1927 – 5.2.2008
Photo caption. Roy Moores BSC receiving his BSC Bert Easey Award in 1996
ROY MOORES BSC
Roy was a hard working Yorkshire man who was a very talented engineer. Early in his career, Roy worked in the Camera Department at Technicolor, West Drayton at the end of the Technicolor three-strip system of colour cinematography* brought about by the development of Kodak’s mono-pack colour negative which needed less light and only one strip of film allowing the use of standard film cameras. It was felt that having built up the best camera department in England and Hollywood, Technicolor wanted to retain the camera crews but felt challenged by the new wide screen process, of CinemaScope, and VistaVision.
*[Technicolor 3-strip was the first commercially viable, cinema colour system devised over period of 16 years using 3 strips of black and white negative photographed simultaneously using a beam splitter prism. Each camera had two film “gates” in perfect alignment: The beam splitter allowed one third of the light coming through the camera lens to pass through the prism and a green filter recording only the green-dominated third of the spectrum on one strip. The other two-thirds was reflected sideways by the prism and passed through a magenta filter, which absorbed green light and allowed only the red and blue thirds of the spectrum to pass. Behind this filter were the other two strips of film, their emulsions pressed into contact face to face. The front film was a red-blind orthochromatic type that recorded only the blue light. On the surface of its emulsion was a red-orange coating that prevented blue light from continuing on to the red-sensitive panchromatic emulsion of the film behind it, which therefore recorded only the red-dominated third of the spectrum. It is obvious the system needed a lot of light to function properly. The resultant negatives or matrices were matched with complimentary coloured dyes and combined in a special wet gate printing technique with incredible accuracy exclusive to Technicolor. The first feature film to use the system successfully was BECKY SHARP (1935) directed by Rouben Mamoulian and photographed by Ray Rennahan ASC. The first British feature in Technicolor was WINGS OF THE MORNING (1937) directed by Harold D. Schuster and again photographed by Ray Rennahan ASC.]
Under the auspices of Roy Moores, about six of the Technicolor 3-strip cameras were converted to 8-perforation horizontal system known as Technirama and similar to VistaVision, enabling the use of a single strip larger negative allowing less grain and better resolution whilst employing a 1.5 anamorphic lens to give the widescreen image. The resultant negative was optically split into 3 matrices in the laboratory and printed using Technicolor’s patented dye transfer process.
Following the camera conversions, the call for the design of a new larger capacity magazine of 2000ft, fitted horizontally was required; this is where Roy came into his own! Successfully coming up with the answer, to be followed by an adaption to the new lightweight camera built by Newall, called the 'butterfly camera'. Roy also contributed to the new blimps when necessary.
Robin Browne BSC recalls: After leaving Technicolor, Roy served as a 'freelance' camera engineer on several location films where conditions were tough and the equipment was of a complex nature. I first met him when I was a second AC on THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964) directed by Anthony Mann and photographed by Robert Krasker BSC and shot in Ultra Panavision 70, a 65mm negative with a 1.5 anamorphic lens. Following that, Roy eventually took over the camera department at Merton Park Studios where he came up with some brilliant ideas that made the life of camera technicians very much easier, before starting his own rental company COEFFICIENT. When that was sold by the parent company Guild Holdings Ltd, Roy moved across the road and added an engineering facility to the camera hire, thus becoming MOORES & GRIFFFIN. It was here that Ted Worringham, Harry Griffin and Roy adapted and improved a mobile front projection system whilst maintaining a duplicate unit for a company in Toronto. He continued to rent out camera equipment and was always developing and adapting cameras and lenses for innovative filmmakers including Stanley Kubrick who once phoned Roy at 3 in the morning to discuss a project.
Operator Trevor Coop Assoc BSC recalls: “I was the A camera focus puller on the flying unit of Superman in 1977/78 and as such worked very closely with Roy. He had been building his front projection machine for some time prior to this. When we started shooting it was very much experimental, we tried back projection, travelling matte, all sorts. I knew about Roy's almost prototype FP work and mentioned it to [my father] FX DP Denys [Coop BSC] and our unit's director, Andre de Toth. Roy duly brought along his toys for us to shoot some tests. It was reasonably obvious from the start that we had come upon a way of making a man fly believably. So Roy became the core around which the flying unit functioned and after months of just shooting experimental stuff we were now shooting material that Richard Donner (main unit director) was over the moon with and all of which is in the movie. After we had been shooting for around 9 months Zoran Perisic came along with his twin contra zoom FP machine, which enabled us to move in to Chris Reeve without also moving in on the background plate, which was a huge improvement. However Zoran became credited with all the FP material in the film and no credit was given to Roy, with whose help we eliminated most problems associated with process photography, fringing, depth of field etc.
SUPERMAN won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects but we could not add Roy's name to the Academy Award. It has six names on it, Denys Coop, Roy Field, Derek Meddings, Colin Chilvers, Les Bowie and Zoran Perisic. I then said it should have had a seventh, Roy Moores. So, in 2007, we did the next best thing we could, recognise him belatedly with our GBCT Lifetime Achievement Award. As you obviously already know he was honoured with the BSC Bert Easy Technical award in 1996.”
Operator Jamie Harcourt Assoc BSC recalls: Moores also developed and manufactured several silent reflex cameras, which is quite remarkable considering the limited facilities his workshop offered. One of these was the "Reflex M" 35mm reflex blimped camera which, at the time, was just about the only alternative to Panavision's PVSR. It was first used on a big American TV series Shirley's World (1971) with Shirley Maclaine and photographed by Alan Hume BSC. Billy Williams OBE BSC and my father, camera operator David Harcourt, also used it on Saturn 3 directed by Stanley Donen (1980).
Trevor Coop/Robin Browne/Jamie Harcourt/Robin Vidgeon/Phil Méheux