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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 343 (321)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 343
Page 343

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 343


Cinerama: A New Era in Film Entertainment?

Dramatic Process Brings True Reality to Screens With Three-Dimensional Picture and Sound System

It is, perhaps, one of the greatest tragedies of our time that human emotions have been divorced from thought to the point where feeling and knowledge appear to be quite isolated from one another. This curious state of affairs has been due, in part, .to a somewhat excessive emphasis in this materialistic age on the use of cold logic or reason without permitting the inspiring benefits of the emotions to come into play.

A typical example of such a paradoxical situation may be found in the general field of education, where thinking is highly trained, while feeling is left untrained. In this connection, both the conventional motion picture and television have been widely acclaimed for their contributions to the progress of education. Now while both of these media are supposed to convey feeling to their audiences, they actually fail to stir up to the fullest extent the emotions of the human spirit.

To be sure, maudlin shows on both theatre and television screens have evoked tears from the distaff element, but it is interesting to surmise how much greater the impact on the emotions might be if, instead of looking into a iibox," so to speak, the members of the audience were in the box also, living, suffering, hearing, and seeing the same things which the creatures there do. If this were possible, feeling, as well as thought, would be truly educated.


Incredible though it may seem, a method (in its first crude forms) now appears to have been found to "draw" theatre audiences into the show through a three-dimension picture and sound system which produce an illusion comparable to and sometimes more intense than reality itself. Creating a marvelous

THE CINERAMA CAMERA puts scene on three films, each oi which constitutes one-third of final Picture. Lines of sight of the three lenses cross

at a point just in front of them. where a Single dISC shutter, seen at left, revolves. (l'hologrnph courlvsy of Popular .Scir-nro Monlhly.)


BRIEF: Motion picture projection and sound . . . as we know them today . . . have almost reached a peak of technical perfection in the modern theatre . . . Nonetheless, the industry has not been blind to the fact that current film-making techniques have their limitations . . . for the patron still remains a mere observer of the action on, the screen . . . and a more or less stoic listener to the sound which emanates from it . . . In short. he looks at the show without feeling a part of it.

Various attempts have been made . . . primarily with both convex and concave screens . . . to create an illusion of lifelike spatial relationships . . . but none have been, particularly successful . . . Now . . . however . . . aprocess has been developed which captures real three(Iimensional effects . . . because it starts right on the Movie set to film everything within range of the human retina . . . and to record every soqu normally heard by the ear from every direction.

Described in the following article are the important facts about Cinerama . . . the background of its development . . . principles behind it . . . its camera, sound system, and projection . . . and what its potentialities appear to be.

aura of panoramic sight and sound, which television can probably never attain, this revolutionary process awaits the fiowering of its great potentialities in the motion picture theatre under the name fiCineramafi


To begin with, Cinerama is the invention of Fred Waller, who developed the well-known Waller Gunnery Trainer for use by the Armed Forces during World War II. By using five synchronized projectors on a spherical screen, Waller managed to produce a three-dimensional picture which closely reproduced the environment of a gunner in action and gave him his points of aim to plus or minus two gunnery mills or better. In addition, it gave him the mental experience of attacking and being attacked and of developing his emotional reactions to the point where he could control them with out fibuck agucfl Due to its significant achievements in conditioning gunners, the device is credited with preventing 350,000 casualties in training and Combat.

Cinerama represents the further development of the original Waller Gunnery Trainer to provide a completely new and powerful medium for improving communications in the entertainment as well as other fields.


The illusion of reality created by the Cinerama process is closely linked to

the functions of the retina of the human eye and the drum of the human ear. While a persons attention may be directed primarily at one particular object, his field of vision also encompasses everything on either side of it as far as the corners of the eyes can see. Likewise, a man walking down a city street, for example, hears not only the sounds directly in front of him, but also those on either side and behind him as well.

The Cinerama film process seeks to attain these effects of real life by surrounding the viewer completely with action and sound in an environment. Whereas conventional film allows an audience to look at a battle scene, for example, Cinerama has the effect of putting the audience into the battle. Planes appear to fly overhead, and men shout from behind as well as on all sides.


Since no single camera could possibly take in a fraction of the visual range of the human eye, the Cinerama camera is actually three cameras in one. Weighing only 150 pounds, it has three matched lenses of 27mm focal length which are set at angles 480 apart, Each lens photographs one-third of the scenes total width on one of three standard 35mm films carried in an equal number of magazines. The sight lines of the three lenses converge and cross one another at a point 11/16" in front of them; at this point, a single revolving-disk shutter is used for all of them to assure a perfect synchronization of the exposures. One knob focuses all three lenses at the same time, while another controls the diaphragm apertures.

The picture frames used in the camera are half again as long as those of standard height, and they are made by

THE CUFVED SCREEN has side section! of

vertical ribbons. which are arranaed somewhat like the slats of a Venetian blind to eliminate reflection at light from sides to center of concave screen. Ordinary screen material would not do. (Photograph

courtesy of Popular Science Monthly.)
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 343