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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Yet another article about digital projection... (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Yet another article about digital projection...
Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 12:07 PM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This one is more balanced, and reasonably informed.
http://www.boxofficeprophets.com/meek/thefutureisdigital.asp

The author is still missing three major points, however:

1) Once theatres install digital projectors, how do they upgrade?
2) Although he acknowledges that 'film done right' is better than digital today, and 'film done wrong' is the real problem, he fails to offer the solution of better training so 'film done right' can be offered today, AND that 'film done wrong' today can only lead to 'digital done wrong' tomorrow.
3) That film inherently 'gets scratched' and degrades simply by running it.

Over to you!

PS. Brad - He mentions that he visited that same DLP theatre that some of the TAP reviewers refer to - could you invite this guy over to your theatre to show him how FG works? That would be way cool!!!


------------------
'How about a movie? They're showing them in theatres now! I hear it's like watching a video with a bunch of strangers and a sticky floor.' - Xander Harris, from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'.


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David Rowley
Film Handler

Posts: 14
From: Burnaby, BC, Canada
Registered: Apr 2002


 - posted 05-27-2002 09:16 PM      Profile for David Rowley   Email David Rowley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
1) Once theatres install digital projectors, how do they upgrade?

Upgrading is the bane of all technology. Upgrades will probably be the same as with film projectors. Once you get to a certain minimum level of quality, you stop upgrading. 16MM lead to 35MM, but then stopped (more or less). Sure, you COULD upgrade to 70MM, but nobody did, except for a few specialty theatres. 35MM is good enough. The same will happen to digital projection. Once you get to that "good enough" point (which I don't believe they have reached yet), then they will stop upgrading.

One big advantage for digital is that the digital decoder is separate from the projector. That way, it is relatively cheap to chaneg to a new digital format (MPEG-XX to MPEG-XY for example), while keeping the really expensive component, the projector, the same.

quote:
2) Although he acknowledges that 'film done right' is better than digital today, and 'film done wrong' is the real problem, he fails to offer the solution of better training so 'film done right' can be offered today

Film done right is more expensive than film done wrong. It also requires that the projectionist (or whoever happens to be running the film) gives a damn. Unfortunately, many of the chain theaters either don't have the money, or aren't willing to spend the money, to get their employees trained to the right level. Not only that, but they throw low paid employees into the booth. When you pay minimum wage, you tend to get minimum effort.

quote:
that 'film done wrong' today can only lead to 'digital done wrong' tomorrow.

The big argument here is not that digital can overcome film done wrong, but that digital done right is easier and cheaper than film done right. How true this is still remains to be seen...

quote:
3) That film inherently 'gets scratched' and degrades simply by running it.

Just running the film does not degrade it's quality, IF it is handled correctly. The big problem here is that most people don't see film done right.

One of the things that truly impressed me with the first DLP show I saw was that the picture was very clean. No dirt, no splices, no scratches, nothing! Even film done right isn't that clean. The cleanest print I ever saw was at an Imax theater recently. It was a 70MM showing of Beauty and the Beast. As clean as the print was, it still had a bit of dirt. Not that much, but still some.

Don't get me wrong, I prefer film to DLP (at the moment), but I do see that digital is right around the corner.

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

Posts: 4718
From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 05-27-2002 09:31 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I likewise think digital is right around the corner, but I don't think it will be DLP. It'll probably be the Lazer technology.

I have heard at least one major horror story with DLP in Seattle. The system was reported to me as being very troublesome, and very unreliable. I guess they were also thinking of putting a 10kw xenon lamp behind it to brighten up the picture. I was told the DLP attempt in Seattle used a 70 foot wide screen, and it didn't look good at all!

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Anslem Rayburn
Master Film Handler

Posts: 476
From: Yuma, AZ, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 05-28-2002 12:10 AM      Profile for Anslem Rayburn   Email Anslem Rayburn   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We recently acquired a DLP unit and are currently running EP II on it. Great picture, great sound. Speaking as a manager, this thing is a dream! I don't have to worry about a projectionist not paying attention and damaging a print, and every show looks fantastic. We are experiencing some bulb issues (which I believe to be heat related, and just appeared last night), but it has been much smoother than I anticipated. It does run a 7k bulb, so heat is an obvious concern. I think we will have it fixed in the next 2 days. All in all, digital cinema is awesome.

