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Author Topic: Questions about digital cinema.
Stephen Furley
Film God

Posts: 3039
From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 08-03-2002 02:02 PM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Now that digital projectors have been around for a while, how reliable are they proving to be, compared to film equipment?

What sound format is used with digital presentations?

Are there any audtoria which are equipped with digital only, or do they all have film as well.

Where a cinema has both digital and film, in the same screen, what proportion of their programming is presented in digital?

How many films have been available in digital form in the past year? Of these, how many were computer generated, how many were shot with digital equipment, and how many originated on film?


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Ken Lackner
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1856
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Sep 2001


 - posted 08-03-2002 08:17 PM      Profile for Ken Lackner   Email Ken Lackner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Having worked first-hand with DLP at my previous theater, I can answer some of these questions.

quote:
Now that digital projectors have been around for a while, how reliable are they proving to be, compared to film equipment?

We did not have any problems that I can recall with the DLP. Granted, I was only at that theater for 3 months, but at the time I was there, there were lots of problems with the film equipment in almost every auditorium. Things are gonna break when they're brand new. But we didn't have any problems with the digital setup.

quote:
What sound format is used with digital presentations?

Shows presented in DLP have their own 6-channel format included on the DVD on which they come. It is not Dolby Digital or SDDS or DTS. In our setup, it was connected as the 6-channel external format on the CP-650.

quote:
Are there any audtoria which are equipped with digital only, or do they all have film as well.

Ours had a DLP and a film setup in the largest house. I imagine most theaters with DLP are the same way.

quote:
Where a cinema has both digital and film, in the same screen, what proportion of their programming is presented in digital?

In the case of Star Wars Ep. II, it showed in DLP for the whole day for as long was we had it. There was no film shown in that house for 8 weeks. That theater currently has Signs in DLP, and I imagine it will be the same way.

Hope this helps a little. Don't know the answer to the last question.


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Stephen Furley
Film God

Posts: 3039
From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 08-04-2002 03:42 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
We did not have any problems that I can recall with the DLP. Granted, I was only at that theater for 3 months, but at the time I was there, there were lots of problems with the film equipment in almost every auditorium.

One of the things that I like about film is the fact that it is so reliable. I must have seen several thousand shows over the years, I have only ever seen one film break, on a nitrate print several decades old, which was fixed in a couple of minutes and the show re-started from just before the break. One show cancelled due to a power failure a couple cancelled due to non-arrival of the print, one could not be shown at the last minute because of a rights problem. Sound has been lost a couple of times, probably an exciter lamp failure, again fixed in a minute or so. On one occasion a take up belt broke, but the projectionist turned the take up by hand until the end of the reel.

Of these, the film break, exciter failure (if that's what it was) and belt failure are the only ones which are unique to film. The others could happen with a film or digital system, and would be no more likely to happen with one than the other. I have never known a show to be cancelled, or aborted, due to equipment failure What sort of problems have you had with film, have they been with equipment or prints? I assume it must have been one of these in each case as other possible reasons, power supply, staff sickness etc., would affect both media.

quote:
Shows presented in DLP have their own 6-channel format included on the DVD on which they come. It is not Dolby Digital or SDDS or DTS. In our setup, it was connected as the 6-channel external format on the CP-650.

Do you know how the sound is stored, e.g. is any form of compression used. Does the digital equipment connect directly to the CP-650, or is any additional equipment needed to interface it. Is the sound combined with the picture on the same discs, or do you get, for example, six picture discs and one sound disc? Have you ever received more than one track, e.g. alternative language versions, and, if not, is there provision in the system for this to be done? Also, is there provision for subtitles, not burned into the picture, but stored separately, and turned on if required? It would seem that these thing could be done quite easily with a digital system.

quote:
In the case of Star Wars Ep. II, it showed in DLP for the whole day for as long was we had it. There was no film shown in that house for 8 weeks. That theater currently has Signs in DLP, and I imagine it will be the same way.

