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Author Topic: The Old School Projector
Graham Ritchie
Film God

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From: New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted March 06, 2008 02:32 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was offered this old projector from the principal at our local primary/intermediate school my kids attended, it was under a pile of stuff and had not been used in years.
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Bell and Howell Filmsound Specialist 8399 "Made in Japan" came out in 1965.
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Looking a bit tired and has seen a lot of use, its amazing that when I got it home and plugged it in everything worked all it needs is a good clean and it could be back in business.

Its interesting that in order for a school to obtain a film from "The National Film Library" that the teacher/projectionist had to be a holder of an NFL projectionist certificate "I still have one" sadly all those 16mm prints are gone.

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Can anyone remember 16mm at school? myself we never had it.

If you can track down an excellent article called "Bell and Howell" through the ages written by Francis Williams it appeared in "Movie Maker Sept 1981"

Graham.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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From: Long Island, NY, USA
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 - posted March 06, 2008 03:13 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sure I do!,

Video really didn't start to show up in school until I was midway through college in the 1980s. In high school, every teacher from the most technical electronics teacher to the least technical English Lit. teacher knew the Kodak Pageant like an old friend. Ditto for Junior high and Elementary school.

Oddly, they used film strip projectors for stills. I guess they could manage manually threading 16mm cine, but something about operating a slide projector eluded them. I guess the media stored in a smaller space than a carousel would have(?)

I remember my 11th Grade English teacher showing us Roman Polanski's version of Macbeth a reel at a time because she only had one machine. It was pretty grizzly stuff for a high school class.

In more recent years I've started thinking about how they never showed a film on a screen more than 5 feet in diagonal. They really could have used Super-8 instead, but it just wasn't the standard.

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Simon McConway
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Doncaster
Registered: Jun 2004


 - posted March 06, 2008 03:15 PM      Profile for Simon McConway   Email Simon McConway   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The 8399 is a superb machine. It's based on the old 600 series of wooden cased machines by Bell & Howell. As I understand it, Bell & Howell made these again, as a kind of re-design of the older machines; these can run off DC, so could be used on a ship which is one reason why they brought it back. However, I got mine a few years back, after it had stood motionless for a long time; straight away, it sprung into life! They use the 1000w lamps with the B & H base. A while ago, one December when I was using my 8399, the bulb went. Nothing strange about that you're thinking, so I reached for another A1/91 lamp. Opening the box, a receipt fell out, showing when the bulb had been bought. This lamp had been purchased on the same date as I was fitting it, but 38 years earlier! What a coincidence! Anyway, these machines are built to last!

I work in a school, and I still show the pupils various 16 mm films. Can't say I've used my 8399 (not bright enough for the long throw we have in the hall), but have used B & H TQ1s and also the very bright B & H 666 (with MARC 300 arc lamp). Pupils love the old films and the sound of the projector plus the necessary dark room mean an experience they'll just not get with digital projection. Right, must get my 8399 out...

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Paul Adsett
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 - posted March 06, 2008 03:21 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Graham,
Your post brings back happy memories of the Bell and Howell being used in my school in Wales in the 1950'. The geography master was the only person allowed to use it, apparently the only person who KNEW how to use it! One Christmas, amid great fanfare, the whole school was filed into the main hall for a showing of Olivier's Henry V. Unfortunately the B&H was not in a good mood that day, and kept losing its loop through every reel, so there were frequent interruptions with everybody staring at the back of the room at the now completely frazzled geography master! But that did'nt bother me - I was more interested in the projector than the film! [Smile]

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The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,

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Simon McConway
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 - posted March 06, 2008 03:27 PM      Profile for Simon McConway   Email Simon McConway   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve; you mention filmstrip projection. I still do these at my school on a Bell & Howell Unoscop projector. The subject matter on these filmstrips is so well photographed (back in the 70s & 80s) that it betters the material available today. Typical subjects include wildlife, Bible stories & science. Again, using the projector, it's possible to project a huge image in our school hall; an image maybe 6m tall! Yes, the 35 mm filmstrips can be a faff to thread, but once that's done the quality is outstanding!

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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From: Long Island, NY, USA
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 - posted March 06, 2008 03:32 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is taking me back....

I took Driver's Ed. in the summer before my senior year in high school. We had a driving simulator consisting of a whole bunch of dashboards, steering wheels and pedals (late 1960s Chrysler parts) facing a screen. At the heart of the system was a 16mm projector that not only put the image on the screen, but cued the system as to what the "drivers" were supposed to be seeing on their dashboards.

We did a lot of damage in that room!

