Bringing the Cinerama Dome Into Focus
Re “Big Screen Furor-Rama in Hollywood,” Feb. 19: As one of the “film industry professionals and serious movie buffs” (former film editor and screenwriter, current film history professor) The Times mentions as being engaged in the Cinerama Dome renovation controversy, I come down rectangularly on the side of those favoring some variation on a flat or louvered screen as opposed to the planned solid-sheet curved screen. The latter will almost certainly create distortion and other technical problems unbefitting any major theater, but especially one aspiring to the experiential uniqueness and technological excellence of the Cinerama Dome. “Cutting-edge” should not mean cutting corners.
As a film editor who has spent countless hours enjoying films at the Cinerama Dome, I am thrilled that its restoration is approaching completion. But I am chagrined over Pacific Theatres’ reluctance to address and correct the inherent focus problems that have long plagued the venue. Even with a brighter lamp-house, a nonlenticular “smooth sheet” screen may display even more focus reflectance than previous screens, resulting in an image that seems more washed out and less defined.
Additionally, by failing to lower the center projection booth, the image distortion (or keystoning) that has always plagued the Dome will most likely continue. In the article, no representatives of Pacific Theatres ever stated that they had come up with an alternate approach to rectify this. So how exactly is precise focus to be achieved?
It is a tried and proven fact in motion picture projection that a louvered movie screen is required to minimize fogging from cross reflection when projecting Cinerama and other film formats on a deep-curved screen. What a regretful situation that Los Angeles moviegoers will experience a compromised presentation should a solid screen be used at the renovated Cinerama Dome.
Solid sound screens vibrate profusely with high-powered subwoofer systems behind them. A louvered screen would vibrate less, as the space between the louvers will remove resistance to the sound. The louvered screen material is also perforated to let the sound through with minimal vibration.
Recently, the Cinerama in Seattle and the Bradford Museum of Film (United Kingdom) have successfully used louvered screens for Cinerama and other film presentations, all with high-powered sound systems.