How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

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BillysLostFilms

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How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 8:15 am

Greetings,

I am working on a recreation/“restoration” of a 2-reel silent comedy from 1919. I’m curious about what a movie-goer of that era would see at the Reel 1 —> Reel 2 changeover at your typical 2-reeler moviehouse. With the scans I’m working with now from the Library of Congress, the end of Reel 1 has an “End of Reel 1” card. The only copy of Reel 2 that we have now has no titles at the head, and simply picks up the antics where we left off. I am unsure whether we have the entirety of Reel 2.

Would movie-goers usually see any kind of “Reel 2” title when viewing a film such as this? I’m not sure we will change things, but I would at least like to know a little bit more about what capabilities moviehouses of the era had for change-overs, and what the viewing experience was like for moviegoers- such as whether they be single or multiple projector set-ups in the booth, etc.

Many thanks-

- John Tariot
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luciano

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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 10:09 am

There really isn’t a clear cut answer, being that there were several different ways of doing things at that time. The video below with a friend of mine, Joe Rinaudo, shows how to load an itinerant projector.



These projectors were meant to be used in churches, barns, or pretty much anywhere. When the reel would end (sometimes there was no part 1 or 2 title) you would throw the dowser and slide over the lamp house, and give a slide show while changing reels. Then when you were done you slid the lamp house back and started cranking. However in dedicated movie theaters there were two projectors side by side. One was always pre-loaded with the next reel, using a dowser system to switch off after reel 1 ended (and so on until the end of the film). They most likely did a slide show before the film started, however.

Usually, you’ll find that many silent films don’t necessarily have a part 1/part 2 title, but they will stop and begin at moment’s of pause in the action. I would observe the plot of the film, and see if reel 2 starts abruptly. If it starts smoothly and there doesn’t seem to be any plot holes, then it is most likely complete and just missing the “reel 2” title. It would be ideal to look at lobby cards or stills to make sure it is complete. Sometimes Pathe Baby 9.5mm releases can give a clue to missing footage but it is rare.
Last edited by silentfilm on Mon May 15, 2017 11:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Embedd YouTube link
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silentfilm

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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 11:26 am

If only one projector was used, which was mainly in very small houses, or with itenarant projectionists showing films in schools, churches, or for civic organizations, then the "End of reel X" title would be seen. Otherwise, there should have been a seamless change-over to the second reel.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 3:38 pm

By the mid-teens there were already quite a few projectors with a 2000-foot reel capacity, and if the films arrived on two 1000-foot reels the operator would splice them together to avoid a reel change (using a sturdier "house reel" rather than the sometimes flimsy and bent-up shipping reels). Thus even theatres that still had only one projector by 1919 could usually show a "two-reeler" uninterrupted, unless it was a small portable unit for traveling exhibitors (often hand-cranked). Most larger theatres by 1919, even those in smaller towns, would have a pair of projectors, whether 1000-foot or 2000-foot capacity, and were motor-driven with variable speed controls. The heads and tails containing the reel numbers would be cut off for double-size reel projection, but normally returned to the reels after playing so that the next theatre would be sure to run them in the proper order. The reel numbers (usually including film titles) printed onto the film were thus intended only for the projectionists rather than to announce to the audience which reel was playing (unless there was only one projector).

And now for more information on film exhibition practices than most people probably want to know...

The standard of one reel per thousand feet was maintained through the silent and early sound era (one reel holding eight to ten minutes could thus easily match a single 16-inch Vitaphone disk), but eventually studios started sending out movies on "double-size" reels (especially after optical sound was the norm) because so few theatres were limited to a maximum "one-reel" reel size of 1000-feet, although they were still made in 1000-ft. lengths but labeled Reel 1-A and 1-B, 2-A and 2-B, etc., spliced together in advance and eventually printed in 2000-foot lengths. By the 1950s and 60s, a five- or six-reel feature would come on three 2000-ft. reels, and most movies previously called eight- to ten-reelers would be referred to as four- or five-reel films. Low-budget movies intended for drive-ins and grindhouses were also typically kept to no more than 80-88 minutes (often less) so they'd fit on four reels that would go into one wide octagonal shipping case rather than two, to save shipping costs. That way a double-feature could ship in only two film cans. A 66-minute feature could squeeze onto three reels, and thus a narrower, lighter film can, thus saving more on shipping.