(Wonder if it's even there anymore...)

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Simon McConway
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 - posted March 06, 2008 03:40 PM      Profile for Simon McConway   Email Simon McConway   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul; great piece! We still have these film shows at the school where I work. We use 16 mm sometimes in assemblies for safety teaching; 800 footers on Train Safety as just one example. Then, often before Christmas or summer holidays begin, we put longer films on in there. I keep all my machines carefully serviced,but on the rare time when something does go wrong with the machines, I ask myself why I'm putting myself through all this! However, when you get comments like "woa...what a great clear picture", then you know it was worth it! I think we're not the only school doing such 16 mm shows, but there certainly won't be that many that stil do 16 mm shows.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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From: Long Island, NY, USA
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 - posted March 06, 2008 04:31 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The extra effort in maintaining Cine equipment is an investment. Many times I've been to a modern equipped presentation where they spend 15 minutes re-booting laptops and wiggling cables while the crowd watches a blue screen and those dreaded words "no signal". This is normal, but any similar failure from film equipment would be greeted with "Why do you bother with this old cr*p?"

I went to a church funeral a few months ago where we got the blue screen when the memorial "slide show" was supposed to happen. After they finally were ready to roll, they actually interrupted the funeral to show the thing.

I told my wife if she allows any such thing at MY funeral she can plan on spending her Eternity being pelted with blown projection lamps!

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Graham Ritchie
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From: New Zealand
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 - posted March 06, 2008 08:00 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think I must have been living in the dark ages not once during my time at primary or secondary school in Glasgow did I encounter any film or projectors [Frown] only once can I remember and thats long long ago and was very young, must have been in the late 50s early 60s we lived close to a Childrens Home and remember the kids inviting us to join them to watch a film "which was very good of them" " it was a big event so we all sat on the floor, the film was a Disney wildlife on 16mm I lost interest in it very quickly and spent most of the time watching the projector.

I am sure it was a B/H, it was to be many years before I saw another projector, even to this day for some strange reason I dont watch Disney wildlife films although they were very well made.

Graham. [Smile]

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Steve Klare
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 - posted March 06, 2008 08:51 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I remember when I was in 6th Grade and on the threshold of that critical age. They herded the lot of us boys up to the back room of the school library. There were the librarian and the boys' gym teacher and they had expressions on their faces far more solemn than I'd ever seen before. Apparently we were not there to talk about either books or softball this time.

Once again they wheeled the Kodak Pageant out on the big steel cart. The lights went low and they showed us this film concerning the big question. Suffice it to say I did NOT watch the projector on this one occasion.

The problem is that the film was geared towards boys of our age group and was a little light on certain crucial...details.

As the tail slapped on the machine and the lights came up, they said "any questions?", yet Mr. Jacobs and Mr. Frasca just kind of winced and herded us out the door when pressed to fill in the blanks.

We were left to work out the specifics on our own.

Rumor had it the girls also got a film. I'm not sure since nobody seemed to want to talk about it. Based on my experiences with more than one woman I'd love to hear exactly what they learned!

Not your typical film story for sure!

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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David Kilderry
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 - posted March 07, 2008 02:55 AM      Profile for David Kilderry   Author's Homepage   Email David Kilderry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow, films at school, I loved them......

In primary school in the early 1970's our parish priest used to run Abbot and Costello features on 16mm in the hall.

In secondary (high) school we saw all sorts of films. For science we saw films on all sorts of topics, they were all 16mm and in the A/V room. It had a large scope screen and projection room.

When sport was rained out we saw features in there and films for other subjects too. I remember seeing AFL football (Australian rules) films for Physical Education.

We had camps at the school in the former Christian Brothers training college rooms and saw films on these nights as well. I recall many Disney films like The Horse In The Grey Flannel Suit etc On religous retreats away from the campus we saw many Catholic and Christian educational films. Most of these were very well made from memory.

A few years later they built a theatrette that held several hundred students at school and I recall seeing Gallipoli and Breaker Morant just after their theatrical releases. We also saw lots of films on Australian film history there when I studied Media Studies in year 12.

I did a project on Hollywood muscials and ran Super 8 on a Sankyo that the school library had and also shot a film on Super 8 sound for social studies.

The 1970's and early 1980's were full of film in my school years and certainly added to my interest in any of the topics screened. By year 11 and 12 it had mostly changed over to Video.

I then went and studied Projection Technology at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)for two years and the class room converted to a fully automated Dolby stereo 35mm theatre! We saw even more films and ran many 16mm and 35mm shorts and features on the Bauer and Philips projectors.

