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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Digital Demostration at the Transit Drive-In (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Digital Demostration at the Transit Drive-In
Barry Floyd
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1037
From: Lebanon, Tennessee, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 05-18-2006 12:26 PM      Profile for Barry Floyd   Author's Homepage   Email Barry Floyd   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I didn't get to make the trip, but was wondering if anybody did and what the results were?

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John Pytlak
Film God

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


 - posted 05-18-2006 02:21 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was there. For this test, a NEC Model NC2500F (6KW lamp) Projector was used, along with a QuVis server. The projector was used without the optional 1.25X anamorphic lens, which would add about $10,000 to the cost. A selection of trailers, intermission snipes, and the first half of "The Chronicles of Narnia" was projected on the freshly-painted screen at the Transit Drive-In in Lockport (just north of Buffalo) NY.

Light levels measured by NEC for various image widths on the screen were reported to be about 10 footlamberts for 70 feet wide, 8.4 footlamberts for 80 feet wide, and about 6 footlamberts for 100 feet wide.

Most of the 100 or so people at the demo agreed the demo looked very good.

The business case and financing options generated the most discussion at the presentation by Terri Westhafer (NEC), and John Wolski and Pat Moore (Strong) held before the demo, since the estimated cost of the equipment used for the demo was about $100,000. As noted, the more efficient optional 1.25X anamorphic lens would have added an additional $10,000.

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Tim Reed
Better Projection Pays

Posts: 5242
From: Northampton, PA
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 05-18-2006 06:33 PM      Profile for Tim Reed   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
John, I had no idea you were going to be there! Unfortunately, I couldn't make it. I was there in spirit, if nothing else; I was on the phone to a couple of attendees during the program.

Screen Attractions, the company that Justin West and I formed to produce new and digitally-remastered specialty trailers for the drive-ins, was invited to participate in this screening. Over the past few weekends, I assembled a cross-section of segments from our intermission clock, institutionals, psa's and concession snipes -- along with some custom animation just for this show. From all reports, the screening was a rousing success, as I had no doubt it would be.

I was also very proud to hear that the Screen Attractions presentation was a hit! We have become the first producer to provide DC drive-in trailers, in native digital form. Certainly, Filmack was represented at the screening, although their material originated from an NTSC videotape.

When I get a file rendered that's small enough to post, I'll put up a link to the program we made. There's a gag in it that I hear made some attendees cheer! [Smile] (Which really renewed my desire to ditch the 18-wheeler and become an animator!) We also used the screening to unveil our new name and logo.

I'd like to personally thank Rick Cohen, owner of the Transit Drive-In, for this unique opportunity to be a part of history.

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John Pytlak
Film God

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From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
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 - posted 05-18-2006 08:47 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
There's a gag in it that I hear made some attendees cheer!
Your "blue screen of death" server error gag did get a few gasps, then lots of laughs. [Cool]

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 05-18-2006 10:35 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Tim -- that's awesome! Congratulations!

So, what needed to be done to convert your files into something that the server could play? Were they using JPEG2000, or something else entirely?

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Tim Reed
Better Projection Pays

Posts: 5242
From: Northampton, PA
Registered: Sep 1999


 - posted 05-19-2006 02:45 AM      Profile for Tim Reed   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks, Scott! [Smile]

JPEG-2000. I had to work closely with QuVis to make sure they got what they needed. Incidentally, my little program was about 3.5 minutes long and something like 5GB on the hard drive. It was delivered early one morning over the Internet, via ftp. [thumbsup]

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Bud Shepard
Film Handler

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From: Fall River, Massachusetts
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 05-19-2006 08:23 AM      Profile for Bud Shepard   Author's Homepage   Email Bud Shepard   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Tim, I attended and your "blue screen of death" was great. Many of the owners thought it was the highlight of the evening. Congratulations on your new digital content.
Personally, I was very impressed by the entire event. If some sort of financial model can be presented to the drive-in owners then everyone I spoke with would be willing to convert to digital tomorrow.

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John Vincent, Jr.
Film Handler

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From: Eastham, MA, USA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted 05-19-2006 01:29 PM      Profile for John Vincent, Jr.   Author's Homepage   Email John Vincent, Jr.   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Light levels measured by NEC ..."

