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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » D-Cinema...post your pros and cons of the different equipment (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: D-Cinema...post your pros and cons of the different equipment
Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17589
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 04-03-2008 03:34 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
This is for anyone working with the various equipment out there...Dolby, Christie, Barco, Doremi, etc. If you do not have first hand knowledge of the equipment being discussed, make sure your questions/comments are NOT stated "as fact".

This is simple. Please post your pros and cons of each of the various pieces of equipment. For example, various features, anamorphic lens vs. zooming, bulb life, reliability, serviceability, etc.

If you have comments to be made and wish to remain anonymous, send me a private email properly identifying yourself and I will pass along the comments to the thread. (I have a feeling this is much of how the true negative aspects will end up making it to publication.)

Manufacturer feedback is very much encouraged. If you are representing any of the equipment here and do not have a forum account, please register and drop me an email asking me to push your registration through quickly.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Film God

Posts: 15869
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 04-03-2008 05:38 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ok, I'll go first. I don't have direct experience with ALL D-Cinema equiment out there but I do with several different brands and I've had close up/hands on time with a number of other brands. We also have ALOT of D-Cinema screens here in SLC so hopefully some of those guys wll also chime in. Oh and Brad... this WOULD HAVE been a first good thread for your new forthcomming D-Cinema wing here on F-T...

Projectors:
Christie CP-2000S and ZX.

Christie is THE ONLY company in my book for D-Cinema projectors. They are THE ONLY company who has its act together 100%. Their projectors are the easiest to service by far and extremely reliable. They have a patented optical coating on their prism block that no one else has, their products have a laminar air flow device across the face of the DMD to aid in cooling and dust that no one else has. They have MORE EXPERIENCE at manufacturing D-Cinema projectors than anyone else out there bar T.I. They also account for about 80% of the North American Market! Also, parts if ever needed are much more resonably priced than any other manufacturer. There are no $6,000.00 glass reflectors used in these projectors. You have a company on your side that is buying huge quantities of stuff to assemble these machines and that is a big advantage on your side.

NEC: Having seen the insides of all the different NEC projectors I will declare them the most thrown together projector out there, when I get back I'll post a photo of the " rats nest". The 2500 is a virtual rats nest that looks like very little thought went into its layout. Oh and by the way Strong International is now on its third(reinvented) version of the base [Confused] [Eek!] [Roll Eyes] .

Barco: DP-100

Barco is the least responsive company I've ever delt with period. They are so very slow at providing parts... There is no real definate advantage to their sealed light engine that anyone ahs been able to show and the fact that it's sealed makes it much more expensive to replace if ever needed. In fact open type light engines can SOMETIMES be repaired right on site by a capable tech... Sealed engines have to go back to the service center.
BARCO is still a contender however but the last one in my book. Their equipment performs adaquately and is fairly reliable. They have however made some stupid mistakes... like the extra star washer on the DP-100 lamp module positive post that caused numerous ignitors to burn up and fail. The pressurized cooling loop is also a nuisance but has been pretty reliable.. but don't move it to a different altitude without de-pressurizing it!! The cooling loop needs checking once a month where others don't. Parts are SUPER EXPENSIVE, you are dealing with a European Company!!! There has never been any financial advantage in doing that.

Servers:

Dolby... So far in my book its the top server on the market. Its the easiest to use.. so easy a four year old could do it! Dolby is also a very well supported company and parts are no problem. One gripe I have with them is that they've gone stagnant on dual projector 3-D. The average theater owner is not interested in a $24,000.00 add on box and 50.00 per pair 3-D glasses with the added inconvenience of having to wash them in between shows. The add on box and amount of glasses the average theater will need pays for the second projector for a stacked 3-D system... this also gives the plex an entire back up projector since 3-D releases are not going to occur every week!! While the Dolby 3-D system is super impressive it just ain't going to fly. Hence... Dolby needs to get to work on 2-projector 3-D asap if they want any of the 3-D market at all.

DTS Server:

DTS has its act together big time on this server and its based on the Ultra Reliable Dell Poweredge server as the platform. DTS is basically ready with stacked 3-D, Stacked 2-D and plain ole 2-D. Their server is also quite reasonably priced compared to others. We will be installing one in about a months time so I will report back after that time. Also, the Keyport Key Management system is more or less what the studios are asking for in order to place the keys directly into your system. All you'd need is a line and modem. The Keypost is also reasonably priced. All in all a very promising system to look to!!!

