Spam (madbodger) wrote,

  • Mood:
  • Music:


One of the cool things about working at FGM is that
every Thursday, there's a "Lunchtime Seminar". This is a presentation given by one of the
employees (or their friends or family or whatever) on pretty much any subject they like.
I've given a couple of them in the past, and there was a sudden opening for this week. So
I decided to show 16mm films.

I had quite the arsenal set up -- three projectors, and wiring to a speaker up front. The
big draw was the old classic Donald Duck
in Mathemagicland (1959),
which was a whipped old ex-school copy, giving just the right
presentation of missing frames, chatter, lines, and so forth.

I also ran an assortment of animated shorts. Here's the whole lineup:

  • Wizard Of Speed And Time (1979), color, 3 minutes

  • Donald Duck In Mathemagicland (1959) color, 27 minutes

  • Bead Game (1977) color, 6 minutes

  • Binary Bit Patterns (1969) color, 3 minutes

  • Frank Film (1973) color, 9 minutes

  • Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969) B&W, 2 minutes

  • Finger Exercise #2 B&W, 2 minutes

The Finger Exercise film is something I found in an oddball antique store a while back.
There were three separate pieces, on cores (not reels). They turned out to be a reel
of 16mm sprocket-feed magnetic tape (something that cchan8 and number_12
will recognize), and two reels of film. One reel was blank, but had the soundtrack, the other contained
the film (with dual sprocket feed, which makes sound projectors produce a horrible noise). I have no way
of knowing if they ever got combined into a finished reel with sound.

The film itself (the full title is "Finger Exercise #2: A Story From Three Unrelated Photographs")
consists of an exploration of the three aforementioned photographs (credited to
"Ebward Steichen" [sic]),
revealing a man with a scary expression holding a knife, and a worried looking woman who fades out
to dramatic music. Filmed by Paul Shoenfield (whose name appears, with a variety of spellings, on
both film reels' headers and footers). The photo reel appears to be the original, as the credits are
spliced on.

To show it, I threaded the picture reel into a projector with a silent mode, and the sound reel
into a projector aimed off to the side and started then together. It actually worked fairly well
(the synchronization wasn't very demanding).

I'm rather curious about this odd little film -- the oddly-spelled, hand-pencilled credits, the
fancy magnetic-to-film sound transfer, the spooky music. I'm tempted to assemble the
picture and sound into a little QuickTime movie so other people can easily view it.

The whole thing went pretty well, I was able to keep the projectors running and stealthily
deal with the inevitable problems of old film and old projectors, only interrupting the
show once when I had misthreaded one film on the wrong side of the sound guide and
didn't realize it until it was time to run that projector. The audience seemed to really
enjoy the material and the presentation. It's just not that often that people get to hear
the clatter of 16mm projectors any more.


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