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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Digital Cinema Forum   » Today’s episode of “How does this happen?” (Page 1)

 
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: Today’s episode of “How does this happen?”
William Kucharski
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 229
From: Louisville, Colorado, United States of America
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 06-02-2019 11:38 PM      Profile for William Kucharski   Email William Kucharski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Curiously, I just referred to this same issue in another post, that happened at this same theater (but on a different screen) about a decade ago.

Simply put, a Fathom screening of Saving Private Ryan looked great, but all the audio channels were off by one!

All dialog was coming from the left channel. Right channel music was coming from the center channel. Surround effects were coming from the right channel.

A decade ago to solve this they rebooted everything, but I don’t know how this would even happen in the first place. A known CP650 bug? Does something try to compensate if a power glitch causes one channel to momentarily disappear?

Best of all was when the manager’s manager told me “some films are just made that way” - yeah, not so much for a film I am intimately familiar with the mix of like Saving Private Ryan.

Obviously they never fixed it and I got free concession coupons.

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Marco Giustini
Film God

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From: Reading, UK
Registered: Nov 2007


 - posted 06-03-2019 05:31 AM      Profile for Marco Giustini   Email Marco Giustini   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am not aware of such an issue with the 650 - that doesn't mean that there isn't one.

Was that 35mm or Digital? If Digital, it could have been the DA before the 650, assuming the 650 wasn't running on AES itself.

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
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 - posted 06-03-2019 05:51 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I remember the CP750 has some 'channel hopping' issue occasionally.

- Carsten

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Geoff Jones
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Broomfield, CO, USA
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted 06-03-2019 07:07 AM      Profile for Geoff Jones   Author's Homepage   Email Geoff Jones   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What theater was this, William?

I saw Saving Private Ryan at the UA Colorado Mills theater last night and the audio was solid.

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Jim Cassedy
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From: San Francisco, CA
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 - posted 06-03-2019 08:29 AM      Profile for Jim Cassedy   Email Jim Cassedy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Do you know what the source for Saving Private Ryan was?
DCP? Blu-Ray? Satellite or ISP connection, & how they handled the audio?
(And how do you know they were using a CP-650?)

The only time I've had a CP-650 do something similar to this was if
you were using pro-logic decoding on the non-sync inputs (for a DVD
or BRD, for example) and you had either had a bad RCA cable, or had
inadvertently swapped the L & R signal inputs.
I accidentally did this once and as I recall I had audio coming primarily
out of the left screen channel, and the other channels were wonky too.

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Frank Cox
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From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
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 - posted 06-03-2019 12:06 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I had this happen once with my "old" gdc server (the one that I just replaced a couple of weeks ago).

I started the movie and immediately thought something is wrong because the "turn off your cellphone" trailer sounded odd on the projection room monitor. Since I have a dozen or so of those I have played each one of them so many times that I'm intimately familiar with what each one is supposed to be, and this one didn't sound right.

I ran into the auditorium and sure enough the channels were switched around. So I told the audience that I'll have to reboot some equipment and will restart the movie in a few minutes. Which I did and it was then fine.

That's the one and only time that happened to me, though. I never knew that could even happen until it did.

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James Westbrook
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From: Lubbock, Texas, Usa
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted 06-03-2019 01:37 PM      Profile for James Westbrook   Email James Westbrook   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Fathom presentation of Saving Private Ryan is on DCP. I want to say Deluxe sent the drive but Fathom seems to use three distributors, including their own in house DCP company to send content (like today's National Theater presentation) to theaters who's Dish TV receivers had issues and didn't record the content on the DVRs.

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William Kucharski
Expert Film Handler

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From: Louisville, Colorado, United States of America
Registered: Oct 2012


 - posted 06-03-2019 07:32 PM      Profile for William Kucharski   Email William Kucharski   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It was a digital presentation at the AMC Westminster Promenade 24. I am assuming DCP as all the pre-show content was present, but noticed the audio issue when the host introduced previews of coming Fathom presentations, his voice was coming only from the left channel.

Curiously, the presentation was in a different theater than 99% of their other Fathom presentations are (screen five rather than four.)

I made an assumption on the 650 as that's what they used to use and don't know if they ever upgraded. The theater was very recently remodeled but isn't Atmos-capable.

Ironically the contrast on the Fathom presentation was the best I've ever seen from Fathom; normally grey areas are at such a high level you are always aware of the unfilled side bars, as AMC doesn't mask screens (but at least they show flat content on a wider screen rather than letterbox scope.) By comparison, Fathom content shown at the Century Boulder has black levels best described as a mid-tone grey at best, and TCM Fathom screenings shown at the AMC are somewhat better but didn't look as good as Saving Private Ryan did.

