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70mm Film Finally Makes The Big Time

Todd-AO featured a deeply curved screen and stereophonic sound quite similar to Cinerama, which had inspired it. In order to make it possible to install Todd-AO with far less architectural modification than Cinerama required, a series of specially rectified prints were possible which allowed for projection from the theatre's normally high projection booth without the expected distortions.

Illustration 1, at left, shows what the image would look like from the center of the theatre if a normal print was projected onto the curved screen by a projector located significantly higher than the screen centerline. Cinerama required that all three booths be located in direct line with the curved screen.

Illustration 2 shows the type of rectification that could be made when producing the prints. Whether or not the optics required for the rectification process yielded an image quality on a par with an unrectified print is unknown.

Illustration 3 shows how the rectified print would appear, (hopefully) without distortion

Sample of 65mm footage shot at the American Optical facility in Massachusetts. The film was a test of the new optical printer that rectified the image for curved screen projection from a high booth. The curvature in this print is less than those shown below. There was provision for several different settings to accommodate the requirements of different theatres.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Hauerslev
Rectified (and severely faded) frames from Oklahoma! (65mm)
and Around the World in 80 Days (70mm)
Courtesy of Thomas Hauerslev
(see our Links Page for Thomas' 70mm web sites)

This is from a rectified 70mm print of Oklahoma!with magnetic stripes.
Filing projector aperture plates must have been very, very tricky.
Film Courtesy of Matt Lutthans

Brian O'Brien Todd-AO Patent Application

Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the ingredients felt necessary to help Todd-AO gain acceptance and provide a sure fire hit for the premiere production. Ultimately the process would be used predominantly for high budget musicals, with Rodgers & Hammerstein being responsible for three of them.

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Martin Hart, Curator