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Author Topic: New L.A. Theatre Features 4K Digital Projection
Michael Coate
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 - posted 06-01-2007 06:27 PM      Profile for Michael Coate   Email Michael Coate   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Cinematical article:

quote:

Next-Generation Movie Theater Opens in L.A.

Posted May 31st 2007 5:01PM by Christopher Campbell
Filed under: Tech Stuff, Exhibition

While most movie theater chains have been more interested in wooing audiences with material amenities like concession variety or a "Guest Response System," Landmark Theatres has been working on delivering the best picture quality to its customers. This week the art-house chain opens its latest theater in Los Angeles' Westside Pavillion, and the cinema is noteworthy because it is offering the city its first (public) taste of 4K digital projection. Landmark already has 4K projectors, specifically Sony's SXRD, in locations around the country, despite the fact that most content is only digitally available with 2K resolution.

While I'm no expert on digital projection, here is what I understand about the difference between 2K and 4K resolution (aided by Jette's post about digital restoration): 2K is the current standard for both digital cameras and digital projectors. The amount of (picture) information offered by 2K is less than the amount of information offered by film and film prints. 4K offers twice as much information as 2K and it more sufficiently represents the quality of film. While 4K cameras are currently available, most digital features are shot with 2K cameras and most features shot on film are digitally scanned using 2K scanners. So why is it so important for Landmark to have overqualified projectors?

Landmark is co-owned and co-run by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, the duo that also operates HDNet (and HDNet Films and HDNet Movies). Through HDNet, Wagner/Cuban is currently producing 4K content, which they will be able to distribute to their 4K projectors, as well as to non-theatrical 4K media (like Blu-Ray, HD DVD and HD television, presumably). Cuban also points out that they are simply preparing for when 4K content becomes more common. For now, though, Landmark patrons will only be able to appreciate 4K resolution in the form of pre-show materials provided by Sony. If Wagner and Cuban are smart (which they certainly are), they will also hit up Warner Bros. for newly restored 4K versions of Blade Runner, Cool Hand Luke and Bonnie and Clyde to screen as part of their midnight movies selection.

The Hollywood Reporter article:

quote:

4K window to future at L.A.'s new Landmark

By Carolyn Giardina
May 31, 2007

The debut of Landmark Theatres' new flagship complex called the Landmark, which opens Friday at Los Angeles' Westside Pavilion, prompts a closer examination of 4K resolution digital cinema, which represents four times the picture information found in today's commonly used 2K digital cinema resolution.

The Landmark opens with three theaters equipped with Sony's SXRD 4K digital cinema projectors. These -- and one at the Landmark-owned NuArt -- represent the only screens in Los Angeles that offer 4K projection for paying audiences.

Landmark already has ordered about 25 4K projectors from Sony, which is the only manufacturer offering 4K digital cinema projectors to theater owners. In addition to Los Angeles, there are installations in Landmark theaters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. Plans are to also install 4K technology in Baltimore and Denver.

The 4K dialogue in the film community extends well beyond projection, including production, post and mastering.

Landmark Theatres -- part of the Wagner/Cuban Cos. co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban that includes Magnolia Pictures, Magnolia Home Entertainment, HDNet Films, 2929 Prods., HDNet and HDNet Movies -- is looking at the bigger picture. Cuban said he selected 4K projection technology "because cameras were being developed that did 4K and we wanted to be ready for them.

"4K to 4K is the best quality available," he said.

Of course, this requires a steady flow of 4K content. Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures have created select 4K deliverables, but today's digital cinema content is typically available in 2K.

"(4K content) is being developed as we speak," Cuban said. "HDNet plans on actively using 4K for productions and for distribution of content beyond just 4K theatrical." He said that some of the upcoming films he is producing would be mastering and distributed in 4K, though he declined to reveal details.

Citing the aforementioned 4K content from Sony and Warners, Andrew Stucker, director of Sony's digital cinema systems unit, said: "It's still an expensive proposition. While 4K is coming, we expect the majority of the content will be 2K."

Stucker predicted that this would be the case for at least another year. "There needs to be a healthy number of 4K projectors out there. We hope to take care of that over the next year," he said.

