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Author Topic: "Lawrence of Arabia" 70mm from 4K DI
Bill Brandenstein
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 - posted 12-30-2017 12:25 PM      Profile for Bill Brandenstein   Email Bill Brandenstein   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Anyone familiar with the 2012 Sony 4K restoration knows the options for seeing "Lawrence" on the big screen are
- worn, aging 70mm prints from the 1988 restoration
- the 2012 4K DCP
- and now, new 70mm prints from the 4K DI. But is this heresy? Ruination? Well, happy holidays: as they did with "2001" last year, the American Cinematheque has financed its own new 70mm print. But it's from a new negative sourced from the 4K DI.

Took 2 of my kids (who were fully absorbed throughout) to the near sell-out screening at the Egyptian on Thursday night. From row 6, it looked very, very good. Don't hate me for saying this, but I think the resolving power of 1962 camera negative rarely comes up to 4K potential, as widely varying levels of grain, some of which was remarkably pronounced, will attest. However, to see a film-based image, with its remarkable color saturation, deep blacks, and stunning contrast, look this clean and clear was a great and lovely sight to behold. The entire print, as you'd expect, was nearly devoid of any film flaws. If a photochemical print is no longer viable, I'd rather my kids experience it on the big screen this way than through digital projection any day.

To my eye, certainly not of an expert but very discriminating, this presentation did not have a digital look to it. So if any other readers here see a print from the new 70mm generation of "Lawrence," I hope you'll post your critique here.

And I wish the veteran projectionists - Leo, we're looking to you here - who know how the 1988-sourced 70mm prints should look would comment as well after seeing it.

What a great thing it would be if you could interlock two 70mm projectors and run the same reel side-by-side and switch between the two throughout for the sake of comparison.

The Egyptian's presentation was nearly flawless, as you'd expect, as was the print, minus occasional white negative specks, and a very few weird noise or fogging problems in dark parts of the picture that I'm surprised weren't removed digitally with the other negative damage intrusions. (My daughter noticed these, else I wouldn't bother to mention it.)

As if this post isn't long enough, here's an article about the 2012 restoration that spells out some important technical details and distinctives. Photos at the source link are worth your time:

Lawrence of Arabia: Sony's Beautiful 4K Restoration, by Debra Kaufman

quote: Debra Kaufman

When Lawrence of Arabia opened in 1962, Columbia Pictures' epic included a career establishing starring turn by Peter O'Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, the young Omar Sharif, and a stunning score by Maurice Jarre, directed by David Lean and edited by Anne V. Coates. Sony Pictures Entertainment, under the guidance of Grover Crisp, Executive Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering, has brought this film back to life in a stunning 4K restoration that began in 2009 and worked steadily towards the film's 50th anniversary release. In doing so, Sony's restoration team collaborated with its digital intermediate facility Colorworks as well as MTI Film, MTI Film, Prasad Film and Chace Audio.

"I knew it would easily take a year if not two to do all the work that needed to be done," said Crisp, describing why the restoration began in 2009. "I was aware of some of the problems we would encounter and, as we got into it, those problems were far worse than I thought."

Lawrence of Arabia had actually had an extensive reconstruction and restoration in 1988, initiated and overseen by Robert A. Harris and co-produced by Jim Painten. During this reconstruction, Lean and Coates went through every scene to fine tune the movie into the Director's Cut. This version of the film, as it exists in the restored 65mm original negative, was the basis of the new restoration.

But many major problems still existed. One of the issues was that all the 70mm prints over the last two decades had been struck from the duplicate 65mm negative that was made from the 1988 wetgate-manufactured 65mm Interpositive, a process that serves to camouflage many of the scratches and dirt. "We did not have the advantage of scanning this large format film with a wetgate, so all the film's flaws were very evident directly from the original negative," said Crisp.

Other problems included slight color fading and typical wear and tear. The negative was also warped, dried out and exhibited chemical stains. The film was shot in several desert locations and the heat there distorted the film stock in the cameras, in places cracking the emulsion. According to Crisp, "it was unlike anything we had seen before and quite challenging to fix."

"The plan was to fix the damage to the film that they could not deal with in 1988 because the technology didn't exist," he said. "They did a great job in putting the film back together and the photo-chemical work then was top notch, but we knew there would be some challenges ahead for us in going back to the original negative. It was a fragile element then as it is now, damaged, brittle and all those things you'd expect from a film that's half a century old. What we didn't know was how prevalent these problems would be. I thought we'd encounter the worst types of damage in only a few places and instead if was in almost every reel."

