Travelogue films, a form of virtual tourism or travel documentary, have been providing information and entertainment about distant parts of the world since the late 19th century.
After World War II, Lowell Thomas created popular Movietone News Reel travelogues shown in movie theaters across the U.S.
During the 1950s and 1960s, independent film producers created film travelogues, which were shown in towns and schools across the U.S. and Canada. Travelogues were usually about eighty minutes in length, consisting of two 1000-foot reels of 16mm film, with an intermission in-between to change reels. The travelogue film speaker, often but not always the filmmaker, would usually introduce each reel, ask for the lights to be dimmed and then narrate the film live from an onstage lectern. Patrons could then meet the speaker in-person after the show.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the popularity of traditional travelogues declined. But the advent of cable television channels, such as the Discovery channel and the availability of small, high quality, digital video equipment has renewed the popularity of travel films.
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