A movie projector is a device that continuously moves film along a path so that each frame of the film is stopped for a fraction of a second in front of a light source. The light source provides extremely bright illumination that casts the image on the film through a lens onto a screen. The key element in a projector is the light source. Carbon arc lamps have been used since the early 1900s but have a very short life. Xenon bulbs are the most commonly used lamps today. Xenon is a rare gas with certain properties that make it especially suited for use in projectors.
As the focused light leaves the lamphouse and enters the projector, it is intercepted by the shutter. The shutter is a small, propeller-like device that rotates 24 times per second. Each blade of the shutter blocks the path of the light as it comes to a certain point in its revolution. This blacking out is synchronized with the advancement of the film so that the light doesn’t project the fraction of a second when the film is moving from one frame to the next. Without it, the film would seem to flicker or have faint impressions of the images out of sync. Many projectors use double shutters that rotate in opposite directions. This causes the light to be cut off from both the top and bottom of each frame, further reducing the possibility of flicker.
Before the light gets to the film, it also passes through an aperture gate. The aperture gate is a small, removable metal frame that blocks the light from illuminating anything but the part of the film that you want to see on the screen. Two good examples of unwanted images would be the sprocket holes and audio information along the sides of the film. Aperture gates come in a variety of sizes that correspond to the screen format of the movie.
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