Another Reason To Not Go To The Movies: Digital Glitches

Discussion in 'Movies' started by cineMANIAC, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. cineMANIAC

    cineMANIAC Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,057
    Likes Received:
    289
    Location:
    New York City
    Real Name:
    Luis
    As if ticket and concession prices weren't high enough and fellow patrons couldn't possibly get any ruder, this is yet another reason to avoid the theatergoing experience: Glitches. For the 3rd time this year (2nd consecutive occurrence for me in as many weeks), I've had to sit through portions of the film while there were digital errors present onscreen. What the heck?? Movie theaters have turned into giant "home theaters" with pixellation, digital artifacts and other problems. Today we missed most of the trailers and a few minutes of Captain America because of glitches. Last week it was no picture at all, only sound! And all we got was a "sorry for the inconvenience" - what happened to free tickets? I see this happening more frequently as digital projection continues to take hold. I thought technology was supposed to improve things, not the other way around.
     
    andySu likes this.
  2. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2000
    Messages:
    5,969
    Likes Received:
    282
    Ok. Like this is anything new when it comes to mass market theaters? Film prints in theaters picked up dust speckles, scratches, and other damage from repeated showings. They suffered from gate weave, broken film and sometimes even burned if the film got jammed in the projector. Did you ever advocate staying home from the theater when film was the principal medium and not digital projection?

    In fact, I don't remember it ever being advertised that digital projection would entirely eliminate projection problems. It is just another piece of man-made technology and is subject to failure like every other technology that we produce. There are probably a lot less problems with digital projection compared to film projection overall, but problems are not entirely eliminated.

    It isn't the technology. It is the maintenance or complete lack of it. Nobody gives a crap about maintaining their equipment before it fails. The mentality now is to let it fail and then fix or replace the equipment.

    Not getting replacement tickets for an interrupted film is BS though. That is one thing I wouldn't put up with. If I paid to see something then I expect to see it. If they would have said "sorry for the inconvenience", I would have said, "don't be sorry, just give me my money back or tickets for another showing". People are putting up with too much crap from these corporations.

    Edit: Had to fix a slip up. :)
     
    Tina_H_V, Tino, cafink and 1 other person like this.
  3. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2001
    Messages:
    17,074
    Likes Received:
    1,793
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    Were all of the occurrences in the same theater? If so, it's probably an equipment error on their end.I can recall my fair share of film glitches in my day, too, everything from improperly aligned mattes (such that you'd see boom mikes and the like that were never meant to be seen) to film prints breaking midway through the film.No system is perfect.
     
  4. cineMANIAC

    cineMANIAC Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,057
    Likes Received:
    289
    Location:
    New York City
    Real Name:
    Luis
    Yes, it was the same theater but it's a 14-screen multiplex and the auditoriums where the glitches happened were always different ones. The errors I'm referring to were digital in nature - the kind you get while watching a faulty blu-ray - things you shouldn't see on a giant screen in a commercial theater. The action on the screen would freeze and there would be a pink or green blotch across the screen. I've seen it all before in the old-school theaters - everything from misaligned projectors to dirty screens but these are state-of-the-art modern movie houses. I'll even accept that these things will happen but not during 2 out of 3 viewings.
     
    andySu likes this.
  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,059
    Likes Received:
    3,762
    Real Name:
    Josh Steinberg
    Hi cineMANIAC, I feel your pain - theaters transitioned to digital projectors, and we were all told that they would eliminate many of the problems that had to do with improperly handled film - and unfortunately for every good thing digital projection has done, I think it's also encouraged a lot of bad habits in terms of exhibitors getting lazy. Projectionists are pretty much an extinct breed. I still see films misframed. From an aesthetic point of view, if you sat too close to the screen when it was 35mm, you'd see film grain (fine by me). Now that it's digital, if you sit too close, you get pixels (which look a lot less pleasing to my eye than film grain ever did).

    All that said, don't ever be afraid to speak up if you've had a bad experience. I tend to see more IMAX presentations than regular digital projection, and at the end of every IMAX presentation, a title card goes up with their email address for quality concerns. Every time I've ever written them, I've gotten a super-fast response, and they've always been generous with free passes whenever there was an issue. In terms of regular theaters, there are more AMCs by me than any other chain. Last week I saw "Noah" and the house lights came up before the movie ended; by the time the screening let out, it was late, I was tired, I didn't really feel like sticking around to complain. The next day, I went to AMC's website, filled out the contact form, and within a day I had a emails from two different theater managers at that branch who wanted to talk to me about my experience, and who offered to send me passes for the trouble.

    What I've noticed is - these days, theaters won't volunteer to give away anything. Most people don't seem to notice the minor errors, whether it's something slightly misframed, projected with too little light, etc., so from the theater's point of view, it probably doesn't make financial sense for them to offer refunds to people who never even noticed a problem. But the flip side of that is, if you complain (particularly to a manager, even if it means calling or writing at a later time as I did), they'll usually make it right.

