US 2719715 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Oct. 4, 1955 F. E. LEAHAN COMBINATION APPARATUS FOR THEATRE AUDITORIUM Filed July 12, 1951 5 Sheets-Sheet l R m H W.
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Oct. 4, 1955 F. E. LEAHAN COMBINATION APPARATUS FOR THEATRE AUDITORIUM Filed July 12, 1951 3 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR.
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COMBINATION APPARATUS FOR THEATRE AUDITORIUM Filed July 12, 1951 5 Sheets-Sheet 3 IN VEN TOR.
United States Patent COMBINATION APPARATUS FOR THEATRE AUDITORIUM Frank E. Leahan, Boston, Mass.
Application July 12, 1951, Serial No. 236,290
1 Claim. (Cl. 272-18) This invention relates to theatre apparatus and more particularly to apparatus by means of which a theatre audience may participate actively in a novel way in the plot of a drama being presented.
In the past numerous devices have been employed to create illusions in theatres. Some of these include mirror arrangements adapted to give kaleidoscopic effects, others include grotesque decorations or murals containing optical illusions, still others include lighting, sound and wind effects. For the most part these illusion devices are operated independently of the audience and without any participation of the audience whatsoever.
On the other hand certain types of amusement devices, notably the so-called fun houses at amusement parks, have required a small amount of participation on the part of the customers. However, the customers use or pass through such devices individually and therefore it cannot be said that the devices actually employ a true audience participation.
It is an object of my invention to provide theatre apparatus by means of which at one and the same time a drama may be presented to an audience, and the audience may actively take part in the plot of the drama. Another object of my invention is to provide theatre apparatus whereby the audience may witness not only a drama and accompanying illusions but also may actively accompany the drama itself, thereby providing a novel attraction not previously offered.
In the accomplishment of these and other objects of my invention I employ an enclosed space or room similar in many respects to a conventional theatre. A sound motion picture screen is mounted on one or more walls of the room, and across the fioor a series of mechanical horses are mounted. These mechanical horses are driven in simulated galloping motion by controllable mechanism located in the horse itself or beneath the floor. Large air ducts are provided in the front wall of the room and fans therein create an air blast directed at the audience which is astride the mechanical horses. Lighting mechanisms are mounted along the sides of the space and, by means of moving elements closely associated with them, cast streaks of light across the floor of the room which progress from the front to the rear of the room giving an illusion of motion. Sound effects in addition to those provided by the motion picture sound track are also provided by appropriately located speakers.
The principal feature of my invention is that it provides a unique combination of illusions with an active participation by the audience. Thus the illusions of the drama, the wind, lighting, sound effects and the mechanical horses are all accompanied by energetic audience activity incidental to remaining mounted on the mechanical horses.
It is a feature of my invention that the wind, lighting, and sound effects may be controlled from a central control station and may be keyed automatically to the tempo of the dramatic presentation.
Further objects and features of my invention will best be understood and appreciated from a detailed description of a preferred embodiment thereof selected for purposes of illustration and shown in the accompanying drawings in which:
Fig. 1 is a view in perspective illustrating the apparatus of my invention in operation;
Fig. 2 is a plan view of a theatre area adapted in accordance with my invention;
Fig. 3 is a sectional view in side elevation of a mechanical horse suitable for use in my invention;
Fig. 4 is an end view along the lines 44 of Fig. 3;
Fig. 5 is a sectional view in end elevation of a lighting mechanism suitable for use in my invention; and
Fig. 6 is a sectional view in side elevation of the lighting mechanism shown in Fig. 5.
The preferred embodiment herein shown is particularly adapted for the type of drama where the actors perform a bulk of their actions while mounted on horses. Thus, as may be seen in Fig. 1, the general organization of the elements of my invention includes mechanical horses indicated generally at 10, a moving picture screen 12 disposed ahead of the mechanical horses (or at the sides, see Fig. 2), blowers and vents indicated diagrammatically at 16, and lighting fixtures 18, and a control panel 20.
It will be understood, of course, that various types of mechanical horses will be adaptable for use in the combination of my invention, and for that reason the specific construction shown in Figs. 3 and 4 is to be regarded merely as a preferred embodiment. it includes a model horse and saddle 22 and mechanism for supporting it and for imparting thereto motion simulating a gallop. The principal moving elements are pistons 24 and 26. These pistons are located within a base pedestal 28 and slide vertically through two sets of bearings 30 which hold the pistons against lateral motion. At their upper ends, pistons 24 and 26 are each provided with a head 32 and pin 34 by means of which they are connected to parallel upport bars 36 and rockably support the same. The support bars 36 serve to support the horse by means of pins 38 which are secured to the horse, pass through the support bars 36 at each end, and are cushioned above and below by springs 40.
The pistons 24 and 26 are moved up and down by mechanism which may be located in the pedestal 28 or, as herein shown, below the floor. The piston 24 being the forward piston relative to the direction of the horse will lead in the motion with piston 26 following, such that as the horse is moving upward the head of the horse is higher than its rear and when the motion is downward the head of the horse is lower than the rear. This motion is attained by providing links 42 pivotally connected to clevis heads 44 in the lower ends of the shafts and by mounting the said links for rotational movement in cam shaft 46. The cam shaft 46 is supported from the floor by side braces 48 and rotates in bearings 50, being driven by a conventional motor 52 and gear arrangement 54. The cam shaft 46 is arranged with regard to the rotation of the said shaft to impart the above-mentioned leading motion to piston 24 as may be seen with reference to Figs. 3 and 4.
