April 21, 2024

Scene-in-Action Patent, 1931

Now here’s something that you motion lamp fans can really sink your teeth into. Shown here are the two pages of illustrations that accompanied a patent applied for by Alfred H. Zeledon on the behalf of Scene-in-Action, the pioneering motion lamp manufacturer. This is good stuff, as it clearly shows the extent to which S-I-A pushed the envelope. Filed on June 10, 1931, the first part of the description doesn’t hint at anything ground breaking:
“My invention relates to an improvement in display devices and has for one purpose the provision of a display device which shall consist of or include a picture having fixed parts and moving parts, the moving parts giving the appearance of actual motion during the actuation of the device.”
Much later in the description is the part that I find interesting, the idea of using a special bulb to enhance the illusion of movement:
“In the place of the generally smooth bulb of Figure 5 I may employ the bulb of Figure 10 which carries substantially the same design on it, either in color or in relief as is carried on the outer screen of Figure 8. This bulb may have the water undulations or relief G, a portion G1 corresponding to the portion E2 of the screen, the cloud covered sky G3 and the rocks or mountains G4. Preferably the design is helped out in relief, the undulating character of the water being clearly illustrated in Figure 10. However, the same effect may be obtained at least partially by merely varying the translucence and color of the various parts of the design.”
It can only be assumed that this high spirited bit of thinking lost momentum when faced with the challenge of putting it into practical use. I’m certain that the expense of using specialized bulbs made the idea quite impossible. The “plan B” he mentions, the “varying the translucence and color” became the standard method of creating an illusion of motion, a technique employed even today.