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Author Topic: Digital/Film Projection in a theater
Gary Davidson
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 101
From: Santa Monica, CA
Registered: Jan 2004


 - posted 08-13-2004 05:14 PM      Profile for Gary Davidson   Email Gary Davidson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When I see an ad in the newspaper for a theater showing a movie via digital projection, does that mean this theater is equipped only with a digital projector, or are some of the chain theaters equipped for both digital and film projection?

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Bevan Wright
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 176
From: Fountain Valley, CA, USA
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted 08-13-2004 05:24 PM      Profile for Bevan Wright   Author's Homepage   Email Bevan Wright   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am not aware of anyone removing their film projection systems, all are dual systems.

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Brian Guckian
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 594
From: Dublin, Ireland
Registered: Apr 2003


 - posted 08-13-2004 06:46 PM      Profile for Brian Guckian   Email Brian Guckian   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It certainly would be foolhardy to remove 35mm capability from a digital screen, as one would then be restricting programme flexibility, with attendant consequences for box office revenue.

However that "you can dump your film equipment" message is being put about all the time.

Enlightened theatre design should surely allow for both systems. [Smile]

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John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 08-13-2004 09:08 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One theatre owner made the big mistake of pulling out the film projector:

http://www.mkpe.com/articles/2002/Heartache/heartache.htm
quote:
Digital Fever Leaves Heartache Behind For Some
by Michael Karagosian

©2002 MKPE Consulting All rights reserved worldwide
Published in the September 2002 issue of In Focus Magazine

The push for new digital cinema installations with this year's release of Star Wars has made at least one exhibition camper very unhappy. This is a sad but true story. I'm leaving out the real names of those involved, as to some extent they all share responsibility. But for those who think digital cinema is all excitement and no pain, please read this.

If you read my articles regularly, a few messages should be clear by now. First is that we are in a prototype stage for digital cinema. Digital cinema is in an experimental cycle, it is not ready for rollout. Second is that no one digital cinema format is supported by all major studios, and some studios don't support digital cinema at all. For many stakeholders involved, there are long term issues over quality yet to be fully addressed. Third, for the simple reason of economics, digital cinema has at least a few years to go before moving beyond the prototype stage. It is simply too costly to implement today.

A recent report on digital cinema released by Credit Suisse First Boston (available at http://www.sabucat.com/digital.pdf) comes to similar conclusions, if even less optimistic. They predict 5% penetration of digital cinema by the year 2006. From a system compatibility perspective, many things could change by then, including projection technology, image format, compression format, security format, and digital packaging method. Engagement with digital cinema today is not a lighthearted decision.

Unfortunately, one wouldn't know these things if all they read were the news stories put out by the press. Unfortunately, the press releases from Lucasfilm gloss over these issues, too. It's easy to create digital fever with the public, but it's the duty of the businesses involved to take responsible action. Certainly, the digital fever created by this year's release of Star Wars Episode II willingly overlooked the three basic points mentioned above.

Keep in mind that there's a need for prototype installations. Experience is needed with the various digital formats and equipment available to make proper choices down the road. Prior to Episode II, the push for prototype installations was responsibly and fairly managed. Major markets were addressed, and exhibition chains large enough to afford the risks involved were solicited. However, with digital fever at its peak, the push went a little too far for Mr. Jones.

Mr. Jones has a passion for cinema, and digital cinema seemed very exciting. He's not a theatre owner with deep pockets, as he only operates 6 screens. Somehow his interest in digital cinema became known to Company X. Mr. Jones was pitched and he bought in.

The thought of having the only digital cinema for 100s of miles around must have been quite enticing. Unfortunately, a questionable decision was made. In the process of installation, Company X noted that he didn't have a lot of room in the projection booth. A waver was signed, and the 35mm projector was removed, leaving Mr. Jones with no backup.

The concept of a 'backup projector' may have different meaning to those involved. Typically, one thinks of a backup as a means to overcome failure of equipment. But in this case the 'backup' often is the primary system, as not all movies are released in a digital format. Unfortunately, Mr. Jones didn't seem to be aware of this. There were some important issues that Company X may have glossed over, as well. Mr. Jones was being sold a system incorporating a new digital cinema format, upping the figure to three competing digital prototype systems in the marketplace. While Episode II would support all three, it is costly to do. It remained to be seen how support for the three systems would be managed by the major studios in future digital releases. Even though there are a number of digital releases scheduled, they could be divided among the various digital formats to keep costs down. There are many places to point the finger, but in the end, none of this fared well for Mr. Jones. His one digital screen, installed without a 35mm projector as backup, is about to go dark. When I spoke with Mr. Jones, he had no idea which, if any, digital movie would next be released for his system. But he knew one thing: his payments for the system were still due.

