One of my favorite earliest filmmakers would have to be Georges Melies. The first time I saw A Trip to the Moon I was completely awe-struck. The way Melies, within that film, practically created the genre of science-fiction is utterly brilliant. Arguably considered the father of science-fiction, Melies forever changed the cinema timeline with his own innovations. Originally a magician, Melies used technologies within film to enhance his career not as a filmmaker, but as a magician. Working at the Theatre Robert-Houdin as a magician, it was after observing the Lumieres’ camera that prompted his interest in film.
It was then in 1897 that Melies decided to open his own studio. He then went to direct films where the actors would stand in front of painted sets that he created and were inspired by his love for magic. The story of Melies’ learned love for special effects is indeed one to be told. While he was shooting one of his many films in a city street one day, the camera jammed. While the camera was originally rolling, a carriage was passing through the frame. But only after the camera had jammed and then been repaired, as soon as the camera started rolling again, a hearse was now in the exact same place as the carriage had been placed previously.Order now
This gave the effect that the carriage was instantly changed into a hearse, and thus, special effects were born. Melies learned to use this in many different and entertaining ways. He was able to make people disappear and reappear again, as if by some sort of magic trick. He could substitute dummies in for actual humans, and then use the dummies for extreme conditions that the human body could not withstand. He could change animals to trees, cars to rocks, people into thin air; the list is virtually endless. Another innovation that Melies contributed to was the technique of double exposure.
In Melies’ film The Four Talking Heads, the main character, played by Melies himself, was able to replicate himself on the screen, or that was the impression the audience was given. For example, a set of chairs would be facing the audience. Melies would enter frame and sit in one of the chairs, then after he would stand up from the chair, not only would he be standing next to the chair, but another Georges Melies would still be sitting in the chair, thus giving the impression that there are, in fact, two Georges Melies existing within the frame. And he would do this seven or eight more times, creating an entire crowd of himself.
Melies also first introduced color in film. While actually making an entire film in color is years away, Melies still managed to use it within his films. Usually using only one color, and although must have been somewhat of a tedious task, artists could paint the actual film negative frame by frame to give the film color. For example, in one of his films, Melies makes the decision to give a dancing woman a yellow dress to make her look bright and cheerful. This may not seem like a very important invention to any film viewer in 2006, but around 1900 color was not even a thinkable possibility on screen.