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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 229 (193)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 229
Page 229

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 229

Waller had created an environmental feeling of participation in the action by the viewers from the point of view of sight; the next thing was to create the same illusion by means of sound, to complete the effect. Paralleling Waller's development of an optical system was Hazard E. Reevesl work in the perfection of the use of magnetic tape for sound reproduction. Upon the standard 35mm tape he placed seven separate tracks, such that the response was far greater than anything that had ever been recorded in an optical process. By specially placing the microphones used in picking up an orchestra and by placing speakers in the same position, a realism was created which startled even the musicians themselves. So true was this sound that it was diliiculty if not impossible, to tell when the orchestra was playing and when the sound was being played back through the sound system, if one could not see the musicians. With Walleris development and Reevesy creation married and acting as one, the new illusion was complete.

With this special baby for entertaining the world at large now developed and ready for use, the next problem was to place it in a theatre so that it could be seen. Many long hours were spent in the discussion of what would be shown to the public to best introduce this new brain-child. Discussions followed this line: giving a great musical, or a dramatic playeperhaps a wild Western, or a thriller-chiller that would startle the audience. Those who discussed these points all had their favorites, but it was Lowell Thomas who finally won out in his persuasion to make Cinerama. the hero. He felt that the audience should appreciate what this new medium could give to them, and not like or dislike the particular dramatic sequence that was being shown. I am sure that the present presentation of HTHIS IS CINERAMAB bears tribute to Thomasis fine judgment of what the public wants to see.

Great chances were taken with the Cinerama camera as the production crew paddled down the canals of Venice or strapped it into the nose of a B-25 and flew through the canyons of the Western parks. Many days and nights were Spent in cutting this film on improvised moviolas and rewind equipment that was not built for the purpose of handling six perforation frames and 8000 foot reels. However, with the many obstacles that were found at each turn of the road, "THIS IS CINERAMAB was made ready to show.

The next step was to create a showplace where our new system and new production could be exhibited. Again, after much deliberation, the Broadway Theatre on Broadway in New York City was chosen. We soon discovered that the Cinerama system was new in all its aspects, for the Broadway Theatre was designed for stage shows, and adaptable to the standard type of picture. Not so for Cinerama! The proscenium was too narrow, the balcony was too low, the Floor was not strong enough, and the boxes were in the way. Despite these disadvantages we put Cinerama into the theatre, and presented a spectacle that was larger and greater than anything previously seen or heard by a New York theatre audience. The editor of the New





Cinerama booths. Note the larger proiection and

observation ports for operator. The long, horizontal structure at the top of the center booth .is the special duct ior exhausting and cooling the booths. Some orchestra seats had. to be eliminated.

York Times rushed out of the theatre after the final curtain, knocking down a doorman in order to get a front-page story into the Times the following morning. Skeptics, critics and executives of the movie world could not believe that Waller,s development in a. tennis court in Oyster Bay could ever be like this. The fundamentally simple ideas for the multiplicity of one single film and track had been woven into such a clever device as to give an unbelievable result.


The installation of the Cinerama equip ment into the Broadway Theatre entailed a great many interesting, if not revolutionary, ideas to theatre people on all sides. Whoever heard of putting a booth in the middle of the orchestra floor? Cinerama put three of them in the orchestra! This had to be done in order to project the three pictures onto a large, curved screen to form one continuous image. The booths were made as close as possible to a standard New Yorkapproved booth. All of the safety devices normally used were provided, such as automatic safety shutters, fire extin THIS VIEW OF THE BROADWAY prior to the Cinerama installation shows the original appegrunce o! the balcony and orchestra before structural changes were made and orchestra seals eliminated.

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 229