La cámara Moreno-Snyder

Gabriel García Moreno

En 1929 Gabriel García Moreno emigró a Estados Unidos donde vivió hasta 1937 cuando volvió a México. Durante su estancia en Hollywood trabajó para los estudios de Hal Roach y después para Howard Hughes. Finalmente terminó trabajando como técnico e inventó una cámara de velocidad continua para la filmación de largometrajes y construyó diversos equipos de sonido junto con los hermanos Rodríguez, Joselito y Roberto, a quienes orientó para obtener una patente. Fundó la Moreno-Snyder Cine Corporation, Ltd. junto con William G. Fairbank, el socio capitalista y su presidente junto con Silas Edgar Snyder, editor de The Internatonal Photographer, quien fungió como vicepresidente y responsable de las ventas. García Moreno era, obviamente, el ingeniero en jefe de la compañía.

La revista American Cinematographer de septiembre, 1931 publicó un par de notas (pp. 39 y 43) sobre la cámara Moreno-Snyder, además de dos anuncio de página entera de la compañía de la cual fue socio. En el primero publicado en mayo de 1931 se describen las virtudes de la cámara que diseñó Gabriel García Moreno en Estados Unidos después de haber dirigido en México El buitre (1925), El tren fantasma (1926) y El puño de hierro (1927); en el segundo que apareció en el número de junio se agradece la invitación y la cortesía con que fueron tratados en Hollywood durante la convención de primavera de la Society of Motion Picture Engineers.

Anuncio publicado en el número correspondiente a mayo de 1931 de la revista American Cinematographer

El primer anuncio, considerado “extraordinario No. 2”, da a conocer que “Mr. Moreno” ha finalizado las pruebas de su nueva cámara (y proyector), en la cual trabaja desde noviembre de 1930 como se comentó en la propia revista ese mismo mes. El retraso se debió al diseño e incremento de nuevos dispositivos. Entre las cualidades y mejoras que posee la nueva cámara, de la que varios dudaron sobre su posible fabricación, destacan:

  • La continuidad del rollo a velocidad uniforme.
  • Es silenciosa en su operación.
  • El tiempo de exposición es casi el doble del común.
  • Cámara lenta a 300 cuadros por segundo o 1,125 pies por minuto.
  • La grabación de sonido está sincronizada con el cuadro correspondiente.
  • La fotografía en color tiene grandes ventajas debido al mayor tiempo de exposición.
  • La profundidad del enfoque es mayor cualquier lente que se utilice.
  • El mecanismo de enfoque se maneja independiente y no afecta los otros controles.
  • Las recámaras para cargar y enrollar el rollo están separadas.
  • Es adecuada para los periodistas debido a su ligereza y fácil manejo.
  • Exposímetro integrado
  • Trucos o efectos son tarea fácil dada su estabilidad.

Las siguientes dos breves noticias de corte técnico se publicaron en la revista que patrocinaba la American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C.), orientada al gremio de fotógrafos, tanto profesionales como aficionados. Por su orientación, la revista no era de consumo popular como se puede constatar por la información de las notas. Los comentarios que vierte Gabriel García Moreno sobre su nueva invención lo pintan como un destacado innovador.

Improvements in Moreno-Snyder Camera

 In the description of the Moreno-Synder non-intermittent cine camera which recently appeared in the American Cinematographer, it was stated that a purely optical method of forming the frame-line was being developed. This is now said to have been perfected, and is incorporated in all of the cameras now in production. According to Gabriel C. Moreno, the inventor of the camera, and Chief Engineer of the firm which manufactures it, this will completely eliminate the previous device used to form a frame line.

“Formerly,” says Mr. Moreno, “we used a special pair of moveable flaps in the sunshade, which, though they gave us a frame line of a sort, were not perfect, especially as they had to be set a new for each scene. We have now, however, developed a purely optical method of producing a frame-line (which must be artificially made in all non-intermittent cameras).

Our new method has made the camera still easier to operate, and has at the same time given us an opportunity to rearrange certain of the optical units, thereby eliminating certain small aberrations which formerly existed, due to the photographic lenses having been calculated originally for use in conventional cameras. Now that we have had the opportunity to obtain lenses with the special corrections necessitated by our supplementary optical system, our photographic tests have been so successful as to prove that the non-intermittent principle, as embodied in our camera, is both mechanically and commercially sound, and a real advance over the previous types of construction.”

 Moreno-Snyder Camera Makes High Speed for Trick Shot

One of the most gruelling tests that a standard camera has ever had to face was encountered by the new Moreno-Snyder non-intermittent camera recently. According to Señor G. G. Moreno, Chief Engineer of the Moreno-Snyder Camera Company, the camera—a standard model, designed for operation at the normal speed of 90 feet per minute—attained higher speeds than have ever been attained by any practical commercial cameras heretofore.

“We were recently surprised,” says Señor Moreno, “by receiving a call from the RKO studio, asking us if our camera was capable of speeds of 500 feet per minute or more. In as much as some of our own tests had shown that the camera would operate at nearly double this speed, we replied affirmatively.”

“We were then asked to bring the camera to the studio, where Mr. Knechtel, the head of the Photographic Effects Department, was having difficulty in making some ultra-high-speed shots for some trick work he was doing. When we reached the studio, we found that the subject being photographed was a series of wave-forms in a pool of mercury, which waves were produced by high-frequency electrical vibrators. Mr. Knechtel had used the highest speeds possible with the conventional speed cameras available, but had not been able to slow down the vibrations sufficiently for his purpose.”

“We began with our camera running at a speed of 500 feet per minute. This was not enough; so we progressively increased the speed to 600, then to 800, then to 1,000 feet per minute. The results were photographically successful, but the speed was still insufficient to produce the desired result.

“Finally we decided to speed things up to the limit of the resources available. We took two Mitchell overdrive-gearboxes, coupled them in tandem, and drove them with a high-speed motor. The result was that the camera ran at a speed of 1440 feet per minute. This tremendous speed was at last sufficient to give Mr. Knechtel the effect he desired, and he expressed himself as being greatly pleased with the results obtained, saying that they were not only photographically perfect, but, despite the high speed, rock-steady.”

“For our own part, we were very gratified at being able to subject our apparatus to such a severe test. It placed a particularly great strain upon the rotary, optical shutter, which revolved at a speed of 3000 revolutions per minute. After having photographed in excess of 6000 feet of film at this tremendous speed, we disassembled the camera, and tested the alignment of the lenses in this important unit: despite the terrific strain, not one of them had been displaced so much as 0.001 of an inch.”

“Another interesting sidelight is the fact that although we used only t:3.5 lenses, the exposure —even at this tremendous speed of over 400 frames per second— was, thanks to the non-intermittent principle, sufficient so that we could use positive film!”

La revista The Literary Digest también le dedicó un artículo al aparato en su número de agosto 8 de 1931 en la sección de “Ciencia e inventos” bajo el título de A Continuous-Motion Movie Camera.

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