The process began with a thorough inspection of the negative a frame at a time, a splice at a time and making a protection element out of it. "We then made a new IP at FotoKem, and that exercise proved to be quite useful," he said. "Prior to making that, we had made a dry print and that showed us the kind of issues we were going to face."

The 65mm original negative was scanned on two large format 65mm Imagica XE scanners at FotoKem at 8K to capture the resolution of the 65mm negative, resulting in a file size of 8192x3584 pixels. "I reserved half of 2010 to do this work," said Crisp. "If you do the math, it's over 325,000 frames at 13 seconds per frame, which equals about 1,200 hours of scanning alone." The files were then reduced to 4K and moved to Sony Pictures Studios' digital image restoration/digital intermediate facility Colorworks for color grading and restoration. But the restoration work would require more than one facility to accomplish.

"We sent some sample test to a number of restoration companies to see how well certain things would be done," he added. Two external groups were selected: Prasad Corporation in India, which handled general image cleanup, and MTI Film in Los Angeles, which handled the more challenging and specialized restoration work. Meanwhile, Chace Audio used the 6-channel stereo masters, which were created in the 1988 restoration, as the basis for restoration and re-mastering.

At Colorworks, colorist Scott Ostrowsky, who had previously graded the restoration of The Bridge on the River Kwai and Taxi Driver among other films, began grading the film. Ostrowsky graded the film with a Baselight 8 in a 4K grading theatre. Ostrowsky had actually worked on the film in 2004/2005, working from a ten-year old HD transfer of the Interpositive. This time, he got the raw scan, which came to him in reels for all the associated dissolves.

"I needed to QC all the reels to make sure every frame was there and in its correct place," Ostrowsky said. "I also needed to make sure there were no duplicate frames and that the conform matched every print exactly." In the second QC pass, Crisp and Ostrowsky catalogued the dirt, scratches and other issues and determined what would go to Prasad for general cleanup or MTI Film for the more complicated issues. "Most of it was highly infected with negative dirt, called minus density that becomes white when it's printed," he said. "There were scratches, bad splices, film bumps and what looked like tiny scratches, which we determined was due to the emulsion cracking."

"The negative was pretty beat up," he added. "It definitely looked its age."

His first step was to put a basic timing on it. "Then we'd watch the 70mm print and compare what I did to that element, to make sure we were consistent with what was done," he said. "Once that was done, we went reel by reel, constantly referencing the previous work." Regarding color, Ostrowsky said there were fading and many shading errors. "When I re-master a feature like Lawrence, you're just trying to make sure that you're getting as close as possible to what David Lean and Freddy Young [the cinematographer] wanted for that project.

One highlight of the project for Ostrowsky was that he worked with Coates. "Anne came in several times," he said. "She certainly knows the film and had a few comments that were very astute. There were about ten areas she wanted touched out of the whole film and I went in and fixed those. She came in again and was impressed with the overall look. The last time she came in to watch the final marriage of picture and sound, a wrapped 4K DCP and she told us it looked gorgeous." Also involved in the project was restorer Harris, who also sent notes to the restoration team after watching a Blu-ray.

Ostrowsky talked about how using the Baselight 8 at Colorworks helped. "Because it's treated as a file system color correction tool and was created to work in log as well as linear space, it gave me a ton of flexibility," he said. "I could create layers on every individual shot that might need a little more help and was able to use the Baselight to work with printer lights like a film timer. I'd also use custom curves, secondary color corrections, if I needed to take out some red or change the hue of a color."

"The only windowing I did was to fix film problems, not to create lighting," he added. "It really helped in lessening the egregious nature of the sealed-over emulsion cracks. Because they looked like white streaks, we could change the color density of that to match better. It was a wonderful tool in helping us make Lawrence the best it could be and representative of what the filmmakers wanted."

Simultaneously, the reels were sent to Prasad Image and MTI Film for restoration. "I started timing fro the uncorrected, un-restored files," said Ostrowsky. "With more than 325,000 frames, we might not have enough time if I'd waited for clean files." He noted that Prasad handled basic dirt and scratches. "If it was something where they needed to create an algorithm for things like the sealed-in scratches, MTI came on and fixed that," he said. "They created tools specific to repair these issues."

