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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Old style marquees (Snap-Lok letters) (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Old style marquees (Snap-Lok letters)
Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 07-12-2005 02:29 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've been looking all morning/afternoon for a company that still makes the retro style marquees: The ones with the metal bars across white plastic with flourescent bulbs, and then the letters, which are quite large with hooks cut in them, slide on the metal bar strips.

This is the best pic I could find on the internet:
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Any links to signage companies that make these cool retro marquees?

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Adam Wilbert
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 590
From: Bellingham, WA, USA
Registered: Mar 2002


 - posted 07-12-2005 03:35 PM      Profile for Adam Wilbert   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Wilbert   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
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I know when Harkins re-opened the Valley Art, they bought boxes of those cast aluminum letters from a guy in Florida who was selling them on eBay. To the best of my knowledge, nobody makes them anymore, so you just have to find someone with "authentic" letters.
Click for more pictures of Harkins Valley Art, before and after

There are some trashy looking ones on eBay right now

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Floyd Justin Newton
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 559
From: Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Registered: Jun 2002


 - posted 07-12-2005 07:24 PM      Profile for Floyd Justin Newton   Email Floyd Justin Newton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Andy--

Look at Snap-Lok or Wagner Signs. Many eons ago, when I was an
usher, we had the 12" Wagner slotted letters. At that time they cost about $1.50 each. They are still in production, how-
ever!

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Mike Croaro
Master Film Handler

Posts: 307
From: Millbrae, CA
Registered: Apr 2005


 - posted 07-12-2005 09:41 PM      Profile for Mike Croaro   Email Mike Croaro   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Folks:

Bevelite Adler was a big manufacturer of these old style marquee letters. They changed their name to Gemini about 10 years ago. I would suspect the letters are still made. A good sign company should be able to order them as well as most theatre supply houses.

Mike

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10540
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 07-12-2005 10:48 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Slotted letters are still in use. Wagner Zip Change is the most popular vendor of such letters. Gemini also sells a good bit. Slotted changeable copy letters are not nearly as common as the flat "zip" type letters that slide into clear plastic track.

Where budgets allow, these types of changeable copy signs are falling out of favor and being replaced with LED-based electronic message centers. There's lots of advantages in such signs -with one of the big ones being you don't have to be out there in the weather trying to fiddle with letters using some suction cup thingie on a pole.

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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-13-2005 01:20 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Bobby Henderson
Where budgets allow, these types of changeable copy signs are falling out of favor and being replaced with LED-based electronic message centers. There's lots of advantages in such signs -with one of the big ones being you don't have to be out there in the weather trying to fiddle with letters using some suction cup thingie on a pole.
Except for historic applications. Some buildings on the National Register, prohibiting use of federal grant money (which lots of non-profits live on)to be used to alter the front of the building from original appearance. Also, for-profit historic theaters which do not seek grant money may be in historic districts where code may not allow alteration of the facade, etc. from historic appearance. The New Orleans Saenger is a for-profit in such a district & would not be able to replace its hanging-letter sign, not that it would want to do so, since the theatre has a permanent restoration & preservation program.

There are a number of non-profit PAC's that have gotten waivers, etc. to replace original hanging-letter signs with LED or fiber optic so it looks modern, they're too lazy to go out & change the sign, or they just want to be seen as "doing something", but historic facades with ultra-modern signage really do look not just awkward, but tasteless. In 10 years, they'll look just like the ugly commercial storefronts downtown built in the '30s or earlier that had contemporary aluminum & porcelain features strapped on the front to look 'modern' in the 50s & 60s that caused the blighted look that brought codes for facades into being in the first place.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4397
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 07-13-2005 05:49 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We sell Gemini & Wagner letters on a daily basis. 90% chance to match anything. Louis

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 07-13-2005 10:07 AM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, I found a bunch of companies that sell the Snap-Lok and Gemini letters, but I was wandering/looking for a company that still made the actual marquee that these specific letters go on.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4397
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 07-13-2005 11:07 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Lookat sign shops that indicate they sell NEON signs. While not all of them will do lettewrboards, they will ceertainly know who does. Remember these are glorified fluorescent fixtures with panels attached. This may be something you can do yourself; letters and track are available from any of us.

