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Author Topic: Digital cinema not coming soon to a theatre near you
Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 12-19-2000 08:52 AM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Check out this story:

It talks about the digital cinema revolution being undermined by the industry's financial crisis.


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Martin Frandsen
Master Film Handler

Posts: 270
From: Denmark, Europe
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 12-19-2000 09:05 AM      Profile for Martin Frandsen   Email Martin Frandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Looks like i'll have to wait to see digital cinema in Denmark. There has been a lot of talk that it should finally open in Copenhagen but nothing happens. I wonder why?

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Sean McKinnon
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1712
From: Peabody Massachusetts
Registered: Sep 2000

 - posted 12-19-2000 01:04 PM      Profile for Sean McKinnon   Author's Homepage   Email Sean McKinnon   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
God I HATE it when journalist write about movie theatres! they have noooooo clue! the film degrades after you run it and gets dirt and scratches? not at my theatre! we use filmgaurd, clean our projectors all the time, not to mention platter decks and rollers almost every show! Yeah, digital cinema's gonna be reel(no pun intended) good just wait till those 750,000 mirrors start to go! now instead of black specks of dirt we have black specs of unprojected pixels! and ye the way someone shouold have filled this "Journalist" in on the fact that the film is made out of POLYESTER and that it DOES NOT BREAK! Thank you im done now

I love to smoke I smoke seventhousand packs a day and I'm never F*&ing quittin!-- Denis Leary

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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 12-19-2000 03:01 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Sean, I agree with you. More often than not, the media does not get facts right, or seems to be heavily biased in one way or another. Whoever wrote that story probably has very little technical knowledge concerning digital projection vs. film projection. In fact, how many people who write news stories about technology have much technical knowledge about anything? In the newspaper, anytime I see any articles about home theatre or computer technology, the writers usually give bad advice and get facts wrong.

By the way, 750000 mirrors (assuming 1 per pixel) is not even quite enough to get 1024 by 768 resolution, assuming all must be used at once for an entire image. I thought the current resolution being considered for digital projection was 1280 by 1024, which would require 1310720 mirrors (or pixels).


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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

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

 - posted 12-19-2000 10:36 PM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, the resolution is 1280 x 1024. Not what they he said in the article.

There is more than just the financial woes.
Since I have one of these at my theatre, here is what I feel.

Distribution is fairly good, We get the movie on DVD and have to feed the QuBit player. The DVD player is only 6X but it planned on being upgraded. It took about 4-5 hours total time to feed the disks (16 total, 5 reels with 3 disks each and then a trailer disk) Now, this still requires Disney or TI to set up the playlist but this is being worked on.

Average consumer is accepting of the image quality. Just don't sit up on the screen, stay back at least one screen height. You don't sit on top of your TV do you?

Yes, TI is actively working on a bunch of issues to refine the product. It will be awhile before it becomes more common place.


P.S. We will probably be broadcasting the JASON project in our theatre for the Schools to come and see. But that is just a thought for now.

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Dustin Mitchell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1865
From: Mondovi, WI, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 12-20-2000 02:15 AM      Profile for Dustin Mitchell   Email Dustin Mitchell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I will welcome digital cinema when it surpases film quality.


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Paul Cunningham
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 146
From: Melbourne, Australia
Registered: Jun 2000

 - posted 12-20-2000 06:23 AM      Profile for Paul Cunningham   Email Paul Cunningham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul, since you have one of these beasts I have a question for you.

At my theatre we are using a couple of projectors that were designed in 1944. Apart from being upgraded to red LED and dolby digital they are pretty much the same as they were 56 years ago.

What is the chances of your expensive DLP machine being able to project a digital image in 56 years time using whatever the source of the day will be ? What is the chance of it being able to accept stuff in 5 years time ?

With the speed that computers and technology are evolving I can see that theatres will need to upgrade their projectors every couple of years to keep pace and this could become costly.

Just my thoughts


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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000

 - posted 12-20-2000 10:08 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
About Paul's comments:

I agree about the need to upgrade after a few years and technology changes being a major possible problem with digital projection.

I have been in the field of computer science since 1984 and in just 16 years, have seen tremendous changes in technology. Unfortunately, computer equipment for long-term use has major problems that need to be thought out.

1. Equipment reliability: CPUs, memory, boards, and hard-drives are quite reliable, but the new "digital projectors" haven't had time to be tested to determine their useful life, MTBF, and nature of performance degradation with equipment age. Current film projectors have proven themselves for many years and maintenance costs can be reasonably estimated.