D-Cinema Lamps: Christie of course... there IS no other consideration in my book and since they are making another manufacturers short gap lamps is there really any other brand to consider.

Mark

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Tristan Lane
Master Film Handler

Posts: 444
From: Nampa, Idaho
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 04-03-2008 06:13 PM      Profile for Tristan Lane   Email Tristan Lane   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Projectors:

Christie CP2000h / s
Pros:
*Easy access to all components. Easily serviceable. Great support by the manufacturer. Simple design with less points for failure. Great history within the industry. High Light output. HEPA filtration for engine compartment. Cross-compatible lamps, IREM ignitors.

Cons:
Thyristor Ballast (older models). Non-motorized lens mount requires the use of an anamorphic or manual zoom adjustments for format changes. All connections located on the bottom of projector.

Barco DP100 / DP200
Pros:
DP200 30,000 lumens(currently), Motorized lens focus and zoom with memory. Easy access to connections.

Cons:
Costly parts, difficult to access all components for service, over-engineered lamphouse, sealed light engine, pressurized cooling system

NEC:

It's Japanese, It's purple-blue, and it has tailights. (I don't have much experience with the projector) all of the aluminum parts have a glossy finish.

Players / Servers:

Doremi DCP2000:
Generic parts, proprietary video decoder, unrefined GUI. Previously unreliable, but has improved greatly, and is currently the server of choice for AccessIT. Debian Linux OS. Can support dual projector 3D.

Dolby Show Player / Show Store:
Separate content storage and media block make for less expensive repairs if a component fails. Very well designed GUI and Show Manager. Ability to play Dolby3D features. Show Store operates on a Linux OS. NA-10 add on allows for total control of all auditorium components.

DCA-21 - Christie/Pennywise automation
Excellent product but TOTALLY unneeded in Dcinema. GPIO output on current servers allows for control of relays for auditorium functions. Most servers also allow for projector control via ethernet. Utilizing a Pennywise requires an operator to physically change the program settings on the automation to change formats. This defeats one of the key points of D-cinema s being a system that "Runs itself". The pennywise setup emulates a single cue film automation system to provide a 35mm automation experience to the operator.

NA-10 - Good product, but much more functionality than what is needed now for auditorium control. Unfortunately, must be used if any dry contacts are needed for auditorium control.

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David Zylstra
Master Film Handler

Posts: 432
From: Novi, MI, USA
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 - posted 04-03-2008 07:13 PM      Profile for David Zylstra   Email David Zylstra   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
OK, my staff has over 2 years with an AccessIt solution - all Christie CP2000H and DoReMi servers. We also have 2 RealD screens

CP2000H
After a flurry of initial post-install repairs the projector itself has proven itself close to a 35mm projector in reliability. So far the only recurring issue we have is with the H ballast - out of 36 at our 2 18 screen locations I'd say Christie has replaced 13 in the past year and a half; there is a modification kit coming with beefier thyristers and better airflow for cooling - this should help the issue. The claim is that the S ballast has no where near the failure rate of the H, but I have no experience to back it up. Another weak point is the lamp cooling fan, for us maybe only a 10% yearly failure rate. The DVI inputs are NOT HDCP compliant, and I'm told there are no plans to come up with any modifications that will make it HDCP compliant. Power usage during a show is similar to a 35mm system, but between shows the digital draws the same as a 35mm system with the projector motor running. DVI connectors are hard to reach.

DoReMi
I would say after 2 years 75% of our units have been replaced, even in year 2 we saw a 15-20% failure rate. I am not sure if the issue is related to the core DoReMi or the AIX TCC software that runs on top of the core system. USB 2.0 ingest is really slow, but using the TMS (Access calls it LMS) network transfers take significantly less time - a small movie file can transfer in 45 mins or less. I am told that all our DoReMis will be changed out eventually to the DCI compliant version (the version that passed FIPS).

Scaling for common height pictures
This puts the light output exactly the same between formats - i.e. 14FL for flat results in 14FL for scope. The studios and DCI do not like this option since the flat picture is scaled down resulting in lost resolution (and someone somewhere claimed there is a color gamut shift involved) - Christie is currently retrofitting all the AIX installs with their WAC (Wide Angle Converstion) lens that magnifies the scope image to fit the flat image height.

