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Author Topic: Digital Projector Install
John Walsh
Film God

Posts: 2490
From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999

 - posted 05-01-2002 11:24 AM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thought I describe some of the stuff we are going through to install digital projectors (DP.)

Technicolor is providing the equipment we are using. They first asked we prepare the site. Considering the fact they are providing the projector and server for free, the cost to ready the booth was minor.

We had enough room in our projection rooms to just place the DP next to the existing 35mm projector, rather than having to move the 35mm. All of our projection set ups traditionally have the 35mm projector in the center, with the platter on the left and a sound rack on the right. We moved the platter to the far right, behind the sound rack, and placed the DP about 3ft to the left of the 35mm. The server (provides the image and sound) was located next to the audio rack to reduce any possible noise problems.

We had to add a port window for the DP. All of the theaters we're using are THX approved, so we bought the CPI "THX" port windows (although the DP makes very little noise, we need to be able go back to running "noisy" 35mm.) The DP has two swinging lenses mounted on the front, somewhat like the swing-away anamorphic holder on a Cinemecannica V5,V8, except one swings in from the left, (for 1.85) the other from the right (for 2.39.) We had to pull the DP away from the front wall about 18in (farther than we initially thought) so the lenses could clear. Following THX spec's, the window needs to be isolated from the frame, which is tough to describe to carpenters not used to sound isolation. While creating an opening, one guy we hired got a little too handy with his sawsall and almost cut a surround speaker in half.

A HVAC guy needed to increase the exhaust air flow for the large bulb in the DP's lamphouse. It's very hard to get HVAC people to guarantee a specified cfm. At one place we had to replace the motor, change the adjustable shives to increase the fan blade speed, and replace the ducting from the fan to the projector. We ran a 6" x 12" duct (replacing the 8" round) to about two ft above the projector, then used 10" round flex to the lamp. The grid for the ceiling tiles were in the way, so we will get a guy to fix up everything around the new duct. Additional cooling is provided by a small water circulator at the DP's base. As a side note, if you have a setup where a single fan exhausts several projectors, you might have a problem getting good air flow.

An electrican ran the 3-phase line and a regular 110 line to the DP, and a 110 line out to the server, which we brought out of the electrical trough with liquid-tight tubing. We also ran a 1 1/2in liquid-tight from the server, to a box on the front wall, next to the 35mm projector, then on to the DP. Tubing also goes from the automation (ours is in the console) into that front wall box. The audio, video and control cables run in there.

During their preliminary survey, the Technicolor techs noticed the seams in our screen, and thought they might be too visible. Later when the DP was up and running.. boy, they were right. Since the DP doesn't have a traditional shutter, minor imperfections may show up. Also, there were two support struts just behind the screen. After years of people leaning against the screen, a slight impression of the struts were "embossed" into the screen material. I was lucky to get a new screen installed on short notice. While the screen was down, I got some black spray paint to touch up some areas.

The server needs an direct outside phone line, so they can dial into the server. This allows Technicolor techs to remote-control into the server to assist operators having problems, for which I personally am very grateful for!

The Technicolor setup is interfaced your existing automation. So, for day-to-day operation, you simply press your existing START button. To change the automation to/from DP and 35mm, we just have to throw a switch ("DP" or "35MM") and then shut off the circuit breakers for whichever projector we're not using. By using the existing automation, existing remote control and fire alarm shutdown operation is maintained. We had two different automations to interface to: A Maxi 12x, (easy) and the CineQ (tougher.) Right now, you can not "changeover" between DP and 35mm on-the-fly; we didn't have the time to design a circuit for that. But, it seems that it would be easy to do. The only limitation is on our part; we can't get the air flow required. Even though both projectors would only be on together for a short time, the turbulance created by ducting with "T" shaped and angled sections would reduce the air flow below what's needed. The server has a nice flat-panel display that folds down and into the short 19" rack used. I'm still learning the software application for "making-up" and running shows, but I thought it was pretty simple to use. Besides, once it's set up, you only need to start the show, without ever touching the server. I'd like to design something to allow us to easily move the DP from one house to another in the future.