David

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David Pannell
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From: Horsham, West Sussex, UK
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 - posted March 07, 2008 03:54 AM      Profile for David Pannell   Author's Homepage   Email David Pannell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My school experiences with projectors were somewhat more staied than the other contributors to this thread.

Either I'm older than I thought, or else our school was well behind the times!! [Frown] [Embarrassed]

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed the "film lessons" we had, even though without exception, they were ALL educational. No entertainment value at all really. Subjects covered were austensibly: French, Geography, History, and General Science (as it was known in those days) comprising Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

We had 3 projectors in the school, all of which were Ampro Premier 20s. How I loved those old machines! Physics was my best subject, and as the founder member of the school Science Club, where we used to build projects after school and in the lunch-hour, I gradually was able to persuade the physics master to let me run the projector whenever a film was scheduled. [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

"Happy Days".

When I left school in 1960, there was talk of upgrading to either Bell & Howell machines or the Ampro Stylist range, but I don't know if it ever materialised.

That is where my enthusiasm for Ampro projectors began and was nourished, and to this day it hasn't diminished. As I believe I have said before, I now have 3 pristine Ampro machines: The Standard Stylist, The Stylist New Educational, and my pride and joy, The Stylist Major Mk 2. [Big Grin] [Big Grin]

As I am sure we will all agree, apart from anything else, it is the sense of nostalgia which takes over every time that motor starts up and the film begins its journey of delight along the tortuous route through the projector - gathering speed in short order up to the designated fps, at last to emerge onto the take-up reel, and finally the appearance of that shaft of light, transporting us into the realms of fantasy.

WONDERFUL!!

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Dave.

Valves and celluloid - a great combination!
Early technology rules OK!

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Maurice Leakey
Film God

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 - posted March 07, 2008 05:21 AM      Profile for Maurice Leakey   Email Maurice Leakey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The 8399 was introduced in 1965 to provide an AC/DC projector following the launching in 1962 of the 641/2/3/4 series which, for the first time, were only AC machines.

The 8636 was introduced in 1975, and at the same time an opt/mag playpack model 8302 came out.

These projectors were named "Maritime" as a lot of ships at that time only had DC current.

Maurice

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Maurice

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Patrick Walsh
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 - posted March 07, 2008 09:38 PM      Profile for Patrick Walsh   Email Patrick Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When I was at primary school the machine there was a B&H 631 in a wooden blimp it was in the older kids classroom and the principal ran it was he was also the teacher of the older kids, the 12" speaker box was attached to the wall above the pull down screen and the projector sat in a wooden projection box type thing on wheels with the speaker cable running down the roof from the speaker to the projector, I remember seeing DONALD'S FIRE SAFTEY, then about a month after that a TV with a VCR appeared on the scene and the 16mm was gone, whrn I became of age and began my last year at primary school in the very room where the 16mm was those years before it was gone except the speaker on the wall and the screen, after some enquiring in my later years I was given the 16mm machine as well as it's portable projection box and it now sits here at home and runs like a dream.
Bell and Howell were the agents here for all of the NZ schools for many years until Eiki appeared on the scene and all the schools all got those blue/green manual thread Eikis. Another model of 16mm machine that was made actually here was the KELVIN 16mm sound projector they were a copy of the RCA 400 machines, a number of those were in schools around here.
At high school a pair of ELMO 16CLs were there but never used as VHS was the in thing so again after some "asking around" I managed to get these as well!
Patrick [Smile]

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"Raise The Titanic!", It would of been cheaper to lower the Atlantic!

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Jonathan Sanders
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 - posted March 08, 2008 03:04 AM      Profile for Jonathan Sanders   Email Jonathan Sanders   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When I was about ten (around 1971) my primary school headmaster encouraged me to bring in my 8mm projector to show silent comedies to the rest of my class. The school was on a mostly very poor council estate, so I suppose owning an 8mm projector was similar status to a top-of-the-range HD set-up today!

Knowing my interest in old films, the headmaster gave me some old 9.5mm prints that had been dormant in the school cupboard for ages, but there was no projector. I sold the films through Exchange & Mart magazine for 30 shillings (a lot of money to me then) and I remember an uncle teasing me that I'd have to start paying income tax.

In my secondary school years (the rest of the 1970s) 16mm projectors were used regularly, especially in geography lessons, to show us educational films.

In the sixth form, when I was aged 18, I started a film society with a schoolmate and we rented 16mm features. We showed a few modern (then) films like Monty Python but I was able to include many classics like CAPTAIN BLOOD with Errol Flynn, though Fritz Lang's (subtitled) TESTAMENT OF DR MABUSE didn't go down very well.

