11. Double Feature
Welcome to New Jersey, where the drive-in theater was born. Located near Camden, the first one opened in 1933 and had a capacity of 500 cars. Regrettably it wasn't profitable, and closed three years later.
It's been a longstanding dream of mine to create a proper Drive-In Theater, so when the idea hit me to do one as a diorama, the project got pushed to the top of the to-do list. What's a "proper" drive-in? It's one where the image is actually projected onto the screen with a video projector (right), instead of using a miniature LCD display, which is not at all convincing. Using actual projection, I can make a freestanding scale size screen.
The 12 inch square diorama includes a bit of railroad track, inspired by the famous O. Winston Link photograph from 1956, Night Train and Drive-In Movie Theater.
The projection system is 100% functionally complete; details on how I've accomplished this technically are over in my Animation Workshop. All of the remaining work is cosmetic. The snack stand, by the way, will be Ed's Dirty Dog (with Christmas Lights and Cooking Smoke).
One advantage of this project over the prior iteration is that, back then, I was locked into a particular design for the drive-in; doing this as a diorama allows me to freelance everything. I can be as kitsch as I dare, although little out-in-the-sticks drive-ins like this one will be fairly low-key.
Below is a scratchbuilt 20 x 30 scale foot screen—which is really small as drive-in screens go (they're usually 50-100 feet wide), but it looks "right":
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