seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Birth of Lucien Bull, Pioneer in Chronophotography

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lucien-bullLucien Bull, a pioneer in chronophotography, is born in Dublin on January 5, 1876. Chronophotography is defined as “a set of photographs of a moving object, taken for the purpose of recording and exhibiting successive phases of motion.”

Born in Dublin to British father, Cornelius Bull, and French mother, Gabrielle Joune, Bull lives his younger years in Dublin where he attends school and lives at home with his parents. In 1894, Bull moves to France to visit his aunts. After several months, Bull eventually settles in the area and becomes an assistant to Étienne-Jules Marey in 1895. At the time, Marey is working on the cinematographic, which is a camera that is shaped like a rifle and takes pictures of moving objects from a rotating plate. This eventually becomes known as the “gun camera.”

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

As a result of Marey’s death in May 1904, Bull becomes head of the Marey Institute, which forms part of the Collège de France. While remaining with the Marey Institute, Bull is naturalized as a French citizen in 1931. After a few years, Bull eventually introduces 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.

In 1933, Bull is put in charge of research, National Office of Research and Invention in France. In 1948 he becomes President of the Institute of Scientific Cinematography in Paris. His work is eventually listed by Dr. W. Hinsch in Research Film for December 1953.

Lucien Bull dies in Paris on August 25, 1972.


Author: Jim Doyle

As a descendant of Joshua Doyle (b. 1775, Dublin, Ireland), I have a strong interest in Irish culture and history, which will be the primary focus of this site. I am a Network Engineer at The Computer Hut, LLC, which is my salaried job. I also serve on the City of Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission (Chairman 2017-2018), Walnut Valley Property Owners Association board (Secretary 2018-Present) and the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (President 2011-2017).

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