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Author Topic: More d-cinema morons
Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6901
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 02-17-2004 09:06 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've just had the following CFP on an archives list:

quote:
Call for papers

Cinema & Technology Conference
6-9 April 2005
Institute for Cultural Research
Lancaster University
Lancaster
United Kingdom

The Institute for Cultural Research at Lancaster University in the United
Kingdom will host a major international conference around the broad theme
of 'Cinema and Technology'. The conference will take place at Lancaster
University and venues in and around the city of Lancaster from 6 to 9 April
2005.

Our aim is to address the digitisation of the film image and the
consequences of this process for theories of history, subjectivity, agency
and perception. Within this general framework, participants will be
encouraged to engage with the dematerialisation of the film image, the uses
of digital cameras, the forms of contemporary cinematic experience, and
revisionist debates about the meanings of technology. The conference will
feature a public keynote address, two major plenary sessions, and a range
of parallel sessions focusing on issues such as:

- The digital imagination
- Changing forms of cinematic consumption
- Histories of film technologies
- The apparatus and technologies of vision
- Cinema/technology/ideology
- Sound and light in cinema
- The politics of cinema technologies
- Technologies of new media
- Other related topics

There will also be a series of related events in and around Lancaster that
highlight the conference themes in a more informal setting.

Scholars in any discipline are invited to submit proposals for papers that
address the implications of technology for cinematic practice and theory.
Proposal should include: provisional title, an abstract of up to 250 words,
your name and contact details (including an email address), and should be
sent to June Rye (icr@lancaster.ac.uk) by 1 September 2004.

This seems a bit ambiguous as to whether they're talking about digital technologies in production, in theatres or both. But if these people envisage a three-day conference full of yet more 'film is dead' propaganda, I'm very tempted to submit an abstract to the effect that these idiots can exercise their 'digital imaginations' until they've disappeared up a certain orifice...

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Geoffrey Weiss
Film Handler

Posts: 68
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: May 2001


 - posted 02-17-2004 10:53 AM      Profile for Geoffrey Weiss   Email Geoffrey Weiss   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm an academic. Let me decode for you.

They want to talk about what various forms of technology are doing to movies and the way people think about and watch them. Why the jargon? Because academics like to prove they have large...vocabularies.

If I were going to submit a paper on this topic, I would probably talk about the reasons audiences don't care about the difference between film and digital.

Now...if I can only put "they don't know any better" in some larger, latinate words...

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6901
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 02-17-2004 11:27 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I happen to have a PhD too (you can read my thesis here if you're massochistic enough to want to do so). The research skills I learnt writing it can come in very useful as an archivist, but talk about three years of hell! To say that the part-time projectionist job (well, full-time to all intents and purposes) I did in order to pay for it kept me sane would be an understatement. If that experience qualifies me as any sort of 'academic', then the way I translate this CFP is that they want to talk about what they think various forms of technology are doing to movies, but in reality are not.

I've come across so many ignorant humanities academics who believe that knowing how to press 'play' on a VCR qualifies them as an expert on all matters technological as to want to vomit; and of course their equally ignorant colleagues swallow it. About the best critique of this racket I've come across can be found in the introductory chapters of Barry Salt's Film Style and Technology (2nd ed., London, 1992): anyone who describes Christian Metz as an 'ignorant and badly educated Frenchman' in print sure gets my vote! [Big Grin]

I am thinking about a paper on the paradox between the current intensive marketing of d-cinema, the fact that it has been seized upon by a government cultural body in this country as being the saviour of arthouse exhibition and the technical and economic precedents that we all know about and we all know mean that the mass-rollout of this technology just isn't going to happen in its current form and anytime soon. But I don't think they'd want to hear that message, somehow.

