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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Cinemark's Digital Preshow (and general digital preshow discussion)

   
Author Topic: Cinemark's Digital Preshow (and general digital preshow discussion)
David Stambaugh
Film God

Posts: 4016
From: Eugene, Oregon
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 01-15-2006 09:33 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Today I went to Cinemark 17 in Springfield to see "Munich". I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of showtime and was surprised to find that they were running a new digital preshow.

General observations follow...

There was an obvious problem with the projector. The green was dropping out intermittently, such that the image contained only blue and red information. This was really bad at first, then it settled down for the last few minutes.

The image was clearly not sufficiently bright, and of course it doesn't help that the house lights were at full between-show level. But it was bright enough that I would rate it "tolerable" for its intended application. More about that later...

The screen masking was set to flat, and the image filled the entire screen (well, almost -- there was a sliver of slanted black edge at the top edges due to keystoning).

This house is common-width. At the end of the digital preshow, the image displayed "Feature presentation will start momentarily" and the masking came down for scope (so the screen got smaller).

The volume was much lower than the movie, so audience conversation was very possible. The sound quality was "ok" but not great. Clear, but not very dynamic.

The preshow ended and the 35mm trailers started almost exactly at the scheduled showtime of 1:55PM.

====================

My first impression is that if they have to show ads, and they're going to use digital projection, then this Cinemark show did most everything right (excluding the green dropping out).

The preshow doesn't measure up to 35mm quality. That makes for a much clearer transition from the ads to the 35mm show portion of the show. It doesn't all just run together. It's hard to explain but the relatively inferior technical quality of the digital material seems to make the 35mm stuff look that much better. The quality wasn't poor, it was just inferior. The change in image and sound quality when they make the transition is very pronounced. The digital material is good enough to do its job, and is a lot better than slides. That seems right for ads.

The "choreography" of the digital preshow ending, the masking changing, and the start of the 35mm material was timed correctly. In fact I might argue it almost smacks of a return to some small level of showmanship because the line between the ads and the trailers is now drawn much more clearly.

One thing I REALLY liked is that at the end of the preshow, text appears on the screen, accompanied by a voiceover, saying "Please be courteous and shut off your cell phone NOW." It almost sounded like a stern warning rather than a request. [beer] [beer]

So, there you have it: I liked it. The line to shoot me in the head forms to the right. [Big Grin]

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Eric Hooper
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 530
From: Fort Worth, TX, USA
Registered: May 2003


 - posted 01-15-2006 09:49 PM      Profile for Eric Hooper   Email Eric Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David,

So was this your first experience with a digital pre-show? I recall you posting that your Regal theatre still shows the roller coaster policy, and not the digital pre-show.

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David Stambaugh
Film God

Posts: 4016
From: Eugene, Oregon
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 01-15-2006 09:57 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, Regal's 8-screen in Eugene is still using slides and Widescreen Radio, with 35mm rolling stock (and the roller coaster). That theater is scheduled to be closed this fall, being replaced by a new-build 15-screen across the street.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

Posts: 10677
From: Lawton, OK, USA
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-15-2006 11:20 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The first video pre show, er sorry, "digital pre show" I've seen was at the Harkins Bricktown 16 in Oklahoma City, on their huge 70' X 30' Cine Capris screen.

The same differences between film and video could be seen here. The pre show video wasn't nearly as bright or sharp as film. It actually reminded me of the quality of a lower end rear projection screen TV. Given the screen being used was really large I think that amplified the differences between projectors. The 35mm projection wasn't quite as bright as it should have been either.

One good note about the presentation: when the video pre show ended, a couple minutes or so in advance of showtime, curtains closed and hid the screen. A manager came into the theater and gave the audience some information about the Cine Capris theater, the lights then darkened and the curtains opened to get trailers rolling.