    What I miss is the days when an usher would be seated in the back of the theater for most of the film, or at least would stop in a couple times and spot check the thing; same for projectionists in the booth. When I was younger, I remember seeing more films that may have started off slightly out of focus or whatever, but that by ten minutes in, it would be near flawless. Now, I'm finding that if it's not right at the start, it's not gonna get any better unless I get up and say something.

    edit: I just saw your post about that having two out of three screenings at a new theater, and that doesn't sound right. I'm wondering if there's something damaged on their projector, or if they're not properly ingesting the drives that they're getting.
     
    Mark Cappelletty likes this.
  6. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    26,648
    Likes Received:
    3,809
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building
    Yeah. I hated to see the end of 35mm but the switch to digital has absolutely benefited the presentation at all the theaters in my area. If I lived in Los Angeles where some theaters had a real projectionist, I'd be less sensitive to the fact that in the real world, the kid that sells popcorn also runs the projector and since that kid is a moron, digital projection has ended a lot of flaws that I used to have to deal with or complain about so they could attempt (and frequently) fail to fix them.
     
  7. bujaki

    bujaki Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    1,700
    Likes Received:
    933
    Location:
    Richardson, TX
    Real Name:
    Jose Ortiz-Marrero
    The Cinemark Home Office is in the Dallas area, where I live. Maybe because of the proximity to their headquarters, managers are more careful, and I haven't had the horrible experiences described by the above posters. The worst experience I had was at the 3D IMAX screening of Wizard of Oz. It didn't start on time. Fifteen minutes later, the manager came in, apologized, gave us courtesy tickets for a future screening, and treated us to a flawless presentation of Oz.
     
  8. Bobby Henderson

    Bobby Henderson Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2001
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    45
    Here's the problem with glitches and digital video projection: digital was sold as being perfect. Without glitches. Without problems. Always better than film too -as long as the comparisons where set against film done wrong and NEVER compared against film done right. I personally saw all the "perfect" sales pitches repeated ad nauseum from the beginning when 1st generation systems were mere 1280 X 1024 pixel DLP setups and the imagery was MPEG-2 video (and often badly compressed at that).

    By the way, lots of people have stayed away from commercial theaters due to bad film handling in the past. With digital, and all the advertisement done in support of it along with these much higher ticket prices for things that didn't cost a premium in the past, such as 3D or watching the movie on a bigger screen, audience expectations for flawless presentations are much higher. Those expectations should be much higher since the customers are having to pay a lot more.

    With film projection many of the glitches that could occur fell on the projectionist for bad film handling practices. Some serious problems, like a brain wrap, could be fixed reasonably quick without losing the show (provided the brain wrap didn't pull the platter down to the floor). With digital projection there's lots of different things that can bring a show to a screeching halt. Maintenance on a digital system is more complicated and costly than with film. The digital based gear has a very limited life span, which makes the cost of the equipment a hell of a lot higher. Install one d-cinema projection system and get ready to replace it in less than 10 years. A good film projector could last decades if properly maintained.

    Digital has improved presentation quality in terms of averages, but it hasn't been a step forward over what film did in properly run movie theaters. I see d-cinema primarily being a money saver for movie distributors and theater chains. It's been about cutting costs, not improving show quality. Hollywood movie studios save millions of dollars with every movie release from not having to order so many 35mm prints. The movie theaters are saving money by reducing staff. D-cinema theaters can be operated with very little user intervention. They can remotely operated and programmed to run automatically.

    The idea of someone in the audience yelling toward the projector port glass to fix the picture or fix the sound is really pretty hilarious in today's modern, all digital, all automated multiplex.
     
  9. TheBat

    TheBat Producer

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 1999
    Messages:
    3,083
    Likes Received:
    28
    Real Name:
    Jacob
    I have notice the lack of control at movies under management. I have an issue with a regal cinema. the theatre has one screen where its much darker in the theatre and the screen because they say they are not able to turn off the 3d button.. so the brightness of the 3d is left on for a 2d movie. I am the only one that complained about it. the manager said there is nothing they can do about it. which really annoys me. I have other theatres near me that do a better job at control. I don't visit that theatre much. I take my business elsewhere.

    Jacob
     
  10. Sean Bryan

    Sean Bryan Sean Bryan
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1997
    Messages:
    3,518
    Likes Received:
    578
    Real Name:
    Sean
    Last year I had a few bad experiences at Cinemark. A couple of screens had bad misconvergence. I complained to the manager in person and through their web site. I was given a bunch of free passes, but I also wanted assurance from them that the problems would be fixed. Until then I had to call the theater to make sure shows I was considering going to weren't on those screens. Last Thursday night I had this problem again with The Winter Soldier. Now I'm going to have send some more angry emails.
     