2. Equipment becoming obsolete due to better technology becoming available: Even if equipment does not wear out, people may stop watching movies in theatres with older lower-resolution equipment with poorer image quality if newer technology becomes available that surpasses it. A good analogy is my 200 MHz computer at home that I bought back in 1996. It performs just as well as it did when I bought it when it was the fastest thing available, but my 933 MHz machine in my office makes me perceive the 200 MHz as slower than it used to be, even though it isn't. Computer technology tends to be very expensive at the start, then the price drops drastically as better equipment becomes available, with the new equipment being available at the same price as the original (now inferior) equipment was. Theatres investing in the first line of digital projection equipment will likely get burned by this.

3. Equipment becoming obsolete due to higher demands being placed on it. A digital projector and supporting processing equipment and network connectivity may be sufficient for the current movies, but if resolution increases in the future, more disk storage and higher network bandwidth may require upgrades or new equipment, even if scaled to the older lower resolution to be projected. Analogy: A 386/33 ran MS-DOS programs wonderfully, but Windows 95 slowed it to a crawl and made it nearly unusable.

4. Equipment becoming obsolete due to changing standards. Even if the equipment is capable of functioning properly, the specific hardware in the equipment may become unsupported for a wide variety of reasons. Analogy: In our lab, our older Silicon Graphics workstations are still fast enough to be useful, but they won't run the latest versions of IRIX (SGI's UNIX), so we're limited in what we can run on those.

5. Competing equipment and/or standards. Suppose several companies have totally different projection technology. That would probably cause better quality projectors to be developed, but buying any specific brand would be risky because the eventual "winning format" may be difficult to predict. Once there is a "winner", the other technologies may become unsupported in a short period of time. You can't assume that the highest quality product (or even that either product) will always win out. Analogies: VHS vs. Beta (videotape, late 70s and early 80s), IBM PC vs. Macintosh (platform, a few years back), Windows vs. OS/2 (operating system, 1987-1990), 5.25 vs. 3.5 inch floppies (1980s), DAT vs. DCC (early 90s).

35mm film has been around a very long time and projectors can be kept running for decades. If the theatre companies can't even afford to maintain the equipment they have now, how in the world will they ever survive with the much more volatile computer-based projection equipment? I say this as a computer scientist.

There are other concerns I have about digital technology for movies. Uniform sampling of anything (like a movie scene) introduces aliasing. Due to the nature of film grains, temporal aliasing is the only objectionable aliasing that occurs when shooting with film. With digital "filming", spatial aliasing is also introduced, but that's another topic.


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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

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

 - posted 12-21-2000 01:43 AM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am not saying, I hope, that DLP is going to replace film projectors.

Since I have one of these machines at my theatre, I am trying to provide insightful, useful, and as factual as I can, information.

Will a theatre ever be 100% DLP? NO, not until ALL film companies distribute this way.

Will this ever happen? NO, indies are not going to pony the costs of conversion.

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John Schulien
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 206
From: Chicago, IL, USA
Registered: Nov 1999

 - posted 12-21-2000 02:08 PM      Profile for John Schulien   Email John Schulien   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that the only way for digital projection to take hold is if the film distributors own and operate the projectors.

Three reasons.

(1) By distributing films in digital format, the distributors will save millions of dollars, because they won't have to pay to have 35mm prints made, just handfuls of DVDs. They are very, very financially motivated to get digital projection into theatres, and they may well do the math and realize that they can put these projectors in theatres for free and still come out ahead by not having to pay for raw filmstock, lab processing, film storage, inventory warehousing, "quality inspection", broken reels, lost & stolen films, and film disposal costs.

(2) Theatres can't afford digital projectors, and won't buy them, because they correctly realize that the first generation of digital projectors will quickly become obsolete.

(3) Studios will demand that digital projectors be equipped with extensive anti-piracy features. A digital projector isn't just a digital projector, it's also a digital setbox and a digital vault safeguarding the movie. If a digital projector is a commodity item, bought and sold by theatres and on the used market, then it is very likely that someone will be able to "tap into" a digital projector, and extract a many-times-better-than-DVD quality digital copy of current release prints, which poses an enormous piracy issue.

By having the projectors owned and maintained by the distributors:

(1) Theatres don't have to finance the installation, and regular upgrade of their digital projectors -- which they can't afford to do anyhow.

(2) The distributors can maintain both contractual and physical security over the projectors -- installing tamper-proofing devices, for instance -- thus better safeguarding the valuable digital data contained in the projectors, a selling point from the distributors to the studios.

(3) The distributors can maintain control over distribution. They keep their monopoly. If theatres own, maintain, and operate their own projectors, then the barrier to entry in the film distribution business drops to near zero, and the entire industry is up for grabs, like the music distribution industry has been thrown into chaos with the development of MP3.

Not that I agree that distributors should own the projectors -- but if a distributor offered to replace your film projectors with sealed, black-box digital projectors for free, and your customers indicated a preference for "digital movies", would you do it?

