that they had a way to make and show movies, Edison and his
assistants needed to produce things to show. In December 1892,
the Kinetographic Theater, better known as the Black Maria,
was opened in West Orange. Black Maria was a name used for
police wagons at that time, and the Kinetographic Theater was
a similar tar color.
sunlight was strong enough to allow images to be seen on movie
film at that time, so the roof of the studio opened to let
in sunlight. The entire Black Maria could be rotated to keep
it aligned with the sun.
the theater, there was a stage, which was barely 12 square
feet. The kinetograph in the studio was very heavy and large,
so it always stayed in one spot, pointed in one direction.
For closer shots, people moved toward the camera.
1893, Edison conducted the first public demonstration of the
kinetoscope at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.
To Edison's surprise, the public responded in a big way. The
first Kinetoscope parlor opened in New York, followed by similar
openings all over the country.
next year, more than 75 films were made in the Black Maria.
Each lasted about 20 seconds. All films were silent and in
black and white. Dickson and another Edison assistant William
Heise were the first cinematographers.
different people and actions were filmed at the Black Maria.
Segments of vaudeville acts, plays, magic tricks, and dancing
were all captured. Many of the famous people of the day including
Buffalo Bill, gunslinger Annie Oakley, and strongman Eugene
Sandow performed for the camera. Many of Edison's films are
still available, and you can view
a few years, Kinetoscopes began falling out of favor as other
inventors had developed movie projectors. Viewers could now
see films on a screen instead of by looking in a peephole.
Also, smaller, portable cameras were now used. With these two
advances, longer films shot in different scenes could be created.
The Black Maria was too small to make such films, and it was
closed in 1901.
Great Train Robbery"