Aleksei Dominikovich Samarsky
Russian photographer, merchant, travelling film projectionist
Samarsky was trained as a professional still photographer and owned a studio, but in 1896 was kicked out of his Moscow merchant guild, apparently because he went bankrupt. Coincidentally or not, Samarsky's interest in moving pictures grew up simultaneously with the Lumière Cinématographe shows held by Charles Aumont's Theatre-Concert Parisienne located close to Samarsky's store in Kamergersky Lane, in the very centre of Moscow. That year, 1896, he applied for a patent for his Chronomotograph (registered 5 August 1896). Taking images at a rate of fifteen frames per second, the Chronomotograph was a set of three huge wooden boxes, one of which was a mechanical section made from clock parts used as an engine, and two other boxes used for keeping raw and exposed film. No films have survived, and not even titles or screening dates are known, but Samarsky mentioned ballet shows as the best subject for the use of his apparatus. Also at this time he experimented with stereoscopic effects, producing films by using two simultaneous film recordings. The Chronomotograph was not licensed in Russia until late in 1898, long after the Lumière Cinématographe had become well established, and Samarsky spent the following years touring throughout the country as a travelling film projectionist, with a show that included some unidentified films of his own production.