Manchester's Legacy of Physics & Astronomy

A collection of video and audio digitised recordings of noteworthy people and events, mostly with a Manchester connection.

 

 

1930s and ’40s cine films

A collection of short films of famous figures from the first half of the 20th Century.

 

J J Thomson, Ernest Rutherford, W H Bragg, Oliver Lodge and James Chadwick

 

Click on the image thumbnail to play the relevant video stream.

 

J J Thomson

1. J J Thomson: 18th Oct 1934.

The original nitrate film negative is held in the archives of the British Film Institute. They also hold a positive print made in 1976. This digitisation is a reasonable copy.

 

Duration 06:30 Size 216 MB.

Ernest Rutherford

2. Ernest Rutherford: Dec 1935.

The British Film Institute hold a 16mm positive print off the original negative, reference number C-591861, which they acquired on 18 May 1985.

 

Duration 07:21 Size 61 MB.

W H Bragg

3. W H Bragg: 6th Dec 1934.

The original 35mm nitrate film negative is held in the archives of the British Film Institute, reference C-155993, which they acquired in 1954. They also hold a positive print made in 1975. Given that the original was shot on 35mm, this digitisation is a poor copy.

Duration 5:58 Size 71 MB.

Oliver Lodge

4. Oliver Lodge: 6th Dec 1934.

The original 35mm nitrate film negative is held in the archives of the British Film Institute, reference C-155904. They also hold a positive print made in 1975. Given that the original was shot on 35mm, this digitisation is a poor copy. However, it givers us a rare chance to listen to someone who grew up in the 19th Century.

Duration 9:36 Size 79 MB.

James Chadwick

5. James Chadwick. 1944.

“It may interest you to hear the inside story of the discovery of the neutron.”

Duration 7:15 Size 89 MB.


 

Technical details. Most of these cine films were made by Gaumont-British Institutional and although shot on 35mm, they have an “amateur” quality, when compared with what US and German film studios were capable of at the time, using superior lenses, lighting, film stock, and direction. They have been converted into a digital masters at 768 x 576 pixels and 4:2:0 chroma subsampling. The chroma of course is irrelevant. The master files are very large (about 30GB per hour) and to facilitate streaming, a 576p compressed mp4 version at 50% quality is provided here (about 800MB per hour) and there will be some visible artifacts. We should be grateful we have them.

Camera: Unknown. Digitisation & Editing: Robin Marshall.

 

 

 

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