Thursday, October 04, 2012

Cinerama Nerd Heaven

One of the perks of living in this large and crowded metropolis is that there is something for everyone.  As I mentioned in Carmegeddon 2 Adventure, Bad Dad bought the entire family tickets to a screening of The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm at the Cinerama Film Festival.  We were greeted by a cinerama camera and two guys in lab coats demonstrating its features.  Note the crowd of film nerds surrounding the camera.

Later, I managed to take a picture of the camera sans crowds.  See the drive belt?  There is a drive belt for each of the three rolls of film.  Can you imagine the difficulty of synchronizing them all?

"That's a narrow field of view!", exclaimed Bad Dad when he looked through the eye piece.
Peter Rondum, son of the developer of the camera, Eric Rondum, stepped forward to explain that the eye piece can be unbolted and rebolted to approximate the field of view for each of the three film strips.  There is actually one lens, projecting images onto three rolls of film, with a slight overlap at the two "seams".  Moving the eye piece is a cumbersome process, not embarked upon lightly.  That explains the heavy reliance on marks that Russ Tamblyn mentioned.

While I chatted with Peter Rondum, Bad Dad chatted with Walter Thompson, who edited .every. movie shot in Cinerama.  Walter explained that there are multiple registration marks to aid in alignment.  Peter showed me his father's resume, circa 1971.  I was not surprised that Peter Rondum worked a short stint at the National Bureau of Standards.

What wasn't on his resume was more surprising.  Peter said that his dad was brought in as a consultant for the U-2 spy program.  The camera lenses froze at the high altitudes flown by the U-2.  His dad developed a solution, but couldn't talk about it until the cold war was over.

If you explore the links below, you can learn more about the technical challenges of stitching together three (moving!) images into one field of view.  The movie audience saw discontinuities of color and brightness at the movie joins, which reminded me of the difficulty of "stitching" satellite imagery together.

Actually, both types of imagery merges involve correcting the distortion at the edge of the imagery, and then stitching them together.  This can be an average of the two images (with superposition) or it can be a simple overlay with the more recent image taking precedence over the earlier one as is commonly used in satellite imagery.

It is not an accident that the film industry and the satellite industry grew up in the same area.  ;-)  Viva Los Angeles!


1 comment:

  1. I hopped over to your blog from Sham's. Funny you mentioned the U2 spy planes, my father worked on them as an electrical engineer.


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