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Thread: Theatre woofers

  1. #31
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Schell View Post
    Convergence, the two theatres were the Alexandria and the Cononet. I looked them up on the Cinema Treasures site and read that Mike Todd had personally supervised the installation of his system at the Alexandria in preparation for the debut of Oklahoma in September, 1956.
    I have seen quite a few major film releases at the Coronet over the years... unlike many of our other larger older movie houses here in SF, the Coronet was architecturally a real dog... however if you sat in about the twentieth row it was quite a spectacular show. I saw Earthquake there back in the mid '70s with the massive Cerwin Vega noise woofers. I am not sure when they pulled the Ampex system out of the Coronet, but in the mid '90s they put a new JBL system in and the audio quality improved markedly. Deeper, cleaner bass... truer highs, and a lot less honk.

    The Alexandria, while a much nicer venue architecturally never had a particularly spectacular sound or projection system... at least from the '70s on... The Alhambra on Polk Street was really an architectural marvel, and was quite a good theater especially after the sound system was upgraded in the mid '90s. Unfortunately since parking was always impossible it just couldn't compete with the newer megaplexes.


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  2. #32
    Senior Member CONVERGENCE's Avatar
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    I was impressed by one theatre in San Francisco. I can't find yhe wb site for now.

    It was very grand something like this.
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  3. #33
    Senior Member CONVERGENCE's Avatar
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    I must apologize to the folks in San Francisco. The original pictures of the 1927 Alexandra are no longer available on the Web.
    The following Jewel theatres which perform brodway shows are still alive and well.Curran ,Golden Gate. Orpheum. The first 2 photos Orpheum and third Curran.

    .................................................. ..................................................
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    Last edited by CONVERGENCE; 11-26-2006 at 10:28 PM. Reason: spelling

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Schell View Post

    Convergence, the two theatres were the Alexandria and the Cononet. I looked them up on the Cinema Treasures site and read that Mike Todd had personally supervised the installation of his system at the Alexandria in preparation for the debut of Oklahoma in September, 1956.
    I know I'm a few years late in answering this email, but ...

    I haunted both theaters and saw every 70 mm film multiple times. Actually it was the Coronet that Todd supervised setting up Todd-AO for. The Alexandria got 70mm about 2 years later, when South Pacific had no place to go, since Around the World in 80 Days was still running at the Coronet ... well into its second year! So the chronology was: Oklahoma! opened in Todd-AO (along with a short modestly titled "The Miracle of Todd-AO") in 1955, 80 Days opened in 1956, and was still running in 1958 when South Pacific needed a 70mm theater, so they equipped the Alexandria at that point.

    The design of the late, lamented Coronet was ideal for the original 70 mm Todd-AO -- it was not meant to be a movie "palace," but an optimum venue for 70 mm projection. There was no stage or orchestra pit to take up space, so the seats went right down to a small apron just in front of the screen. The walls curved down in an almost blunt bullet snouted shape to a deeply curved set of curtains that filled the wall, top to bottom and side to side, except for small, but sweeping lip on the ceiling to hold the lights i.e., the curtains filled the tip of the bullet. For the first few films in 70 mm, the deeply curved screen completely filled the area behind the curtains. The effect was highly immersive..

    Unfortunately, the huge curved screen was eventually taken out, and a smaller, flatter screen put in to accommodate 70 mm processes that didn't have Todd-AO's correction for the curve. They left the curtains alone, though. I believe that the latest image of the Coronet on Cinema Treasures, taken with the house lights fully on, and the curtains almost all the way open (just before the theater was torn down), clearly shows all of the possible image configurations: Original 70 mm Todd-AO absolutly filled the entire area, right up to the curtains, and the curtains opened just a tad more to the left and right. Later 70mm filled the expanse between the fluting on either side, and did not go all the way to the top where the funky wrinkled mblack material is. The image was still big, row for row bigger on one's retinas than 35 mm would be, but nothing compared to the old image. The (smooth) mask is open to the size that conventional 35 mm 'scope would fill. I would reproduce the image here, but it is copyrighted.

    The history of the sound at the Coronet isn't simple. The original Todd-AO system was warmer, and better, IMO, sounding than the later systems. It seemed to have wider -- and incredible -- dynamic range than the later systems, even though there was little bass below about 40 Hz. Speaking of bass, the impact of the thunderstorm and implied earthquake in Ben-Hur was very convincing, and where we were sitting (in the 11th row) we could feel the wind the speakers were creating with those thunderclaps. I was told by a manager that the speakers were JBL in a special Todd-AO sound system built by Ampex.

