projecting dreams

Lot 989 in Spring Auction – old 16mm movie projector

Toronto. Like stereo, the eyes and the brain work together to give one the sensation of motion. In the case of ‘movies’ a phenomenon called “persistence of vision”  transforms the sequence of still frames (about 24 per second) seen by the eye(s) into a sense of motion.

Once film was available, many inventors, including Edison, attempted to add motion to photography. The very earliest efforts went into individual viewing machines and ‘movie shorts‘ recorded on paper or strips of film. The production of longer films led to projection which in turn opened movies to an audience.  At the time sound could not be added directly, only by a physical piano (most common) in the theatre and a sheet music score to match the ‘movie’.

After projection of ‘movies’, major cities world-wide began production of movies for theatres. Reels of 35mm film became the standard with each frame projected briefly. A full reel would run for about 10 minutes. Two projectors and a means to synchronize reels allowed longer and longer movies to be shown. A 10 reel production ran about 100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes). By 1928 sound was successfully added to the movies and the silent era was over.

Even before sound, efforts were made to add colour, but it wasn’t until around WW2 that the very expensive colour process could be used successfully. By the late 1950s colour became the dominant means of filming and black and white ‘movies’ fell into disuse except for select art films or special effects. Once commercial film caught on, Film makers like Kodak pushed ‘home‘ movies on 16mm film in North America or 9.5mm film (Pathé) in Europe.

When film faded from use, digital video took over. Movie houses could download a video version and project it as long as it made a profit. The old projector shown here is lot 989 in our spring auction. A later post will add auction details. Plan now to  visit the May 5th event and renew old friendships. You may even add to your collection or user gear!

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