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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » First movie beamed in by satillite! (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: First movie beamed in by satillite!
Alan Gouger
Master Film Handler

Posts: 476
From: Bradenton, FL, USA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 11-14-2000 09:43 PM      Profile for Alan Gouger   Author's Homepage   Email Alan Gouger   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just heard on our local news Ben Aflects, sorry for the spelling, new movie will be the first digital movie beamed in by satillite to select theaters.
If this becomes the choice of delivery I might have to get my dss modified!


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Ken Layton
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1452
From: Olympia, Wash. USA
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 11-14-2000 10:57 PM      Profile for Ken Layton   Email Ken Layton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Theater manager: "I'm sorry folks. All of today's movies are cancelled due to extreme sunspot activity which prevents us from receiving the satellite transmission".


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John Pytlak
Film God

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


 - posted 11-15-2000 06:35 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here is a link to an article in "Widescreen Review":
http://www.widescreenreview.com/T2/changing.html

IMHO, this is a demonstration of what MIGHT be done, once standards are in place, and equipment and digital delivery become cost effective. The SMPTE DC28 digital cinema study groups have not yet officially reported their recommendations, and much work remains to be done in developing and agreeing on standards. Most agree that at least 2K horizontal resolution is needed (today's projectors have only 1280 x 1024 displays, less than many laptop computers, so pixels are obvious in the front rows), and costs must come down dramatically. A 35mm film print shown 300 times only costs about $5 per showing --- when will digital cinema be competitive with that?

"Film Done Right" is hard to beat. "Film Done Wrong" is a poor excuse to accept lower quality at higher cost. Even worse, "Film Done Wrong" may drive audiences away from theatres and into their DLP-equipped "home theatre" environment before digital cinema ever even becomes viable. Please "Do Film Right", or you may someday be "Watching the Pixels, Not the Movie".

------------------
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Eastman Kodak Company
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7419
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: 716-477-5325 Fax: 716-722-7243
E-Mail: john.pytlak@kodak.com


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Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 584
From: Sydney, NSW, Australia
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 11-15-2000 07:38 AM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
'Film Done Right' is an overwhelming experience, and is the exact thing that will ensure that people return time and again to theatres that can provide this experience.

For some reason, many theatre-chains' management does not fully realise this, and does not seem to recognise the connection between the bottom-line and flawless presentation. What I've observed is that they instead focus almost all their efforts on concessions (which they perceive to be the profit centre) and they see the projection department (equipment, staff quality, etc.) as almost incidental to their business.

While most of the profits at a theatre level are indeed derived from concession sales, people need to be at the theatre in the first place to purchase them, and they won't be there if the on-screen presentation is someone else's idea of 'good enough'.

They (management) need to take note that it does make a difference that is noticed by the public, even if it's on a subliminal level, and that that is the key to their survival. Somehow, I believe that the public do know if the presentation was excellent or if 'something was missing', even if they can't articulate it.

So in other words, if they want to sell more popcorn, they have to focus on presentation quality rather than just on the popcorn. An abstract concept, perhaps, but I believe it is so. Once they make this connection, they will see that chasing a 'digital panacea' is no longer necessary.


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Alan Gouger
Master Film Handler

Posts: 476
From: Bradenton, FL, USA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 11-15-2000 08:17 AM      Profile for Alan Gouger   Author's Homepage   Email Alan Gouger   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here is another link someone just sent me!
http://biz.yahoo.com/bw/001114/ny_boeing__2.html

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Adam Martin
I'm not even gonna point out the irony.

Posts: 3664
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 11-15-2000 12:40 PM      Profile for Adam Martin   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Martin       Edit/Delete Post 
I recall being informed once that I ran a restaurant that just happened to show movies. Now I work in a museum Imax. We just happen to sell popcorn.
I realize the economic value of the snack bar, but really! If people don't like what they are getting, they will find it someplace else.
I could rant for days on end.

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Martin Frandsen
Master Film Handler

Posts: 270
From: Denmark, Europe
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-17-2000 07:38 AM      Profile for Martin Frandsen   Email Martin Frandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What if heavy snow blocks the transmission? living in a area with lots of snow, i know how a signal gets ''infected'' due to bad weather. Will there be a refund if a signal is below minimum? Why not deliver the movie to the theater on a cassette?

