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TOPIC: Carbon arc?

Carbon arc? 31 Dec 2005 01:11 #12055

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[This message has been edited by Izzytheatre22 (edited January 29, 2006).]
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Re: Carbon arc? 31 Dec 2005 22:27 #12056

  • revrobor
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No, you're not the last. There are still some theatres around using them especially in rural areas. I agree with you about carbon arcs giving the patrons the best picture. I wish you were in my area (Kent, Washington) as I'd love to visit with you.

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Carbon arc? 01 Jan 2006 00:09 #12057

  • Ken Layton
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The single screen Elma Theater in Elma, Washington still runs 20 minute reels and carbon arc.

I agree that carbon arc light gives the best images on screen.
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Re: Carbon arc? 03 Jan 2006 11:05 #12058

  • John Pytlak
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Several reasons carbon arcs can give "better" light than xenon lamps:

1. The "plasma" that produces most of the light is larger with carbon arc, so easier to get good uniformity of illumination, and harder to "hot spot".

2. The spectral quality is more "continous". In a carbon arc, you actually are vaporizing a variety of elements ("rare earth" additives) that give a relatively continous spectrum. In a xenon arc, the spectrum has more "spikes". Much the same reason that flourescent lamps usually have a poor "color rendering index" compared to tungsten light or real daylight.

Here is a link comparing the spectral output of a xenon lamp to that of real daylight:
http://www.ptbmagazine.com/Jan00/ptb.0100coat.html#hed3



John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
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Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Cell: +1 585-781-4036 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
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Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: Carbon arc? 13 Jan 2006 00:43 #12059

Nope; not us! The Rialto ditched the arcs for Xenon but retained the 2000' reels and changeover in 2000 after only using them twice in a 15 year period and we are now able to use them multiple times a year along with our 16mms. The Park in 1988 got Xenon and a platters but did not remove the carbon arc equipment and (part of) the second projector until winter of 2004. The other two theaters I helped at in the past never had carbon arcs.

We all switched because our equipment was old and malfunctioned frequently. Also, I regard the rods these days as antiques in themselves and don't even know where to buy them new.

Someone said that the burning of the carbons over a period caused cancer. This true?!?!?!

Tony; God of Historic Theaters Everywhere!
Tony H.
Colorado Film/Theater God
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Re: Carbon arc? 15 Jan 2006 03:09 #12060

  • revrobor
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Never heard the cancer thing Tony. I worked around carbon arcs for 25 years and never had a problem. Most booths using carbons are well ventalated.

Bob Allen
The Old Showman
Bob Allen
The Old Showman
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Re: Carbon arc? 24 Jan 2006 15:47 #12061

  • John Pytlak
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The risk to health from carbons was mainly inhaling the ash, as carbons could contain "rare earth elements" to enhance color and brightness. If you still use carbons, always use a dust mask or respirator if you are cleaning ash from the ducts or other places it could become airborne and get in your lungs.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Cell: +1 585-781-4036 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: Carbon arc? 24 Jan 2006 18:29 #12062

  • mixerjv
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We still use carbons and will until our Drive-In is converted to digital cinema. I recently aquired a 10 year supply of positives, I have a 5 year supply of negatives. 13.6mm+
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Re: Carbon arc? 25 Jan 2006 00:15 #12063

  • Cue Mark
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My first arclamp was a Brinkert, If my memory serves me right. Then I operated Peerless Magnarcs at a drive in. The owner decided he needed more light so he purchased Ashcraft lamps with water cooled contacts.
These Ashcraft lamps along with Lee Artoe Carbons were very difficult to operate.
My boss then aquired a set of Strong arc lamps with a rectifyer set that operated almost as good as xenon.
more later Cue Mark
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Re: Carbon arc? 25 Jan 2006 20:01 #12064

  • mixerjv
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We have Ashrcraft (RCA) Dynarcs. Backed by a Hobart Motor Generator OR a Kniesley rectifier. Works great. RCA 9030 sound heads with Century SA heads. Works great.
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Re: Carbon arc? 25 Jan 2006 21:31 #12065

  • Cue Mark
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We had a Hobart generator for Our Ashcraft lamps also. That generator is an arc welder now. Our Strong arclamps worked better than the Ashcraft probably due to a better power supply for the lamps. We did not use carbons very long before my boss converted the Strong lamps over to Xenon. (Kniesley conversion). Speaking of conversions I saw a Peerless Magnarc lamp converted by simply putting a bulb in the carbon holders , there was a homemade adapter for this . The same mirror was used and the power supply was a common arcwelder. This lamp worked very well with good light output.
More Later Cue Mark
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