British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Media Magica Series (6 Parts)

Synopsis
MEDIA MAGICA is a series of six DVDs on the world of pre-cinema - the magic of creating an illusion of movement and ‘writing with light’ - produced by German filmmaker and researcher Werner Nekes. The first in the series, FILM BEFORE FILM, was produced in 1985 and the rest of the series in 2004."
Language
English
Country
Germany
Year of release
2005
Year of production
2004
Subjects
Media studies; Technology
Keywords
cinematography; history of cinema; movement; perspective; pre-cinema history; shadow puppets; technological innovation; visual illusion; stereoscopic images; camera obscura; magic lanterns

Distribution Formats

Type
DVD
Format
Region 0
Price
£15.99 each part
Availability
Sale
Duration/Size
various
Year
2005

Sections

Title
Film before Film
Synopsis
Werner Nekes explains the beginnings of cinematography using his own collection of pre-cinematic devices which span five centures. He demonstrates the evolutionary and inventive processes that form the complex development of the moving image. Nekes shows how brilliantly inventive the forerunners of cinema were in ‘writing with light’ and how many of today’s complex principles of filmic expression had already been anticipated. Includes diaramas, 17th-century peep shows, lithophanes, mutoscopes, zoetropes, flick books, lantern slides, phenakistoscopes, praxinoscopes and various other inventions. (Made in 1986).
Duration
83 mins

Title
Beyond the Image
Synopsis
The film traces the history of the camera obscura, the understanding of perspective and anamorphosis, peepshows, and the beauty of historical shadow theaters and shadow toys.

Traces the history of the Camera Obscura, the peep-show, anamorphoses and shadow theatre. The principle of the Camera Obscura was already known in the fourth century: a dark room where a picture of the outside world passes through a small hole and is pictured back-to-front and upside-down on the opposite wall. This is the principle that, approximately 1500 years later, made the development of the photo and movie cameras possible. The principle of the Camera Obscura played a role in the research of the laws of perspective. On the other hand, the peepbox is often a reversal of the principle of the Camera Obscura. In the Camera Obscura, or rather, with its help, views are sketched ‚ in the peep-show, such views are observed. However, research on perspectives awakens an interest in its irregularities, in distorted pictures ‚ anamorphoses. Already, prior to the play with perspective, the play with light and shadow was developed. The thousand-year old tradition of the shadow theatre lives on today, especially in oriental cultures.
Duration
53 mins

Title
Multi-thousand Picture Show
Synopsis
Picture montage was a central aspect in the early history of visual media. As early as the 16th century, techniques such as the folding picture montage anticipated those used in film today. Other examples of early forms of montage are transparencies, picture puzzles and blow books, which direct the gaze towards hidden information. In the myriorama, the multi-thousand picture-show, it is possible to assemble infinite landscapes.
Duration
55 mins

Title
Pictures come to Life
Synopsis
The history of the magic lantern with demonstrations of moving slides, watertank or polarisation slides, followed by images on paper, which are brought to life with mechanical manipulations, with light shining through them, or as panoramas.
Duration
53 mins

Title
Ambiguous Image and Space, The
Synopsis
The film looks at ways of creating special illusions through ambiguous images, perspective theatres, folding peepshows and from the 19th century, the stereoscope, which look forward to today’s holography.
Duration
53 mins

Title
Magic Drum, The
Synopsis
Other essential predecessors of film were those devices that created the illusion of motion by taking advantage of the persistence of vision and the stroboscopic effect, such as the thaumatrope, phenakistoscope or wheel of life, zoetrope or magic drum and praxinoscope and later on, the more sophisticated flip-books such as the kinora and the mutoscope.

In 1896 the Lumiére brothers combined the principle of the Camera Obscura, which takes the picture, with that of the Magic Lantern, which reproduces the picture, to construct the cinematograph. But movies, moving picture series‚ are first made possible by after-image effects and stroboscopic effects. Many early scientists had already studied this phenomenon by using revolving objects and discs and thus prepared the way for the cinematograph. The thaumatrope is a rotating disc with pictures on both sides; when it is rapidly revolved, both picture sides melt into one. The phenakistiscope, the zoetrope and the praxinoscope, so-called "wheel of life" and "magic drum", show pictured phases of movement in an endless loop The stills taken by Edward Muybridge demonstrate in exact analysis, movement phases, for example, the leg movements of a horse’s stride. In the early days of films, many flickerbooks appear on the market: "thumb movies", mutoscope and kinora, where the viewer himself could regulate the speed of the movement of the printed film pictures.
Duration
53 mins

Production Company

Name

Werner Nekes Film Produktion

Web
http://www.wernernekes.de/shop_haupt.htm External site opens in new window

Distributor

Name

Moviemail

Web
https://www.simplyhe.com/3000-moviemail External site opens in new window
Phone
0844 848 2000
Address
Simply Home Entertainment
PO Box 7741
Ringwood
BH24 9FA
UK
Notes
As of December 2016 the Moviemail web presence is incorporated within the Simply Media website

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