and Lots of Production Stuff

Courtesy of Chester Hartwell

The three magic eyes of the Cinerama camera take a picture 146 degrees wide by 55 degrees high. The"eyes" were matched 27mm lenses manufactured by Eastman Kodak. They were interlocked and focused as a single unit. The camera shutter,open in this illustration, was mounted in FRONT of the lenses at the point where their fields of vision crossed. The single front mounted shutter allowed for precise exposure times of all three films. The left lens photographed the right third of the image, the right lens photographed the left, and the center lens photographed, what else?, the center one third.

Courtesy of Chester Hartwell

Those concerned about that disembodied arm resting on top of the camera may rest easy. It's none other than Chester Hartwell playing with a camera that he stumbled across 49 years after it was last used, in the production of South Seas Adventure.

Cinerama Camera 3-Shot
Three shots of Old Three-Eyes as seen in American Cinematographer

Archeologist Hartwell and a Cinerama camera slate last used in 1957.

Cinerama camera slate
There aren't many cameras that can photograph a slate this close to the lens.
Photographing South Seas Adventure.

The Seven Films in Cinerama
This Is CineramaCinerama HolidaySeven Wonders of the WorldSearch For Paradise
South Seas AdventureThe Wonderful World of the Brothers GrimmHow The West Was Won

Cinerama Shooting Aboard Aircraft Carrier
Cinerama Holiday - Bobsled Run

Above left - filming aboard a U.S. Aircraft Carrier. Above right - preparations for the bobsled sequence. This camera is the original, built by Waller. It is distinctive by the straight alignment of the film magazines versus the angled magazines of all later cameras, as is seen in the left hand photo.

Above left - The camera being set up for a shot on a tram. Note that the film magazines include the individual film movements for each panel. Above right - Preparations to shoot a sound sequence. The top of the camera sound blimp is removed to allow camera setup.

How The West Was Won production still

Thelma Ritter and Debbie Reynolds aboard a Conestoga wagon crossing a river - as difficult in its 1962 reenactment as in the 1850s actual events. The 146 degree field of vision of the camera is taking in virtually everything seen in this photograph, from the wagon on the extreme left to the wagon on the extreme right. As actor Robert Preston said, "Every time you move the camera two feet, the set decorators have to dress two hundred acres of land." The camera, mounted on a Chapman crane, is seen in its sound blimp, bringing the weight of the unit to over 800 pounds. The number of lead counterweights at the opposite end of the crane testify to the heaviness of the camera.

Cinerama filming the Civil War sequence in HOW THE WEST WAS WON

John Wayne, portraying General Sherman, and sequence director John Ford are seen filming the Civil War segment of How The West Was Won. Note how convenient that John Ford finds the contours of the camera blimp for leaning. This posed a problem on numerous occasions as the director could never be made to understand that his arm was being photographed, resulting in many retakes. Attached to the top of the blimp is a triple light fixture that held flood lamps to aid in the difficult job of lighting a scene where there was no place to hide lamps. Someone should have suggested that Mr. Ford stand on the other side of the camera where his good eye would allow him to see the what was happening. But you didn't make a lot of suggestions to John Ford.

More Cinerama production photos are being prepared for this section.

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©1997 - 2000 The American WideScreen Museum
Martin Hart, Curator