Pointing to the added cost of 4K rendering and digital intermediate work, Stucker added: "There is a dollar difference. As those costs come down in the next 12-18 months, we hope to see 4K Digital Cinema Packages going out the door."

It appears that initially, Landmark theatergoers will get a look at 4K imagery through select trailers as well as clips of 4K content that will be supplied by Sony as preshow content. "The idea is to give audiences the visual concept of what 4K will mean for them when it finally does get going," Stucker said.

The Landmark opens with a total of 12 auditoriums, three with 4K projection, three with Panasonic 2K digital cinema projectors and all 12 with film projectors. Dolby Digital EX Surround Sound and Klipsch speakers will create the audio experiences. Digital cinema deliverables would be received via hard drives on files, though Jason Hudak, vp technology at Landmark Theatres, said the company is looking into broadband delivery options.


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Bobby Henderson
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Christopher Campbell's article is interesting, but as usual has some of the typical misgivings common in dealing with the subject of digital projection and digital creation of movies. It's probably not all that fellow's fault with guys like Mark Cuban carefully feeding him data they only want him to report.

quote:
While I'm no expert on digital projection, here is what I understand about the difference between 2K and 4K resolution (aided by Jette's post about digital restoration): 2K is the current standard for both digital cameras and digital projectors.
Sony is currently the only company offering a digital projector with native 4K resolution. All others fielding new machines are in the 2K camp.

I wonder just how many years it will take for Texas Instruments to develop a 4096 X 2160 pixel DLP imaging chip. I also wonder if they can ever do it.

TI may not even think there's even any need to push for a 4K DLP chip. After all, Hollywood is just dragging its feet on doing anything to adopt the 4K standard as a real standard. They would prefer to just cut costs and keep doing 2K even though the technology is there to fully utilize 4K.

quote:
Cuban said he selected 4K projection technology "because cameras were being developed that did 4K and we wanted to be ready for them. "4K to 4K is the best quality available," he said.
No video cameras fully record the 4K standard. You must use film, in either 4/35 or an even better format to capture full motion action that can be scanned and digitized at that level of resolution.

Mark Cuban's own HD-Net cable channel shows a lot of movies in HDTV. But nearly all have been shot on 35mm film and mastered to HD. Many of the movies are older films made in the 1970s and 1980s.

About the best thing available currently in digital video cameras, at least in terms of pixel count, is the Arri D20. Its sensor in film mode records at 3018 X 2200 pixels (6.6 million pixels). The sensor is the same size as a 4 perf 35mm camera frame and allows standard 35mm film camera lens systems to be used.

I think that underscores the importance of originating movies in more graceful, flexible, organic, traditional and analog film formats.

Technology will continue to push video cameras and anything else recording or displaying pixels to ever higher levels. One thing I think could push that process radically is the "Surface" computer Microsoft has been showing off lately. It's a big table top computer without a keyboard or mouse. You just touch the screen or make hand motions above it -sort of Minority Report style. Lay a digital camera on top of the table and it sucks the images out of the camera. I can see the need for such a device having a huge pixel count for the display.

The D-SLR angle:

As to how the 4K standard compares to digital still cameras, that's really an apples to oranges thing. There's a number of still camera sensors and camera models that record detail well above the 4K standard. However, they're only capturing still images. They're not having to record 24 frames, 30 frames or even more than that per second.

The New Canon EOS 1D Mark III is a 10.1 megapixel camera and is currently billed as the "fastest, most powerful D-SLR in the world." Its fastest "burst rate" is 10 images per second and a maximum burst of 110 shots. That's very impressive for a D-SLR still camera, but not anywhere near anything acceptable in terms of full motion video performance.

The Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II records images in 4992 X 3328 pixels (16.7 million) via its full 8/35mm sized sensor. It has been one of the most popular D-SLRs among professional photographers for the past couple of years. The Canon EOS 5D also has a full frame sensor, but records images up to 4368 X 2912 pixels (12.8 million pixels).

Some very expensive "digital backs" for large format camera bodies now run up to 40 million pixels.

