Some of you will know that I discovered the wonders of Cinerama in 2012 as part of the 60th anniversary and was particularly interested in the mobile version which toured Europe in the early 1960s. If you missed this, then you can read the blog here. Mobile Cinerama appears to be a more forgotten element of Cinerama, and has less information widely available than the ‘normal’ Cinerama. In fact it was nice to see this story in the newspaper about a guy who has been running Cinerama films.
I am particularly interested in the mobile version for a number of different reasons. The few details of the original mobile Cinerama can be found here and there is a section in the Cinerama Adventure film. The Jack Leeson photograph collection has a number of images of the mobile Cinerama from, Clennon Valley in 1966 which are really worth looking at.The wonders of any large travelling event have always fascinated me, especially fun fairs and outside broadcasts. When the mobile cinerama arrived it would have been a pretty spectacular sight to see. There is a newspaper story about the Mobile Cinerama units being ready here. And the fabulous in70mm website has a paragraph about it on this page. And this blog post from Kinotech looks back at Cinerama in order to talk about IMAX.
There are still one or two travelling cinemas around, notably The Scottish mobile screen machine, a similar one in Ireland and the Cinema bus, to name but three. This always brings be back to the origins of cinema and how it travelled from village to village often via the fair; and I like the idea of it returning in modern times as Community and Pop-up cinemas, or via Projection mapping displays which are probably as close as we get these days to the excitement which would have been felt when Cinerama turned up.
For many years I have had mad and fantasyful ideas of doing something cool and amazing with cinema, which was different to other things which are around. Well I think I may have worked out part of what it is…….a modern version of the Mobile Cinerama.
Why a modern version? There are a number of reasons. Firstly there are only three operating Cinerama cinemas in the world, two in America and one in the UK, in Bradford. Most people will never have experienced Cinerama, and I think if it is done well it can still provide as big an experience as it would have done the first time around – just look at the popularity of the IMAX. Secondly, as amazing as it would be to try to do the original it needed some silly like 86 staff and 54 trucks – a bill that would be to large these days to make economically viable. But I believe it is perfectly possible to use modern technology and techniques in order to put on a show as good if not better, more economically and with the same wow factor as would have been experienced with the original.
There are very modern construction technologies which means that it would take less work to construct a free standing auditorium to house the equipment; and also far less lorries and staff to move it around. The projection technology is now easier to work with, I would be inclined to use 3 x 4K digital projectors, using the same technology which is used in theatre/exhibition/projection mapping to create one seamless image across all the projectors. Using the three projectors from a single us has the advantage of not needing to deal with syncing issues, but also would provide a number better image than a single projector. It also keeps with the original concept of the three strip projection system which existed in the Mobile Cinerama.
I would want to keep the same type of screen and if necessary make it larger, so that it was the biggest possible in Europe, going back to the concept of Cinerama which was about it being the biggest picture people had seen. There would also be an argument to look at installing a more technically advanced sound system to allow for the advances in sound which have gone on over the years.
I think probably one of the largest challenges would be around the seating and transporting that, without it taking too many trucks, and I can see that there would be the requirement to have cherry-pickers and other such equipment for rigging. However I still think it could be done for a fraction of the original, but still proving the same – if not better wow factor.
If having read this you don’t think I’ve lost the plot, and that there is actually something in it and that I might just have something here, then do please get in touch. I think the biggest challenge would be around funding, but even that I think could be achieved.