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This film was 35 mm wide and was pulled using four sprocket holes, which became the industry standard (see 35 mm film).This doomed the cinematograph, which only worked with film with a single sprocket hole.Due to the fragile nature of the nitrate film stock on which many silent films were recorded, many have deteriorated or have been lost in accidents such as fires (because nitrate is highly flammable and can spontaneously combust when stored improperly).Many such films not completely destroyed survive only partially, or in badly damaged prints.Early sound films, starting with The Jazz Singer in 1927, were variously referred to as "talkies", "sound films", or "talking pictures".Within a decade, the widespread production of silent films for popular entertainment had ceased, and the industry had moved fully into the sound era, in which movies were accompanied by synchronized sound recordings of spoken dialogue, music and sound effects.Due to Edison's lack of securing an international patent on his film inventions, similar devices were "invented" around the world.In France, for example, Auguste and Louis Lumière created the Cinématographe, which proved to be a more portable and practical device than both of Edison's as it combined a camera, film processor, and projector in one unit.

The three features necessary for motion pictures to work were "a camera with sufficiently high shutter speed, a filmstrip capable of taking multiple exposures swiftly, and means of projecting the developed images on a screen".Pianists and organists would play either from sheet music, or improvise.The term silent film is therefore a retronym—a term created to retroactively distinguish something.A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound (and in particular, no spoken dialogue).In silent films for entertainment, dialogue is conveyed by the use of muted gestures and mime in conjunction with title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines.

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