A Few Words About A few words about...™ Digital Projection in the wild

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. Tyoneon

    Tyoneon Auditioning

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi All,
    Adam I did not intend to say that Digital Cinema could not do film presentations justice. I have seen a lot of Digital Cinema presentations. My understanding is that the Sony can be calibrated to improve the color uniformity problems that I and my colleagues in Boston witnessed. The problem with LCoS display technology is that it is quite unstable and the projector drifts quickly. This means recalibration is necessary on a very regular basis. Probably in the order of on a weekly basis.
    Unfortunately, I highly doubt our local theaters will be investing the resources necessary to keep an LCoS based Digital Cinema projector properly calibrated. Clearly what I saw demonstrated that my theater can't even be bothered to have it setup correctly for a special one time screening. DLP on the other hand is quite a bit more stable not suffering from white field uniformity the way LCoS based units do. Of course, they need to be calibrated and maintained as well, which must be a new concept to theater owners who never had to deal with having film projectors calibrated save for changing the lamp at the right time.
     
  2. NY2LA

    NY2LA Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2011
    Messages:
    1,352
    Likes Received:
    4
    It seems that, even as the industry, studios and exhibitors alike, see digital as (ostensibly) the answer to uniform quality (though it's really the answer to spending less money), The facts are coming out that this mode of projection is at least as capable of shoddy quality as the old film projectors. It seems to me that digital has just multiplied the number of things that can go wrong.
    A few years ago, in a conversation with a major studio's repertory booker, I found out that their famously fantastic digital versions actually rarely screen in digital theatres. Why? Because the studio would not allow the digital files out of their hands except through specially approved technicians who personally installed and removed those files. And the fee for that service, above the fee for feature rental, was in the four figure range. What I was told was that most cinemas simply ran the consumer DVD and just paid the studio a fee.
    Couple years ago, in a conversation with someone who does projection in a vintage old cinema, he himself said they usually ran DVDs and nobody knew the difference.
    One year ago, communicating with an exhibitor I had come to respect for his attention to quality presentation in a classic theatre environment, I brought up the issue of 3D filters darkening the image. His terse answer was that the Sony projectors in his newly revamped showplace were run at a higher light output than most, therefore he claimed that brightness was no problem (tacitly admitting he did not remove the filters). When I lamented that todays exhibitors ignore the purpose of widescreen and choose screens with a native AR matching that of 16x9 TVs (making what should be panoramic 2.35 pictures look like a letterboxed video, he claimed people like the top-masked pictures on his (16x9) screen. Oh, and he said that BluRay was now the standard for digital projection of catalog titles.
    As for TAP, I had some experience with them and believe me, they are no more a guarantee of quality than a THX sign outside an auditorium.
    I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be some kind of overall quality assurance program, but it should involve technically knowledgeable people who are not beholden to either exhibs or studios.
    While filmmakers like Brad Bird and Douglas Trumbull talk in the press about the lack of presentation quality in typical cinemas, I don't see them or anyone going any further, (lest they run the risk of alienating the Exhib Execs.)
     
  3. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2001
    Messages:
    17,067
    Likes Received:
    1,786
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    Thank you for the clarification! As a layman, I'm coming from the perspective of my own experiences as an audience member and not from any underlying knowledge of the technology. One of the great values of a community like the HTF for someone like me is getting to learn from experts like yourself and RAH.
    Your reply cleared up a lot of the confusion I had about the gap between my experience as an audience member and some of the horror show issues being raised. Before this thread, I'd assumed that, once correctly set up, a digital projector was good to go for the length of a movie's run. Your article and follow-up post make it clear that that's not the case.
    The shame of it is that it probably wouldn't be a huge expense for the major chains to have an expert on their projectors to cycle through a given territory of theaters so that all of the equipment is properly maintained and calibrated on a weekly basis. But having one well-paid, well-trained expert even spread across five or six markets is probably too much to ask nowadays. Which is sad, because presentation is the only place they can't afford to cut corners, as the home entertainment experience continues to close the gap.
     
  4. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2000
    Messages:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    802
    I had the misfortune to witness a 2D projection through a 3D lens and it looked way too soft with objectionable color fringing.
    I had planned to attend my first screening of a movie in 4k that was also available as a 4k DCI file and went to see Inception. After I noticed the subpar presentation (it fortunately was before the movie even started) I demanded my money back and went home very angry and frustrated. That somebody would defend this horrible and neglectful practice of not changing the lenses from 3D to 2D speaks volumes about the good enough mentality that is prevalent in the industry.
    Don't make it good enough, make it as good as the equipment allows!
     
  5. Tyoneon

    Tyoneon Auditioning

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2008
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Adam and Oliver,
    I whole heartedly agree. The lack of caring about the accuracy of theatrical presentation is a sad thing. And you are right what you can achieve in the home today is staggeringly good if done right, but let me tell you I see home theaters botched all the time too.
     
  6. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2001
    Messages:
    38,452
    Likes Received:
    5,725
    Location:
    Rensselaer, NY
  7. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
    Insider

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Messages:
    4,796
    Likes Received:
    5,325
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    Excuse me, but why are they showing it in this aspect ratio???
    Bob
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,346
    Likes Received:
    5,277
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Because they can, while not having to think.

    Why does it matter?

    A single show.

    Old black & white-sh film.

    Turner Classics.

    Seriously.

    No one cares. And that includes Warner Bros, which has little concern of their heritage.
    If they did, they wouldn't permit these shows to occur.


    RAH
     
  9. Bob Furmanek

    Bob Furmanek Insider
    Insider

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2001
    Messages:
    4,796
    Likes Received:
    5,325
    VERY sad...
     
