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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Why use DLP? (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Why use DLP?
Nick Catalano
Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 04:54 PM      Profile for Nick Catalano   Email Nick Catalano   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
A) This is my first post ever on this forum. My name is Nick Catalano, I am 15 and live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have done a bit of research into the film/movie market (I would love to own a theatre someday, or at least make films) when I find the time, and I figured this would be the logical next step. I hope to make meaningful contributions to these forums.

B) There is so much talk about studio's installing TI's DLP projectors into their theatres. I have to ask, WHY??? Why not go with the solid-state D-ILA from JVC (which, btw, can support the full 1080p res and will soon have QUXGA res (4K by 2K) which is getting very close to film-quality res. Intstead you are using millions of tiny mirrors with large gaps between the mirrors (which means less gets reflected) at a lower res than true 1080p.

Correct me if I am wrong, but what is the big deal going with TI when JVC requires less light and provides a larger res?


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David Stambaugh
Film God

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 06:15 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Nick, welcome. There's a lot of discussion about the deficiencies of DLP -- search around here, you will find many opinions (mostly negative).

Like you, many (most?) film-techers are wondering the same thing. Why such a big rush? I'm far from an expert, but from what I've read, I think the reasons include: 1) TI-based 1280x1024 DLP systems are available now; 2) They more or less work; 3) The DLP proponents want to seed the market with as many units as possible to establish DLP as the benchmark and beat the competition; 4) It seems as though theaters are not paying for the DLP hardware -- they may be getting DLP for free right now or at least they are heavily subsidized for being early adopters. This goes back to seeding the market. 5) And of course the proponents say DLP & 1280x1024 is "good enough" and there's no need for higher resolution.

Have you read about Kodak's digital system? It's D-ILA and seems to have a lot of promise: Kodak Digital



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Nick Catalano
Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 06:44 PM      Profile for Nick Catalano   Email Nick Catalano   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
From that Kodak Site:
We believe there are significant advantages for originating on film today in terms of image quality, creative latitude, and [b]archivability[b]

Hmm, if there are higher res telecline machines wouldn't it be best to store the film digitally so there is little chance of the film degrading? Figure 6000K Silver Atoms, doesn't seem like it would be that hard to get all of that into digital form for long-term storage.

------------------
- Nick Catalano

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9460
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-27-2002 06:44 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Kodak is deveoping a cinema system using the D ILA technology

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Dennis Atkinson
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 129
From: Birch Run Michigan
Registered: Feb 2000


 - posted 05-27-2002 06:57 PM      Profile for Dennis Atkinson   Author's Homepage   Email Dennis Atkinson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Library of Congress is running out of room because it now has to keep the associated hardware with the media.
Film has not changed very much, video has quite a bit over its life.
What format can you store a movie on that you can guarentee will be usuable in 10-50 years? Remember when 5 1/4" floppies were advanced?

Dennis

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Nick Catalano
Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 07:06 PM      Profile for Nick Catalano   Email Nick Catalano   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In digital form it is either on or off, a 1 or a 0. That can be transfered to any new storage medium that supports binary code (and until quantum computing all there will be is a 1 or a 0).

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

Posts: 9460
From: Toronto Ontario Canada
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 05-27-2002 07:21 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Already some digital media has no reproducing equipment in good repair

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David Stambaugh
Film God

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 07:49 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"Already some digital media has no reproducing equipment in good repair"

This is a long-term major problem for all digital archiving including films.


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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 08:00 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There are several issues associated with digital storage. The first is the physical storage of bits. While we could, in theory, chisel 1's and 0's into stone tablets, this is simply not practical for real-world applications, due to the quantity of data required. Instead, we must use a more "standard" type of digital storage media, all of which have significant flaws in and of themselves (magnetic tape can get erased, optical disks can get damaged easily through poor handling, etc.).

Even if a physical storage medium carrying digital data survives over time without damage, it remains essentially useless without a) hardware to read it and b) documentation of the file format of its contents. One of the disadvantages of the rapid advances in computer technology is that hardware becomes obsolete very quickly, including storage devices. Think about how hard it would be to find something to read 8" floppy disks (a common format 20 years ago); this should give some idea of how hard it might be to find a DLT drive in twenty years.

The file format issue is also critical, since digital data will still be useless without the knowledge needed to write software which is capable of interpreting the data and turning it into pictures, sound, etc. This is why the use of proprietary (and, almost by definition, undocumented) file formats and, worse, encryption schemes to store information of long-term significance (e.g. movies, photographs, music, etc.) scares me. It's safe to assume that whatever hardware and software is being used to encode the data will not exist in the medium-term future (20 years or so), and we will need both talented programmers and file-format documentation in order to make any sense out of whatever digital data may survive from the present time. These data will then need to be converted to suit whatever type of display device is in use in the future; conversion often causes degredation in digital images, and will definitely cause degradation if lossy compression techniques are used at any stage.

