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"Earthquake" at the Bradford Widescreen weekend 2004

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: By Darren Briggs, City Screen Technical Manager.  Date: 1. October 2004
We first brought "Earthquake" back in November 2003 at City Screen York, see the other article available on this website for the story behind this.

Bill Thomson (Other person behind the re-creation of Sensurround) and myself were asked by Bill Lawrence and the projection team at the NMPFT to bring the re-creation to the widescreen weekend. So as we all are all trying to bring 70mm to the screen as much as possible we jumped at the chance to screen "Earthquake" in Sensurround at Pictureville.

We had designed the re-creation of the Sensurround system for use in Screen 1 at City Screen York, but we didn’t know how effective the system was going to be in the Pictureville cinema.

City Screen York has the seats built upon a wooden staging and the Sensurround speakers can be placed within the audience, by removing 4 seats. The Pictureville has the seating built onto Concrete staging, so shaking the seats would be a harder job. So a test session was a must.
Further in 70mm reading:

Widescreen Weekend 2004

Gallery: 2004
Gallery film: 2004
Gallery: Rayton
WSW Home
Through the Years
The Best of WSW

Academy of the WSW

Creating the WSW
Planning the WSW
Projecting the WSW
Projecting CINERAMA

Internet link:

Test Session

We took the print and the system over to the Pictureville early one morning and set about testing the best placement of the speakers and onto which screen to show "Earthquake" on.

The best place we found for maximum effect was to have two units on the front right of the stage, and the other two in the Disabled seating area to the left rear of the auditorium. We had the stage units fed from the regular 2kw sub bass amp, and the rear units fed from another ex-Imax auditorium 2kw amp. The place shook, the light fittings were all shaking and we were very pleased with the result, matching the York experience. We tested the film on the curved screen and it was decided that it looked fine and the audience would want to see it ‘on the curve’!

Unfortunately we couldn’t keep the rear speaker units in the disabled seating area just in case we had any wheelchair bound customers. So we had to move the rear units to the front left of the stage for the show, and only tested their position at 8am on the morning of the show!

In the weeks between the first test and the actual widescreen weekend, we had to finish ‘tweaking’ the Sensurround trigger to pick up the tones from the film correctly.  And finally I mounted the whole system into the rack mount unit.

The Day of the show.

At 8am we turned up to test the new final position of the subs on the stage front, and although the effect wasn’t quite as good as the original tested position, they still gave you a good effect that we were all happy with. During the day our actors had turned up to hype the audience up before the show, even asking if Alex Thomson (DOP on Hamlet) was here for "Earthquake"!

I’m sure many of the customers coming out of "Forbidden Planet" didn’t quite know what to think of the outline of a dead body on the floor outside the main doors to the auditorium.  This combined with our two actors Richard Masara (Prof Farnsworthy) and Howard Mosely (Oliver Crack- Building inspector!).

Bill and Myself introduced the film with a little help from Prof Farnsworthy and Oliver Crack to a very full audience, and went prepare our selves to introduce the live effects during the film.

The live action effects are smoke piped into the auditorium, and strobe lighting in time with electrical sparks on screen. Each show we do of "Earthquake" we tend to get more carried away with the live action effects and the amount of smoke seems to get greater! Falling bricks is the next task (rubber of course).

Every one seemed to enjoy the presentation that Bill, myself, Duncan, Tony, Roger and John put on.

"Earthquake" will return to other venues in the re-creation of Sensurround!!!

Many thanks to…
Bill Thomson
Duncan McGregor 
Tony Cutts
Roger Brown 
John Cahill
And Bill Lawrence for letting us cause havoc at the Pictureville.
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Updated 04-05-22