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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Roger Ebert Points Famous Digit Down for Digital Cinema (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Roger Ebert Points Famous Digit Down for Digital Cinema
Steve Anderson
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 168
From: Nashville, TN
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 03-10-2002 07:09 PM      Profile for Steve Anderson   Author's Homepage   Email Steve Anderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ebert on Digital Projection. http://www.zap2it.com/movies/news/story/0,1259,---11277,00.html

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Aaron Haney
Master Film Handler

Posts: 265
From: Cupertino, CA, USA
Registered: Jan 2001


 - posted 03-10-2002 08:58 PM      Profile for Aaron Haney   Email Aaron Haney   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Someone should tell him film is no longer made of "celluloid".

Also, I don't see why he "conceded" that digital cinema will make it easier for independent filmmakers to get into theaters. If the systems that get installed are closed, network-only boxes, like the systems Technicolor introduced last year, it will have the opposite effect. Digital being a boon to indies is not in any way guaranteed.


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David Favel
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 764
From: Ashburton, New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 03-11-2002 12:10 AM      Profile for David Favel   Email David Favel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So if 48fps conversions were made, then the cost of supplying said prints would almost double?

Who will pay for this?

So you have $10000.00 install cost plus higher returns plus the added cost of more security, more managers & more soundproofing.

I can see we are going to be making money hand over fist.


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Dave Williams
Wet nipple scene

Posts: 1836
From: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 03-11-2002 03:32 AM      Profile for Dave Williams   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Williams   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I will agree that digital cinema will allow easier access to independant film productions. The assertion that they will all be closed network systems is absurd. Here is my asserstion to the absurdity...

DVD has a standard, and a new blue laser standard coming this year, BUT... how many manufacturers of DVD players are there? Anyone can produce a DVD and sell it, rent it.. whatever...

ALSO...

We have a standard of film presentation... 24 fps... BUT... how many manufacturers of projectors do we have?? Many... If you can afford to make the print, advertise it, you can show it...

ALSO...

Not all digital projection systems are alike... I have been poking around.. there are, as I have found now, more than a dozen manufacturers of theater quality digital projection systems. NOt all are based on the same technology, and as an open economy as we have allows for extreme competition in technology, the systems will not conform to any said technology for many years to come.

WHEN a specified format technology comes along, rules will also come with it!!! Much like CD players, DVD players, VHS players, they will have to be able to accept ANY properly formatted source material.

THIS means that access by independant films will be great, and the studios stranglehold on the industry will start to wain.... slowly but for sure.

Dave

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Dave Williams
Wet nipple scene

Posts: 1836
From: Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 03-11-2002 03:35 AM      Profile for Dave Williams   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Williams   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
And one more thing... Although our films are no longer made of "celluloid" as you put it, it is still commonly reffered to as such.

How many people outside of our industry know that our film is made of a rather strong and obstinent polyester base? Try to explain that to the common man, or a theater owner (not you ian or ky), and he thinks you are talking about his plaid shirt with the liqour stain on it.

Dave

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Greg Anderson
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 766
From: Ogden Valley, Utah
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 03-11-2002 04:07 AM      Profile for Greg Anderson   Author's Homepage   Email Greg Anderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The article referenced in this thread doesn't seem quite as complete as the one quoted in the "Ground Level" forum. So the details aren't quite as clear.

Why will digital be a benefit to the independents? Because they can finally afford to make a good movie with a small amount of money. So, why would Roger Ebert be opposed to digital cinema? It will allow smaller, more diverse storytellers to present their work. It will stop Hollywood pencil-pushers from controling "art" and why wouldn't Ebert be completely elated about that?

A few years ago there was a movie called In the Company of Men which got a lot of praise from critics (and maybe Ebert was among them). It was shot on film but a cinematographer I know called the film's technical quality "an insult" to his profession. So... how can critics like Roger Ebert praise "film done wrong" by the independents and automatically proclaim digital as a bad thing? "Digital Done Right" is a great thing... and depending on the project it can be the correct format to choose.

The Maxivision idea will never fly in mainstream theatres... and Hollywood heavyweights will never film anything that way, period. It's hard to believe Ebert is still talking about it. Ebert also has some crazy idea that electronic images create a hypnotic effect on the audience and film images do not (...something to do with flicker rates). So, in these ShoWest accounts, it seems he wants Hollywood to do scientific studies about this.

Ebert believes that the only way to get quality projection is to revive the days of the full-time, fully-unionized projectionist industry. Again, he's dreaming. He should keep encouraging theatres to give us top-quality film presentations, but his insistence on union control only encourages the big exhibitors not to listen. The big exhibitors can't see a crisis so they're not really itching to invite the unions back into their multiplexes when they can get by with teenagers.

Meanwhile, this "sky is falling" attitude towards digital isn't necessary. The Hollywood infrastructure is slow to change. I predict that by the time Roger Ebert retires we'll still see 80% of movies shot on film and we'll still see 75% of theatres showing film... and I'm probably wrong. The digital numbers will probably be even lower than I think.