The much more affordable Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi records its images at 3888 X 2592 pixels (10.1 million pixels). That's quite a bit closer to the 4K standard, but still a little over a million pixels more than the "4K" 4096 X 2160 format (8.8 million pixels). It doesn't have the digital processing muscle of the new EOS 1D Mark III or the weather sealing either. But it is currently the best selling D-SLR on the market.

quote:
The Landmark opens with a total of 12 auditoriums, three with 4K projection, three with Panasonic 2K digital cinema projectors and all 12 with film projectors. Dolby Digital EX Surround Sound and Klipsch speakers will create the audio experiences.
If the digital movies are DCI compliant, they will not use a severely lossy compressed format like Dolby Digital. It's going to be LPCM 5.1. You can certainly post process that converted to analog signal with Dolby EX. This is just another reason why someone needs to come up with a better way to sell people on multichannel LPCM. It doesn't have the brand recognition of Dolby or DTS. Still, by the simple fact LPCM is uncompressed that makes it superior to any of the lossy systems.

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Ron Curran
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 - posted 06-02-2007 12:50 AM      Profile for Ron Curran   Author's Homepage   Email Ron Curran   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow! And 35mm analogue can only record 100 million megabytes. [Big Grin]

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Demetris Thoupis
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 - posted 06-02-2007 05:10 AM      Profile for Demetris Thoupis   Email Demetris Thoupis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
[evil] Call me evil but I will be so pleased when one of these "Digital" projectors breaks down because resistor R2 on PCB board C3 under plate B2 has gone kaboom! and then you have to wait for a day or two until an expert who knows jack shit about cinema but only pcb boards will be able to trace the problem because buyin that board new will cost another fortune. While if you use a belt driven machine, the belt goes out, 10 minutes of wasted time for you to change and walla! The show goes on.
Demetris

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Louis Bornwasser
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 - posted 06-02-2007 08:43 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Demetris: that's progress! Louis

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Cameron Glendinning
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quote: Bobby Henderson
No video cameras fully record the 4K standard. You must use film, in either 4/35 or an even better format to capture full motion action that can be scanned and digitized at that level of resolution.

How much longer until the RED (4k motion picture camera) is released? Its definitly coming soon! Red web page

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Bobby Henderson
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Until the "red" camera is actually in production and actually used on any real projects I would only consider it being a conceptual item. Just whose CMOS or CCD devices are they even using in this camera? Are they getting their own chips developed? What's going on?

I remember when Arri started selling people on the D20 camera. Some sales droid people were trying to bill it as a 10 megapixel camera when its imager really only delivered 6 million pixels in "film" mode and that Superman Returns was really only being mastered in 2K or 1080p HDTV format. Basically the sales people were lying their asses off to everyone who didn't really know better or know enough to ask questions.

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Tristan Lane
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 - posted 06-03-2007 03:09 AM      Profile for Tristan Lane   Email Tristan Lane   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What I'm interested in seeing is a native 4K presentation being shown on a large screen (70+ feet) to compare to a 2K presentation.

Off topic response to an off topic statement:

quote: Demetris Thoupis
Call me evil but I will be so pleased when one of these "Digital" projectors breaks down because resistor R2 on PCB board C3 under plate B2 has gone kaboom! and then you have to wait for a day or two until an expert who knows jack shit about cinema but only pcb boards will be able to trace the problem because buyin that board new will cost another fortune. While if you use a belt driven machine, the belt goes out, 10 minutes of wasted time for you to change and walla! The show goes on.

[Roll Eyes]

I have a large selection of spare parts available to fix almost any problem that should arise with a DLP. I rarely have to dip into these parts, and it's a proven fact that solid-state devices are much more reliable than mechanical devices.

So, while your trusted belts are getting old, and your bearings are wearing out, that R2 resistor is still plugging away.

In the majority of D-cinema installs, the customer (i.e. theater) doesn't pay a dime extra for the replacement, since the cost of parts is covered under their service contract.

I can't count how many times I've had to let a 35mm projector sit dark for over a day due to the fact that parts were unavailable to repair immediately. Even belt failures have cost theaters more than 10 minutes of lost time due to the fact that they didn't have any spare belts on hand. Kinoton machines could have a Lenze inverter fail (due to resistor R2 on the primary PCB blowing), and without a spare onsite, a similar down time could result. All due to that "cursed" new technology that is evil and terrible.

