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Motion Controlled Optical Printer
Mechanical Concepts was honored to receive a Scientific and Technical Achievement Award (an Academy Award) from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science for the design and development of this printer. Industrial Light & Magic purchased the first of these printers (and provided these pictures). Because of its accuracy, range and versatility, this printer allows them to accomplish shots that were impossible before. Some of the features that make it unique are as follows:
- One common precision machined structure on which everything is mounted
- All optical axes remain in alignment. Instead of moving the lenses we move the film planes within the optical path
- All axes are computer driven and the 3 heads are capable of moving at least 2 inches in X & Y (north/south – east/west) and can rotate around the center of the aperture +90 degrees and minus about 20 degrees (depending on position) All heads can move virtually any amount required in the zoom axis. All axis are accurate and repeatable to less than .0002 inches of error.
- Lens zoom carriages mount to their own surface of the main structure. Not sharing the same surface with the camera and projectors allows the lens carriages to be long enough to properly support the lens and let it travel great distances without image shift. This also allows the zoom to be limited only by the optics, not the mechanics. This printer typically has more than triple the zoom ratio of other printers.
- Modularity in the design allows easy field addition of accessories like color wheels, fader glass, motorized wipe devices, etc. Even additional axis can be added as needed (a second aerial head for example)
- Open design allows ready access to all areas of interest to the operator and easy attachment of accessories.