Anamorphics
This solution puts only a 14% difference in light output between formats - i.e. flat at 14FL results in scope at 12FL using the same power level. If all my screens had anamorphics I could significantly save on yearly lamp costs due to being able to drop a lamp size over scaling. I understand some studios do not like this option.

WAC lens
This results in more like a 35% difference in light output between flat and scope (i.e. 14FL flat results in 9FL scope using the same power level); but this option displays each format in it's native resolution. Downside is you have to size your lamp for the scope picture and reduce power when running flat.

CDXL lamps from Christie
So far the CDXL-60 has proven to consistently last warranty +25% with no issues and enough light output for our large screens. 2 CDXL-30s I tested saw almost a 50% drop in lumen output after only 1,000 hours. I am currently conducting a lamp survey with all the CDXL lamps (and some CXL) to prove "lumens over time" so we can properly size lamps for each screen (i.e. size for the worst output and not assume the manufacturer's spec is consistent over the lamp life).

RealD
Licensing costs aside there have been no issues with the hardware. A non-RealD and non-Dolby person claims that RealD has better light output than Dolby 3D, especially with their latest Z-screen that puts through more light (I have no data to back up this claim)

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Bill Enos
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 - posted 04-03-2008 08:19 PM      Profile for Bill Enos   Email Bill Enos   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Only projector I have experience with if the Barco DP100. Was extremely ornery until all the sundry softwares/firmwares were
upgraded from the early versions to the most recent, now is about
90% better. The weak link in our machine has been and continues to be the damned liquid cooling system which seems to have been designed by a COMPLETE MORON.

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Tristan Lane
Master Film Handler

Posts: 444
From: Nampa, Idaho
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 04-04-2008 03:07 AM      Profile for Tristan Lane   Email Tristan Lane   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In response to David's input:

quote: David Zylstra
The claim is that the S ballast has no where near the failure rate of the H, but I have no experience to back it up.
I'm not sure there's been enough field time for anyone to claim that the "S" power supply better than the SanRex thyristor ballast from H pedestals. As Mark likes to say, if the power going to the switcher is dirty....it won't last long. I tend to agree. There are a few facts about the S pedestal's switcher: It weighs 1/3 less than the thyristor unit, makes less noise, and is a switching type rather than a high reactance / thyristor type. I tend to dislike the term "Ballast" since in a way it is a misnomer. Why didn't Christie just refer to in in familiar terms and call it a "Rectifier" does nomenclature really have to change with D-cinema, even though the technology for lamps hasn't?

quote: David Zylstra
I am not sure if the issue is related to the core DoReMi or the AIX TCC software that runs on top of the core system.
From my experience, I would say that it was a 50-50 split between TCC software related issues, and native Doremi hardware / software related failures. With playback issues I would usually bump the unit out of TCC and play content within Cinelister and if the problem persisted, I would chalk it up to a Doremi problem. Many times the Dolphin board would fail, or the RAID would go bad. But many times, the failure would occur after a remote TCC upgrade and the unit would be replaced so that the old one could be sent back for evaluation.

quote: David Zylstra
This puts the light output exactly the same between formats - i.e. 14FL for flat results in 14FL for scope.
This of course, wasn't the reason that Christie/AIX opted scale the picture on side-masked houses. The cost of the anamorphic lens and mount were very high and it made economical sense. There was a gray area within the DCI spec that didn't specify whether or not an anamorphic was required, and so they ran with it. Some sites demanded anamorphics and got them, some didn't. The WCL is just a fixed zoom lens that provides a more economical solution, but achieves much the same result as an anamorphic, with slightly less light. Resolution is not compromised with the WCL.

quote: David Zylstra
This solution puts only a 14% difference in light output between formats - i.e. flat at 14FL results in scope at 12FL using the same power level.
I haven't done any real testing to back this up, but I tend to doubt that the light loss is that bad. The anamorphic lens eats up light, but if the entire chip is being used for picture, more light is being output.

quote: David Zylstra
A non-RealD and non-Dolby person claims that RealD has better light output than Dolby 3D
I'd have to see results using the same projector in the same theater before believing this. There's far too many variables to make a broad statement like this. RealD relies on a silver screen, and thus would have heavy drop-off near the edges when compared to Dolby3D (even on a high-gain screen). To truely tell a difference you would have to use the same projector, lamp, screen size, throw length, lens, etc....

