The Projected Picture Trust

PPT activities

A brief look at of some of the trust's recent activities.

BTP rebuild at Dean Clough, Halifax

PPT restoration engineer Steve Rowley and member Jacob Pearson rebuilding a BTP projector which came up from the recent move out of Duxford.

A pair of Walterdaw heads on Universal bases is also reassembled, shown below.

35mm screening of Empire of Light at the Parkway Barnsley

Rob Younger, who owns the Parkway Barnsley, recently decided that he would like to install two Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 projectors in the original projection room so that it would look just like it did when Odeon twinned it in 1980. You can do that when you own the cinema. He began the project in early January but was short of some parts for the second machine. In Elstree the PPT had a spare X4000 lamp house from Chris Woollard’s machine and it was decided we would loan it to Rob to get him up and running. The plan was to collect it from Elstree on 12 January. In the meantime Rob had a call saying would he like a 35mm print of Empire of Light for a special screening later in January. However, shortly afterwards he had another call to say the print was available for a screening on 17 January. There follows a photo diary of those hectic few days from 12 – 17 January. The final still image shows the perfect error rate displayed in the film processor and so it is good to see that in these digital days there is a British laboratory that can process 35mm film to this standard. Click on an image to enlarge.

Halloween screening at the Abbeydale, Sheffield 

Dion reports on the show at the Abbeydale on Friday 29 October

The main auditorium is closed due to an unsafe ceiling and so the stage area has now become the Flytower theatre. Consequently when we were asked by Joe of Reel Steel to screen two films for his Halloween event we had to work out a way to run 35mm in the venue. The films were to be Hellraiser and Candyman.

The idea was to bring along the Portacine with a tower and using a CP65 into their sound system. However, with space constraints we went with a Cinemeccanica V4 and having mid-feature intermissions to help their bar sales. 

The pictures show the kit arriving in the back of my car (with Tom and I) and being mounted on a platform at the rear of the screening room. Then me installing and equalising the sound. We went with L-C-R through their system and used our surrounds through a separate amplifier at the rear of the theatre. And finally on the night Allan projecting the films. 

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Busy packing

Some of the sixty five 35mm feature films we packed for Contemporary films to go to the States'

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Shock Horror

The PPT has provided a projector, magazines, films and cans, as well one of the seats out of our theatre, for the filming of video clips for the stage show Shock Horror.

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Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield

On 14 July Tom and Dion went to the Abbeydale Picture House Sheffield to look at the possibility of showing 35mm on the large stage area, since the auditorium is now closed due to the main ceiling failing a safety inspection. We took the Portacine and ran both scope and widescreen ratio films for Joe our client from Reel Steel. The trial was a success and so hopefully we will be showing films again at the Abbeydale in the not too distant future (see Abbeydale article above).

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The two Vic 5s assembled, ready for rewiring to facilitate silent speed and meet modern requirements, for CAPA College Wakefield.

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Rob Younger provided the photos of the world premiere of The Railway Children at Keighley on 3 July. 

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Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead

Urban-Smith Kinemacolor projector now back home on display in the Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead following restoration by the PPT in Elstree.

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Member activities

A look at what is happening with some of the trust's members.

Rob Younger: independent cinema director

The Gaumont Barnsley opened in 1956, was renamed Odeon in 1962 and twinned in 1980. It closed in 2005. Rob was a projectionist at the Odeon. Parkway Cinemas reopened the cinema on 8 August 2007. Rob is one of the directors of Parkway and their projection engineer. He has installed 70mm in the downstairs cinema, which was originally the stalls, using the original screen. The two cinemas are digital but are both still equipped for film presentations.

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And a short video showing a 70mm print of Tenet being projected...

Bob Mandry: badge man

Bob writes​:

I started collecting cinema equipment plates after my first visit to the Cinema Museum in 2018. Ronald Grant had two boards full of incredible plates that brought back memories of my youth working at the Ritz and Odeon in Southend. 

It was a very modest affair for the first year as I scoured Ebay and other places for new additions but as I became more involved with the PPT, Cinema Museum and the CTA other sources of material presented themselves. People like Nigel Wollard and Alex Cooper have been very helpful in assisting me with several of these items but others have come from as far away as the USA. Thus the door to my office has gone from very humble beginnings with a lot of duplication to the present state where I am approaching full capacity and only two items duplicated. 

There are plenty of items I would like to place on the door if they can be located but I am now having to think what provision to make when the door is full. I do have one or two items that do not fit on the door such as a Peerless Magnarc  nameplate for which I have made a small lightbox to display it. A lot of the items I am searching for will fit on easily such as the badges for Brenkert, Walturdaw 5, Ross GC and DP70 mechs, a Vulcan Arc nameplate and a Duosonic Cabinet badge. However the white back plates from Lightmaster and  President Arc lamps will need to be displayed elsewhere - and who knows what else might turn up apart from these items! 

If you can help Bob with his search for badges please email him at bm@theppt.org

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Reel Change

Ten years ago, a technological revolution swept through cinemas around the world, as analogue projectors were replaced with digital equipment. It was not just the plastic medium of film that was removed from projection boxes during this transformation; most cinemas took this opportunity to also evict the human projectionists who were hitherto in charge of screenings. Projectionists had been hidden from the sight of audiences for most of the history of photographic moving image projection, and their redundancies went largely unnoticed and unremarked upon. 

