Using platters (Neil Thompson)

Neil Thompson interviewed by Richard Wallace

Projectionist Neil Thompson describes the process of using a platter (cake stand) projection system.

Clip

Show Transcript
When you used to get the films in at the Odeon there, again used to come and in the transit cases. Five, six, or seven or eight parts. And used to make them up onto a split spool, again on a bobbin. And then you used to put the 6,000 foot of film horizontally onto a little table, and from the table you used to run it onto the platter. But, of course, what you used to do was you’d put a leader on the beginning and you’d put the ads and trailers on ‘cause that's how we used to work. Used to put the ads and trailers on there and then join the feature to it you see. And you put all the parts on, but you put them all head out because you’re working from the middle not from the end. And you ran all your show onto a ring and once it was all on the platter you used to pull the ring out in the middle, and in the middle of the plate you had a feeder unit. Some people used to call it the brain, I don’t know why, but we just called it, well it’s the platter feed unit. You always started from the middle and as you pulled it you went over the rollers on the wall to the machine at the other end. And you pulled it until you got to the countdown leader, say about maybe nine, you laced it up and then you brought it back onto another plate where there was another ring and the ring used to take up the film. Once the machine started, this plate used to revolve. As I say, it started off, ‘cause it was all interlinked with the projector. As soon as you started that the feed would start and the take-up would start. And the take-up was controlled by an arm, so if the arm was right across like that the take up would be quick but as the film increased the arm would go towards the column, it would go slower because, of course, there’s more film being taken up. And that's how it worked, it was quite an ingenious piece of equipment. When you saw it working, when people used to come in and see it… I remember when we opened people used to come in and they were just astounded. They said, “What’s this? ‘Cause we thought you was still working on reels.” I said, “Oh no, this is what you call the non-rewind system.” Because once the film had taken up on the bottom… say you started on the top, and it was feeding from the top of the projector onto the bottom, taking up on the bottom, once it finished on the bottom you just pulled the ring out again and you started again so you didn’t have to rewind it. You see all that had gone. But, of course, what you had to do as well because you’d made it up on the plate with your ads and your trailers and your feature all together, when you’d finished with it, you went from that plate onto the make-up table then used to put the film onto a bobbin and you had markings to where each part was. Used to mark it so you knew how far you had to go, and then once you got that you snapped it and put the leader back on and put that back in the tin. That's how it worked. And you had to do that on a Thursday night when you’d finished so there was two of you on a Thursday night. Say, the guy would be upstairs doing that one, while you would be downstairs doing this one. And sometimes you’d be there to like one o’clock in the morning plating off these films because they’d be picked up in the morning, they’d be picking up, say, it might have had to go to another cinema. Or there were times when we had to move the film off which, again, was another headache. I mean at first we had to put them on a big board which was about, you know, five foot square. Used to have to pull the ring out so far, but not right out, so it would slide onto a board and then two of you would have to carry it to another screen. But it was quite heavy ‘cause you had about 12,000 feet of film in your hand and you had to carry it somewhere. And, of course, the rings were made of like a reinforced plastic but that doesn’t mean to say that they wouldn’t break, because when you got hold of it and you let it go you could feel it sagging. ‘Cause there was once or twice I got hold of a one, after I’d carried it and, you know, put it against the wall and I could see the ring, instead of it being sort of like round it would be starting to go oval shape and I’d be thinking, “That’s gonna break!” So you better get it off and get it on a board because if it broke and the film went like that, that was it. You were in trouble, you were in ghastly trouble.

Title

Using platters (Neil Thompson)

Subject

Description

Projectionist Neil Thompson describes the process of using a platter (cake stand) projection system.

Source

Interview with Neil Thompson

Publisher

The University of Warwick

Date

29/12/2015

Format

.mp3

Language

English

Type

Sound recording
interview extract

Coverage

1980-2014

Interviewer

Richard Wallace

Interviewee

Neil Thompson

Date of Interview

11/11/2014

Location

Gateshead

Transcription

When you used to get the films in at the Odeon there, again used to come and in the transit cases. Five, six, or seven or eight parts. And used to make them up onto a split spool, again on a bobbin. And then you used to put the 6,000 foot of film horizontally onto a little table, and from the table you used to run it onto the platter. But, of course, what you used to do was you’d put a leader on the beginning and you’d put the ads and trailers on ‘cause that's how we used to work. Used to put the ads and trailers on there and then join the feature to it you see. And you put all the parts on, but you put them all head out because you’re working from the middle not from the end. And you ran all your show onto a ring and once it was all on the platter you used to pull the ring out in the middle, and in the middle of the plate you had a feeder unit. Some people used to call it the brain, I don’t know why, but we just called it, well it’s the platter feed unit. You always started from the middle and as you pulled it you went over the rollers on the wall to the machine at the other end. And you pulled it until you got to the countdown leader, say about maybe nine, you laced it up and then you brought it back onto another plate where there was another ring and the ring used to take up the film. Once the machine started, this plate used to revolve. As I say, it started off, ‘cause it was all interlinked with the projector. As soon as you started that the feed would start and the take-up would start. And the take-up was controlled by an arm, so if the arm was right across like that the take up would be quick but as the film increased the arm would go towards the column, it would go slower because, of course, there’s more film being taken up. And that's how it worked, it was quite an ingenious piece of equipment. When you saw it working, when people used to come in and see it… I remember when we opened people used to come in and they were just astounded. They said, “What’s this? ‘Cause we thought you was still working on reels.” I said, “Oh no, this is what you call the non-rewind system.” Because once the film had taken up on the bottom… say you started on the top, and it was feeding from the top of the projector onto the bottom, taking up on the bottom, once it finished on the bottom you just pulled the ring out again and you started again so you didn’t have to rewind it. You see all that had gone. But, of course, what you had to do as well because you’d made it up on the plate with your ads and your trailers and your feature all together, when you’d finished with it, you went from that plate onto the make-up table then used to put the film onto a bobbin and you had markings to where each part was. Used to mark it so you knew how far you had to go, and then once you got that you snapped it and put the leader back on and put that back in the tin. That's how it worked. And you had to do that on a Thursday night when you’d finished so there was two of you on a Thursday night. Say, the guy would be upstairs doing that one, while you would be downstairs doing this one. And sometimes you’d be there to like one o’clock in the morning plating off these films because they’d be picked up in the morning, they’d be picking up, say, it might have had to go to another cinema. Or there were times when we had to move the film off which, again, was another headache. I mean at first we had to put them on a big board which was about, you know, five foot square. Used to have to pull the ring out so far, but not right out, so it would slide onto a board and then two of you would have to carry it to another screen. But it was quite heavy ‘cause you had about 12,000 feet of film in your hand and you had to carry it somewhere. And, of course, the rings were made of like a reinforced plastic but that doesn’t mean to say that they wouldn’t break, because when you got hold of it and you let it go you could feel it sagging. ‘Cause there was once or twice I got hold of a one, after I’d carried it and, you know, put it against the wall and I could see the ring, instead of it being sort of like round it would be starting to go oval shape and I’d be thinking, “That’s gonna break!” So you better get it off and get it on a board because if it broke and the film went like that, that was it. You were in trouble, you were in ghastly trouble.

Original Format

One-to-one interview

Duration

00:03:57

Bit Rate/Frequency

320kbps

Cinema

Odeon Newcastle upon Tyne, Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne
Empire Cinema, The Gate, Newgate Street, Newcastle upon Tyne

Citation

The Projection Project, “Using platters (Neil Thompson),” Projection Project, accessed May 22, 2019, https://projectionproject.warwick.ac.uk/items/show/443.

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