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Home theater "as good as" film? No way!


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#1 of 147 OFFLINE   RobertR

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Posted August 11 2001 - 05:37 PM

Let me preface this by saying that I am VERY pleased with my home theater. I have an HTPC feeding an NEC XG135LC, and the picture quality is OUSTANDING. It almost makes me giddy sometimes, knowing that I have picture quality that's equal to or better than almost any of the best High End video setups I've seen at dealers and trade shows. It gives me a LOT of pleasure, and when I watched The Matrix at home tonight, I thought it looked and sounded wonderful.

But it's not film. This was reaffirmed for me today. First, I attended a seminar at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in Hollywood, where High Definition hardware was being discussed and demonstrated. It was fascinating to see Hidef at its best, and its best looks very good indeed, even blown up on a 40 foot wide screen. I heard detailed technical descriptions of the newest hidef cameras from Panasonic and Sony, and they look great.

And then I went to see a movie, as in a motion picture shot on film. The movie was The Score, playing at one of the theaters in the Westwood area of Los Angeles. Some of the theaters in Westwood are known for being very high quality, and they often host studio premieres. This means that the theaters know studio people frequent them, and they make an extra effort to ensure proper sound levels, proper illumination, proper film handling and so forth.

The results were very noticeable. I was looking at a virtually pristine print with superb color rendition, superb contrast, superb black levels (unlike many theaters, this one has DARK side walls and NO lighting at all during the show except for a small exit sign), superb shadow detail, and overall detail that NO video system can TOUCH. Even blown up to 60-70 ft. wide, film grain was minimal. I kept thinking "this is what it's all about!".

Now I know that much has been written about the often bad experience of going to the theater--rowdy teens, crying babies, cell phones, etc. bad prints, bad sound etc. (none of which was a problem today). I grant all that, and don't like such things either.

But what I saw today (and several times recently, since I've been fortunate enough to be invited to studio screening rooms) was film done RIGHT (SO right that I've decided never again to bother with a run of the mill multiplex), and doing so makes it EASY to see how much better film is than ANY video representation. Even the most "film-like" of our video systems is at best a pale imitation of The Reference, which is film, and we should never try to kid ourselves otherwise.


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[Edited last by RobertR on August 12, 2001 at 12:39 AM]

#2 of 147 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted August 11 2001 - 06:10 PM

And, the one thing that will never come to pass in a home theater set up (except in the case of projectors, and maybe not even then) is the placement of a speaker directly behind the screen itself, firing through the thin fabric. Our "speaker on top of the tv" (or below it) just doesn't really cut it.
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#3 of 147 OFFLINE   RAF

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Posted August 11 2001 - 06:20 PM

Granted, when a film is done "right" as you stated, there is no substitute for the real (reel?) thing. However, these pristine presentations are so far and few between that my HT has become my main viewing venue of choice. The bad theater experiences greatly outweigh the good ones.

And as far as speaker placement is concerned, while some people use micro-perforated screens (I don't) to achieve "behind the screen" sound I personally use a speaker arrangement for my F/C/R speakers that directs the sound to the viewers so that it is impossible to tell that the sound isn't coming from behind the screen. With a little effort and three identical speakers for the front sound stage you can produce theatrical sound at home.

My 2 cents.

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#4 of 147 OFFLINE   Walter Kittel

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Posted August 11 2001 - 06:47 PM

I know that when I go to the theater, I love being able to...

- Ask the projectionist to back the film up because I want to study a sequence in the film, or
- Stop the film for a moment so that I can take a pee break, or
- Have them turn on the commentary track so that I can better understand the filmmaker's intent, or
- Play Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast at the local cineplex on a Wednesday evening, and so on...

Pardon the flippancy of this post, but obviously HT presentations cannot begin to even touch film when it comes to resolution and image reproduction; but HT also has many advantages over the theatrical experience ( without even getting into most of the usual complaints about poor filmgoing experiences. )

- Walter.




[Edited last by Walter Kittel on August 12, 2001 at 01:48 AM]
Fidelity to the source should always be the goal for Blu-ray releases.

#5 of 147 OFFLINE   Alex Yang

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Posted August 12 2001 - 01:19 AM

Robert,

No one questions the resolution of Film vs. Video, but given the quality of DVD and Digital Audio and that 99.9% don't have access to the "special" treatment you got, home theater is a GREAT alternative.

