Dissolving views (part 1)
method of exhibiting magic lantern slides involves the
employment of two or more lanterns, placed either side by side, or one
over the other. The lanterns must be so arranged that their optical axes
converge, thus producing coincident discs of light on the screen. A
mechanism on or in front of the lantern makes the projection of the
first image disappear while the second appears. The fade in and fade
away of the images can also be achieved by controlling the illuminant of
the lanterns. Later biunial lanterns (one unit on top of another) were
used and eventually triple lanterns or triunials.
Especially in combination with mechanical slides very impressing effects can be produced.
Sometimes the images are unrelated, but mostly there is a relation, for example an identical scene at daytime and at night. Thus subtle and surprising effects could be presented.
One popular example of a painted dissolving set was 'The soldiers dream': a soldier lies sleeping on the battlefield, while changing scenes of memories of home appear above his head. A more common effect achieved by this means is the change from day into night or summer into winter.
From the early 20th century, dissolving views became less common as motion picture films began to provide more sophisticated effects. In film the common used in and out fades and cross fades are developments of the same visual effect.
with flowers blooming.
with leaves falling.
|the lantern||This beautiful
double lantern is possibly made by one John F. Hand (the
name on the shield is difficult to read).
Such a double lantern, also called a biunial lantern, is fitted for the highest class exhibition purposes.
As the word bi-unial indicates the lantern really consists of two in one. There are two optical systems and two jets, one being placed above the other. This position is for the convenience of the lanternist, so that he can manage both lanterns without moving from the position in which he stands. A triple or triunial lantern consists of, as you may guess, three lanterns, placed above each other.
Size 26 x 26 x 12 inches (65 x 65 x 30 cm). Optical lenses from Darlot (Paris). ca 1890.
|The arrangement of the
lanterns in which the two systems are placed one over the other in stead
of side by side, only became possible with the adoption of limelight illuminants. In those
days the control of the illuminant for biunial and triple lanterns was a
risky and difficult occupation. The light in one lantern had to be turned up to its full height before that in the other
began to diminish. To divide the gas to the burners, a dissolver, a system of dissolving taps, was
Lanternists of today have an easy time: they mostly use halogen lamps in their biunials, controlled by an electronic dimmer.
the lantern was always a provision to adjust the lenses
to make sure that the projected images perfectly
way one picture could merge imperceptibly into another. In this case the
adjustment is achieved by canting the upper lantern to the front.
PAIRS OF LANTERNS FOR DISSOLVING.
older lanterns were provided with a mechanical
dissolving arrangement consisting of a couple of metal screens, each
fitted with sharp notches on one edge. By a simple lever arrangement
these 'fans' were so moved that while one gradually covered the lens of
the right hand lantern, the other uncovered the lens of its neighbour.
Alternatively the brass discs on the front of the lens barrels could be
swivelled, one being manipulated by each hand.
With the introduction of gas dissolvers for the gas supply, dissolving could be achieved by increasing the flame of one limelight burner as another was reduced.
Photo left: This mechanical dissolve control has been manufactured by "Service des Projections Lumineuses de la BONNE PRESSE", 5 rue Bayard, Paris 8e, L'UNIVERSEL in the 1900's. This article is patented: S.G.D.G.
later years, particularly where a triunial was used, it became possible to add
further effects. The windows in a building could gradually become
illuminated by using a slide that featured only the glowing windows and
was otherwise entirely black (see: Life
models, slide 3). During
many dissolving views suddenly some snow began to fall. This impressive
effect was contrived by means of a long strip of flexible opaque
material, pierced with tiny holes
and wound about two rollers in a light wooden framework. As the strip was passed upwards on to the
top roller by turning a little winch handle at the side of the frame, the snow
appeared to fall across the scene.
increasing use of unframed glass slides in 3,25 x 3,25 en
3,25 x 4,25 inch formats, slide carriers became necessary. A
common, simple form is the duplex carrier for two slides, in which an
inner wooden frame slid from side to side.
The whole assembly is 28 cm (11”) long, 11,5 cm (4 1/2") high and 2 cm (7/10”) thick. The slide changer ‘runner’ on the bottom pulls out just over 15 cm (6”). According to the instruction leaflet it is suitable for any size slide from 3 1/4" x 3 1/4" to 4 1/4" x 3 1/4". Carrier has a small insert that says ‘R.R.Beard, Selfcentering Eclipse’
In his book 'The Magic Lantern. How to Buy and How to Use it' A Mere Phantom describes a dissolving view as follows:
- A noble palace, glowing in the golden beams of a setting sun, stands before us; its walls
glittering in their marble purity, filling the imagination like an
architectural dream, and forming the centre of a lovely landscape,
with a background of majestic mountains, at the foot of which a limpid
stream runs at its own sweet will, the cerulean heavens shedding a
charm over all that makes us think of "a better land;" when
lo ! a gradual indistinctness appears, the "insubstantial pageant
fades ;" the glow is gone ; a grey vapoury atmosphere succeeds ;
the river is ice ; the trees are bare and leafless ; the meadows and
gardens white and flowerless ; our spirits fall. But now the skaters
appear on the scene ; the snow falls, too, at
first slightly, then heavily, and the scene is half obscured, when
once more appears the enchanted palace, the everlasting hills, the
beauteous landscape, and the blue sky ; and when this scene
disappears, we go away filled with delight, and wondering HOW the charm was wrought.
More splendid dissolving view sets......
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Last update: 07-02-2019.