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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Digital Cinema a Step Closer to Reality? (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Digital Cinema a Step Closer to Reality?
David Hitt
Film Handler

Posts: 9

Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 03-09-2001 08:40 AM      Profile for David Hitt   Email David Hitt   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is being widely reported, but I reprinted this from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com):

Theaters Offered "Free" Digital Conversion


Technicolor, whose name was once synonymous with color motion picture film, has offered a plan to convert U.S. movie theaters to digital projection. At the ShoWest convention of exhibitors in Las Vegas Wednesday, Technicolor's Digital Cinema unit (a partnership with Qualcomm, the wireless communications giant), outlined a strategy that it said "will help transform the way movies are delivered and viewed at theaters." In a keynote address, Dave Elliott, president of Technicolor Digital Cinema, said, "By putting digital cinema in theaters nationwide, we are demonstrating that this is indeed a superior product whose time has come." News reports said that Technicolor was offering to pay for the digital projectors -- worth about $150,000 apiece --- in return for 12.5 cents for each ticket sold. (Boeing Digital Cinema is reportedly planning to offer a similar arrangement.) Technicolor is being acquired by France's Thomson Multimedia SA, which manufactures consumer items for the U.S. under the RCA brand.
-----

It looks as though they have finally figured out a way for cash-strapped theatres to pay for digital cinema.

David

Greg Mueller
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1687
From: Port Gamble, WA
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 08:47 AM      Profile for Greg Mueller   Author's Homepage   Email Greg Mueller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"By putting digital cinema in theaters nationwide, we are demonstrating that this is indeed a superior product whose time has come."

What a load. So if I've got enough money to put elephants in theaters that makes it a "superior product"?

------------------
Greg Mueller
Amateur Astronomer, Machinist, Filmnut


Mark Gulbrandsen
Film God

Posts: 15869
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 09:32 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If the service is the same quality as Qualcoms cellular phones then the industry will die within months. What a farce....and the Sun Microsystems-JVC,Sony systems are far superior to any of the DLP stuff out there. They also have almost double the number of active pixels, better contrast ratio capability and superb color rendition.
Mark @ GTS


Jerry Chase
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1068
From: Margate, FL, USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 03-09-2001 09:35 AM      Profile for Jerry Chase   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey! Don't give elephants a bad name!

Such a plan could quickly kill a lot of small and medium size theatres. You just know that there would have to be a floor to the offer, where X dollars were guaranteed per year to the finance company.

With the high grossing theatres using digital, striking a few prints just to serve the mom-n-pops wouldn't be cost effective. Within a short time those theatres wouldn't be served.

IMO, the whole idea of such a financing scheme is lame. It would tighten the stranglehold technicolor has on exhibition though. With a nationwide bottleneck on distribution and projection technology, technicolor would be in a position to put the squeeze on distribs big time.

Darryl Spicer
Film God

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


 - posted 03-09-2001 10:23 AM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I guess they like to shoot people in the leg before they take them out. The point is yeah, they may buy the systems for you but you all know that nothing is that easy and nothing comes without paying a major price. It's not the 12.5 cents a ticket thats going to be our cost it's going to be the fact that you no good and well that they are not going to cover the costs of upgrading the systems in two years. They are not going to cover the costs to replace a major part of the system if something goes wrong. A cost that would far exceed the costs of installing and maintaining a film projection system over a course of twenty years. Lets look at who's going to lose.

1) The customer...yes they are going to lose...a lot of money. Because ticket prices are high in some areas as it is and if you have to give up 12.5 cents a ticket the customer is going to feel it. That is not fair for someone to have to pay more for less than film done right quality. I have heard the larger the screen the worse the quality.

2) The people who enjoy this type of work will be esentialy screwed out of their job. I know in some respects that some people don't care that you effect someones life because of progress. That is understandable. But if you are going to f**k with my job you better damn well have a system that is far superior to film done right 70mm quality. When I sit and watch the film I do not see any pixelization or anything that would make me say why did they screw up what I enjoyed doing the most for this crap.

3) all the people who will lose their jobs because of no more need for projectionists, old school film technitians, the not so good people at technicolor depot and ets. (They are still human and deserve a job). Now I know that they can get other jobs but that's not the point. It's the fact that some of these people love doing their jobs.

To sum it up. Yes it is a technology that will not be stopped. But for gods sake don't buy into this hogwash that somebody is going to give you something without screwing with someone else or screwing you the exhibitor in the long run. It better be a perfect as can be no need for major up grade in 10 or more years type of system better than 70mm done right quality before I will accept being a manager or something I am not happy doing with out having a totaly better taste in my mouth for our industry.

Guess Brad will have to change the name of his site from Film-tech to Video-tech

Enough said on the subject.

I didn't realize celluloide made up over half of my blood supply until now.

Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17589
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 10:48 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Ditto to everything above. I think Darryl has the best point here in that, sure they will provide the equipment, but who must service it and who must pay for that servicing? I'd like to see a copy of the fine print on this deal.

Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 03-09-2001 11:19 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One of the things that no one has mention here yet is that this deal apparently requires giving Technicolor the rights to any on-screen advertising, which means that existing theatres which show slides or film ads will have to give up that revenue. Apparently, an 8-10-plex can make about $50k per year on slide advertising (this is third-hand information; if anyone has better figures, please post them). By giving up the slides, the theatre loses $50k/year. Even if they fire their projectionist, they're still losing out, since I don't know of any theatre that pays that much for a projectionist. I'm only considering slides here, not film ads, which presumably would also have to be given up and which are probably also a substantial source of revenue.

The point that I'm trying to make here is that it's not just the "mom and pop" theatres that would lose out here. At a time when tickets in major cities are pusing $9 or $10 and when the industry as a whole is terribly unhealthy, I can't see any accountant who would think that this is a good deal, even if the maintenance and periodic upgrades are included. Nor can I see anyone wanting to buy the equipment outright until it becomes clear how long the equipment will last and what the long-term cost of ownership will be.

The only way that I can see this working is if a) a distribution format is standardized for "electronic cinema," so that you can, say, show the same movie on the DLP and ILA projectors without having to request separate media from the distributor; b) a large number of distributors agree to make available a large quantity and variety of titles in this format (not every new title, of course, but more than the 1-2 per year that are currently being shown electronically); c) the distributors agree to reduce the rental per centage for theatres which agree to accept a box of DVDs, DLTs, etc. or a fiber or satellite feed instead of a film print; d) there is some provision made for protection against piracy; and e) the theatres are provided with the equipment on a rental basis, with a single [monthly,yearly] fee to cover all costs including installation, maintenance, etc. If this happened, it would be possible for the theatres to see some economic benefit to installing electronic projectors, depending on the fee.

Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 02:48 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What I heard at the Technicolor Luncheon.

1. The only improvement in the DLP chip this year has been the TI Black Chip that gets the contrast ration up to 1,000 to one. The president of Technicolor said that the technology is “mature.” The resolution is 1280x1024

2. The distributors will save money because it is cheaper to duplicate a digital image and shipping a digital image to thousands of theatres costs the same as shipping a digital image to one theatre. The even gave monitary examples. They say that the distributors will save $6,000,000 on a 3,000 print distribution. They will save $2,000,000 on a 9,000-trailer distribution.

3. They said that a film print degrades after as few as 5 showings. I almost stood up to tell him that I had been showing Billy Elliot for 17 weeks without degradation. He went on to tell the exhibitors that they will save so much in staff costs because it no longer takes an hour to build a show. You can build a show by pointing and clicking in a matter of minutes.

4. On the Exhibition side they failed to demonstrate how it would increase our bottom line except for the following points. Perhaps more people will come to our theatres because of the word Digital. They will give away the first 1,000 projectors. They will undertake all maintenance and cover the costs of all lamp replacements. (I am already pimping my friend who works for them to get us one of those 1,000 free projectors. Not that I need one, but the fun is in the effort. )

5. The only costs born by the exhibitor is said to be 12 cents per seat. I heard it three ways. 12 cents per ticket sold for digital exhibition. Or 12 cents per seat in that auditorium or 12 cents for every seat in that auditorium no matter what is being shown. GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF MY POCKET! THERE ARE TOO MANY IN THERE ALREADY!

6. They will control all programming. You cannot jack any other video source in to this projector. At the present time past titles will not be converted to Digital. So even if you get Bridge Over the River Kwai from Technicolor, they don’t have it in Digital. You get to pick what you want to show, from their catalogue of shows.

7. They are pushing the security issue. Of course this is of no interest to me. I have never pirated a print nor known anybody that has. I don’t include collectors in this problem; they do more to preserve the heritage than do it for profit, if fact there is no profit. The security issue is only for the distributors.

8. They pushed the alternative-programming angle like rock concerts and sporting events. Of course, it would have to come from Technicolor and Ky can’t see somebody paying us to watch opera on the big screen. He also thinks that PBS and Bravo might have something to say about theatres horning in on their core business. TV is TV and Cinema tells a story.
In short they demonstrated how this would benefit the distributors but not the exhibitors. The process places too much control with the distributors at the expense of the exhibitors. If they had offered a 10-point reduction in film (content) rental to the exhibitors they might have generated more than the tepid applause they received.

The film clips were presented letterboxed and the concert clips were presented with that rock concert sound, you know, where you can hear the distortion.

We received a rather gay lunch, consisting of a fruit plate, chicken salad and a chocolate mousse cake desert. Everybody got a leather piece of luggage with a Technicolor Electronic Cinema t-shirt. Some people walked out with multiple bags. The ballroom was very impressive with no less than 10 very large video screens to show I-mag and clips on. But it wasn’t as impressive as the Spy Kids dinner, but that is another story.


Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 03:33 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Spy Kids Party

Miramax has its first children’s movie. It’s called Spy Kids. It stars Alan Rickman as Pee Wee Herman, Antonio Banderas as a spy and features a cameo by George Clooney. The other actors were kids or unknown. It is directed by Robert Rodriguez of Desperado fame.

The film was delivered digitally by Boeing via satellite and shown on a DLP Digital Cinema projector in Theatre Des Arts in the Paris Hotel. The theatre seats well over a 1,000 and the screen was large, but not in relationship to the room. We sat in the upper part of the theatre.

The did run two R rated trailers in front of Spy Kids for films we want. They had Bridget Jones’s Diary and With a Friend Like Harry. Ky thought it was disturbing that in the current atmosphere of concern over what you show kids that there were two R rated trailers on a G rated film. “Oh Shi…taki mushroom!”

Spy Kids is awful and will not be appreciated by anyone over the age of 13. Robert Rodriquez stood on that stage and told the audience that he has never been happier with a print. He told us that the contrast was better and that the colors were closer to his vision than on film. He neglected to say that his first film was El Mariachi but said it was Desperado. He also neglected to tell the audience that when the film was transferred the colors were wrong and that they had to hand carry back up DLP discs, and that is what we watched.

PS the film is mostly CG and that is why it looks ok on video. We and other techs noticed stair stepping on the curves and motion artifacts during fast motion. We also thought the CG was rather poor. The sound in the Theatre Des Arts was very good.

But the party was better!

We went to the bathroom and noticed that if you just went from the bathroom to the party no body stopped you. We were not invited. They had jugglers and acrobats and stilt walkers. There were people performing on the ceiling. People were walking on large balls. They had props from the film and they gave away an Isuzu Axiom to one lucky winner. There was a throbbing techno disco soundtrack and the video screens had silhouetted dancers and looked like strippers. One whole wall was a fiber optic star field.

In short, the party was better than the film.


Mitchell Dvoskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1784
From: West Milford, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2001


 - posted 03-09-2001 04:31 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Two unrelated points...

1) Maybe I am just being paranoid, but any system that can download a feature could be designed to upload what it had run, when it had run it, etc. No more private staff only shows, no unauthorized trailers, etc.

2) I seem to remember in the 60's and 70's that special events (boxing, etc.) would be run in theatres. With the advent of pay per view, this stopped, because the viewers of these events voted with their wallets to stay home. Within the next few years, hi-def tv will be affordable to the masses. I still don't understand why anyone thinks that the majority of people will pay to see a big screen tv, no matter how good it looks, once the novelty wears off.

/Mitchell

Come on dear, lets take the family to the Big Screen (Pay Per Person) TV Theatre...

Mark Gulbrandsen
Film God

Posts: 15869
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 04:48 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ian, What they told everyone is a bunch of bull! The DLP chip is really obsolete now as the Sun Microsystems display panels have blown right past them. Sun/JVC is making prototypes of a 3840 by 2048 panel that has an 1100 to 1 contrast ratio. The projector that JVC had setup did not require an anamorphic lens either. The projector has a simpler light path as well.
Mark @ GTS

Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 05:33 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yea! I wish I had spent more time and listened in the JVC booth.

Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12855
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 06:07 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Good God I hope they can get the resolution better than 3840 x 2048! I mean that is a good resolution, but it's just not quite good enough yet. Give it more time to advance.

With the lack of concern for quality and the apparent need to get this into theaters RIGHT NOW I'm surprised they just didn't rush it out at 640 x 480!

Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 06:21 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Joe, it is my understanding that you have never laid eyes on a professional video image of the kind we are talking about. I invited you to the NATO shoot out in Denver years ago and you didn't go. Do they have Electronic Cinema in Denver now?

JVC & Sony had 3840 x 2048 chips on display but as prototypes only. Nobody saw an image with these chips. 3840 x 2048 may be sufficient to mimic the 1.85:1 image with all the benifits that video has, like perfect registration and zero flicker and a very good flat field of white.

I not defending Digital Cinema as a concept, I am just asking you to speak of what you know, like film and flash.

Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12855
From: Denver, Colorado
Registered: May 99


 - posted 03-09-2001 08:40 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ian-

I'm not looking for 'sufficient' here, I'm looking for 'incredible!' I know a shitload about video, and you know that. I know enough that the aforementioned resolution is not good enough for a really big screen. Ian, that is barely 3 times above what my computer monitor is set at! I sure hope digital cinema can surpass that! Forgive me if I have high expectations, but I just can't be satisfied with mediocrity or 'sufficient' like you can (note to others: Ian and I know each other very well... this is not an attack). If we wait a year or two more, then I'm sure that the chips and the resolutions that they offer will far exceed my expectations. I agree about the registration and flicker free imaging, though. But will it FEEL like you're watching a movie? Actually video DOES flicker at 60hz, which is kind of annoying. Set your computer monitor to 60hz and you will want to switch it back FAST! What is the general refresh rate of digital cinema?

I couldn't go to that NATO shoot out because you didn't give me enough notice and I had to work. Trust me, I wanted to go!




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