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Films that were FIRST at something


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Curious to see what we could add to my list here, a film title and what it was the first to do:

 

Barfly (1987): First to use legitimate Kino Flo fixtures

American Graffiti (1973): First to write scenes to pre-existing pop music, also advanced adaptive diegetic sound design. First to shoot night exteriors with available light.
(Also might be the first non-historical "retro" film?)

Attack of the Clones (2002): First big budget feature to be shot entirely in digital HD.

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The Jazz Singer, synchronised sound.

The Robe, first widescreen.

Becky Sharp, three-strip technicolor.

Lady and the Tramp, CinemaScope.

Westworld, two-dimensional CGI.

Tron and Star Trek II probably deserve to share "first significant 3D CGI in a feature."

Rocky, Steadicam

Matrix, bullet time

Amelie, digital intermediate.

In each case, these were the first features to use the techniques, which were invariably tried and developed on shorts and art projects.

 

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"2001 A Space Odyssey" (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)- video assist. Sort of.

"The Great Train Robbery" (Edwin Porter, 1903)- first fictional narrative. A short by modern standards.

"Sortie de l'usine Lumière de Lyon" (Lumière brothers, 1895)- first film shown to a paying audience. Very short.

(I think Phil means LATT to be the first animated 'Scope feature. Speaking of which- "Snow White" (1937)- first animated feature.)

I think I'd have to challenge AG with, at least, "A Hard Day's Night" (Richard Lester, 1964), assuming I didn't forget what "diegesis" meant shortly after I learnt about it in film school.

 

Edited by Mark Dunn
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38 minutes ago, Mark Dunn said:

I think I'd have to challenge AG with, at least, "A Hard Day's Night" (Richard Lester, 1964), assuming I didn't forget what "diegesis" meant shortly after I learnt about it in film school.

Diegetic meaning meaning organic sounds from foley/action and not a soundtrack.  Watched the BTS for American Graffiti and a lot of the sound design in it took a lot of mic placement into account, and moving the mic placement while recording in sync with the footage.

Like when a character walked out of a party, the foley artist moved the mic further and further away from a speaker play the party music to create audible distance. Before they would just turn it down on a slider I'm guessing. Further fuel for EQ never beating a good mic placement. A similar technique ended up being used far more complexly on Star Wars for the lightsaber sounds.

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It's super hard to know "firsts" for real. A lot of tech has been used sparsely on smaller projects before going onto bigger ones. For instance, did anyone know that the first film to have Dolby Digital was Star Trek 6, back in 1991, years before the first major digital releases? 

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I agree that it's hard to say who was first, particularly since most of us haven't seen everything, there might have been some indie movie to shoot nights in available light before "American Graffiti" -- certainly Jeanne Moreau's walk through the city in "Elevator to the Gallows" comes to mind for a night sequence shot in available light. 100 ASA color film came out in mid-1968 so it seems unlikely that it took four years before someone tried shooting city night scenes in available light in color.


"The Robe" (1953) was the first CinemaScope film but the craze for widescreen was kicked off the year before by "This Is Cinerama" (1952), a non-fiction feature. And before those films, there were the few widescreen large-format movies of like "The Big Trail" (1930, 2.00:1 65mm Fox Grandeur) and the Polyvision sequence in "Napoleon" (1927).

As for video assist:
https://www.cnet.com/news/video-assist-predates-jerry-lewis-patent/#:~:text=It turns out that video,2008 interview with Peter Bogdanovich.&text=As the name suggests%2C the,to review what's being filmed.

Generally Jerry Lewis is credited with early video assist usage on "The Bellboy" (1960). Joe Dunton built a video assist for "Oliver!" (1968) that some credit as the first integrated system but that might be incorrect.

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I don't believe "Amelie" (2001) wasn't the first digital intermediate. That honor would probably go to "O Brother Where Art Thou?" (2000) though large parts of "Pleasantville" (1998) went through a digital intermediate. But it depends on how you define digital intermediate, does an entire reel have to be completed and recorded back to film at once rather than piecemeal and spliced together?  Some would say the first feature-length digital intermediate was the 4K restoration of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1993.

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"La Fée aux Choux" (1896) - the first narrative fiction film, the first film with a screenplay and the first film directed by a woman (Alice Guy-Blaché)

"The Story of the Kelly Gang" (1906) - the first feature length narrative film, made in my home town of Melbourne and first shown at the Athenaeum Theatre, which is still going.

"The Great Train Robbery" (1903) - the first film to use cross cutting.

"The Great Train Robbery" (1904) - the first remake!

"With Our King and Queen in India" (1912) - the first colour feature.

"The Birth of a Nation" (1915) - the first Hollywood blockbuster.

'The Fall of a Nation" (1916) - the first sequel!

"Rythmus 21" (1921) - the first completely abstract film.

"The Broadway Melody" (1929) - the first musical.

"Love Me Tonight" (1932) - credited as the first film to use a zoom lens.

"Marathon Man" (1976) - the first released film to use Steadicam (but actually first used on "Bound For Glory".

"Final Fantasy - The Spirits Within" (2001) - the first film to use motion capture.

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1 hour ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Some would say the first feature-length digital intermediate was the 4K restoration of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in 1993.

I recall reading about that transfer last month and was astounded by how they had to handle terabytes of data in the early 90's.

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"Intolerance" (1916) - first crane shot.

"Broadway" (1929) - first use of a mobile crane.

"Dark Passage" (1947) - first feature film to use the Arriflex 35 (first mirror reflex movie camera).

"Chronicle of a Summer" (1961) - first film to use a  hand-held, sync-sound camera (a prototype 16mm Eclair NPR).

"Across 110th Street" (1972) - first feature film to use the Arriflex 35BL (first lightweight, sync-sound 35mm camera).

"Magnum Force" (1973) - first feature film to use the Panaflex.

"The Tennant" (1976) - first feature film to use the Louma crane (remote head).

"Anonymous" (2010) - first film shot with Arri Alexa.

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17 minutes ago, Brian Drysdale said:

"Bound for Glory" was the first film to use Steadicam, although "Rocky" is better known it's not the first.

A ha. I shall bear that in mind for future cinematography pub quizzes, because a lot of people will get that wrong.

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2 hours ago, Brian Drysdale said:

"Bound for Glory" was the first film to use Steadicam, although "Rocky" is better known it's not the first.

“Marathon Man” was the second film to use Steadicam but the first to be released, it hit the screens in October 1976, two months before both “Bound For Glory” and “Rocky”. So it was the first time audiences got to see the new technology in action. Whether that holds up in a court of pub quiz is another matter.. 

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9 hours ago, Dom Jaeger said:

“Marathon Man” was the second film to use Steadicam but the first to be released, it hit the screens in October 1976, two months before both “Bound For Glory” and “Rocky”. So it was the first time audiences got to see the new technology in action. Whether that holds up in a court of pub quiz is another matter.. 

It's gonna be one of those things where Pong is credited as the first video game ever because the general public hasn't even heard of Spacewar or Tennis For Two

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If I recall correctly...

”Young Sherlock Holmes” (1985) - First CGI character, or something like it, with the Stained Glass Knight. 
 

“Willow” (1988) - First digital morph effect. 

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