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35mm Projection Comes to Cinema Studies

March 16, 2010

Marking the final phase of the complete renovation of the Cinema Studies Department, the newly installed Kinoton FP20 projectors in the Michelson Theatre are now fully operational.  Once the training of the department’s projection staff is complete, 35mm film projection will become a regular event. 

These new projectors are not the typical projectors one would expect to encounter in the cavernous booths of the local multiplex.  For one thing, rather than using the typical platter system, whereby the thousands of feet of celluloid that make up a feature film are spliced together into one large, horizontal roll, these new projectors use a changeover system, whereby each reel change is accomplished by alternating between the two projectors. 

 This is especially important for archival film, as it places less wear and tear on optical and physical integrity of the film, decreases its exposure to dust and dirt, and does away with the need to splice together and break down the multiple reels of film before and after projection, as is necessary in a platter system.  In the case of a changeover system, the onerous task of seamlessly changing over from one reel to the next rests in the hands of the capable and well-trained projectionist. 

These projectors are also unique because they have been specially modified by James Bond from Full Aperture Systems of Chicago, to properly project films form the silent era, along with the usal film formats.  Using special three-blade shutters, precisely tuned variable speed controls, and modified gates, the projectors are capable of safe and flicker-free presentation of early cinema classics.

On James Bond’s most recent visit to NYU, accompanied by Brant Beilleux and Justin Dennis, he cut the aperture plates, calibrated our lenses and Dolby Digital sound system, and fine-tuned the masking in The Michelson Theater.  The motorized masking allows for a variety of aspect ratios, from 1.33 to 2.35, to be selected with the push of the button, allowing for crisp edges for films meant to be shown in Academy and scope, and all formats in between. 

The first official screening will take place this spring with a modern classic of Indian cinema, Dil Se, directed by Mani Ratnam (1998), and starring Shahrukh Khan, Manisha Koirala, and Preity Zinta.  Future screenings will take place throughout the semester, and will be announced within the department and on the Cinema Announcements listserve.