The 3-D movies of the 50s were usually kept within 80 to 100 minutes or less so they could be spliced onto 4000- to 5000-foot reels running simultaneously on the theatre's pair of projectors, with a single intermission. Magnetic sound made the film thicker so a 2000-foot reel might hold only 1500 feet of film, requiring substantially more reels for a long feature (especially when a 35mm print was a reduction from a roadshow filmed in 70mm with five perforations rather than four per frame).

By the massive opening-day wide releases of the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s, films might be printed in 6000-foot lengths and cut up into 2000-foot reels, sometimes accidentally including the head or tail of the adjoining reel and making it easy for projectionists to assemble reels in the wrong order! The 2000-foot reel standard continues to this day for theatres that still run 35mm film, with a two-hour movie arriving on six reels, although they are then usually all mounted onto one large platter system requiring no changeovers (standard since the 1970s with the rise of multiplexes) or in some cases two large 6000- to 7000-foot reels requiring one changeover (the 7000-foot reels sometimes being filled to the very edge to accommodate trailers and/or an extra shorter reel).
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 8:12 pm

Bruce/Christopher,

Very interesting. Suppose it is 1925, and I own a theater with two projectors. I am going to show Sherlock Jr., which tops out at around 56 minutes. Would that have come to me in 6 reels in the mail? I assume I would load the first two reels on the projectors, and when Reel 2 is showing I would load Reel 3 onto the machine that had Reel 1, and on and on.

How would I know when Reel 1 was ending to start Reel 2? If i were a good projectionist would it be almost seamless to the audience that a new Reel on the other projector was now running?

Maybe getting prints in the mail was not common. There is a small town where I lived that many, many years ago had a theater. This town is between two larger towns. A bus would come through from one of the larger towns to the other, and film would be on the bus going from the one town to the other. Apparently the bus driver could often be persuaded for a little bit of money to leave the film at this little town until the next day when he came back through.

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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 9:09 pm

Interesting - especially for someone who has had to carry a 70mm print up all the stairs to the bio box!

In the suburbs of Melbourne back in the old days, the same picture would be shown at a number of cinemas with the reels being taken as soon as they had finished being projected at one house, by motor-cycle to the next house on the list. The times must have been staggered to allow this and one can only imagine what may have occurred had there been any hold-ups in traffic! :D
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 9:43 pm

mwalls wrote:Bruce/Christopher,

Very interesting. Suppose it is 1925, and I own a theater with two projectors. I am going to show Sherlock Jr., which tops out at around 56 minutes. Would that have come to me in 6 reels in the mail? I assume I would load the first two reels on the projectors, and when Reel 2 is showing I would load Reel 3 onto the machine that had Reel 1, and on and on.

How would I know when Reel 1 was ending to start Reel 2? If i were a good projectionist would it be almost seamless to the audience that a new Reel on the other projector was now running?

Maybe getting prints in the mail was not common. There is a small town where I lived that many, many years ago had a theater. This town is between two larger towns. A bus would come through from one of the larger towns to the other, and film would be on the bus going from the one town to the other. Apparently the bus driver could often be persuaded for a little bit of money to leave the film at this little town until the next day when he came back through.

Matthew


Well, SHERLOCK, JR was actually a short five-reeler that is barely over 4,000 feet and could be squeezed onto four very full reels or two very full 2000-foot reels, and typically runs about 44 minutes at a normal projection speed. It would most likely have arrived on five 1000-foot reels with roughly 800 feet on each reel. Films were rarely sent through the mail, but usually by bus or train (which would require picking up at the station), or courier truck (which would deliver directly to the theatre and the driver might have a key to the building or leave the film outside the door).

To project the film, you might take a chance and run it right out of the can off the shipping reels if the print came at the very last minute before the show and if the reels were not too bent out of shape, and if all the reels came "heads up." As projectionist you would normally inspect each reel (even though they should have been inspected at the film exchange) to make sure there are no breaks, torn sprocket holes, bad splices, etc., by winding the film onto one of the theatre's house reels. If the film came "heads up" you would have to rewind it again. In the process you would likely inspect the heads and tails to note what the first and last scene/title was, so you'd know what to expect before your changeover, possibly writing down notes to put by the projectors, especially if another projectionist would be coming in for other showings. If you could run 2000-foot reels you'd probably splice reels 2 and 3 together and reels 4 and 5 together (removing heads and tails so that picture would cut directly to the picture of the next reel), which would let you splice a one-reel short and/or trailers before reel 1 (if you didn't add the trailers to the end of the final reel, which is why they were called "trailers").