Let's face it, film done right does not exist in most areas. I have been to various theaters in the Phoenix and San Diego areas, and have never seen it. Digital Cinema done right is simple. It's hard to screw up clicking 'start' on the computer!

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Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-28-2002 12:13 AM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David Rowley said, 'Even film done right isn't that clean'.

...then you haven't seen 'film done right' - you've seen film done reasonably well. There are many examples available, but using one from my personal experiences, we ran the same print of 'Moulin Rouge' over 300 times (including two dispatches/rebuilds) and there wasn't a single speck of dirt on the entire print from start to finish on the last run, with a Dolby Digital error rate mostly on zero. Even the splices had zero dirt buildup. No kidding!

David Rowley said, 'One big advantage for digital is that the digital decoder is separate from the projector. That way, it is relatively cheap to chaneg to a new digital format (MPEG-XX to MPEG-XY for example), while keeping the really expensive component, the projector, the same.'

Actually, the big advantage in favour of film is that you 'upgrade' to the latest image quality by threading the latest film stock. That way, a 50-year old machine will have the latest image quality. Not so with digital. With digital you are 'maxed out' at 1024 X 1280 (or whatever is in your projector head.) It never gets any better until you upgrade! The point is that with film the upgrades are built into the film stock. Digital cannot compete with that - unless you're telling me that by connecting the latest digital decoder to a 20-year old video projector, I will get today's DLP quality.


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Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-28-2002 12:26 AM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Anslem: Our manager doesn't have to worry about a projectionist screwing up a print either. That's because our theatre only hires professional projectionists. I'm not being coy or cheeky, I'm being serious.

We also needn't worry about heat problems since we only have to use a 4K bulb (with appropriate exhaust and air-conditioning). That 4K bulb is cheaper to run and will last longer than a 7K and our images are VERY bright.

Most importantly: Both our prints of AOTC are clean. I mean that during the scenes with mostly clear film, there is not even a speck of black dirt on the image - not even at the reel changes. Every screening has been perfect and it will continue this way. We use FilmGuard.

My point is that our theatre can offer everything that yours can without digital projectors.

Oh...and welcome to Film-Tech!


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Nick Catalano
Film Handler

Posts: 30
From: Whitefish Bay, WI, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 05-28-2002 12:39 AM      Profile for Nick Catalano   Email Nick Catalano   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Problem is, your theatre is in the minority. Major chains with 20 screens to worry about can't even find the money for a good projectionist.

I went to the Marcus Ultrascreen lately, the biggest 35mm screen in the state. A week after being released, their Star Wars print allready had scratches all over the splices (and they were very noticeable on a 70 foot screen). Marcus couldn't even invest in a projectionist at one of the most technically chalenging theatres in their entire chain (or if there was a projectionist, they didn't do a very good job in maintaining the print).

DLP isn't the answer though, gotta wait a few generations for the good digital technology to come out.

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Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-28-2002 01:03 AM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We might be in the minority, but why are we in the minority?

A theatre that 'can't afford' a good projectionist is a bit like a racing car team that 'can't afford' good drivers and then complains about excessive crashing and skidding around corners.

Or a restaurant that 'can't afford' good chefs complaining about bad tasting food. What would happen to the best restaurants if they started hiring minimum wage chefs with no training? 'Sir, we have microwave-ready frozen food only now - it's so hard to screw that up!'

Shouldn't it be more like: a theatre can't afford NOT to have good projectionists?

They spend millions on buildings, infrastructure, plant, fittings, etc, then peanuts on staff. Where's the sense in that? And do you really think for a moment that these conglomerates CANNOT afford a good projectionist? More like *unwilling* to pay more than minimum wage, really.

Bottom line: Any theatre that can't afford good projectionists shouldn't be in the business of showing movies.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17641
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 05-28-2002 01:51 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
I have to agree with Michael's last statement. Any 20 plex that cannot afford to hire a professional operator, yet can hire 40 employees and several managers for a shift has got some serious issues with how their operation is ran. Think about it, there is that ONE PERSON (maybe two in the really large complexes) running EVERY show in the building! Those who get cheap, get what they deserve (in my opinion, of course).

