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Author Topic: What's wrong with this picture? Plenty
System Notices
Forum Watchdog / Soup Nazi

Posts: 215

Registered: Apr 2004


 - posted 06-24-2011 02:40 PM      Profile for System Notices         Edit/Delete Post 
What's wrong with this picture? Plenty

Source: variety.com

quote:
Memo to the movie industry: The first step toward recovery, as AA has taught the world, is admitting you have a problem.
Well, you definitely have a problem: You are making a highly polished product, but that polish isn't making it to your customers. You see bright clear images in your screening rooms but many auds get murky, fuzzy pictures -- and, if they're watching 3D, they pay extra for it.

And, judging by the response to my last column, where I suggested that movie theaters need to make the same commitment to quality as the Apple Stores do, you haven't admitted it -- not all of you, at least. (Par is acknowledging the 3D brightness problem by sending out 2,000 digital prints of "Transformers 3" graded for twice the usual brightness of a 3D theater. But they can't go into all 3D theaters because some aren't bright enough.)

You already know you have this problem, by the way. You're just choosing not to do anything about it. Odds are, if you make movies, you're unhappy with what you see in civilian movie theaters.

There's dim projection, but I also hear stories of 3D pictures being shown with the left and right eyes flipped, and of improper framing, and of masks left off projectors, and all kinds of sound problems.

Maybe you read Terrence Malick's projection instructions for "The Tree of Life," which appeared on the Internet. Malick wrote: "With all the recent talk of 'darkier (sic), lousier' images, operators are asked that lamps are at 'proper standard (5400 Kelvin)' and that the 'foot Lambert level is at Standard 14.' " Having to ask projectionists to hit 14 foot Lamberts of brightness is like having to ask American motorists to drive to the right side of the road.

Not your fault, you say? You're collecting the checks, so it's your responsibility. The product you are selling isn't what you see in the studio screening room, or even what you send out. It's what the audience sees. It's as if you're bottling a fine Bordeaux but your consumers are being poured Two Buck Chuck.

If you're in exhibition, you're probably bristling at this. I got a bunch of emails from exhibs and NATO responding to my column. Most were either denial or hand-wringing. One message said "This is ridiculous -- everyone I know in the industry is trying their best to light up their screens and put their best foot forward." Another predicted a shakeout and consolidation, where only big chains would be able to upgrade.

Then there was this note from a single-screen theater owner in the Midwest: "I too have experienced many cruddy exhibitions in my moviegoing life. A horrendous experience at a movie theater was one of my inspirations for becoming an exhibitor. At my theater, we strive to give our audience the best possible exhibition that we can afford. And those last four words are key: 'that we can afford.'?"

He added that state-of-the-art upgrades are simply beyond his means.

"There is no doubt that the peak of the exhibition industry is over," he went on to say. "Costs are up (you should see my power bill), attendance is down, and it's increasingly difficult to get a jaded audience to make the effort to come to a theater. Certainly exhibitors hurt themselves with poor presentation, but to imply that the answer to our problems are huge investments in equipment and maintenance is to ignore the financial facts."

I'm not as pessimistic as that about theaters and exhibition. But box office has been flat for several years, despite 3D and Imax, and now there's talk about the need to "save" 3D. I happen to think 3D is worth saving, but even if it goes away tomorrow, you still have to find way to maintain quality all the way to your customers' eyes and ears.

Most of you, whether in production, distribution and exhibition, know this is a problem. A few of you are pushing for change. You need to push harder. The competition from television, home theater and the Internet is only growing fiercer. If you choose to do nothing, your audience will continue to drift into indifference -- and away from your theaters.


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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12447
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 06-24-2011 08:44 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I continue to be amazed that this IS a problem. Digital projection was supposed to improve things, not make them worse. Our picture here is bright and clear and I wouldn't have it any other way. What ever happened to the industry that would fix a problem before it reached the newspapers?

Or is the media just overblowing this problem -- does it only exist in a few theaters or is it really widespread? They make it sound like the WHOLE industry is showing dim fuzzy pictures. Well... we are not. And, neither are the Carmikes in Billings; their pictures are bright and clear too. (That's all I've seen lately, and have not seen a 3-D movie there.)

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 06-24-2011 10:16 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I could believe that it's probably pretty bad out there. The same people/corporations who couldn't "do film right" are the same ones who won't "do digital right."

