East Van VODVILLE - The Vancouver Pantages Mini Movie Theatre

So Janet and I built a thing, a mini movie theatre:

The interior is a homage to the 1907 Vancouver Pantages Theatre which was demolished in 2011, and the site, as tradition demands, was turned into condos.

I started by collecting as many photos of the Pantages as I could. This flickr page was super helpful

From the photos, and the lot dimensions I was able to approximate the size and layout of the interior. I modeled most of it in Fusion 360, and used Rhino3d for anything more artistically inclined.

Some sections, like the openings below the boxes I discovered later had different openings, and the seating layout is a complete guess, so its definitely a homage rather than an exact recreation. That said I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

The parts got 3d printed out of PETG, (FDM because its what I have). Some of the more fiddly details like the decorative plaster on the boxes was printed out, molded, and stamped out in Apoxy Sculpt, with some handwork to clean it up.


Janet did a kickass job finishing the dome, apparently Mr Surfacer and lots of sanding will make any amount of layer lines go away.

Behind the scenes I have a RaspberyPi Model B, hooked up to a 7" HDMI screen .

The Pi is running a (heavily) modified version of RPI Video Looper.

I set it up so that on boot it makes a list of mp4 files on the usb, and when the button is pressed it plays the next movie on the list.

There is also a mosfet to control the theatre lights (so they dim when a movie starts), an opticoupler to toggle the power switch on the monitor (to help make the backlight last longer), and some debounce filtering on the button.

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A work of art!!!

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Mouting the theatre,
Step 1 convince your partner to drill holes in the side of the hackspace in the hot sun.


Step 2 mount an wooden holder with an insertable acrylic window over the eyehole (these are removeable by undoing the centre top screw, I have a stack of spares).

Step 3 Carriage bolt the theatre front on

Voila its a theatre:

The centre part is petg, the rest is plywood. We’ll see how it holds up in the weather. I am planning on UV clear coating it all.

Once the theatre gets put in place and plugged in:

I am still in the process of stability testing the whole thing, so if you go to look at the theatre and its locked up, or the screen is off, best bet is to power cycle the power bar here:

Come check it out on the side of the Hackspace

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Incidentally, if the spelling of VODVILLE is making anyone twitch, there are two reasons for it. 1: you press the button, you get the Video, On Demand. 2) based on what we could figure from looking at old photos of the wreckage after the theatre was bombed by the mob back in 1933, it was probably actually spelled this way. Why? who knows, but my money is on saving a whole extra letter’s worth of those newfangled electric lights.

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Whats playing at the East Van VODVILLE right now?

Its our summer solstice soft opening!
A silent fiction quadruple feature!
with clips from four classics of Science Fiction.

All this presented in glorious TINY VISION™!

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I love this so much!

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Saw this today and it is fantastic! Well done!

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We increased the seating capacity with a couple extra holes. Cozy on up with a friend and share the magic.

Also Janet swapped out the usb key that the movies are stored on with one that was manufactured in the last decade. So far it seems like it has solved the freezing up problem.

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I absolutely love this project! @dbynoe can I pick your brain sometime about the details of the Pi setup that you have driving this thing? I’m new to Pi, but I have a similar project that I’m keen to set up.

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I also really love this. It’s a total gift to the space and the neighborhood. I hope more members feel empowered to do interactive projects like this.

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Now I want to figure out how to do some interactive LEDs on the outside or front office window! :joy:

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@Weas3l Do you know that there’s a giant LED panel in the front office that’s just waiting for some programing?

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I was thinking of that just now, maybe see about hooking up a kenect or webcam to monitor foot traffic and do some sort of pixel art based on the input…

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That would be awesome! It’s basically just set up to act as an external monitor, mirroring part of your computer screen, so that should be very doable.

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If we can find a spare computer that’s beefy enough to run touch designer, I’d be delighted to collaborate on programming something.

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Regarding the pi setup. I basically copied the instructions from here, including using the old debian version:

After that I modified that guy’s script from here and set it up to load on boot:

Eventually I will get my version up on github.
My only issue with the above is it takes for fricken ever to boot, but I am also running it on a model b. I can also make an image of that card if you just want to copy a working(hopefully) setup.

Re the video wall in the front, the sender card is on the side of it just needs a computer hooked up, it runs like a monitor IIRC it’s something like 256x128.

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This is absolutely beautiful @Metal_Janet and @dbynoe. I can’t believe what you have pulled off here, absolutely amazing.

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Thank you for all the kind words everyone, we’re glad y’all enjoy it!

In response to an accessibility request on our ‘let us know if the theatres broken’ tip line, Janet has built and installed some steps for our still too large to fit in the theatre, but not quite brobdingnagian audience.

Also some of those stumps are out of the DMZ, yay!

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I’m loving all the films so far. I’d also love to guest curate some at a later date if that’s a possibility. If the Vodville Board of Directors would consider proposals, please let me know.

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Thank you!

That is totally a possibility, Janet and I from day one were excited about how fun it would be to have guest curators from a wide variety of background take over the theatre for a run and share with the neighborhood.

Could start that up whenever. Rough criteria currently proposed are:

  • No longer than 3:30. (I have a 7 minute film up now and that was a mistake)
  • This theatre is viewable by all ages, program accordingly
  • Any moment of a film could be the viewers first impression, don’t make us make a rule.
  • The curator is responsible for ensuring that they have the appropriate permissions to display the film’s they are showing.

Our current project is to finish building the updated exterior (Janet is building a marquee, with backlighting I’m excited). I’m finishing up the doors before working on the rest of the facade.

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