A redundant qualification

operatorGrady Hendrix laments in The Slate (6 Dec 10) that projectionists will soon be no more. “[N]owhere is technology eliminating the need for human labor faster than in motion-picture projection.” Yet, the projectionists’ tales that Hendrix relates show that the world’s finest projectors “can never be a projectionist.”

The article is about wide-screen—35mm, 70mm and the like. But years ago a licence was required even to operate a 16mm projector in a public venue. Threading and smoothly operating the machine was tricky. But the big hazards were high voltage electricity and fire. In Victoria, there was a Board of Examiners of Cinematograph Operators established by the Cinematograph Operators Regulations 1935 made under the Health Act 1928. In 1973, I took a 13 week course and passed two formal examinations to get a 16mm Cinematograph Operator’s Licence that allowed me to show films at church and other gatherings.

It wasn’t too long before it was all technologically redundant, with video tapes, VCR and, now, DVDs. The 16mm operator’s licence was abolished.