The Arc experience
Arc is a 250-seat state-of-the-art screening venue where film lovers can experience the best of cinema from Australia and around the world.
Built with careful attention to heritage values within the art deco Northern Exhibition Gallery of the NFSA’s Acton headquarters, Arc features customised archival-quality projection equipment, brilliant audio and a special pre-screening light and sound show that makes the Arc experience unique.
Architecture and design
NFSA’s headquarters were built as the Institute of Anatomy in 1930, with two double-storey exhibition halls built for the presentation of anatomical specimens and ethnographic collections. A lecture hall seating 120 people was also built at the same time. NFSA moved to the building in 1984, and was immediately faced with the issue of having no screening facility.
Over the next 20 years, video emerged as a screening option. The NFSA established film projection facilities in the lecture theatre, although these did not meet the standards of even a regular cinema. Miniature screening spaces were established on occasion, including an evocation of the State Theatre in Sydney, where newsreels were screened on video.
Proposals were explored to build a new free-standing cinema elsewhere on the NFSA site, but converting one of the original exhibition halls into a cinema remained an ongoing temptation. In 2005, the NFSA hosted Mr Chapin Cutler, of Boston Sound and Light (www.blsi.com/) who encouraged NFSA to turn temptation into reality. Formal approvals were set in place and a construction team was established led by NFSA co-project managers Trevor Anderson and Peter Callow, along with Solve Design, Graham O’Neil and Associates, Neil Le Quesne and Associates, Jands and Atlab.
The final piece in the creative puzzle of what has become Arc is Santa Fé-based theatre designer and artist Garry Transue. Garry visited NFSA in April, 2006 with an invitation to create an inspired, cutting-edge interior design including lighting and soundscapes. Garry spent a week immersed with NFSA staff, along with an early exposure to the Australian landscape, and a sliver of the way Australians live. He was especially taken with the Australian habit of shortening names wherever possible, often with a laconic and humorous twist.
Garry first presented his vision of a new cinema called 'Arc’ to NFSA Director Paolo Cherchi Usai on two A2 sized pieces of artist’s sketch paper using a combination of decorative design and text.
In part, the text reads: 'Arc, short for archive, describing a trajectory – a path of conductivity from past to future, from old to new, known to unknown, from where the NFSA has been to where it is headed. An arc occurs between two poles and creates a bridge of current. The name also refers to projectors of old which used carbon arc light sources. Arc is short and succinct, suggesting a charged environment, full of energy and the spark of creativity.’
Garry had become 'Gaz’ during his week in Australia, and the Archive had inspired 'Arc’.
Garry went on to describe in detail his vision for a lighting system, plus screen and soundscapes, that would both communicate the vision of Arc, and powerfully draw out the existing art deco features of what would become the new cinema space a space dedicated to the sharing and inspiration of the art, history and appreciation of cinema.
Arc’s projection booth is where the magic begins. The cinema is fitted with cutting-edge 35/16 mm changeover projection, using a pair of custom-designed Kinoton projectors chosen for their adaptability as well as for their precision technology. Arc’s Kinotons are amongst a handful of projection systems in Australia capable of screening all manner of historic and contemporary images in a wide range of aspect ratios, with the ability to run silent films at correct speeds.
Arc’s innovative sound system can present many different audio formats, from the earliest days of sound on film to state-of-the-art digital audio. Sound reinforcement for live accompaniment to silent film is also supported, paving the way for ground-breaking silent cinema events.
Arc’s state-of-the-art archival film projection system means that the NFSA will be able to screen rare prints not only from its own collection but from other libraries and archives around the world, opening up access to films rarely seen in Australia.
Arc is also fully equipped with a variety of video and digital formats, enabling the NFSA to screen video up to high-definition and back to the earliest surviving video works. Arc also has performance lighting and live audio systems for special guest-speaker and live music events.
|Harkness Hall P140
10.12m x 4.4m cinema screen
|Moveable masking (side only)
|2 x Kinoton FP38EC 35/16 mm projectors||35 mm aspect ratios available:
1:1.33 (Full Frame Silent)
1:1.66 (Wide Screen)
1:1.75 (Wide Screen)
1:1.85 (Wide Screen)
16 mm aspect ratios available:
1:1.66-1:1.85 (Zoom lens)
35 mm audio formats available: mono tungsten white light
red LED stereo (Dolby A, Dolby SR)
Dolby SRD (Dolby Digital)
35 mm magnetic
16 mm audio formats available:
|Panasonic PT-DW-10,000EK native high definition 16× 9 video projector||Sources available:
Sony J3 Digi/SP Beta
HDD (Hard disc drive) Switched through
|Dolby CP650D||Digital cinema audio processor|
|Soundcraft G4 32-channel audio mixing desk||
Mix positions in bio box and in auditorium centre
24 mic lines
8 tie lines
|BSS London Blu||Digital signal processing unit|