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State Theatre: projection booth

703 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90014  | map |

The State Theatre pages: history | vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | ticket lobby | lobbies and lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | projection booth | backstage | basement cafeteria |


The booth in 1921. The doorway straight ahead leads to the generator room and the stairs down to the top of the balcony. That's the toilet room off to the right. The photo is from the December 17, 1921 issue of Exhibitors Trade Review.  



The booth in April 2018 as Tom Ruff's project of bringing it back to life begins. It had been unused for twenty years. Photo: Bill Counter

The original equipment: Exhibitors Trade Review discussed the booth in their December 17, 1921 issue: "...Marcus Loew sure did spread himself on the projection room for his new State Theatre, Los Angeles, as the accompanying picture shows. He states that this theatre has the largest screen in the world. He should also have stated that it had one of the best projection rooms, from a standpoint of equipment and the general layout, which is splendid.

"Three latest model Powers 6-B Cameragraphs, equipped with Type E lamps, constitute the projection machinery. Each machine is equipped with a speed control that is operated from a remote control panel board, by which speed the projectors can be regulated from seven different points in the projection room. This is a very unusual feature. There is also in the projection room two spot lights, a flood and a double stereoptican [sic], for use in lighting effects in vaudeville acts.

"Between each projector is telephone that is a talking and ringing station, by which you can talk to any one of the twenty telephone stations scattered through the theatre. A special feature to this telephone station, which makes it very complete, is that any one of the telephone stations in the projection booth can be connected to the Bell telephone on the house exchange, thereby enabling outside calls to be received or sent direct from the projection room. In case of an emergency this would be a tremendous advantage as it would eliminate the necessity of having to go wherever a Bell telephone was in the house, which is generally quite a distance from the projection room.   

"The fire shutters are all suspended by chains from a master cord running directly over the magazines of the machines. The chains are connected to the master cord by a fusible link, and should one of these fusible links melt, it would release all the fire shutters, closing every opening in the machine room except the vent flues. These shutters are absolutely noiseless in their operation, and should there be a fire in the projection room, the audience would never be aware of it, as they would not hear the shutters falling.

"Fresh air is supplied to the projection room from the outside through a large flue and the foul air is removed through a vent flue, to which are connected the vent flues from the lamp houses. Connecting the lamp house vent flues to the main vent flue creates a steady draft in the main flue, even when the fan is not running, which keeps the projection room supplied with fresh air. There are two special features in this connection: first it keeps the lamp house cool, which tends to lower condensor [sic] breakage, and second, if the ventilating fan would break down on a hot day, the draft in the flue goes a long way toward cooling the projection room.

"All rewinding is done in a separate room with an enclosed cabinet rewind, which has ten compartments for putting films in. There is also an open rewind for inspecting and repairing films that have been damaged. The work bench is heavy and strong enough to do any kind of repair work necessary. The projection room has one feature that no other projection room in the world has--a shower bath, with hot and cold water, for the projectionist. Do you know of one?

"Summing it all up this projection room is undoubtedly one of the best designed and arranged in the country. The equipment is up to date in every respect, and what is more important, the comfort and convenience of the projectionist has been kept in mind along with other things. W. A. Cook, who will have charge of it, is certainly to be congratulated on having such a splendid 'outfit' with which to work."  

The shower? Well, there's no sign of it. Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for the research. He has the article featured on a Theatre Talks blog post about the theatre on Blogspot. The page with the full article can be seen on Internet Archive.

Mammoth screen and the largest booth in the world: "New House Has a Mammoth Screen," a December 3, 1921 article in Exhibitors Trade Review, had noted "The new Loew [sic] State Theatre, which opened in Los Angeles Nov. 12 has a screen 24 by 44 1/2 feet. It is twice the size of any other screen in use in that city and pictures are furnished for it by what is said to be the largest projection booth in the world."

Well, they obviously hadn't been in the booth. The one down the street at the Cameo was bigger. The State booth is 10' deep and 27' long. The rewind room to the left adds 5' and the electric room and stair landing to the right adds another 11'6". Thanks to Cezar Del Valle for finding the article. He has excerpts in a Theatre Talks blog post. The page with the full article can be seen on Internet Archive.

Current equipment:

1 Simplex E-7 with an RCA 9030 soundhead and LP Associates Xenon lamp.

2 Simplex XLs with Simplex 5 Star soundheads and Strong Ultra 80 Xenon lamps. Lamp wattage is 5.5 Kw.

Sound processing is a Dolby CP 500.

When the theatre closed in 1997 the gear was 3 Simplex E-7s, RCA 9030 soundheads and LP associates Xenon lamps. Projection wizard Tom Ruff brought in the XLs and Strong lamps for his booth rehabilitation project in 2018.

Projection throw: Approximately 120'

Screen size: Flat format picture is 18' 6" high x 33' 4" wide. Scope is 18' 6" high x 44' 6" wide. The frame is 31' high x 56' wide. Side masking is attached to the screen frame and can be operated from the booth.

