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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » TI Digital Projection Demo

Author Topic: TI Digital Projection Demo
Brad Miller

 - posted 05-30-1999 12:59 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
Well, today Texas Instruments did a demonstration at the Granada Prestonwood
theater here in Dallas of their new DLP projector. It was projected on a 45 foot
wide screen and the frame rate was indeed 24 frames per second, as is film.

What can I say? It looked great!

Now there are a few things to consider...
*They were using a higher powered xenon light source than was the film projector
normally used in that auditorium (5000 watts).
*The source material came from a D5 digital videotape UNcompressed, whereas
actual movies will be beamed down from satellite using compressed video.
*The actual projector was a prototype unit, which of course means by the time
the assembly line starts rolling them out, the design will have been changed to
keep costs down and quality will obviously suffer.
*The source material was transferred to digital videotape DIRECTLY from the
master film negative, bypassing all the internegs the image normally degrades

So here's the bottom line as I see it...

What I saw today represented the absolute best possible presentation of the new
technology and will not be reproduced in actual theaters running actual movies
(unless they improve dramatically in the future). But in all fairness, I must say it
looked better than 95% of ALL theaters I have been to.

Note: My personal preference is if I wanted to see a movie that was not playing at
one of the couple of good theaters here locally, I would prefer to see it in digital
over a "typical" film presentation.

TI said the cost is about $80,000.00 for the projector and they don't expect to
see it in any number of theaters for several years, probably more than 10 years.

Pictures of the setup are being added to the Pic Warehouse page. What does
everyone else think?

Joe Redifer

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:00 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
I saw the TI video projector and it looks great! However the whole reason
(mostly) this is all coming into place is because is because it will save the studios a
TON of cash in printing and distrubution. Exhibitors don't really benifit
economically from it, except that they will no longer need to have a projectionist
(hasn't that been their ultimate goal all along anyway?). Sure, the quality is better
that the typical film presentation because it doesn't bounce around or have
scratches caused by a bad projectionist, or even dirt or lab splices. The sound will
NEVER cut out. But who's gonna pay? I say the studios should pay for it
99.99999% if they expect every theatre worldwide to convert. They are the ones
who benefit by saving money and having control over their films. Studios have
tried to grasp this kind of control once on the home video movie was
called DIVX. They just can't get enough control.

The way this will probably be set up is the movie will be sent over a satellite and
stored on a massive server in the theatre hooked up to the managers' computer.
The studios will subplant a code that makes the movie "expire" after a certain
amount of weeks, that way there is no pirating or anything like that. If the movie
does well, the studio can extend the playing time. With all of the movies pn one
server, the management can easilly "move the print" to another auditorium witht he
computer mouse. But what happens when they forget and you have every movie
playing on the wrong screen? I guess it would be easy to assign the data to new
screens on the fly. But the typical management forgets a lot of things. This will be

Also, if they are going to go ahead and replace EVERY SINGLE FILM
PROJECTOR IN THE WORLD with digital projection, why don't they just go all
the way and make the quality BETTER than 70mm? That way every movie would
look phenomenal. But they stopped just shy of 35mm quality. That's like DVD
coming out when it did, but it's not compatible with HDTV, so they will need to
come up with a whole new DVD scheme to take advantage of the high resolution
of HDTV. They should take the time NOW to make sure that at worst, digital
projection EXCEEDS 70mm quality even on an 80 foot screen.

Also, since most dollar movie theatres do not pay royalties to the studios for the
movies that they show, how will they be able to obtain video
projectors--especially when there isn't much, if any film to support them? I'm no
fan of these theatres, but I don't see how they could survive on their own. How
about independantly owned theatres as well?

