The Projection Booth

We welcome visitors to the projection booth before shows or at intermission. For those who are unwilling to brave the steps to get to the top of the balcony, here are some glimpses inside the booth.

Visitors to the booth will be greeted by our friendly volunteer projectionists. Here we are posing with reels of 70mm film. A reel of 35mm is on the machine in the background.

The huge Phillips Norelco 35/70mm projectors dominate the room. Although the machines look complex, film threading can be accomplished quickly and the change between 35mm and 70mm formats can be made in a matter of a few minutes. These machines are also capable of showing films either at the normal speed of 24 frames per second, or at the Todd-AO speed of 30 frames per second. Only two feature films were photographed at the faster speed, "Oklahoma" and "Around the World in 80 Days."

We still use carbon arc as a means of illumination. Each projector is equipped with an Ashcraft carbon arc lamphouse. The direct current required by the arcs is provided by Kni-Tron and Ashcraft rectifiers. In addition, the original TransVerter motor generator set is still installed and can be put on line to provide direct current to operate the projector lamps or the Genarco carbon arc follow spotlight.

The projectionists strive to provide a historically accurate presentation of each film. In addition to using carbon arc illumination, the proper lens and aperture plate combinations are used and films are not spliced onto a platter, but are shown off of 2000 ft. reels with manual changeovers between the machines.

The projection sound system is completely separate from the auditorium PA system. The soundtrack is played through Altec Voice of the Theatre speakers located behind the screen. The sound system can handle up to six discrete channels of sound - left, left center, center, right center, right and surround.

With the exception of the Dolby CP-200 processor and several other pieces of sound equipment, the projectors, lamphouses and electronic components in the booth are from the era of the late 1950's. 

The projectors were originally installed in the Summit theatre in downtown Detroit to show the 70mm versions of such Cinerama films as "Grand Prix" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World."  Members of MCTOS were able to negotiate an agreement with the owner of that theatre to remove the projectors before the building was demolished. The lamphouses were part of the equipment that was purchased along with the Redford Theatre building.  The projectors and lamps were made in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Visitors are welcome to visit the booth in person before shows or at intermission. We are happy to show and demonstrate the projection booth equipment as part of our educational mission.

If you decide to visit the booth, please keep in mind that the equipment is over 40 years old and lacks many of the safety provisions that more modern machinery would have.

Please be especially mindful of the safety of any children who might visit the booth with you. Close supervision of children is important. Potentially hazardous materials or conditions may be present at any time.

A visit to the projection booth can be an educational experience for both children and adults. However, we also want it to be a safe experience for everyone.

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