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Pantages: projection booth

6233 Hollywood Blvd.  Los Angeles 90028  | map |

Pages about the Pantages Theatre:
| Pantages overview | street views 1929 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | ticket lobby | entrance vestibule | main lobby | main lounges | main floor inner lobby | balcony lobby and lounge areas | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | backstage | booth | support areas |


A 1930 Mott Studios photo from the west end of the booth.  That beast with the strange hood closest to us is the dual Brenograph effects projector. Beyond are the film projectors: Super Simplexes with Hall & Connolly lamps on Western Electric Universal bases. This is one of 5 photos in set #001416979 of the California State Library collection.

The 1930 booth installation: The Pantages opened with Super Simplexes and a Western Electric sound system that could handle both film and disc reproduction. In addition, an elaborate public address system included coverage of the auditorium, lobby and lounge areas. And we had a huge complement of follow spot and effects projector gear in the booth.

The theatre was "ready" for the then trendy "wide film" boasting a huge screen with adjustable masking. An August 30, 1930 article in Exhibitors Herald-World noted it was "30 by 60 feet in size. A motor control masking device diminishes or increases its size, according to the picture, whether standard or wide film." The article went on to discuss the PA system and projection gear:

"... A public address system with seven horns provides an arrangement for broadcasting to any part of the auditorium, restrooms and lobby. These horns are concealed in the walls with grilled openings. The restroom and lobby horns are used for reproduction of popular phonograph records. Supplementation of the sound system to obtain special effects is also possible. There are four projectors in the projection room equipped to handle sound-on-film, disc and wide-film. The booth is 16 feet wide and 50 feet long...The public-address monitor room and the film storage vault adjoin the projection room.."

In the October 25, 1930 issue of Exhibitors Herald-World is an article by F. H. Richardson: "Projection at the Pantages." Richardson lists the original equipment as three Super Simplexes with Ashcraft 600 lamps, a Brenograph, two Brenkert spotlamps, an Ashcraft high intensity flood and two Chicago Cinema spots (with five color effects each!). The sound equipment was by Western Electric, some of which he describes in detail. Note that in the Mott Studios photo of the booth we see the projectors with Hall & Connolly lamps, not the Ashcrafts mentioned by Richardson.

Like a lot of theatres of the era, the theatre was described as being ready for wide film -- there were 70mm and 65mm processes that made it to a few theatres in the 1929-31 time period. The "readiness" at the Pantages did include a big screen and a comfortably wide proscenium but the theatre didn't get projectors capable of running anything other than 35mm until 1960.
 
For lots more on early Western Electric sound equipment see Kurt Wahlner's Projection and Sound pages on his Grauman's Chinese website.
 


The Western Electric amp rack for the film sound system. In the left rack we see the horn control panel, one 41-A amp and one 42-A amp. In the center rack are the two 43-A power amps. In the right rack below the patchbay are two 42-A amps. It's a Mott Studios photo in the California State Library set #001416979.
 


The vista at the east end of the booth. The follow spots are nearest us with the film projectors beyond.  This Mott Studios photo is one of 17 of different areas of the building in set #001407754 of the California State Library collection.



The PA room adjacent to the booth.In the two PA racks we have 2 207A horn control panels, one 203B panel, a patch panel, two 41-A amps (with the boxes covering the tubes), one 42-A amp and two 43-A amps. On the left wall we have a 42-A amp bridging the film sound equipment's output -- it could be patched into the PA system if desired.  The Mott Studios photo is included in the California State Library collection set #001416979.
 
Upgrades in the 30s, 40s, 50s: Well, there were undoubtedly were a few, as would befit a major first run house. Alas, there are  no photos or  bits of information.

70mm arrives in 1960: The theatre got an installation of Norelco DP70 35/70 mm machines and Ashcraft Super Cinex lamps in 1960. The Pantages hosted many reserved seat engagements including "Spartacus" in 1960 and "Cleopatra" in 1963.

"Indoor Luxury From Sidewalk To Screen," a May 9, 1960 Boxoffice article, discussed the first phases of the 1960 renovation program. The later aspects of the renovation were detailed in a January 20, 1961 article titled "RKO Pantages in Los Angeles Faces New Era After $100,00 Remodeling." A 55' x 27' screen was installed and the front of the house completely draped. Or, as Boxoffice put it: "...the proscenium arch was eliminated." The actual picture size for "Spartacus" was 54' x 20'.

The sound was an Ampex 6-4-1 system with "high level mixing" -- meaning changeover switching was post-preamp. Speakers were Altec Voice of the Theatre. Boxoffice noted that the 4 3/4" Bausch & Lomb lenses ("the first and only ones of their kind") were, of course, made especially for the RKO Pantages and "are the result of a series of new developments."

Pages about the Pantages Theatre:
| Pantages overview | street views 1929 to 1954 | street views 1955 to present | ticket lobby | entrance vestibule | main lobby | main lounges | main floor inner lobby | balcony lobby and lounge areas | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | backstage | back to top - booth | support areas |

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