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Home » Applications » Cinema » 35 mm Film Projector Lamps

35 mm Film Projector Lamps

The 35 mm film gauge is synonymous with the greatest moments in cinema history, and despite the growth of digital cinema, the long-time film industry standard still commands a fan base faithful to this beautiful format. Over the course of its history, Ushio has taken great pride in its groundbreaking development of cinema projector lamps, allowing audiences across the world to launch cinematic presentations in unprecedented clarity and brightness. Ushio was the first manufacturer worldwide to make xenon short arc lamps specifically for use in cinemas and, in doing so, revolutionised the way we enjoy movies. Cinema operators and projector manufacturers alike quickly realised that Ushio delivers the best light sources on the market, and continues to, over half a century later.

How does a 35 mm film projector work?

The Ushio UXL and UXL-H lamp series’ have been designed, and updated over the years, to bring the best quality light sources to professional standard film projection systems. Without a powerful light source, there can be no image on the screen; however the lamp still needs help from a set of innovative components that bring 35 mm movie magic to your audience.

The following diagram illustrates the basic principles of how 35 mm cinema projection works, and the role Ushio’s xenon short arc lamps have to play in this innovative system. Below the diagram, expand each component of the system to learn more about that stage of the projection process.

How does 35 mm film projection work?

Ushio’s UXL xenon short arc lamps are high-intensity point light sources, i.e. their light spreads out from a single point. The bright white light from a xenon short arc lamp strikes a strong resemblance to daylight, so the lamp is particularly suitable for commercial film projectors. 

At the rear of the 35 mm film projection system, a concave reflector is positioned behind the Ushio xenon short arc lamp to ensure any wasted light is bounced back towards the condenser lens. The presence of the reflector maximises power efficiency and improves image brightness.

The Ushio lamp beams high-intensity visible rays into the projector housing where a well-placed lens condenses the light. This condenser lens focuses the light rays and directs them accurately at the film gate.

Between the condenser and the gate, a spinning paddle called the shutter rotates three times every second in order to reduce the appearance of image flicker on the screen.

The film gate itself acts as a window which holds each frame in place for one twenty-fourth of a second. This process is supported by a network of film spools and film advance mechanisms (not pictured) which feed the film through the gate at the desired speed of 24 frames per second (FPS). The light rays pass through the gate, and ultimately the 35 mm film, where they take on the colour properties present in the film image.

The final component in the process is the projection lens itself. The light which has now travelled through the gate and film is finally catapulted onto the screen in stunning 35 mm – the pinnacle of analogue movie brilliance.

Ushio’s xenon short arc 35 mm film projector lamp series

UXL lamps are designed to preserve the glory of 35mm film projection. For cinemas who wish to remain true to the traditions of the silver screen, there can be no other choice than the UXL series. Due to their unprecedented durability and reliability, these analogue xenon lamps are a constant light source, available in power ratings from 500 W to 10,000 W.

UXL-H The high-efficiency lamps are the perfect choice for your film projector, offering either an average of 50% longer warranty period or 30% more lumens, compared with conventional xenon lamps. The most versatile film projector lamp series ever produced proves that you don’t have to go digital to benefit from our technological advances. These lamps can be identified by the additional ‘H’ at the end of the type designation.

From sci-fi to reality: Ushio’s movie technology prepares for launch

The legendary UXL series is not restricted to illuminating cinematic stars, with regular deployment for studies of the celestial variety too. The European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) made use of Ushio’s UXL lamps during the research and development phase of the BepiColombo Mercury Planetary Orbiter. BepiColombo began its mission to the least explored planet in the solar system, on 20 August 2018. At the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) facility in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, Ushio designed an array of UXL lamps to simulate conditions 91.7 million kilometres closer to the sun than Earth. This enabled the ESA managed project to test the radiation resistance of their Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) and the Mercury Magnetospheric Orbiter (MMO), which must endure temperatures in excess of 350°C if they are to complete their mission.

Ushio is ready deliver 35 mm film projector lamps to your cinema

Ushio Europe is a longstanding ally of the worldwide cinema industry, and a pioneer in the manufacture of top quality xenon cinema projector lamps. With a huge selection of lamps built to the highest specifications, Ushio is able to furnish every one of your screens with the vivid and clear images which your audience expects. We place no significance on whether our customers require a low power lamp for a single screen art-house, or a selection of setups for an entire theatre chain of 25 screen multiplexes.

Ushio’s latest brochures and product catalogues can be found on our downloads page. If you are ready to make a formal enquiry, please fill in the form on our contact page.

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