All of these issues are serious and are mostly avoided by using standard 16mm and 35mm film formats. The format is essentially self-documenting (you can hold it up to a light source and see an image; an optical soundtrack is a depiction of the sound waveform) and the guages have been standardized for years (and won't change anytime soon). Further, it is very simple to convert film to nearly any display or storage format which might be needed in the future, with minimal quality loss. Film also has the advantage that it degrades slowly in easily identifiable stages, so that, with care (a big assumption, admittedly), it can be preserved before it is lost completely. By contrast, most digital formats will degrade suddenly and go straight from giving great quality to a complete loss of information.

No matter what happens with DLP on the exhibition side, I sincerely hope that filmmakers and photographers have the foresight to preserve physical copies of their work on film for the long-term future, as it is the only format which has proven itself to be recoverable a full century after it was produced. Contrast this with the many reels of 7-track and 9-track computer tape of data which NASA collected in the 1960s and 1970s which are all but unusable today due to either tape degradation or (more significantly) the lack of hardware and software capable of reading the data stored on them. The same situation exists with 2" quad videotape--a common format through the 1970s--which is very difficulat and expensive to view today on the limited number of machines which still exist in working order.

Maybe John P. can give some insight on the long-term storage characteristics of film. The good thing is that most of the major historical issues with film storage (nitrate decomposition, vinegar syndrome, and color fading) seem to have been significantly reduced in the current generation of film stocks.

Note that I'm saying all this as one who works with computers and data storage on a daily basis. I do attempt to ensure long-term data stability by using standard tape formats (dump and tar, mostly), standard physical media with a history of long-term (which, in the computer industry, generally means more than a year or two) storage ability (DLT tape), and regularly attempting to read older tapes to ensure readability. Having said that, I'd be amazed if tonight's backup tapes will be readable in ten years.


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Nick Catalano
Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 08:14 PM      Profile for Nick Catalano   Email Nick Catalano   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This isn't tape storage, this is solid state storage for long-term reliability. Storing these movies on tapes would be more foolish than storing them on tape. Storing them on pressed CDs or DVDs with seprate disks of parity to ensure long term reliability would be best.


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Scott Norwood
Film God

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 09:01 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
But will we have CD or DVD drives in twenty years? In fifty? And even if the physical medium survives and the bits are readable, what about file format issues and conversion loss?

The digital-storage proponents like to perpetuate a lovely myth that as long as someone makes bit-for-bit copies of the recording every few years, digital storage is "perfect." The problem is that a) this doesn't happen (look at all the nitrate film that we still have that has yet to be preserved--and that is a format which has not been manufactured for fifty years) and b) file formats change and information is almost always lost (or new information is artifically introduced) in the conversion.

No, film isn't perfect, but it is a mature format which has a proven record of archival stability under a wide range of conditions. Note that I'm not saying that we _shouldn't_ store films and photographs electronically _in_ _addition_ to storing the film, just that this should be considered a supplement and not a replacement for film storage.

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Steve Kraus
Film God

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From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000


 - posted 05-27-2002 09:12 PM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The problem of disappearing playback hardware is one that is often cited but really seems rather silly. If you have a library of thousands of reels of 9-track tape then obviously you must keep a 9-track drive in good repair. As you gradually begin to notice that this is becoming difficult to do then it's time to migrate the data to a newer medium. Yes, a big and expensive job but at least the data remains perfect (at least as long as you can read the tapes) unlike, say, copying nitrate to safety. If the job is too huge and too expensive then there is reason to keep the old 9-track drive working, even if it means custom made parts. It's not like the technology itself has disappeared.

That said, I do question the longevity of CD-R's given their dye-based technology. I've toyed with the idea of someday, once I've accumulated a vast number of digital photographs, having someone write them out to 35mm film, either color negative (subject to fading but at a very low and predictable rate) or B&W color separations.

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 09:14 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Welcome aboard, Nick.

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Nick Catalano
Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 09:16 PM      Profile for Nick Catalano   Email Nick Catalano   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When the technology allows us to store film-quality reproductions, a standard can be created and kept to. As technology improves this standard can evolve.

I dunno, it isn't a top priority in my life to change the way film is archived.

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David Rowley
Film Handler

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


 - posted 05-27-2002 09:30 PM      Profile for David Rowley   Email David Rowley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
The problem of disappearing playback hardware is one that is often cited but really seems rather silly.

Every major library I've ever been into still uses microfiche.

quote:
That said, I do question the longevity of CD-R's given their dye-based technology.

Longevity of CD-Rs vary greatly, depending on the media and activation energy used. According to Kodak http://www.kodak.com/country/US/en/digital/cdr/tech/lifetime.jhtml , their Kodak Ultima media, with 2.10 eV activation energy will last more than 5000 years. Even if they are off by a factor of 10, that should be long enough. Typical dye CD-R media on a typical recorder will only last 2 to 10 years. I wouldn't put anything important on cheap CD-Rs.

Printed CDs will last about as long as the disc itself stays whole. They don't degrade the same way that CD-Rs do...


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