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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » Durability of film vs digital equipment (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: Durability of film vs digital equipment
Terry Lynn-Stevens
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1081
From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Dec 2012


 - posted 01-07-2013 03:48 PM      Profile for Terry Lynn-Stevens   Email Terry Lynn-Stevens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hello, I need some help, I have basic 35mm knowledge and I am in a good argument with somebody in regards to 35mm vs digital cinema. I hope I have posted in the right forum, I am new around here.

Basically, I have stated that a well done 35mm set up will last longer, and turn out to be more efficient than a digital set up. With basic maintenance, 35mm parts could last decades before needing replacement.

Can someone give me a basic idea of how long a brand new, well done, high quality 35mm set up will last "all things considered" versus a brand new digital set up "all things considered"?

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12767
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-07-2013 04:18 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You are correct that 35mm equipment will last longer, is easier to fix, and is cheaper than digital equipment. There are lots of projectors out there that are 50 or more years old and still running fine -- but if you want to be in the movie business these days (and not run old movies) you pretty much have to go digital, because in not too many months the studios won't be providing film anymore.

The whole reasoning for the change to digital is:

Cheaper for the studios
3-D and high-frame-rate capability
Less manpower for the theatres
Picture not susceptible to scratches and damage
In a lot of places, brighter and sharper picture and better sound

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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 01-07-2013 04:42 PM      Profile for Manny Knowles   Email Manny Knowles   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Film or digital: Maintenance is a cost of doing business. No getting around that.

Yes, a digital projector requires maintenance but that's the projector that will give you a return on the investment because it will actually get used to show the movies that sell the tickets. So, who cares?

Meanwhile, your new film projector remains a virgin forever, requiring ZERO maintenance because it is never used. So, technically, you could win this argument but it would be a hollow victory because there is no wisdom or value in this option. Realistically speaking.

Even if you're a repertory cinema, you'll likely arrive at that point where you wish for a digital projector due to (a) more and more titles are digital-only; (b) many available film prints are worn out and you'll wish you could show a DCP or Bluray; (c) the good archival prints become off-limits, as film becomes a rarity. Even if you're committed to the notion of running film "whenever possible," you'll still need digital for those times when film is not a viable option.

So, you see, it's really less a question of the longevity of the actual equipment per se, and more about technological obsolescence:

Film is dead. You'll have to face this fact sooner or later.

But digital isn't exactly sitting pretty. It's still an evolving technology. The equipment may last but, if the formats keep evolving, that gear will need upgrades from time to time. That's the kind of cost I'd be more concerned about. Not maintenance.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2481
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-07-2013 04:43 PM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just to answer the second part of the question, the digital projectors are supposed to last 10 years -- tops. We'll see if they do.

DCI projectors are just computers with really big light sources. How long does your average computer last?

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Mike Frese
Master Film Handler

Posts: 465
From: Holts Summit, MO
Registered: Jun 2007


 - posted 01-07-2013 10:55 PM      Profile for Mike Frese   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Frese   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes Terry you win hands down.

Unfortunately, it is a worthless victory. That reliable 35mm film equipment is worth scrap prices these days.

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6539
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 01-07-2013 11:13 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The 35mm projector in my theater was installed over 15 years ago with only oil changes and regular maintenance. We bought it as used equipment, over 30 years old when we got it.

I have no doubt that it could last another 50 years with proper care.

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Alan Plester
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 209
From: great yarmouth england
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 01-08-2013 03:50 AM      Profile for Alan Plester   Email Alan Plester   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
2 bth projectors i worked with were nearly 50 years old when the cinema shut and were sold on, as far as i know, they still be cranking out shows.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 01-08-2013 04:47 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Terry, I realize this is your first post, but you need to read the rules of these forums and fix this thread, as it will be deleted very soon and your posting privileges removed if you don't attend to it.

We have a very high signal to noise ratio here and that is because we are strict with the rules. Your participation requires that you read and follow them. Thank you.

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Stephen Furley
Film God

Posts: 3059
From: Coulsdon, Croydon, England
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 01-08-2013 05:21 AM      Profile for Stephen Furley   Email Stephen Furley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Mike Blakesley
The whole reasoning for the change to digital is:

Cheaper for the studios
3-D and high-frame-rate capability
Less manpower for the theatres
Picture not susceptible to scratches and damage
In a lot of places, brighter and sharper picture and better sound

Also gives you the ability to do things which you cannot do with film, such as to show live events, e.g. opera from the Met, or sporting events.

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Dennis Benjamin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1445
From: Denton, MD
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 01-08-2013 10:09 AM      Profile for Dennis Benjamin   Author's Homepage   Email Dennis Benjamin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The film studios are ending the argument for you.

They are stopping commercial production of 35mm prints by the end this year in the U.S.

Film will live only in the archives.

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Edward Havens
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 614
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Mar 2008


 - posted 01-08-2013 10:54 AM      Profile for Edward Havens   Email Edward Havens   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The best way to end an argument where both parties are "right" in certain aspects of the disagreement is to agree to disagree and move on.

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Mitchell Dvoskin
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1869
From: West Milford, NJ, USA
Registered: Jan 2001


 - posted 01-08-2013 01:40 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Terry, what Brad is referring to is that "teaser" subject lines are not permitted here. Subject lines must describe what the thread is about in a meaningful way. For example, "End an argument" is a teaser. "Durability of film vs digital equipment" would be meaningful subject.

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 01-08-2013 03:58 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Mitchell...what are the odds that Terry will actually read through the rules now since the quick answer was just spoon fed? People are lazy these days ya know.

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Michael Putlack
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 187
From: Fort Collins, Colorado
Registered: Sep 2011


 - posted 01-13-2013 03:45 PM      Profile for Michael Putlack   Author's Homepage   Email Michael Putlack   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think there is a rule about undermining Brad's master plan somewhere in the rules too... [Big Grin]

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Marin Zorica
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 671
From: Biograd na Moru, Croatia
Registered: May 2003


 - posted 01-13-2013 04:43 PM      Profile for Marin Zorica   Email Marin Zorica   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think major question on topic start isn't that he want to go with 35mm because that's jst can't be done [Big Grin]

Question is just simple comparasion between 35mm and dlp......in my opinion as many said allready and we know there are some machines running 50 years now and they could do another 50 without problem....but they wont, ehh [Frown]

On DLP, i think some life-span on projector which are run in multis with everyday 7 shows or so is like 10 years. Maybe more or less, depends how fast studios and others will have another upgrade and similar, but today series 2 machinea are probably here to stay in next 6-8 years for sure?

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