Greed motivates the surcharge and greed motivates the dim lamps. Sure, there's probably some level of indifference/ignorance involved but I usually follow the money. There's no projectionist anymore. There's probably not even a glorified usher to keep an eye on things anymore. Nobody's being paid to take an interest.

That said, I also don't have a problem believing that journalists sometimes just need something to scandalize. We've seen this with the attack on movie theatre popcorn (circa 1994). We've recently seen generalized exaggerations of the "problems" with "celluloid" (versus digital) and now, it seems, it's 3D's turn to be the victim du jour.

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Aaron Garman
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1463
From: Notre Dame du Lac, Indiana USA
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted 06-25-2011 12:25 AM      Profile for Aaron Garman   Email Aaron Garman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The only dim pictures I've seen lately outside of 3D ones are 35mm on silver screens: the 2D digital at my local DLP equipped movie house always looks good, and in many cases looks much better than the 35mm systems it replaced.

I find more often than not the sound is the worst problem most cinemas have: does anyone not know how to properly EQ a house anymore?

AJG

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Manny Knowles
"What are these things and WHY are they BLUE???"

Posts: 4247
From: Bloomington, IN, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 06-25-2011 03:14 AM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You can't really argue with picture. It's either in focus or not. In frame or not. Proper ratio or not. Correct luminance or not.

Unfortunately, sound is a lot less straightforward than picture, but gets far less attention.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4428
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 06-25-2011 07:11 AM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Manny, you are correct. Dollars always trumps quality.

A small mitigating factor, is that the old line technicians, operators, and owners have recently retired, leaving the "suits" in charge of technioal.

"DigitaL SOLVES EVERYTHING." Nope Louis

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8318
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 06-29-2011 02:44 AM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Blakesley
Or is the media just overblowing this problem ..
The media feeds on just about anything that they can write a story on - be it true or false.

Just to keep the reporters and other correspondence crew alive with a job, plus to keep the chief publisher (aka "Perry White") off their cases.

..can we go back to the Boston paper write-up on "3D lenses" and how that got all blown apart real bad..

-Monte

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12209
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 06-29-2011 12:04 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I dunno Monte...the Boston Globe reported on a REAL problem that showed up as low light. None of that is in dispute.

Now some members and exhibitors have claimed that running 2D through the 3D lens IF SET UP PROPERLY is not such a big issue...BUT...

As I understand it, the image (in 2D through the 3D lens) will still be limited to a maximum pixel height of 858 or about a 11% reduction in pixels for FLAT movies...which will require scaling with visible artifacts (DCI compliance violation). The pixel overlay from the two lenses must be PERFECT in all parts of the screen (while in 2D mode) or resolution is reduced. I question if the alignment is that precise on installations (typical, not the one that was dialed in by the super tech that represents about 1% of the installers out there).

Then take into account that the whole imager is not being used, regardless so the available light to the machine (MAX 18,000 lumens) is further reduced to about half (because you are throwing away that much of the imager on the sides)...so you only have about 9000 lumens to work with. That compares to about 1800-3000 watts on any DLP (some DLPs are more efficient than others

Odds are, the Sony is going to be under spec with the 3D lens in if it was sized properly for 3D. The Sony definitely, on Flat, is going to have visible artifacts with its image and likely will have issues with Scope too. Furthermore, it blows the whole "4K" thing since with the 3D lens in, it can't do 4K (or even 2K, if you think about it).

While the Globe may have gotten some facts wrong (and, no doubt their sources were also wrong), it doesn't change the fact that Sony projection systems with 3D lenses in showing 2D is a compromise at best and will likely cause too much light suckage.

-Steve

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4428
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005


 - posted 06-30-2011 09:48 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Nonsense! If you recalibrate your light meter, you can all--and more--of your light back! Louis [Wink] [beer] [Wink]

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12209
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 07-01-2011 04:16 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes Louis, that would be an alternative way to getting one's light readings back in spec. [Roll Eyes]

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Bruce Hansen
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 847
From: Stone Mountain, GA, USA
Registered: Dec 1999


 - posted 07-15-2011 07:38 PM      Profile for Bruce Hansen   Email Bruce Hansen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Time to go back to 35MM [dlp] = [bs] [Wink]

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