Warner Bros. new movie policy — everything will be released in 4K!

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Kipnis Studios, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. Kipnis Studios

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    Warner Bros. is to release its films in 4K. “It is
    Warner Bros. policy — everything will be released in
    4K,” says Spencer Stephens, vice president and
    general manager of Motion Picture Imaging at
    Warner Bros.
    The Warner Bros. 4K facility is already making life
    easier for film-makers as they move to the higher
    quality 4K d-cinema standard. 4K images contain
    four times the information of 2K.
    Feature films, says Stephens, are being
    distributed through the Digital Cinema Initiatives
    (DCI) standard, which allows the picture to be played
    on both 4K and 2K projectors. A cinema can take the
    same version of a film, whether it has 4K or 2K
    projectors. Either way, research shows that
    audiences prefer watching a movie on a digital
    projector than a 35mm film projector, allowing a title
    to make more money when shown digitally.
    But, says Stephens, audiences would rather watch
    in 4K. “People prefer to watch in 4K than 2K.”
    Stephens says the human eye can start seeing the
    pixels in a 2K picture when they are sitting at a
    distance from the screen that is less than three
    times the height of the screen. You can get a lot
    closer to a 4K picture without the picture being
    compromised, which makes the 4K experience more
    enjoyable. “Over here (in the US), all new theatres
    have stadium seating, where the audience is closer
    to the screen and the screen is a lot bigger,”
    Stephens explains.
    British-born Stephens heads up the Warner Bros.
    4K production facility in Los Angeles, which has
    pioneered the 4K pipeline for
    making movies. The facility is run as a
    commercial operation and attracts work
    from other top studios in Hollywood as well
    as Warner Bros. It also remasters classics
    for the Blu-ray market. For instance, it
    recently restored The Godfather Parts I, II
    and III for Paramount. “It now looks
    absolutely phenomenal,” says Stephens.
    “4K is the future, there are absolutely so
    many reasons for it. One of them is that
    there is not much difference between 2K
    and HD and most people who want to go to
    the cinema, want to have a better user
    experience than at home.
    “The work we do is 4K end-to-end,” he
    adds. “Whether it starts out as film or a
    digital 4K camera, we scan at 4K and have a
    complete 4K digital pipeline. Some people
    have a pipeline where they scan at 2K, but if
    you up-res from 2K to 4K, 75 per cent of the
    pixels have been guessed at by the
    computer. At 4K, you can keep all the
    original resolution.”
    The industry, he says, is starting to accept
    the logic of 4K. “I think some film-makers
    are getting it. It depends to some extent
    what camera you shoot with, how it is set up
    and what the DoP thinks of it.”
    It does not have to cost more to create a
    4K movie, he says. “It is a myth about the
    cost of 4K. We built a 4K pipeline three years
    ago from the ground up so, from our point
    of view, it is the same cost as 2K.
    “The only thing is how long you have to
    stay on the scanner. It takes maybe three
    times longer to scan a film to 4K. But, so
    what? You can leave it running. Otherwise,
    there are no other cost differences.”

    - 4k Cine Alta Newsletter (Summer 2008)
     
  2. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    I can't STAND to see pixels on the movie screen (I saw them during the latest Indiana Jones movie). It screams video to me. If 4k truly ELIMINATES them, that will be good. Properly projected film has always been the best experience for me.
     
  3. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    It won't eliminate them. That being said, the higher the resolution, the smaller the pixels on the same size screen. For most multiplex sized screens, the pixels at 4k are too small for the human eye to pick up the staircase syndrome.
     
  4. Cassy_w

    Cassy_w Second Unit

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    4k is better. Easy. But what I see at DLP theaters is swirling heat on the screen. Anyone else expeience this? It's at the Ziegfeld Theater all the time and annoying as heck.
     
  5. Brian W. Ralston

    Brian W. Ralston Supporting Actor

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    There is VERY LITTLE incentive for theater owners to transition to digital cinema. Really. This is a story that is taken from a press release to get some publicity and is not really based in reality. Is 4K better than 2K?...yes...sure.

    But...the transition from film to Digital projection is a hard fight that is not even close to happening any time soon. Who benefits from it? Well...the studio's get the financial benefit of not having to create release prints and negatives, etc...They just create one final Digital Cinema Package file and make HD copies. (Or even just beam the info via sattelite to the theatres). But the theatres...they have to upgrade their system/projectors spending Millions upon millions of dollars. And the ones who spent that just a couple years ago and put in 2K projection systems (That they are probably still paying for)...now they will have to do it all again to upgrade to 4K projection systems??? There is no end in sight with the ever advancing technologies. And the theater owners hardly make any money as it is.

    With most films, 100% of ticket sales go to the studios for the first 4 weeks...with films like The Dark Knight...they extend that in their contracts to 8 weeks. So...for a theater to make any ticket sale money on a film it has to screen it longer that 4 weeks (or 8 weeks on the bigger films). That is a long time. Their only profit is coming from concessions. Which explains why popcorn and a coke costs $12 any more. And if they have to foot the bill for all of the digital cinema conversions and pay for their overhead only with their concession profits...one will begin to see why the theater owners will drag their feet to the point of coming to a halt on Digital Cinema upgrades for their theaters.

