The Handbook of Kinematography

William Friese-Greene

William Friese-Greene, from The Handbook of Kinematography

Just in at The Bioscope Library is one of the standard technical manuals of the period, and boon to many a film historian ever since, Colin Bennett’s The Handbook of Kinematography. Bennett was a cameraman, inventor (he devised a colour cinematograph process, Cinechrome, in 1914) and regular contributor on technical subjects to the Kinematograph and Lantern Weekly. This handbook, published by the Kinematograph Weekly in 1911, is a thorough and handsomely illustrated account of early motion picture technology and the practicalities of producing and exhibiting films.

It is easiest to give an idea of the range of the book by listing the chapters:

Part 1:
1. Photographic Principle
2. Kinematograph Camera
3. Choice of a Camera Kit
4. In the Field. Scenic Work
5. Topicals
6. The Dark Room
7. Development
8. Positive Making or Printing
9. Tinting, Toning and Titling Positives
10. The After-Treatment of Negatives and Positives
11. Drying
12. Trick Kinematography
13. Rehearsed Effects

Part 2:
1. The Elements of Projection
2. Persistence of Vision
3. Apparatus used in Projection
4. The Illuminant. Electricity
5. Limelight and Minor Illuminants
6. In the Operating Box

Part 3:
1. Acting before the Kinematograph (by Henry Morrell)
2. Playing to Pictures (by A.E. Taylor)
3. The Still Slide
4. The Kinematograph Camera Abroad
5. Scientific and Technical Kinematography
6. Self-Preservation in the Trade
7. Management of a Picture Theatre
8. The Law and the Kinematograph

All you needed to know, really. Some of Bennett’s understanding of film history is askew (particularly his patriotic championing of William Friese-Greene’s nebulous achievements), but for the motion picture technologies of the day his knowledge is prodigious, leavened with a lot of practical commonsense, and the illustrations alone (along with some contemporary advertisements) are a rich source of information. The book is available from our old friends the Internet Archive, in DjVu (16MB), PDF (44MB), b/w PDF (19MB) and TXT (689KB) formats.

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