Brian R Pritchard Motion Picture and Film Archive Consultant
When we borrowed the projector it was agreed that as it was a museum piece we could only make alterations that could be undone, this meant I had to make a new shaft for the shutter without an extension; I also straightened the shaft. This shaft was driven from the main motor drive shaft through two sets of crossed helical gears. The other end of the shaft had a thrust bearing and was where the filter wheel was fitted. .In order to find out what modifications had been made to the projector I visited Bradford where Mr Michael Harvey allowed me to examine and photograph their machine.
I was also allowed to look through the associated paper work. I came across the interesting information that Kinemacolor Films always had their first title in green, this meant that the title was on alternate frames only and allowed the projectionist to lace up the projector so that the green frame was projected through the green section of the filter wheel. After much measuring it was found that the pair of crossed helical gears from the vertical drive shaft to the shutter shaft was different on the two projectors. The Bradford projector had a 1:1 gear ratio, the Birkenhead machine had a 2:1 reduction.
The Birkenhead projector had been modified to show black and white; the filter wheel and intermediate shutter had been removed and the shutter shaft had been extended so that a 4 bladed shutter could be put in front of the lens. The dowser was also missing.
The next stage was to remove the vertical shaft, make a new one and purchase a new set of crossed helical gears with a 2:1 ratio and fit them to the vertical shaft and the new shutter shaft. The governor that operated the dowser was also fitted to the vertical shaft. A new dowser was made and a filter wheel which was fitted with filter that visually matched the filters on the Bradford machine. The filters were Sunset Red and Fern Green from the range supplied by Strand Electric.
The booklet produced by Kinemacolor titled "Instructions for Projectionists" said the the filter wheel was fitted with a red filter and a green filter. The green filter had a section that was double strength. The projectionist was instructed to adjust the size of the double layer so that the colour on the screen was slightly yellow. In addition it said that the 'black' sections that covered the gate during pull down were violet. We found that having the double section increased the flicker and as the Bradford machine did not have this section nor the violet sections we made our machine similar. As the Bradford machine had a two blade shutter between the gate and the lens there was no point in having a violet filter as no light would pass through the film because of the shutter. A new shutter was made to match the Bradford machine.
The chain that drove the lower take-up was missing and as I was not able to find a replacement chain I had to fit new sprockets.
Our first show was to the students on the MA in Film and Television Archiving at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Our second show was at the bfi National Archive at Berkhamsted. This was one day before the 100th anniversary of the first public show 26th February 1908. Amongst the guests were Luke McKern and also Charles Urbanís step-grandson Bruce Mousell and his daughters. We had two projections which were extremely well attended by staff from the National Archive. The show was presented by David Cleveland who give much detail on Kinemacolor and also supplied an extremely interesting handout.
David Cleveland addressing the audience at Berkhamsted
Digital photograph of the projected film - Lake Garda -1910 - print by courtesy of the Nederlands Filmmuseum
The Kinemacolor process was invented by George Albert Smith. His patent No: 26671 of 1906 was eventually repealed by the High Court after a legal battle with William Friese-Green.
This patent appears by kind permission of:The Director European Patent Office EPA/EPO/OEB 80298 Munchen Deutschland Espacenet Home Page
You will find more information on the Bioscope Blog website
David and I are most grateful to the Wirrel Museum, The National Media Museum at Bradford, The bfi/National Archive, and the Nederlands Filmmuseum for the generous help they have all given us.