In mid-October, I’d been in Yorkshire, England giving a seminar entitled, “Introduction to Widescreen” before student filmmakers and guests of the British Kinematograph, Sound and Television Society (“BKSTS”) at the National Media Museum. I guess I’m one of the people capable of giving this seminar as in addition to being a career long film archivist, I’ve been a producer on the digital restoration of ten Cinerama-process triptych motion pictures as well as having produced a documentary on that very format some years ago.
Imagine my surprise and/or simultaneous resignation to the fact that I could show up at this year’s AMIA conference and attend a panel presentation on “Magnascope: Researching & Recreating Early Widescreen Cinema“. That may sound arcane to some, but here were three film curators, writers and historians going into macro depth on something I’d flown over just weeks earlier. Oh, I’d mentioned Magnascope’s advent in the mid-1920’s, its erratic image magnification application among film exhibitors, and its large grain shortfall, but I’d also even mentioned the film version of Magnascope, known as “Magnafilm” and even Magnifilm. I thought I’d included the kitchen sink. But this AMIA panel delved into this early widescreen formats longevity and widespread use, which helped me understand another contributor to the eventual appetite for and appeal of Cinerama. Fascinating.
AMIA always reminds me there’s more to learn in our field, and this is the best lyceum in which to learn it. To those ends I was glad to see several new first-time AMIA attendees from PRO-TEK at the Pittsburgh conference.