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John Pytlak
Film God

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


 - posted 11-17-2000 09:45 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
AFAIK, the data would be transmitted at a specified time, and recorded onto a RAID array at the theatre. Much as syndicated television shows are distributed now via satellite.

I agree, weather can affect transmission (error rates), and many theatres do not have line-of-sight to a satellite (mountains, tall buildings, too far north, etc.). So hard media (DVD) or broadband fiber (T-3) are also being considered/demonstrated. Note that T-3 service today is about $30,000 per month. Contrary to what they may say, delivering 40 gigabytes of data reliably and quickly is NOT cheap. Not to mention the very high cost of financing and maintaining the equipment, which is likely to be obsolete within a few years. Remember, a new 35mm print costs about $1500 -- if used for 300 shows, the cost is therefore only about $5 per showing. "Film Done Right" is hard to beat both for quality and cost.

IMHO, digital cinema is "not ready for prime time".

------------------
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Eastman Kodak Company
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7419
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: 716-477-5325 Fax: 716-722-7243
E-Mail: john.pytlak@kodak.com


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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 11-17-2000 10:27 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Whenever I read stuff like this, I must ask "why?"...I mean, what's wrong with sending a DLT tape via overnight mail? Cost is under $20, reliablity is good, and there is no infrastructure cost on the receiving end. I mean, it certainly sounds more exciting to say that you're distributing "films" by satelitte or over fiber, but both media are really inefficient when compared with overnight mail...

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John Schulien
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 206
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 11-17-2000 12:01 PM      Profile for John Schulien   Email John Schulien   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
No need for an expensive DLT.

Right now you can buy a 40 gig external firewire hard drive for about $250.00. If future digital projectors have built-in hard drives, distributing a movie will be as easy as filling up a hard drive with the movie,
then shipping it to each theatre. Heck, you could even just hire someone to drive from multiplex to multiplex and copy the movies into the projectors. No satellites needed.

Here's what I find interesting.

Digital cinema is going to make film distributors completely obsolete. No need to pay to have hundreds or thousands of prints manufactured. No need to warehouse them, transport them, keep track of them, and dispose of them. No print damage. No broken reels. Just dirt cheap, commodity computer hardware.

If distributing a digital movie is as easy as filling up a hard drive, then anyone can do it. No need to spend a million dollars plus on film stock & lab fees.

If all you need to have to distribute movies is something you can buy at the local computer store for $250.00 or less, then a very wealthy, powerful segment of the motion picture production industry is about to find itself as obsolete as the pony express.

This could blow away a huge barrier for independent filmmakers. The barrier of having to get picked up by a distributor to pay for your prints.

Interesting times ahead.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6426
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 11-17-2000 12:59 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Okay, guys. Let John answer these questions first. These are just the points he raised. I’m sure you’ll raise others...


“Right now you can buy a 40 gig external firewire hard drive for about $250.00.”

1) Multiply that by the number of theatres.
2) Multiply that by the number of movies you want to show in each theatre
3) Multiply that by your back-up ratio. (At least X2 maybe X3 maybe more.)
4) Don’t forget to add in system overhead.
5) Don’t forget that those cheap-o hard drives might not cut it for 24-7 operation. Look at what’s happening to DTS!

Now what’s the price?

“distributing a movie will be as easy as filling up a hard drive with the movie...”

How easy is that? What will you “fill them up” from? How long will that take?

“Heck, you could even just hire someone to drive from multiplex to multiplex and copy the movies into the projectors.”

Have YOU ever done that? Driving from theatre to theatre is NOT what you think it is!


“No need to pay to have hundreds or thousands of prints manufactured.”

1) How much will duplicating digital movies cost?
2) How much will the duplicating equipment cost?
3) How much will the projection equipment cost?
4) How much maintenance will all this take?
5) Who’s going to DO all this work?
6) Who’s going to PAY for it all?

“No need to warehouse them, transport them, keep track of them, and dispose of them.”