Mark Ogden

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:01 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
There's some other things to consider about Digital projection. First of all, for
every problem with print projection, there is a problem for video projection. Dirty
prints? Digital alaising. Scratches? Motion artifacts (I would love to see a movie
like "Days of Thunder" in MPEG 2 compressed HDTV). Late shipments? Satellite
sunspot outages, or if delivered by digital satellite, rain fade. Brain wrap?. . .well,
alright, I'll give you that one. But also, this idea of having a multi channel server for
the entire plex: Let's say it's a busy summer weekend at a 24 plex, you've got a lot
full of cars. All of a sudden, the server goes down, and ALL 24 screens go dark.
Are you prepared to hand out 5000 breakdown passes at once? (and don't let
anybody tell you that with a RAID system it can't happen. All it takes is one
breaker.) Also, who is going to maintain these systems? A film projector is a
pretty straight foward device. Surely this things will require maintenance and
adjustment. How long before I can get someone who knows these machines on
24 hr. call?
I hate to sound like a luddite, but digital projection is fixing something that just isn't
broken. There is no real advantage to us, as far as I can tell. The Popcorn Brigade
here has gotten awfully good at clamping and walking a feature (although God
help me if I can find them if someone tries to flush a whole roll of paper).

Joe Redifer

 - posted 05-30-1999 01:01 AM            Edit/Delete Post 
Excellent post! Many good points, Mark! Yoyr comments have made think of a
few other things as well concerning the computerized storage of "major motion
pictures". What if the hard drive gets fragmented? Will the candy counter girl have
the duty of defragging it whenever a new movie comes in? Will there be dropped
frames? Can I upload a virus to it somehow? What if the hard drive gets
physically damaged? Whoops! What if somebody walks next to the server with a
giant magnet of some sort?

My point is that it seems that it would be easy to thwart movies played by the
computer. It takes planning, time, skill, and effort to thwart the whole booth when
it is running film., plus there is a better chance that it can be fixed, and your whole
theatre does not go down.

Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 981
From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-16-1999 11:19 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Digital Projectors are "on-loan" for 5 days of screening at the Cinemark Legacy 24 in Plano, TX.

I have not seen the images yet but hope to during one of my shifts.

Lamphouse is a Christie SLC70-2. This is in our biggest house using the 3rd porthole. It was attached to a disk array with 18 hard drives. Size unknown.

Will try to get more information this evening.

I am not sure how the screening is working as far as attendance is concerned.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7991
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-16-1999 12:25 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is the first that I'd heard of the Cinemark screening. What are they showing? How long is the run?

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 981
From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-16-1999 04:14 PM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We will be showing Star Wars - EP1. Time is 10:00 am.

This projector was used at the Loews in New York.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9460
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-16-1999 05:09 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It is friday night the theatre is packed The hereo is about to rescue the girl and all of a sudden a blue screen and in big block letters
A few minutes latter with scan disk running a message apears
The staff is busy giving refunds and a message appears

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17687
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 09-16-1999 11:02 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Am I to understand this will be using a 7000 watt xenon? Be SURE and check the meter reading and post the actual amps here on the forum during an actual show.

At the demo I saw, it was announced the xenon was a 4000 watt running below 4000 watts. Not so...I looked at the lamphouse myself and it was running at full blown 5000 watts, against a 4k 35mm presentation.

What size lamps do you normally run in that house?

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 981
From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-17-1999 09:44 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The regular lamp is a 6K xenon. New Facts about the system.

1. George wouldn't release the sound track until yesterday. When this is over, sound disk drive is sent back. Video drives stay with system.

2. System is projecting 1280 x 1024 resolution.

3. Up close viewing showed very little pixelation. Not any different than being right in front of a TV

4. Image was very bright and smooth. Saw about the first 10 minutes. Even the scene with Queen Amidala talking through the porthole with the wavy lines was very smooth.

5. System runs one disk 9GB for sound, 18 9GB drives for video. Very little compression at this point. They anticipate total disk space at about 50 GB in future.

More as I get it.

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 981
From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 09-20-1999 11:22 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Additional Facts:
1. Projector is using 6K watts of power.
2. Image is being projected at 24 frames per/second. They (TI) want the impression of a movie. Not Video.
3. TI commented that Spielberg (sp?) saw a demo and ask if this was film or "video". They liked that because he couldn't tell the difference. They had set up a side by side demo showing film first, then Digital (DLP). He came in after the film part was over.

My Impressions:
WOW! I know that we may not want to hear this but I was truly impressed. During the pod racing scenes, everything there was great detail. Even fine items like whisps of hair blowing in the wind were clear. Busy scenes like the light saber battle and the red doors. Very fine detail.

Production plans are unclear. There may be servers setup playing data from DVD drives to start. Fiber optics running from server to projection head. This way if you want to move screens, you make a change at a patch panel to direct input to a different projector.

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