The Impact of Television on the Film Industry

Topics: Film, Television, I Love Lucy Pages: 6 (1937 words) Published: February 1, 2008
The advent of television and television shows may have come long after film, but it enhanced film production almost instantly. Television naturally derived from early film since each uses basically the same medium: the motion picture camera. Since film had already set a base in the industry and mastered the new techniques and technology of cinematography, television had the opportunity to learn from film?s mistakes and advance itself quickly. For this reason, television evolved very rapidly and was able to develop its own technology and techniques separate from film. The concept of television became so popular and gained so much success that Hollywood began experimenting with the technology and techniques television had brought about. The teacher was learning from the pupil.

As Nelson explains in The History of Television Technology, Electronically scanning systems were independently and almost simultaneously developed in the 1920's and '30's. Utilizing such inventions as the German cathode-ray tube and the iconoscope, two American researchers invented the electronic television system. Television sets, computers, automated teller machines, video game machines, video cameras, monitors, oscilloscopes and radar displays all contain cathode-ray tubes; they operate based on a screen that emits a visible light when struck by a beam of electrons. Russian scientists attached this technology to a camera, and using mirror-drum scanning transmitted crude geometrical patterns onto the first television screen, called the iconoscope. Mirror-drum scanning was a light, efficient, mechanical scanner and in its original form there were as many mirrors as there were lines in the picture and each mirror was tilted at a different angle compared to the axis of the drum. As it rotated each mirror caused a line to be scanned below or beside the previous one.

These two new inventions paved the way for American television's first public broadcast at the New York World's Fair in 1939. RCA, having presented television at the fair, became America's leading television pioneer. This new medium quickly became the talk of the town because of its demonstration of technological advancement and its potential convenience. Despite its popularity, television set production and broadcasting was temporarily halted during World War II. RCA was so persistently pushing for its television standards to be accepted for production that the government created the Federal Communications Commission in response in 1941. The FCC regulated the industry allowing it to thrive while the rest of world ceased its research and production during the war. However, only research was conducted and not even America continued television production. Reintroduced after the War, television soon replaced the radio as the dominate form of entertainment in the home. During the first five years of the 1950s, ownership of televisions skyrocketed, once again affecting film and radio. This time period witnessed, for example, the closing of many movie theaters, as motion pictures competed with television for consumer attention. Television advanced from black and white to color in 1954 and from monaural to the addition of multiple sound tracks, including stereo 30 years later.

Television?s rapid and wide-spread success meant it would obviously have significant impacts on American society and culture. On top of pushing aside other forms of media, television had a unique structure and could therefore deal with new program content. The fact that people could watch programs in their own homes without going out led to the concept of shorter stories that could end or be continued. The smaller screen that audiences could get physically close to automatically meant the audience would focus more on the characters than the story meaning new kinds of stories could be told.

Despite earlier predictions, the industry, led by the networks, did not adopt filmed programming during its first explosive...
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