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Steve Scott
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1300
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Sep 2000


 - posted 01-16-2006 10:34 AM      Profile for Steve Scott   Email Steve Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David, it sounds like a mix of problems I've had with slide-based and digital pre-shows. It sounds like they were using some cheap LCD or mini-DLP projectors, performance vs. life on some of these isn't as great. Maybe they were used units from another location. I've had audio & picture quality issues like you also mentioned from A/V distribution setups, but it sounds like this Cinemark had a player for each projector (if they ran at timed intervals before the show).

It sounds like a cool program, though.

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David Stambaugh
Film God

Posts: 4016
From: Eugene, Oregon
Registered: Jan 2002


 - posted 01-16-2006 12:40 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I tried to see what kind of projector it was, couldn't tell. There was an HP minitower PC installed on a shelf above the projector. Wonder if the PCs are networked or standalone. The PC had a big label on it saying it was for that specific auditorium.

Technical problems aside, the digital preshow wasn't near as bad or haphazard as I expected. They showed an extended promo for the new Robin Williams movie "RV", and another extended promo for something on TBN or TBS, had John Cleese in it, was kind of amusing. There was something for the Olympics on NBC, and the new Coke ads which are also pretty good.

One thing I forgot to mention is the house lights weren't cued lower when the 35mm started. They remained at the same level as the preshow (full bright). That seems wrong.

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Darryl Spicer
Film God

Posts: 3250
From: Lexington, KY, USA
Registered: Dec 2000


 - posted 01-17-2006 09:37 AM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The digital projectors are Christies. I can't remember the model. It, I believe is LCD based. The ads are sent in by satellite to a server that then sends them to the appropriate screen based off what information is put into the ticketing system. The units are installed in around 72 locations and expanding over the next six months or so. There have been some technical issues that they are working on like getting the correct lenses to match the screens and correcting sound levels that may be to low. If they keep it interesting and more than just ads and change them frequently it should be an ok process for intermission. Not sure about the light level issue unless they have not yet changed the cueing system to ignore needing to do a lights up cue.

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Steve Scott
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1300
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Sep 2000


 - posted 01-17-2006 11:39 AM      Profile for Steve Scott   Email Steve Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Darryl, thru what type of wiring are the video for these programs being sent to the projectors? We used RG6 cable with RCA ends from composite via a distribution amplifier at the 18-plex I worked at; the video was never too sharp on the LCD projectors, but was a good deal better on the few Toshiba DLP units they received before I left. Sound didn't have any more problems than the non-sync distro ever had. We had bigger problems with advertisers who wanted their ad louder than the rest. [Roll Eyes]

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Sam Graham
AKA: "The Evil Sam Graham". Wackiness ensues.

Posts: 1358
From: Waukee, IA
Registered: Dec 2004


 - posted 01-17-2006 01:28 PM      Profile for Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email Sam Graham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've actually seen these quite a bit now. The first time was at Megaplex 17 in Sandy, UT, which I believe has been using them all of their five years now. I've seen them in Regal, AMC, and a few smaller circuits. I can think of at least a half dozen plexes using these now.

I haven't been to a plex that actually filled the screen with the show that I can recall. It's usually a box in the screen much like slides are set up. The volume is almost always at a level where you can clearly hear everything but still carry on a conversation. The one exception to the rule was a Regal in Kentucky that had that thing every bit as loud as the feature. And frankly, the pre-show had better bass.

I do think this expands the potential for pre-show creativity if such an exhibitor was so inclined. And if replacing pre-show slide ads with pre-show video ads means the end of 35mm 'television' commercials, I'll take that compromise.

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Steve Scott
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1300
From: Minneapolis, MN
Registered: Sep 2000


 - posted 01-17-2006 02:15 PM      Profile for Steve Scott   Email Steve Scott   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I prefer the partial-screen sizing. It's the best remedy for people that think the pre-show is running from the same projector as the movie. I really don't miss hearing those complaints.

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Paul Konen
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted 01-17-2006 07:58 PM      Profile for Paul Konen   Email Paul Konen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The projector is a Christie LW25 using RGBHV inputs from the client PC. Daryl is correct that the system gets showtimes and ratings from the POS (Point of Sale) system so that appropriate content is shown.

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