  11. cineMANIAC

    cineMANIAC Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,057
    Likes Received:
    289
    Location:
    New York City
    Real Name:
    Luis
    That's just terrible. How do people put up with this? Going to the movies nowadays is not only very expensive but it's turning into an experience akin to watching television with all the ads. I was in a theater in Puerto Rico recently and there was about 40 minutes worth of TV-style ads mixed in with the trailers, including promos for local TV shows! I nearly walked out even before the film began. This is insane.
     
    andySu likes this.
  12. davidHartzog

    davidHartzog Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2004
    Messages:
    2,832
    Likes Received:
    801
    Real Name:
    John smith
    Things were better back in the day. I remember going to see Going Home with Mitchum at my local and being the only one there. They screened the film anyway. I remember huge screens and polite patrons. Today it's morons with cell phones and screens smaller than my tv.
     
  13. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,644
    Likes Received:
    419
    So I stayed til the very end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it does make me laugh a little on the inside when I see the Windows Start Button on the bottom left hand corner of the screen, reminding me I just watched a digitally projected film at the theaters.
     
    Josh Steinberg likes this.
  14. Vic Pardo

    Vic Pardo Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    Messages:
    1,059
    Likes Received:
    498
    Real Name:
    Brian Camp
    I remember all the problems associated with film projection, but I have to say they were a lot more common in the rundown neighborhood theaters I attended in the South Bronx in the 1970s than at any other time in my moviegoing life. In fact, there was a long period there from the 1980s to whenever film projectors became rare when I experienced far fewer projection problems in theaters than I ever had before. And I'm not sure why. Maybe because my trips to theaters were less frequent as the years progressed? I used to go to the movies multiple times a week during the 1970s, far less so in the 1980s, '90s and 2000s, with barely a trip a month these days. The only big projector glitch I remember from the last 25 years was at the Criterion Theater in Times Square when the projector bulb went out during a showing of TERMINATOR 2 right in the middle of a big action scene and the crowd got really angry. But I remember it so vividly because it was so rare.
     
  15. Brian Dobbs

    Brian Dobbs Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2001
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    151
    Location:
    Maryland
    Real Name:
    Brian Dobbs
    Get the regional manager's contact information and email them.
     
  16. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2006
    Messages:
    1,257
    Likes Received:
    280
    Real Name:
    Wayne
    I went to the early afternoon IMAX showing of Captain America today. During the pre-show there was sound but no picture, when the previews started there was picture but no sound. The theater manager had everyone leave so they can reboot the projector. 20 minutes later he comes back out and said that they had to call in the IMAX technicians and the showing is cancelled. Everyone got 2 IMAX readmission tickets and admission to a movie showing on any other screen.
     
  17. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,059
    Likes Received:
    3,762
    Real Name:
    Josh Steinberg
    While this isn't a digital glitch, per say -- I did see a movie last night at AMC Empire 25 in Times Square NYC, and after the credits finished rolling, a new, loud, animated AMC tag came on which said in big letters and a louder voice "TIME TO LEAVE". The music in the end credits had been intentionally low key, and then this just blasted out. I thought it was really rude.

    edit: also not a digital glitch, but the film wasn't properly matted on the sides, and you could see some major keystoning from the projector. I didn't realize movies were made in the trapazoidal aspect ratio! And this was their ETX auditorium which is supposed to be the best one in the theater, the one they charge you extra for. Bulb was too dim too.
     
  18. cineMANIAC

    cineMANIAC Cinematographer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    2,057
    Likes Received:
    289
    Location:
    New York City
    Real Name:
    Luis
    I try to avoid the Empire 25 but not because of frequent technical mishaps. With 25 screens it's like playing a game of Russian Roulette: which theater am I going to get - the tiny postage-stamp sized screening room, the medium-sized one or a non-IMAX/ETX large screen regular? I don't like watching movies on small screens so I always go to the 34th Street AMC, where every theater has a large screen. Bigger is better. I don't always need IMAX, though.
     
    andySu and Josh Steinberg like this.
  19. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2003
    Messages:
    6,059
    Likes Received:
    3,762
    Real Name:
    Josh Steinberg
    This movie was only playing at Empire 25 or at the Regal Union, and Empire was closer and better timed that day… otherwise I agree. When I go to see something at Empire, if I use the Fandango app on my iPhone and go to buy tickets, it always says which number theater it's showing in right before the purchase page (same at the kiosks in the lobby) and I've got a decent idea at this point of which are the good ones and the bad… I should really make an effort to write them down one of these days.

    I like the 34th Street theater.. it's my miniMAX/liemax/fauxmax theater of choice. The one at Empire has a larger screen, but it's a scope ratio fixed screen, and if it's a flat film, they crop the top and bottom off, and that's not cool. So it's 34th Street for me when I need a fake IMAX screen. It's usually less crowded there and the concession stands move faster at 34th too.
     
  20. Vic Pardo

    Vic Pardo Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2013
    Messages:
    1,059
    Likes Received:
    498
    Real Name:
    Brian Camp
    Why does everyone have to leave in order to reboot the projector? Can't they just do it in the booth while everyone's sitting in their seats?
     

Share This Page