> > > >

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 509 (483)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 509
Page 509

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 509

.A Brief Consideration of I6-mm. Theatres

Potentialifies of 1945-1946 Equipment Sufficient to Service 400-Seaf Cinemas

The war taught many lessons and showed the way to new uses for old materials and old uses for new materials, and raised many an item from comparative obscurity to a place of major importance.

To the motion-picture industry, accustomed to think, a priori in the terms of 35-min. film and equipment, came the realization that 16-min. films and equipment, while still a midget in size, was truly grown up and was taking a man's place in a mans world.


That American motion-picture industry has recognized this fact became manifest when Arthur M. Loew, president of Loewis International Corporation, announced that his company would distribute on 16-mm. film the Metro-GoldwynMayer features and short subjects produced for 35-min. distribution in the United States.

Said Loew at the time, fThe war has given tremendous impetus to the improvement of 16-mm. projectors, sound and film, and today narrow-gauge film approaches 35-mm. quality when projected before audiences of less than 1,000. I do not believe 35-mm. will be discarded in favor of 16-mm.; far from it. What will happen, in my opinion, is that 16-mm. film will open up a new audience for pictures that 35-mm. has either never reached or barer touched. These are the people who live in isolated communities or in towns too small to support a regular theatre. Mobile projector units, similar to the mobile units that have followed our soldiers wherever they have gone. By this means, no location on the face of the earth is too remote by 16-mm. films."

The program as outlined by Loew, while carrying entertainment features and short subjects, centered on educational pictures which the producing unit would soon start to make. More than giving Hollywood a new power in the foreign market and among alien races and peoples, the move might, he continued, Hopen up new vistas for the film industry and be the forerunner of fundamental changes in world-wide distribution."

Not long after Loew made his announcement, there were similar declarations by Joseph A. McConville, foreign manager of Columbia Pictures Corporation; J. H. Seidelman, president of Universal International Films, Inc.; and Leon Britton, Far Eastern supervisor of RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. All three emphasized that only the foreign market (excluding Great Britain) was encompassed in the 16-min. programs.

In England, as in this country, too, there is at present a trafiic in peddling entertainment from 16-mm. motion-picture films, with the shows presented by



itinerant entrepreneurs anywhere that a place and an audience can be found.

That the English motion-picture industry is likewise eyeing this situation with considerable interest is attested by agreements signed at the years beginning by Tom Law, in the name of the J. Arthur Rank interests, and by Joseph McNabb, president, for the Bell and Howell Company. The pact involves a mutual interchange of research, manufacture, and distribution of both films and equipment.

Thus has the worlds motion-picture industry, through the performance records hung up during the years of war, become acutely conscious ofthe potentialities of entertainment, no less than training and educational, 16-mm. motion pictures.


Concurrent with all this discussion, now come into the open, architects and theatre planners have not been idle. But rather have they been busy designing theatres which could meet the demands of the potential market.

In this connection, it was not unnatural that a couple of other war-developed ideas would come to the fore: the use of the new plywoods, with and without plastics added in the lamination process, and the use of pre-fabricated structures.

While primarily designed for the showing of 35-min. motion pictures, chief entrant in the pre-fabricated field is the all-steel theatre conceived and designed by the National Theatres Amusement Company, Inc., and being turned out, in experimental models, at least, by mills of the Henry J. Kaiser organization.

Runner-up-but in some ways more interesting because of the ingenious designs and the remarkable versatility of the materialseis the plywood theatre that might be developed along the lines of the buildings erected by Unit Structures, Inc. While no theatre has been built of these laminated arches and plyw00d panels, churches,.auditoriums, and similar structures have, and, naturally, there is no reason why a theatre could not be. Yet here the greater potentiality is in the 35-min. field.

As the only known entrant in the field for post-war theatres for the exclusive showing of 16-min. entertainment films is the plastic-plywood conception of Morris Sanders, New Yorkis famed architect, designer, and innovator.

For those communities with a hall, but without a theatre and even the questionable ability to support one over a period of time after the novelty had worn off, yet the while communities which would, periodically, patronize motion-picture performances, there is the "itinerant booth", proposed by William C. DeVry, president of the DeVry Corporation.

Inasmuch as these various topics have

been exhaustively treated in other articles in this volume, nothing further need be said on the details.

Another aspect of 16-mm. theatres might be mentioned at this point. Frank Lawrence, formerly with United Artists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and other of the largerstudios, has been working on plans for, a nation-wide organization for the construction of a series of 16-mm. theatres for the exhibition of commercial and industrial films. To date, there are no theatres available for the exclusive showing of such pictures.


Since Hollywood has admitted that the pictures are ready and that 16-mm. entertainment films for commercial exhibition are here, and since theatre designers -of the orthodox type, no leSS than the pre-fabricatorsmare ready to develop cinemas to this exclusive purpose, what about the equipment that will or might be put into those halls and auditoriums that are now and the theatres that are to be?

On the subject of 16-min. equipment for theatre use-commercial exhibition, if not for actual, "man-size" theatres-the manufacturers have very little to say, and what is said is said only after the hearer is virtually sworn to secrecy. However, from time to time a gleam breaks through the gloom and registers a point, and now, enough of these points having been made, a pattern begins to resolve.

In the first place, it is violating no confidence to say that the equipment is ready for the commercial exhibition of 16-min. motion pictures. Some 10,000,000 servicemen can attest to that fact.

Indeed, it was the war that gave the industry the shot in its design and production arms, to turn out equipments which, while 16-mm. in size, would be as close to 35-mm. in performance as it was humanly possible to make in the time allowed.

But let us look into the details, and find out, if possible, what may reasonably be expected, as maximum capabilities, of the present-day equipment. This material is set forth here in summary in the firm belief that it represents good, fair cross section of the present state of affairs.

Viewing Distances

In the last analysis it is the human eye which establishes the maximum comfortable viewing distance since it is that organ's ability to distinguish details (eyemen call it "resolving powerll of the eye) in pictures of various sizes. When a person is seated at a distance equal to six times the width of the screen, he can see (if his eyes are normal) practically
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 509