Or........ A platter power supply could fail
Or........ A High Reactance tranny could fail
Or........ An intermittent could fail, with no spare on site
Or........ Resistor R2 could fail on a reverse scan reader in a non-digital equipped theater

Gimme a break................

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Stephen Furley
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 - posted 06-03-2007 05:22 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've never lost a show on film due to an equipment failure; I've never been to a show which has been cancelled due to an equipment failure. Over the years I've lost three, I think, shows due to the non-arrival of a print, and I've been to one show which was cancelled due to a total power failure, beyond the cinema. The latter would obviously affect both film and digital equally, and short of installing a generator there is nothing that could be done about it. Such failures are rare enough as to make the cost of generators generally unjustified.

As for the non-arrival of a print, digital probably has a slight advantage. If we are running a film for the first time then there's probably an equal chance of either not turning up, but if we're bringing a film back for another run, as we often do, sometimes several times, then it's likely that we'll still have the files sitting on disk, and so do not need them to be delivered again. A new key, if needed, could be supplied by telecoms means.

Breakdowns during a show are pretty rare, and I've never had one that I couldn't fix within a few minutes. The last one was actually on Saturday last week; the ends of some of the reels, near the core as supplied, were damaged, the film had been badly wound, and the edge was turned over. At the end of the first reel the film jumped out of the split roller, and tripped the ACOP; we were back on screen in about ten seconds. I once had a take-up failure when running a single machine with a tower, and had to turn the take-up spool by hand for a couple of hours. This was at a venue which only ran film occasionally, and it was fixed before the next show.

I've lost one show on video due to an equipment failure, and I've done far less video shows than film ones. I've never lost a digital show, but then I've only done eight digital shows so far. If the digital equipment did fail then I think it is far less likely that I could fix it than with film. As for how reliable the digital equipment will be; it's too early to tell yet.

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Jack Ondracek
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 - posted 06-03-2007 07:38 AM      Profile for Jack Ondracek   Author's Homepage   Email Jack Ondracek   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, I've certainly lost shows with those mechanical monstrosities I've had in my booth over the years.

Lessee... A couple of diode failures in 22 year-old xenon power supplies, a couple of shutter gear failures in some 40 year-old projector heads, and one platter motor that had a bearing freeze up after only 25 years of service. Oh, yeah... I had the centrifugal start switch give out in a motor, once. That sound head was an antique when it was put in here... I couldn't tell you how old it was. Otherwise, rock-solid performance, far beyond the lifespan of most mechanical equipment...

Yes, some of these events did cause a cancellation. However, they never had a "service contract" to keep them at optimal condition... just me. Even with the carload passes I gave out, I'm WAY far ahead of the financial curve on this argument. Matter of fact, I'm pretty sure the money I would have saved by not having 3 annual contracts (so that someone would have "R2" in his parts box) is a lot more than what it's cost me over the years to upgrade my booth.

Sorry... this line of thinking doesn't justify the digital argument. And, I'm still wondering if Carmike is really paying 4-figure maintenance fees per screen. Adding up the maintenance for ONE multiplex could mean a pretty good living for someone. Chain-wide, that cost would be sheer insanity.

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Stephen Furley
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I'd forgotten a Saturday morning children's show a few months ago, lost due to the print arriving with one reel in such a state that I literally couldn't get it to go through a projector. However, that is not totally unlike the situation with 'The Painted Veil' recently where the disk arrived, but the files wouldn't load. Fortunately it arrived early, and there was time to get another copy to us before the first show.

We've only had five different films on digital so far, so it's still too early to tell how common this will be.

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Frank Angel
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Come on guys, there isn't a technology on the planet that doesn't have the possibility of catastropic failure built-in; DCinema or F(ilm)Cinema can and will have lost shows because of the very nature of physics -- EVERYTHING can breakdown. Just ask the guys during that one live national presidential debate where audio died for 18 minutes. Just ask any techie at NASA. So what's the point? Either film or video system can give up the ghost at some point or another.

On the other hand there is the practical matter -- if an intermittent craps out or an entire mechanism strips its gears, it more than likely there will be a spare someplace in the basement that can be swapped out to get a show back on the screen in short order. With DCinema costing what it does, it will be a long time coming, should that puff of smoke pour out of the projector electronics and the image go black, that there will be another DLP head just sitting around waiting to take over from a failed unit.