Followspot positions: Originally two but none usable at present. The ports have been covered over and amp racks are in the way of one of them.

Booth access: The booth can be accessed from a door at the top of the balcony or via a corridor in the fourth floor of the office building.



The stairs up to the booth from the top of the balcony. Thanks to Mike Hume for his April 2018 photo. Visit his Historic Theatre Photography site for tech info and hundreds of fine photos of the many theatres he's explored. And don't miss his page on the State Theatre.



Take a left at the top of the stairs and you're in the electric room on the right end of the booth. We've got ballast resistors on the left and the DC switchboard on the right. In the middle are two motor-generator sets. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



Another look in to the electric room. On the floor are two of the three LP Associates Xenon lamps that the theatre was using when it closed. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



A box of carbons -- not used in this booth since perhaps the 80s. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



Switches for cutting out certain segments of the ballast resistance so that the desired voltage can be obtained at the carbon arc. The theatre had gone to xenon lamps before it closed in 1997. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The commutator of one of the DC generators, no longer in service. Thanks to Wendell Benedetti for his April 2018 photo. It's one in a great nineteen photo set that's on the LAHTF Facebook page. They were mostly taken during a Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation "all-about" tour of the building.

The LAHTF is active in promoting awareness of the historic theatres of Los Angeles and works toward their preservation. They frequently offer tours and sponsor other events related to historic preservation. www.lahtf.org | group Facebook page | official Facebook page



The toilet room on the right end of the booth with the generator room beyond. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



A wide-angle look across the three projectors. On the right it's a spot port. Out of the frame to the right are two amp racks in front of a second spot port. Photo: Wendell Benedetti - April 2018



The amp racks in the right front corner of the booth. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



A Dolby CP 500 processor and an exciter lamp supply. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018 



On the far left it's Tom Ruff, the projection wizard bringing the booth back into action. Machine #3 seen here is one of two Simplex XLs that Tom brought in. It's on a Simplex 5 Star soundhead and with a Strong Xenon lamp. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



A closer look at machine #3. They're straight gate machines and will have water cooling when Tom is done with them. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The front wall at machine #3. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



The view out the port at machine #3. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018 



A chandelier detail. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - June 2018



The control panel at the #3 position. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018  



The cue-meter for #3. These devices were seen all over Los Angeles but seldom encountered in other parts of the country. It was geared to the projector via a flexible shaft. You'd first measure the footage of each reel. After threading up, you'd set it for the footage on the reel. Here it's set for 456 feet. It would then give you a ding at both the motor start and changeover cues. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018 


 
A look along the front wall. Beyond the second XL it's a Simplex E-7 in position #1. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018  



From behind machine #3 looking toward the amp racks and generator room beyond. The stairs down to the balcony are to the left just beyond the amp racks. The doorway on the right is the toilet room. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



Between machines #2 and 3. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



The rear of machine #3. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The reel end alarm on machine #3. Thanks to Michelle Gerdes for her April 2018 photo.



Machine #2. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The rear of machine #2. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The view left toward the rewind room at the end of the booth. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



A look up from the left of machine #2 for a view of the interestingly textured ceiling. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



Between machines #1 and 2. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



A look out the observation port at machine #1. Photo: Michelle Gerdes - 2018. Thanks, Michelle! 



Machine #1, a Simplex E-7 with an RCA 9030 soundhead and an LP Associates Xenon lamp. That's the rectifier for the lamp on the floor. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The cue meter for machine #1. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



A closer look at the E-7. It's a design that was introduced in 1937. Originally they had both front and rear shutters but the one in front was a problem for CinemaScope lenses. Three of these machines were in service when the theatre closed. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The back of machine #1. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



To the left of machine #1. The Brenograph was originally here. Note the remains of the elongated port to the left of that clump of wire. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



The bench behind machine #1. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



Thew rewind room at the far left end of the booth. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



A porthole view. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



The back of the rewind room. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



The office building corridor outside the door to the rewind room.  Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



Looking back in toward the rewind room from the left exit door. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



In the rewind room looking back toward the booth itself. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018



The view from the rewind room back down the length of the booth. Photo: Mike Hume - April 2018



Back down the stairs to the top of the balcony. Photo: Bill Counter - April 2018
 


A look up toward the booth. For years the church tenant had the ports drywalled over. That port on the far right is in the separate rewind room. Photo: Bill Counter - 2018



The ports have been reworked several times. This is a detail from a 1964 Los Angeles Public Library photo. Note the spot ports on the far left that were later covered.  



A murky detail from a a photo in the July 1923 issue of Architect and Engineer. Note the small spot ports on the left, later enlarged. In the center there were three projectors - this photo only captured the port for one of those. At the right is the elongated port for the Brenograph and the port in the rewind room.

The State Theatre pages: history | vintage exterior views | recent exterior views | ticket lobby | lobbies and lounges | vintage auditorium views | recent auditorium views | back to top - booth | backstage | basement cafeteria |

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