Movie Mechanics

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9800px-Man_working_with_a_projector_in_a_movie_theater_1958Technology changes. I wish it had already changed before my very, very short time as a movie projectionist.

There are some things you should know about how the old projector works. Check out the Youtube video below (optional). Most theaters have gone to digital systems, with automatic change over, but there are a few of these old systems around.

  1. Even if you have never had to run a projector, know this; each reel holds about 20 minutes of film, so the theater needs 2 projectors in parallel.
  2. When you’re watching a movie, and you see a circle flashing in the upper right hand corner of the screen, that means the reels are about to switch.
  3. Massachusetts and New York City still require projectionist to get a license. This involves paying a fee, passing a written test, passing an oral test, and paying a renewal fee when time.
  4. The old cameras had “arc rods,” so on top of some electric work that was done in the booth there was always the risk of fire in a “place of assembly.”

 So there I was; “monitoring” two simple projectors in boot camp at movie night; the kind of projector you saw at school, no arc rods.  The man in charge told me my job was to be ready for reel change simply by telling him when the film got near the end of the reel. My job was to NOT get “caught up” watching the movie. He told me if I failed his warning, the reel would run out of active film, the white numbers 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 would fly by the screen, the film would be disrupted, and the 400 sailors watching below would go bezerk!

Apparently, he wasn’t lying………….

The next night I was promoted to “trash supervisor” with a staff of none.

 I didn’t want to see that movie anyway.


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