The Theaterama


Theaterama Scene
encircling vistas of the Empire State put viewers right "in" the action

Circular Theaterama building in which Coleman-produced 360-degree film is shown. Examples of "pop" art are used around outside walls.
Theaterama Building




ONE OF THE MOST novel and successful films being shown at the Fair is A-Round New York, a 14-minute theaterama 360-degree production being presented in the New York State Pavilion.

Produced by Coleman Productions, Inc., the film treats viewers to a whirlwind tour of the state, highlighting significant scenic, industrial, cultural and entertainment centers. The feeling of presence experienced in the 360-degree film is extraordinary.

A New 360-Degree Approach

This process differs from earlier attempts at reproducing a total 360-degree field of view in several substantial areas. Most significant, it utilizes 35mm film, rather than the previous 16mm, which permits a projected image of sufficient dimensions to do justice to total all-encircling panorama.

Sketch of New York State "Theaterama" building shows how the six 35mm Norelco Pulse-Lite projectors cover equal number of 20 x 42-foot screens, encircling viewers who stand in center on marble floor.
Projection Scheme

Additionally, because the Mitchell Mark II cameras are equipped with identically-matched anamorphic lenses, only six cameras are required to complete the 360 degree horizontal coverage, rather than the 10 or 11 cameras required by other processes. This advantage is immediately obvious. The biggest obstacle to be overcome in multiple projection is edge-matching. By using only six units, the number of edges to be matched is reduced by nearly half.

Special System Was Built

In order to more adequately fulfill his conception of Theaterama, Harry L. Coleman, president of Coleman Productions, Inc., commissioned the Cinerama Camera Corporation, of Hollywood, to design and construct a multiple camera system to certain of his own specifications.

The result of their combined efforts is the 60-pound camera set-up approximating the shape of a cylinder -- 48 inches high by 52 inches in diameter, including 1000-foot magazines.

The six Mark II's are mounted vertically on a pedestal, shooting up into a turret of six front-surface mirrors, arranged to present a 45 degree surface to each lens. Without this feature, the cameras would necessarily be mounted horizontally, shooting outward like spokes of a wheel.

In the latter arrangement, the edges of the angle of view originating at the nodal point of each individual lens could not possibly correspond. Thus, at close range, a subject passing from the field of view of one camera to that of another would be lost from sight during that interval.

Avoiding the Loss of Field

By establishing an effective nodal point for all cameras (hypothetically dead center of the system) and reflecting the field accepted at this common point into each individual lens, there is no loss of field at any distance from the lens, from minimum to infinity. This is the value and necessity of the optically-correct, perfectly-aligned turret of mirrors.

Source: BUSINESS SCREEN MAGAZINE Presented courtesy Eric Paddon Collection

Reducing the number of cameras, thereby providing more uninterrupted screen in projecting 360-degrees, created optical problems which challenged the best engineering minds in the business. Since each of the six cameras must accept a full 60 degrees of horizontal coverage, a lens with a focal length of not more than 40mm is required. A 40mm lens could not accept the necessary anamorphic addition without vignetting.
View of the New York State area with Theaterama ticket booth in fore-ground. A modest 25c admission is charged for the 12-minute picture.
Theaterama Ticket Booth

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