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Christian Appelt
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 502
From: Frankfurt, Germany
Registered: Dec 2001


 - posted 02-17-2004 07:19 PM      Profile for Christian Appelt   Email Christian Appelt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
About the best critique of this racket I've come across can be found in the introductory chapters of Barry Salt's Film Style and Technology (2nd ed., London, 1992)
It's a fine book. I have noticed that it is missing on most lists of film literature recommended to students. I believe that many people who attempt to "teach film" without knowing about the craft of making a film dislike the book - it makes many pompous scholars look like the Emperor and his new clothes... [thumbsup]

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10677
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 02-17-2004 09:50 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
If I were going to submit a paper on this topic, I would probably talk about the reasons audiences don't care about the difference between film and digital.
I believe a lot of film studios and some movie theater operators are convinced of that. But if they use that as a basis for mass adoption of digital projection right now in its current form, they'll do so as a means of committing financial suicide. At best, the move would greatly reduce the number of commercial theaters in existence and transform the movie industry into a pay-per-view TV format.

The pro D-Cinema fanboys keep forgetting a fundamental part of the economic picture here. "D-Cinema" as it currently exists is no better than HDTV in home theater. That is a giant marketing liability. Someone please help me out here, I seem to be one of very few people banging the drum on this extremely important point.

1080 HDTV is gaining lots of ground as a mainstream home viewing format. HDTV sets continue to drop in price. D-VHS decks have dropped below the $500 price point and offer image detail nearly twice that of DLP. Dish Network, DirecTV and TiVO are releasing new digital video recording boxes with multiple HD tuners, 250GB hard drives and capability to simultaneously record 2 or 3 programs in full HD while you watch something else in HD. HD-DVD has been in the works for years, but now is getting a lot closer to release.

My point with all that? 1080HD quality in a commercial cinema is stupid. How can a cinema charge a premium for something technically no better than what someone can achieve in the home? 35mm film at least offers a good separation in class.

For commercial cinemas to safely adopt digital projection they need a format that is superior in quality to home HDTV and exclusive for use only in commercial cinemas. To add to that, there has to be a sensible, cost effective upgrade path for commercial cinemas to maintain an exclusive technological lead. If D-Cinema cannot deliver that then the whole concept is not a safe investment.

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Dominic Case
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 131
From: Sydney NSW Australia
Registered: Aug 2003


 - posted 02-17-2004 10:17 PM      Profile for Dominic Case   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
But I don't think they'd want to hear that message, somehow.

From what I can gather about that conference, and from what I can gather about your style, Leo, I'd say it's exactly what the conference needs (I won't judge what they "want" to hear), and I'd say you are exactly the person to give it to them.

Start with a quick survey of people "in the street" to ask them if they know how the picture they have just seen arrives on the screen: is it by projecting images from a 35mm film like the transparencies that their grandparents might have taken on their holidays, or by something more like the projection TV's they may have seen in the department store?

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William Hooper
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1879
From: Mobile, AL USA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-17-2004 11:48 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Author's Homepage   Email William Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The digital imagination
It's worth noting that's first on the list, in their minds, & as what's driving their plans for action. Leo's on the money about this being a significant pointer to their schema. It doesn't have to make sense; it's a sort of form of self-expression & there'll be personal & public denial if confronted with items which contradict an idea in which they've got a personal investment. I've seen it from 'academics' to management who are glomming onto a vague, easily morphed concept of 'digital'.

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Michael Schaffer
"Where is the
Boardwalk Hotel?"

Posts: 4143
From: Boston, MA
Registered: Apr 2002


 - posted 02-18-2004 02:38 AM      Profile for Michael Schaffer   Author's Homepage   Email Michael Schaffer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Leo is exactly right (except about the spelling of masochistic, sorry couldn`t resist) - I have been to seminars about the "future of the cinema in the digital era" and especially "the future of arthouse and independent cinemas in the digital era" at which the learned people were absolutely sure that d-cinema would kick in massively the next year (that was about 3 years ago), and they prophesied that to a horrified audience of independent cinema owners, then went on to blabla about how the different media would change the way we watch movies forever.
When I said that I wasn`t at all sure about all cinemas being digital within the year - and I wasn`t just saying that because I felt like it, I had just served on a committee for the introduction of digital cinema in the Sony Center in Berlin, and the whole project failed miserably, because none of the highly paid experts there had a clue - anyway, they wouldn`t even listen to me and brushed me off as being in denial of an absolutely inevitable development and went on to shock the independent exhibitors with "hard facts and numbers".

