The primary goals of the automated sound-stage system are to enhance the artist's flexibility for creative expression and to decrease the time required for production. Both are achieved by integrating the operation of camera, lighting, and sound, and by providing an environment where each of the technical and artistic disciplines have fingertip remote control of every element involved in the on-stage production of a motion picture. With the automated system, light and camera positions and status throughout the entire stage volume can be preprogrammed prior to shooting. During shooting these programs can be manually overridden to compensate for variations in acting or other improvisations as called for by the director.

Each of the primary functions - camera, lighting, and sound are controlled from a separate mobile console. Each console has digital monitors. The cameraman's console displays the precise scene being recorded by the camera. It can also show a wider-field overview of the set that allows him to lead into the scene being photographed. Auxiliary monitors can be provided for multiple-camera setups.

Human factors have been a primary consideration in designing the controls for each subsystem control panel, with natural hand motions and functional control groupings permitting the complete separation of independent functions. Training is easy and quick, because the coordination of operator control with system response is intuitive and logical.

Each major subassembly is supported from an over head dolly and bridge crane to clear the stage areas of all cables and clutter. The camera and lights can be moved through almost any conceivable combination of motions without the need for special ramps and supporting construction. All motion drives are extremely quiet, so that the camera, and even the lighting units, can be moved during the shooting sequence.

CINEMATIC SYSTEM Designer/inventor    Sketch by Terry Gates
CINEMATIC SYSTEM Designer/inventor Sketch by Terry Gates

This sketch of the


in action was made by me in 1963...

the camera pictured is a bit behind the times....

but you can get a rough idea of the basic configuration of the system.

Major corporations like North American Rockwell, Mitchell Camera, Westrex Sound, Cal Tran Lighting, were involved with the proposal and manufacturing effort. We were unable to get the prototype funded, and for lack of nourishment the project was never fully realized. Since then numerous versions of parts of the full system have been developed and implemented, and used to enhance numerous productions over the last decade or two.




Walter Beyer (1913-1969) joined Paramount Pictures in 1952 as a special projects engineer and worked on shutter timing devices, design of stereo-camera setups, experimental stereo projection, and the development of VistaVision, Paramount's wide screen process. In 1955, he joined the staff of the Motion Picture Research Council (MPRC) and oversaw mechanical and optical design problems. He worked briefly for Review Studios before becoming head of research engineering at Universal Pictures.  



An idea whose time has come?




not all the armies



in the world


can stop an idea


whoes time has




Victor Hugo