John Steven Lasher's Kinopanorama
This article first appeared in
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: John Steven Lasher
Issue 38 - April 1995
original Russian Kinopanorama logo in New York Times
June 1993. The
Pictureville Cinema in
Bradford, England - the only public theatre anywhere where all the original
3-strip films can be exhibited in their original format - is launched to
"This is Cinerama", which hasn't been
seen for over twenty years, receives a tremendous reception.
To honour this historic event Sydney film producer John Steven Lasher
brought the historic Kinopanorama camera out of retirement to shoot the
first new 3-strip film in over thirty years.
John Steven Lasher developed the idea for a short promotional travel-related
film about Australia, New South Wales and Sydney, host city of the 2000
Olympics, which would be shot in the three-strip Cinerama process, and
offered the film to Pictureville on an exclusive basis. Although an original
3-strip Cinerama camera was being restored by two former Cinerama staff in
California, USA, Mr Lasher was unable to secure its hire. He considered the
rival Cinemiracle process, but was informed that only months earlier the
sole remaining Cinemiracle cameras had been disassembled and reconverted for
35mm special effects use. The only other 3-strip process to his knowledge
was Kinopanorama, the Soviet version of Cinerama, about which the West knew
practically nothing. Was it possible that any of the Russian cameras
existed; if so, could they be located, restored and purchased?
in 70mm reading:
John H. Mitchell, Australia.
Cinerama unterm Sternenhimmel
Interview with John H. Mitchell,
John Mitchell gallery of
• Panorama Cinema in
• Kinopanorama in
• Kinopanorama Update
Lost Orphaned Film
Soviet Circular Panorama
"War and Peace" in
Foreign 70mm Films in Russia
Chastity Truth and Kinopanorama
The latest from Kinopanorama
Continent's Kinopanorama logo which looks like a total rip-off of the
original Soviet Kinopanorama logo above.
For Mr Lasher, who with the assistance of Yuri Sokol, former Soviet
filmmaker, now resident in Australia, the answer after many months was a
resounding yes! A Kinopanorama camera, complete with two sets of lenses,
camera magazines, DC and sync motors, and tripod, was located and restored
under the supervision of Sergei Rozhkov, the Russian scientist who in 1991
was awarded an Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for
his role in the development of advanced 3-D films in Russia.
After successfully passing its initial tests in Russia, the camera, together
with its restorers, was flown to Sydney.
Cinema history was recreated on Tuesday night, September 27, 1993 in Sydney,
Australia. Shortly after dark
John Mitchell, who owns one of only three
extant Cinerama 3-strip theatres in the world, projected "rushes"
of the first new footage shot in any 3-strip panoramic motion picture
process in some 30 years!
Kinopanorama composite. Reproduced by permission. Fifth Continent.
There were no fanfares (in fact, no music was heard),
no press, no speeches, and no TV cameras (though the footage projected on
screen was captured on video). There was, however, the unique experience of
seeing this unique footage shot with the painstakingly restored
Kinopanorama camera, purchased
by Fifth Continent Movie Classics.
If the Sovcolor film stock was a bit muted on account of Moscow's overcast
weather, the matters at hand were more than compensated for by the flawless
performance of the camera, which not only captured the scenes of various
Moscow landmarks in sharp focus, but also exhibited rock-steady
synchronization between the 3 panels.
On November 2, following the arrival of the Kinopanorama camera and crew
from Moscow, several minutes of additional test footage shot around Moscow
was viewed by the production crew. Again, the camera performed brilliantly.
It was now time to film in various locations around Sydney over the next
in Sydney including. Director of Photography John R. McLean, Producer John
Steven Lasher, and Technical liaisons Sergey Rozhkov, Igor
Shevtsov and John Mitchell (in a blue shirt). Producer John
Steven Lasher at the bottom. Copyright Kinopanorama Music & Vision.
Day one of the filming on Wednesday, November 3, 1993 took place at the ANA
Sydney Hotel, where the camera and crew were lodged for the week. From the
roof above the fortieth floor Director of Photography John R. McLean,
Producer John Steven Lasher, and Technical liaisons Sergey Rozhkov, Igor
Shevtsov and John Mitchell hoisted the camera on a heavy-duty German tripod
(c. 1940), connected the two 12-volt batteries to the camera's DC motor,
turned the voltage regulator on, and -- voila -- 146 degree panoramic views
of Sydney Harbour, the "Coathanger", Sydney Opera House and
everything else the magnificent camera could capture from such a lofty
camera in Sydney harbour. Reproduced by
permission from Fifth Continent
Filming on Thursday, November 4, included the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (Mrs
Macquaries's Chair, Farm Cove, Vista Pavilion, Twin Ponds and Queen
Elizabeth II Gate), Sydney Opera House and Campbell's Cove, where the
arrival of H.M.A.V. Bounty was captured. Friday morning shots covered a ride
across the Sydney Harbor Bridge, thence back to Campbell's Cove for a 1300
hours departure aboard H.M.A.V. Bounty (the full size replica built for the
1984 film "Bounty" starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins)
courtesy of captain John Sorensen and Bounty Cruises. This popular Sydney Harbor Cruise provided the film crew with the perfect opportunity to shoot
the kind of panoramic footage for which the Kinopanorama camera is famous.
With the November weather at its most cooperative the crew decided to shoot
extra footage on Saturday, November 6, at the North Head Scenic area from
the Fairfax Lookout. This location offers one of the finest vistas
available, offering spectacular views of North and Middle Harbours, South
and Middle heads, the skylines of Sydney, North Sydney, Manly and Chatswood.
The day's shoot ended at Bilgola Head, where more seascapes were captured in
vivid detail. With several metres of film remaining the production crew
decided to "get into the picture": John R. McLean framed the
scene, someone yelled "action", and with the Kinopanorama camera
at speed, the crew offered a salute to the three-eyed wonder.
camera on a Sydney train. Reproduced by
permission from Fifth Continent
On Monday, November 8, camera and crew boarded the 0847 train from Central
to Wyong as guests of CityRail management. This ride offers some of the most
exciting footage to date. The Kinopanorama camera was mounted on the floor
of the front carriage, positioned only meters above the rail, where footage
of the journey would be shot while the train was operating at high speed.
Footage between Wyong and Sydney included the scenic Hawkesbury south of Woy
Woy, a high-speed race across the Railway Bridge at Brooklyn, and, between
Hornsby and Strathfield, caught the engine driver's "point of
view" as the train overtook and crossed other trains on one of the
busiest sections on the CityRail network. Of course, this is but the shape
of things to come. The Sovcolor film stock, which was processed and printed
in Moscow under the supervision of Sergey Rozhkov, arrived back in Sydney on
May 16, 1994. The "work-print" has been evaluated, and the best
scenes will be edited into a rough-cut for initial post-production work,
which will include added narration, John Charles' score and sound-effects on
a digitally mastered seven-track stereo surround.
"H.M.A.V. Bounty" was shot in Sovcolor (print by Eastman
Kodak) by John R Mclean and Yuri Sokol, John Charles, best known in
Australia for his music from "The Quiet Earth", has
composed an original score which compliments the visuals.
John Mitchell, who
owns one of three extant three-strip projection facilities in the world, is
the technical consultant. John Steven Lasher, producer & director, has
final script development through funding from the corporate sector, whose
sponsorship includes "contras" for those goods and services
featured in the film.