Public Works Productions

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Technical Requirements of ‘Expanded Cinema’

Show information

General description

Conceptual overview


Technical requirements

Screening diagram

Setup examples

Projector distances

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Show reviews

The Chicago Reader

at the Empty Bottle

at the ATA Gallery

at Illinois State U


THE PERFORMANCE Good Times makes use of stereophonic digital audio and motion picture projection in a specific configuration which we call ‘expanded cinema’. Using relatively modest and even ‘obsolete’ technical means, ‘expanded cinema’ delivers a wide screen panorama of moving images and sounds, more than the sum of its parts.

Good Times, as well as all our ‘expanded cinema’ works, has the following technical requirements:

Gross Technical Requirements

An auditorium, screening room, or large meeting room with a suitable projection surface (a screen is preferable, though in many cases, a blank white wall will suffice). ‘Suitable’ for our purposes means that we can arrange three motion picture images side by side across the surface without (or with minimal) overlap.

A two-channel (stereo) sound amplification system appropriate to the space where the presentation will be given.

Electrical feeds in US-standard 110/60Hz sufficient to operate two 16mm motion projectors of 750w each, as well as (in Europe only) electrical feed in EU-standard 220/50Hz for a third projector and additional equipment. (The projectors are specialized and we will provide them.)

A long table perhaps 2m (6ft) long and perhaps 1m (3ft) high to be placed in the back of the room, opposite the screening surface, for the placement of our projectors. Note: If the floor of the space is flat, then the table may need to be placed on a riser, or the projectors somehow raised to project over the audience’s heads.

A DVD player and a video projector are used to provide opening and closing credits to the show, and provide an “intermezzo” for the break. It is strongly encouraged, but if none is available, we can do the show without titles, in which case, we will require the use of a CD player.

Technical Details

We cue the film from the audio; therefore the cd player has to be located on the projector table. This means an audio feed has to run from the projector table to the amplification system.

In some auditoriums, the screen isn’t large enough to accommodate three side-by-side images. In such circumstances, we have usually found it feasible to project from somewhere in the middle of the auditorium, and among the audience, by working out some form of platform placed over a row of seats. In this case, it is usually necessary to reserve one, if not two, rows of seats for the projection equipment.

The audio is two channels (stereo). A monaural amplification system will not be acceptable. Optimal for the screening of Good Times would be a sound system that uses a Dolby 5.1 surround decoder.

The room should be quite dark, but not absolutely dark, to allow us to thread projectors in dim light. Lighting systems that can be dimmed, rather than shut off suddenly, are preferable, but not absolutely required.

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