Louis

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Brandon Willis
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 216
From: Richmond, VA, USA
Registered: Apr 2004


 - posted 07-19-2005 03:39 PM      Profile for Brandon Willis   Email Brandon Willis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's a cool picture of a Cineplex Odeon drive in marquee. Is the theatre still operating or has it had "closed for the season" on the marquee for like 10 years or something?

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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 07-19-2005 03:49 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Showtimes can be found at:
http://www.cineplexgalaxy.com

Its in Manitoba.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10540
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 07-19-2005 09:52 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Any custom sign company worth a damn will be able to make a theater marquee with little trouble. That includes the company where I work. But I'm not going to spam my company here.

We just made a pretty nice, but kinda generic, marquee sign for an unusual client: North Texas State Hospital, a mental care facility. It has a vertical "blade" type sign featuring open channel letters with exposed neon. The letters simply say "theater". The sign also has a V-shaped marquee using 4 inch Zip style letters.

It's not very difficult to make a great looking marquee at all. What's difficult it designing it where you can actually attach it to a building of any historical significance. Features of the building have to bear the load of the sign. Often you'll see tension cables, kickbacks and other stabilizing devices added to such signs to spread out the weight load of the sign.

quote: William Hooper
historic facades with ultra-modern signage really do look not just awkward, but tasteless
That really depends on two factors. 1: How the sign is designed, 2: How the sign is maintained.

On the design front, there's lots of hacks and wannabes in the sign industry and graphic design industry in general who really need to have jobs elsewhere. That business is NOT a democracy. Not everybody deserves to get work there. It's just like any other skilled profession. You need to have some talent and skill to do the work. Unfortunately enough dumbasses out there believe computers are doing all the work and therefore believe anyone can do graphic design -so just hire the jerk willing to work for the least amount of money. If anyone wants to bitch and gripe about how bad the commercial districts look, particularly in regard to signs a major part of the cause is what I just described.

The maintenance factor is a much worse problem.

Some people may dislike LED video boards and think they're all obnoxious. But let's not overlook the areas where traditional changeable copy signs start looking like hell. The cabinets need periodic service. The letter track has to be cleaned otherwise dirt builds. Drive through any business district and you're bound to see at least a few changeable copy signs with burnt out lamps and ballasts --if not blown out sign faces.

As far as taste goes, the thing I don't like about most changeable copy signs is the start white background. With smaller letters, the effect of halation can be a big problem. The lighted white background can literally flood away the readability of the letters. It's a pain to make reverse "Zip Lite" letters and other similar solutions work well.

Most LED-based boards, even the RGB video models, are flat units. They could use more style, particularly in how they're framed. However, some custom applications of LEDs have curved around building surfaces, replaced the chase lights in channel letters and been turned into flowing ribbons of color far beyond anything movies like Bladerunner predicted. Suchs signs represent the very top end of sign products. Unfortunately they're expensive as hell.

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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 07-25-2005 04:34 AM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'll immediately agree that some designs are really good solutions to the problem of what to put up that will look OK, & some are awful. But they're both in the category of doing what can be done with an assignment that's not going to come out looking 'right' anyway.

quote: Bobby Henderson
As far as taste goes, the thing I don't like about most changeable copy signs is the start white background. With smaller letters, the effect of halation can be a big problem. The lighted white background can literally flood away the readability of the letters.
You've admitted that you don't like the way they look, personally I don't have a preference as far as the signs in isolation are concerned. It's just that they're an awkward & blatantly inaccurate-looking modern replacement item on historic facades. As such, they may also be prohibited in some cases.

A big disadvantage LED signs have that you don't mention is that when a hurricane's on the way, you can't just take down the letters & panels until the thing's gone, & still have your sign...

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John Hegel
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 166
From: Lake Mills, Iowa
Registered: Sep 2000


 - posted 08-01-2005 01:07 AM      Profile for John Hegel   Author's Homepage   Email John Hegel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Does anyone else have a sign with "Adler Silhouette" 3D letters on it? I'v been looking around, but noone has heard of them.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4397
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 08-02-2005 03:14 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Adler became Bevelite-Adler in the 60s or 70s. It was absorbed into Gemini in the 80s. Alas. it is the end of the run for the wonderful letters you show in your picture. (Dick Strauss (Bevelite) was a good friend and the world's oldest hippie. About 80 when he died.)

Louis

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