Time To Wake The Sleeping Giant
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Mike Taylor
of deeply curved screen with speaker assembly behind. Shown
here at the Casino Cinerama Theatre, London, England in
1954. Theatre converted back to live venue. Image curtesy Cinerama Engineer - Jim Sweeney (now in the P.P.T,
A Sleeping Giant who cannot awake because of the limitations
imposed by the many theatres of restricted potential
throughout the world.
This was a description given to the 70mm film by the eminent
American projection engineer Ben Schlanger, back in 1966.
His contribution formed a series of articles on cinema
design in an international symposium in the S.M.P.T.E.
Journal of the time.
It was Ben Schlangerís view that there would be a more
extensive use of 70mm as techniques were developed to
exploit the larger screen image in other than spectacular
motion pictures. He went on to say that the Patron (not
customer) in cinema terms would be prepared to pay for the
extra cost of 70mm projection and stereophonic sound. But it
was the producers of motion pictures who felt these
refinements were not necessary. This said Schlanger, was a
short range view. The use of 35mm film should be on the way
out except for television use.
in 70mm reading:
projection room with the Philips DP 70/35mm Projector fitted with Mole
Richardson carbon arc-lamp. Shown here at the Majestic Leeds, England.
Image courtesy Jim Schultz - P.P.T. North East Region Ė England
Another development considered by Schlanger and his French counterpart,
Jean Viviť of Paris, was the use of the deep curved screen, subtending
an angle of 180 degrees to viewers in the best seats. Schlanger went on
to say that the 180 degree angle represents the angle to which we turn
the eye and head together with slight body movements for short periods.
If a wide angle lens is used on the camera, this wide viewing angle
gives true perspective. In terms of theatre size, Schlanger and Viviť
were looking at auditoria with 800 seats. Although not mentioned in this
review, it was obvious that the authors were influenced by Cinerama and
the deeply curved screen.
Now over forty years on, the 65/70mm Workshop
is looking at this sleeping giant once again. The work done so far in
terms of production costs for 70mm and deeply curved screens is very
encouraging. Unfortunately, so much of the cinema infrastructure has
gone for super wide screen presentation including in most cases the
projection equipment and sound systems. The position in respect of
surviving 70mm prints is more serious. Many are past their best,
receiving scant regard or interest apart from the few genuine movie men
still in the industry, and the dedicated supporters of the wide screen.
The editors would like to mention that due to the necessity to have good
sources for DVD editions, there have been an important number of new 70mm
prints produced in the last years. Dedicated independent cinemas have made
the efforts to show these prints and their continuing (and increasing)
support, along with that of the Studios, is greatly welcomed. We look
forward to more cinemas taking up the opportunities that 70mm exhibition has
to offer, and would see a genuine re-release (i.e. not just for DVD
promotion) of films like Hello Dolly, for example, doing well in major
cities around the world on 70mm.
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