Loving home theater doesn't equate to better resolution as compared to film BUT in some SERIOUS cases it does mean a "REPLACEMENT", for me personally the LAST time I set foot in a theater was in 1998, to see the Mummy...

I sir, fit into the category by virtue of where I live (NYC), of having theaters where people are constantly trying to have conversations with the actors on the screen, sticky floors, people talking on cell phone, poor picture quality, high prices of tickets & concession stands, EVERYTHING Walter Kittel stated!!!!! etc...

So unless ALL the future screenings are going to be in PRISTINE show cases like what you've been presented, I for one have sworn off going to MOVIE theaters!! So you are correct, there are some of us who have replaced FILM with HOME Theater but it is NOT because of Film resolution.

I am a movie fanatic and I can ASSURE you with AUTHORITY sir, that if given the opportunity to view ALL future screenings evertime in your "special/unique" settings, MAKE mine my OWN personal home theater...

nuff said...

-Alex

#6 of 147 OFFLINE   Sam Davatchi

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Posted August 12 2001 - 02:37 AM

quote:
Home theater "as good as" film? No way! [/quote]

Of course not! It’s better!

If you ask people here, for whatever reason they go less and less to theaters and prefer to watch DVDs in their quiet home. I know it’s true for me.


[Edited last by Sam Davatchi on August 12, 2001 at 09:40 AM]

#7 of 147 OFFLINE   gregstaten

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Posted August 12 2001 - 03:04 AM

I've been paying attention to quality of presentation for years and have attended SMPTE conferences on both film presentation, digital presentation, digital "acquisition"* for many years (I'm an editor). The best looking film print and presentation easily beats the best Christie digital projectors out there. And, naturally, it beats DVD, even through an HTPC.

(*BTW - most cinematographers I've spoken with HATE the term "acquisition" - they believe it infers that the event/scene just happens and the camera happens to just see it.)

BUT - the best presentation of a high quality print is sadly, not what I usually see and not what I'd wager 95% or more of typical film viewers see. For example, when we went to go see PLANET OF THE APES two weekends ago (opening weekend), the lamphouse focus was noticably out. As a result, there was a very distracting halation in the lower center of the screen. Naturally, when I spoke to the manager about it he claimed that "no one else has ever complained about it and was not even interested in looking at it.

I still go to the movies, but at least a third of the time, something isn't dead on right -- the focus is uneven or slightly off, the gate wasn't cleaned, the sound didn't switch to digital or is switching in and out, the frame isn't racked properly, etc. And this is for hollywood films. The presentation of independent/art films is usually much worse.

Frankly, outside of key theaters in LA and NY, theatrical presentation is inconsistent at best. If I lived in LA and could go to Westwood or the DGA for every screening, I'd be a lot happier.

At home I'm in control of quality. Once I get my dedicated room built (with HTPC and 10' microperf screen), I suspect I'll go to movies far less often.

-greg




#8 of 147 OFFLINE   Tom J. Davis

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Posted August 12 2001 - 03:44 AM

If you lived in Seymour, IN your opinion would certainly be different. If I had your setup at home I wouldn't know what the inside of a theater looked like. I have to drive at least 30 miles to get to a decent theater and the last time I did that was for Planet of the Apes. Three minutes into the movie the DD track went out and 2-channel came on. Pro-logic for me. The picture was also tilted and skewed, real nice for a theater that is only a year old.

I would never argue that dvd could touch film when done properly. In my area though dvd blows it away.



#9 of 147 OFFLINE   Anton Ruzic

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Posted August 12 2001 - 04:05 AM

The last time that I entered a cinema was in 1997 to view "Gattaca". During the, uh, romantic interlude between Hawke and Thurman, one of the charming children in the audience shrieked - rather loudly - "Lookit dat momma! He be f****** dat skank bitch in de a**!!!". Needless to say I walked out of the cinema and never looked back. Several tens of thousands of dollars later I have a very nice HT setup, and the fact that I am forced to drive a decade old car and (almost) hang out at soup kitchens is a very small price to pay for the solitude required to appreciate a film properly.

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#10 of 147 OFFLINE   Scooter

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Posted August 12 2001 - 04:11 AM

It is a trade off..mostly regards image quality for me. My 400Q produces a DAMN impressive picture..and what I have seen of HDTV and a progressive scan DVD blew me away. I can't wait to demo the Super Bits DVDs. That being said:

I have come to hate the theaters. In my setup..I get consistant presentation...my sound system blows even the most recent theaters in my area away! Plus..I have the bass shakers for added "Oomph"! I choose who I sit next to..and know they won't pick their nose..have their minor children watching "Quills" while crying or throwing a tantrum...are quiet while the movie is running...and practice modern hygene!

