Bringing You All The Important Animation Related News
Established 15,000 B.C.

Volume , December 1895.

Sklandanowsky's of Germany Show Short Films

At the end of the 19th century father Sklandanowsky and his sons Max and Emil perform a sound and magic lantern show, also known as Nebula pictures, that marvels the spectators. (Nebula pictures or 'Nebelbilder' are based on an effect created by turning the projection lens out of focus during the change of magic lantern slides.) When Max and his brother Emil see the images of the Tachyscope of Ottomar Anschütz they get the idea to use animated photographs for their show. The arrival of the flexible celluloid film (1891) makes further experiments possible.
Newspaper notice © Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, SKL3047
(This is an image of the advertisement for November 2 and there is also an announcement for November 1.)
On August 20, 1892, he films his brother Emil dancing on the roof of 146 Schönhauser Allee in Berlin. (This date is from Max Sklandanowsky's account but is contested by Jürgen Trimborn (Max Skladanowsky, 1996) who thinks it is more probably 1894 instead of 1892. The reason for the change is to exclude his knowledge of Edisons Kinetoscope that he used in his invention. These first images were printed and bound together to be sold as flip-book as was also done with some of the later films.) He uses the 60 mm wide Kodak film that he perforates himself in a film-camera of his own invention. (The perforations were round and enforced with metal (shoe-lace) rings. This can clearly be seen in the Quicktime movie (2 Mb) where Max lays the film in the Bioscop projector and turns the wheel.) Quicktime movie (2 Mb) of Sklandanowsky starting the Bioscop machine The projection, however, is a problem because he can not project faster than 8 frames per second while 16 fps are needed. He finds the solution in two bands of intermittently moving film and the alternating projection through two lenses. During the projection through one lens the other lens is covered with a half-moon shutter disk and vise versa. To make this work the original film needs to be cut frame by frame and alternately glued together to make two films.

In July 1895 the directors Franz Dorn and Julius Baron of the Wintergarten see the first projections with the Bioscop film projector. They sign a contract and pay for public performances in November. The films for this film show are made during the summer. The films contain 48 images (3 by 4 cm) and at 8 fps they last each about 10 seconds.

The first public film show in Germany is in the Variety "Wintergarten" in Berlin on Saturday November 1, 1895. 4  
According to a Berliner newspaper of November 5, 1895 the program consists of 8 short films. These show variety and music hall performers:
Italienische Bauertanz der Kinder Ploetz-Lorello (folk dance by children)
Komisches Reck (comic parallel bars)
Der Jongleur Paul Petras (juggler)
Das Boxende Känguruh: Mister Delaware (boxing
Die Gymnastikerfamilie Grunato (gymnasts)
Kamarinskaja (folk dance)
Serpentine Tanz (dance)
Ringkampf zwischen Grainer und Sandow (boxing)

Besides these acts there are also scenes they have filmed in and around Berlin and the whole performance lasts about 15 minutes.
Bioscop film projector
© Theaterwissenschaft- liche Sammlung, SKL3002
On December 29, 1895 they travel to Paris to perform at the Folies Bergère starting on January 1, 1896. However the Lumière brothers have their public showing with a 1-lens projection and longer films on December 28, 1895. Due to their success the contract with the Bioscop is canceled but their fee is paid in full.

After this disapointing experience they tour Europe with the Bioscop. (Oslo: April 6 - May 5, 1896; Groningen (NL); Copenhagen: Premiere on June 7 1896; Stockholm; and Germany: Throughout 1896).  In the summer of 1896 Max makes a (18 meter) film of 'A Comical Encounter' in Tivoli in Stockholm (Sweden) with the first use of a film script.

Max develops the Kurbelkasten II and later the Bioscop II (1896) that has only one lens and uses a Maltese cross shutter of his own invention and patent. But his film career ends in 1897. After their initial success diminishes the Sklandanowsky's continue with the sale of flip-books and short films to view at home.

In later years he tries to claim his pioneering role in the cinematography and even changes his recollection of certain dates to enforce this. His German fame comes in 1935 when Goebbels names him "Mithelfer beim Aufbau der Kinematographie" and a plate, commemorating his first film performance (November 1, 1895), is unveiled at the Wintergarten.

5. The serpentine dance was first introduced by Loie Fuller at the Folies Bergère in Paris, 1892. There are more early films that show the serpentine dance performances: (Annabelle filmed by W.K.L. Dickson in 1894). (Available as flip-book from the Projection Box) Crissie Sheridan filmed by Edison in 1897. (At the Library of Congress (USA) website as Real Media, as MOV 3.3 Mb or as MPEG 6.0 Mb)

Back to History Timeline