Acres, Birt


Acres, Birt
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b. 23 July 1854 Virginia, USA
d. 1918
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American photographer, inventor and pioneer cinematographer.
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Born of English parents and educated in Paris, Acres travelled to England in the 1880s. He worked for the photographic manufacturing firm Elliott \& Co. in Barnet, near London, and became the Manager. He became well known through his frequent lectures, demonstrations and articles in the photographic press. The appearance of the Edison kinetoscope in 1893 seems to have aroused his interest in the recording and reproduction of movement.
At the beginning of 1895 he took his idea for a camera to Robert Paul, an instrument maker, and they collaborated on the building of a working camera, which Acres used to record the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race on 30 March 1895. He filmed the Derby at Epsom on 29 May and the opening of the Kiel Canal in June, as well as ten other subjects for the kinetoscope, which were sold by Paul. Acres's association with Paul ended in July 1895. Acres had patented the camera design, the Kinetic Lantern, on 27 May 1895 and then went on to design a projector with which he gave the first successful presentation of projected motion pictures to take place in Britain, at the Royal Photographic Society's meeting on 14 January 1896. At the end of the month Acres formed his own business, the Northern Photographic Company, to supply film stock, process and print exposed film, and to make finished film productions.
His first shows to the public, using the renamed Kineopticon projector, started in Piccadilly Circus on 21 March 1896. He later toured the country with his show. He was honoured with a Royal Command Performance at Marlborough House on 21 July 1896 before members of the royal family. Although he made a number of films for his own use, they and his equipment were used only for his own demonstrations. His last contribution to cinematography was the design and patenting in 1898 of the first low-cost system for amateur use, the Birtac, which was first shown on 25 January 1899 and marketed in May of that year. It used half-width film, 17.5 mm wide, and the apparatus served as camera, printer and projector.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society 1895.
Bibliography
27 May 1895 (the Kinetic Lantern).
9 June 1898 (the Birtac).
Further Reading
J.Barnes, 1976, The Beginnings of the Cinema in England, London. B.Coe, 1980, The History of Movie Photography, London.
BC

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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