There was a post on this board a while ago about a hydralic system tied to a DVD Rom that would synch with a movie to lift and shake the seats or seating platform in your home. What theater does THAT!!!!

I LONG for the day when true HDTV is available in my home...and I can get a near to film quality in The ScootPlex2000 as possible. In the meantime..the trade off is more than worth it to me.

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[Edited last by Scooter on August 12, 2001 at 11:13 AM]

#11 of 147 OFFLINE   Tom Ryan

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Posted August 12 2001 - 05:41 AM

I guess nobody knows about this anymore, but when it comes to film there is such a thing as "flow". A film is an experience, and when you see it (at least at first), it's not something to be dissected, paused, backed up, yelled at, etc. You sit, you watch, you leave. That's it. As for all the distractions that the majority of people around here whine about, I just don't see it. At most I've experienced minor annoyances at a theater, notably at a recent screening of Rush Hour 2 where a certain young man kept yelling in ecstasy every time Zhang Ziyi appeared on the screen. But there's a thing called coping, and patience. The film experience will always beat home theater, hands down.

-Tom

#12 of 147 OFFLINE   Jeff(R)

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Posted August 12 2001 - 06:08 AM

IMHO, seeing a film in a theater not only offers an unequaled immersive experience, due to the size of the screen, but also, many times the collectively shared emotional and visual experience that occurs when you are with so many other people can be an exciting component and can't be equaled at home. (I know others will disagree, but being around other people isn't always disturbing or distracting.)

Jeff



#13 of 147 OFFLINE   Barry_B_B

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Posted August 12 2001 - 07:18 AM

My last two ventures to a theater made me appreciate my home setup so much more. Took my son to see Final Fantasy at a place that boasted on their "THX Dolby Digital" sound system. Once the film started, the sound WAS awesome. After a few minutes, they had the film focused. We were just starting to get into the movie when the stereotypical group of teens (don't they always sit next to you) showed up and proceeded to let everyone know how THEY would act in this animated film, right up to the end. Can't wait for the DVD so I can actually see this movie.

Next went to see The Score at a "club cinema"; higher admission ($12.50 each) brings you smaller setting (70 seats)THX certified sound, over 21 years of age only Posted Image plush leather seating along with enhanced snacks and adult refreshment if desired. It was clean and comfortable, but the sound just wasn't what I was expecting, especially bass. Maybe it was just the movie. The seats were ok to me at 6'1" but my 5'2" girlfriend found them uncomfortable. At movie's end neither one of us were completely satisfied with the experience.

My girlfriend still prefers theaters, but its rare for me to go to a first run opening. I like being able to adjust sound and picture, serve real food and good(real)buttered popcorn, and everything else others have posted on the advantages of the home theater.

#14 of 147 OFFLINE   HalS

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Posted August 12 2001 - 07:19 AM

quote:
I guess nobody knows about this anymore, but when it comes to film there is such a thing as "flow". A film is an experience, and when you see it (at least at first), it's not something to be dissected, paused, backed up, yelled at, etc. [/quote]

I completely agree.

quote:
IMHO, seeing a film in a theater not only offers an unequaled immersive experience, due to the size of the screen, but also, many times the collectively shared emotional and visual experience that occurs when you are with so many other people can be an exciting component and can't be equaled at home. (I know others will disagree, but being around other people isn't always disturbing or distracting.)[/quote]

Again, I totally agree. There is no doubt that larger audiences sharing the film collectively equals a better experience. That has been proven to be especially true for comedy. Sometimes I read the posts here and wonder whether many of the people are not more fans of technology than the art of film (not that there would be anything wrong with that).

Now I can understand the viewpoints of people who live outside a major city because in my travels I have seen films and been horrified by the average theater. And yes, I'm very fortunate in LA to see films in the top theaters in the country. But as much as I like home theater, there is no comparison to the experience you have at home to going to a even a decent theater and experiencing the film.

[Edited last by HalS on August 12, 2001 at 02:20 PM]

#15 of 147 OFFLINE   LARUE

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Posted August 12 2001 - 07:50 AM

There's also a thing called "Bleed-through" from the next screen in the multiplex, and the "Ass with a Cellphone" thing.

