This section gives a step by step guide in how to project a film. It covers all areas from the moment you first walk into the room, until you leave at the end of the film, including making the next film up and the previous film down. First, an overview of the evening:

The Schedule

This schedule is presented as if only the projectionist is present. (It is possible to do.) Usually other people will do some, if not most, of the jobs.

Step 1 - Preparation

Careful preparation will ensure that an evening goes smoothly, and help to keep you calm in a crisis. The Projectionist is responsible for the presentation of the film. This does not mean that you have to do it all yourself, just to ensure that everything is done. Generally the following things will need doing before people can be let into the room:

After this has been done, there is nothing else immediate to do before the film is started, apart from lacing up. Double check that the film is ready to show, check that there are no notes from the Chief Proj. Use this time to prepare the films you will be making up and down - Move their cases into the projection room. This reduces the amount of noise you make during the film. If you have spare time, and feel confident, you could start making down the previous film.

Step 2 - Striking the Bulb

A short but important step. If you have not already done so, switch on the supply at the wall. After checking that the dowser is shut, turn on the power supply main switch, wait for the fans to speed up, and then press the striker button briefly, but firmly. DO NOT JAB AT IT. A short but firm push is all that is required. Switch on the sound bulb.

Step 3 - Lacing the Projector and Setting Tensions

When the projector has been warmed up for ten minutes or so, it is time to lace up the film. Getting lacing right takes some practice and experience, so don't worry if it does not seem to go to plan the first time!
The Film Path

You should note the path over the various sprockets, and the gaps that are to be left. Procedure:
  1. With the bulb lit, rotate the motor spindle at the front of the projector anti-clockwise until you can see bright light just at the top of the gate house. Never turn it clockwise by more than a fraction, or you could cause the mechanism to jam.
  2. Open the gate and thread the film onto the intermittent sprocket, ensuring that the soundtrack is on the side closest to you. You are aiming to get a frame in the centre of the hole in the mask.
  3. Shut the gate, holding the film onto the intermittent sprocket with one hand, and the film tight against the roller at the top of the gate with the other.
  4. Check the film is in the right position by lifting up the automatic dowser with the bar above the gate house. Adjust if necessary Note: If it is not quite right, but very close, you can adjust the film without opening the gate by using the racking control. Keep the film tight at the top of the gate while adjusting.
  5. WIND THE PROJECTOR ON!! Until the intermittent sprocket is just about to move.
  6. Lace the rest of the projector according to Figure 5 above working away from the gate house.
  7. Wind the projector on a few frames to ensure that nothing is caught.
  8. Set the Film tension on the spool tower.
Refer to the equipment section for information about how to set the tensions and operating the spool tower.

Step 4 - Starting the Film

There are several things that have to be done in a short space of time to start the projector smoothly, and to appear professional to the audience. They do not have to be rushed, there is time, but this is the one part that needs practice to get correctly. Before starting, make everyone, apart from you and your helper (another projectionist), leave the room, and switch off all the lights. Check that the doors are closed, and the house manager is ready to start. Take a deep breath.
  1. Check the control dial is set to 'start'.
  2. Start the projector.
  3. Check film is rolling smoothly, then turn control dial from 'start' to 'run'
  4. Lower the sound level to zero, press mute, then raise it up to 6.
  5. Wait for your assistant to tell you when the marks start to come over. They are in the order RED, GREEN, WHITE, two seconds apart, with the white marker just before the film starts.
  6. When the WHITE marker has passed through the gate and out the other side, open the dowser then focus and then rack the picture. Make sure your hand does not go in front of the lens.
  7. After the 'No smoking' film has passed through, press the 'Dolby A' button on the sound controls.
  8. Check sound in the auditorium is OK.
  9. Adjust sound if necessary.
  10. Done.
As you can see, it is quite a lot to do in the first minute or so of the film, but with practice, it will come naturally.

