2017 Year in Review: Films in the Collection

Happy 2018!

As we begin a new year and semester at Ryerson, I would like to share highlights from the collections by looking at films I inspected in 2017. I started working at Archives & Special Collections in July 2017 as an Audiovisual Assistant with the goal to survey their moving image assets for preservation and digitization initiatives. It has been an incredible experience digging through the vault, and I would like to share some of my discoveries by using the reference images I took while inspecting the films.

 

What’s an Expert? (1976).

 

The Archives have several promotional films that examine the history of Ryerson and the programs offered since the university’s inception. What’s an Expert explores the Secretarial Science program, which was available at Ryerson between 1952 and 1985.

 

 

 

Ryerson Is (1970).

 

 

Ryerson Is, another promotional title, presents brief vignettes on Ryerson’s  academic programs.

 

 

Nana Mouskouri in Belafonte at the O’Keefe (1965).

Opening title for the CBC special featuring Duke Ellington. The show was produced and directed by Sampson (1964).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found several hidden gems as part of the Paddy Sampson Fonds in Special Collections. The films in this collection include raw and edited footage from musical television programs that Sampson produced for the CBC in the 1960s and 1970s. One of my favorites is Belafonte at the O’Keefe, a show featuring Harry Belafonte accompanied by the Greek singer Nana Mouskouri and the Folk-blues duo Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.

 

 

Shot from the Buffy Ste-Marie CBC Special (1980).

 

 

 

The collection also holds a Duke Ellington variety special with a beautiful animated introduction, as well as raw footage from a television program on Buffy Ste-Marie.

Kraft Miracle Whip advertisement from the Sampson films.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite parts of the Sampson films is that we have kinescope copies (black and white film recordings of television broadcasts) since these reels include the advertisement breaks during the shows!

 

 

 

Ryerson Media Centre staff film (1972).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, I have been looking into Ryerson’s past, and learning about the Ryerson Media Centre (now called the Digital Media Projects) through films they produced in the 1970s. An untitled reel featured media and radio staff members showing off their equipment and facilities.

 

 

 

Ryerson Media Centre staff film (1972).

Ryerson Media Centre staff film (1972).

 

The Film/Paper Story by the Eastman Kodak Company (1980).

 

 

 

The Kodak Canada Corporate Archive and Heritage Collection has several great instructional films, including one on the process of making photographic paper and film stocks.

Opening of a film by the Eastman Kodak Company (1980).

Ryerson Media Centre film on the construction of the new library resource centre (1971)

 

 

 

 

Our biggest milestone for 2017: A&SC moved into a new space on the 4th floor of the library!

Stop by to visit the reading room and learn more about films in the collection! We even have a 16 mm circulating film collection for  faculty and instructor use.

See you in the new year!

 

 

 

New Exhibition: Projecting Magic

Have you ever wondered what people watched at home and in theaters before Netflix and the invention of cinema? This exhibition hopes to demystify one aspect of pre-cinematic technology: magic lantern projectors. These early optical devices used oil or gas light sources to project glass slide images onto a screen. Some say magic lanterns are the precursors to Powerpoint presentations!

The first report of the construction of a magic lantern is generally considered to be referring to the Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in 1659. It was inspired by precedent optical inventions such as the camera obscura (which was a room containing a pinhole that a scene was projected through onto the opposite wall), and magic shadow shows which used puppets and hands to recount stories.

Lampascope Boule magic lantern, meant to be placed above an oil lamp.

By the eighteenth-century, the magic lantern was “openly displayed” for public events by traveling lanternists in public venues. Several showmen used the lanterns to produce horror shows, popularly known as “Phantasmagoria” shows. These presentations projected ghostly images onto smoke screens to create the effect of conjuring evil spirits.

Initially lanterns were illuminated by candlelight or oil lamps, but this did not produce enough light to project a clear image from afar. Lanternists began to use limestone in the early 1800s, as they could successfully be used for projection in large theaters. Limelight is produced through the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen directed at a piece of lime (calcium oxide). This method was quite complex and potentially hazardous, since at the time putting gas under pressure was achieved by sandwiching rubber bags filled with gas between two pieces of wood.

Magic lantern slides by the German manufacturer Ernest Plank, with the trademark initials E.P.

By the mid 1800s, a huge variety of magic lanterns became available to the professional and home market. On display in the exhibit, we have lanterns with varying functions, from a decorative circular lantern meant to be placed above an oil lamp at home, to a large biunial (or double lens) lantern that could be used in large halls for theatrical presentation or educational lectures.

Slides also varied in their typology, becoming more detailed and elaborate with each new iteration. Initially they were rectangular strips of glass with hand painted imagery and a mahogany wood border. When separate wooden slide carriers were developed, the wooden border attached to the wood slides themselves was removed from the design. Then, the illustrations featured on the glass portion went from being hand-painted to mechanically produced, and by the mid 1800s photographic slides came into production as well.

Astronomical mechanical slides were designed to specifically demonstrate movements of the solar system.

Magic lantern projection also demonstrates the aspiration to present not only static, but moving images to an audience. Lanternists would use panoramic slides, which when passed in front of the projector’s lens would create the illusion of movement. This quickly progressed into animated images which came about with creation of ingenious mechanical slides. This included rack-and-pinion slides where glass discs were rotated using a handle (and which were often astrologically themed), lever slides, or single pulley slides which used a rope pulley system.

Items on display are part of a recent donation of magic lantern projectors and slides from John Tysall. Stop by the Archives and Special Collections Department on the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library to see the new exhibit located in the display case by the 4th floor reading room doors. The exhibition is designed and curated by Jocelyn Oprzedek and Olivia Wong.