Since the very first days of “moving pictures” over a century ago, the video landscape has constantly shifted in response to the introduction of new technologies. As long as innovative tools, platforms, and formats have made their way into the mainstream, adaptation has been a crucial skill for any creator working with video. To visualize this long arc of change, we created a comprehensive timeline of the evolution of this video landscape, starting with the early days of motion pictures in the 1890s through to the multiplatform video landscape we inhabit today.
While the way we watch videos constantly shifts alongside technological innovation, video production and distribution methods must also continue adapting to keep pace with this rapidly changing landscape. Over the years, new video technologies have influenced production processes, job functions, and the fundamental way companies incorporate video into their larger strategies for business success. And though we’ve certainly come a long way since the days of physical, black-and-white film pictures cut with scissors and arranged with tape, it’s worth noting that the technological phases in this timeline are not book-ended by concrete beginnings and endings. Digital video didn’t put an end to innovation in television broadcasting, TV didn’t put an end to movies or even to physical film production—and video didn’t kill the radio star.
Instead, today’s video landscape is made possible by the more than 100 years of film and video innovation that came before it. With an increasing number of mediums for watching video and countless new tools and platforms for video production and distribution available to us, history shows that adapting to new technologies has and will always be critical, no matter where the future of video takes us.