ^ "La première séance publique payante", Institut Lumière Archived 12 September 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ Chardère 1987, p. 70.
  13. ^ "Bienvenue sur Adobe GoLive 4"., 12 September 2005. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  14. ^ Leaman, Oliver (2003-12-16). Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film. Routledge. ISBN 9781134662524.
  15. ^ "Alexandria, Why? (The Beginnings of the Cinema Industry in Alexandria)". Bibliotheca Alexandrina's AlexCinema.
  16. ^ "Lumiere Trichrome". Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  17. ^ Lavédrine and Gandolfo 2013, p. 70.
  18. ^ "City of Lyon Document". Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  19. ^ "William Friese-Greene". Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  20. ^ "Chronology of Film Shows pre-1896". Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  21. ^ Cook 2004, p. 34.


  • Chardère, B. Les images des Lumière (in French). Paris: Gallimard, 1995. ISBN 2-07-011462-7.
  • Chardère, B., G. Borgé, G. and M. Borge. Les Lumière (in French). Paris: Bibliothèque des Arts, 1985. ISBN 2-85047-068-6.
  • Cook, David. A History of Narrative Film (4th ed.). New York: W. W. Norton, 2004. ISBN 0-393-97868-0.
  • Lavédrine, Bertrand and Jean-Paul Gandolfo. The Lumière Autochrome: History, Technology, and Preservation. Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2013. ISBN 978-1-60606-125-1.
  • Mast, Gerald and Bruce F. Kawin. A Short History of the Movies (9th ed.). New York: Pearson Longman, 2006. ISBN 0-321-26232-8.
  • Rittaud-Hutinet, Jacques. Le cinéma des origines (in French). Seyssel, France: Champ Vallon, 1985. ISBN 2-903528-43-8.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 February 2019, at 01:36
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