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The origin of the word film can be traced to the material or medium that is photographic film (also called filmstock) which has from the beginning used to record and show on the screen moving pictures, or motion pictures, and in common parlance, simply movies. Film can be termed to mean a single motion picture or the complete field in general. Interestingly, moving pictures or movies are also known as just pictures, the silver screen, photoplays, the cinema, flicks, or picture shows.

Films are made by shooting pictures of people, places, objects or sequences of people and objects in motion using a camera. The series of frames containing these pictures recorded on celluloid, which is the medium used for recording films are then shown on a screen using a projector. Films can also be created using the technique of animation or by introducing special effects. These individual frames appear to come together on the screen in succession, without a break because of an effect known as persistence of vision. This simply means that it takes more than a fraction of a second for the eye to erase the image of a frame containing a visual image seen and when the next frame is seen, it appears to be a continuation of the earlier image without any break. This illusion of continuous motion is what has made films interesting and appealing through the ages. The psychological effect which causes the awareness of continuous motion is beta movement.

Films are considered to be one of the major forms of art as they can make the viewers laugh, cry, think, and relate themselves to what they see on the screen. In addition to the basic business of entertainment, films can also used for education and as a means of communication. The visual images in this art form can convey meaning even if the audience is oblivious of the language used on screen. Films made in languages foreign to an audience can be understood by the means of dubbing or subtitles which are sentences of dialogue rewritten on screen in the language known to the audience. Films created by a particular community, group, or race of people normally reflect the culture of that particular people.

History of film

The earliest known devices for displaying images were the magic lanterns. The zoetrope and the praxinoscope were refined developments of the magic lantern which projected pictures at a required speed to give the viewer an illusion of movement. The images and pictures had to be made in such a way that the illusion of continuity was retained and this became the basis of the principle of animation.

Earlier, even with the development of celluloid film and still photography, it was only possible to watch a continuous series of images through an aperture in a box like device which gave the viewer a feeling of continuous movement. The 1880’s saw the birth of the motion picture cameras, which made it possible for images to be filmed and stored on a reel. The motion picture projector followed soon used the technique of passing strong light through processed film containing images to be displayed on a screen. These pictures which moved became “moving picture shows” and the reels containing the films became the “motion pictures” –medium which soon reached the zenith in universal appeal.