Monday, October 3, 2016

FILMBAY 2000 Greatest Films of All-Time (1888-2014) by Year # 0039 - BALLE TRAVERSANT UNE BULLE DE SAVON (Lucien Bull, 1904, France, 1m, BW)


Ball through a soap bubble 

(Lucien Bull, 1904, France, 1m, BW)


Ball through a soap bubble

(Lucien Bull, France, 1904, 30 seconds)

Early 3D high-speed macro films of bursting soap bubbles, dragonflies and more. Lucien Bull was an assistant of Etienne-Jules Marey, who was one of the early chronophotographers (in the same timeframe as Eadward Muybridge). Yes, you'll need your red/blue (or red/green) glasses to see it in 3D.

Lucien Bull

Lucien Bull (January 5, 1876 – August 25, 1972) was a pioneer in chronophotography. Chronophotography is defined as "a set of photographs of a moving object, taken for the purpose of recording and exhibiting successive phases of motion." Lucien Bull - "Films stereoscopiques" (3D anaglyph).

Early life

Born in Dublin, Ireland to British father, Cornelius Bull, and French mother, Gabrielle Joune, Bull lived his younger years in Dublin where he attended school and lived at home with his parents. Later in 1894, Bull moved to France to visit his aunts. After several months, Bull eventually settled in the area and became an assistant to Étienne-Jules Marey in 1895. At the time, Marey was working on the cinematographic, which was a camera that was shaped like a rifle and took pictures of moving objects from a rotating plate. This eventually became known as the “gun camera.”

This camera was designed to investigate the study of motion. Basically, this “gun camera” was designed to take an object in motion and snap still shots. By taking these still shots, each movement made by the object was captured and then studied to analyze movement patterns that were unable to be studied before. The first successful film was taken in 1904 when Bull was able to film the flight of a fly at 1,200 frames per second.

Life (Chronophotographer)

Assistant and successor to E-J. Marey, Bull was destined to have a profound influence on many branches of scientific research, and in particular on applications of spark illumination in photography and high-speed cinematography. Born on 5 January 1876 in Dublin, to a British merchant/carpenter father and French mother, a large part of his life was spent in France. His brother was the cartoonist and photographer René Bull. In 1895, through his skills as an amateur photographer, he became an assistant to, and student of, the scientist whom he described affectionately sixty years later as 'Mon Maitre Marey'. His duties included developing and printing the chronophotographic negatives. Bull, attired completely in white, was himself the subject of least one of Marey's physiological studies, jumping a hurdle. He later recalled being '... sent out into the streets of Paris, to photograph ... scenes ... with the early Chronophotographe. Marey was content to study the negatives. Selected frames were printed. Marey understood the importance of it, and we very often took negatives that had no real scientific interest at all, just to show what could be done with non-perforated film'. Marey had failed successfully to project the non-perforated filmstrips, but Bull claimed in one version of his reminiscences to have later achieved a few shaky projections when his master was not present.

When Marey died in 1904, Bull was able to concentrate on his own work, including high-speed studies of insect flight (some stereoscopic), producing a stream of research papers. He later became sub-Director of the Institut Marey, (the Director being an absent political nominee). A craftsman in wood and metal, he constructed much of his own apparatus. During the First World War he developed sound-ranging equipment - adopted by the British army - for the location of enemy gun batteries, and produced high-speed photographic analyses of ballistics. By 1924, he was able to report to the Royal Institution in London filming speeds of 100,000 images per second. His activities in acoustics, physiology and optics continued unabated, and in the 1950s he was still publishing papers on high-speed cinematography.


Marey died in May 1904. As a result of his death, Bull became head of the Marey Institute, which formed part of the Collège de France. While remaining with the Marey Institute, Bull was naturalized as a French citizen in 1931. After a few years, Bull eventually introduced a few papers on a wide variety of subjects ranging from spark illuminations, high-speed motion-picture photography, original studies of insect and bird flight, and electrocardiography and muscle and heart functions. His work was eventually listed by Dr. W. Hinsch in Research Film for December 1953.

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