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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Star Wars - TI/DLP review

   
Author Topic: Star Wars - TI/DLP review
Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7851
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-27-1999 09:40 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, I drove to NJ to check out the Texas Instruments DLP system that they're using for the test screenings of Star Wars. I have heard enough bad things about the Hughes/JVC/CineComm system that is being demo'd in Paramus, NJ ("looks like big-screen TV") that I didn't bother to go and see that. Anyway, I wrote up a review that turned out to be a lot longer that I had expected, so I'm posting the link to it here. Any other comments from those who have seen the DLP system in action would be very interesting. The TI people were a bit shy about letting people take pictures, so I had to be content with one shot of the projector and some snapshots of the banners and marquee outside the theatre. Basically, the system looks much like the one that Brad has pictures of on this site, although this demo had the film on a hard disk RAID array, rather than D-5 tape.

http://www.redballoon.net/~snorwood/dlp.html

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17589
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 06-27-1999 12:50 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Aha. Now someone else agrees with me how good this "video" can look. I am certainly NOT pushing the demise of film in any way, but after seeing a demo locally am amazed.

The two biggest things I noticed was:

#1 steadiness. Working with Christie projectors on a regular basis, I am certain the DLP people must be paying them to make poor quality projectors to make the DLP system look better in comparison.

Seriously though, the steadiness is unbelieveable. I've only seen pictures that steady from Centurys, Norelco AA2s and a few Simplexes! The DLP system really is as steady as a slide.

#2 I don't like to see movies at 95% of the theaters. By the time I can catch the show (usually on opening weekend Sunday) they have ruined the print with dirt in every instance and many times scratches. Sad as this sounds, I would rather go to a DLP theater 3 days into a run as opposed to a 35mm theater (not good ones, but typical ones) to catch a show. The digital motion artifacts and lower contrast isn't enough to distract like plain ol' dirt is.

Blame it on cheap exhibitors. They are the ones buying junk equipment and tossing kids in the booth without full training (if any). That single reason alone is why DLP will prevail...and sadly enough, I don't think it will take 20 years.

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Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-27-1999 11:51 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott, I'm glad you got to see EP1 in a digital format. I wish I could see it. I did get to see the NATO shootout in Denver, last fall and was very impressed by it all. However you wish to compare the digital process using Lawrence of Arabia and 2001 as examples. Both of those movies were shot in 70mm. Lawrence is the clearest film I have ever seen. I beleive that this would be an unfair comparison for digital cinema. It would be interesting though.

I was suprised that you stated that you could see pixals. The resolution of that TI chip is either 1024 x 768 or it is the new chip which is 1280 x 1024. In the demos I have seen, I couldn't see individual pixals until I got up to the screen.

I beleve that EP1 may have been the perfect "film" to unvail digital cinema with. So much of the film is CG that the film has nowhere near the resolution of a "live action" film. It's like using a Warner Bros cartoon to say that 16mm is just as good as 35mm. I will withold my utimate opinion untill I see more.

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Christopher Seo
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 530
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-28-1999 08:23 AM      Profile for Christopher Seo   Email Christopher Seo   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wait a second... both of those resolutions you mentioned are less than what my own computer monitor is capable of. Are you telling me I can get 35mm picture quality with my monitor?

If so, then does that mean the only barrier to my monitor replacing film projection is that it's not big enough and the light isn't strong enough?

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Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-28-1999 11:16 AM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, your computer monitor can show those resolutions for a still graphic image. After all, it was on a monitor like yours that ILM did all that CG for Star Wars. It does't do so well with an image in motion. It doesn't have the video handleing ability that a proper projector has. There is also the problem of shining that image on a 30' wide screen.

We have had portions of the technology for years. They show 35mm film in cinemas. I have a 35mm still camera at home. They show electronic cinema in cinemas, You can show the stills from the film on your computer.

In the end all that matters is Story Telling. I have said it before and I will say it again. It is the story that matters not the technology behind it. We Tech-Heads sometimes forget. If the technology advances the story great. If it doesn't, no one will care and it will be cast aside.

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Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-28-1999 11:33 AM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
And one more thing. Digital Cinema is nowhere near 35mm film quality. The analagous resolution of 35mm still film is 6,000 lines. HDTV will only be 1080 lines. (All resolutions are for vertical only.) So far TI electronic cinema is 1280 lines on the chip but because the image is 185:1 or 235:1 they are using less of the chip. (note: for the TI demo they use an animorphic lens for Scope.) Now moving the 35mm film through the camera does introduce some motion distortion the theoretical resolution is reduced somewhat.

What they are aiming for in Electronic Cinema is the most watchable image for the least amount of money. What the few of us who have seen in the Demos now know is that they now have a watchable image. Now comes the money part. Stay tuned.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12855
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 06-28-1999 12:33 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't think comparing the reactions of DLP to the reactions of "The Jazz Singer" in 1927 is quite accurate. Imagine, for the first time that actors on screen can be heard in sync with the picture. That really freaked audiences out. However, people are used to moving images onscreen and synced sound now. The reaction probably is non-existent by the general public. I hardly doubt most people can tell the difference between film and the DLP. The general public is more than happy with VHS quality video. They cannot notice all of the digital artifacts on DVD discs (I can't miss 'em).

I wouldn't be surprised if they are using crappy xenons or running the 35mm prints slightly out of focus so the DLP looks better in comparison. This is probably always the case with Sony/Lowes/Cineplex/Whatever, but the 35mm auditoriums sure didn't get any TLC. I have gotten the odd complaint that one of my prints of Star Wars was "too bright" on one of my 55 foot screens. No, it did not have a hot spot nor was it strobing badly, it was just bright. Probably came from a customer used to seeing movies at the bargain theatres or something. But it just goes to show you that if the 35mm prints at the Sony/Lowes/Cineplex/Whatever theatre had given as much TLC to the 35mm auditoriums as they did to their big house, the 35mm would look as good and probably a bit better than the DLP. But since Star Wars was edited digitally, the image isn't wonderful to begin with. Oh well.

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Sheldon Harris
Film Handler

Posts: 16
From: Chicago, IL USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-28-1999 01:33 PM      Profile for Sheldon Harris   Author's Homepage   Email Sheldon Harris   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott... thank you for the very interesting review. I want to add that your are probably too long on your time frame. In five years, any new multi-screen complex by the major players such as, Regal, General Cinema, Loews will be digital projection. Older first run locations will get converted within the next five or six years as the system demonstrates its viability and the accountants convince management that it'll be a great tax advantage to fully depreciate the old equipment. I agree that film will be around for a long time yet, but not at the "top" locations.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17589
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 06-28-1999 04:06 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Excellent point Sheldon. With these digital manufacturers practically giving the equipment away to get the format implanted in the market (as I understand it), I am betting 5 years is a good comprimise to the 2 year prediction and what will really happen.

And I am referring only to new opening complexes here. You may be right on the 20 years for existing theaters.

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