The lighting mechanism employed in this preferred embodiment of my invention is shown in Figs. 5 and 6 and includes a support member 56 depending from an overhead ceiling, a semi-cylindrical shield 58, a cylindrical slotted member 60 mounted for rotation within the shield 58, mechanism for rotating the cylindrical member 60 and lighting elements 68 mounted within the said cylindrical member 60. The shield 58 is fixed and supports between its ends a longitudinal stemming rod 62. The cylindrical member 60 is mounted on the rod 62 with bearing surfaces at each end to enable it to rotate axially about the rod 62. For the purposes of this rotation a motor 64 is mounted in fixed relationship on rod 62 and is adapted to drive a gear 66 which is secured axially to one end of cylindrical member 60 and thereby carries the cylindrical member 60 in rotational movement. A long tubular lighting element 68 is mounted in depending relation on the rod 62 within the cylindrical member 60 and lead lines for the said lighting element 68, as Well as for the motor 64, enter the mechanism through the rod 62 from one end. The cylindrical member 60 is provided with slots 70, and therefore, it will be seen that when the motor 64 is operated the entire fixture will cause narrow ribbons of light to proceed progressively across the floor.
It will be understood that the conventional sound effects employed in modern moving picture techniques may be employed, and these may be augmented by additional loud speakers 72 located elsewhere in the theatre.
As shown in Fig. 2 it will be seen that the moving picture projection shown is the type which employs a translucent screen and is projected on the opposite side of the screen from the audience by well-recognized techniques. This arrangement permits the screen to be more nearly at the same level as the mounted participants of the audience and would not be feasible by an overhead projection from the rear of the theatre. As shown in Fig. 2 a second screen is located at the side of the audience. It will be understood, of course, that more than two screens might be employed, the choice depending entirely upon the individual circumstances involved in the particular installation. When multiple screens are used, as shown in Fig. 2, it will be understood, of course, that the presentation of each screen would be keyed in synchronized relationship, one to the other.
The blowers 16 are located in the forward end of the theatre and may be adapted to operate in the conventional manner projecting a large volume blast of air directly at the audience.
All of the foregoing elements, including the lights, motion picture, horses, blowers, etc., of course, may be controlled and governed in synchronized relationship from a central panel 20 shown in Fig. 2.
While certain conventional films may be employed without excessive revision of the same with the apparatus of my invention, it will be understood that an entirely new type of presentation may be facilitated by the combination herein described. For instance, the audience may be called upon to do certain acts, such as firing toy pistols at the image of the villain, or in turn the audience might be called upon to ride in chase after the hero as members of a posse. In a sequence wherein the audience may be a part of the posse, other members of the posse might be shown on the screen alongside the audience. It has been stated above that the apparatus of my invention is uniquely suited for the type of motion picture wherein the characters perform their duties principally mounted on horses. However, it will be understood that other types of mounts might be employed and for this reason it is contemplated within the scope of my invention that the motion of the seats of the audience need not be confined to an imitation galloping but might as well include twisting, turning, rocking and rolling, or other motions suitable to a particular context.
Certain minor variations will be evident to those skilled in the art, and therefore, it is not intended to confine the invention to the precise form of the preferred embodiment herein shown, but rather to limit it in terms of the appended claim.
Having thus disclosed and described a preferred embodiment of my invention, what I claim as new and desire to secure by Letters Patent is:
An audience participation apparatus for a theater auditorium having in combination a plurality of separate translucent screens mounted at the front and at least one side of said auditorium, means for projecting a moving picture on one side of each of said screens for viewing by an audience on the other side thereof, means for creating sound effects in accompaniment with the moving picture, a multiplicity of mechanical horses mounted in said auditorium so that riders thereof face the front screen and can view the side screen, said horses being provided with saddles for the members of the audience constituting said riders, means for moving the horses at least up and down, means mounted in said auditorium at an elevated level comprising a rotating slotted cylinder with a source of illumination therein for continuously projecting transverse ribbons of light across the floor of said auditorium and for causing said ribbons to begin at and travel away from said front screen toward the rear of said riders, means for causing currents of air travelling in a direction away from said front screen to impinge on the faces of the respective mounted members of the audience, and a central panel control means for synchronizing the motion of the horses, the ribbons of light, the currents of air, the sound effects and the presentations on said screens thereby producing in combination, for the riders, an illusion of forward motion and active participation in the action of the moving picture projected on the said screens.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 800,297 Havenstrite Sept. 26, 1905 838,137 Plummer Dec. 11, 1906 856,951 Hafner June 11, 1907 1,369,751 Leech Feb. 22, 1921 1,789,680 Gwinnett Jan. 20, 1931 1,863,012 Hahs June 14, 1932 2,069,664 Bartlett Feb. 2, 1937