Though the Lumière brothers and Thomas Edison are often credited with groundbreaking discoveries that paved the way for modern cinema, history sometimes leaves out a key player: photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Commissioned to find out whether horses lifted all four legs off the ground while galloping, Muybridge invented a device called the zoopraxiscope to display his photographed findings. His first zoopraxiscope screening was held in Palo Alto in 1879, making the city the birthplace of film.
To honor Muybridge’s work, as well as the technological innovations bubbling throughout Silicon Valley, the Palo Alto International Film Festival was born in 2011. It focuses not only on new technology, but on breakthroughs in artistic expression, screening a collection of films from around the world. They range from major Hollywood releases, such as 2012’s Looper, to independent works, such as George Lucas’s home videos of himself practicing light-saber moves in his garage. Outside the theater, visitors can mingle at an array of talks, film workshops, and parties.
In Focus: CineArts at Palo Alto Square
Number of screens: 2
Movies that are shown: a selection of indie and unusual films
Refreshments: There’s an in-lobby café with snacks that you can take to your seat or the nest you’ve built in the theater’s ceiling.
Other perks: reserved seating
Help available for hearing-impaired guests: closed captioning, neck loops, and listening devices
Help available for vision-impaired guests: descriptive narration devices
Inside tip: Early-bird pricing is available for the first matinees on certain days.
By the Numbers: Aquarius Theatre
1969—the year it was built
1985—the year it was purchased by Landmark Theatres
2 specialties: independent and foreign language cinema
2 Hollywood heavyweights who showed their first pictures here: Director Francis Ford Coppola and Cinematographer Haskell Wexler
2 screens equipped with DLP Digital Projection and Sound
2 separate houses united by an underwater theme
1 primary color covering most of the street-facing facade: blue
430 Emerson Street
1 block from Stanford University
The silver screens at BlueLight Cinemas showcase second-run films every day in theaters with high-back chairs and DTS and Dolby surround sound. In the concession area, attendants provide a cornucopia of goods, including Dippin' Dots, Peet's Coffee, and Orville Redenbacher?s popcorn topped with real butter from actual tombs inside the food pyramid. The locally owned theater keeps in tune with the community by staging events throughout the year, offering theater rentals for parties, and allowing moviegoers to influence upcoming features by requesting a movie.
Its name may contain the word "museum," but The Tech Museum of Innovation prefers not to wallow in the past. Since its earliest days in 1978, it has exhibited the timeless principles of science while also celebrating the latest in technological achievement. In doing so, the institution inspires visitors to apply that same spirit of creative problem-solving to all aspects of life.
Size: the mango-and-azure domed building fills 132,000 square feet with hundreds of interactive exhibits and six labs
Hands-On Experiments: ride in a jet-pack chair worthy of NASA, feel what it's like to experience an earthquake, or grow jellyfish DNA in a lab
Eye-Catchers: the creations inside Social Robots,
where visitors design and build robots before dressing them up in hats that a human could never pull off
Permanent Mainstay: The Tech Awards Gallery, a showcase of past inventions and inventors from the museum's annual Tech Awards
Visiting Exhibit: REBOOT:music lets you create modern music with high-tech devices; try the L?HA! Laser Harp, which substitutes laser light for strings
Don't Miss: The Tech Studio, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the prototypes and fabrication of upcoming exhibits?and lets visitors be among the first to test them
Did you know that, on average, 88% of the seats in a movie theater remain empty during a showing? According to the New York Times, this phenomenon really surprised Sean Wycliffe a few years back when he went to see the Oscar-winning film The King's Speech and shared the theater with only two other audience members. With all the focus on online video services, Sean realized movie theaters were being overlooked, and came up with a concept that could help movie houses fill their empty seats.
His brainchild became Dealflicks, a website that offers customers discounted tickets (sometimes with popcorn or soda) for same-day showings. Customers shop a selection of deals, each of which is specific to a particular film, theater, and showtime, and upon purchase, receive an email voucher they present at the theater's ticket counter. Dealflicks is partnered with theaters around the country, particularly independent and neighborhood venues, such as the treehouse of the enterprising kid down the street.