"The movie is almost four hours long, so it's like working on two films," noted Crisp. "As we did all the color work, all the image restoration was being done at the other venues. As partial reels were done and returned one big file at a time, we'd look and adjust things and have things redone, over and over again until I felt it was right. We hadn't encountered a lot of this kind of work before, so vendors like MTI Film did a lot of research and development to handle it."

Ostrowsky echoed what many who worked on Lawrence of Arabia felt. "I felt honored and humbled by this and I'm very proud of having worked on it," he said. "I hope audiences around the world find pleasure in it. I hope it attracts a new audience and that those who saw it in 1962 are happy with the results."

I did see the film in 1962 as a child and was lucky enough to see the newly restored version in 4K at the Sony Pictures Entertainment lot. The restoration is marvelous and the film has held up well after 50 years: I found it gripping, immersive and beautiful. Having seen Sony's restoration of Taxi Driver last year, I can say that the company -- with Crisp at the helm -- is treating its priceless cultural artifacts with the respect and care they deserve. Next up, said Crisp, is On the Waterfront, The Last Detail and, next year, Funny Girl. I can hardly wait.


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Mark Ogden
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I suppose the question here is what exactly was gained by transferring the 4K file to 70mm, as opposed to running it by itself on a digital projector. As I mentioned in the other thread, "brand new 70mm print" implies a pure-play photochemical 70mm print from either the OCN or an internegative. While this may be a fine looking show, the fact that it was sourced from a digital file is probably unknown to many film-goers who expect the above. I believe that while it is technically a 70mm print, there is a dishonesty inherent in this and that the Cinematheque is pulling a fast one by playing up the 70mm angle, because that's what gets people into the tent. Or as P. T. Barnum said . . .

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Chris Haller
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quote: Mark Ogden
I suppose the question here is what exactly was gained by transferring the 4K file to 70mm, as opposed to running it by itself on a digital projector.
So far, from what I've personally experienced, 4K projectors at least in the Rochester area don't really have the greatest contrast capabilities, and suffer from poor black levels. Now, I've never done a side by side DCP vs film to compare their black levels or contrast, but I imagine a well made 70mm print could most likely best it, and have a brighter image, and perhaps even a sharper one at large magnifications.

4K DCPs are essentially letterboxed presentations at 4096x1716, so I would imagine the image used to generate this new printing negative would hopefully use the full 4K resolution for the 65mm laser-out instead of the letterboxed version.

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Scott Norwood
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Did they fix the sound mix, or is this still the overly de-noised DTS mix that was used for the 2002 DTS reprints?

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Bill Brandenstein
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Mark, I respect your opinion here, but I've seen a lot of digital projection and, unless it's Imax laser or Dolby Cinema, the 70mm presentation beats anything else for saturation, contrast, and brightness. My kids were onto this too (proud daddy comment). Since the Egyptian has a 4K laser-illuminated machine, it would be interesting to compare. However, if the trailers before the feature are any indication, the black level and brightness of the film blows away even that excellent machine.

Scott, without any expert information, I'm going to guess yes on the audio fix. There's a credit in the 2012 portion to Chace Audio in Burbank, so something was certainly revisited. Although there's certainly no discernable hiss left in the soundtrack, it doesn't sound overly processed. Since audio de-noising is part of my professional work, I'm usually pretty sensitive to this and annoyed when I can hear it on shows. This was quite pleasant (although I would've liked just a few dB more volume in the room).

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: Debra Kaufman
The 65mm original negative was scanned on two large format 65mm Imagica XE scanners at FotoKem at 8K to capture the resolution of the 65mm negative, resulting in a file size of 8192x3584 pixels. "I reserved half of 2010 to do this work," said Crisp. "If you do the math, it's over 325,000 frames at 13 seconds per frame, which equals about 1,200 hours of scanning alone." The files were then reduced to 4K and moved to Sony Pictures Studios' digital image restoration/digital intermediate facility Colorworks for color grading and restoration. But the restoration work would require more than one facility to accomplish.
Does anyone know if the original LOA 8K scan data was preserved? Or was that tossed out? If the 8K data was not stored it would be a shame. I don't expect Sony to go back and do a third restoration on Lawrence of Arabia. But if the 8K scan data was at least stored the possibility for creating an 8K DI would at least possible. If I remember correctly (from comments by Robert Harris) the film elements for LOA are not in great shape at all. Any attempt to do another scan would be somewhere between very difficult and impossible.

