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ARC-120 Gives Wider Vistas

This article first appeared in
..in 70mm
The 70mm Newsletter

Reprinted from The Ideal Kinema, November 1960 Issue 66 - November 2001

Original faded ARC-120 35mm frame. Note the two opposite stacked images.

A projection system that enables the smaller theatre to put on a Cinerama type presentation has been tested for some weeks at the Palace, Blackpool, and has proved a popular attraction.

The system is called Arc-120, and put briefly, it enables a picture to be projected with an aspect ratio of 2,5 to 1 upon a deeply curved screen 50ft or more in width, from a special 45mm print run on normal projectors.

The basis of Arc-120 is that two halves of the image are printed foot to foot in the space of a single 35mm silent frame (actually 18.3 x 25mm), so eliminating the wastage of the mask lines.

In projection, these two half images are positioned side-by-side on the screen and because they are projected by separate lenses, it is possible to use a deeply curved screen without loss of focus

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Internet link:

Special printers

Electronically re-composed in Photoshop.

Installed at Denham Laboratories are three special printers which from any type of large-frame negative - CinemaScope, Technirama, VistaVision - will produce an Arc-120 print. (Obviously, it is desirable that the original shall have a large picture-format in order to secure maximum definition in the two half-images).

The optical system made by Zeiss-Ikon, which fits to any projector and projects this special print, was shown at Photokina this year. By means of prisms, the half-images are rotated 90 degrees and each is projected through its own lens upon one half of the screen.

Naturally there is a dividing line between the two half-frames. In order to make this line almost invisible, the optical system includes a tiny shutter rotating at high speed, which serves to mask the overlap.

At the Palace, Blackpool, where the British Lion Film "Honeymoon" (in Eastmancolor) ran for 4½ weeks, Arc-120 was projected on BTH Supa Projectors, fitted with specially selected intermittent movements to ensure maximum steadiness and with the Zeiss-Ikon attachment; the arcs ran at 90 amps.
Almost the same scene as above as seen in the restored film.

The 55ft x 22 ft Perlux screen, curved to a depth of 10 ft, was suspended in front of the proscenium. The local press was enthusiastic in its reception.

Inventor of Arc-120 is Dr. Leon W. Wells, who claims as a major advantage that the loss of picture quality often due to anamorphic lenses is eliminated. As compared with anamorphic prints, the film frame is slightly larger, hence a better quality picture may be expected, while, because the screen is covered by two separate lenses, a deeply curved screen may be used without loss of definition at the edges.

Arc-120 is being launched in this country by Leon Bronesky. An aspect that will appeal to the smaller exhibitor is that he can install the system without capital outlay: Mr. Bronesky is prepared to install the equipment and supply programmes on sharing terms.

There are a few other details about Arc-120 in the June 2000 and December 2000 (..in 70mm - Issues 61 and 63). Editor.
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Updated 07-01-23