Another Reason To Not Go To The Movies: Digital Glitches

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

  1. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    Bobby, I think we're gonna have to agree to disagree on some of this in terms of actual vs percieved value. I do see value to IMAX Digital where I don't see the same value to "premium large format" digital (especially if that doesn't include Atmos), and to my eyes, it genuinely does look better. While IMAX may not have the monopoly on dual-projection, in practice in my area they essentially do. The ETX and RPX theaters near me all operate with a single 4K projector, not dual projection. Perhaps if I had a non-IMAX dual-projector digital 3D system to observe, they might get my money over IMAX. I'd certainly try it, but as far as I know, there's nothing like that around me.

    I'd agree with you that none of these formats (besides real film IMAX) are truly "large format". No argument here. The only point I was trying to make is that at least IMAX Digital offers something, that specific work is done in remastering the images to the screens. I think of that as being similar to blowing up 35mm to 70mm as used to happen - doesn't make the film itself magically large format as if it had originated on 70mm, but it does yield a better result than a 35mm print. To me, the other brands of "premium large format digital" aren't like 70mm prints of 35mm films -- they're like 35mm prints being shown on a 70mm sized screen.

    If all IMAX's DMR process does is hide the pixel grid for the large screen presentations, I still say that's something. There's apparent sharpness in the image without an apparent screen door effect or other pixelization that I see present in non-IMAX 2K and 4K digital presentations from time to time. Frankly, I think IMAX is designed for people who love being super-close to the screen, and I'm definitely one of them. Their thing is all about having the screen overwhelm all of your other senses, and everything from the size of the screen, to its placement, to the location and angle and closeness of the seats, is about that. Even in a properly configured digital IMAX auditorium, you're still getting some of the advantages like the closer seats and the floor-to-ceiling screen design that make it appear larger than it is. I've found that aspect lacking in the imitation IMAX rooms -- the Regal near me advertises that their RPX screen is 20% bigger than their regular screens, but the seating distance and viewing angles are similarly scaled, so that it never achieves the "in your face" effect that I get out of an IMAX movie. (This is probably as good of a time as any to mention that I was definitely "that kid" that sat too close to the TV screen and was constantly being warned I was going to fall in! Umm, that was the point!)

    Bobby, I do particularly appreciate your writing on the different sound technologies and speaker placements, I'm less up to date on that stuff, mostly for the reasons mentioned in my previous post -- that my ears don't hear all that much of a difference, especially with where I choose to sit. Still, even if I haven't really noticed the benefit of it myself, I'm eager to know what's out there and being used currently. As I mentioned, Atmos has done nothing for me the times I've seen films in an Atmos-equipped theater (the films I saw in that format were G.I. Joe Retaliation, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Wolverine, and Thor: The Dark World - someone on the Atmos thread posted that none of those movies were noted for having impressive Atmos mixes in the first place). I'll check out the Auro 11.1 format if it's offered near me.

    I wish IMAX wasn't mothballing all of their projectors and abandoning what made their format great. They really need to do something about how they're presenting digital features on their existing 15/70 screens - the digital presentation IMAX does in a room designed for digital is fine, but at least at the Lincoln Square NYC IMAX, it's painfully obvious that the digital projection system doesn't work well in that room. The projector cannot fill either the width or height of the screen (I'd expect at least the width!), and having a severely windowboxed image sitting center of a massive screen is less than ideal. Unfortunately, that still ends up being a bigger image than at any other theater around here, so I find myself going to those presentations anyway. Supposedly that location is getting a laser projector in December (after "Interstellar" finishes its run), and supposedly that laser projector will be able to fill the entire screen instead of a postage-stamp-sized square in the middle, so here's hoping that that turns out to be the case.

    Would that I could, I'd watch nothing but IMAX 15/70 prints, 70mm prints of large format films, and 35mm for everything else. (And perhaps when I get my time machine, I'll do just that!)
     
  2. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Screenwriter

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    IMAX definitely should mandate making 15/70 prints at least until they have a digital system that can fill the entire width of the screen.
     
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  3. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    I agree, unfortunately they're the ones pushing them out.

