Re-creating the old General Cinema Bumper
by Greg Maletic
My friend Cabel had curious gaps in his movie knowledge. Gaping, er…gaps. He’d somehow missed Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever, Alien, Rosemary’s Baby…you name it, he’d missed it. We decided to rectify the problem—partially—by kidnapping him, renting out a local theater, and forcing him to watch two movies he’d never seen, but needed to see. (The movies we picked? For reasons too numerous to mention: Goodfellas and Aliens.)
We had the movies; we needed some trailers, too, so we picked a very humorous trailer for Rocky (another flick he hadn’t seen), one for The Godfather, and another for The Terminator. (Hadn’t seen that either.) But that wasn’t all: I wanted authentic vintage bumpers to announce “Coming Attractions”, “Feature Presentation”…plus a special message for Cabel.
One of my clearest moviegoing memories as a child in the ’70s was the distinctive General Cinema opening bumper. There was only one half-way decent sample of it online, but its quality leaves something to be desired. Fortunately that clip has a pretty reasonable audio track—and wow, what an audio track!—so I used the audio and took this as the opportunity to fulfill a dream I’ve had for years, to re-create the video of the General Cinemas bumper. (I’m experienced with After Effects, but wanted learn Apple’s Motion. Verdict? It took a while to get the hang of it, but I won’t be going back to After Effects.)
Here’s the result. It’s not exactly like the original…but it is pretty close. Feel free to use it yourself. (There’s a Coming Attractions version, too. And here’s the all-blue version from the early 70s. Finally, here’s the humorous version we showed to Cabel during intermission.)
How was it done? I made the background from a photo of a ruby I found on the web, run through Motion’s Kaleidoscope filter. I drew the projector, scrolling circles, and text in Illustrator. After that, Motion’s incredible “Bad Film” filter added scratches, jitter, and the like. (A secret: did you notice that the blue film projector graphic is comprised of the letters G-C-C, for General Cinema Corporation? Whoever designed that was brilliant.)
Oh, and by the way: if you like these bumpers and you live in the Portland area, you should come to our Match Cut Movie Club. The whole renting-the-theater-and-showing-surprise-movies thing bit us hard, and we’re going to be doing it once a quarter. I’m also taking it as my opportunity to go crazy with all my mid-century bumper motion graphics fantasies, so you’ll see lots more stuff in this style. Please come check it out! It’s lots of fun.