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Author Topic: More Questions For the Digital Cinema people
Steve Kraus
Film God

Posts: 4067
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000


 - posted 01-27-2003 07:40 PM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bill Langfield reports that there will be an upcoming demonstration down under of the latest and greatest in digital cinema projection, sponsored by ILM.

Got any questions I can hit these FOX/ILM people with to screw them up?? Write me up a list of MEGA PIXELS, LUMINACE, FOCUS, screen size, that sort of stuff. Anything.

Ask about the resolution for starters. Is it less than HD like the TI DLP systems? But HD is a format originally intended for consumer TV's. Why should cinemas invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a technology which is no better (and actually worse in the current generation of DLP projectors) than what will eventually be in private homes (given that a company like TI is a chip maker and the consumer market is the largest)?

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5198
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 01-27-2003 08:36 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ok, here's the one that I never heard any DP evangelist talk about: How does the thing age? Most importantly, does the technology come with the distressing problem of "pixel death" where pixels stop functioning, leaving color dots all over the place? Or does the image just slowly begin to fade, or does the rez, contrast or both begin to drop off? Perhaps the white areas start to bloom or the black areas become devoid of detail like you see in CRTs. And what is the life expectancy before whatever it is that happens, happens? And how much does it cost to replace the thing that dies (or is it a series of things that can die)? And lastly, what's the light source? Xenon? And how efficient is it compared to film? TI's DLP requires 7K to light a screen that with 35mm film technology can be lit by a 4K xenon.

Ask em that!

Frank

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Larry Shaw
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 238
From: Boston, MA, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 01-27-2003 11:20 PM      Profile for Larry Shaw   Author's Homepage   Email Larry Shaw   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
1. What are their light levels? The recent Christie newsletter mentioned 9 - 12 fL as a standard. If so, not apples to apples.

2. What will it cost to maintain this stuff (real world)for 10 years vs film equip?

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John Pytlak
Film God

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


 - posted 01-28-2003 08:26 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For me, the most obvious challenges for Digital Cinema presentation quality are:

1. How close can you sit without being annoyed by visible pixel structure or "jaggies"? Although standard SMPTE 196M specifies a preferred viewing distance of 2 to 4 picture heights for film projection, modern theatre designs often have many seats much closer than 2 screen heights.

2. How black is black? I have yet to see a current digital projector that achieves a black level as good as film can achieve. A projector where dark blacks are just a dark gray does NOT satisfy me.

3. How are the highlights rendered? Do extreme highlights have detail, or are they "clipped" to a detailess white?

4. What is the light output (efficiency) of the projector? Will you need a much larger (and more expensive to replace and operate) xenon lamp to match an equivalent film projector?

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Bill Langfield
Master Film Handler

Posts: 280
From: Prospect, NSW, Australia
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-28-2003 08:53 AM      Profile for Bill Langfield   Author's Homepage   Email Bill Langfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The person in question is Star Wars producer Rich McCallum.
I broke out in instant sweat when I found that out. He would shoot me down in a micron.

Steve, We have no idea what type of 'HD' projector they are going to use, we don't have that info, until they show up with it at 8am. It's simply the term they use in emails conferming stuff.
I realise SD & HD refers to STB for home TV's. (I have a SD STB, it's kind of okay)

You need to tell me what resolution FILM has (see eg. Q's below)

I dont know what home cinema has do with it, UNLESS you know someone who has a 15 metre wide home theatre.

I'd like to create a blow by blow like the EG.'s below:
(All using figures I MADE up, so I need a better list with REAL figures!!!)

1/ Film=20m 'pixels' Video= 5m pixels (Steve)
2/ Film=Pictures fully replaced at each refresh (well every second refresh) Video=pixels going nuts, ie slow refresh (Frank)
3/ Film=Xenon bulb 3k Video=xenon bulb 7k+ (Frank)
4/ Film=Projectors last ages (Centuries- Yeah!) Video=about six months till out dated (Bill/Frank)
5/ What will it cost to maintain this stuff (real world)for 10 years vs film equip? (Larry)
6/ Will projectionist's now get to press 'play' then drink beer or will they be fired? (Bill)
7/ In Star Trek, when 7 of 9 starts to make out with Ja... oh opps.

Bill.

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Duncan Smith
Film Handler

Posts: 50
From: England
Registered: Jan 2003


 - posted 01-28-2003 09:02 AM      Profile for Duncan Smith   Email Duncan Smith   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think I'd hit them with a few Q's about contrast ratio improvements (angle of tilt of the mirrors). When can we expect levels of over 3000:1?

How upgradeable is the software/firmware going to be? Performance doubles around every 18-24 months in areas of motion processing and block noise reduction.

How labour intensive is it to operate the equipment daily?

Is the maintenance an issue for the operator (projectionist) or a qualified engineer?

What is the lead time on spares and repairs should a component fail? (How many shows are you going to lose etc)

Will settings like colour temperature, gamma level be calibrated by an engineer or will they be adjustable (abusable) by the operator?

That'll do for now I think, hope they're appropriate.

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John Pytlak
Film God

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


 - posted 01-28-2003 09:25 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Here's some articles discussing Rick McCallum's views of Digital Cinema:

http://www.techtv.com/news/culture/story/0,24195,3384913,00.html

http://www.starwars.com/episode-i/news/1999/06/news19990603.html

http://www.starwars.com/episode-ii/news/2002/02/news20020226b.html

http://www.projectorexpert.com/Pages/interviewrm.html

http://www.e-insite.net/index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA217553

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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 01-28-2003 10:17 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When will the file formats and distribution formats for digital cinema be standardized? Will these standard formats change frequently (necessitating constant upgrading), or will we be locked into inferior standards even when improvements are possible in a year or two?