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Tristan Lane
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 - posted 06-03-2007 10:33 PM      Profile for Tristan Lane   Email Tristan Lane   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think Frank's post does a better job saying what I mean to say.

To try and discount DLPs' reliability simply due to the fact that it carries a lot of electronics, and that Film isn't subject to the same causes of failure seems strange.

As we all know, there's a lot of folks in the industry that would love to see [dlp] fail miserably. This isn't hard for me to understand based on the simple fact that many Technician's careers and livelihoods depend on film remaining.

My disagreement was with Demetris' statement that if a component level failure on a DLP machine were to happen, it would solidify his belief that "film rules", and better prove his point that film should remain the industry standard.

As to the economics and cost of repairs: One cannot argue that in most cases, a failure on a DLP will cost much more in parts to repair than that of a film projector. This will change as DLP becomes more widely used, and technology and manufacturing is improved and becomes more readily available.

Considering that many of the service contracts being used by the current D-cinema providers eliminate the need for an in-house technician and also reduce the need to keep spare parts on hand, It may be financially justified to pay the cost for the service contract. I'm not privy to the numbers the theater companies pay, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the cost was far too much for an independent operation to pay.

Call me an advocate if you will....

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Demetris Thoupis
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A reasonable theater should keep main parts as spare in the projection booth especially large complexes. Belts, Shutter drive, intermittent drive and certain power supplies are a must. What I am saying is that D Cinema is so advanced in technology that it is very unlikely for someone to be able to repair a fault on one of the electronic PCB boards if one occurs during a show and will have to suffer a whole night until a new PCB board arrive to change it. Fixing a film projector is much easier for a competent projectionist. D Cinema is mainly for the larger markets. That is my belief. It is very unlikely that it will be able to reach small islands and small markets in the next 5 to 6 years. But my theory of "Film Rules" is what I always will believe. Going to a cinema which is a place of "moving images" without having images to move anymore is not thrilling for me.
Demetris

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Bobby Henderson
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quote: Demetris Thoupis
It is very unlikely that it will be able to reach small islands and small markets in the next 5 to 6 years.
I used to feel the same way about where I live just a few years ago. I had conversations with the manager of the Carmike 8 here in Lawton and we were all but sure hell would have to freeze over before his theater got stadium seating, much less anything new and very expensive like DLP. Here we are in 2007 and his theater has both stadium seating and d-cinema in all 8 auditoriums. Carmike has put d-cinema into a lot of small markets across the United States.

My feeling is any first run movie theater that charges $6 or more per ticket will eventually be showing movies off hard disc, regardless if it's an improvement or downgrade for any particular theater.

Based on print costs, the movie studios would still be saving money if they bought the d-cinema systems outright themselves and simply had them installed in movie theaters across the world.

quote: Demetris Thoupis
But my theory of "Film Rules" is what I always will believe. Going to a cinema which is a place of "moving images" without having images to move anymore is not thrilling for me.
I don't quite share the same sentiment. I like film projection, but prefer film projection that is sharp and rock steady. I don't find anything magical about a picture that has issues of side weave, picketing, strobing, etc. A very good film projection setup should look every bit as good, if not better, than a d-cinema setup.

Sad thing is most major releases today are put through a 2K digital intermediate step, so you're gaining nothing extra by watching such a movie on 35mm.

The area where I believe film still rules is in movie production. Video camera technology just isn't as good as 4/35mm at this point. The image quality is lower overall, especially on image resolution. The only thing one gains in shooting a movie digitally is short term convenience. That temporary convenience is only felt at that point during production. The lower level of image quality recorded is a permanent cost and one that will have negative consequences in years and decades to come.

Movies shot on video in what equates to 1080p today will look antiquated and obsolete maybe 10 or 20 years from now. Shoot a movie on 35mm and it will at least stand some chance to gracefully adapt to those better formats. Shoot a movie in large format and it will stand up to the increased demands of future video playback formats for many decades. The extra time and money it takes to shoot in large format now may indeed be a very good long term investment.

I think it will be at least a few more years before we see video camera sensors able to truly tackle 4K resolution. That will certainly be so when it comes to all the different frame rates a 35mm film camera can record.

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