Barry Salt - is that the guy who teaches (or taught 10 years ago) at the International Film School in London? The name seems to ring a bell. I was in London more than a decade ago visiting a friend who studied cinematography. I went to a few lecturers as a guest, I think Barry Salt was the professor, and he spoke about the early years of film. He had also published a richly illustrated book about the silent movie era which was awesome. He seemed to have examined every single surviving frame of film from that era and was incredible knowledgeable.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6901
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 02-18-2004 03:38 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
Leo is exactly right (except about the spelling of masochistic, sorry couldn`t resist...
As a 1906 advertising poster explains, there are two infallible powers: The Pope and Gordon's Gin. The rest of us make mistakes... [Smile]

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Wolff King Morrow
Master Film Handler

Posts: 490
From: Denton, TX, USA
Registered: Feb 2004


 - posted 02-18-2004 04:14 AM      Profile for Wolff King Morrow   Author's Homepage   Email Wolff King Morrow   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:

For commercial cinemas to safely adopt digital projection they need a format that is superior in quality to home HDTV and exclusive for use only in commercial cinemas.

The only problem is it won't matter how much better the digital image is compared to HDTV because as soon as it is adopted, people/seedy companies will design home boxes to play the movies. In a matter of months, you'll have pirates ripping perfect copies of movies from the theater and mass uploading them on the net. You'll see chat rooms full of comments like "Just downloaded Alien 7 perfect rip!!" yet the movie show times will not have been scheduled for another month.

People will find a way to do this, no matter how good the copy protection is designed.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6901
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 02-18-2004 07:21 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To answer some queries above, now I've got a moment...

quote:
Barry Salt - is that the guy who teaches (or taught 10 years ago) at the International Film School in London?
Yup, that's him. His book is an incredibly useful source of reference (along with Alan Kattelle's Home Movies): whenever I'm looking at something and, in the absence of any clues within the picture itself, think 'Is this nearer 1905 or 1915?', Salt usually contains some pointers to the answer.

quote:
I have noticed that it is missing on most lists of film literature recommended to students.
Hardly surprising, given his rant against the 'film studies' establishment and condemnations of 'humanitites academics, sitting in their armchairs'...

My guess as to why these people are so deeply involved with the d-racket is twofold. Firstly, the commerical cinema industry has done its sums and found that they don't add up. If you're spending your own money, your not going to waste it on a technology which is more expensive and delivers inferior performance to what you already have. So now the d-cinema promoters are targeting the public sector - specifically education and subsidised arthouse exhibition - precisely because it doesn't have the technical knowledge needed to do those sums. The result is that bodies such as the UK Film Council are sinking (literally) millions of taxpayers' money into this flawed technology, while claiming to be trialblazers and dismissing objectors as luddites representing vested interests. The irony is that they are the real victims of the vested interests. The d-cinema brigade has correctly worked out that its only potential customers are those who can spend money which is not their own.

As for humanities academics being so keen on d-cinema, that's easy. They've always felt threatened by technology, because their educational upbringing has not equipped them to really understand it. But they realise that you can't analyse or talk about film without addressing these issues, so most of them do so on the basis of misunderstandings and flawed assumptions. They are keen on d-cinema for exactly the same reason they celebrated the demise of 16mm at the hands of VHS - namely because they like forms of technology which for them is as simple as pressing a 'play' button.

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Mark Ogden
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 865
From: Little Falls, N.J.
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-18-2004 10:55 AM      Profile for Mark Ogden   Email Mark Ogden   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
_______

The pro D-Cinema fanboys keep forgetting a fundamental part of the economic picture here. "D-Cinema" as it currently exists is no better than HDTV in home theater. That is a giant marketing liability. Someone please help me out here,
_______

As a D-cinema “fanboy”, as Bobby so obsequiously and condescendingly puts it, it will be my pleasure to point out why nobody is helping him out on this point. It’s because he’s wrong.

