Trivia About the Mitchell Geared Head and Friction Head

As we continued our search to find the proper name for the Mitchell geared head, which we still have not found, we came across this charming advertisement that Mitchell placed in “American Cinematographer” magazine in March 1931. In the ad, there are two camera operators, one using a geared head and one a friction head. The geared head operator laments the ease of use of the friction head and its telescoping pan handle. I have yet to find any advertising that specifically names the Mitchell geared head, but this ad leads me to believe that the geared head preceded the friction head in Mitchell’s product line. Researching further in my own library, I have a 1920s Mitchell equipment catalog that outlines their full current product line. Both the geared head and the friction head are included in the catalog, though the geared head is not given a specific name and is only discussed along with their improved wooden tripod. The friction head, on the other hand, is specifically called a “Friction Tilthead” and discussed on its own page as a new item. I would still love to know the proper name for the geared head, but I thought I would share these interesting tidbits.

2 thoughts on “Trivia About the Mitchell Geared Head and Friction Head”

  1. I don’t think the “geared head” had any special name early on. What we call the “geared head” was the only Mitchell camera pan/tilt head (same with B&H) until George came out later with his “Friction” head.

    Hence the Friction Head got a name to differentiate it, but the standard (geared) head was just the Mitchell “standard” Tripod Head.

    1. That seems to agree with everything we have seen in their publicity material. In the visual effects world, we just called it a straight head. Just wondered, since Mitchell was so proud of naming all of its products, if it had an official name, or at least a part number.

Comments are closed.