cinemaEveryone loves to sit down and watch a good movie, whether an action film, a horror, or a comedy. Film, the technique of projecting a series of moving images, has existed for more than a hundred years. However, it has changed a massive amount since then.

In this article we’ll look at how cinema has evolved, from the first black and white films to the technologies used in film today.

It is a long journey that will be presented to you with a series of GIFs and short descriptions.

The Lumière brothers

La Sortie de l'usine Lumière à Lyon

La Sortie de l’usine Lumière à Lyon

The Lumière brothers, the inventors of cinematography, began experimenting with moving images in 1892.

In 1895, they made their first film: Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory. During the premiere, many of the audience panicked, thinking the train was coming straight at them.

The purpose of the first films was primarily to document, but gradually they began to focus on storytelling.

A Trip to the Moon

Un viaje a la luna

Un viaje a la luna

En 1902 George Méliès used cinematography to add effects to his shows. His best known work was A Trip to the Moon, in which he began using visual effects. These effects were nothing compared with what we have today, but at the time they were truly extraordinary.

Silent film

Making a Living (1914) - Charlie Chaplin

Making a Living con Charlie Chaplin

One of the biggest players in silent film was of course Charlie Chaplin. His films were based on slapstick, mimicry and other visual comedy techniques. He is now a legend in the world of film.

The evolution of sets

El Acorazado Potemkin

El Acorazado Potemkin

In the film Battleship Potemkin, Sergei Eisenstein used techniques which had never been used before in film, such as using the movement of the camera, or using high angles. These ideas might seem basic now, but at the time they were revolutionary.

 The arrival of sound

Famosa por la frase:

Famosa por la frase: “Ain’t Heard Nothin’ Yet”

From the beginning, film makers sought to find a way to add sound to their films. However, this was not achieved until 1927. It was first introduced by Warner Bros. in the film The Jazz Singer. From this moment on, all of the big studios began making their own “talkies”, as films with sound were known then.

 Colour film

Becky Sharp de 1935

Becky Sharp de 1935

Technicolor, a process which allows colours to be used in film, was created in 1917. The first feature-length movie to be filmed entirely in colour was Becky Sharp. Even so, black and white cinema predominated for another decade.

 Animated film

Blancanieves y los siete enanitos

Blancanieves y los siete enanitos

Although the first feature-length animated film, Quirino Cristiani’s El Apóstol, was made in 1917, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was the first film to really bring animated films to the forefront. Years later, Fantasia, another Walt Disney film, was another success, becoming a classic animated film.

Film genres

El bueno, el feo y el malo - Duelo final

El bueno, el feo y el malo – Duelo final

As the industry grew, various film genres began to emerge. These differ in their style, setting, production, or audience. A very popular genre in the US was the Western.

Dolby sound

Intro de La naranja mecánica

Intro de La naranja mecánica

Sound has continued to improve over the years. Dolby, the famous technology company which we all know today, debuted its technology in A Clockwork Orange, which used Dolby noise reduction. 

Star Wars

Star Wars

Star Wars

Death Stars, light sabres and outer-space high-speed chases are just some of the things Star Wars introduced to us.

This film changed the world of film in every sense. As well as the use of models filmed outdoors, the use of  Foley effects was very significant. Foley, the use of everyday sound effects, was used to create the dounds of the spaceships and light sabres.

If you’d like to know how they made the sound effects for the film, make sure you check out this video.

Digital film

Toy Story de Pixar

Toy Story de Pixar

Do you know why Toy Story is so important in the world of film? Because it was the first computer animated feature-length film. Before then, models were used. With this film, Pixar marked a real turning point.

3D cinema



It might not have the best plot, but Avatar by James Cameron was a catalyst for the use of 3D in film. Nowadays many films also come in a 3D version.


There still plenty of revolutionary techniques and films we don’t have the space to mention here, like VertigoCitizen Kane2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Matrix.

If you can name any more, leave us a comment below. Meanwhile, take a look at this video which sums up the history of film in 3 minutes:

Domingo Gomes (@mingogomes on Twitter) is an app, new technology and video game lover. Currently working at BQ Channel, he's a BQ forum mediator in Portuguese and content editor.