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Showmanship is an art something like magic and something like engineering.


Curtains are both practical and beautiful. On a practical level, they exist to protect the screen from dirt and dust when movies are not being shown, and on a more ethereal level, they provide a barrier between the world we live in and the new and exciting world we, as an audience are about to see. It is widely (though not universally) thought that the projectionist should never show his or her audience a white screen, and a curtain helps with this.

Many projectionists like to start and end a show "on the curtains." This means that the projector dowser is opened at the same time you hit open on your curtain control, and the film's studio logo or opening credits project onto the curtains as they open, creating a beautiful ripple effect. There is actual evidence that this is a "correct" procedure: when Twentieth Century Fox began releasing films in CinemaScope, their logo was extended so that there was enough time for curtains to open fully over the wider image (the pre-CinemaScope Fox logo runs about 10 seconds, the 'Scope logo is about 20). At the end of a show, curtains are closed over the Studio Logo (or whatever the last "card" is, such as the MPAA blue band card).

It's important to get to know your curtains. Do they take a very long time to open or close? Does the mix of your mustard yellow curtains and an MPAA blue band create a vomit colored green? If so, you may want to rethink your technique. When inspecting a film, be sure to note the first and last image, as well as any quirks, such as a little snippet or blooper after the closing credits. You don't want to embarrass yourself by closing the credits before the movie is actually over!

Premature curtains: this projectionist closed the curtains before the MPAA blue band appeared. Perhaps whoever inspected the print forgot to note the last image. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=3C5196Ymdpo#t=88

  • Lighting + adequate darkness
  • Exit signage
  • Sound insulation

Special Considerations for Special Settings

  • Microcinemas
  • Outdoor screenings
  • Temporary installations