Demenÿ, Georges

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b. 1850 Douai, France d. 1917
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French chronophotographer.
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As a young man Georges Demenÿ was a pioneer of physical education in France, and this led him to contact the physiologist Professor Marey in 1880. Marey had made a special study of animal movement, and Demenÿ hoped to work with him on research into physiological problems related to gymnastics. He joined Marey the following year, and when in 1882 the Physiological Station was set up near Paris to develop sequence photography for the study of movement. Demenÿ was made Head of the laboratory. He worked with the multiple-image fixed-plate cameras, and was chiefly responsible for the analysis of the records, having considerable mathematical and graphical ability. He also appeared as the subject in a number of the sequences. When in 1888 Marey began the development of a film camera, Demenÿ was involved in its design and operation. He became interested in the possibility of using animated sequence photographs as an aid to teaching of the deaf. He made close-up records of himself speaking short phrases, "Je vous aime" and "Vive la France" for example, which were published in such journals as Paris Photographe and La Nature in 1891 and 1892. To present these in motion, he devised the Phonoscope, which he patented on 3 March 1892. The series of photographs were mounted around the circumference of a disc and viewed through a counter-rotating slotted disc. The moving images could be viewed directly, or projected onto a screen. La Nature reported tests he had made in which deaf lip readers could interpret accurately what was being said. On 20 December 1892 Demenÿ formed a company, Société Générale du Phonoscope, to exploit his invention, hoping that "speaking portraits" might replace family-album pictures. This commercial activity led to a rift between Marey and Demenÿ in July 1893. Deprived of access to the film cameras, Demenÿ developed designs of his own, patenting new camera models in France on 10 October 1893 and 27 July 1894. The design covered by the latter had been included in English and German patents filed in December 1893, and was to be of some significance in the early development of cinematography. It was for an intermittent movement of the film, which used an eccentrically mounted blade or roller that, as it rotated, bore on the film, pulling down the length of one frame. As the blade moved away, the film loop so formed was taken up by the rotation of the take-up reel. This "beater" movement was employed extensively in the early years of cinematography, being effective yet inexpensive. It was first employed in the Chronophotographe apparatus marketed by Gaumont, to whom Demenÿ had licensed the patent rights, from the autumn of 1896. Demenÿ's work provided a link between the scientific purposes of sequence photography— chronophotography—and the introduction of commercial cinematography.
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Further Reading
J.Deslandes, 1966, Histoire comparée du cinéma, Vol. I, Paris. B.Coe, 1992, Muybridge and the Chronophotographers, London.
BC

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

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