In 2010 it made sense to do the digital restoration work and DI work in 4K. Computer hardware and software didn't have the muscle to do everything in full color 8K, much less at deep color bit depths. You could do work on lower resolution proxies or work on separate grayscale color separations. It's reminiscent of still photographers and graphic artists in the early 1990's having to use software like LivePicture or Macromedia XRes back when RAM cost $20-$40 per megabyte. Nearly 8 years later modern computing technology and software is a lot more powerful.

quote: Mark Ogden
I suppose the question here is what exactly was gained by transferring the 4K file to 70mm, as opposed to running it by itself on a digital projector. As I mentioned in the other thread, "brand new 70mm print" implies a pure-play photochemical 70mm print from either the OCN or an internegative. While this may be a fine looking show, the fact that it was sourced from a digital file is probably unknown to many film-goers who expect the above. I believe that while it is technically a 70mm print, there is a dishonesty inherent in this and that the Cinematheque is pulling a fast one by playing up the 70mm angle, because that's what gets people into the tent. Or as P. T. Barnum said . . .
It's sure not the best way to sell "70MM." I'm used to the 4K standard being regarded as the digital equivalent to 4-perf 35mm film. Viewers familiar with presentations of 70mm prints sourced from genuine 65mm elements have certain expectations. Those not familiar with 70mm and wanting to check out such a show may come away unimpressed. They won't understand why film geeks make such a big deal about it, especially if they can't see an obvious difference.

A 4K sourced 70mm print may have better black levels than the image thrown by most d-cinema projectors. But how is the resolution of that print going to compare to that of a 4K DCP? Are the prints laser recorded directly or are they made from interpostive or internegative dupes?

Then there's the issue with audio. Even if the 70mm imagery is the real deal, we're still using a lossy data compressed 5.1 audio track that was fine for the 1990's, but inferior to other audio formats used in theaters now. I really wish there was a solution to sync 70mm prints with modern uncompressed LPCM audio as well as formats like Dolby Atmos.

There is a growing number of 6K and 8K camera systems, but there is no sign d-cinema projection will ever go above the 4K standard. 70mm prints might be a good alternative at preserving much of that better-than-4K image detail. I think some of these film restoration projects should be a starting point for getting full blown 8K DI work flows off the ground. Ever-improving digital technology might be an off-beat way at keeping 70mm film presentation alive.

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Steve Guttag
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I don't get it...you do an 8K scan but work in 4K? What a waste. So technology isn't there yet to work in 8K/16K for a project like Lawrence...so wait until it is there. 4K is below 70mm resolution and the 4K DCP I've personally seen is really bad (on a 4K projector).

I have had the honor of showing the 1988 restoration to Sir David Lawrence and Freddy Young. He seemed to like that version very much and stated "it has never looked better." That is straight from the man himself. We'll never know what he would think of either the various DCPs or this Frankenprint of Cylon/Film. I have not seen it so I cannot comment on its quality or perceived differences from the prior work. Note, the AFI/Silver CAN do a frame-for-frame lock-sync on their two 70mm projectors, if the desire were to ever surface. I suspect that it would not and that the powers that be will want to push this current version as the definitive version and shove prior work away in the past.

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Leo Enticknap
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quote: Bill Brandenstein
And I wish the veteran projectionists - Leo, we're looking to you here - who know how the 1988-sourced 70mm prints should look would comment as well after seeing it.
No cattiness intended, but during the three years and two months I worked at the Egyptian, I think I showed that thing (the worn-out 2002 print of the 1988 restoration) at least 20 times, and it's going to be a very, very long time before my memory of that movie will have faded enough for me to be able to sit through it again!