Not to bash them, but as an aside, as the film finished, I had to notify management that several people were seated in theater three waiting for their 9:45 PM showing of The Hustle to start and were looking at a completely blank screen… at 10:05 PM.

(I took a peek in because the doors were still wide open, you could see the screen was blank but it was 10:05 and I noticed the sign said showtime was 9:45.)

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
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 - posted 06-04-2019 04:35 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well, I guess some films are just made that way...

- Carsten

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Will McElroy
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From: Memphis, TN, USA
Registered: Jun 2019


 - posted 06-04-2019 06:28 PM      Profile for Will McElroy   Email Will McElroy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I’ve been scouring the internet for clues regarding a “how does this happen” theater projection question of my own, and it happens to regard the Fathom Saving Private Ryan screening at my local theater on Sunday, so I hope this thread is an okay place to jump in and see what I might learn.

I have no training in the art of projection, so I’m speaking only as someone who is maybe just on the pedantic end of the consumer side. I go to the movies like 5 times a week, and I’m pretty confident in my observations, but I don’t know all the terms or what actually goes into getting the ideal presentation.

But what I’ve observed with increasing frequency at these Fathom screenings is the picture being severely “zoomed in,” cropped on all sides, but most obviously at the top — obvious due to the abundance of dialogue scenes where the person talking is cut off above the eyes, in shots that usually would have their whole head and a comfortable amount of headroom above that. In recent memory, this has happened at Jurassic Park, Wizard of Oz, Batman Returns and the Saving Private Ryan on Sunday.

The aspect ratio is always correct (1.85:1 in all the above cases except Oz obviously).. they’re just missing a lot of picture all the way around. Ever since Jurassic Park, I’ve made a habit of memorizing the composition of a bunch of shots from the beginning of a film before attending, paying particular attention to what’s visible around the periphery, and sometimes I’m relieved to find that everything is there, but when it’s cropped it’s always pretty shocking just how much is missing. I’ll also usually note a lot of shots during the movie to check against a blu ray or download at home (always same aspect ratio — I’m not going home and looking at open matte versions or anything like that.) I know some cropping around the edges probably always happens to get the picture clean and straight, but this is egregious, seemingly like 20% of the total picture, destroying the composition.

It seems like it’s probably not that Fathom is sending out DCP’s of mangled versions of films, or these complaints would probably be more widespread. Everyone here definitely would have noticed. But whenever I’ve brought it to the attention of the employees at my theater, there’s never an actual projectionist on hand, and usually the folks who are there just kind of shrug and say “this movie probably just looks like that” or “old movies are weird.” One time the manager did something that made the curtains pull out to reveal more of the screen, as if for a cinemascope film, which of course just exposed black bars on the sides of the picture. Then he was like “well, I’ve tried everything I can do and that didn’t help. There’s no crop option so the DCP is just like that. Complain to Fathom.”

I think the actual projectionist may only be there on Friday mornings, so switching from the regular program to Fathom content during the week may fall to people who don’t know what they’re doing.

I’m just wondering if anyone might have any clue as to where the problem may lie. Do most DCP’s include some kind of border or ‘gutter’ around the edges that the projectors are usually set to compensate for, and maybe Fathom’s don’t have that so the regular settings end up eating a lot of the actual picture? Or, I’ve heard of “screen files”.. are those a common thing? Do they come with every DCP, with different settings? Maybe the weekday crew doesn’t know how to handle those?

I definitely never encounter this on the regular films that run all week, nor any non-Fathom special screenings. They may not all be classics that I’m familiar with, but I think I’d notice if a new film looked at best claustrophobic, or more likely just ineptly framed. So I wonder if there’s anything different about what Fathom provides that is tripping people up.

I’m just hoping that if I have a better idea of what might be happening, I could point them in the right direction to fix it, or at least they might get the regular projectionist to take a look at it and make sure the weekday crew knows what they need to do. So far they always seem pretty ambivalent, and skeptical of the notion that there’s anything that even *could* happen on their end to account for such a problem.

If it helps, I made an approximation of one of the shots I remember from Saving Private Ryan. https://imgur.com/a/vSW8j7y

Thanks a lot to anyone who read this and might be able to lend your experience or expertise to the issue!

Will McElroy

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James Westbrook
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From: Lubbock, Texas, Usa
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted 06-05-2019 12:52 AM      Profile for James Westbrook   Email James Westbrook   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello, Will. Welcome to Film-Tech forums.