Many projectionists would put marks in the corner of the picture with a grease pencil or by scratching into the emulsion to provide an on-screen reminder that it was time to change over to the other projector. They would usually put another mark about 12 feet (eight seconds) before the final frame as a cue to start the motor of the second projector before the actual changeover where the douser is closed on the first machine as it is opened on the second for a seamless changeover. The film would typically be threaded with the "Picture Start" frame (where the "12" should be) on the countdown leader in the film gate, as it took roughly 12 feet of film (8 seconds at 24 fps) for the projector motor to get up to full speed. Different theatres would thread on a different number depending on how fast their motors got up to speed. Many silent films were assembled onto reels so that the end of one reel would be either a scene fading to black or a title card, and the beginning of the next reel would be either a scene fading from black into the picture or the same title card that ended the previous reel. This helped make changeovers less obvious. You are correct that when the first reel is done you would replace it with the third reel and then rewind the first reel for the next show, while getting the next reel ready for the other projector. You might need to change the carbons for the arc lamp while one projector was idle, as well. This was yet another reason for using 2000-foot reels, as it gave the projectionist more time to do all that without danger of missing a changeover.

When films were broken down back onto the 1000-ft. shipping reels, conscientious projectionists would cut them apart at the same place they were spliced and splice the heads and tails back to their proper reels. Others would simply wind off the 2000-foot reel until the 1000-foot shipping reel was full and just cut the film anywhere, which is why the heads and tails of reels often have so many splices and scratches. With cement splices, of course, a frame would be lost on each side of each new splice, resulting in reels getting substantially shorter after playing for months at numerous theatres, which usually had two-day or three-day engagements except first-run movies in big cities that might run a week or two (and would naturally be less splicey or worn).
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon May 15, 2017 9:53 pm

Donald Binks wrote:Interesting - especially for someone who has had to carry a 70mm print up all the stairs to the bio box!

In the suburbs of Melbourne back in the old days, the same picture would be shown at a number of cinemas with the reels being taken as soon as they had finished being projected at one house, by motor-cycle to the next house on the list. The times must have been staggered to allow this and one can only imagine what may have occurred had there been any hold-ups in traffic! :D


A variation on this, when two theatres across town were owned by the same company, to save costs with union-scale projectionists they would have the same projectionist start the film at one theatre, drive to the second and start that one, then drive back to make the changeover at the first and thread the next reel, go back to the second theatre for that changeover, and so on until the film was done at both houses. It must have been exhausting and stressful.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostTue May 16, 2017 8:31 am

Hi All-

I really appreciate the replies and all the "bonus material" on this! Very helpful. This particular silent is from Reelcraft Studios, which had exchanges throughout the U.S., and was, probably, and initially at least, shown in movie houses as opposed to more itinerant settings.

I think, at least for the current round of work, we'll keep the "End of Reel 1" card, and leave the start of Reel 2 as is. It would be fun to entertain the idea, at least for the first, "re-premiere" screening, to make an attempt at recreating a little bit more of the audience experience with slides and such, but I don't think we're going to be able to pull that off. But who knows? Any ideas on generating hot lamp & film smell? :D

I'd like to add in closing that Nitrateville has been quite helpful to me on this project, and I will be posting more comprehensive info on this project shortly for those who may find it interesting and/or helpful. I also will be attending MOSTLY LOST at LOC/Culpeper VA if anyone would like to catch up to chat.

