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COM Club Visits Historic George Eastman House

ROCHESTER, N.Y. - BCC Communications Club members spent a day touring the historic George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y., seeing some of the earliest equipment in movie making and learning about the Eastman Kodak Corporation, a legendary name in early American photography and cinema.

The students, along with Communications instructors Chris Keaty and Tim Skinner, toured the museum and the George Eastman mansion, once the residence of the man whose company pioneered the production of film used in motion pictures and still photography. The three story house is now filled with exhibits that detail the life and history of George Eastman and of Eastman Kodak, the film company he founded.

The historic site is regarded as the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography.

“This one place connects the past with the present in “motion pictures,” said Tim Skinner, one of BCC’s Communications instructors and a faculty advisor to the Communications Club.

“All the inventions of photography and filmmaking are here. We can bring lessons out of our textbook and into reality,” said Skinner noting some of the exhibits are ‘hands on’ allowing visitors to work with some of the antique equipment.

COM Club students viewed several early 1900’s live action film scenes and cartoons through a collection of hand cranked Nickelodeon machines. They worked with a Zoopraxiscope and some students created a series of still images they were able to load into a zoetrope, a spinning device that reflects the sequential images off mirrors creating the illusion of movement.

All three of the devices are portrayed in the Film chapter of the textbook used in the Communications Department’s COM 100 course – Introduction to Mass Media.

“We talk about the theories of persistence of vision, the history of film and photography and the inventors of the technology including George Eastman and Thomas Edison,” said Skinner. “This is one excellent opportunity to bring it out of the textbook and into reality.”

The museum houses the largest motion picture film preservation vault in the world. The collection includes original print negatives of movie classics including “The Wizard of Oz”, “Ben Hur” and the epic Civil War drama “Gone With the Wind”. Complete original film print collections of movies by Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee and other legendary filmmakers are housed there as well.