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Egyptian Theatre: the booth

6712 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028 | map |

The Egyptian Theatre pages: an overview | street views 1922-1954 | street views 1955-present | forecourt | lobby areas | auditorium | booth | backstage | Egyptian 2 & 3 / Arena Cinelounge |

The Egyptian's booth in 1922. It's a photo that appeared in the November 11, 1922 issue of Moving Picture World with the caption: "Projection Room, Grauman's Egyptian. Showing the decorated walls, the two Power's projectors, with vent flues, also the Power's Stereopticon." Thanks to Jean Hunter for the find. She added the item as a comment to a "Don Juan" premiere photo posted by Richard Adkins on the Hollywood Heritage Facebook page.

In "Egyptian in Both Architecture and Decoration is Grauman's New House," a separate article in the same issue of Moving World, it was mentioned that the theatre's "harmony of carving and coloring has been extended even to the projection room." More details:

"Mechanics and art join hands to make a perfect screen display of motion pictures and that is why Sid Grauman pays so much detailed attention to the projection rooms to his theatres. Grauman long ago realized that good pictures, if poorly projected, will not be a popular success and this understanding of the screen art is responsible for the minute care with which the projection rooms of Grauman's theatres are equipped.

"The mechanical equipment of the projection room on which $5,000 has been expended, includes two Powers six-B projectors, illuminated with Power's G.E. high intensity arcs; one Power's triple dissolver, with which some of the latest coloring effects will be presented; three spot lights casting vari-colored hues; a special Westinghouse generator, wound for a capacity of 125 amperes, and the necessary connections to insure mechanical perfextion in the screening of all pictures.

"Remote Control System - This equipment is operated by the projectionist by means of automatic electrical controls arranged in three stations, from any one of which he will have complete control of the entire equipment. The comfort of the projection room has been further enhanced by placing the rheostats of the filming machines in a specially made cabinet. Like the main room, this is ventilated by a fresh air system that insures a constant circulation of ozone. Because the rheostats generate an intense heat, the customary plan of installing them in the projection room was abandoned and in the Egyptian a separate compartment provided and in this also has been placed the Enterprise automatic re-wind on which the films will be coiled up after they have been run in the projection room.

"Adjoining the main projection room, entry to which is obtained from the roof, a film vault has been built. Constructed on the order of a bank safe, with a steel door, this vault is absolutely fireproof, and will insure the safety of the highly inflammable celluloid films while they are not being run. All attractions to be shown at the Egyptian will be stored in this vault both before and during their exhibition runs. Every known safety method of handling the film has been installed in this compartment and any untoward accident to them has been rendered practically impossible by the precautions taken."

The current Egyptian booth location is back upstairs where it started in 1922 after several decades on the main floor. The theatre has state of the art equipment for dealing with 16mm, 35mm, 70mm and digital formats.

It's a bit of work to get the Norelcos ready to run nitrate prints. Here the digital soundheads normally on top of the machines have been removed. It's a March 2018 photo from the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page. See the post for a total of eight photos.

Projectionists Paul Rayton and Mike Schleiger putting the magazines back on. Guide rollers at the top and bottom of the heads get replaced with fire trap rollers designed for nitrate film. Photo: Egyptian Theatre Facebook page - March 2018

In the summer of 2016 the booth was stripped to the walls for a retrofit to make it able to safely run nitrate prints. The new booth design was by BAR Architects. It was a joint project of the theatre, the Film Foundation, and TCM. See more about the project in the Foundation's press release "Nitrate at the Egyptian." Thanks to the theatre for the photos -- this is one that appeared on the American Cinematheque Facebook page.

The bases of the Norelco AAIIs back in place in mid-August 2016. Following the renovation, the front wall of the booth is actually double. The surface we see here is new. Fire shutters are between this new wall and the original booth wall beyond. It's a photo from the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page.

Bolting the lamphouse brackets back on. It's a photo from the Egyptian Theatre Facebook page.

A look across the booth. Note the new wiring gutters on the front wall and other new electrical work. The photo was included in an August 18, 2016 post on the American Cinematheque Facebook page.

KTLA's Gayle Anderson getting a look at the work involved in the summer 2016 booth makeover. This photo and the two below appear in a 26 photo set "KTLA Morning News with Gayle Anderson Visits the Egyptian" that was on the Egyptian Facebook page in August 2016. In addition to the booth shots there are many views of forecourt restoration work as well as a discussion of roof repairs and lobby improvements.

Gayle Anderson talking to Paul Smith of D-Mation, the "integrator" who was supervising all the tech work in the booth during the renovation.

An electrician working behind the amp racks. Its a shot in the 26 photo set on the Egyptian Facebook page. July 2016 Stories on the retrofit included a Deadline article "...Retrofit for 'Rare' 35mm Nitrate Film Projection" and one on LAist: "Egyptian Theatre...To Screen Rare Nitrate Prints."

The new optical soundheads. Thanks to Mark Gulbrandson for the photo, added as a comment to a 2017 post on the Facebook page Motion Picture Technology. He comments: "These are the analog sound reproducers that are now fitted to the DP-70's. A far cry from the originals which were built like a tank. But these have both red light and white light readers in them. White light is still better for older types of tracks. Now they have to come up with a work around to mount the digital sound heads up top and still have the magazines on."

