Roundhay Garden Scene is the oldest surviving film in existence and is considered by most to be the first movie ever made using a single lens camera.
It is a short silent black and white movie and was filmed and directed by French Inventor Louis Le Prince. The film was made at Oakwood Grange in Roundhay, Leeds on October 14 1888.
It features Adolphe Le Prince (son), Sarah Whitley (mother-in-law), Joseph Whitley (father-in-law) and Harriet Hartley. They are all seen walking around in the Oakwood Grange garden of Joseph and Sarah Whiteley. Curiously, Sarah Whiteley is seen walking backwards as she turns around and Joseph Whiteley’s coat tails are flying as he also turns. Sadly, Sarah Whitley died ten days after this scene was filmed.
This digital version of the first movie, was produced by the National Museum of Photography Film and Television and has 52 frames with a run time of 2.11 seconds at 24.64 frame/s (the modern cinematographic frame-rate).
It switches the left side and the right side from the 1931 National Science Museum copy (seen below) in which the house is incorrectly shown on the right side of the scene. This is because paper parts on the left side of the film, reduced visibility. By having the distortion on the right side, a more pleasing effect for viewing is created.
Louis Le Prince has been heralded as the ‘Father of Cinematography’ since 1930 for having filmed the first movie ever on paper film using a single lens camera.
A Frenchman, who also worked in the United Kingdom and the United States, Louis conducted his ground-breaking work in 1888 in the city of Leeds, England. This was several years before the work of competing inventors such as the Lumière brothers and Thomas Edison.
Louis Aimé Augustin Le Prince
Born 28 August 1841 – Vanished 16 September 1890
Scene 1888 by Louis Le Prince
Louis Le Prince's Single Lens Combination Camera Projector Type-1 MkII (LPCCP Type-1 MkII) used to film the world's first movie, Roundhay Garden Scene in 1888. It shows the front and side of the original camera.
Louis Le Prince's Single Lens Combination Camera Projector Type-1 MkII (LPCCP Type-1 MkII) showing the back or rear view with two rolls of paper-based film on spools.
Louis Le Prince's Roundhay Garden Scene 1888 frames copy of 1931 from the National Science Museum London showing 20 frames of film.
Louis Le Prince, inventor who made the world's first movie Roundhay Garden Scene in Leeds, using his single lens camera in 1888.
The World's First Movie
The Roundhay Garden Scene was recorded on an Eastman Kodak 1885 paper-based photographic film through Louis Le Prince's single lens combination camera projector Type-1 MkII (seen below). According to his son Alphonse Le Prince it was recorded at 12 frames per second.
In 1889 Louis Le Prince acquired dual French-American citizenship with the view of establishing himself and his family in New York and also for furthering his research.
He was planning to patent his camera in the UK and then promote it publicly in New York.
He decided to go home to France to visit family and friends. On 16 September 1890 after visiting his brother, he was due to take a train to Paris. Mysteriously, Louis never arrived.
He disappeared without a trace.
Not long afterwards, Thomas Edison tried to take credit as the inventor of cinematography. Understandably, Louis Le Prince's wife Elizabeth and son Adolphe were keen to advance his cause as inventor.
In 1898 Adolphe Le Prince appeared as a witness for the defence in a court case brought by Thomas Edison against the American Mutoscope Company claiming that Edison was the first and sole inventor of cinematography. Adolphe was not allowed to present his fathers two cameras as evidence and eventually the court ruled in favour of Edison.
A year later that ruling was overturned…...
Louis Le Prince Disappearance
The First Movie Camera with a Single Lens
Louis Le Prince
Louis Le Prince also made two other films using the same camera and process as his first movie Roundhay Garden
The world's first movies were initially only a few seconds long due to technological restraints but as development methods progressed they increased in duration.