Panoramic Motion-Picture System

Panoramic Motion-Picture System


a technique of shooting motion pictures and showing them on a deeply curved wide screen to give viewers the illusion of being present at the action taking place on the screen. The horizontal angle of view is between 150° and 170°, and the vertical is as much as 55°. Since the screen extends well beyond the limits of a person’s central vision (about 40° in the horizontal plane and 20° in the vertical), the action is viewed in much the way it would be in real life. The panoramic effect and the feeling of being present at the action are usually enhanced by color photography and stereophonic sound. Unlike the sound in ordinary motion pictures, the sound in panoramic motion pictures continually follows the source of sound as the source changes position on the screen. This is done by recording the sound during shooting on from six to nine sound tracks and then playing it through several speakers placed behind the perforated panoramic projection screen. Each speaker has its own sound track.

A. Gance, a French director, devised the first panoramic motion-picture system. His film Napoleon (1927) was shot by three cameras simultaneously and shown by three projectors on a screen consisting of three adjacent flat screens. The panoramic motion-picture system became well known in 1952, when F. Waller and L. Thomas of the USA created Cinerama and produced a number of films. Kinopanorama, a similar system, was developed in the USSR in 1957 under the supervision of E. M. Goldovskii, and several experimental films were made. The first of these was Far and Wide My Country Stretches, directed in 1958 by R. L. Karmen. Cinemiracle, a modified panoramic system similar to the ealier American and Soviet systems, was developed in the USA in 1958.

In all these systems, shooting and projection involved the simultaneous use of three strips of 35-mm film, so that the screen image was formed from three adjoining partial images. Stereophonic sound (nine tracks in the Soviet system and seven in the American) was reproduced synchronously on a 35-mm magnetic tape. Shortcomings in the various systems—chiefly the technical complexity of shooting and projecting with three pieces of film and the visibility of the vertical joinings of the three partial screen images—resulted in the systems’ being used increasingly less frequently after 1963. Recently, a simpler system for shooting and projecting a standard 70-mm film with single lenses has come into use. This system has visual possibilities similar to those of wide-screen motion-picture systems.


Goldovskii, E. M. Osnovy kinotekhniki. Moscow, 1965.
Vysotskii, M. Z. Sistemy kino i stereozvuk. Moscow, 1972.