    In later years ... about the time of Star Wars, an elaborate Dolby system was brought in that had more bass extension, but often seemed harsher, to my ears.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyrc View Post
    I believe that the latest image of the Coronet on Cinema Treasures, taken with the house lights fully on, and the curtains almost all the way open (just before the theater was torn down), clearly shows all of the possible image configurations: Original 70 mm Todd-AO absolutly filled the entire area, right up to the curtains, and the curtains opened just a tad more to the left and right. Later 70mm filled the expanse between the fluting on either side, and did not go all the way to the top where the funky wrinkled mblack material is. The image was still big, row for row bigger on one's retinas than 35 mm would be, but nothing compared to the old image. The (smooth) mask is open to the size that conventional 35 mm 'scope would fill. I would reproduce the image here, but it is copyrighted..
    O.K., it turns out that it was not Cinema Treasures, but this:
    http://www.outsidelands.org/image.ph...erior-2005.jpg

  6. #36
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garyrc View Post
    O.K., it turns out that it was not Cinema Treasures, but this:
    http://www.outsidelands.org/image.ph...erior-2005.jpg
    What that image doesn't show is the depth of the Coronet... if you didn't get to the theater early... usually requiring a long wait in line in the Richmond District's typical drizzly fog, you would have to sit so far back in the theater the screen size felt like a TV...

    Your comment about the sound system update around the time of Star Wars makes sense... most of my experience with that theater was after the release of Star Wars and while the sound wasn't terrible, it got much better when they updated it again later in the early '90s.


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  7. #37
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    Theatre woofers

    Thom, Do you still have the Ampex 520 Theatre woofer with the 375 pot?

  8. #38
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    I'll say that the sound at the Coronet for 80 Days (1956) was the best, in many ways, I've ever heard in a theater, or over a high end sound system to this day. The 114 piece orchestra was rich and warm, as well as having unbelievable dynamics. We heard that the sound levels were specified by Todd, and that he and his 1st. A.D. were sitting together for the premier, and the A.D. tried to get him to turn it down. Todd apparently won. We heard from several sources that the Coronet had JBL speakers at the time, so I think it's true. I don't know if the Coronet was "4-walled" by Magna, or owned by UA theaters in 1956. Incidentally, the sound quality of 80 Days never made it onto disk or tape of any kind, including the soundtrack on Lp, which was particularly bad. There was a rumor that for 80 Days and Oklahoma! they were using double system in the booth, with the 6 soundtracks on a strip of full coat magnetic 35 mm film, running in sync with the 70 mm picture film. This would be expected to result in higher sound quality, and more headroom given the same noise floor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    What that image doesn't show is the depth of the Coronet... if you didn't get to the theater early... usually requiring a long wait in line in the Richmond District's typical drizzly fog, you would have to sit so far back in the theater the screen size felt like a TV...

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    Yes, it was quite deep, but not as deep as some other Bay Area theaters in the '50s.
    • For the first several 70 mm films shown at the Coronet (Oklahoma!, 80 Days, Porgy and Bess, Ben-Hur), reserved seat tickets solved the "too deep theater" problem. No way would my friends and I consider sitting in the rear 1/2 of the theater. We went to the ticket office to the right of the Coronet (toward the Ocean) and deliberately ordered tickets in the 9th, 10th, or 11th row from the screen, where the picture was overwhelming, but sharp and detailed (considerably more so than 'scope in 35 mm) The first time I saw Oklahoma!, it was from the 18th row (the bottom section originally had 20 rows), and it was quite immersive, but it stirred a hunger to move even closer, which we did for other showings.
    • In later years, when there were no reserved seats, we would stop by the theater early to get our tickets for a much later showing, then go eat. We had no difficulty getting good downstairs seats, but, in the case of Star Wars, put it off for a while, until after the demand lessened.
    • We devised a way to measure relative image size using a detachable camera viewfinder I had. It happened that the original 70 mm Todd-AO image at the Coronet just filled the finder (set for a 50mm lens) from top to bottom from the last row downstairs (row 20). Of course the image spilled out on both sides, but we decided to use height as our index, since almost all of the theaters we frequented were set up for "common height," with most widescreen images the same height, but truly wider than standard (unlike on today's letterbox on CRTs and flatscreens). Using this finder, we found that image height for the original 70 mm Todd-AO at the Coronet in the 20th row from the screen was the same as the 35 mm image height in the 5th row from the screen at the Grand Lake -- a traditional movie palace in Oakland.
    • The above gargantuan size didn't last long. By the time of the 70 mm Star Wars, for instance, one had to sit in the 12 th row at the Coronet to equal the 5th row in 35 mm at the Grand Lake.
    • Disney's Sleeping Beauty in 70 mm, released on the same bill as Disney's Grand Canyon, using Ferde Grofe's music, offered an opportunity to confirm that 70 mm at the Coronet was both higher and wider than 35 mm CinemaScope. When Sleeping Beauty started, the first shot, "Walt Disney Presents" was the same size as was Canyon in CinemaScope, a minute or two before. Then the image expanded greatly in both directions during the title shot. Since the Sleeping Beauty run did not use reserved seats, we tried moving up to the front row center, and it was sharp as a tack, with minimal grain, even up there!

  9. #39
    JBL 4645
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    Are there any pictures of Eisenhower Theatre in Washington D.C. as it appeared in the 1980’s?

    Just curious that’s all, as I’ve been watching the making of FireFox and the film had special guest screening there around (1982). The video only shows a narrow view of what it looks like. I’m not sure if, I’m looking at the correct cinema on the website it looks too modernized.

    Also what cinema PA speakers and Dolby processor was cinema theatre using around the time, was it a CP100 which or CP200.

    Cheers

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