Duplex

 

 

THE DUPLEX SYSTEM

(See also Monaco projector)

 

The big question, of course, is whyever did they do it?

     acwduplex5a    acwduplex5b     acwduplex2bacwduplex2d

Even before everything was ready, Pathescope were starting to advertise their new bright idea, as witness the camera in pic 1, about as different from the Lido as you could get. There seems also to have been some question of converting the H camera and maybe others. Pathescope really went overboard in their 1957 catalogue, featuring the Monaco on the front cover.

57cat1     57catlog4     Lido     57cat2    57cat3     57catlog0006a    57catlog0006a 

 Was there a sudden big surge in widescreen either in the cinema itself or in amateur cine, such that Pathescope felt they had to get on board? Had nobody ever had to cope with film that had been wound on a tiny core (like a cassette) and seen what a tangle it got into? Presumably 4.75 was even worse and got irretrievably knotted if you took your eye off it for a second.

They certainly went to great lengths, producing all sorts of detailed drawings. Apologies for quality - some of these are from very poor blueprint-type copies. Would be nice to find other such technical drawings. It struck me when doing the last of these just how closely Kodak were involved, this drawing being apparently based on a Kodak one. Plenty of fuel there for conspiracy theorists. Another theory, rejected by some, is that Duplex was forced on an unwilling Pathescope by their French parent, although the extensive publicity seems to tell against this.

duplex0001a     duplex0003b     duplex0010a     duplex0008     duplex0014a     duplex0015a

I suppose there was some excuse for Pathescope because, after all, 16mm had given rise to Standard 8 and, as the following indicate, various other 16mm schemes had been tried previously, and yet more would come later.  Apologies for quality - always get this with bound volumes or other problems that mean you can't get the page flat on the scanner.

16 x_half0001c     16 x_half0002a     16 x_half0003a

half160001a     half160002a     half160003a

 

Grahame Newnham writes:-

"I have the distinction of having filmed using Duplex a few years ago. The late John Cunningham made the filmstock from 16mm - he also processed it after some filming. I showed the resultant 100ft at Wimborne and later did a talk and demo at Pimlico. It doesn't look very widescreen, but picture quality wasn't bad (and that was with ex-govt B/W stock). It is virtually impossible to edit, splice or even rewind, as it immediately springs into tiny coils. I had to stick the film down either side of the viewer and the same for splicing. (I was able to use a normal 9.5mm editor/viewer, just masking the image to cut the stray light. The CIR splicer worked OK - can't remember but I must have had to cut off surplus tape after joining.) The projector is very complicated junk - the bits that look like sprockets are just plain wheels - one is locked - obviously the drive to it didn't work properly. Amazingly it does form film loops, but the fixed plain wheel must scratch the film. It also has a 500 watt lamp, so if the film sticks it immediately melts! I did fit a QI lamp in the classic-only Monaco but haven't bothered with the Duplex/Monoplex/Classic model I have now. It is just a weird novelty I suppose. When changing the Monaco from Duplex to Classic (or vice versa), if the various items aren't carried out in the correct order the claws get damaged or broken off. The instruction book has pages of details on the change-over. Most of the Monacos were stripped, the Duplex bits removed, one lens mount blanked and then sold off at £45 around 1960 - 1964. Not sure if the very few punters in the UK (less than 60 I think) had a refund or their equipment converted to classic 9.5mm. I think the Duplex film stock (although not listed) was available to order in France up to the late 1950s.

I remember a camera shop in Chichester had the Duplex system on display (1957 I guess?). Doubt it they sold any kit though - at around 80 for the camera and the same for the projector it was rather expensive.

At least the attractive 'Lido' came out of the fiasco. It is rumoured that the idea for double run 9.5mm came out of a boozy dinner in Paris when a Kodak (well Kodak-Pathé in France) bod drinking with Pathé Baby (well,SCI Pathé by then) made a crack about 9.5mm double-run. The Pathé people went home and decided to have a go!!

The other promised camera and projector models were never made as far as I know and the few 'H' cameras converted in the UK were put back to Classic and sold in the usual way. Ken Valentine mentioned that they can be spotted by extra rivet holes blocked on the inside of the door I think. I actually probably still have a couple of the'H' viewfinder Duplex glasses in my spares boxes.Have seen, but don't have, the double ended 'H' chargers intended forDuplex. There was also a Marguet splicer made - never seen one though.

I have an Australian colour Duplex brochure which shows the crappy Pathé Mirage on its side for Duplex, but no French collectors remember seeing a Duplex Mirage, so probably just another of the Pathé sales manager's dreams.

The cost of the Duplex launch in the UK was the finish for Pathescope financially - in 1956 or 1957 they had to lay off about 60 staff and farm out assembly and repairs to the ex-workshop manager John Foster. I guess it was the cost of the large advertising campaign (whole page adverts in ACW and subsidised dealer ads in newspapers and magazines) Some say the French parent company insisted on this, but I can't believe that as there was far less Duplex advertising in France! In any case, the UK end was really only a franchise and could choose what they imported. Duplex probably also created the final split with France, Pathescope then buying 9.5mm Ferrania colour film stock, for example, which no doubt was against the rules of the franchise."

 

Below is an interesting take on the Standard 8 idea, in an early form of double-run but without the extra sprockets. I think it's just as well they decided to go into coffee instead.

 Kemco 

Apparently, there was a Duplex Corporation which, in 1915, proposed 35mm Duplex, with two rows of images. The frame was 10 x 19mm, the pictures one above the other along the length of the film, ie at 90 degrees to the normal image. The images were upside down in relation to each other. The film was not split but special lenses were used for projection.  Now, what does that remind you of? (It also now reminds me a bit of 22mm). It may also have been the inspiration for the following jeu d'esprit. 

 weird17