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This article is about film as a medium for displaying images, particularly motion pictures. For other uses of film, see film (disambiguation).
A film is a motion picture, also often called a movie (originally slang for moving picture). Films, collectively, are often called cinema. Motion pictures are an art form, a popular form of entertainment, and a business.
The word film also often refers to photographic film used to make still photographs, or to the flexible strip of plastic covered in a light-sensitive silver halide solution, also called filmstock, on which motion pictures have historically been made.
When it is initially produced, a film is normally shown to audiences in a movie theater. Typically, one film is the featured presentation. A feature film is sometimes defined as any film more than 60 minutes in length (90-120 minutes is typical, and a few films run up to 4 hours or more). Before showing this film, the theater may have shorter presentations or advertising. Historically, the feature presentation was often preceded by newsreels and short films, especially animation. Today, the bulk of the material shown before the feature film consists of previews for upcoming movies.
Originally, all films were made to be shown in movie theaters. The development of television has allowed films to be broadcast to larger audiences, usually after the film is no longer being shown in theaters. Recording technology has also enabled consumers to rent or buy copies of films on video tape or DVD, and Internet downloads may be available. Some films are now made specifically for these other venues, being released as made-for-TV movies or direct-to-video movies. These are often considered to be of inferior quality compared to theatrical releases.
Development of film technology
Film consists of a transparent plastic coated with an emulsion containing light-sensitive chemicals. Celluloid was the first type of film used to record motion pictures, but due to its flammability was eventually replaced by safer formats.
Originally moving picture film was shot at various speeds using hand-cranked cameras; then the speed for mechanized cameras and projectors was standardized at 16 frames per second, which was faster than much existing hand-cranked footage. A new standard speed, 24 frames per second, came with the introduction of sound. Improvements since the late 1800s include the mechanization of cameras, allowing them to record at a consistent speed, the invention of more sophisticated filmstocks and lenses, allowing directors to film in increasingly dim conditions, and the development of synchronized sound, allowing sound to be recorded at exactly the same speed as its corresponding video.
As a medium, film is not limited to motion pictures, since the technology developed as the basis for photography. It can be used to present a progressive sequence of still images in the form of a slideshow. Film has also been incorporated into multimedia presentations. However, film also creates problems in terms of preservation and storage, and the motion picture industry is exploring digital alternatives to film.
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