The Technirama Story
This article first appeared in
The 70mm Newsletter
Issue 62 - September 2000
was pleased to her that
The Technirama Story
was well received. However, I
understand that some readers have questioned the statement that some
Technirama 70mm prints were "rectified" for showing in Single-lens
was based on knowledge gained during a visit I made to Technicolor's London
plant in the mid-1980s. The highlight of the trip was the optical printing
department. here I was shown a cabinet full of "classic" printer
and special processes lenses. Among them was a complete set of Technirama
lenses for printing all the various formats available from the versatile
negative, from 70mm down to 16mm. Even more fascinating was that they still
had the Cinerama lenses used to make rectified 70mm prints from both Ultra
Panavision and Technirama negatives. The Ultra Panavision lens partially
unsqueezed the centre of the frame to about x1.18 and progressively
increased the compression out from the centre, reaching x1.33 at the sides
of the frame. The Technirama version only left the sides of the image
squeezed. I was curious where the extra picture information came from, but
was reminded that the large-area Technirama negative was designed and
photographed as a multi-format system with extraction areas ranging from
1.85:1 to provide 35mm unsqueezed prints, to 2.66:1 for 16mm 'Scope' copies.
Further in 70mm reading:
The Technirama Story
to say, I asked if they had any frames for use on my notorious wall chart,
but twenty years on, they couldn't find any. However later, a reel of
"rectified" "The Magnificent Showman" was
produced. It was not possible to see it projected, but, with time running
out, it was wound down on the rewind bench to look for a scene which showed
the effect of the special printer lens. I remember that the best we could
find was a shot of an animal cage with it's bars closed together at the
sides of the frame. I must admit the unless you knew what you were looking
for, at first sight, it would look like any other Super Technirama 70mm
print. It would need to be projected, preferably on a flat screen, to spot
all the above, I'm still happy to state that at one time, Technicolor in
London was able to produce, if required, rectified Technirama 70mm prints. I
always assumed to copy of "The Magnificent Showman"
followed the rectified print of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad
World" into the Coliseum-Cinerama. I can not say if any
other Technirama films, shown in Britain in Cinerama, such as "La
Fayette", "The Golden Head" and "Shellerama"
were similarly rectified, but I can confirm that Technicolor only made flat
spherical 70mm prints of "Custer of the West". By the end
of 1966, rectified prints, along with Ultra Panavision squeezed 70mm prints,
had fallen out of favour with distributors as the lack of compatibility
restricted their use.
a D-150 fan, I also asked if they had anything to do with making the special
D-150 optically corrected 70mm prints for their own deeply curved screen.
This time they could not show me an actual lens. Although Technicolor in
London was supplied with one on loan from D-150, in case a costumer required
the special prints, it spent most of it's time in the lens cabinet until
being returned to the liquidator during the D-150 Company's financial
that D-150 70mm prints were made from normal spherical 65mm negatives, I was
again intrigued to learn how the image could optically manipulated with-out
any extra picture being available, apart from that normally covered by the
inner stripes on the print.
all Technicolor's 70mm prints were made using an optical step printer. At
the time, they considered that this method produced superior results
compared to contact printing, with it's problems providing constant contact
over the whole width of the wide film and the associated loss of definition
and picture steadiness.
prints also "looked" better due to the enhanced edge sharpness of
the printers optical system. In theory, this was set up to provide a 1:1
(same size) reproduction ratio, but in practice the image on the print was a
littler larger (about 5%) than the original negative. This already cropped
the picture slightly, to the extent of sometimes loosing the original camera
frame line. One advantage was it also helped hide the negative splices.
Technicolor often added their own black frame line using a method of double
printing. The use of an optical printer also allowed the Auto Optical system
to be used when making 70mm prints, which required the negative and positive
to run independently.
to the subject of the D-150 printer lens. This only made minor changes to
the picture's geometry and was intended to supplement those made by the
special projection lens. Again, the image was slightly squeezed at the
sides, but D-150's lens also added a small degree of pincushion distortion.
Using the full available width of the negative's image, the aspect ratio was
about 2.3:1. After passing through the printer lens, the new modified image
was reduced to a nominal 1,9:1. The printer's reproduction ratio was
adjusted until the sides of the image fell just inside the perforations,
with any gap being covered later by the inner magnetic stripes. The image
was still cropped somewhat, but the effect of the picture bowing in a little
at the top and bottom helped to push some of the lost picture information
back into the frame. In practice, the picture's composition wasn't spoilt
too much, as all 65mm/70mm films are photographed with sufficient headroom
to allow for the extraction of 35mm anamorphic 2,35.1 reduction prints. Like
the Cinerama rectified 70mm prints, most the cropping needed to fit the
screen occurred later during projection.
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