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. This diorama faces an uncertain future due mostly to the fact that I don't have enough vehicles to populate it, nor do I have the budget to get what I need.

At any rate, it's been a longstanding dream of mine to create a proper drive-in, 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 might include a bit of railroad track, inspired by the famous O. Winston Link photograph from 1956, Night Train and Drive-In Movie Theater, although this isn't set in stone at this point.

The projection system is 100% functionally complete; details on how I've accomplished this technically are over in my Animation Workshop. The snack stand, by the way, might be Ed's Dirty Dog; we'll see if this comes to pass.

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":

On 10 October 2021 I made a case for the diorama from Gatorfoam.

The box features a slot for a cheapie little DVD player ($20).

The box needs to be tall because of the projector optics, although it did make it convenient to manage the 110V wiring.


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