    IMAX has some very good customer service, with some very weird blindspots or quirks built in. I love that at the end of any of their movies, there's a title card with an email address to contact them about the presentation, and I love that they actually write back quickly. I've had some pleasant correspondence with David Keighley, who's their chief quality officer and president of their post-production subsidiary. Whenever something has gone wrong, they've pretty much always made good on it with me. Only once at an IMAX screening has a print broken on me -- it was the midnight opening of The Hobbit 2. AMC grudingly gave each customer a re-admit pass (after an hour long delay where the theater refused to comment on problem, and instead sent one of their employees to make bad jokes and kinda insult us for being nerds wanting to see this movie for an hour). When I emailed IMAX during that delay, they apologized faster than the theater did, told me it was being worked on faster than the theater did, and emailed me two passes. To get a response and apology at 1am was impressive, even more so when at the local level, AMC was just having a kid make bad jokes at us and refusing to tell us what the problem was. The next day, someone from IMAX followed up with me to ask about the details of the experience. I got the sense that they were troubled that something went wrong and how it was handled locally, and wanted to do what they could to prevent it from happening again. I appreciate that kind of customer service. I know it's not always going to be perfect despite best intentions, but I appreciate that IMAX tried to engage with me whereas AMC was basically like, "we got your money already so joke's on you!"

    The blindspots come with their digital auditoriums and digital presentations, and in wanting to differentiate them from their 15/70 locations -- if you ask them in advance if prints are being made, they will not tell you. Up until last fall, you could assume if it was playing at Lincoln Center, it would be film, but that's no longer the case. It's frustrating because it's reserved seating, and if it's film, I'd pick a different seat location than digital (which doesn't fill the width of the screen, so you need to sit closer to get the same experience). At least one of their NYC auditoriums - the one at the AMC Empire 25 - is fixed ratio at about 2.10:1, and when they show a 1.85:1 film, they crop the bottom and top of the image off to make it fit that space, instead of having small bars on either side of the image. I've complained about the cropping but they consider it a non-issue, and claim that variances in projector mattes and such in standard theaters means aspect ratios are rarely exact anyway, which seems a weird passing of the buck. The Avengers (which was shot digitally 16x9) is definitely too tight when cropped to 2.10:1. Wanting to avoid a similar cropping experience at other nearby IMAX theaters, I tried asking them about the ratios of the different area screens, and they simply would not tell me - so I have no idea if that Times Square screen is the only one they crop images on, or if there are others like it. For a company that's seemingly about maximum image quality and fidelity, that kind of cropping seems to go against what they're about. The company line is basically that IMAX 15/70 and IMAX Digital are the same thing, so nothing to see here folks, move along. I really love what they do with the 15/70 format, and as I've stated before, I prefer their digital presentations to those of most other theaters. But you can't say that they're the same thing, and they really shouldn't. And it's a shame that they seem to be trying to make it all the same by going digital and going smaller instead of bigger.
     
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  4. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    Anyone have any idea what this was that I saw?
     
  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    Todd, I'm just guessing here -- could be the digital print was watermarked in some way for copy protection, they were doing that for a while with film prints where each was marked in a unique way so the studio could tell exactly where a pirated copy of the movie was filmed based on the type and duration of the little specks and marks.

    It could also be a problem with the digital file being corrupted somehow, or with the projector not reading the file properly, something along those lines.

    Those would be my guesses, but the theater probably will never admit to you what it actually was.
     
  6. cinerama10

    cinerama10 Second Unit

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    I totally agree. We have to pay $32 a ticket for imax in Australia. A non Imax film now costs over $20 +. Its no wonder that piracy has taken over.I now only go to the movies about once or twice a year .I remember the good old days when going to the movies was a special event. Now it is more about making money from the concession stand and numerous commercials on screen. Imax screens have been reduced (in cinema complexes) to mini Imax screens .(the incredible shrinking 'imax' man) 3d screens are much darker and as a result the white has now become grey on screen. Digital is mainly woeful.It has a very long way to go before it will even come close to the clarity of 70mm. film. Remember when Imax was film and the clarity was incredible? The last time I saw an Imax film I had to endure 8 people using their mobiles for texting during the film. So very very distracting to other filmgoers. These morons are totally brain dead.
     