CinemaScope Films

A special note for films shown in 'Scope. Along with the normal lens, a special lens, called an anamorphic lens, is used to remove the distortion mentioned in section 2.2. This lens is the large object on top of the motor at the front or the projector. When showing films in 'Scope, the lens should be raised before the film is started, and secured in place with the catch. The control dial on top of the lens should be set to 1:1.33. The film is then started in the normal way. After the end of the trailers and advertisements, and just before the film certificate you should shut the dowser, and turn the dial on top of the anamorphic lens fully clockwise, so it reads 1:2.2, then opening the dowser again. This has to be done quickly. When the picture starts properly, you will have to adjust this control again, as fully clockwise is just a little too much, and the picture will be just off the edge of the screen. Adjust the control slightly, until the picture is not spilling off the edge of the screen.

Step 5 - Making Down

Refer to the equipment section for information about how operate the spool tower.

Film Reels Head Out or Tail Out
Head Out film is where a reel has the start (or head) of the film on the outside.
Tail Out (sometimes called Foot Out) film is where a reel has the end (or tail) of the film on the outside.
On the Spool tower, Head Out reels are always put on the top, and Tail Out on the bottom.
This is because we play from top to bottom, so when the film starts, we want the Head (start) of the film on the outside, whereas when the film is finished, the Tail (end) of the film is on the outside, it being the last bit of film shown.
This may all seem simple, but it is very easy to become confused by it.
When the film has been safely started, or indeed before the film if you have time, it is time to make down the previous night's film. As mentioned in section 2.2 film is transported in reels of twenty minutes or so, and these need to be made up into a large reel so that we can show them on our projector. These then need to be made down again, so they can be sent back.

The film should be ready to be made down, and will usually (but not always) be head out.
So: Making Down, if the film is Head Out, reel 1 is on the outside, so you need to start with reel 1, and work down to the last reel. If the film is Tail Out, you need to start with the last reel and work back towards the start. Procedure:

  1. Assuming the film is Head Out, open the box marked reel 1, and take out the head and tail.
  2. Attach the head to the start of the reel. If Tail out, attach the Tail (or footer) to the loose end of the film.
  3. Check that the frames on the header (or footer) match the film.
  4. Attach the loose end of the film to a core on a split reel and fix to the bottom spindle of the tower. (Top spindle if the film is tail out). Check that the spool nut is fixed tightly.
  5. Wind the film onto the split reel, making sure that you are not being too noisy.
  6. Stop at the mark at the end of the reel (marked with the yellow chinagraph) and detach the next reel at the splice.
  7. Attach the footer to the end of the reel you have just taken off, checking that the frame on the end of the reel matches that on the end of the footer.
  8. Place reel in its box and continue with 1 for the next reel.
  9. Remember that the last reel will only have a header, as the tail will still be attached to the film.

Step 6 - Making Up

Making up is the reverse of making down. The reels have to be taken out of their boxes, and spliced together in the correct order, making sure that the sound track is the correct way around on the tower (always nearest the spool tower). Check each reel in turn, looking to see if they are head out, or tail out. This is marked on the start of the film. For a head out film (all reels are head out), put the large spool onto the bottom spindle of the spool tower, and start with the first reel on the top of the tower. For a foot out film, (all reels are foot out), put the large spool on the top of the tower, and start with the last reel.

Step 7 - Ending the Film and Clearing Up

When the credits start going through the projector at the end of the film, put the house lights up enough so they are at the lowest setting, without flickering.
  • Clear up the projection box, putting all rubbish into the bin. Pay special attention to any loose bits of film and tape that you might have left around.
  • To encourage people to leave, gradually raise the house lights.
  • When the last of the film has gone through the projector, MUTE SOUND and stop the projector.
  • Run round, and turn the spool tower motors off.
  • Extinguish the bulb by turning the power off and on again immediately! This is very important. Make a note of the bulb time in the projector log book.
  • Start the film rewinding. (Remember to keep an eye on it!)
  • Raise the screen.
  • Take out the gate and mask, and remove all traces of chinagraph with a cloth. Wipe down the projector, being careful not to touch any of the optical components of the sound head.
  • Replace the lens in the cupboard.
  • Pack speakers away, and put away blacking.
  • After the bulb is cool (about 10 minutes), turn off the power supply, and power to the rest of the equipment.
  • Fill in all sections of the making up and down book and the log book. IMPORTANT!

That's it!