ARKO Background Projector designed and built by Harry Cunningham

ARKO Background Projector

From the collection of Jim Danforth comes another breathtaking piece of equipment, one of the very few surviving ARKO Background Projectors designed and built by Harry Cunningham for Willis O’Brien to create the visual effects for “Mighty Joe Young” (1949). Jim’s early career earned him the reputation of being an extraordinary stop motion animator, sculptor, matte painter, artist, and film technician. During pre-production for “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” (1970), Jim was lucky enough to meet George Randall, the preeminent machinist of optical printing and animation cameras at the time. George had purchased the business and inventory of noted Hollywood machinist and engineer Harry Cunningham when Cunningham retired, including two incomplete ARKO Background Projectors. Jim was able to make a deal with George to complete one of the ARKO Projectors, and when it was completed, went to work creating the dinosaurs and visual effects for “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth”. The main body of the projector is in very good condition, having been stored properly over the years. Jim’s custom designed lamp house, motor drive, and controller are in desperate need of restoration. Work will begin on these soon.