  10. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 1999
    Messages:
    3,302
    Likes Received:
    810
    Real Name:
    Peter Apruzzese
    Reading that report and seeing those screenshots only makes me angry at the people in charge of the locations (and the projectionists if none of them raised an alarm) and the studio/event partner staging the screenings. Amateur hour.
     
  11. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2001
    Messages:
    6,283
    Likes Received:
    113
    Real Name:
    Adam_S
    I've come to the conclusion over the last two years (two years ago I saw the Wizard of Oz in 4k DCP at the Samuel Goldwyn) that DCPs of classic film titles will primarily only ever be seen by industry insiders and the restorationists.

    And even in Los Angeles, maybe 1% of industry professionals know what a DCP is and probably half that have seen a DCP of a classic film, hell, Los Angeles doesn't even rate a program like "This is DCP" that recently ran on the other coast.

    It just seems very unlikely that DCP will ever make it out of Los Angeles, and out of the two or three theatres that might show it.

    This is a shame, because a lot of theatre chains around the country could do pretty good business by having a weekly Tuesday night or Wednesday night showing of one of the major classics, The theatres know they sell only a dozen tickets to their lowest preforming first run titles on a weeknight, and DCP should offer them the opportunity of a new revenue stream.

    Sadly, that will never come to pass.
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2002
    Messages:
    1,683
    Likes Received:
    11
    I'm concerned about a larger issue here. Isn't this signaling the end of projected movies in the theater? If everybody owns Casablanca on a perfect bluray, why pay money to see it in an inferior presentation in a theater, costing real money?
    Except for some special events, I don't think movies in the theater can survive. The Ziegfeld, in NYC, has become one of the worst places to see a movie, and I don't see any potential improvements there, or anywhere. Too expensive seats, too expensive bad food, too poor movie presentation, digital or otherwise.
     
  13. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    26,621
    Likes Received:
    3,796
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building
    But people don't own copies of The Avengers or Prometheus or The Hobbit, etc. and assuming that your local theater is somewhat competent, those movies should look fine and people will continue to pay to see them.
    Plus, how many of the people that saw Casablanca noticed or were bothered by the lackluster presentation? I wish that everyone in the theater rose up and demanded an adequate presenation or their money back because money talks but I'm guessing the reality is that most viewers didn't even notice or didn't really care enough to complain to anyone about the problems.
     
  14. rsmithjr

    rsmithjr Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2011
    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    335
    Location:
    Palo Alto, CA
    Real Name:
    Robert Smith
    This kind of question has been asked for 60 years. One answer is that it is a very different experience.
    To follow your specific example of Casablanca: I own the LD and also the first Blu-ray of Casablana. Nevertheless, a few months ago I saw it at the Stanford Theatre with a 35mm print. The print was in many ways inferior to the Blu-ray. (The Stanford runs full time with repertory films and does a good business.)
    Yet there was a large audience for this showing, as there always is for Casablanca.
    A few months ago, I went to a 70mm festival at the Seattle Cinerama Theatre. On the first day, I saw 3 movies that I own in multiple copies. I had seen all 3 multiple times. In many respects, the Blu-ray of one of the movies was superior to the print being exhibited of that film. Yet, the audience was packed and people loved it.
    I see no problem with having showings of this kind, whether the print is film or digital. The question will become the quality of the theatre, the presentation, the overall event.
     
  15. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2002
    Messages:
    1,683
    Likes Received:
    11
    But those new movies could simply be released on bluray from Day 1, and people can buy them (or rent them) for a fraction of the cost of going to the theater, and probably they'll get a better presentation. Plus better food. And a close bathroom.
    I really think it's the end. Except for festivals and special events, people are going to stop going to the movies. I have stopped going, and I am the biggest movie person I know, with a giant collection of old and new movies on bluray and dvd.
    I went to The Cabin in the Woods recently. People talking left and right, something sticky on my seat, stale M&Ms, and $50 (for two of us). It really wasn't worth spending the money, even though I liked the film. I'm sure the bluray will be great.
     
  16. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    1,122
    Location:
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Rob Ray
    You're just getting older, like the rest of us. Most of your arguments (with the exception of better presentations at home, which theatres will *have* to address to stay in business) have been tossed about since the dawn of television. But the fact remains that young people out on dates need a place to go and unless theatres really blow it, which admittedly they are, moviegoing remains one of their best options.
     
  17. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2002
    Messages:
    1,683
    Likes Received:
    11
    The thing that's different now is that home theater is a real viable option, much more than it has been in the past. There are movies which are released in the theaters and bluray simultaneously, and I think this trend will continue. And certainly there's no reason to go to Casablanca, poorly presented in a theater, when you own it at home.
     
  18. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    26,621
    Likes Received:
    3,796
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building
    The difference is that those are small or independent movies that probably wouldn't even play at most art theaters (let alone a multiplex) and multiplexes are filled with studio pictures backed by ad campaigns. Studios are making millions of dollars from theaters and then making millions more from video a few months later so unless they decide to want to make alot less money every year, they're not giving up on theaters.
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,346
    Likes Received:
    5,277
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Seeing the quality at which classics are hitting theaters via Turner, there really doesn't seem to be a reason for them to continue.

    As a teen, I used to project 16mm from an attic window onto sheets stitched together and mounted between trees in the back yard.

    And that was a quality performance.

    RAH
     
  20. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2002
    Messages:
    1,683
    Likes Received:
    11
    That is the COOLEST thing I've read today!
    Some of my favorite movie experiences were at teenage parties, the Marx Brothers and The Maltese Falcon, projected onto a wall in the living room.
     

Share This Page