Good info David. Please don't think I'm tearing apart your post (I'm not). I just wanted to respond with my thoughts.

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Frank Angel
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 - posted 04-04-2008 04:37 AM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
DELETED -- question answered in the Disney Approved thread

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Mark Gulbrandsen
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From: Bountiful, Utah
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 - posted 04-04-2008 07:56 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: David Zylstra
WAC lens
This results in more like a 35% difference in light output between flat and scope (i.e. 14FL flat results in 9FL scope using the same power level); but this option displays each format in it's native resolution. Downside is you have to size your lamp for the scope picture and reduce power when running flat.

I just installed some of these on ZX's and they don't loose near that amount of light... I saw more like 6 to 8% difference. Its just a simple magnacom although a much higher quality one than we are used to for film. This one does not cause any image distortion. Yes, you use the lamp per format adjustment to keep light output constant wen changing formats. The ISCO anamorphic I installed that came with the DP-100 was another story in itself but it didn't loose all that much light... I just don't remember exactly how much.

One thing the thyristor ballast does do is to generate its own visible artifacts due to its switching frequency beating with the scanning rate of the pixels... this only happens under very certain circumstances though. This is the main reason why Christie went to the SanRex switcher in the later models. The ZX also utilizes a smaller SanRex switcher. I don't know if the older IREM rectifiers in the DP-100's are thyristor or switchers but BARCO made a major change in rectifier type in later units.

RE: Failures. Switchers don't like any surges of over 160 volts AC per leg. Proper surge protection for the entire building and or at each booth panel will stop repeated switcher failures. We just don't see any switchers fail at any locations we install and spec. because they al get proper surge protectors. All the switchers I get in for repair are from locations other than the ones we spec'd. Also all of our D-Cinema installs have to have surge protection installed as part of the normal install proceedure. Its not expensive... lost shows cost alot more... and the other equipment running in the booth also benefits as well.

Mark

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David Zylstra
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From: Novi, MI, USA
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 - posted 04-04-2008 08:09 AM      Profile for David Zylstra   Email David Zylstra   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Tristan Lane
I haven't done any real testing to back this up, but I tend to doubt that the light loss is that bad. The anamorphic lens eats up light, but if the entire chip is being used for picture, more light is being output.

I've proven with the math as well as field measurements that 14FL onscreen with flat results in 11-12FL with the anamorphic lens - it's not a matter of light loss with the lens, it's a matter of screen area being filled (scope screen is 27% larger than flat and uses only 3% more of the chip over flat). They have not installed our WAC lenses yet so I don't have field measurements yet, but the math does show the 35% difference between formats - I'll update this when I get field measurements.

Tristan - no problem, I didn't take it as criticism - we are all looking at this from different directions with different slices of experience and manufacturer "inside information" so we each have insight that will complement others information. I too don't like the term ballast, I kept calling it a rectifier and our local Christie CSEs had no idea what I meant so for communication reasons I started referred to it as a ballast.

quote: Mark Gulbrandsen
I just installed some of these on ZX's and they don't loose near that amount of light... I saw more like 6 to 8% difference.
To be clear my original post talked about the difference between formats due to taking 80% of the flat image area and magnifying it to 27% more screen area using the same lamp power level and not the light loss from the lens - this difference does requires the use of "lamp per channel" - I wanted to put it in the perspective of needing to size lamps for the scope picture and not assume that 100% of the rated lumen output will hit the screen. Please let me know if real life measurements proves the math wrong (i.e. take a FL reading from both flat and scope/WAC with no power change)

-edited to clarify my thoughts-

[ 04-04-2008, 09:21 AM: Message edited by: David Zylstra ]

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Tristan Lane
Master Film Handler

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From: Nampa, Idaho
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 - posted 04-04-2008 01:55 PM      Profile for Tristan Lane   Email Tristan Lane   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: David Zylstra
I too don't like the term ballast, I kept calling it a rectifier and our local Christie CSEs had no idea what I meant so for communication reasons I started referred to it as a ballast.
I too got the same questions when talking among fellow CSE's. I would get blank stares when I referred to the power supply as a rectifier. I found it to be an indication of who had prior cinema tech experience, and who did not.