What are you going to do with all these movies? Erase them?
What happens when you want to play “Star Wars: Episode 9” a hundred years from now? Will you still be able to.... Assuming you can find a copy of it? Did you know that there are 100-year-old movies floating around that, (with proper duplication to prevent damage), you can STILL play in some projectors?

“No print damage. No broken reels. Just dirt cheap, commodity computer hardware.”

Are you the kind of guy who’s the first person to go flying out into the lobby, stamping your feet and demanding that “somebody DO something” when the movie is even the LEAST but out of whack?
(Just a hair bit out of focus, aperture plate got a hair in it?)
I know I am! You’ll probably be i line right behind me, and I know a lot of others here will be right behind you.

What WILL the problems be with digital movies? How willing are you to put up with them? How often will this happen? How often does your computer crash at home? How much more (or less) reliable will the computers in digital projectors be?

“If distributing a digital movie is as easy as filling up a hard drive...”

“If all you need to have to distribute movies...”

“This could blow away a huge barrier for independent filmmakers.”

IF....IF....IF....COULD....SHOULD...WOULD...


You brought up the points! You answer them!

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 11-17-2000 01:17 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I continue to take the somewhat unpopular position that this whole digital cinema thing is going to really hurt independent filmmakers and that they will be among the last to convert, because of the high cost of entry.

DV, Digital Betacam, and even HDTV all look like crap on the big screen. If you want decent image quality, then you have to start with film (not to mention the archival issues...). Assuming that you do start with film, you can make prints for about $2k each (plus a fixed cost of about $10-20k if you shoot 16mm and need a blowup). Prices drop for larger print quantities, of course. Compare that with the $150k (estimated) cost of scanning an entire feature into some digital format that can be shown with one of the electronic projectors. Even if we assume that the media cost for the electronic system is zero (and, in relative terms, it is), you'd still have to make more than 75 prints of your film to even break even on the cost of the film scanning and encoding. If film projection were not an option, this would kill the market for the dozens of genuinely good smaller films that make their way (often profitably, I might add) around the art-house circuit every year.

I personally don't see film distributors becoming obsolete. Yes, they may eventually (maybe 10-20 years from now) start to get out of the physical shipping of film prints, but there will always be a need for someone to service the theatre owner with posters, trailers, ad slicks, press kits, etc., as well as a go-between for the studios and theatre owners. _Someone_ is going to have to standardize distribution and (presumably) encryption formats for any such system, and it will most likely be the distributors who will then, presumably, own the encryption keys and patents necessary to allow them to collect a fee for every "film" that they distribute. Yes, their role will change, but distributors definitely won't be going away, IMHO.

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John Schulien
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 206
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 11-17-2000 03:35 PM      Profile for John Schulien   Email John Schulien   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I guess I'm on the spot, eh? :-)

I really wish that this forum had a "preview" function, cause this is long. Well, here goes ...

My argument isn't that sending out hard drives would be the most efficient way to distribute digital movies. My argument is that it's feasable and probably cheaper than manufacturing and sending out film prints. I'm pretty confident that five or ten years from now, disk drives will start at a couple of hundred gigs and go up. Plus, there's removable media in the works that are supposed to hold 140 gigs. Eventually, you might receive a small packet of disks each months with a dozen movies on them.

> Right now you can buy a 40 gig external firewire hard drive for about $250.00.?

> 1) Multiply that by the number of theatres.
> 2) Multiply that by the number of movies you want to show in each theatre

Still cheaper than 35mm film prints. By a ratio of about six to one. Don't forget that you can erase them and put new movies on them. The recurring cost is in damaged drives.

Also ... you forgot to divide by the number of theatres that are close enough together that they can share a distribution drive.

> 3) Multiply that by your back-up ratio. (At least X2 maybe X3 maybe more.)

You wouldn't be projecting the movie off of the distribution disks. Instead, you would attach the distribution disk to the projector, and download the movie into the robust, expensive, reliable hard drive built into the projector.

No reason why an expensive, reliable hard drive in a projector couldn't store more than one movie either.

Remember that as time goes on, film becomes more and more expensive per foot, while the cost of digital media is falling through the floor with no end in sight.