Several of the teachers joined our film society, which helped our prestige against those who didn't really approve of it, such as the headmaster who warned us against "drunken film orgies" due to the 2 percent proof cans of shandy we sold.

I find it surprising, in retrospect, that I was allowed to start the film society at all, as it was a very ordinary grammar school in Lancashire, and most of the staff never really approved of my enthusiasm for films. I won prizes every year and when I chose a biography of Boris Karloff they tore off the dustjacket (never returned to me) so that the "great celebrity" - a local news presenter - who dished out the prizes could not easily spot my embarrassing selection. Over thirty years later, I still have the jacketless book and still resent their petty-mindedness.

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David Park
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 - posted March 08, 2008 05:26 AM      Profile for David Park   Email David Park   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow, 16mm movie films in school, you must all be younger than me!
It was schools broadcasts on radio and film strips in my day, LOL
First encounter with 16mm was at Church on a S/H ex WD WW2 GB516L, with its dim 500w 110v lamp. fed through a transformer from 240v. (Believe some had rresistance units, bet they got warm.) I would have been 16 I guess, I quickley got myself trained up on that.
Next the forerunner of yours a B&H601. then 621 etc. At some piont in the vast B&H range over the years the 110v was done away with and 240 v lamps used.

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Regards,
David

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James N. Savage 3
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 - posted March 08, 2008 06:47 AM      Profile for James N. Savage 3   Email James N. Savage 3   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From '69 to 81' (my school years), we saw alot of 16mm educational films. And once, my school ran a 16mm print of "The Incredible Mr. Limpet" with Don Knotts. We thought it was the COOLEST school experience ever.

Many years later, as a police officer, I was the coordinator of the "school safety programs", dealing with elementary schools, safety patrols, etc. My first month on the job, I began visiting schools to arrange 'safety assemblies'. My supervisor gave me a cardboard box with some VHS tapes about kids and safety (this was the early 90's). I started doing assemblies at the schools showing the videos, wich were very lame, with very little production quality.

Now imagine this- an auditorium full of about 300 kids, all sitting in front of a television, probably about a 32 inch screen. THIS WAS MODERN TECHNOLOGY! I came to find out, that all of the schools still had 16mm projectors, back in storage closets. So, I went to my supervisor and asked him about how we could posibly get ahold of some 16mm safety films. He looked at me, sort of puzzled, and said, "Them old things!? I don't know, but there's a closet full of 'em in the back". And there they were, right under my nose, stuff from the 50's, 60's, and 70's. So I picked a few, one with Jimminy Cricket, another cool one with two cartoon hippies (live action/animation mixed) that used alot of phrases like "groovy" and "I dig it". Then, I went to the schools and had the principles dust off those old 16mm projectors and pull down those huge movie screens hidden up on the stage. For an extra touch, I 'briefed' a few of the safety patrol kids before showtime, and taught them how to run the 16mm projector. Then, I would call on them during the assembly, like "Now patrol Timmy will start the movie about traffic safety". To all these kids, this was a new technology! [Wink]

Needless to say, the assemblies went over MUCH better with the 16mm. The kids felt important, and many teachers commented on "why did they ever stop using this".

Well, that was over 10 years ago, and I'm sure the coordiators after me switched right back to the videos, but, at least these young kids got to experience something from the past, something that had been 'out-dated' since the mid-eighties. For those couple of years, I really enjoyed going to work! [Smile]

James.

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Claus Harding
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 - posted March 08, 2008 11:09 AM      Profile for Claus Harding   Email Claus Harding   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ah, classroom films....

In my high school in Denmark ('75-'78) we had 16mm and, occationally, film strips.

In every class there was one or two kids who wound up being 'it' when it came to these projectors. I guess you can imagine who was 'it' in my class from the fact that I am writing here... [Big Grin]

The fact was, none of the teachers had much of a clue about running the 16s. We had green and slate-grey Bell and Howells which, as I recall, were in good working order, but the mysteries of threading, let alone how to cope with the inevitable sprocket tear from the rental prints, gave us many an 'abstract' moment on the screen.

So, when they realized I didn't mind volunteering my services, they pretty much let me run the machines. That, plus the fact that out of school I was well into Super-8 already, made for good training.

Our German teacher was ambitious. He showed an episode from the German crime series "Tatort" (Scene of the Crime) called 'Bitter Almonds' and also some Australian film involving a long-distance truck driver; I wish I remembered the title.