The Technicolor techs were thoughly professional, and nice guys. They spend a full hour asking how we would like the show presented (house light settings, etc.) and designing the system to operate that way. At one point, we had six Technicolor/Christie people setting up everything, so things went quickly, especially after doing our first install. They tested both DP and 35mm operation repeatedly to be sure everthing worked OK. The DP hooks up to a wireless network to calibrate it; it was fun to see a guy sitting in the auditorium with a portable laptop and light meters, setting the projector! While testing, he can leave white light on the screen. I had to resist the temptation to run up to the DP and close the dowser! They even brought a "bag of swag" (T-shirts, pens, etc.) for us to pass around.

The picture quality was great; I don't think that the average movie-goer will see the difference, even the more discerning ones. It's true that film is better in some ways, (blacks, etc.) but, the DP was better in others. For example, I think the first thing I noticed was the lack of any jitter or weave. There's no 48 cycle type flicker, either. You really have to see it for yourself before saying it's better or worse than 35mm.

Anyway, this gives you some idea of what needs to be done.

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Joe Beres
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 606
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Nov 2000

 - posted 05-01-2002 12:16 PM      Profile for Joe Beres   Email Joe Beres   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for the extensive information. It's really interesting to hear all of the details. When they asked you to ready the booth, what kind of info were you given? (detailed drawings of the required set-up, power and hvac needs? a simple listing of those requirements?) Will you be running EPII in dlp only, or will you have a print or two running in a seperate house? Will you have prints for back-up in case the dlp fails? Just curious. Thanks

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Joseph Pandolfi
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 213
From: Milford, CT.
Registered: Nov 1999

 - posted 05-01-2002 12:36 PM      Profile for Joseph Pandolfi   Email Joseph Pandolfi   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
John is this at your SoNo location? I'm gonna have to check it out once everything gets going.

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Aaron Haney
Master Film Handler

Posts: 265
From: Cupertino, CA, USA
Registered: Jan 2001

 - posted 05-01-2002 06:02 PM      Profile for Aaron Haney   Email Aaron Haney   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Okay, I have to ask the perennial question:

What is the resolution of this projector?

If it's standard 1280x1024 DLP, you will notice the pixels for 2.39:1 "scope" movies. They get stretched out so far horizontally, it's like looking at the movie through vertical blinds.

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John Walsh
Film God

Posts: 2490
From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999

 - posted 05-01-2002 07:22 PM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Joe B:

We were given some details, but they were a bit vauge. In fairness, they have never done a "large-scale" install before, so they are only now compiling detailed info. For example, they had to learn how to interface to a CineQ automation. Now that they know, the next ones can be done quicker.

I'm sure we will get one or two 35mm prints to run in other screens, but I don't think we will get a backup 35mm print. I don't know for sure, though.

Joe P. No it's at our Trumbull CT theater (The Marquis.) Let me know when you want to come by, and I'll either meet you, or call them to let you see it.

Aaron: It's true the pixels are stretched out, but believe me when I say the picture quality is more than just "acceptable." No one is saying it's better than film; but it looks great on our 38ft wide screen.

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Bob Maar
(Maar stands for Maartini)

Posts: 28608
From: New York City & Newport, RI
Registered: Feb 2001

 - posted 05-02-2002 10:38 AM      Profile for Bob Maar   Author's Homepage   Email Bob Maar   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

I would also like to come visit your Trumbull installation. Let me know when it will be convenient for you.

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Steve Kraus
Film God

Posts: 4094
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: May 2000

 - posted 05-02-2002 03:09 PM      Profile for Steve Kraus     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What test "footage" are you viewing on it?

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John Walsh
Film God

Posts: 2490
From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999

 - posted 05-03-2002 09:53 AM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bob: No problem. I'm in Las Vegas right now, but maybe next week?

Steve: They left several different files on the server for testing; "white", color bars, charts for checking any cropping and keystoning, countdown leader with the "2pop" (I guess we can add that to the feature to look like it's really film!) They also left a 15 min segment of some low-buget movie about a guy and a girl who just met and are driving around.

