Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Carbon Arc Projectors

My first job (other than moving lawns and delivering papers and helping my dad) was at the Century Movie Theater in Pleasant Hill... where I was a doorman, an usher, and acting manager (which required me to run the projectors sometimes).

Back in those days they didn't have digital projectors, they didn't even have those platters that held a whole film... Films were in reels that were 20 minutes or less and had to be changed over from one projector to another seemlessly - you've seen how that works in FIGHT CLUB.

But what FIGHT CLUB didn't have the balls to show you - or the research to mention - is that projectors did not have *bulbs* back then... they used *fire*. There were not light bulbs bright enough to project a movie on a screen that far away, so the only other option is FIRE. A carbon arc. So I had to learn how to run the projectors and replace the carbons (probably once a night for each projector) in case the projectionist got sick or drunk or just didn't show for some reason. The show must go on - and that meant I had to run the projectors. And I did this *many many many* times.

A couple of years later I had a job as manager/projectionist at a little indie cinema and ran the projectors 6 nights a week. Those projectors also used fire and had a changeover about every 17 minutes. Here's how that works...

- Bill

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