> 4) Don?t forget to add in system overhead.

Well, system overhead is the very high cost of the projector. That's a problem no one has solved yet. Myself included.

> 5) Don?t forget that those cheap-o hard drives might not cut it for 24-7 operation. Look at what?s happening to DTS!

So don't run the films off of the distribution drives. That way you don't have to have the drives tied up in the theatres during the theatrical runs. Once all the theatres have copied over the movies, they can send the drives back, and you can immediately start copying the next batch of releases onto them.

> distributing a movie will be as easy as filling up a hard drive with the movie...?

> How easy is that? What will you ?fill them up? from? How long will that take?

I would assume that you would use the same technology that the big computer manufacturers use to pre-load hard drives. When you buy a computer from Dell, for instance, it comes with Windows and a bunch of other stuff installed. They aren't installed by hand -- they do the install once, then copy the disk. Of course, with this application, you would have to copy the entire drive instead of just load a small amount of software onto the drive, so it would take longer. However, given that the profit margins on computers are razor-thin, the cost of hard-drive copying equipment are probably reasonable.

But I can say this. Recording consecutive bytes on a hard drive is the fastest way to use a hard drive. It minimizes the amount of head motion, and maximizes the life of the device. I'll take a wild-ass guess of one hour. However, I understand that bulk hard-drive loading machines can write to a gang of drives at once.

On the other hand, how long does it take to manufacture a 35mm film print?

> Heck, you could even just hire someone to drive from multiplex to multiplex and copy the movies into the projectors.?

> Have YOU ever done that? Driving from theatre to theatre is NOT what you think it is!

Nope, and I'll take your word for it that that would be a lousy job. But remember, that person would be driving around with a briefcase full of hard drives, as opposed to a truck full of film.

> No need to pay to have hundreds or thousands of prints manufactured.?

> 1) How much will duplicating digital movies cost?
> 2) How much will the duplicating equipment cost?
> 3) How much will the projection equipment cost?
> 4) How much maintenance will all this take?
> 5) Who?s going to DO all this work?
> 6) Who?s going to PAY for it all?

1,2) Depends on how many copies you want to make. There's different ways to run such a business. You could have a small number of disks, and ship them back and forth between theatres to be copied into the projectors, or you could have a large number of disks and reduce your labor.

4) About as much as an equivalent computer system requires. If you have a distribution disk go bad, you throw it away.

5) A smaller staff than a film lab.

Fixed costs: The duplication machine and the hard drives.

Recurring costs: Replacement hard drives & labor. No film. No chemicals.

> ?No need to warehouse them, transport them, keep track of them, and dispose of them.?

> What are you going to do with all these movies? Erase them?

Yep. Record the next movie right over them.

> What happens when you want to play ?Star Wars: Episode 9? a hundred years from now? Will you still be able to.... Assuming you can find a copy of it? Did you know that there are 100-year-old movies floating around that, (with proper duplication to prevent damage), you can STILL play in some projectors?

You go to your vault. You'll find the movie sitting right next to that Nitrate print of London After Midnight.

Digital cinema doesn't solve that problem at all. On the other hand, making a preservation copy of a digital movie is as simple as copying the data to a new disk every few years. Much cheaper, no image degradation, and the color won't fade. On the other hand, if you lose your last copy due to accident or negligence, bye bye movie. Just like celluloid. One would imagine that the studios & filmmakers would independently archive copies of their movies. After all, it's cheap!

> ?No print damage. No broken reels. Just dirt cheap, commodity computer hardware.?

> Are you the kind of guy who?s the first person to go flying out into the lobby, stamping your feet and demanding that ?somebody DO something? when the movie is even the LEAST but out of whack? (Just a hair bit out of focus, aperture plate got a hair in it?) I know I am! You?ll probably be i line right behind me, and I know a lot of others here will be right behind you.

No, in general, I just make a mental note to never go that theatre again. I've quit half the theatres in the Chicago area because of poor presentation.

> What WILL the problems be with digital movies? How willing are you to put up with them? How often will this happen? How often does your computer crash at home? How much more (or less) reliable will the computers in digital projectors be?