The next time I'm paying a visit, though, I'll ask Mike or one of the guys if they could throw up a reel for me.

quote: Bill Brandenstein
...minus occasional white negative specks...
So they must have filmed out a 65mm IN from the DI files, and struck the print from that. I wonder how many others they made.

quote: Chris Haller
So far, from what I've personally experienced, 4K projectors at least in the Rochester area don't really have the greatest contrast capabilities, and suffer from poor black levels.
That is a known problem with 4K. It can be mitigated to a great extent by using a small aperture lens and a lot of light, though. I saw the 4K DCP of Dunkirk on a Barco DP4K-P with the high contrast lens. I hope I don't get flamed for writing this, but the blacks looked properly black, not dark gray, and frankly, I don't think a 70mm print (though I confess, I haven't seen one) could have bettered it for contrast range. However, this was in a private screening room, with a 3kW bulb in the projector lighting a screen that is only 15ft across. The amount of light needed to enable one of these lenses to be used on a decent sized theater screen would mean that even a 7kW bulb probably wouldn't be enough for the Egyptian.

quote: Scott Norwood
Did they fix the sound mix, or is this still the overly de-noised DTS mix that was used for the 2002 DTS reprints?
When I was at the Egyptian, we had three versions of the DTS track: 5.1, Todd-AO (five stage channels plus mono surround), and a baby boom mix. Agreed - they all sounded bad. My rule of thumb with magnetic-originated tracks of that era is that unless you can hear a little tape hiss on the quieter scenes (as you can with the Todd-AO mix for 2001: ASO remastered to DTS), the noise reduction has been overly aggressive. You simply can't reduce tape hiss above around 8KHz without taking some of the signal out as well, and I'd rather that they left both. The noise reduction was certainly too aggressive with the DTS transfer of LOA that was done for the 2002 prints, and I too hope that they've fixed that for this version.

quote: Bill Brandenstein
Since the Egyptian has a 4K laser-illuminated machine, it would be interesting to compare. However, if the trailers before the feature are any indication, the black level and brightness of the film blows away even that excellent machine.
Many of the trailers shown at the Egyptian are ripped from YouTube or BDs, and so the color space from the original is probably sRGB - not even Rec.709, and certainly not DCI P3. Don't take the preshow stuff as an indication of what that projector is capable of. The black level of the DP4K-30L at the Egyptian is a lot better than that of a comparable Series 2 xenon-lit projector ... when it's playing a professionally made DCP that was mastered in DCI P3 to start with. I believe that this projector is even Rec.2020 capable, but am not 100% sure on that point.

One final thought on black levels, which is that I can't understand why Kodak continues to manufacture 2383 release print stock, but not 2393. The tiny number of film prints (16, 35 and 70) still being made are now probably all destined for viewers who actually want to see film, are making the positive choice to seek it out, and are willing to pay a premium for the viewing experience. If Kodak is only going to offer one color print stock going forward, surely it makes more sense to retire 2383 and continue producing 2393, not the other way round?

By the same token, almost all vinyl LPs being made now are 180-gram or 200-gram pressings with no more than 20 minutes on each side: no more Dynaflex with 35-40 minutes on a side, because the few remaining customers who are willing to pay double or triple the price of a CD or download are doing so because they want the best audio quality the format can offer. I'm surprised that Kodak and FotoKem don't appear to believe that the same principle applies to film prints.

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Bobby Henderson
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To the bean counters any version of "digital" is perfect, no matter how low in resolution and cheap/fast it might be to produce. And that's one of the biggest frustrations I have with the movie industry these days.

20-30 years ago the movie industry was frequently trying to break new ground with technology and movie presentation standards. Today? Not so much. Doing things good enough, fast enough and cheap enough is more important. Back then productions had to be more sure about their story lines and other developmental details far in advance since there were no do-overs for classic analog film-based visual effects and early CGI that took forever and a day to render.

Plain HDTV quality 2K still reigns supreme as the de facto movie production standard (and 4K a relatively high end luxury) because 2K is cheap, fast and allows a production to keep its options open til the bitter end. Digital backlot work is faster. CGI stuff is produced faster. A principal actor in the production of All the Money in the World can be removed from the project and replaced by another actor without the production skipping more than a couple beats. Almost like they're shooting a TV show.

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Tyler Purcell
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The problem is the industry is so focused on money over anything else, they could give two shits about making the theatrical experience better. The only reason 3D exists is so they can charge more money per seat. The only reason we get 70mm prints is because they can charge more per seat. Restorations don't make the studio's ANY money, nobody cares. So I'm impressed they even scanned the negative at 8k, that's pretty impressive and it will give them a beautiful 16 bit full raster image to work from. The reason why a 4k finish is simple, the restoration was done for a UHD BluRay release.

