George Albert Smith (inventor)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

George Albert Smith (4 January 1864, Brighton, England - 17 May 1959) was an inventor, a stage hypnotist, psychic, astronomer and magic lantern lecturer and one of the pioneer's of British cinema. His work in psychical matters was as an assistant to Edmund Gurney in a series of investigations into hypnotism and telepathy, which in their day made Gurney an impressive figure to the British public as a leader of the Society of Psychical Research. Since then it has been heavily studied and critiqued by Trevor Hall in his study The Strange Case of Edmund Gurney. Hall concluded that Smith (using his stage abilities) faked the results that Gurney trusted in in his research papers, and this may have led to Gurney's mysterious death from a narcotic overdose in June 1888 at Brighton.

In 1896, Smith, of Hove, England patented a camera and projector system. He was also the proprietor of St. Anne's Well Pleasure Gardens in Hove at the time. He purchased a prototype cine camera from local engineer Alfred Darling, who subsequently made many contributions to the cinema technology.

Smith's neighbour James Williamson (1855-1933) also bought a movie camera. Williamson ran a chemist's shop which supplied photographic services and equipment. The neighbours created numerous historic minute-long films. Smith is credited with the invention of the 'close-up' and the use the first to use double exposure to achieve special effects in moving pictures.

Smith went on to develop the first successful colour film process, Kinemacolor, but was virtually put out of business due to a patent suit filed by William Friese-Greene.

Filmography

Bibliography

  • Hall, Trevor H. The Strange Case of Edmund Gurney (London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., c1964)




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