I assume from this that all trailers etc. were stored on the DLP system. On the only DLP presentation that I have seen in a normal cinema, i.e. other than a technical demonstration at the NFT, the adverts and trailers were on film, and only the main feature was on DLP. Would this not be normal today?

quote:
Hope this helps a little. Don't know the answer to the last question.

Thank you.



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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 08-04-2002 06:50 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I remember reading some article in Boxoffice magazine about a year or so ago that quote someone from TI as saying that there had been "fewer than 1%" of DLP shows lost due to equipment failure.

I had to laugh out loud when I read that, as it implies that an all-DLP 30-plex would lose, on average, one show per day, which is completely unacceptible.

Having said that, though, DLP does seem to be pretty reliable _thus_far_ for a a technology which is essentially still in development. I know that there have been very few issues with the Framingham setup, although apparently some other locations (e.g. the AMC one in NYC) have had more issues (see John P's post on DLP done wrong).

It will be interesting to see how the equipment holds up over the long term, though. This week, I'm running a pair of Century Cs which must be about 50 years old; by contrast, I'd be amazed if any of today's DLP machines will be running in ten years.

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Ken Lackner
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1856
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Sep 2001


 - posted 08-04-2002 08:29 AM      Profile for Ken Lackner   Email Ken Lackner   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
I have never known a show to be cancelled, or aborted, due to equipment failure What sort of problems have you had with film, have they been with equipment or prints? I assume it must have been one of these in each case as other possible reasons, power supply, staff sickness etc., would affect both media.

Nothing that would cause a show to go down. Just little things here and there such as cue detectors requiring adjustment, an aperture plate motor that would not move, platters being out of time, etc, etc. I suppose stuff like that is going to happen when a place is brand new.

quote:
Do you know how the sound is stored, e.g. is any form of compression used. Does the digital equipment connect directly to the CP-650, or is any additional equipment needed to interface it. Is the sound combined with the picture on the same discs, or do you get, for example, six picture discs and one sound disc? Have you ever received more than one track, e.g. alternative language versions, and, if not, is there provision in the system for this to be done? Also, is there provision for subtitles, not burned into the picture, but stored separately, and turned on if required? It would seem that these thing could be done quite easily with a digital system.

Star Wars came on two DVDs. To my knowledge, the soundtrack is a separate file from the image, althoug I don't know how much space it takes up compared to the image. The TDC (Techicolor Digital Cinema) server connected directly to the input for External 6-Track Digital on the CP-650. Other processors may require an additional interface, but I don't know. I don't know if Star Wars came with additional languages or subtitles.

quote:
I assume from this that all trailers etc. were stored on the DLP system. On the only DLP presentation that I have seen in a normal cinema, i.e. other than a technical demonstration at the NFT, the adverts and trailers were on film, and only the main feature was on DLP. Would this not be normal today?

Yes, the trailers were all digital. I assume this is normal today, because they all came on the disc with Star Wars; they were not provided separately.

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Ken Layton
Phenomenal Film Handler

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


 - posted 08-04-2002 12:18 PM      Profile for Ken Layton   Email Ken Layton   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I understand that the Seattle Cinerama had tons of problems with their video projector when running the latest Star Wars. They ran a 35mm print most of the time cause the video had problems.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10517
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 08-04-2002 12:53 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Regarding the sound format for DLP shows, most typically use uncompressed 20-bit, 48kHz Linear PCM audio in a 5.1 channel configuration.

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Darryl Spicer
Film God

Posts: 3250
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 08-04-2002 01:32 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hmmmm, so if the soundtrack is on the dvd and is sent straight to the processers external inputs. What does this mean for companies like DTS, SDDS or even Dolby Digital? No more need for there equipment in the future? Could this mean that people like Karen would need to find new jobs in the future? The future just looks bleak to me for a lot of people if this technology where to really take off.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

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From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-04-2002 02:07 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Actually Dolby and others are building specialty DA converters for e cinema applications. There is still no standard for any of this yet

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10517
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 08-04-2002 05:19 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As long as film is used in projection, there will have to be some kind of sound "format" in use. But overall, the lossy data compression systems used by Dolby Digital, SDDS and DTS are already kind of an obsolescent thing. They'll still be relevant for 35mm film prints for years to come, but eventually those formats will be replaced by uncompressed digital surround sound, perhaps in larger bit-rate/sample-rate form and with more discrete channels of sound.