    And, factor in the fact that theaters in Europe are not even close to making the conversion....so the studio's still have to create film negatives and prints for the rest of the world even though in the US, they can do digital...the financial model for digital cinema does not make sense at these numbers, no matter how good a film looks projected. It is great and all that Warner is choosing somewhat of a standard with doing their digital releases in 4K. But...at what point in the future will that be obsolete and thus the theaters need to upgrade again?? Really...it is like the DVD/DIVX, or VHS/BETA wars all over again...only this time at the studio level between the studio distributors and the theatrical screen owners.
     
  6. Ralphie_B

    Ralphie_B Stunt Coordinator

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    I suppose, if nothing else, it's a boon for future WHV releases!
     
  7. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    I dunno, a new all digital multiplex open in my area recently and despite a less convenient parking situation and smaller screens everybody's flocking to it. The difference is night and day with a bad film projection.
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    From my scattered readings, Brian's right on.

    But eventually projection hardware is fully depreciated capital, is worn out and needing serious repair / replacement. What's a theater to buy? Eventually, digital hardware should come in as a matter of course.

    And I don't know about you, but in a city of about 250,000, we've got six multiplexes (10+ screens built during the 90s boom)< a 3D IMAX, a second-run multiplex, an art theater, and scattered older theaters. If a theater were to start seriously lagging behind others in comfort or movie presentation, there are plenty of close-by alternatives.

    If digital projection is an improvement, and theaters inch towards using it, others will have to keep up or risk losing their audiences. (unless it's so expensive that the conversion kills the theater's profits. and then we'd see an interesting boom and bust in digital projection)
     
  9. Brian D H

    Brian D H Second Unit

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    Obviously, if the studios REALLY want to move to digital projection any faster than the time it takes waiting for old film projectors to break down and be upgraded naturally, then they are going to have to help foot the bill. They are the benefactors of this new technology (economically), so they are going to have to either pay for it, or wait 10 years for it to happen.
     
  10. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Considering that a state of the art film projector complete with lenses and platter system can be bought brand new for about $20,000. A 4K digital projector from Sony (who as far as I know are the only ones making a 4K projector at this point) is going to run out about $100,000 for projector and lens. That does not include the media server needed to feed the films to the projector.

    For the price of one digital auditorium setup, a theater owner could setup 5 film based auditoriums.

    This is exactly why digital projection isn't catching on like wild fire. Once the prices come down a bit I do think you'll start to see more and more installations, because the digital projectors are easier to maintain than film projectors. Fewer moving parts.


    Another factor is that the brightest 4K projector that Sony makes is rated only for screens up to 40 feet in width. While that's fine for most multi-plex shoebox theaters, anything larger than that would need a more powerful projector, which is on the way, but not available yet.

    Doug
     
  11. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Thats the problem. Old projectors don't just break down. Or rather when they do they aren't hard to fix. I know of some theaters that are still using projectors from the 1950s, and have just retrofited them with platter systems, and xenon lamps.

    Doug
     
  12. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    The studios are helping to finance the transition.
     
  13. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Cinematographer
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    The studios are helping to finance the transition.
     
  14. Jonesy

    Jonesy Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, it's good that WB is moving to 4k. 2k is an embarassingly low resolution.

    But the vast majority of those 4k digital "prints" will be projected with the dozens (hundreds?) of 2k digital projectors that have been installed over the past few years. No theatre that spent tens of thousands of dollars on a 2k projector is going to shell out another 100 grand for a 4k unit.

    And good luck finding a theatre that will actually advertise which resolution projector they are using. Or an employee who even knows what you are talking about.

    Even 4k isn't quite as good as film. It's hard to nail down specific comparisons, but David Keighley of Imax says: "35mm film captures the equivalent of 6K," in this excellent Dark Knight article. And film beats video in other areas besides resolution, like contrast ratio and color depth.


    Yup. Pretty mediocre. I'll take a film presentation on a 60' to 80' screen any day!

    Jonesy
    MOVIE THEATRE REVIEWS
     
  15. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    6K resolution on the original negative. The release print at your local movieplex will be significantly lower.

    For movies shot on film, I still prefer proper film projection. The problem is that is sometimes hard to find. The theater I go to the majority of the time is "eh" quality. There is a much better theater across town (it also has a digital projector), but it is a 20+ minute drive with parking issues compared to 3 minutes and easy access. We also have an all-digital house even further away. It is new and always packed. It has the best sound anywhere around and I can occasionally stomach the projection even in their two huge theaters. Most of the people that I've talked to can't tell a difference or don't notice a distance. I'm sure that is not the case with most HTF members. The thing is the quality of the projection doesn't vary much in the digital theaters I've been to, but my "home" theater near the house is all over the map in picture quality and the sound quality is mediocre.
     

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