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Jon Miller
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 - posted 04-04-2008 08:48 PM      Profile for Jon Miller   Email Jon Miller   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Tristan Lane regarding the Christie CP-2000H
Cons:
Thyristor Ballast (older models).

Is that the power supply that screams? The theatre where I run film festivals (on 35mm, still) has [dlp] on every screen; I've noticed the ballasts in their Christie CP-2000Hs make a very pronounced high-pitched whine.

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Frank Angel
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 - posted 04-08-2008 10:31 PM      Profile for Frank Angel   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Angel   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So is it official? -- D-Cinema has changed the commonly recognized word rectifier to ballast? Ballast doesn't rectify and it's a more generic, less precise term (fluorescent lights have ballasts -- ac through and through; submarines have ballasts; ships have pontoon ballasts).

I am with David and Tristan on this.... why is it necessary to change perfectly well-understood electrical nomenclature? We are still talking about electricity, are we not? Any electrician who is about to work on a D-Cinema install and looks at you with a blank stare when you mention "rectifier,"....well, I for one would be afraid; very afraid.

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Tristan Lane
Master Film Handler

Posts: 444
From: Nampa, Idaho
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 - posted 04-10-2008 01:52 PM      Profile for Tristan Lane   Email Tristan Lane   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Frank Angel
Any electrician who is about to work on a D-Cinema install and looks at you with a blank stare when you mention "rectifier,"....well, I for one would be afraid; very afraid.
These blank stares didn't come from electricians....they came from fellow "techs" that had no film experience, but were in the field working on digital projectors [Eek!] Most of these people didn't even know how to thread a loop.

Anyways, I think the term Ballast came from SanRex themselves. All of their documentation refers to this RECTIFIER as ballast.

EDIT:
One thing to add. The noisy thyristor ballasts can't be replaced with switchers in the H pedestal without updating software, control wiring, and possibly the SSM module.

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

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 - posted 08-26-2008 01:05 AM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mark,

We're still waiting for pictures of your NEC "rat's nest". You have gotten back from wherever you were, correct?

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Ed Mauger
Film Handler

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 - posted 08-26-2008 10:03 AM      Profile for Ed Mauger   Email Ed Mauger   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Projectors:
Control: The Barco DP100 wins hands down on this. The Communicator software is easy to use, and straightforward to understand. The GPI inputs can be used for turning on and off the lamp and closing/opening the dowser. The RS232 control can easily be used for selecting a macro from a control unit such as a Crestron. If the touchscreen fails, there are buttons on the side, or it's still controllable from the software. So, there is built-in back up.
The Christie CP1000 does not have these features above, and if the touchscreen fails, you don't have a show! Having said this, I've only had a screen fail once in 3 years, but this was on an important show. I have recently installed a Christie ZX and found the web interface to be slow and cumbersome. I think they are dealing with this in the next software update. One improvement is the SCCI (simple contact closure interface), which allows easy control of the lamp and shutter.
Mechanical: Not sure why people are having so much trouble with the Barco cooling loop; I admit I only look after 1 Barco, but no problems in 2 years with this. The convergence is 100 times easier to perform on the Barco!
Light output: Yes, the Christie wins on this.
The perfect projector: A Christie with Barco control system.

Servers:
Why does no one seem positive about the Doremi? Only 1 problem in 2 years (out of 4 servers) - one RAID collapsed.
Doremi advantages over Dolby: a) you can switch the noisy thing off when not in use! b) You can fast forward (to an extent). I don't think this is possible with Dolby (certainly not with the Qube), but they may have corrected this. c) Doremi is smaller and actually fits into a 19 inch rack without needing a crowbar.

Scalar/routers:
Cine-IPM wins by a long way here over the Folsom (or the latest ACSAR, which I believe is a Folsom in disguise). Much easier for the projectionist to use; up to 99 channels easily saved (or only 50 if you believe the manual). Biggest advantage comes when you need to change from 50Hz to 59.94 Hz: the Cine-IPM will do this automatically and output the same frequency as the input. Folsom is quite awkward to change, if for example you have a clip show with different frequencies.
The advantage of the Folsom is the possibility of making small changes without a menu on the screen, and the logo saving feature can be useful.

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