I’ve been reading Scott Kirsner’s Cinema Tech Blog for a long time now, and enjoy the his perspectives on the influence of emerging tech on the film business. As a long-time lover of Cinema History, I was looking forward to his new book Inventing the Movies: Hollywood’s Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, since I hear about it.
As it turns out I had the opportunity to hear Scott talk about the book a couple of weeks ago, and finally got around to reading it this week.
There’s a lot of familiar ground here … Anyone who has studied the history of the Film business has heard the same basic stories about Thomas Edison, the Lumiere Brothers, the Warner Bros., etc., but with Inventing the Movies, Scott Kirsner takes a departure from the standard telling of the tales to look at Cinema History from the perspectives of technologies that have driven the industry, along with the individuals who have done their best to discourage, or even defeat, the adoption of new tech.
Kirsner divides the folks driving the Industry into three categories: Innovators who drive change, Preservationists who promote the status quo while discouraging innovation, and Sideline-sitters who, while not opposing change, either procrastinate or take a “wait and see” attitude before adopting a new technique or technology.
Using this framework, the book follows the history of Cinema from the Edison’s Kinetoscope to the rise of YouTube and the Hollywood Studio’s struggle to come to grips with a future where viewers will have their choice of when, where, and on what platform they will view and listen to media.
It’s a well-written book, an absolute must-read for anyone who loves film and has an interest in the burgeoning field of mobile media and content development.