In terms of a photochemical finish vs digital finish. Ya know, I'm on the fence. Had the finish been done in 8k entirely, I'd be ok with the digital finish. However, since it was done in 4k, eh... it'll always be a lingering thing issue with these "new" prints in my opinion.

I think 4k is good enough for 35mm but not for 70mm. The negative does resolve greater than 4k, so why not just do the whole darn thing in 8k. It's all about money and the penny pushers gave them a budget and they worked within their means. I'm glad the restoration is done, I'm beyond ecstatic it exists on 70mm and I honestly can't wait to have some time off to see it.

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Leo Enticknap
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The industry always has been focused on money over everything else. Every significant technological advance in the history of cinema was invented, developed, and rolled out in an attempt to make money out of it, large format film included.

If higher resolution than 2K is not grabbing a significant market share of the overall screens, it's because studios and theater owners believe that customers aren't willing to pay for it.

And I'm afraid they're right. My wife refuses to see movies anywhere other than the recently opened Harkins, just down the road from us. This is for three reasons: easy, plentiful parking, all around the building, leather reclining seats, and a short walk to the bathroom. She does not want to go to the ex-Krikorian, now Studio Movie Grill (a 1980s building that appears to have had no significant front-of-house investment since it opened), even if it's playing something we'd like to see, but the Harkins isn't. She'd rather wait until it's on Netflix. This is because the parking spots are too narrow, and often a significant walk from the building, the seats are less comfortable, and it's a long walk to the bathroom from most of the auditoria (it looks to me like one of the bathrooms was converted into a second concessions stand at some point). If the Harkins were playing DVDs and the Studio Movie Grill had 70mm in every screen, she'd still want to go to the Harkins, and I'd guess that 99% of moviegoers apply similar reasoning when deciding what theater to go to.

Even I struggle to see the difference between 2K and 4K on a screen less than around 40 feet across (unless I'm sitting very close to the front), and find the lower contrast range on 4K irritating, unless viewed through a high contrast lens or an RGB laser projector. Unless the screen is really, really big, I'd prefer the extra contrast of 2K to the extra resolution of 4K, if I have to choose between them. For prestige presentations such as LOA, I'd obviously like both, but I think we have to accept the fact that the industry's reluctance to chase ever higher pixel counts for theatrical presentation is that the customer demand for them simply isn't there.

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Scott Norwood
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Couldn't higher-than-4k resolution be obtained in the future by tiling multiple 4K projectors? This is done pretty regularly in the rental-and-staging business and seems to work fine with hardware and software that are designed for the purpose.

Alternatively, one would think that the big-screen-TV cinema system that has been demonstrated could be made to support higher resolutions.

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Bobby Henderson
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LED-based systems certainly could be configured to do higher than 4K resolutions. Some really big displays like the one on the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square already do that. There are newer systems out there with very tight pitches between pixel centers. It's possible to configure something like a 8K display for a large movie theater screen. But the thing would cost a ridiculous amount of money and would require speakers above and below the screen. There are some see-through LED types of displays with the LEDs on little horizontal or vertical bars or lines. I've seen them used most frequently on concert stages. But they don't have tight enough pixel pitches to show high resolution imagery.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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 - posted 12-31-2017 04:26 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I find it hard to believe another restoration of this is even necessary. I bet the printing I.N. they made is still just fine to use. It looks like more of a poor attempt at a money grab by the studio because everyone likes to see the word "Restoration" and they think it's some big deal. Unfortunately, it's going to be the exact opposite. What a waste! But if noting else the studios can ruin 70mm film from the inside out. That hasn't been done yet.

Mark

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Brad Miller
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From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 01-01-2018 12:11 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Leo Enticknap
I'd prefer the extra contrast of 2K to the extra resolution of 4K, if I have to choose between them.
I couldn't agree more. I'll take a 2K machine ANY DAY over a 4K because the lower contrast of a 4K machine in no way looks better than a lower resolution 2K with better contrast.

That being said I do always equip my 2K machines with high contrast lenses whenever possible and account for the light loss when calculating the bulb and make sure to keep the screen surface flat and install masking (again, to not lose contrast). The image quality is WELL worth it, and in the end its noticeably cheaper than a 4K system too. (Keep in mind not all content is even in 4K and many 4K projectors have enough vibration in the lens to negate the extra resolution anyway.)

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