Hopefully, by the time this story goes to print, Mr. Jones will be in better shape. He'll have either settled his differences with Company X, he'll have some product to play on his new digital system, or he'll have found the space to re-install his 35mm projector.

The lesson, however, should be clear. Remember the mantra for digital cinema: we are only in a prototype stage. This is not a rollout, digital cinema is not (yet) a mature business. There are no guarantees regarding product to play on these systems.

By all means, experimenters are needed. Those who are willing to brave the issues and give digital cinema a try are contributing to the knowledge base of experience, and will be a source of valuable feedback to the equipment suppliers. But if you're giving consideration to joining the experiment, and wish to buy a digital cinema system, be sure to take the time to understand the risks involved. If that sounds like you, and you're a NATO member who feels the need to ask questions, you know where to call.



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Bevan Wright
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 176
From: Fountain Valley, CA, USA
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted 08-15-2004 07:32 PM      Profile for Bevan Wright   Author's Homepage   Email Bevan Wright   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I must have missed that CSFB paper when it came out in 2002 (http://www.sabucat.com/digital.pdf) it is interesting to see what has changed and what has not in the past few years.

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Bevan Wright
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 176
From: Fountain Valley, CA, USA
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted 08-16-2004 07:28 AM      Profile for Bevan Wright   Author's Homepage   Email Bevan Wright   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oz exhibs lukewarm on d-cinema conversions

Sun Aug 15, 1:19 AM ET

Don Groves, STAFF

GOLD COAST, Queensland -- One of the Australia's top distribs and the chief of one the biggest circuits were offered the prospect of digital projectors Friday--gratis to the exhib and as a supposedly inexpensive lease deal for the distrib.

Both said no, underlining the doubt, downright cynicism and even lack of enthusiasm prevalent in Oz towards digital cinema.

The occasion was a seminar entitled "Show Me the Money" at the Australian Intl. Movie Convention, which wrapped Saturday at the Royal Pines Resort.

Filling in for Malcolm Ferris, prez of U.S. digital cinema facility Cinematica, his Aussie rep Robert Ward explained how the company will provide D-projectors, servers, satellite dishes and receivers.

Cinemas will pay nothing, and distribs will be charged a monthly lease fee, which Ward said, would equate to about half the cost of paying for a 35mm print. At the end of the lease, exhibs will be given an "inexpensive" buy-out option.

He put the costs of converting to digital at about $150,000 per screen.

Ward said Ferris has inked a deal with at least one major U.S. chain (which he declined to identify) and he indicated the first demonstration cinemas would open in L.A. and N.Y. before the end of the year.

Ward, an indie exhib who owns theaters in Townsville and Dubbo, said Cinematica would launch in Australia by mid-to-late 2005.

Ward estimates the U.S. majors shell out about $4 billion in print costs (including freight) per year. He figures that if Cinematica's systems were widely adopted, the studios would save $880 million annually in the U.S. and $2 billion globally.

Despite those impressive stats, Aussie execs on the panel were skeptical.

"The distribution community doesn't give a damn about this," said UIP Australia/New Zealand managing director Mike Selwyn.

"Just because something is affordable doesn't make it necessary. If someone comes up with a model that works, distributors would embrace it. But I can see a myriad of practical difficulties."

Paul Johnson, exec chairman of Hoyts Cinemas, pointed to those difficulties when he questioned who would attend to -- and pay for -- equipment upgrades, maintenance and staff training.

"There is a myth going around that exhibitors will get this for free. I don't believe that (concept) exists," he said.

"If we can resolve all the issues of upgrading, common standards, maintenance and training, I will be at the front of the line."

Ward said maintenance would be covered by the lease payments.



A common view among the panel was that the digital revolution is a fair way off in Oz. Selwyn said he'd be surprised if more than half of Australia's 1,900-odd screens are digital within 10 years. Even Ward conceded the d-conversion here would take four or five years.

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David M. Dorn
Film Handler

Posts: 35
From: Hartford, CT USA
Registered: Mar 2004


 - posted 08-17-2004 10:40 AM      Profile for David M. Dorn   Email David M. Dorn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If any Film-Tech members have seen demos of 'MaxiVision" as describe in the CSFB report, it would be interesting to have your comments. Also an amplified explantaion of the system would help.

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John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 08-17-2004 10:51 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
MaxiVision 48:

http://www.maxivisioncinema.com/

quote:
MaxiVision Cinema Technology™ has invented a new way to see movies with a picture so enhanced that feature films made in MaxiVision48™ will set a new standard for a compelling visual experience. Just as the change to the widescreen format ensured that movies remained a unique entertainment experience in the face of competition from television, so will MaxiVision48™ give renewed excitement to the idea of going to the movies. This novel combination of patented technologies offers a visual adventure beyond anything ever seen in theatrical feature films.

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