As far as the idea that D-Cinema must have better-than-HD resolution to be viable: nope. It’s viable right now, and the proof is any DLP showing at any cinema anywhere. In the first place, D-Cinema has never been about exceeding 35mm resolution, or even HDTV resolution (although it will someday). The driving force in D-Cinema is economy and expediency. The motivation behind the whole thing is giving the average filmgoer an acceptable experience that does not involve the cost and logistics of striking 6,000 35mm prints and shipping them around the world. The fact that there are digital projectors in theatres today is, in reality, the cart going before the horse. D-Cinema is first and foremost about the distribution system, be it disc, satellite, fiber-optic, whatever. And far from being the economic death of the cinema industry, the amount of money saved by giving up this archaic system of carrying around cans of film could secure it’s future, especially the future of smaller independent studios.

As far as the supposed marketing liability of D-Cinema not exceeding home theatre resolution: hardly. Let me put it to you this way: one night last month I sat in front of my HD ready home theatre and looked around in vain for someone showing The Last Samurai in High Definition. When I didn’t find it, I called my girlfriend and together we went to a local Loews and watched it in DLP. And while I was sitting there watching it I said to myself, “Self, it doesn’t matter that this is no better technically than the HD I can see at home. I’ve got a comfortable seat, a giant screen, my best girl and a jumbo Diet Coke. Truly, this is an experience that I cannot duplicate at home. Cool!” It didn’t matter that the screen resolution was no better than HD. It was available, it was convienient, it was socially communal, and it got me out of the house. And when we were leaving the theatre not one person complained about the resolution. In fact, I’ve seen a ton of movies in DLP, and I have NEVER seen a bad presentation, not once, and I’ve never heard a complaint it from anyone else either. Where the stars in Star Wars a little blocky? They were. Are the end credits a little jagged? They are. Is there an occasional bit of artifacting visible? There is. Does anyone but the most technologically constipated uber-geek give a flying fuck about any of this? They do not. And the reason they don’t is something that no-one on this forum will ever accept, ever: that the vast majority of filmgoers go to the movies to be entertained AND NOT TO PICK APART THE TECHNICAL PRESENTATION.

So long as first run features are available exclusively at the cinema, and not on TV (even in HD), people will go to the movies for the social and 'big-screen' experience, they will continue to seek out DLP presentations, and they will continue to not give a rat’s ass that D-cinema has no-better than HD resolution. The average cinema patron just isn’t that picky, and that’s the long and short of it.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9443
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 02-18-2004 02:12 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote"It’s viable right now, and the proof is any DLP showing at any cinema anywhere."
Yah and there is how many of them in the world actually operating on a daily basis with thousands of film machines operating daily
The issue is the cost even more than the distrubution
It is and will be more costly than what we have now

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10677
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 02-18-2004 06:29 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
As a D-cinema "fanboy", as Bobby so obsequiously and condescendingly puts it, it will be my pleasure to point out why nobody is helping him out on this point. It's because he's wrong.
Actually, I'm 100% correct. It's not my problem if you call yourself a "D-Cinema fanboy" and take personal offense to my condescending comments about this video projection stuff. The superior quality of film production has suffered lots of wholly inaccurate character assassination thanks to digital projection industry types and unknowledgeable press people who merely parrot their sales pitch. With that being said, I'll stick to the condescending tone because "D-Cinema" in its current state is just not good enough to warrant industry wide adoption.

quote:
As far as the idea that D-Cinema must have better-than-HD resolution to be viable: nope. It’s viable right now, and the proof is any DLP showing at any cinema anywhere.
You don't think it is a problem for a theater to pay $200,000 or more for a system that shows no more than 1280 X 1024 native pixels of detail? I see it as big liability. And doing no more to match 1080i HD resolution is still a big liability. Lots of people are buying home theater systems with the purpose in mind of not having to pay $50 or more for an outing to the movies. This just gives them another excuse for staying at home.

quote:
In the first place, D-Cinema has never been about exceeding 35mm resolution, or even HDTV resolution (although it will someday).
That is absolutely wrong. I've seen the claim "digital cinema is better than film" coming from George Lucas, Robert Rodriguez, the Texas Instruments website and lots of inaccurate articles written about how film is going to get replaced with digital projection. Constant claims have been made about it supposedly being sharper, more colorful, etc. Well hell, even a low end computer monitor can display a sharp image. But that monitor has to do so with a limited number of native pixels.

