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Thread: Reel-markers

  1. #41
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    Juswt to add that I have viewed 35mm at the BFI viewing services.You have to load up the table editing machine yourself.The reels are generally 2000 feet which will take 18 mins to go through the machine.the last reel is about 400 feet.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by darrenburnfan View Post
    Arithmatic was never my strong point and I don't know how to use a calculator, but I've just reckoned it up on paper and as 35mm film ran at 90 feet per minute through the machines, then a 1,000 feet reel would only run around nine minutes. Anybody on here who can do maths better than me correct me if I'm wrong. But I do know that the spools we used could not hold more than twenty minutes worth of film.
    At 90 feet per minute, 900 feet of film will take 10 mins to project, 990 feet will take 11 minutes, so 1000 feet will take 11m 6s.

    Sadly I am old enough to remember going to the cinema as a child in the 1950s. On one occasion at my local ABC when watching THE TOMMY STEELE STORY around 1957. at one of the reel changes a reel from the 'B' feature started to be shown. The projectionist had got all the reels muddled up. As an adult I would have regarded this as incompetence but as a child I thought it hilarious. The projectionist did not stop the film, we continued to have 10 mins or so of the B/W 'B' film before returning back to the main feature. This was all a long long time ago and my memory may have dimmed but I reckon reel changes then were every 1000 feet, they had not doubled up to 2000 feet and 22mins.

  3. #43
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    Anglo Amalgamated just may have distributed The Tommy Steele Story in single nine or ten minute reels at that time. It's hard to say. Certainly by the early 1960s, their films were distributed in double reels.

  4. #44
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    I still have a number of 16mm features.if for example the film last 75 minutes it has written on the outside 8 Reels,albeit it is on 2 1600 foot reels.If cinemas were on 16mm then they would only need 1 changeover as a 2000 feet reel would run for just under an hour.

  5. #45
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    A cake-stand with a human to show scale.
    3454410099.jpg

    from here, an article about a cinema recently converted to digital projection.

  6. #46
    Senior Member Country: Scotland narabdela's Avatar
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    The alternative to the platter 'cakestand' arrangement is to use large over and under reels.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUuJ9W5YJSk

  7. #47
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    wasn't there a problem with eitherstatic or tension with towers?

  8. #48
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    What a strange get-up and no sign of the projectionist, unless he was the one doing the videoing. I wouldn't have liked to work on a system like that. It would have done my head in. All that film going all around the box on all those pulley's. What bright spark dreamed that one up? It looks like all the wires and pulley's in an old Co-Op store, where your money was taken in little buckets along a lot of wires to an office above and then the little bucket made the return journey with your change in it. I much prefer the old two projector system. I was used to that and knew where I stood with it. If this system had come in when I was working in the trade, I would have given the job up and walked out.

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by darrenburnfan View Post
    What a strange get-up and no sign of the projectionist, unless he was the one doing the videoing. I wouldn't have liked to work on a system like that. It would have done my head in. All that film going all around the box on all those pulley's. What bright spark dreamed that one up? It looks like all the wires and pulley's in an old Co-Op store, where your money was taken in little buckets along a lot of wires to an office above and then the little bucket made the return journey with your change in it. I much prefer the old two projector system. I was used to that and knew where I stood with it. If this system had come in when I was working in the trade, I would have given the job up and walked out.
    The scariest looking system was when we installed interlock in the downstairs minis enabling the same print to be shown in both screens. The print left the cakestand in screen two, travelled through the projector and then travelled along pulleys on the wall about eighty feet (and the wall wasn't straight, there were two kinks in it), through the projector in screen three and finished up on the screen three cakestand.

  10. #50
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    Heath Robinson. Or something from an old Keaton Silent, "The Electric House".

    I never realised that old-school projectionists were required to trim film, splice it and separate it again. Keeping the work environment dust-free and clean must have been important. If the distributor had to make up a new copy of the film for each and every cinema (if they were to be running concurrently in all the towns on "general release"), no wonder they look at digital as a potential saving. I suppose the investment for changeover is enormous though.

    So when an old film is being "restored" and they ask for old copies, there really could be hundreds of copies floating around? But where are they? Is old film recycled? Surely there would be a mountain of film reels somewhere if every copy of every film was somehow being stored!

  11. #51
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    Here is a video of a chap in New York threading up a cakestand to show "Interstellar" in 70mm IMax.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKxIcMoJaWA

  12. #52
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    I suspect that all 35mm exhibition copies of most films from the 1950s; 1960s and 1970s have long since been incinerated by the film companies, as they knew they will never be used again in cinemas. However, a pristine copy and the original negative for a certain film are preserved for television use and for transfer onto DVD and there are still a lot of copies out there in private hands, like the adverts and trailers from the 1950s and 1960s that I have in my collection. The main problem in storing 35mm copies is that they take up a lot of space. In the old days, a very successful film could have as many as 300 prints made of it so that the film could play at as many cinemas as possible at the same time. This was very expensive to do and the films were expensive to transport. So by going digital, the distributors have saved a lot of money, but there are still a lot of problems with presenting films digitally. So it's been a trade off. Money saved on prints and distribution, not to mention the money saved on not having projectionists any more, but showmanship and the specialness that used to be so much a part of going to the pictures have gone for good.

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by StoneAgeMan View Post
    Heath Robinson. Or something from an old Keaton Silent, "The Electric House".

