The Picture Tower

Close-up of Kodak's Picture Tower

The brightest lights on the biggest prints combine to make this one of the most spectacular displays in or outside the World's Fair.

It stands to reason that the nation's largest producer of things photographic would make its pavilion at the New York World's Fair one big montage of photography, and Eastman Kodak does not disappoint.

Rising above the Eastman Kodak Pavilion is one of the most spectacular features at the Fair. It is a giant, circular picture tower displaying five huge outdoor color prints. Each measuring 30 by 36 feet, they are the largest such prints in the world.

The pictures will be changed every three or four weeks while the Fair is open six months this year and six months next; consequently, there was a need for a great many special pictures for this part of the Kodak exhibit. That need set off the most extensive picture-taking project ever for Kodak's Photo Illustrations Division. People, places and things were photographed, with emphasis on the beautiful, the dramatic, the familiar and the unfamiliar. To provide the necessary pictures, Kodak's in-plant photographers covered the United States by caravan and flew all over the world.

A 40-inch wide roll of Ektacolor paper about to be unrolled for printing. This 30-foot strip is now a section of one of the 30x36-foot tower prints atop the Kodak pavilion.

Unrolling Ektacolor paper for printing of World's Fair pictures.

The problem with displaying the huge prints in the tower stimulated some remarkable technical achievements. For example, Kodak Park scientists had to develop new methods for protecting the prints, which are exposed to the elements.

However, the most spectacular technical achievement in connection with the tower display is the special 1,2000,000-watt outdoor lighting system which shines on the giant prints day and night, making them the world's most brilliantly lit pictures. This system literally rivals the brilliance of the sun.

The lights throw a total of 15,000,000 candles on the photos. They are so brilliant that the prints resemble glowing transparencies, even when the sun is shining directly on them.

This unprecedented level of illumination is made possible by a new type of xenon lamp made by Osram GmbH, a West German firm that specializes in gas discharge lamps. Special fixtures to accommodate the powerful lamps were made by another West German firm, Siemens Schuckertwerke.

"To our knowledge, this type of lamp has never been used in the United States before," said Norman Macbeth, president of the Macbeth Corporation of Newburgh, N.Y., which did the engineering work for the lighting installation. "They've been tried for a few specialized applications in Europe, such as airports and football stadiums, but the Kodak lights concentrate more illumination on the picture tower than would be used for an entire stadium. The xenon lamps as used by Kodak constitute an illumination extravaganza such as has never been seen before."

The Osram lamps are concealed in five outriggers at the base of each picture. They are in the form of 6 1/2-foot quartz tubes, arranged in three rows of four lamps within each outrigger, 12 lamps per picture, or a total of 60 lamps in all. Each individual lamp is rated at 20,000 watts.

Expressed in terms of light cast, each of the 60 tubes generates a half-million lumens. six million lumens fall on the 1,080-square-foot surface of each picture, or a total of 30,000,000 lumens for all five prints. In comparison, a 25-watt incandescent bulb casts about 300 lumens.

Despite the fact that precision-designed reflectors collect almost all of the spilled light and refocus it on the pictures, the lamps are so powerful that it is possible at night to read by reflected light alone at a distance of 70 feet.

Three switching and relay stations within the picture tower, each a 10-foot cube, contains the complicated tangle of circuits needed to control the lights. Intensity of illumination can be remote controlled from a console within the Kodak pavilion's lounge. At night, when the Osram lamps no longer have to outshine sunlight, the level of illumination is reduced considerably to avoid any suggestion of glare.

The level of illumination is reduced considerably at night when the lamps no longer have to outshine sunlight.

30x36 foot illuminated print at night.

Igniting the big lamps takes 80,000 volts of electricity. The electrodes, projecting about two inches into the xenon-filled tube at either end, are of solid tungsten and are as big around as a finger. Engineers predict about 2,000 hours of operation per lamp.

The electricity needed to run the five fixtures is equivalent to the electrical needs of approximately 1,700 average U.S. homes, each equipped with a full complement of lights and electrical appliances.

Source: © Industrial Photography, Volume 13 No. 5, May 1964


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