Voice overs or lectures were used as the common mode of giving the motion pictures substance and for increasing theatrical effect for the audiences. Through the study of various journals and documentary evidence, Silent era cinema can be insightful into the evolution of cinema in America and the world.
Eadweard Muybridge is touted as the pioneer of motion pictures when he introduced series photography, which is cited as a significant contribution to the development of motion pictures. The Lumiere brothers invented the Cinematographe, which was filming device for shooting, projecting and printing motion pictures (Musser 59). Thus, these two individuals are credited for being the true fathers of cinema. The first films were referred to as ‘actualities’ maybe because of their depiction of the real life events that portrayed a semblance of reality to their audience. The use of the Lumiere Brothers’ invention made it possible for films to be exhibited to large audiences and for commercial purposes (Wasko 64). This led to the establishment of film companies and notable among them was the Edison Film Company that existed from 1893 to 1906. Early films from the Edison Company include Exiting the Factory, Arrival of a Train at La Ciota and Baby’s Lunch. Early were shots of everyday life activities and experiences, which run for less a minute and no more than 3 minutes to audiences mostly on shop front exhibitions (Everson 69). The emergence of the acting business is attributed to Edison through his films like Blacksmithing Scene, Three American Beauties and The Gay Shoe Clerk. These films were acted people who purposely participated in the film making exercise to earn an income out of their ability to produce desired outcomes for their intended audience. Another significant aspect of the Silent era of cinema is that it was mainly based in New York unlike today’s film industry that is predominantly based in Hollywood, California