    I never realised that old-school projectionists were required to trim film, splice it and separate it again. Keeping the work environment dust-free and clean must have been important. If the distributor had to make up a new copy of the film for each and every cinema (if they were to be running concurrently in all the towns on "general release"), no wonder they look at digital as a potential saving. I suppose the investment for changeover is enormous though.
    You have to remember that the concept of a national release is a fairly recent one. The number of prints struck for a major film in the 1950's and 60's would have been well under 100. The general release began with North West London, then moved after one week to North East London and then after a further week to South London and then would start the rounds around the rest of the country, all with the same prints moving from cinema to cinema. It could take months for a film to cover the whole country and, of course, films played for one week and one week only irrespective of popularity, there was no question of a hold over of a popular film, the print was committed elsewhere. Things began to change with the advent of multiscreen cinemas in the 1970's and gradually, holdovers of popular films became common. It was the advent of the multiplex which changed things and led to the concept of the simultaneous national release. Everybody wanted the big new films immediately and this meant more prints being struck which eventually drove the move to digital as a cost saving exercise. For years there was scepticism about digital projection from exhibitors as the savings all seemed to be for the distributors. Then someone realised you could do away with projectionists.....

  14. #54
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    There were exceptions, though. I remember reading in a Kine Weekly around 1960 that Columbia in the UK had ordered 300 prints of The 3 Worlds Of Gulliver and Warner-Pathe must have done the same with Hercules Unchained in July - August, 1960, so that the film could open nationwide in the same week at as many ABC cinemas as possible. Hence the tagline on the posters: "Wherever You Are, You Won't Be Far From Hercules Unchained!"

  15. #55
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    North West London!!? That would be me then. Odeon Swiss Cottage, Hampstead Classic, Golders Green ABC (and there was another in Golders Green but I've forgotten what it was called). But I also had the luxury of the Everyman Hampstead, where I saw "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari", "Metropolis" and "Nosferatu"... and anytime a trip into town to all the big screens anyone could ever want. I never appreciated my good fortune until I lost it.


    Thanks for indulging my curiosity, this thread has been very interesting for me.

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by odeonman View Post
    The scariest looking system was when we installed interlock in the downstairs minis enabling the same print to be shown in both screens. The print left the cakestand in screen two, travelled through the projector and then travelled along pulleys on the wall about eighty feet (and the wall wasn't straight, there were two kinks in it), through the projector in screen three and finished up on the screen three cakestand.
    Interlocking two screens was occasionally used at Odeon (then UCI) Port Solent multiplex. It was only between two adjacent screens so the distance the film had to travel was not too far. For big blockbusters the film may have been shown in just one screen during the day then interlocked between the two for the evening show. I was told that there was a 30 second time lag for the film to spool across and be shown on the second screen.

  17. #57
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    I was north west London as well.so there was the Odeon,ex orpheum,temple fortune,ionic golders green and regal finchley road.great days fondly remembered.

  18. #58
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    Ah yes, the Ionic, that's the one I couldn't remember.

    That's the one where my mates went to see an 18 cert film and three out of four got in with no problem but then the short one was stopped. He was actually the oldest of all of them, but he panicked and tried to explain that he was definitely 18, by claiming that one of the other lads was his brother (as if that made any difference!). It would have made more sense if my short Jewish friend hadn't been pointing at his brother, the tall black kid called Delroy.

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by StoneAgeMan View Post
    North West London!!? That would be me then. Odeon Swiss Cottage, Hampstead Classic, Golders Green ABC (and there was another in Golders Green but I've forgotten what it was called). But I also had the luxury of the Everyman Hampstead, where I saw "The Cabinet of Dr Caligari", "Metropolis" and "Nosferatu"... and anytime a trip into town to all the big screens anyone could ever want. I never appreciated my good fortune until I lost it.


    Thanks for indulging my curiosity, this thread has been very interesting for me.
    Yes the Everyman used to(may still do?) show loads of old stuff, this is where I went to see a double bill of Dead of Night and Brighton Rock quite a few years ago now.

    Regarding your question about 'there must be loads of copies of films about due to distribution around cinemas' .Well that is not necessarily so, as if say the distributor made 10 copies for the whole country, then when the film had finished it's run, probably about 7 of them would be destroyed for copyright concerns... they could not have loads of copies flying about getting out of their control. This may seem a bit 'oh how could they' but of course like newspapers the public demanded new ones, nobody wants to read yesterday's news, so the old ones had done their job and made the money and now the had to think about what the public wanted tomorrow and not clutter the place up with has beens.

    At one time (don't know about now) anyone saying they had a 35mm copy of a cinema film in the UK was instantly regarded as a thief, because the distributors knew exactly how many prints they paid for and where they went and if a print they paid a company to destroy ended up at a car boot sale there would be hell to pay for that company and it's contract with them. This was regarding contemporary films, obviously someone saying they had a print of a very old film then it's different as the paper trail has long since yellowed and the original 'thief' is probably long since dead, plus of course if it's rare the owners might want it back for a ransom anyway.

  20. #60
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    There's a seller on eBay who sells old 35mm copies of cinema films. He sold one not long back of Tony Curtis in Johnny Dark from 1954 and the Technicolor was still vivid on it. I remember he used to sell a lot of old trailers and sold trailers two or three years ago for King of Kings and El Cid for around �70 each. There was also a seller on eBay a year or so ago asking �300 for a complete five reel 35mm print of the 1973 film Swallows and Amazons. So there are still a lot of old cinema films held privately.

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