My best-

- John Tariot
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostTue May 16, 2017 9:20 am

I think we might want to elaborate a bit on Christopher Jacobs explanation of reel makeup and changeovers, regarding cue marks.
As he stated, it was common for projectionists to make either grease pencil marks, or scratches in a corner of frames approaching the end of each reel, to notify when to start the other projector.
In 1930, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, together with the major studios, created what became known as the "Academy Standard" print makeup. This established the 12 foot count down leader, preceded by several feet of "protection leader". This also contained the afore-mentioned title and reel number frames.
At the tail of each reel, a four-frame series of circles was placed in the upper right corner of the frame, 12 feet from the end of the picture portion. This was the cue to start the motor on the incoming projector. Another identical set of circles was placed one foot from the end, giving the projectionist about a second to operate the change-over to make a seamless change.
This type of cue-marking remained standard on virtually all release prints until the digital age came in, making changeovers unneccessary.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostTue May 16, 2017 11:36 am

Thanks for bringing up those details, Dick. I had intended to mention that eventually the changeover cues were standardized and printed into the film as little circles in the upper right corner after the coming of sound. For whatever reason more than a few projectionists kept making their own changeover marks, resulting in prints with several sets of cues. Perhaps those on the last reel might have included a curtain cue or lights-up cue, but I don't know why they felt they needed additional (often very large) cues unless they just couldn't notice the little dots because they weren't yet conditioned to them. Of course TV prints might have numerous obtrusive commercial cues at anywhere during a reel, in different places for different airings and/or TV stations.

I have not handled enough original silent prints to be sure on the types of leader used, whether or not there were countdown leaders and how long they were, as most prints I've run were usually copies made by archives or 16mm distributors who would usually splice in their own standard countdown leaders between the original title and reel leader I.D. and the start of the picture. I'm assuming that the 1930 Academy standard leader format was derived from what were considered "best practices" that had already been in use throughout the silent era, but finally codified and standardized. I would expect that various studios, labs, and distributors may well have had their own individual standards before then, with projectionists having to adapt them to their own preferred practices. It would be interesting to research this topic through early trade journal articles and letters to the editor. Would silent prints that have the standard circle-cues all be from post-1930 reissues, or had some studios already started punching the holes in the negatives for reel changes during the silent era?

Keeping the "End of Reel 1" title in the restoration of a silent print (or sound print) preserves a bit of history that typically goes unnoticed, and likely does recreate the original screening experience whenever the projectionist was just a bit late making the changeover so the tail label was accidentally projected on the screen. I've seen quite a few home video copies where a few frames of tail labels get included, most likely because the video transfer technicians didn't notice them or thought it was too much work to edit them out. Many of them, especially during the silent era, included some nice background artistic design, so maybe they thought it was supposed to be included (as it would have been in the case of screenings from a single projector, or home/nontheatrical screenings via 16mm Kodascopes, etc.).
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostTue May 16, 2017 12:38 pm

I didn't realize that changeover cues began in 1930. I was running 16mm prints at the Kansas Silent Film Festival and my changeovers were a little rough since I was looking for cues. Something to remember.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostTue May 16, 2017 12:44 pm

I thought there were three separate cues, one to turn on the other projector, one to turn on the projector lamp, and one to change over.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostTue May 16, 2017 2:52 pm

Arc lamps were usually turned on a short time before the motor cue as the current reel was running near the end (after insuring that the dowser on the second projector was closed so the film wouldn't burn). Many projectors had a little bell alarm rigged up that would ring one to three times as the film on the feed reel was running low. Some were set off by the amount of film remaining on the upper reel, while others were based on the speed that the upper reel was rotating (which gets going pretty fast when the remaining film gets low). Xenon lamps would usually go on with the start of the motor, wired into a changeover/failsafe system, and go off when the film had run out completely. I have only very rarely run carbon arc lamphouses and almost always have had xenon lamps when running 35mm (or tungsten-halogen when I had my own 35mm setup at home, but that lamp did have to be turned on separately after both the motor and exhaust/cooling fan were running).

For changing over 16mm silent prints, if it's not possible to preview them and note the final scene or title card, a quick and simple and non-damaging changeover cue can be marked across a few frames in the final foot of image using a colored grease pencil on the base side, so it can easily be wiped off after the show before rewinding. A second, "get ready" cue can be marked a couple of feet further back from the last frame, as with 16mm changeovers the second projector is usually turned on with full lamp at the same time the lamp is cut on the first one so a timed motor-start cue isn't necessary. A quick inspection of the print on a rewind table before the showing might even reveal that a previous projectionist has already added cues of one sort or another, and if not they can be added at that time.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostTue May 16, 2017 7:14 pm

I used to have a Blackhawk 16mm print of William S. Hart's The Toll Gate (1920) that had a few flash frames of the "End/Start of Reel X" title on each reel change.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostWed May 17, 2017 10:34 am

silentfilm wrote:I used to have a Blackhawk 16mm print of William S. Hart's The Toll Gate (1920) that had a few flash frames of the "End/Start of Reel X" title on each reel change.


