Dr Robert Lincoln Watkins

New York doctor

There were a number of medical men from around the world who were quick to employ moving pictures in their studies: Gheorge Marinescu filmed the motions of his patients suffering from severe nervous ailments, Eugène-Louis Doyen filmed his surgical operations, John Macintyre combined X-rays with cinematography, and Watkins pioneered microcinematography. In September 1897 there are the first reports of Watkins's first successful attempts to combine the moving picture camera with the microscope, a troublesome process as the powerful lighting required was apt to burn up the subject before filming could take place. Watkins was able to film minute animal life (rotifers), and blood corpuscles in a frog's foot, a bird's webbed foot and the tails of fishes. Calling his combined mechanism the Micromotoscope, Watkins presented his films in loop-form (as did Macintyre) giving a semblance of life to what were, of course, dead blood cells. He was clearly excited by his invention and keen to see it exploited, as he made approaches to the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, but nothing came of this. Microcinematography was soon to make its appearance as a commercial attraction with F. Martin Duncan's Unseen World series made for Charles Urban in 1903.

Luke McKernan