Comments from PeterD

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PeterD commented about York Theatres 1 & 2 on Mar 30, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Hollywood South was a good auditorium. North…not so much. The Hyland downstairs had a negative projection angle (sort of like a drive-in) and a very wide screen. I usually sat about 4 or 5 rows in front of the booth left of the aisle. I must have seen ET there a half-dozen times including opening night. I still remember lines for that going down the side alley and ‘round the back. Was a nice booth to work, too, though I didn’t like upstairs as much.

PeterD commented about York Theatres 1 & 2 on Mar 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Much as the York had good sound its picture was too small for my liking. Sound systems were calibrated 2/3 the way back and just off center at the time and if you were seated in the sweet-spot your field of view went beyond the masking on both sides. I found that quite off-putting and I preferred to see films elsewhere as a result. For anything in the Canadian Odeon chain (later C-O) I usually preferred the Hyland downstairs or Fairview #1, 2 or 6. For FP, it was obviously the Eglinton or Uptown 1.

PeterD commented about York Theatres 1 & 2 on Mar 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Yes, it was a strong union for many years; IATSE Local 173 and I was proud to be a member of it for 19 years before taking a withdrawal card. The projectionist upstairs at that time was the local’s president and a really good guy.

Rules were that the projectionist stayed in the booth the whole shift. There was a washroom and a hotplate in there; you left when relieved or at night’s end. It was out of courtesy that we brought his cheque up to him when they were being distributed to the staff.

PeterD commented about Humber Cinema on Nov 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Glad to see another one of my favourite theatres re-opening.

PeterD commented about AMC Loews Wayne 14 on Jul 23, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Just a quick comment to those favoring DLP: Be very careful what you wish for. When properly projected, a good clean 35mm print will put on a far better show than DLP is capable of. However, the problem is getting quality presentation. As a former multiplex projectionist from way back, I can tell you that cutting costs by putting kids in the booth is false economy. Miss a roller or two, get a brainwrap or throw a print and there goes your film advantage in five seconds flat.

If the film path is meticulously cleaned after each show, the gate and trap scoured, sprockets cleaned, etc, you should be able to get 3 to 6 months out of a print. When I ran reel-to-reel is was very common to get a perfect show from a print for over a year. I ran The Last Emporer in 70mm for 10 months and aside from a damaged surround track (thanks to some residual magnetism somewhere in the soundhead), it was perfect quality from beginning to end. These days, if you get 2 weeks out of a print it’s a sodding miracle. Feh.

Will project for food <grin>.

PeterD commented about Atwater Theatre on Jul 23, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Star Wars ran here for at least two years (1977-1978) first downstairs, then up. I remember driving in on my motorcycle from Pointe Claire to see it here more than 35 times! I recall that when they moved the print upstairs the projectionist re-cued it for the automation in that booth, and he applied the changeover tape about 2 seconds too soon, so about two seconds of reel 4 was always cut off (despite my repeated protests, may I add).

PeterD commented about York Theatres 1 & 2 on Jul 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I started in the business as an usher here in summer 1980. Massive sellout crowds for The Blue Lagoon <grin>. One of my duties as an usher was to bring the projectionist his paycheque every week. One day it wasn’t in an envelope. That was the day I decided a career change was in the offing! I later worked there many times as a relief operator. I think the capacity was 751 up and 468 down, but that’s going on almost 30 years worth of memories.

They ran 35/70mm Vic 8’s upstairs and very strange, stripped-down 35mm-only Vic-8s down, both on 6000' reels at the time, a two-man job. When they eliminated the downstairs booth as a separate job they put Drive-In Platters in both. Upstairs was indeed a very good THX installation (Rick Long did wonderful installations for Best Theater Supply), but I don’t think the Uptown ever got THX Certified due to the rumble from the subway underneath—same reason that the Hyland couldn’t be THX’d. Only better THX installation at the time was the Eglinton, which remained the best I’d ever seen up till the end.

PeterD commented about Humber Cinema on Jul 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm

This was always one of my favourite theatres. I worked there as an assistant manager for Canadian Odeon then many more times as a relief projectionist later on in the 80s and 90s. It featured a huge auditorium downstairs and I remember a sweeping staircase down from the main floor, with brass handrails that were polished regularly by the floor staff. And static. LOTS of static zaps! The one thing I remember the most was that I was on duty the day the Blue Jays won their first World Series. I heard Bloor Street erupt while I was sitting in the downstairs booth.

Speaking of which, before it became a one-man theatre, they had two of the most unique booths in Toronto. Downstairs they ran Vic Ten machines (same as the Albion) with 6000' reels and upstairs they had a pair of Gaumont-Kalee GK21’s and 2000' reels. They eventually plattered both booths (Drive-in platter downstairs, IIRC, and a Christie AW-3 up) in later years and eliminated the upstairs operator.

PeterD commented about Capitol Theatre on Jul 23, 2009 at 5:33 pm

This was run by 20th Century theatres and, I believe, booked by Famous Players before Festival took it over. Nice big single. I don’t remember the booth equipment but I seem to remember it having an ORC platter and a Vic-8, but I could be confusing that for the booth at the Regent.

