The Still Image Services team works with some fascinating objects. Lately we’ve been preserving cinema and magic lantern glass slides by scanning them to create digital copies. These glass slides are a form of early media shown to Australian audiences; they were usually seen before a film feature or as pre-cinema entertainment in magic lantern shows. The slides were projected using a magic lantern or cinema projector onto a flat surface like a wall or screen.
There are different types of glass slides in the NFSA collection. The very early ones were framed in mahogany and have mechanical or moving parts built into the frame, which animated the picture on screen. Dissolving view slides were sequential images that faded into each other – a thrilling experience for 19th century audiences. Both of these slide effects were early examples of on-screen special effects. Later, song slides displayed illustrations and song lyrics and were a sort of karaoke for cinema audiences to join in and sing.