Lights! Curtain! Action! Aaaaand Patents in the World of Film and Theater

Jul 6, 2021

Our entertainment industry is an important one to our culture. Long before film rolls were invented, even dating back to ancient times, people loved to escape to the theater and immerse themselves in a story that wasn’t their own. That love of stories has only evolved over time, through innovations in stagecraft and technology that has allowed film to become a reality. There are a number of patents that have changed the way that we enjoy entertainment, especially in the world of film and theater. Here are some of the notable ones:

Sound Camera

Ever seen the old musical movie Singin’ in the Rain? The well-loved classic tells the story of a movie production in the early days of movies with sound. The reality of this change in the film world was ushered in largely by the invention of the sound camera, patented in 1941. Of course, there was technology that allowed for sound in film dating back to the 1920s, but due to distortions in sound recording, these earlier sound recording technologies wasted so much film that it almost wasn’t worth it.

The 1941 sound camera patent protected a sound camera which separated the sound drum’s start process from the film until the sound drum had reached a normal speed. This allowed film companies to much more easily film movies with sound, and popularized that movement.

Brighter Incandescent Bulb

In the early 20th century, Maude Adams took the stage by storm in more ways than one. While she was a lauded actress, originating the role of Peter Pan in the first United States production of Peter Pan and Wendy, she was also known for the revolutionary production value of the shows in which she starred and helped produce. A production of As You Like It that she personally produced at the University of Berkeley was described as a “beautiful panorama” and an “exquisite illusion.”

So it’s little wonder that as Maude became more interested in innovations of theatre lighting and film lighting, she began to work with General Electric to create a brighter incandescent bulb. She worked with GE for 3 years from 1920 to 1923 before she stepped back to focus fully on her career once again. In the 1930s, GE released several patents to improve the incandescent bulb and credited Maude as the primary inventor on three of them: an “illuminating device,” a “high powered illuminating device,” and another “illuminating device” that allowed the lamp to moved safely. These patents literally brightened the world of theatre and film, as well as making more adjustable, customizable lighting.

Rail Mounted Camera

If you’ve ever fallen in love with a sweeping view of the scenery in a drama or a slow pan that allows the suspense to build in a thriller or horror movie, you can appreciate the rail-mounted camera. This camera was patented in 1987 and designed so that the camera could be perched on top of a rail system and remote controlled in order to make dynamic filming easier. No more having to film in one location and zooming in and out, no more choppy transitions. Epic fantasy movies and superhero series would be vastly different without the invention of the rail mounted camera.

Do you have an invention that will change the entertainment world today? Protect your intellectual property with help from our professional legal team. Contact Garcia-Zamor today to learn more about our IP law services or about applying for a patent.