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 981
From: Frisco, TX. (North of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 05-03-2002 10:20 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
John, That is called "The Last Place On Earth"

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John Pytlak
Film God

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

 - posted 05-03-2002 10:39 AM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul Konen said: "John, That is called "The Last Place On Earth""

The movie clip with the guy & girl driving? or Las Vegas?

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: +1 585 477 5325 Cell: +1 585 781 4036 Fax: +1 585 722 7243
Web site:

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

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

 - posted 05-09-2002 04:00 AM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Off the subject just a little, but I didn't know where to put it.

What I understand about DLP is those projectors have a rotating disk with thousands of microscopic mirrors to reflect the light from the Xenon bulb to the screen via the projection lens. Someone also told me that Texas Instruments has to make about 200 of those mirror assemblies before they actually have one that works. Furthermore, I understand that it takes about 6 DVD disks to load the image into the computer servers, which can take hours to do because it has to be done in real time.

If what was told to me is correct, I think this system is doomed before it even gets off the ground.

Wow! I can picture some popcorn salesperson operating the projector with a Xenon lamp out of focus. Now, that should do a good job of screwing up those mirrors. Computer servers? Well, they crash as everyone knows, and with DLP, they will probably crash at the most inconvenient time. (like in the middle of the presentation)

I see a system that is going to be extremely expensive to buy (as we already know), very unreliable, and prohibitively expensive to maintain. Thank God, I won't have to worry about it in my lifetime.

Is it Hughs that is toying with Lazers instead of Xenon? Three 13-watt Lazers shooting at phospher like an electron gun in a color TV set? Interesting thought.

Since a Lazer beam of this power is capable of doing severe damage to humans, I wonder if the government would even allow it. What is the power of a Lazer pointer? About 1mw? I have heard the US government looked down their noses at that one. I was told some people were using them as toys at night and shining them in people's eyes. The military aircraft pilots were complaining about them, too. Seems like some people were aiming them at their aircraft. I read an article where a pilot sued someone for that, claiming his eyes were damaged with a Lazer pointer.

I know nothing about DLP, other than it looks crappy on the screen. I here there a bunch of MTS techs in the Pacific Northwest area doing a crash program getting a theater ready for Star Wars.....

Something tells me this whole DLP thing is going to be like a monkey screwing a football.

Seems like nothing in the last 100 years has beat the quality of projecting a hunk of film on the big screen. Moreover, some 65 year-old projectors are still capable of putting a top-notched picture on the screen. So what if they leak a little oil?

I find myself getting kind of curious about DLP, and how it works. I depend on you pro's out there to tell me more about it.

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John Anastasio
Master Film Handler

Posts: 325
From: Trenton, NJ, USA
Registered: Sep 2000

 - posted 05-09-2002 06:22 AM      Profile for John Anastasio   Author's Homepage   Email John Anastasio   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What you're describing is known as Laser Cathode Ray tube. They're projection tubes in which the usual phosphor coating has been replaced by a resonant cavity coated with a semiconductor that will "lase" when struck by a 10 - 13 watt electron beam. A 13 watt beam will produce 10,000 lumens, so it produces and extremely powerful spot on the tube and the color, being a laser, is very pure. The laser itself outputs up to 6w. No, you wouldn't want to look it in the eye...but I don't think you'd want to stare into the lens of a projector running 150amp arcs either. It wasn't possible to do this until recently, since lasers in all of the primary colors hadn't been developed yet. Now that there's one that will work at 620nm, we have a blue that wasn't available until the late 90's. One of the nice things about the system is that the white light it produces has practically no infra-red or ultra-violet components, so the whole thing can be used not only to project a digital image, but to act as an illumination source for film as well....a good bridge between two different technologies. Because the light is pure, the color gamut is greatly increased, and because when a laser is off, it's OFF, the contrast ratio on such a projector can be -2,000:1 ANSI. The whole thing is described in more technical detail on page 210 of the current SMPTE JOURNAL.

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