Chateau Nerdistan


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I thought you should finally get a glimpse inside Chateau Nerdistan.

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Some years ago, I had my loft converted. Because of the slope of the roof, the ceiling is, as you can see, "shouldered". I spent some considerable time earlier in the summer of '06 re-organising and re-fitting, particularly to enable me to put more of my projectors on show (see above). Also, out went the old CRT three-gun video projector (huge, it was) and in came a neat, small, ceiling mounted DLP jobbie, which gives much better performance. A console at the rear of the cinema houses VHS, laser and DVD players, plus audio cassette, all fed thru a surround sound amp to six speakers. Mono film sound direct from projector is fed to one or other of the B&H speakers.

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The loft divides naturally into two sections, at the point where width changes to accommodate the stairs. The rear section, used as projection- and work-room is thus 3ft narrower than the cinema room you see above. The dividing wall has a long porthole in it for projection. This is where the two main problems come in. First, because of the shouldering, it simply is not possible to have more then one projector in position at a time. This means I have to have as many as I can on wheels and do furniture moving when I want to change machine. Because I use so many different gauges and machines, there is still a fair bit of humping machines on and off stands.

The other problem is length of throw/distance from screen. Total distance from screen to lens is about 14ft; this means anyone in the cinema is no more than 12ft from the screen, too short really but one must make do with what one has. I didn't feel I could give up the space a tab system would involve, so I work to screen size and lens focal length. Looking at the first picture above, I built a frame into the window reveal to house a blackout blind and prevent light leakage round the edges. This blind can be seen partially lowered in the second pic. The screen I use most is the top one, 6ft wide and obviously adjustable depth. This serves for 16mm with a 25mm lens, for 35mm 4:3 and for the DLP on 4:3 which, as I like older films, is used a lot. For widescreen on the DLP, I can set the bottom of the screen to give the correct size (though this does require the projector to be adjusted) I can also get Super 8 up to 6ft, but this is in my view pushing it a bit, particularly as the viewing distance is so short.

For 9.5, both silent and sound, the 4ft screen is mounted (tho' I have shown it here for illustration, it is not mounted when the 6ft screen is in use). A 25mm lens thru the port fills the screen nicely; for silent, the same focal length on a machine inside the cine room gives a 4ft wide silent picture, with the depth of the screen reduced. The black curtains are to avoid any white (why a blackout blind should be white I know not but it was what I could get) showing round the side or bottom of this screen, or under the 6ft screen in DLP widescreen mode. Finally, for 16 and 35 widescreen, the 8ft screen comes into play (this, too, cannot be mounted when the 6ft screen is in use). It mounts onto two brackets at the bottom, and when raised fits onto hooks at either side , with a chain at the centre to avoid sag. The black uprights are to provide support and extra wide black edges for better masking for 6ft and 8ft pictures.

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The view backwards shows the projection port, the curtain that covers it when projecting video or silent from within the cinema room, and the rear centre speaker sat on top of the sound system "stack". A front view of this "stack" is far right; the back has a door which conceals but gives easy access to a huge spaghetti of wires. The projector at the port is a Buckingham 9.5, the other shots show machines ready to roll into place.

So there you have it. At one time, I reached a major high with a Steenbeck and piles of film chateau-nerdistanunder the stairs in the front hall, but that was years ago and senior management has since inexorably confined me to the loft and garage. Except of course for a few Baby and related bits just above and to the right of the Steenbeck's location.........

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