My "thing" is to watch at home where I control the flow, always have the prime seat, and the sound beats any theater out there.

You can get a better image off film, but the heat and noise generated by the 35mm projector will drive you from your living room.

LARUE ;^>

#16 of 147 OFFLINE   Scooter

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Posted August 12 2001 - 07:56 AM

To say that being in audience is the best way to enjoy a movie is like saying the only way to enjoy a book is to read in a library or the middle of Barnes and Noble on a busy day.

I enjoy the story..the vision...the sound...get emmersed in the film..not the crowd. Tons of people are great for parades and pep rallies. For enjoying a story...a movie....my HT is better.

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#17 of 147 OFFLINE   DarrenA

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Posted August 12 2001 - 08:12 AM

Well this thread has turned into the difference in the environment between a commercial theater and home theater. With that said, your going to be hard pressed to find "die-hard" HT fans having to many nice things to say about the commercial theaters.

I actually agree with the original post. Pristine film transfers ran by experienced projectionists, along with properly calibrated sound is virtually unmatched in the HT realm. However, what has been countlessly pointed out here is that very few are privee to such commercial theaters. Therefore, most of us are subject to local mulitplex cinemas that fair far worse in the A/V department(poor prints, poorly calibrated surround, etc.) when compared against our finely tuned HT rooms. Posted Image

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#18 of 147 OFFLINE   Tom J. Davis

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Posted August 12 2001 - 08:22 AM

Exactly. I have never understood the need to enjoy a movie with large groups of other people. I much prefer the solitude of my home theater. Or on occasion the select few people who watch movies with me. Which just happens to be the only people I care to be around on a daily basis. Posted Image

Just this morning my wife, four year old son and myself sat down to enjoy Empire Strikes Back. We curled up on the couch and didn't move for over two hours. At which theater could I duplicate that??



#19 of 147 OFFLINE   HalS

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Posted August 12 2001 - 08:25 AM

Quote:
To say that being in audience is the best way to enjoy a movie is like saying the only way to enjoy a book is to read in a library or the middle of Barnes and Noble on a busy day.

Quite frankly, that comparison is way off the mark. Viewing a film is something that benefits from the energy of a crowd. It's not comparable to reading a book, however it is comparable to seeing a live music performance or a comedian. You'd never sit in your house alone and watch a comedian and think you got the same thing out of it that you would have had you been in a packed club that was filled with raucous laughter.

I mean, what next, claims that concerts experienced on your home theater system rival seeing a show live?

Quote:
I enjoy the story..the vision...the sound...get emmersed in the film..not the crowd. Tons of people are great for parades and pep rallies. For enjoying a story...a movie....my HT is better.

Well, then you are not experiencing the film as the artist intended. Because if you speak to any filmmaker, they will all tell you that the experience with a crowd is better. One of the fears that artists have about home theater is that people will lose the collective experience, which is a key component of enjoying a film.

Seeing a film like Star Wars at home is not even remotely comparable to seeing it in a juiced up theater.

#20 of 147 OFFLINE   Craig Crane

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Posted August 12 2001 - 08:29 AM

Granted, I agree with the thread title. However, A good HTPC projector set up comes pretty dam close.

Now, I Have seen Shrek twice. Once at UIP HQ in London. It was their press screening. They have a great veiwing room. This was almost for sure a top notch print. I loved it. The detail was great! Then, I took my daughter to see it at the UCI Multiplex. OH MY GOD! What had they done. It was dark, out of focus, no detail, no depth and dirty. I know that my DVD copy of SHREK (when released) will mirror the 1st screening at UIP.

I very rarely go to the theaters these days. I have a 2hr comute to work each way. I have 2 kids, and not enough hours in the day. If I do go to see a movie, it has to be an event movie. One that I have been waiting for. As it happens, there are usually about 4 movies a year that I actually wait for. Next year, maybe 6. Anyway, most of the other films I see are blind purchases on DVD. Naturally, they are well advised purchases. I am happy that this is how I watch my movies. At home, in private, in my own time, with a great image and great sound. I know that I miss out on the "shared-collective-experience", but am i really missing out on that much? The chatting, seat kicking, late arriving, kids screaming, lamp fading, family translating, couple shagging, baby crying, twist spoiling, butler did it ending, red side light, ambient light spill, speaker buzzing, pop corn dropping, flat coke spilling, damp seat sitting fun of it all?


Nah!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Film may be better, but I enjoy my theater more.

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