A vintage Soviet panoramic cinema was found to be still working in Moscow. Here is a story about the place, as told by Irina M. who currently works there. The facility that was built in 1959 included twenty two cinema projectors and twenty two screens running simultaneously. Nine speakers were installed in the floor to create surround sound. Back in 1959., the movies were created with a special rig of synchronised cameras placed in circle. It makes me think of the modern Google maps camera rigs, which are placed on cars. As Irina says, the setup could be placed on top of a car, a boat or even a moving train, and could be controlled remotely.
One of the current projectors.
The cinema building now, its round too.
And the building in earlier times.
The panoramic movies were in production up until 1993!
Sometime later, in 1965, the panoramic cinema was rebuilt. To reduce the costs, the twenty two projector – camera setup was changed to eleven camera – projectors. It looks like each projector was numbered, and had its own emergency start – stop button.
The projectors are also numbered. As Irina says, there were two devoted women who took care of all these vintage machines, and mainly thanks to their efforts, the panoramic cinema is still working today.
The projectors were upgraded Russian movie projectors and the soundtrack was not included on the reels as the sound was recorded and played separately. The framerate was 25 fps instead of usual 24.
And that’s a soundtrack player, as there were nine separate speaker channels the soundtrack was recorded on multiple channels.
These devices handle the sound and motion picture synchronization.
And these are the movie rolls in storage. You can see how many rolls of film were needed for each movie.
In Soviet times, they say that the facility was very popular among people and the viewing area was even not equipped with chairs, but people stood and watched the movie. It could hold three hundred visitors at one time, however usually a bigger number of tickets than the actual capacity was sold.
Today the place is open three times a week and has five show times a day. The price of the ticket is roughly $4.50.