Los Angeles Motion Picture Company, Los Angeles, California       1918? - 1922? 



This Panoramic Tripod was manufactured by the Los Angeles Motion Picture Company of Los Angeles, California, a manufacturer and supplier known mostly for their professional motion picture equipment.


It's referred to here as the "Panoramic Tripod", having only a pan movement with no tilting head feature, and for the present being unidentified as to its correct name. The tripod features a geared panoramic head and very substantial legs, which are features seen on professional tripods. However, weighing slightly more than 7 pounds with a retracted height of about 33", a maximum working height of about 53" and a 1/4" mounting thread, indicates this tripod was intended for amateur use. Interest in commercially viable amateur motion pictures began in the late teens, with several film widths and configurations being explored, some of which actually made it to market. However, it wasn't until Eastman Kodak's introduction of 16mm film in 1923 along with the cameras and projectors to support it, that the amateur movement really took off.


The Los Angeles Motion Picture Company makes its first appearance in the Los Angeles City Directory, 1913, listing Carl Sternlov as manager at 414 S. Los Angeles. Sternlov is also listed in the same directory as the manager of the Los Angeles Motion Picture Supply Company at 114 E. 7th.

A Souvenir, Picture Player Camera Men's Ball, Rutherford's January 16, 1914, contains an ad for the company's "Angelus" Professional Camera along with other motion picture support equipment:



         Cover of a Souvenir, Picture Player Camera Men's Ball, Rutherford's January 16, 1914             Source: The Internet Archive



         Ad from a Souvenir, Picture Player Camera Men's Ball, Rutherford's January 16, 1914           Source: The Internet Archive



                         From The Moving Picture World, September 25, 1915


The Los Angeles City Directory, 1915, lists the L.A. Motion Picture Co. as camera manufacturers at 215 E. Washington Street, with Harry Paulis as manager.

As noted in the advertisements above, the company was either manufacturing or marketing motion picture cameras, tripods and other motion picture equipment under the "Angelus" name. During the mid-teens, the company was able to manufacture (or to assemble components by other manufacturers for) motion picture cameras and other equipment in America, when their importation from the U.K. became restricted by the Motion Picture Patents Company (the Edison Trust). According to McKeown's Price Guide to Antique & Classic Cameras 2005-2006, the company was also known as the "Angeles Camera Co."

An article titled "In and Out of West Coast Studios" from Motion Picture News, March 4, 1916, noted the marriage of Carl Franzen Sternlov to Charmian Butts Bacon on February 2, at the Hotel Alexandria, Los Angeles.  The article went on to state that Sternlov, who was formerly manager of the Los Angeles Motion Picture Company, is the manager of personal business for D.W. Griffith.

As reflected in the advertisement below, by May, 1926, the company's name changed to the L.A. Utility Mfg. Company. The name A.J. Sagon is seen in the ad:



                      From The American Cinematographer May, 1926


The Los Angeles City Directory, 1926  individually lists Harry Paulis of the L.A. Motion Picture Co. and the L.A. Utility Mfg. Company, and Abr. (Abraham) J. Sagon, as manager of the L.A. Motion Picture Company. This same 1926 directory lists both the L.A. Motion Picture Co. and the L.A. Utility Mfg. Company as being a manufacturer of motion picture cameras and utility air brushes with a machine shop, factory and sales room at 215 (or 215-219) E. Washington Street, Los Angeles and with the same Westmore 3485 phone number. 

By 1927, the L.A. Utility Mfg. Company was no longer advertising in the American Cinematographer, and by 1929 the company is no longer listed in the Los Angeles City Directory.


An obituary appearing in the Van Nuys News for January 16, 1964 stated Carl Emil Franzen-Sternov was born in 1870, coming to the United States in 1891 and arriving in Los Angeles in 1901. Sternlov initially worked as a building contractor in Los Angeles and San Pedro. Becoming a pioneer in the motion picture industry, he worked with the Biograph Company under D.W. Griffith before forming his own firm, the Los Angeles Motion Picture Company.  Sternlov reportedly developed and manufactured the first motion picture camera in Los Angeles under the "Angelus" trademark, which was also one of the first motion picture cameras to be manufactured in the United States. Later, after Griffith left Biograph, Sternlov would manage Griffith's private properties. He would remain with Griffith until 1930, returning to the contracting business before retiring at age 85. Sternlov spent his last years in the San Fernando Valley, passing away in 1964 in Granada Hills, Los Angeles at the age of 93.

It's a fitting tribute to Carl Sternlov and the "Angelus" camera, that he is interred at Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles, which was later renamed Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery in 1993 after a change in ownership.


This panoramic tripod, missing its crank handle, has a maker's tag stating "Manufactured By L.A. Motion Picture Co., Los Angeles, Cal., U.S.A." The fields to indicate the tripod's type and serial number are unstamped:






In the absence of any advertising or catalog references for this tripod, it's difficult to pinpoint the date of manufacture. Although 17.5mm film was being experimented with and used by 1898, it wouldn't become a marketable amateur format until the introduction of such cameras as the Movette (1918) and the Actograph (1917). Ultimately, the 17.5mm format would be short-lived and a commercial failure.  Having only a panoramic movement and construction that's more reminiscent of earlier professional tripods, conceivably this tripod could have appeared by 1918.  And by 1923, with Eastman Kodak having introduced a panoramic and tilting head tripod for their first Cine-Kodak 16mm, panoramic-only heads for amateur use would likely have been on their way out.


Any motion picture equipment with the L.A. Motion Picture Company name attached to it is rather rare today and this tripod is no exception.  Surely there must be more, but this is the only example I've ever encountered.