This book focuses attention on what has been happening behind film spectators' heads for the past 130 years, and attempts to write the history of cinema in Britain from the perspective of its habitually overlooked and undervalued projectionists, beginning in the silent era and continuing to the present day. Drawing upon extensive archival research and lengthy interviews with former projectionists, it documents the key facets and challenges of their work, and how these evolved in response to previous waves of significant technological change. It evaluates how projectionists helped to design and maintain key aesthetic characteristics of the 20th century big screen experience. It shows how the institution of cinema in Britain has been historically underpinned by the harsh exploitation of projectionists by many employers, detailing inadequate wage levels and poor working conditions that formerly provoked government investigation, and explaining why these problems were never successfully ameliorated by trade unions. It also charts in depth the recent fateful transition to digital projection, delineating how and why projectionists were so swiftly and ruthlessly consigned to the past, and assessing whether this form of entertainment should be considered diminished by their super session.

The projectionist on the cover is PPT member Alan Foster who was chief projectionist at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds.

The book is available from Amazon.

A Bunch of Amateurs

Neil Baker of Cinerama Film wrote:

In a run-down clubhouse, the paint peels from the walls, the roof leaks when it rains, and unscrupulous locals dump their rubbish in the club driveway. Welcome to Bradford Movie Makers. Here in the decaying building they call home, a group of friends keep the flame of amateur filmmaking alive, despite the slow disappearance of similar groups since the 1990s. In this dysfunctional family of ageing cinephiles, Harry wants to do a shot-for-shot remake of the opening sequence to the classic musical Oklahoma, a film that meant so much to him and the wife he now cares for at home. 

Meanwhile, Colin, the club projectionist and carpenter, is desperate to keep the building alive, despite the graffiti and rubbish adorning its entranceway. At the same time, Phil and Joe, two of the club’s younger members, are concerned about the number of filming projects the group takes on and the need to finish what they have started. Finally, Marie, the newest member, is determined to inject new life into the slowly dying club. 

Each member knows the value of the cinema club they attend and understands its long and prestigious history since 1932. Still, times are changing, and just like in Hollywood, the golden age of cinema feels like a distant memory. However, what keeps the Bradford Movie Makers alive despite its dwindling finances and crumbling clubhouse is a passion for film, a sense of family and a love of the celluloid dream. 

Filmed over three years, Kim Hopkins’ documentary A Bunch of Amateurs received its world premiere at Sheffield Doc Fest, where it won the Audience Award. Hopkins’ fly-on-the-wall film is a delight, a story of friendship, humanity, community, creativity and hope that had the Sheffield audience entranced. A Bunch of Amateurs is a documentary designed to be watched on the big screen in the company of others; a love letter to a group of cinephiles who defiantly strive to keep their club alive against all the odds. It is one of the most heartfelt, humorous and engaging documentaries I have seen in a long time, and one that I have no doubt will find a place in the heart of every audience member it touches.

Written and directed by Kim Hopkins.  Starring Colin Egglestone, Harry Nicholls, Joe Ogden     

Watch the trailer below (feed from Metfilm).

Dion Hanson writes:

I know Harry Nichols very well, we go back some 50 years when we were all keen amateurs in the Widescreen Association. We Yorkshire folk are a tight knit bunch, we just don't shout about it too much. This is a picture of us all as it appeared in Precious images in Rewind 167. Harry is second from the right.

Dion and his wife to be, Susan, are second and third from the left. Members can view Rewind 167 in the Rewind archive.

The film was screened on BBC 4 on 13 December and shown as being available on BBC iPlayer for over a year.

Philips DP70 dual 70/35mm projector on show at new Curzon

Nigel Wolland writes:

I took these photos at the new four Screen Curzon Cinema at the Bentall Centre in Kingston which opened on Friday 11 November. They will also have an open air cinema on the roof which opens next year. Unfortunately they got the plate wrong, as the Odeon Leicester Square did not have DP70s. I was told this machine was originally in the Royalty Kingsway. 

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The PPT collection

The PPT has an extensive collection of cinema equipment, largely stored at its base at Dean Clough Mills, Halifax but some is stored at Elstree and at Duxford.

Go to the collection

Reference library

The PPT Reference library has around 500 sales brochures and technical public​ations going back many years.

Go to the library

Video library

A collection of videos about cinemas and the people involved

Visit the Video library

Fred Fullerton videos

PPT member Fred Fullerton has produced a large number of videos over the years and we are grateful to Fred for allowing us to feature many of them here. 

Visit Fred's page

Rewind specials

These specials are versions of our Rewind magazine covering selected subjects produced for online viewing.

Click on an image to view/download. Not all browsers display pdf files correctly. You may prefer to download files and view in Adobe Acrobat viewer (downloadable here).

David A Ellis articles

David has provided a large number of articles, on a variety of subjects, for the PPT and the collection can be discovered by clicking the button.

View David's collection of articles

An introductory guide to film projection

Film projection has a long and storied history. There is a romance to film projection that is not shared with its contemporary replacement Digital Cinema–the idea that there is someone in a darkened booth cleaning and lacing the projector, changing reels and keeping an experienced eye on the focus and sound levels is a reassuring throwback to times gone by. Indeed, it took the cinema industry longer than most other entertainment industries to embrace digital technologies, but when, in the mid 2000s it finally did, the change from film to digital projection was rapid and in the space of five years digital cinema dominated the industry.
The Independent Cinema Office (one of the websites featured on our Other websites page) has published a booklet giving an overview of film projection. It was written by Dominic Simmons, and photographed by Alexa Raisbeck and Dominic Simmons.
The booklet can be viewed on the ICO website or viewed directly here. 

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