What type (if any) of data compression will be used for whatever format is adopted? Will it be lossless or lossy? What is the compression ratio (original file size vs. file size after compression)? Will the audience perceive the negative effects of lossy compression on image quality?

And, the big question: who is going to pay for this and why? What would convince a theatre owner to spend hundreds of thousands per screen simply to continue doing what he is doing now for much less? Or, if the distributors will be paying, what sort of exclusivity agreements will exhibitors be forced to accept? What about venues which run film occasionally and aren't full-time commercial theatres? What about the high cost to independent filmmakers to create a digital "master" ($2000 for a one-off print vs. $150k+ for film scanning)?

Oh, and don't forget to ask this guy if he has ever actually seen "film done right." Has he ever watched a good 70mm print on a big screen, projected with top-notch equipment and operators? A 35mm dye-transfer print? Or even an EK print?

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John Pytlak
Film God

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


 - posted 01-28-2003 10:44 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott Norwood wrote: "Oh, and don't forget to ask this guy if he has ever actually seen "film done right." Has he ever watched a good 70mm print on a big screen, projected with top-notch equipment and operators? A 35mm dye-transfer print? Or even an EK print?"

I suspect that Rick McCallum has experienced many examples of "Film Done Right" and knows it looks better, but would argue that most theatres "Do Film Wrong" or quickly damage prints. This assumes theatres/distributors will do a better job maintaining new digital projection systems, or be willing to pay someone to do it for them.

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David Stambaugh
Film God

Posts: 4016
From: Eugene, Oregon
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 01-28-2003 11:15 AM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Rather than talking about 70mm (which just isn't realistically going to happen in mainstream cinemas), I would ask them if it might not be more productive to work closely with exhibitors and printing labs to upgrade the 35mm experience in existing cinemas. There is MUCH that can be done. Instead of spending $150K on a new projector for every screen, what if they instead invest in film cleaners and Film-Guard? And make sure there's adequate illumination. Replace bad optics if necessary. Install optical-quality glass in the ports, not to mention cleaning the port glass regularly. And get labs to squeeze more resolution into release prints and raise image quality to the theoretical maximum that 35mm is capable of. This would be a hell of a lot less expensive for exhibitors, while significantly improving the quality of on-screen presentation across thousands of screens, without not making their current technology obsolete. The expression "Throwing the baby out with the bath water" comes to mind with the current unnecessary rush to digital...

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Helmut E. Dorausch
Film Handler

Posts: 18
From: Simi Valley, CA, USA
Registered: Jul 2002


 - posted 01-28-2003 11:55 AM      Profile for Helmut E. Dorausch   Author's Homepage   Email Helmut E. Dorausch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
#1) Who is going to CONVINCE the Production artists that have attached their names to a finished product, that some "free-spirit" 10th grader will NEVER "adjust" the end of a feature to his/her liking????
#2) HOW MANY people"currently" work in Willmington???????
[Eek!]

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Daryl C. W. O'Shea
Film God

Posts: 3977
From: Midland Ontario Canada (where Panavision & IMAX lenses come from)
Registered: Jun 2002


 - posted 01-28-2003 04:42 PM      Profile for Daryl C. W. O'Shea   Author's Homepage   Email Daryl C. W. O'Shea   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well if you're going to be talking to Rick McCallum you might as well ask him if he can send in photos of 'film going over 50 feet of wires' for the picture warehouse.

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John T. Hendrickson, Jr
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 889
From: Freehold, NJ, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-28-2003 06:41 PM      Profile for John T. Hendrickson, Jr   Email John T. Hendrickson, Jr   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ask them if they will guarantee(in writing) that you will not have to pay for upgrades for the next 30 years. After all, isn't that the life expectency of a 35MM projector? [Wink] Of course, we all know that properly maintained equipment will last MUCH longer.

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Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 01-28-2003 07:26 PM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bill,

When and where is this presentation going to take place? Is it at Ye Olde Orpheum, by any chance?

Can I come along?

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Bill Langfield
Master Film Handler

Posts: 280
From: Prospect, NSW, Australia
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-29-2003 07:14 AM      Profile for Bill Langfield   Author's Homepage   Email Bill Langfield   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey MICHAEL!! Yes its at the Orpheum on Feb 9th. Proberly from 10am. Please come along, bring John too. You guys would help MEGA asking Rich and tech people about this video stuff.
I have no IDEA. That is why I'm asking for help here. With you guys there that would be GREAT!

John T.
I think we ALREADY know video projectors need to be upgraded/replaced every few weeks!! But I'll have to see what they show up with. However, yeah, I'll ask how long until it needs an upgrade. The answer will proberly be 'it needs upgading now now, download the software, and the hardware will cost about as much as the projector'
I don't really know. We'll see what happens.

Daryl
quote:
Well if you're going to be talking to Rick McCallum you might as well ask him if he can send in photos of 'film going over 50 feet of wires' for the picture warehouse.
I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT your talking about. Could you email whatever it he must have said for you to present that question. I'm interested

Helmut
quote:
#1) Who is going to CONVINCE the Production artists that have attached their names to a finished product, that some "free-spirit" 10th grader will NEVER "adjust" the end of a feature to his/her liking????
HUH?? My main concern is that the manager just presses play in treasury. The 'choc-toppers' & 10th graders will be making Ice Creams or working at McD's.
quote:
#2) HOW MANY people"currently" work in Willmington???????
Huh?? You'll need to explain that question a bit more. (For my sake at least)

Bill.

[ 01-29-2003, 08:20 AM: Message edited by: Bill Langfield ]

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