  7. Mark Booth

    Mark Booth Screenwriter
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    I wish we had Alamo Drafthouse theaters in my city:



    (Warning: Above video contains profanity, not safe for work.)

    :)

    Mark
     
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  8. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Screenwriter

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    In an interesting twist at NAB, RED, showed off their new 6K camera by having it converted to IMAX 15/70 and projected by IMAX film camera because of a lack of 6K projectors.
     
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  9. Stanton Heck

    Stanton Heck Agent

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    We spent money on a home theater because we love movies but hate the public. Cellphones are a HUGE PROBLEM but so is people coming in after the film starts. (I think no tickets should be sold to a film already in progress)
     
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  10. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    Yeah between glowing phones screens and people showing up ten minutes after the film starts I only go to a small hand full of movies every year. I've literally seen people spend the whole two hours glued to their phone texting. These days I try to go to a matinee show as much as I can hoping that there are very few people there.
     
  11. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I still can't bring myself to attend places with the food servers, like Movie Studio Grill, because I find the constant shuffling of feet and the doors opening and closing to be too distracting for this guy. And if you inadvertently hit the prominent service button in front of you on your table/desk space, a server shows up, and it's just more unneeded distractions. And it sucks because my closest first-run theater is a Movie Studio Grill, which is barely 2 miles away from the house.
     
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  12. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Same here. For all the anger I see from people about texting, I'd be much more distracted and annoyed by people banging silverware on plates and serving, etc. Not to mention that since a soda at a movie theater costs way more than a beer at a bar, I can't imagine how much a meal at a movie theater would cost.
     
  13. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    I've yet to go to one of those dine-in theaters -- surprisingly, we don't really have them in NYC. There's one in Brooklyn that opened a couple years ago, and I think one in Yonkers that opened in the fall, but nothing in Manhattan or around the mid-town area where I work. The one in Brooklyn shows almost exclusively arthouse fare. They seem to have a trendy menu designed around whatever the feature they're showing is. Very expensive, though... seems like between tickets and food, there's no way to get out of there under $50 a person. I don't think there's one yet on Long Island either.

    In terms of interruptions, maybe the theaters are designed in such a way with double doors or curtains, so that the server can walk in and out without blasting the auditorium with light? Cause if it's just a free-for-all with people walking around constantly, that would take something away from the experience for me.

    For the right movie, I might attend at a theater like this, though. I'm thinking of the marathons that theaters do in advance of the new tentpoles, like the Iron Man marathon. We were there for four movies, about nine or ten hours... under those circumstances, I would have put up with a little interruption for some fresh food.

    For the most part, though, if I'm hungry before a movie, I just bring a sandwich in. The AMC Stubs card helps keep their concessions somewhat affordable, and my membership at the IFC Center (indie theater that does weekend midnight showings ever week) comes with free popcorn each visit, so for the most part my movie snacks are relatively affordable.

    I like the idea that theaters are trying different things to keep people coming out. I don't like all of the ideas, but I hope they keep experimenting. The larger screen sizes that the so-called "premium large format" screens offer is a good start, although I think that screen size should be the norm. I also like the introduction of reserved seating. Reserved seating might be the perk I'm enjoying the most, although it's not being offered at most places I go. Especially for the opening night (or midnight preview, or whenever the very first screening of a movie is), it's nice to be able to buy the ticket and just show up 10-15 minutes early, instead of lining up for an hour or more beforehand. I've also noticed that people seem to behave better with assigned seating. I don't know if it's because it feels more like an event, or maybe it's just less of a casual thing so people aren't wandering in mid-conversation, but it's had a pretty good impact on my viewing.
     
  14. andySu

    andySu Cinematographer

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    L :rolling-smiley: M :rolling-smiley: A :rolling-smiley: O

    That is so, so true.

    But on note of phone. I switch mine to silent as I like to check on the time as I don't ware watches.

    Worst I seen digital The Spy Who Loved Me, Empire 1, London.

    Film or digital hard drive had DNR all over! A little traces of EE sigh, the opening titles was shrank in size :blink: You know this won't happen on 35mm, And seen it on 35mm at least 3 or so times in 1977.