When I cranked The General once when I helped Joe Rinaudo with one of his shows, I was surprised to see End of Part 1 titles, with the same wood grain and font complete. I had never seen them before. I believe Joe's print was courtesy of David Shepard, so I guess Blackhawk's negative has those intact. It does change the pacing, and gives the film a more 'epic' feel.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostWed May 17, 2017 11:28 am

There's an episode of COLUMBO with Chuck McCann as a projectionist. In the show, he inserts a nickel near the end of a reel. When it drops onto the floor, he know it's time to get up and begin the routine of reel changes.

Bob
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostThu May 18, 2017 9:31 am

I had never heard of the "nickel" system. I can just imagine it falling into the projector, being carried along with the film into the gate, jamming, and playing havoc with everything including major damage to the print.
Back to the change over cue subject (to the point of trivia): Laboratories made cues in the negatives from the previously mentioned standard of 1930 thru 1937 at the end of each single (1000 ft) reel. For this reason, if an original pre-1938 print is viewed, cues will show up approximately every 10 minutes, even though the print is made up on 2000 ft. reels.
When it became very common that theaters were doubling up the 1000 ft. reels, the distributors made this the standard, and prints, even though still manufactured in single reel format, were doubled up in the exchange and shipped on 2000 ft reels. That is where the previously mentioned reels numbered 1A, 1B, etc. came about. Shipping of prints in this setup continued until the digital age pretty much eliminated film exhibition.
When transferring movies to video for either home video or TV, in more recent years the cues were painted out digitally, so this unnecessary blip won't appear.
The practice of sloppy projectionists adding their own cues by scratching or punching holes in the print, often right over the perfectly visible lab cues, ruined many a print. No real reason for this except laziness.
Some labs had distinctive cues: MGM - black dot surrounded by scalloped white circle; Paramount-black dot surrounded by very visible messy white circle; Technicolor- magenta dot surrounded by scalloped green circle.
Most labs just a black dot with very narrow white circle caused by the edge of the punched dot holding back light in the printer.
As to leaders: The first Vitaphone prints had a "Start" frame, followed by 12 feet of black film. Threading the projector with "Start" in the picture aperture allowed an accurate line up with the start mark on the Vitaphone disc. Shortly after the introduction of sound, the "Academy Leader", with "Start" at the 12 foot mark, then 11, 10, etc. down thru 3, then black film until the picture image became standard.
The "SMPTE Leader" was introduced during the TV era, with the countdown in seconds instead of feet. I have seen, in recent movies where a leader is on screen on purpose for dramatic reason, the use of the SMPTE leader in a story set long before that was even introduced. THE ARTIST is an example.
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostThu Jun 29, 2017 7:56 am

Just some passing thoughts on this topic based upon my experiences as a projectionist and a collector:

As stated above, while most films were printed in 1000' sections up until the 1950's, by the early 1930's, for most films the A/B sections were spliced together onto a 2000' reel at the film exchange. The only films sent to theatres on 1000' reels would have been cartoons and shorts under 10 minutes.

Early Technicolor was printed in 3 sections, A/B/C, that were spliced together at the exchange onto one 2000' reel.

Many films though the 1930's had the cue marks printed in at the end of each 10 minutes section. Since the cue marks were scratched into the negative, they survived into later reprints. In recent years, all cue marks tend to be digitally removed for DVD/Bluray release.

While bicycling films between theatres was not unheard of here in the USA, it was a rare occurrence due to licensing agreements between the theatres and the distributors. The projectionist would not have left a reel running while out of his theatre. Carbon arc lamps need constant adjustment, and prior to 1950, 35mm film was on flammable nitrate stock requiring the projectionist to be in the booth while the film is running. Many theatres from this time had a private rest room off of the booth for the projectionist, since by fire code, he could not leave while the film was running.