A time code driven dual system would be required for a "next generation" uncompressed digital surround format for film and also require a proprietary sound player to handle the recorded media, whether it is on removeable hard discs, DVD-ROM, etc. That hardware alone would make the "format."

On video projection setups, the sound is part of the bitstream so it is kind of tough to be able to advertise a distinct sound format to go with the video. It will be more difficult for companies like Dolby, DTS and Sony to put their brand names on the gear and in the stack ads for those shows.

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John Walsh
Film God

Posts: 2490
From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 08-04-2002 09:43 PM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
At our theater chain, we have four digital projectors. For the entire lenght of the "SW:Clones" I think we lost five shows. Two of those were caused by operators shutting off the server without going through the shutdown procedure.

While we had about the same reliability with 35mm, in fairness I have to note that the last showing of "Clones" looked exactly the same as the first showing. OTOH most, but not all, of our 35mm prints did not look as good on their last day as they did on the first.

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Darryl Spicer
Film God

Posts: 3250
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 08-04-2002 10:33 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I hate to say it but we all know it. The average movie goer doesn't give a crap what the film looked like on the last day of showing. A few weeks ago I was in a packed auditorium watching the lord of the rings. THe movie was scratched all to hell. The only complaining I heard was when they had four M&M ads on the film and no sound. That is another reason why they could get away with the crap the are providing with video cinema. The average movie goer doesn't give a crap plain and simple. We care because we know how the system works. The average public does not.

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 981
From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-05-2002 08:57 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
EP2 for those that had Technicolors' AMS System, the media was 2 70 GB Hard Drives. This included enough space to add trailers that arrived later.

I have had experience with DLP for close to three years now in the theatre that I am at. I can think of two shows out of all that we have played in that time frame that we had to run the film print instead.

The sound from the playback device is hooked directly into your sound processor. Mine happens to be a CP-500 through the external 6 channel digital sound. I don't know the exact spec, but assume each channel may be PCM data. I will investigate and find out.

When ever we have DLP content, it runs that title exclusive in that auditorium. I have never had a split screen where you run film part of the day and DLP the other. The studios have invested a lot of time and money to have the print transfered (Telecine) or other means to allow other content on that screen.

As far as rolling stock is concerned for ads, these are not presented for DLP theatres as they are not encoded for storage on the playback system. It would also be too much of a hassle to run ads, then switch over for DLP.

Any type of DVD that is used in D-Cinema is DVD-RAM. It provides 4.6? GB of storage space compared to 650 MB from a typical CD.

For Signs, I received one trailer on the original set of HDs and then received additional trailers on DVD-RAM. It was just a matter of copying the content from them to the HD.

Paul.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5111
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 08-05-2002 12:55 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul said: >I have had experience with DLP for close to three years now in the theatre that I am at. I can think of two shows out of all that we have played in that time frame that we had to run the film print instead.<

Wow, I've gotta say, that doesn't speak very well of the reliability of the DLP system. In the last 25 years, I only had a projector breakdown once. And even that didn't prevent me from running the show, I just had to take a intermission to rethread the second LP reel on the other working machine.

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Karen Hultgren
Master Film Handler

Posts: 492
From: Agoura Hills, CA, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 08-05-2002 01:33 PM      Profile for Karen Hultgren   Author's Homepage   Email Karen Hultgren   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey guys, don't worry about me having to find another job because of D-cinema. DTS is very involved with digital cinema and you will soon see new DTS cinema products that are designed for that application.

Karen at DTS
khultgren@dtsonline.com

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