We even had a bit of horror: someone else showed a silent cutdown of 'the Mummy', narrated by an older student with a suitably melodramatic delivery. I remember the film scaring the heck out of me.

Fun times in high school. Little did I know that 30-some years later I would have several of those beasties in my home [Roll Eyes]

Best,
Claus.

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"Why are there shots of deserts in a scene that's supposed to take place in Belgium during the winter?" (Review of 'Battle of the Bulge'.)

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Graham Ritchie
Film God

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From: New Zealand
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 - posted March 09, 2008 06:18 PM      Profile for Graham Ritchie   Email Graham Ritchie   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Those are amazing stories any more? I wonder if anyone has ever thought of writing a book on the subject?
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Trevor Adams
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 - posted March 09, 2008 10:06 PM      Profile for Trevor Adams   Author's Homepage   Email Trevor Adams   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I recall an Aldis epidiascope that came to our class courtesy the airforce.Anyrate,prime early '40s viewing were silhouette images of axis airplanes!Enemy recognition carts. No movie gear though-well we had tiny tots to "leaving age" in the same classroom! [Roll Eyes]

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Trevor

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Simon McConway
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 - posted March 10, 2008 02:58 AM      Profile for Simon McConway   Email Simon McConway   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The TQ1 shown in that superb colour photograph is the machine I use most often. Fantasticly made; though a bit over-engineered. I've done a few worm gear replacements on these and they're not that difficult as long as you don't discover other "gremlins" in the works as you go. I have quite a few TQ1s and some have the original A1/235 lamps, others I've converted to take the A1/259. The weak point of the A1/235 is that the reflector is a permanent part of the machine and the silvering becomes almost transparent after long use, making the reflector totally useless. Spares are like hen's teeth; rare! When using the A1/259 however, you get a new reflector every time you replace the lamp! Once the worm is replaced, you're left with a superb workhorse which will last for years and years...

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Jeff Taylor
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From: Chatham, NJ
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 - posted March 10, 2008 11:01 AM      Profile for Jeff Taylor   Email Jeff Taylor   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For all you nostalgic types, be aware that the special B&H lamps with the locator prong used in the 1XX-3XX-83XX series machines are now out of production, so keep your eyes open for NOS.

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Jeff

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Gary Crawford
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 - posted March 10, 2008 11:51 AM      Profile for Gary Crawford   Email Gary Crawford   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That Filmosound specialist that started this thread looks exactly like the one used in my school in my elementary years...from 1955---(first grade) to about 1962 or so. They would take us from the classroom into the back of the auditorium where they had a fairly large portable screen set up....our teacher would thread the Bell and Howell...and they would show these mostly mediocre, BUT TECHNICOLOR , travel films made by or for ESSO oil...now EXXON/Mobil. I remember the very vivid colors.....and very very bright image. Most of the films were pretty bad...but had pretty colors. Many of us had TV's, but , of course, no color TV yet.

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Simon McConway
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From: Doncaster
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 - posted March 10, 2008 04:28 PM      Profile for Simon McConway   Email Simon McConway   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As a result of this thread, I decided to get out my B & H 8399 to view a few features purchased at Blackpool film fair this weekend; still working very smoothly and with great sound through it's valve amplifier. I have an electronic amplifer which B & H released so that users can fit to their 8399s should they run into problems regarding valves. It looks exactly like the original amplifier but obviously is solid-state. Also have a 110v amplifier (which allows recording as well) if anyone's interested in it; I know I'll never require this. Whilst we're talking about this type of machine (including this variation that records), here's the model numbers: 8399 as shown at the beginning of this thread, 8302S with magnetic record and replay, 8636 for running on a.c. or d. c. This info came from the November 1977 edition of Movie Maker magazine where that gifted columnist Francis Williams went through the different model numbers of B & Hs.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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 - posted March 10, 2008 04:29 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Technically our "classroom films" weren't just either 16mm or in class. I remember several times they'd bus us off to a local theater and we'd see matinee screenings of films our teachers deemed "educational", but mainly we took as an excuse for a road trip.

Once Spanish classes from all over the county converged on this big local theater to see a Spanish language version of Romeo and Juliet.

This place had to have the stickiest floor of any cinema on the planet: it was if they trucked extra muck from other theaters and applied it with a hose. If they’d put it on the walls we could all have tried being Spiderman.

The fact that very few of us really spoke Spanish at all didn't make a bit of difference. Everybody in the cast over-acted, so regardless of what they said we just yelled every time an actor made an outraged face into the camera.

No Spanish was learned that day, but we had fun!

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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