Hugh McSpedden was the first man to enhance Australian buildings with projected imagery.

Using a heavily modified 1919 carbon-arc Cinema projector which came from Yackandandah Cinema and cost $20 plus $20 for the power supply. The device was lined with asbestos and spewed lung-eating fumes and carbon dust. Since it was too hot to project glass based images for more than 5 secs, I used perforated metal ‘polka dot’ wheels mounted on sm motors. I covered Melbournes Royal Exhibition Buildings (Home of Federation) with kinetic polka dots on 5 occasions during the 80’s (with Pani, see below) plus Melb.Town Hall in 84, North Melb., South Melb, Fitzroy and St.Kilda Town Hall (after the Fire) and Main St. Hepburn Springs, and Darling Harbour Convention Centre and surrounds in ’89.

In ’87 I acquired a Pani BP4HMI, the brightest Slide Projector on Earth at the time, which was far brighter than the Carbon Arc, and was ideal for Building Projections.

Projection FX

In my Projection beginnings (1968) I started seeking 2nd hand Manual Projectors.

English Aldis Projectors were ideal for experimenters as their Lens was mounted on parallel bars so could be adjusted to accommodate almost any size FX mechanism.   I designed all my own FX from the word ‘go’ as it was easy and a real buzz experimenting with materials and ideas.

I could not afford a good Camera for quite a while as all my $$$ went on Projectors.  An Aldis (sic) cost about $45 but $45 was a lot more then!   I used to make my early Light show Slides by squeezing paints and dyes betwixt 2 Slide glasses and soon developed various techniques for getting amazing (if somewhat accidental) images!  Mostly circular Cosmic wonders.

I started out using Marking Pen (Aniline) Dyes which dried quickly and were extremely vivid colours. Sadly they were Carcinogenic and despite great care I eventually had a regrettable accident, covering forearm and hand completely, resulting in a hideous Seizure!   I’ve never gone near them again!   I still have about 100 of the best of these 50 x 50mm sq. Slides.    The last ones I did, I produced by spinning the Glasses on a high-speed turn-table made from a Vacuum Cleaner motor, whilst I sprayed dyes via an Air Brush.

My older Brother Bani, who was my Manager for a while, (and Co-Leper in “The Leaping McSpedden Bros”) kindly gave me his Pentax Spotmatic in the ’70’s.

It made a huge difference to my capabilities!   It also eventually led to a huge breakthrough for me.   In the 70’s to 90’s I hate to think how much money I wasted seeking decent Projector Brightness!   The more I paid the heavier and more taxing on my materials the gear was.   What most Manufacturers claimed  were High Power Machines, were very fractionally brighter or whiter and I’m so glad I avoided buying anything new!   One of my greatest breakthroughs (unthinkable to Photographer Friends) was the day I put my F1.4 50mm Spotmatic Lens on a Projector!   The Image was like Twice as wide, 4 times as bright and 10 times as sharp!!!   Or so it seemed!   From then on I just looked for fast S/H Standard Camera Lenses!

Another bonus is that they all contain an Iris (mechanical Dimmer!) and Focus to die for AND super depth of field!

My earliest Projection FX were what I called ‘Revolvers’, mechanisms which revolved my painted Slides in the Slide gate!  With or without other optical enhancements.   An older friend, Sandy Kerr, an Instrument Maker, modified ex-WWII Radar devices for me to do the job.  Sandy was a Genius Experimenter who used to build his own Cameras which exposed moving film via a Slit, of Dancing models producing a fluid image of human bodies on a still background.

The  Revolving effect was quite mesmerising and easily enhanced by introducing another, revolving at a slightly different speed or in opposite direction.

I eventually developed other FX along those lines including Fluid FX which boiled on the heat from the projector.

Another which boiled the fluids between 2 glasses as they contra-rotated!

Another had a front-surface mirror in the Lens tube which produced a Butterfly-like Symmetrical image.

Others stretched the image with (revolving) Anamorphic Lenses or multiplied them with revolving Splitters.

Another fave type image is FLYERS which I first produced at T.F.Much Ballroom in 1970.

It was simply an image of say a Biplane, photographed on black background and projected via a revolving mirror so that it flies around a venues walls or down streets as I did at Gertrude Street Projection Festival a couple of years back. (2014)  That one was a crudely animated Cockatoo.

Next will be “real” LIVE super-people in real time.

The most complex Shows I ever did were my “Fields of Vision” Son et Lumiere Shows which I did twice a week for many months at Living Rainbows Workshop in North Melbourne in 1987.  They involved 42 Projectors/FX, all of my own design & all on dimmers, to facilitate smooth ON & OFF, easy blending and lap dissolves.

Plus volunteer shadow Dancers and 4-track Stereo Sound (which also Synced 4 Auto Projectors).

In 1984 I did the 1st large scale Public Building Projection when I covered Melbourne’s “Royal Exhibition Buildings at Carlton”, (Home of Federation), with kinetic Polka Dots.   I achieved the first two of five such events thru the 80’s, using ex Cinema Carbon Arc Lamp-houses, which I converted to suit.    I had tried Film & Glass mediums in them but they melted or shattered within 5 seconds.   Then I hit upon the idea of Perforated Metal.  I went to a manufacturer and asked to see the smallest pattern, which happened to be Polka Dots!

I made Polka Dot Wheels that turned very slowly and the image was stretched and compressed and colorised by WWII Army Tank Prisms on slow turntables.

OH&S would kill such an event these days because the Carbon Arc produces Lung-eating Carbon dust and the interior of the Lamp-house and the power leads were covered with Asbestos.   My Carbon Arc Cinema Projector only cost me $40 though so at the time it was great Bang for Buck!

The Pani Projector I bought in ’87 was Brightest on Earth at the time (and briefly the only one in Australia) and cost me $4000 S/H.  I sold it for $15,000 in 2010.  (Replacement value around $40,000)