The only advantage of D-Cinema right now (and Mark you even admitted this much in your post) is it can potentially save film distributors money. And I say potentially because there is no cost model for exhibitors to install the equipment en-masse and still continue to live with lousy percentages of the box office. And Hollywood doesn't have a sound security model to protect a satellite stream from hackers or guard digital media from pirates. A big 35mm print is a little harder to carry around.

quote:
And while I was sitting there watching it I said to myself, "Self, it doesn’t matter that this is no better technically than the HD I can see at home. I've got a comfortable seat, a giant screen, my best girl and a jumbo Diet Coke. Truly, this is an experience that I cannot duplicate at home. Cool!" It didn’t matter that the screen resolution was no better than HD.
You must blow your money more freely than most people. Sure, the participatory experience of seeing a movie with an audience is kinda cool. But how much of a premium must one pay for the experience to be worth it? The sound and image matter a lot to me in that equation. And I think it matters to a lot of other people as well. If it didn't, we wouldn't even have things like "home theater."

Most families I know hardly ever go to the movies. It is far cheaper for them to buy a movie on DVD than to see the same movie once in the theater. When you're blowing $50 or more for an outing to a commercial theater then the ads for widescreen TVs and such become more interesting.

quote:
In fact, I've seen a ton of movies in DLP, and I have NEVER seen a bad presentation
The sprinkling of DLP installations around key markets of the country is a very controlled environment. You don't have minimum wage ticket tearers setting up the shows. It is certainly no indication of the performance (or lack thereof) that will be seen if you have thousands of systems in place.

quote:
Is there an occasional bit of artifacting visible? There is. Does anyone but the most technologically constipated uber-geek give a flying fuck about any of this? They do not.
Geez. If the audiences don't care about it then why should the theaters buy it? [Roll Eyes]

Audiences would need to care about the difference if a theater is going to blow upwards or beyond $200,000 on a "D-Cinema" system. An exhibitor would be rightly peeved if he blew a quarter-mil on a fancy setup, advertised it on the marquee and got "so what" reactions. The main people that care about such things are "technologically constipated uber-geeks" like myself. It takes getting the "uber-geeks" on board so the system can get anywhere.

But D-Cinema is stalled, all thanks to those numbers. There isn't a good cost model to support. That's the most important set of numbers.

I cannot think of a single digital-based product where numerical driven features are not listed in megahertz, gigahertz, numbers of megapixels, etc. It is pretty risky to assume that someone is going to ignore the performance numbers he has in a new HDTV, D-VHS deck, HD-capable TiVO or whatever. And it is an extremely common thing for electronics store salesmen to compare home theater product to what is installed in a commercial cinema.

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Carl Martin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1389
From: Oakland, CA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 02-18-2004 07:55 PM      Profile for Carl Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Carl Martin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
“Self, it doesn’t matter that this is no better technically than the HD I can see at home. I’ve got a comfortable seat, a giant screen, my best girl and a jumbo Diet Coke. Truly, this is an experience that I cannot duplicate at home. Cool!” It didn’t matter that the screen resolution was no better than HD. It was available, it was convienient, it was socially communal, and it got me out of the house. And when we were leaving the theatre not one person complained about the resolution. In fact, I’ve seen a ton of movies in DLP, and I have NEVER seen a bad presentation, not once, and I’ve never heard a complaint it from anyone else either. Where the stars in Star Wars a little blocky? They were. Are the end credits a little jagged? They are. Is there an occasional bit of artifacting visible? There is. Does anyone but the most technologically constipated uber-geek give a flying fuck about any of this? They do not. And the reason they don’t is something that no-one on this forum will ever accept, ever: that the vast majority of filmgoers go to the movies to be entertained AND NOT TO PICK APART THE TECHNICAL PRESENTATION.
there is some truth in what you say, but there is a bigger picture, as it were. in addition to being "geeks" about quality, we are idealists, some of us. and the fact that some people don't care about about quality irks us, because we strive for excellence, not just acceptability. if noone strives to exceed the standard, the standard will continue to fall. and most people may not be able to point out exactly what is wrong (though some will), nor will many even perceive that anything is wrong (though many will), but we, humanity, will have failed to live up to our potential.

carl

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