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The Cinerama Barn

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Paul Samuels Date: 24.11.2008
Paul Samuels is welcoming his guests to the Cinerama Barn. Image by James Hyder, LFexaminer

Ever since I saw Cinerama in 1952, I was so deeply affected by it that I only knew that I wanted it. That event sparked my interest in photography, optics and all the rest. The final step began when I learned of John Harvey's home setup, then the Neon Theatre, and after he suffered his stroke, I became more determined in my small way to perpetuate his love for the medium. A friend asked if I wanted that much authenticity, why can't I work something out with three video projectors? That was the beginning.

I had a building put up big enough to meet my specs, but small enough to fit in my back yard. Inside the building I erected an 8x14 foot (2.5x4 m.) flexible frame to hold my screen and two more attached to my side walls. The walls flex to permit my screen frame to curve from 30 to 135 degrees depending on the original medium and aspect ratio.

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Me chatting with Mr. and Mrs. Jeremy Kipnis of Danbury CT in front of my curved ribboned screen. Image by James Hyder, LFexaminer

The screen is composed of over 300 flexible ribbons I bought in a yarn shop, each one overlapping the one closer to the centre in order to turn it slightly toward the audience for light reflection. Each one of my three matched Casio video projectors are located eqidistant from its screen centre when the screen is curved to 135 degrees.

Projector on the left glowing in its idle state and the main port on the right showing my single panel projector on the top shelf and the merge shadow masks of my "baker" projector below it. Image by James Hyder, LFexaminer

My Cinerama materials consist of "...Brothers Grimm" and "How the West . . .", and I send the one signal to all three projectors. Each projector blocks the part of the picture intended for other panels and provides for the blending of the images by blurring. I have been photographing everything else with my video camera fitted with a fish-eye lens to take in a 120-140 degree picture. Masked to 1:2.6 the result is most striking. I also have some fun with some of my old 35mm 'Scope films such as the 1962 musical "Jumbo" which works very nicely, but not all do.

Cinerama barn exterior. I painted the sign to look as crude and rustic as possible. Image by James Hyder, LFexaminer

In the final analysis, I do not have Cinerama's phenominal razor sharpness, but my ribboned screen seems to create its own vibrancy.

What is most important of all is I have fun.
Image by James Hyder, LFexaminer  
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Updated 30-06-22