As stated above, by the early to mid 1930's, almost every theatre here in the USA had 2 projectors capable of running 2000' (20 minute) reels. The changeover procedure was as follows:

  • The projectionist would thread the next projector to be used at a specific number on the leader, generally "8" here in the USA.
  • A bell controlled by the feed reel on the running projector would ring a few minutes before the end of reel, to alert the projectionist.
  • The lamp arc would be struck and adjusted, and the projectionist would wait for the cues.
  • At the first cues, the projectionist would start the motor.
  • At the second cues, the projectionist would hit the switches that changed the picture and sound over to the second projector, which also blocked the picture and sound from the first projector.
  • The projectionist would turn off the arc lamp on the first projector.
  • When the tail leader ran out on the first projector, the projectionist would turn off the motor, remove the reels to be rewound on a separate rewinder. 35mm projectors do not rewind capability.
  • Go to top of this list, around and around until the end of the show.

The Landmark Loews Jersey in Jersey City, New Jersey has classic film weekends during the fall/winter/spring and still runs 2000' reels with changeovers and carbon arc lamp houses. Pictured below is a Vitaphone projector in the Loews Jersey's booth. It is not used, but it does work. The projector is a Simplex Standard with external front shutter. Below the projector Western Electric optical sound section of the head is a pre-amp box with a switch to change between the optical sound or the Vitaphone disc.

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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostSat Jul 08, 2017 11:02 am

Just read this fascinating discussion touching on a number issues I've been researching for a paper on the first Cinématographe Lumière screenings. According to many testimonies from 1895-1896, the Cinématographe screenings routinely began with a fixed image. This permitted the projectionist to focus and adjust the frame line before he got the image moving by cranking the projector, and presumably emphasized the novelty of the moving image.

Which raises multiple questions:

-How could this be accomplished without setting the nitrate film on fire? We do know that water cells inserted between the condenser and the projector acting as heat filters were part of the standard projection setup by 1897, but these do not seem to have been used for the very first screenings (precisely those where the fixed to moving image is described).

-When and why did these water cells stopped being added to film projectors?

-How did projectionists focus in the early days of cinema? Did they really risk focusing on a fixed nitrate frame? Or did they spoil the first few feet of films by fussing with the frame line and focus?

-When were leaders bearing marks permitting focusing introduced?

Any lead on these question would be much appreciated!
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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon Jul 17, 2017 1:14 am

Louis Pelletier wrote:We do know that water cells inserted between the condenser and the projector acting as heat filters were part of the standard projection setup by 1897, but these do not seem to have been used for the very first screenings.

-When and why did these water cells stopped being added to film projectors?

-How did projectionists focus in the early days of cinema? Did they really risk focusing on a fixed nitrate frame? Or did they spoil the first few feet of films by fussing with the frame line and focus?

-When were leaders bearing marks permitting focusing introduced?


Many questions

Let me try to answer a few. First of all, you don’t have to adjust for frame lines and you can’t do that with the cinématographe. The claw mechanism is permanently mounted and never changes its position relative to the aperture. Since positives are made with the very mechanism by which the negative was exposed they match perfectly up. Next, you don’t need much light for focusing. Also, you don’t let the first frame stand long in the light beam. When the spectators are seated and the lights turned off the operator can reveal the frist frame by pulling a dowser out of the light path. He would then bring the arc lamp to full power and begin cranking. Focus should stay on, if the lens is not touched. Everything is prepared for a show, including focus. The Lumière employed projection lenses with a rack and pinion mount.
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Louis Pelletier

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Re: How movie houses projected 2-reel comedies?

PostMon Jul 17, 2017 1:03 pm

Thanks Early reflex. This is quite useful.

One of our sources on the Cinématographe was Martin Loiperdinger, who writes in an essay published in The Moving Image (Vol. 4, no. 1): "Before projecting a film with the Cinématographe Lumière, the framing had to be adjusted and the film locked into place after it had been inserted, during which one saw a still image, i.e., one projected frame, similar to a slide show. As soon as the framing was correct, the projectionist started cranking, setting the image on screen in motion."

The early Lumière films had only one perforation on both side of each frame, so it would indeed seem impossible to get the framing wrong. Is there something wrong with Loiperdinger's quote, or am I missing out on something?

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