The Film


 

PORT AUTHORITY THEATER

ride aloft with cameramen for an exciting new look around New York's vast waterfront

THE TOWERING PILLARS of the Heliport at the Fair, operated by Port of New York Authority, shelter the 195-foot circumference of a circular theater in which another spectacular 360-degree color film surrounds the audience with the Port-sponsored film, From Every Horizon.

This 12-minute "stereo" picture, produced by Fred A. Niles Communications Centers, rides above and around the far-flung facilities of this great port, shows its bridges and tunnels as they funnel millions of people back and forth from suburbia to the working canyons of Manhattan each day. It takes viewers aloft in its many helicopter-shot sequences to show how the Port's international trade operations -- docks and airports -- play such an important part in the commerce of the area.

Beneath this Port Authority Heliport is the circular theater in which Fairgoers see "From Every Horizon," a 360-degree look at the Port.
Helicopter Lands at PA Building

Niles' crews produced the film with a specially-designed rig of 10 Arriflex 16mm cameras, matching their "takes" to the ultimate 10-screen projection setup which envelopes viewers in the circular "stand-up" theater (see sketch below). The camera setup was trundled all over the Port area by special vehicle and, most notably, taken aloft by helicopter to give the Fair viewers some very exciting moments as the whole viewing area and tilting horizon make him feel part of the action.

Projection is via a "pod" suspended in the center of the theater's ceiling. In this booth, 10 Eastman Kodak Model 25 16mm sound projectors were setup by William Ralke for synchronous operation. Each has a 36-degree field of view to cover its section of the 10 screen panels which encircle the auditorium.

Narration has a "stereo" effect as voices come from the "Jersey" side of the Hudson River seen on the screen and, again, from the New York side, thus emphasizing the bi-state nature of the Port Authority to the audience.

Left: Sketch of the 10-screen theater. Right: Many of the scenes in "From Every Horizon" were lensed by Niles' crews from helicopters; our picture caught only three of ten screens which enfold viewers, to show one of bridges along New York waterfront.

Sketch and 3 Screens 

Source: BUSINESS SCREEN MAGAZINE Presented courtesy Eric Paddon Collection

Port Authority picture is shown in this circular theater beneath the Heliport (background); there is no admission charge to this program.

Circular Theater

The Port's "Theater 360" is now drawing good audiences at nearly all performances as this entrance shot of a typical waiting line proves.

Theatre Entrance


A special rig of 10 16mm Arriflex motion picture cameras filmed 360° movie now showing at World's Fair.

Camera Rig Mounted on Truck

Ten Kodak Model 25 projectors are used to present the movie. They are suspended from the theater's ceiling.

Interior of Projector Pod in Theater

The Port Authority's
Widest-Screen Movie

You can't get any wider than 360 degrees of wrap-around projection surface on which is seen this World's Fair film.

The Port of New York Authority's piece de resistance at the Fair is a wide-screen movie. In fact, you can't get any wider than the 360 degrees of wrap-around projection surface on which is seen "From Every Horizon."

This 13-minute sound and color film gives viewers the feeling of "going along" on a trip around the New York-New Jersey port. It is beamed by 10 projectors on a screen 13 1/2 feet high and 195 feet around in a 60-foot-diameter theater in the Port of New York-New Jersey Exhibit Building.

The motion picture is being given continuous performances to audiences of up to 400 standees -- and we don't mean people left over after all the seats are taken. There are no seats in the Port Authority theater, since standing is the only comfortable way to look at a screen that completely surrounds the viewer. The screen is about seven feet off the floor, and people wander about looking at various aspects of the scenes.

The special projection equipment was developed by the Ralke Company of Los Angeles. it is housed in a pod hung from the ceiling, so that there is no center obstruction.

Source: Industrial Photography, Volume 13 No. 5, May 1964

Obviously, such a production presented problems beyond those associated with a conventional film. The producers, Fred A. Niles Communications Centers, had to "think circles" instead of rectangles in their staging, and come up with a camera that would shoot the same way.

For help in solving the latter problem, they called on a fellow Chicago organization, Behrend's, Inc, motion picture equipment specialists. Between them, they came up with an $80,000 camera rig with "eyes in the back of its head" and which "does it with mirrors."

The 800-pound rig, 40 inches high and 40 inches in diameter, consists of 10 16mm Arriflex cameras mounted on a circular metal frame so that their lenses point not outwards but rather upwards into 10 circularly aligned mirrors canted at a 45-degree angle -- somewhat the principle of a periscope.

The problems that had to be overcome in building the camera were enormous. All 10 cameras had to run in perfect synchronization with one another, which meant that all shutters had to continuously open and close at the same instant.

Further, theoretically, the only way a 360-degree film can be made to show objects moving smoothly at three feet as well as at infinity is to have all 10 lenses molded together at one central point, the nodal point. Since this is physically impossible, that's where the mirrors came in. The mirrors are used to "fold" the light. This makes it possible for all 10 lenses to have one nodal point, yet be in different positions.

The mirrors had to be adjusted precisely to avoid a horizontal staggering effect when the 10 images are projected. Any misalignment would be magnified tens of thousands of times on the 13 1/2-foot-high screen.

Close Tolerances

For the same reason, the cameras had to be positioned on the rig at tolerances within .00025 of an inch. These tolerances had to be maintained even though the cameras had to be periodically removed from the rig to unload and load the 400-foot film magazines -- with no time for adjustments when they were snapped back on -- and even though they received considerable knocking about. The script called for the camera to be mounted on a barge, a truck and a helicopter and under the belly of a jet plane taking off. For another scene, it teetered atop the George Washington Bridge.

Automatic Cutoff

The rig is designed so that if something goes wrong with one of the cameras, an electronic signal is sent to a control box, which automatically shuts off the entire rig. A light on the box indicates which camera is the culprit. All in all, it's quite a unit.


Source: Arriflex Advertisement, Industrial Photography, Volume 13 No. 5, May 1964

Above: Camera rig is mounted to helicopter. Top Right: Filming over the Hudson River. Right: Close-up of Arriflex Camera Rig.
Camera Mounted to Helicopter

ARRIFLEX® goes 360° panoramic
for New York Port Authority World's Fair Film

Filming over the Hudson

 

Camera Rig

Shooting from helicopters, rafts on the Hudson River, atop the George Washington Bridge -- even from underneath a jet plane -- cameramen of Fred A. Niles Communications Centers, Inc., completed a most unique motion picture, the 360° ultra-spectacular panorama for the Port of New York Authority's exhibit at the World's Fair! Designed to be shown on a complete circle screen, the 12-minute film dramatically emphasizes how PA transportation facilities serve 14,000,000 people in the New York Metropolitan area.

Behrend's Inc., Chicago motion picture equipment specialists -- with the aid of Niles technicians -- engineered a suitable "camera" for the stupendous project. They mounted 10 Arriflex 16M's (equipped with 400-ft. magazines) on a rigid steel frame, with each camera precisely set to shoot up into one of

10 circularly arranged mirrors. Problems of holding to .0025-inch camera-position tolerance, exact phasing, intricate image-angles, optical exactitude and parallax correction -- to name but a few -- were ingeniously solved.

A gear-interlock mechanism connected all the drive shafts of the 10 Arriflexes for identical 24 fps operation. Of special significance in the selection of the Arriflex "M" are its gear-driven magazine system, register pin film movement, small size and weight, combined with its high adaptability and absolute reliability.

In this imaginative and demanding motion picture assignment, Arriflex again proved its versatility as an instrument of almost limitless capability. It will answer your filming needs as well.

 

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