Note that those light levels exceed his 35mm setup (Strong Highlight II), both in peak readings and uniformity across his 98 ft screen.

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Tom Sauter
Expert Film Handler

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From: Buffalo, NY, USA
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 - posted 05-21-2006 04:30 PM      Profile for Tom Sauter   Author's Homepage   Email Tom Sauter   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To my eye the light output was very even, and definitely brighter (running 7kw) than the regular 35mm program (I believe the strong runs a 4kw but correct me if I'm wrong). The DLP made colors in the animated trailers really eye-popping, and Narnia looked good, other than light output it looked as good or better than (sorry) the average 35mm presentation at the local googleplex. The blue screen of death really got me... having seen this happen for real!

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Jack Ondracek
Film God

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From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
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 - posted 05-21-2006 10:33 PM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Re" "the blue screen" (way to go, Tim!). You should've seen the manufacturer's reps! Thought a couple of gaskets were going to go.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

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From: prospect ky usa
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 - posted 05-22-2006 08:23 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
1. My understanding is that there was no direct comparison of 35mm vs digital during the time the manufacturers were there.

2. Ask someone who was there the model number of the bulbs and the operating watts. My understanding is that digital was run significantly over the maximum rating of the bulb. Louis

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Larry Myers
Master Film Handler

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From: Herndon, VA, USA
Registered: Jan 2001


 - posted 05-22-2006 04:16 PM      Profile for Larry Myers         Edit/Delete Post 
In the science of the variability of photography, a direct comparison is almost impossible. One must make sure one is using a perfect show print on a projector that works perfect. Not a common thing. Digital will kick ass if the print is a 3rd or 4th gen high speed print shown on a film projector that shall we say is less then perfect.

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Jack Ondracek
Film God

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From: Port Orchard, WA, USA
Registered: Oct 2002


 - posted 05-22-2006 10:55 PM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There was no comparison, though I'll leave it to others to explain why. Could have been any number of reasons.

The single bulb in use was a 6,000 watt Helios. The last figure I was told (by one of the techs) is that it was running higher than 6,000 watts. One tech said it was at somewhat over 7,000. Another said it was higher, though the figure he quoted seems pretty high for a 6k bulb. I never saw the display read over 102%, though just that level had a tech or two fairly excited.

In any case, they said that higher-wattage bulbs could be used in that projector. The 6K is what they had to work with that night, and they certainly were looking to get the most out out of it they could.

There have been comments made about how this higher wattage level was needed to get the digital projector to compare favorably with the theatre's normal 4.5k Highlight console. One thing that makes the comparison unfair is that the digital projector was able to provide a much more uniform field with that extra wattage. The 35mm system had to be narrowly focused (read 'hotspot')to get levels acceptable to the owner. I suppose it might have been interesting to drop the digital lamp down to 4.5k, though even then they'd have had to tighten the focus to get a fair comparison.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
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 - posted 05-28-2006 07:37 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Article from today's Boston Globe

quote:

Coming soon: the digital drive-in movie theater

By Scott Kirsner | May 28, 2006

The owners of the 406 surviving drive-in theaters in the US have long memories: They can recall 10-cent Cokes, B-movies like ``I Was a Teenage Frankenstein," and tail-finned Cadillacs driving off with the speaker still clipped to the window.

And many use the same equipment from the golden age of the double feature: At the Wellfleet Drive-In, for example, the original projector from 1957 is still switched on every summer evening.

The country's remaining drive-ins, including five in Massachusetts, have managed to endure the onslaught of television, the multiplex, and the VCR, as well as the rising real estate values that can make selling the land beneath a drive-in irresistible. But the newest concern among drive-in owners is the advent of digital projection and the predicted obsolescence of celluloid.

``I would not want to bet my business on the ability to keep obtaining 35-millimeter film prints into the future," says John Vincent, one of the owners in Wellfleet. ``We've taken a keen interest in digital projection because we want to be around for the next 50 years or so."