    The same shrinking image is also same on bluray or maybe ultimate Bond as I seen a opening titles on youtube,




    As if distractions like that wasn't enough not sure if this was playing though CP650 or it would be Dolby server but I have been out the loop of projection since 1998. But whatever it was playing though the Centre channel went dead 60 mins in.

    First the LCR all started switching on/off at very fast rate for a few seconds, Then again for a few more seconds followed by dead centre channel.

    For those who have listened closely to the mix there's not much differences at with early region 2 DVD release that would be I amuse with THX Laserdisc Dolby AC-3 of late '90's. The dialouge is foggy across the LCR you can hear it on the left/right. There is discrete sound but it just has the same mix.

    I even asked the fella sat to my right side (as I was sat front and centre row seat A23) if, he also noticed the loss of centre but he didn't seem all to fused to care. Well I wasn't putting up it. I told management and their head projectionist Dave Norris, comes down and doesn't really listen that hard to inspect the issue he stood to my right side standing between the circle and lower stalls at the entrance. Even I could hear it all the way back as being very weak sounding,

    To most further back and this is true. It would sound like stereo phantom. But front row it didn't. I had to shift myself in the seat and lean my head to left as the balance of the sound was so misaligned.

    £50.00 pounds wasted on that day, travel costs, tube costs, worthless digital ticket cost.

    Even director Lewis Gilbert, seemed sceptical about digital and he was right, I was also and it was the first time I seen digital and it was a disaster. I missed at least 40 mins of the film was I had to get up from my seat that I paid for TWICE to chase up if the issue was being sorted.

    Dave Norris, impossible hopeless.

    I bet if it was the Dolby processor than maybe a shut down of the processor and switch it back on might have restored centre channel as I think it was tripped out due to digital signal or might have been a real fault loss on the hard drive and Dave Norris said "I checked the print a few days ago". Didn't check it hard enough.

    DNR
    EE
    Loss of centre

    Fail.
     
  15. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Producer
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    I've seen DCPs of several of the Bond films, and they're all made from the same master used for the Ultimate Edition DVDs/Blu-rays, and unfortunately, all of the compromises baked into those masters for the home video format have carried over to theatrical.

    I understand -- though I completely disagree -- why they altered the titles to squeeze them for TV viewing on the DVD. Overscan was still an issue then. Overscan isn't realy an issue on most HDTVs so it wasn't necessary for those adjustments to be on the Blu-ray, and it's definitely not a theatrical issue, and yet the DCPs have all of those tweaks.

    I think that's something we're going to have to be on the lookout for as repertory houses are shifting to digital, and as select multiplex chains continue their screenings of classic films on DCP. "Spartacus" was screening a couple weeks ago, and if it had been a 70mm print of the restoration, I gladly would have went. But I knew it was going to be digital and most likely the same terrible mastering job used for the Blu-ray, and that wasn't worth it for me. What you get in the theater should be better than what you can get at home, but unfortunately, especially with older films, it seems there's a real chance that going forward, what we get in theaters will be exactly what we already own at home.
     
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  16. Mark Booth

    Mark Booth Screenwriter
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    andySu,

    If you were in a theater that I was in, and you raised your phone up to check the time, in a position that I could see the phone (and be distracted by it and pull me out of the movie), I'd be the first person to want to tell you to get the hell out and never come back.

    Leave the phone in your pocket. Period.

    Mark
     
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  17. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    Yep, what do you need to check the time for? You're in a movie theater for 2-3 hours. You know what time you got there and you know what time you're leaving. Go out of the room to look at the clock if you need to know the time.

    I saw X-Men last week and a family sat down next to me in an otherwise epmty theater. 4 seats down the wife checked her phone at least 6 times for time and messages.

    Her husband was a big guy or I would have asked her to stop. Also Florida.
     
  18. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Is Florida a concealed carry State?
     
  19. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    I don't know about that. It is a stand your ground state and that is exploited often. Google theater shooting in Tampa.
     
  20. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    Ah. I see. I'll look that up. Frankly, there seem to be a lot of pissed off people everywhere. The number of random shootings is just getting to be ridiculous. It is getting to the point where it seems like there is one every day now.
     

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