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16657
From: Music City
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 12-22-2000 06:07 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Digital antipiracy methods will never stop anyone from bootlegging a film if they want it bad enough. Its easy to go in and shoot anything with a DV camcorder without anyone ever knowing.

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System Notices
Forum Watchdog / Soup Nazi

Posts: 215

Registered: Apr 2004

 - posted 10-31-2004 06:15 PM      Profile for System Notices         Edit/Delete Post 

It has been 1409 days since the last post.

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David Favel
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 764
From: Ashburton, New Zealand
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 10-31-2004 06:15 PM      Profile for David Favel   Email David Favel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
End of the reel for celluloid
By Ciaran Byrne
Sunday 14 December 1997 ALMOST 8 YEARS AGO;sessionid=ANJIIN2GBMF5BQFIQMFSM5WAVCBQ0JVC?html=/archive/1997/12/14/ncel14.html&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=80092

HOLLYWOOD could soon be beaming films directly into British cinemas by
satellite, signalling the end of a century-long love affair with

British Telecom is working on plans that will allow the electronic
transmission of blockbusters to individual cinemas, removing the need to
produce thousands of expensive print versions for distribution around the

With early expressions of interest from studios such as Dreamworks, owned
by Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, BT hopes to launch the service early
next year in conjunction with other companies. For generations of
cinema-goers, celluloid film has brought adventure and romance to the big
screen. However, industry experts believe its demise is inevitable.

BT is developing a system that would see films transferred to a computer
databank once they are ready for release. From there, the encrypted data
would be sent by satellite to a central location in each country, from
where they could be "ordered" on demand by cinemas. To screen a film,
cinema managers would use a computer to request the title, which would be
transmitted to them through a secure fibre optic telephone line.

It has been envisaged that digital projectors will replace the current
machines which screen celluloid. The projectors would have the capacity to
screen high quality digital images, similar to film, without interference
from pixels (the tiny dots that make up an image).

George Lucas, the director of Star Wars, will shoot the second part of his
new trilogy on digital video without using celluloid film. A digital
camera will encode visual images in binary form, which can be stored on
disc, manipulated and projected. He believes that he will save about 40
per cent on the cost of production.

This weekend, a BT spokesman confirmed the company's involvement in the
project and said an announcement would be made early in 1998. "I can
confirm BT is involved. We are planning to launch something, but at this
stage the system is still being developed," he said. Industry experts said
last week that millions of pounds could be saved annually by removing the
need to make copies of new releases for world audiences.

Prints for the new James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, are believed to
have cost ý900,000 for the British market alone. The power of distributors
could also be severely weakened. "The balance will shift to the service
provider and the exhibitors because they will be able to dictate their own
schedules," said Keith Morris of Barco UK, a company which is developing
digital projectors.

"The main reason behind any such move is that film is very expensive.
Moving around film is expensive and so is employing people who have been
trained to handle and change film. This will do away with all of that," he
said. The time it takes to get films from studio to screen will be
drastically reduced. It will also open up vast new markets in countries
where cinema does not thrive. It means that a cinema manager in a country
such as India could literally press a computer key and the film would
arrive instantly," Mr Morris said.

The move from celluloid to digital transmission could be the biggest
change to occur since the birth of cinema in 1891, when Thomas Edison
invented the Kinetoscope. It was followed five years later by the first
public demonstration of Antoine Lumiere's Cinematographe in Paris.

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Frank Angel
Film God

Posts: 5305
From: Brooklyn NY USA
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 11-17-2004 09:56 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
HOLLYWOOD could soon be beaming films directly into British cinemas by satellite, signalling the end of a century-long love affair with celluloid.
....and evidently the end of civilized life as we know it.

Geeeez, how long are reporters going to make statements like this and spout them as if they are fact? Every time some horse's ass journalist starts writing about Deee-Cinema he immediately winds up mouthing this kind of crap. And they've been doing it for almost a decade without even noticing that all those stupid previous predictions were so far off as to be jokes, yet they forge ahead.

They were saying there would no longer be any need to ship film to theatres, that celuloid would be totally replaced by the "digital stream" in three to five years! My goodness, what WILL Kodak do?! I heard THAT in 1997 on CBS NewsRadio in NYC. It was around the time George (I-Got-A-TI-NanoMirror-Module-Stuck-Up-My-Ass) Lucas started issuing those ludicrous press releases before the release of his computer generated STAR TURDS I - The Digital Menace. Why do these reporters get hardons when they hear someone say film will be replaced by digital (evidently the sooner the better)?

The writer of that piece really need someone to seriously bitch-slap him.

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John Pytlak
Film God

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

 - posted 11-17-2004 01:11 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Kodak's motion picture FILM, hybrid post-production, and Digital Cinema businesses are ALL doing very well this year: [Smile]

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