One anecdote that I do remember is “The Gods Must Be Crazy” ran there for well over a year, and I recall running it there on New Year’s Eve. To ONE customer. Who stayed RIGHT through the credits.

PeterD commented about Somerset Theatre on Jul 23, 2009 at 5:25 pm

I remember driving up from Toronto at oh-dark-hundred for a test screening of The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. At the time it was still being run by Canadian Odeon Theatres.

PeterD commented about Cineplex Cinemas Fairview Mall on Jul 23, 2009 at 8:31 am

This was the last projection booth I ever worked, in July of 1999 when it was still a Cineplex-Odeon booth. When my booth at the Showcase closed, they moved the ORC platter and Vic-8 projector into auditorium #1 at Fairview. The picture was huge and stunning. Booths 2-6 were Simplex heads, Balco platters and somewhat-unique CPA-10 automations.

PeterD commented about Skyway 6 Cinemas on Jul 23, 2009 at 8:24 am

I have mixed feelings about working this booth, but the one bright spot, for me, was there was a door to the roof that I could go out and watch airplanes landing on 24-Left. I often brought a scanner with me and when it was slow, or after the matinees were out, I’d go out and enjoy the view. Otherwise I found the equipment there was in poor condition and I had more than my share of breakdowns and a couple of thrown prints. The only other bright-spot here was that it was a Famous Players 6-plex and it paid pretty well at the time.

PeterD commented about Eglinton Theatre on Jul 23, 2009 at 8:10 am

A favourite of mine when I worked as a projectionist and also as a movie-goer. The Eglinton’s magnificent auditorium is somewhat similar to the Zigfeld in New York (where most of NYC’s world premieres occur). Massive screen, and the best THX installation in the city by far.

Before the THX work was done, the booth had the most unique machines in the city – Bauer U2’s. Big old German workhorse 35/70mm projectors that put a picture on the screen and nailed it there. I forget what bulbs they were running (4.5kW @ 150A, IIRC), but the gates needed to be water-cooled, not unlike a drive-in! The few times I worked there it was after the Bauers had gone and, IIRC, were replaced by a pair of 35/70mm Simplex XLs running 6000' reels.

PeterD commented about Eaton Centre Cinemas on Jul 23, 2009 at 7:54 am

To say I hated working this theatre (as a projectionist) would be the understatement of the Century (or Simplex or Cinemeccanica). This was the single most wretched job an operator could get assigned to in the Toronto Local in the 80s and 90s, in my opinion. It was originally 16mm only and ran with non-union operators. King Garth then put in 35mm equipment in throughout. The problem is, many of these abominations masquerading as auditoria were equipped with rear-screen projection equipment, a cobbled-together mini-platter system or MUTT arrangement, and three front-surface mirrors. Did I mention the projectors sat on the floor? Did I mention the rats and mice in the booth?

There were three sections (six regular ops). Front section on the main floor and the three downstairs booths, back-half main floor and second floor. Number 5 was retrofitted with a Cinemeccanica Vic-X (the second machine out of the Humber downstairs when they put a platter in there). Number 5’s booth and the downstairs corridor for 15-16-17 were not bad. When I heard it closed I so wanted to ride a bulldozer through the lobby and personally tear the place to rubble.

PeterD commented about Kingsway Theatre on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:43 pm

The Kingsway was my first-ever job as a projectionist. I worked there “on permit” from 1980 until 83, then after officially becoming a member of Local 173 I offically owned the job until I moved to the Showcase (ex-New Yorker) in 86. Wonderful booth. Stuff that lifelong memories are made of. It was running purely repertory at the time (two different films a night), running 2000 foot reels on Super Simplex heads and Peerless Magnarc Type G lamphouses. The optical stereo sound was home-brewed by the general manager from a Quadraphonic-QS decoder!

When I started off the booth ran with an insanely-loud Motor-Generator for arc power, but was later converted to rectifiers. The Super Simplex heads went out in favor of Century C’s and thanks to a resourceful sound technician, we put Motiograph 35mm Magnetic soundheads in, which I think I ran about 3 or 4 times. I later worked there in the mid-90s after the Showcase closed and I was a relief operator. This is where I saw many of the best movies ever made. There was a real gem in this theatre. A small 20 seat auditorium upstairs that ran 16mm movies, completely separate from the main Kingsway. I forgot what it was called at the time (the Festival?) or the name of the kindly older gentleman who ran it.

Lots of good memories int aht theatre, though. Glad to see it’s no longer dark.

PeterD commented about New Yorker Theatre on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I was the senior projectionist at the Showcase between 1986 and the day it closed in 1991 and by far and away, this was the best booth I ever worked. It was a single with a platter, Vic-8 and CP-200 Sound, fully-manually operated, no automation of any kind. I vividly remember running The Last Emporer in 70mm for almost a year. Can’t say it was a favorite movie of mine, but I got a lot of reading done that year and made a ton of OT!

This was a very odd place to work. You parked down at the back of a side alley, climbed up a steel staircase and walked across the roof by the back of the booth—which was a set into the roof of the theatre. The throw was very short and on about a 15 degree angle, IIRC. We ran mostly art films with low attendance numbers as well as being a key theatre for the Festival every September. We had a number of World Premieres there in my time, too.