Re-creating the old General Cinema Bumper

General Cinema Feature Presentation

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.


9 thoughts on “Re-creating the old General Cinema Bumper

  1. Let’s see, Saturday Night Fever-1977, Cabel was one-year-old.
    Rosemary’s Baby-1968, Cabel wasn’t born for another eight years.
    The Godfather-1972, Cabel wasn’t born for another four years.
    Alien-1979, Cabel was three years-old.

    In addition, perhaps we didn’t think the occult, the disco life-style, the mob and
    super-slimy aliens emerging from the bowels of John Hurt were appropriate subjects for our
    impressionable son.

    These days, there’s a plethora of wonderful films aimed at the young children’s demographic. Back then, there was a dearth.

    Somehow, we don’t feel remiss in his movie going education.
    By the way, we did take him to see Raiders of the Lost Ark when he was five.

    And we love the bumper.

  2. This is so freaking amazing.

    Is there *any* chance you’d be willing to let the raw file go? I would *LOVE* to add some custom text and use this as an intro to some of my YouTube videos.

    Would that be something you’d be willing?

    1. I’ll have to look into the best way to post it online (probably via Dropbox), but I’d be happy to do that. It’s done in Apple Motion…would that work for you?

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