Hollywood studios have been talking about a filmless future since at least 1999, when movies like ``Tarzan" and ``Star Wars: Episode I" were shown digitally in several indoor theaters. If the studios could send movies to a projection booth in digital form, either via satellite or on hard drives, they could avoid producing hundreds or thousands of celluloid copies when a movie is released, shipping them around the country, and then collecting and destroying them afterward.

Digital distribution would save the studios millions in distribution costs each year, but it requires theaters to install a digital projector and related gear in the projection booth. Until recently, the technology had only been tested and installed in indoor theaters -- not ``ozoners," as the Hollywood trade paper Variety has dubbed drive-ins.

That situation got some drive-in owners thinking back to an earlier transition in the movie business, when theaters first installed sound equipment in the late 1920s. Thousands of theaters that couldn't pay for the equipment, or didn't move fast enough, went out of business.

``We don't want to see any drive-in theaters become victims of the digital transition," says Rick Cohen, owner of the Transit Drive-In in Lockport, N.Y., near Buffalo. ``But because we're not a big segment of the movie exhibition industry, we're not the number one concern of the companies making digital projectors or servers," the computers that store the digital version of a movie.

Of the estimated 36,000 movie screens nationwide, just 657 are outdoors . At a trade show last fall, Cohen got the attention of one manufacturer of digital projectors, NEC Corp., suggesting that the company demonstrate one of its projectors at his drive-in.

``To be honest, I had kind of written off drive-ins," says Terry Westhafer, a consultant who works with NEC to develop relationships with theater owners. ``I figured they'd stay around until film died, and then have swap meets."

But the more Westhafer learned, the more she was convinced that drive-ins could represent a viable market segment. Since the 1990s, 36 drive-ins have been built, and 60 shuttered drive-ins have reopened. (While the number of drive-ins is still in decline, there has been a small uptick over the past three years, according to the United Drive-In Theater Owners Association, but their numbers remain far from a peak of about 4,000 in 1958.)

And drive-ins have always had trouble getting a bright enough image on the screen, since if the projector's bulb is too bright, it can burn through the film; NEC boasts of having the brightest digital projector available.

Earlier this month, about 100 members of the drive-in theaters group gathered at the Transit Drive-In for what Cohen and others believe was the first demonstration of digital projection at a drive-in. They watched ``The Chronicles of Narnia," preceded by some vintage material that had been digitized, including the memorable animated dancing hot dog that entices the audience to visit the concession stand.

``With any mechanical projection system, a shaky image is sort of inevitable," says Wellfleet Drive-In's Vincent, who chairs the digital cinema committee established by the owners' association. ``But digital is rock solid."

Digital projection could also increase the revenue that drive-in owners earn from advertising shown before the movie, or between the halves of a double feature.

But digital cinema comes with a jumbo-sized price tag. The NEC projector alone costs between $90,000 and $100,000, though the price is expected to drop as sales volume grows. Cohen and other drive-in owners, like their counterparts at indoor cinemas, aren't eager to foot the cost of the equipment on their own, since its installation will in large part benefit the studios by lowering distribution costs.

Several companies, including Technicolor and a New Jersey company called AccessIT, are offering to finance the digital projection equipment for indoor theaters, limiting their outlay by charging the studios a fee each time the studios send out a digital release. But those companies haven't begun serious discussions with drive-in owners.

``The target that everyone is going for are the large-grossing indoor theaters, where you can get the most bang for the buck," says Russell Wintner, an executive at AccessIT. (Wintner, one of the pioneers of digital cinema, also happens to own a single drive-in in Cleveland.) In Wellfleet, Vincent says he doesn't think he'll be replacing his 50-year-old projector with a digital model this summer or in 2007, but perhaps by 2008. If enough of his peers follow suit, the ozoner, long on the endangered list of roadside Americana, will have miraculously outlived film.

Scott Kirsner is a freelance writer in San Francisco who maintains a blog on entertainment and technology, cinematech.blogspot.com. He can be reached at kirsner@pobox.com.

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


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Andrew McCrea
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 645
From: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-28-2006 10:13 PM      Profile for Andrew McCrea   Author's Homepage   Email Andrew McCrea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Are we really getting to that point where the insiders of this industry say digital will be here for 2008?

I still think we're a long way off right now, don't you?

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