The booth was back in action in the fall of 2016. During the renovations, the theatre ran DCPs with a temporary Barco projector set up in the balcony.

A booth timeline:

1922 - The booth is upstairs. The theatre opened with two Powers projectors along with followspots and effects projectors.

1926 - Vitaphone equipment is installed for Warner Bros. sound-on-disc production of "Don Juan."

1955 - Norelco DP70 35/70mm projectors are installed, along with an Ampex 6 channel sound system for the 70mm TODD-AO run of "Oklahoma." Sound was not on the film for this first TODD-AO release but run in sync from one of two 6 channel dubbers using 35mm film with a full magnetic coating. A deeply curved screen is installed, 60 feet or so in width. See the main Egyptian Theatre page for more about TODD-AO and 70mm roadshow runs at the Egyptian.

1968 - A new booth is built downstairs for the installation of  the D-150 system. The projectors are moved downstairs. Lamps are Ashcraft Super Cinex. Sound is a new Ampex "8 channel" system. It's the standard 6 channel configuration when used for 70mm but with the surrounds driven by three amplifiers instead of one.  A even bigger deeply curved screen (75' measured along the curve) is installed.

1992 - The theatre closes.

1998 - The theatre reopens after the American Cinematheque remodel. The booth is back upstairs with two Norelco AAII  35/70mm projectors, a later version of the 1955 machines originally known as the DP70. This set came from a theatre in New Orleans.

Lamphouses are Christie Xenon with 6 Kw lamps. There's also a 16/35 Kinoton projector. A digital projector was later added. The theatre is equipped to reproduce all standard sound formats including Dolby Digital, SDDS and DTS.

2016 - The booth was stripped to the walls for a retrofit to make it able to safely run nitrate prints. A new Barco DP4K-30L digital laser projector was acquired.

Screen size:  Currently it's 27' x 53'.  See the auditorium page for some information on screen installations over the years at the theatre.

The two Norelco AAII 35/70mm projectors in the Egyptian's booth before the renovations to make the installation nitrate-friendly. That red glow on machine #1 is the LED on the Dolby Digital soundhead. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

A door open view. Photo: Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008. Thanks, Wayne! See the rest of his Egyptian Theatre set for more booth views as well as fine shots of the rest of the building.

A closer look at projector #1. Photo: Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008

A look at the digital soundheads mounted atop the machine. Photo: Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008

The Dolby Digital soundhead. Photo: Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008

The back side of one of the machines. Photo: Wayne Nabeta on Flickr - 2008

Projector #2. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

An array of digital soundheads atop machine #2. At left is a Dolby Digital head. Top right is a DTS timecode reader (here set up for 70mm). Lower right is a Sony SDDS head. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

Machine #2 with the film trap open, ready to thread 35mm. It's a photo by Leo Enticknap, one of eight of his 2014 photos of the equipment in the Egyptian booth that appear with the Wikipedia article on the Norelco DP-70 projector.

Machine #2 threaded up ready to go. Photo: Leo Enticknap - Wikipedia - 2014 

The projector motor speed control cabinet. The machines are fitted with a variable frequency drive allowing speeds from 16 to 30 fps. Or the two machines can be interlocked for dual machine 3-D. Photo: Leo Enticknap - Wikipedia - 2014

A look toward the rear of the booth during one of the tours the theatre offers every month. The sound racks are in the distance on the left side of the photo. Thanks to Wayne Nabeta on Flickr for his 2008 photos.

Some of the sound gear. Photo: Bill Counter - 2014

 A look across the booth in 2002. The Richard Greenhalgh photo is part of the article "4 Track Magnetic Stereo at the American Cinematheque, Hollywood" discussing the format and a festival the theatre was running in 2002.  

Another view from the site This photo by Paul Rayton, head projectionist at the Egyptian, appears on the site's  DP70s in California page. Thomas Hauerslev's wonderful site is the place to visit for information about 70mm projector history, news of 70mm festivals and more.

The main floor booth (now removed ) that was built for the 1968 Dimension 150 installation. The equipment included Norelco 35/70mm projectors, Ashcraft Super Cinex lamps and an Ampex eight channel sound system. It was a conventional 6-4-1 system with 5 stage channels but they were using three separate amp channels to drive the surrounds.  Looks like a couple of dubbers on the far wall. The amp rack is hiding behind machine #1.

The photo comes from a January 29, 1969 article in the Motion Picture Herald. It appears on the Egyptian Theatre page of Roland Lataille's comprehensive website, which has the complete Motion Picture Herald article about the D-150 remodeling.

The D-150 screen installation, no longer in the theatre, was done in 1968. Part of the work included a new booth on the main floor. This was a warning from the D-150 people that to use the full screen size you had to pay royalties. Thanks to Bill Gabel for the photo from his collection, at one time appearing on the Cinema Treasures page about the Egyptian. 

A view of the D-150 masking control panel from the Bill Gabel collection.

A post-American Cinematheque renovation view toward the booth. Photo: Bill Counter - 2010

A rare look back at the rear of the house sometime after the 1992 closing. Note the main floor booth, installed in 1968. In the upper right you get a bit of the valance for the D-150 drapery installation. Photographer and source of the photo are unknown.

A 1922 look back toward the booth. It's a Los Angeles Public Library photo.

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