Showing Mars the Moving Pictures
Reflections on the invention of a giant screen which can be seen a quarter of a mile away
��Editor: "Good morning, have you invented anything today?"
Reader: "Can't seem to think of any- thing."
Editor: "Perhaps you need a little encouragement. First of all examine cas- ually some great invention. If you find you are unable, offhand, to change or im- prove its function, just change its size. Make it enormous, gigantic, awe-inspiring. Why? Don't ask questions. Apply for a patent at once. When the patent bearing your name and the names of the humble witnesses is issued, keep calm even though manufacturers and promoters do not claw at one another and fill the air with des- perate wailings in their efforts to buy, rent, promote or steal your patent. Console yourself with the fact that the world has not as yet been educated up to your method.
This imaginary conversation is inspired by the contemplation of a recently issued patent which discloses nothing more than a moving picture screen so large that it will require four or five projection machines to fill it up. We daresay the glittering path of success will shortly dazzle the inventor.
The advantages so great a picture pos- sesses are not divulged. We have a suspi- cion that the inventor has a scheme which will make it possible to assemble an audience on Mars who will shoot the customary price of admission into the exhibitor's cash register.
The method for displaying this huge picture is simple. Procure a screen about four times larger than any at present employed. Raising the roofs of picture theaters to accommodate the screen is a matter hardly worth mentioning. Next in- duce photoplay producers to employ four photographers to take the scenes. Each photographer will take one-quarter section of the picture ; one man to photograph the upper right section, another the upper left, etc. The sections must be taken in such a manner that when they are displayed simultaneously on the screen by four projec- tion machines, they will all meet properly.
��You have often done this very thing as a child when you pieced together a rhinoceros or zebra with four spelling blocks.
A little care should be exercised, how- ever, in the taking of these films. The four men should be instructed to grind in time and at the same speed.
In displaying the picture, only four operators and assistants are required who will be instructed to keep an even pace for their individual sections. It would not do for the operator who is showing the head and body of the beautiful heroine to run his machine slowly, while the operator who has charge of the feet projection runs his machine fast. No, indeed. Her elbows may just then be on the dinner table while her feet walk off to the ballroom scene.
A good operator can also be trained to understand the necessity of keeping the head section of the picture in the upper part of the screen. The feet should do their accompanying shuffling underneath.
A very ingenious method for camou- flaging the lines on the screen where the four sectional pictures meet, has also been devised by the inventor. These edges form a cross directly in the center of the picture field. .Permanently painting a tree, win- dow or telegraph pole over these lines will effectually eliminate the meeting edges of the four picture sections and will in no way detract from the enacted scene. Only a carping critic would object to viewing a play through the branches of a tree. What if the tree does appear in the kitchen scene?' The effect is not necessarily spoiled because you are unaccustomed to seeing it there.
Anyone intending to embark in this gigantic motion-picture enterprise should not forget that the nearest seat to the screen from which. a fairly good view can be had, will be about one hundred feet distant. This slight loss in seating capacity is more than compensated for by the fact that the screen can be viewed at a distance of about one-quarter of a mile. This will permit the extension of the theater seats out on to the sidewalk, and across the street.
��Those of us interested in science, engineering, invention form a kind of guild. We should help one another. All the specialized knowledge and information of the editorial staff of the Popular Science Monthly is at your disposal. Write to the editor if you think he can help you. He is willing to answer questions.