Ave Atque Vale: Let’s hear it for skilled projectionists as they pass into history
It is probably fair to say that most moviegoers never think too much about film projection (unless something goes wrong during a showing) or about the generations of the skilled technicians that have kept us entertained with little or no recognition. From the earliest days of the movies, getting the show on the screen used to be a craft that required skill and training and incredible adaptability, and in the days of nitrate film, the willingness to work in in a hazardous environment.
Two New York projectionists, Joe Rivierzo and Jose Ramos recently reflected, with anecdotes, on the decline of their profession in a recent fascinating article that appeared at Slate.com by Grady Hendrix. The piece traces the decline of the need for skilled projectionists as changes in technology and other factors are eliminating a position that was once was absolutely essential to a quality cinema experience.
“Digital will eliminate us completely,” Rivierzo says. “All you have to do is load it and play it, and a lot of this stuff can be done off-site. We have theaters now running with 35 percent of the house digital. Once they go over 51 percent running digital, and they run it that way for 90 consecutive days, they can eliminate the presence of a projectionist. Our only saving grace is they can’t manufacture these digital machines fast enough.”
You can read the whole article here in the Slate.