Monday, October 29, 2018

Filmstrips (miscellaneous)

image(1948? – 1990?)
Wikipedia Entry

Technology marches on and new technologies supplant the old. Often, the new version is clearly superior, but that doesn’t mean you can’t remember the old technology fondly.  And for me, that is the filmstrip.

In the 50s and 60s, they were ubiquitous in public schools, the only way to easily use multimedia in the classroom. A couple of times a month, the teacher would bring out the filmstrip projector and a phonograph (optional) and we’d be treated to a show.

imageThe filmstrip was a single strip of film that came in a little canister. You’d pull the film out of the canister and put it in a holder on the projector, then thread it through. 

Once set, you were treated to a presentation. Each image was advanced manually, sort of a precursor to PowerPoint.

The design was clever. After being shown, the film was put into a little holder, threaded so that the first slide stayed the first slide when you were done.  No rewinding!  Some units even allowed you to fit the canister into the holder, so everything was ready for the next show.

Some of the strips had audio accompaniment.  It started out on records, that would give the narration to the slide, and then beep.  That was the signal for the operator to advance the image.

Of course, it was a high honor for the teacher to ask you to advance the film after each beep.*

As time passed, the technology advanced.  By the 70s, audio cassettes replaced the records.** Eventually, auto-advance  was added, probably disappointing the folks in the AV Club.

Of course, once videocassettes came along, they rapidly supplanted filmstrips. Now you could easily see moving images.  Filmstrips and their projectors became antiques by the 1990s.

And that was certainly an improvement.*** But they remain a fond memory for anyone who went to school in that era.

*The other great bit of AV equipment when I was in high school were the 16mm film projectors. It was an even greater honor than to be asked to set those up and avoiding the dreaded problem of “loosing the loop.”  The other option – the slide projector – was too awkward to use until Kodak invented the Carousel projector in 1964.

**Or did if the school had the budget for it.

***Though, since filmstrips were done by professionals, they didn’t fall into the same pitfalls as PowerPoint.

1 comment:

Tonebone said...

My 6th grade teacher knew I was a budding comic book creator and handed me a bunch of BLANK filmstrips. One side was slick and glossy, while the other was sort of a matt matt surface you could draw on with colored pencils. I wish I could say I created a masterpiece... But the class seemed to like it.