"Even film done right isn't that clean."

David, like Michael already pointed out, you definitely have not seen "film done right" yet. Feel free to visit me anytime you are in Dallas and I will gladly show you. You won't be praising digital quite so much after the visit.


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Mark Lucas
Film Handler

Posts: 44
From: CA, USA
Registered: Mar 2001


 - posted 05-28-2002 02:15 AM      Profile for Mark Lucas   Email Mark Lucas   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A lot of digitalphobia on these boards.

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Jacob Huber
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 172
From: Evansville, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 05-28-2002 02:24 AM      Profile for Jacob Huber   Email Jacob Huber   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The main reason that you are in the minority is because of cheap owners. I spoke to our tech about talking to the owner about Film-Guard, and he pretty much told me "fat chance". Not his fault, our owner is one cheap bastard. From what I was told, it took us around three months to get PTRs for all the screens (which we thankfully don't use anymore), and about the same amount of time to get film covers (that's cheap!), don't even get me started. I see it as marginally understandable, from a business standpoint. We don't have any of the Kelmar media cleaning units (we had 2, they broke, prolly cause of laziness and/or carelessness). These things are pretty expensive, but then again, so it the theatre business. Although, we just upgraded 4 of our screens from analog to digital (brand new CP650s).
What I'm confused about is that almost all of our sound racks have Component Engineering Booth Monitors, which run at about the same price as the Kelmar Cleaning units, about a few hundred dollars. However, the new theatre racks have brand new QSC top o' the line booth monitors, which I believe run at about $2000, this being a product we hardly ever use anyway. This when it took me a good half hour to find a bar of sensing tape today, turns out we have only two strips in the entire building.
This could also be another reason that projectionists don't really care anymore, everything comes down to the bottom line and the owners are really cheap. Maybe they tried to do "Film Done Right", but with such few resources, the best one could do is "Film Done Decent", not taking into account the other projectionists who gave up already because of the same problem. This in turn leads to "Film Done Like Crap (and the owner doesn't care how bad it is, so why should I, I mean I only get paid minimum wage to deal with this crap?".
FWI, I almost succame(is this a word?) to this syndrome recently, but still thrive on giving the best presentation possible within my means, and getting all other projectionists to follow my lead.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17641
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 05-28-2002 02:31 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Jacob,

You might want to get someone at the theater with a digital camera to take some pictures of your cleaning machines and email them to me for posting on a new thread. Those things are super easy to fix and generally can be fixed for under $20.

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Jacob Huber
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 172
From: Evansville, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 05-28-2002 02:45 AM      Profile for Jacob Huber   Email Jacob Huber   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's what I thought, but the cleaners aren't in my complex, they are in another one of our locations across town (supposedly) and I'm sure nobody knows where they are, and if they did, they wouldn't get them fixed. (Edited due to business politics.)


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Michael Barry
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-28-2002 06:55 AM      Profile for Michael Barry   Email Michael Barry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mark Lucas: Not digiphobia. More like low-standard-o-phobia, or cheap-skate-o-phobia.

I'm sure I speak for all of us here when I say we want to provide the best presentation possible, and at the moment the best movie presentations are achieved through 'Film Done Right'. When that changes, and 1's and 0's are the best way to achieve this, we'll be the first to switch. But until you've seen 'Film Done Right' then don't call us 'phobic anything. When you see it, you will understand!

BTW, welcome to Film-Tech!

------------------
'How about a movie? They're showing them in theatres now! I hear it's like watching a video with a bunch of strangers and a sticky floor.' - Xander Harris, from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'.

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Brad Haven
Master Film Handler

Posts: 300
From: fremantle, West Australia
Registered: Aug 2001


 - posted 05-28-2002 07:19 AM      Profile for Brad Haven   Email Brad Haven   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I can honestly say that i have NOT seen film done right (my own screenings included!) , but every day i plot my course to get there, through study , discussion and saving my pennies for a kelmar film cleaner (i already have film guard).
In 9 months time i will become a chief (permanantly this time!) and will have greater control to get there sooner. Thinking film done right is easy , doing film done right takes effort and dedication!

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