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1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 230 (194)

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition
1953-54 Theatre Catalog
1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 230
Page 230

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 230

THE TREMENDOUS CINERAMA SCREEN necessitated an installation technique which had been unheard of in theatre operation. A network of scattolding was required to handle the detailed and amazing Job.

guishers, and a complete and separate ventilation system, which exhausted the air from each booth once every three minutes directly to the outside air. Fresh air was brought from the outside directly to each booth for the comfort of the operators. Each booth contained a single projector using magazines for 8000 feet of film, which would run our nonstandard film (speed of 146.25 feet per minute) for about 50 minutes. Also in this booth a control panel was installed

for the operation of the projector and the coordination of that one projector with the rest of the system. This panel also has a servo amplifier, a power amplifier for the auditorium speakers, and an intercom so that the operator can at all times be in communication with the man running the show. Only one operator is present in a booth for each show, since each booth holds only one projector. The high cost of the specially developed equipment and the space on

THIS BACKSTAGE VIEW gives an insight into the meChanism of the stereophonic sound system. Note the contrast with the standard theatre sound system in the center below the Cinemmu network.

the orchestra iioor dictates that the show must be run in this manner.

Many miles of wire were put into the theatre in order to supply the power, the intercommunications, and the audio connections to each of these booths. Three phase and single phase 110V, 220V and DC were run into each booth. 24V DC for control systems was also connected from booth to booth. All of this had to be approved by the authorities in the city, who were slightly awed by the whole thing. Just what was this Cinerama, and what would it do? Was it dangerous to have in a theatre, and after all, was it worth while putting it in? Everyone was questioning and skeptical, certainly about it staying more than two weeks.


To get back to the installation itself, besides the three booths, at special curved screen and curtain must be installed. This screen filled the complete proscenium arch and protruded on either side approximately eight feet out into the orchestra. The two proscenium boxes had to come out and so a wrecking crew knocked them down. This screen had to be supported, and since it was out beyond the proscenium, the gridiron was of no use beyond this point. A special portable aluminum scaffold had been designed which could quickly be installed in a standard manner in a standard theatre. Alas, the Broadway was no standard theatre for Cinerama. And so, it was adapted to tit around the configuration of the proscenium. A great curved track had been specially built and then rebuilt to fit into the niches of this theatre. Vertically moving masking curtains, both top and bottom, were also installed. All of these curtains, masks and scaffolding were new to the theatrical world. The house carpenter, who was over 70, had rigged a lot of peculiar things in his days, but he never saw anything quite like this. This monstrous screen covered everything behind stage and went out into the audience, enabling them to observe a show that was twice as large as any legitimate Show they had ever seen before. This brought up an all important question. What about the lowering of the asbestos curtain? How could this be done with the screen in the way? The answer, of course, was that it could not be lowered. A special dispensation had to be granted to us by the Fire Department in order to tie off and make inoperative this curtain; and this consent was given to us on condition that the. backstage area would be completely cleared of inflammable material, and that it would not be used. Also, no persons were to be there except the house electricians. In retrospect, this is simple to saysbut the granting of this special ruling was a long and complicated process entailing many discussions with the authorities.

Five groups of speakers were placed on the largo scaffold backstage, oriented such that the projected sound covered the theatre evenly. Each of these speakers was fed by a separate track on the sound film, which was on a fourth projector placed in the standard projoce tion booth upstairs. This sound projector was the master control for the three

1953-54 Theatre Catalog, 11th Edition, Page 230