I can remember when a feature film was six or more reels of 35mm film, and each theater had 2 projectors - we had to watch for cue
marks (little dot that appears in the upper right corner of the frame 10 seconds before the reel ends and again just as it ends) about every 15 minutes. While the first reel was running, you'd thread the second reel on the second projector
. First cue mark
, start second projector
. Second cue mark
, open shutter
on second projector
, close shutter
on first. Do it smoothly and accurately and nobody knows you did it. Miss a cue mark
and get reamed by the manager. Then rewind reel 1 and thread reel 3 onto projector
1 and watch for reel 2's cue
marks. Don't dare get interested in the film itself - that's a way to guarantee you'll miss them.
Now they splice all six regular-size reels onto this big honkin' platter and run it all through one projector
. More complex to thread, but you only have to do it once per movie. Usually the cue
marks are still there if you watch for them - there's still a few old-school theaters running two projectors. Those projectionists probably get more than $7.25 an hour, but there's not a lot of them left... or not a lot of places for them to work.
This is by no means a put-down of your craft. The new way is easier, but you've still got to know what you're doing and what to do in case of a problem. It's honest work deserving of respect.
By the way, welcome! I'm one of the older (in terms of age, not length of membership) people you'll meet here on ControlBooth
. Not much help on stage
management, but I try to be of assistance with sound and lighting technical questions... and I'm learning quite a bit
about other aspects of technical theater, too. I look forward to seeing you around the boards.