Well, being heavy-duty industrial machines, and being very expensive (by all accounts), I would hope that they would be built to professional standards. A dedicated computer can be very reliable. For instance, we regularly had six-month continual uptimes on our mainframes. Again, digital projector reliability is an unknown.

I'm not a advocate of digital cinema. I don't think that it will necessarily provide a superior, or even equal viewing experience to well-presented film. I do think that the economics so favor digital distribution that it can't help drive the industry in that direction.

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John Schulien
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 206
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 11-17-2000 04:34 PM      Profile for John Schulien   Email John Schulien   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott Norwood writes:

> I continue to take the somewhat unpopular position that this whole digital cinema thing is going to really hurt independent filmmakers and that they will be among the last to convert, because of the high cost of entry.

I would have said the same thing about 15 years ago about digital recording technology and CDs. Then an amazing thing happened -- the technology went mainstream. DAT recorders were released, and suddenly the cost of building a home recording studio went through the floor. You can go into a Guitar Center right now, pay about $10,000, and walk out with a bunch of equipment that can produce better sounding master recordings than a half million dollars worth of equipment 20 years ago. Then CD recorders came out, and the cost of making small runs of CDs fell through the floor also. With the internet, you don't even necessarily have to make CDs if you don't want to. You can let people download your work.

This has been a GODSEND for independent musicians. It's created a path where you can become a successful musician without signing your copyrights and most of your profits away to a recording label. Not all musicians can do that, but some have. Phish was filling basketball arenas consistantly without a recording contract. When they finally signed with Elektra, it was on their terms.

You're right about the current state of the technology. It's early. I don't think that development has maxed out on digital video. For instance, the highest resolution digital still camera I'm aware of is 2160 x 1440, or 3 megapixels. I'll bet that resolution steadily increases, and also that the chips used in still cameras start working their way into video cameras. At some point, you're going to overtake film's resolution. Maybe around 6K x 3K, which would be 18 Megapixels. Not unreasonable.

But let's say you're right, and for the forseeable future, an independent filmmaker must still use film. Their cost is then the same right up to the point where they want to distribute their film, so they're neither ahead nor behind.

> Compare that with the $150k (estimated) cost of scanning an entire feature into some digital format that can be shown with one of the electronic projectors

The high cost of those scanners is because they are expensive prototypes. There's no reason why film scanners should remain this expensive. Conceptually, you could build a film scanner using a projector head and a high-end fully manual digital camera exactly focused on the film plane using a bellows. Heck, why not take a high-end desktop film scanner -- the type that you use right now to scan in negatives and slides, and adapt it to scan continuously?

I seriously doubt that film scanning will remain ultra-expensive for long. If Hollywood really does switch over to digital projection, they're going to need dozens or hundreds of these machines, and thousands of cheaper, lower resolution scanners for dailies.

Even if the results on an inexpensive film scanner aren't as good as a $150,000 top of the line transfer, the independent filmmaker is still ahead. Ok, so you spend $2000 to have your film scanned on a low-budget system. Now you have something you can put in as many theatres as you want. It won't wear out like a film print. It isn't difficult to store. It won't fade.

Suddenly, your film becomes the next Blair Witch, and you are approached by a big-time distributor, who then fronts the money to have a better scan done.

What makes digital cinema attractive and important to filmmakers is the idea that eventually it should be possible to make a professional-grade movie without having to sign your copyright, creative control, and most of your potential profits away to a studio. I think that digital technology is the only direction that leads to that result.


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Gordon McLeod
Film God

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


 - posted 11-17-2000 05:33 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Actually al that would change on your business model is every thing would then fall to the lowest common denominator not rise to the highest.
To attract the paying customer one must provide several things
1 A film they want to see (either subject matter or cast etc)
2 A enviroment that will be able to present it to the standard that they expect to recieve for the money they pay

E cinema is a lowwering of the current standards not raising them.
The e cinema projectors are far from acceptable in both resolution and artifacts comparrec to 35mm film let alone a 70mm print
By keeping the bar high has kept the chaff out of the picture not flooding it with the equivelent of a bunch of super 8 style movies

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