A large portion of the Fathom Events come from a dedicated high definition channel on the Dish Network. These theaters have a satellite dish on the roof, with a DVR (now the newer Hopper version) which is where a lot of the Fathom content is stored. Some content, like scope ratio movies, will come on DCP either via a hard drive shipped to the theater or via another satellite set up, in my building, called a DCDC which has a raid of hard drives which store feature content and trailers. Some of the feature content is in 4K resolution but most of it is 2K. Most of it is formatted for the size of the screen most of us have at home. I ran Steel Magnolias first run in 35mm around Thanksgiving of 1989 and while it can be argued I have bias I swear it looked better then as opposed to the Fathom showings we had recently, which came off the satellite dish and played back from the DVR. The DVR content is 2K.
The DVR is hooked up to the theater's projector, the same one which plays the main features via HDMI cable, and the sound is routed through the processor which supplies the feature sound, in the case of my processor under Toslink.
The newer Hopper DVR's are networked, meaning a tech from Fathom can get into the DVR to program automatic starts of content and even monitor the status of the DVR. Recently one of the techs discovered we were no longer receiving from the dish and sent a Dish tech out to the theater to rectify the issue. That is why my building received a DCP hard drive of yesterday's National Theater event as the DVR was not able to record it off the satellite.
The theater's booth engineer is supposed to be able to set masking and other variables in the auditorium. Large chains only have a few engineers, and most schedule preventive maintenance once a year. And because of emergencies and new installs, they are often behind schedule.

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Will McElroy
Film Handler

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From: Memphis, TN, USA
Registered: Jun 2019


 - posted 06-05-2019 01:38 AM      Profile for Will McElroy   Email Will McElroy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks a lot for all this info! Definitely gives me a better idea of what Fathom does. I missed Steel Magnolias but I’ve definitely seen some other Fathom screenings, usually among the TCM series, that seem like 1080p or worse, really suffering on such a big screen. Wizard of Oz looked pretty bad all around, even though I know a 4K restoration of it exists.

Anyway, if the Fathom features are playing from a DVR that isn’t used for any of the regular first run fare the multiplex usually traffics in, maybe my mysterious Fathom cropping issue has something to do with a setting on the DVR, or some setting on the projector regarding that particular HDMI input? Because (for example) the movie “Ma” is playing on the same screen as Saving Private Ryan tomorrow, all day before and after, and I’m sure it’s going to look totally normal. If there’s some simple fix on the DVR, I just hope they figure it out in time for Lawrence of Arabia in September! Haha.

Huh, not sure if this could be relevant but I just remembered that a friend of mine recently hosted a screening of The Firm (don’t ask) at the same theater, and I’m pretty sure he said they were planning to play it from a blu ray, until the theater requested that they *make a DCP from the blu ray* because switching devices would be too much to ask of whoever would be on staff that night. But that was in one of the bigger auditoriums, where, come to think of it, Fathom stuff has usually looked fine. Most of the botched presentations took place in a particular other auditorium on the other side of the theater.. maybe that’s where the DVR is set up? At any rate, non-Fathom stuff still looks fine in that room and not even *all* the Fathom stuff is messed up there. I specifically remember some of the anime stuff looking good, subtitles not cropped out. Maybe that stuff came as DCP? Hmmm..

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Carsten Kurz
Film God

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From: Cologne, NRW, Germany
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 - posted 06-05-2019 05:55 AM      Profile for Carsten Kurz   Email Carsten Kurz   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Will - it is entirely possible that on this location, the projector preset used to show the HDMI/DVI source is using an unusual amount of cropping. This would be a different setting than what they use for regular DCP showings.

Unfortunately, even a so called 'projectionist' will sometimes not be able to correct this. These settings are typically not available to the average user, and depending on his knowlegde, even he may not be able to see what you are talking about. Nevertheless, go and have a try. The easiest way to convince him that there is something wrong is to connect another source to this input using the 'fathom projector preset', and notice the cropping. A standard PC/notebook outputting 1080p e.g. would lack a considerable portion of the GUI - e.g. the taskbar would probably be missing completely. There are also a number of test images in 1080p available on the net that will depict the amount of pixels cropped from either side.

- Carsten

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Will McElroy
Film Handler

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From: Memphis, TN, USA
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 - posted 06-05-2019 10:47 AM      Profile for Will McElroy   Email Will McElroy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That sounds great, thank you! I’ll see if I can get in touch with whoever might have the ability to look into this, and if they don’t have the ability to fix it, maybe they will be able to involve someone who can. All these insights are much appreciated.

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James Westbrook
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From: Lubbock, Texas, Usa
Registered: Mar 2006


 - posted 06-05-2019 03:03 PM      Profile for James Westbrook   Email James Westbrook   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Carsten is correct. Most of the settings are not accessible to me with the DVR to projector settings.
Lawrence of Arabia should be on DCP, if I recall correctly.

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