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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 6629
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 03-11-2002 05:23 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I too get annoyed at the word 'celluloid' being used as a generic term meaning 'moving images on photographic film' but I fear the battle is lost on that one. Besides, if you refer to something 'on polyester' you could be talking about videotape!

Digital for independents is, IMHO, a double-edged sword. It certainly reduces the cost of distribution and has the potential to increase flexibility. But there is the problem Aaron pointed out, namely the big players trying to squeeze independents out right from the start, and also the issue of equipment.

Many independent theatres are using projection and sound equipment which is decades old but which is still reliable and relatively cheap to maintain. With digital they'd have to make a big capital investment up front, and keep upgrading their kit regularly. With film, improvements in image quality are delivered through the film itself. Today's print stock looks sharper and less grainy than the stuff being used 10 years ago, yet no equipment upgrade is required to project it.

With digital you'd have to spend far more money on equipment upgrades. If you look at broadcast video 10 years ago we were using UMatic and 1" 'C' format, whilst S-VHS decks cost four figures. A signal played from one of these sources through a 1992 video projector would look pretty bad compared to a mid-range DVD player and even quite a cheap LCD projector today. With digital cinema you'd have to go on upgrading all the time, and the exhibitor would have to pay.

This isn't going to affect the big chains so much because they'll just set aside $X million every five years for new kit, figuring that they'll get this back in the form of lower staff and shipping costs. But will the independents be able to absorb these costs?


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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7867
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-11-2002 06:14 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I still say that digital exhibition will be bad for independents. First, if the major distributors are paying for this (and they will, at least in some way), why would they have any incentive to let the equipment that they subsidized be used for exhibition of material distributed by other entities?

Second, from a purely economic point of view, film is cheaper for small runs. A 35mm print can be made for $1-2k in small runs. Even a 16mm blowup can be made for $10-20k. Scanning a negative or intermediate element for DLP projection, however, costs $100-150k. The cost of scanning will make self-distribution of limited interest titles even more impossible than it already is.

will do nothing for the independent producer and will do much to strengthen the power of the major distributors, at least as far as I can tell...

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John Hawkinson
Film God

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From: Cambridge, MA, USA
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 - posted 03-11-2002 08:25 AM      Profile for John Hawkinson   Author's Homepage   Email John Hawkinson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Why would they have any incentive to let the equipment that they subsidized be used for an exhibition of material distributed by other entities?"

Because if they don't, exhibitors won't agree to put the equipment in. This is oversimplistic and possibly untrue, but it's where the incentive would come from if it actually does happen.

--jhawk


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Darryl Spicer
Film God

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From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 03-11-2002 09:02 AM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thought that the term celluloid was refering to the fact that it has three layers of cells (Emulsion) on a base. To me the term still fits no matter what base it is. Mr. Pytlak would know for sure. What makes me cringe with the wrong use of a word is when some one says "so you run the cameras at that theater" NOOOOOOO! I run the projectors. Now there is a big difference there.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 03-11-2002 10:29 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
'Cellulose' refers to a substance which is one of the key ingredients of the cellulose ester group of solids, which includes nitrate and acetate film bases. 'Celluloid' specifically means a combination of cellulose and nitric acid, i.e. (in this case) nitrate film base. That's the technical definition, but, as has been pointed out on this thread, it has also acquired a colloquial definition - 'motion picture film'.

It's the same principle as when I point out that my car has run out of petrol [gasoline], even though the actual substance I'm talking about is Diesel fuel.

I must check my Chambers' dictionary when I get home to see if both meanings are there...

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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 03-11-2002 11:16 AM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary 10th Edition
has the following for "celluloid":

1. a tough flammable thermoplastic composed of essentially of cellulose nitrate and camphor.

2. a motion-picture film

Webster's Thrid New International Dictionary also has a second
entry for the word:

1. of or relating to the motion pictures

I'm not saying the word is technically correct anymore, but due to usage, it is accepted as having the definition associated with movie film.

By the way, the article mentioned at the top does address things that bother me at the movies: too many cell phones, trailers giving away too much, etc. AMEN!

------------------
Evans A Criswell
Huntsville-Decatur Movie Theatre Information Site

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Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 03-11-2002 11:29 AM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Since they are annoying in the auditoriums, would those be celluloid phones?

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Steve Anderson
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 168
From: Nashville, TN
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 03-11-2002 12:31 PM      Profile for Steve Anderson   Author's Homepage   Email Steve Anderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
With Regal and Carmike in various states of financial trouble I don't see where they could afford to spend money on Digital projection. As for the movie public accepting digital projection, I think the average movie patron in my town will watch a scratched, mono print of a new release and never get up and complain. I wish we had more people like Evans to keep the local theaters on their toes.

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Charles Everett
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1470
From: New Jersey
Registered: May 2001


 - posted 03-11-2002 01:28 PM      Profile for Charles Everett   Email Charles Everett   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve A: Regal and Carmike are both out of Chapter 11 now.

Ironically, the main theory behind Anschutz Companies taking over UA, Regal and Edwards is to have those 3 chains lead the transition to digital cinema.

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