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Will HD optical players REPLACE film projections in cinemas?


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32 replies to this topic

#21 of 33 DaViD Boulet

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Posted May 04 2006 - 07:31 AM

I think that cinema will go digital. It will probably be 4K.

digital projection also allows for easier projection of 3-D with a single projection source (using shuttered LCD glasses).
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#22 of 33 Chad R

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Posted May 04 2006 - 08:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by YiFeng
large upfront investment but lower overall distribution for the cinema owners. and it's far more flexible. if attendees for mi3 are low (just an example) they can swap that out easily for a classic like lawrence of arabia, etc.

You really think that auidences will skip out on the latest blockbuster to watch a classic? You really overstimate the viewing habits of the American teenager (the largest chunk of movie audiences).

Theater owners will want to provide better than the home, not equal. Just like when TV started eroding away film audiences in the 50's, they started adding widescreen, 70mm, etc. to sweeten the deal over TV. So, they don't want to go with HD-DVD, they want to go with 4K and up to keep attendance up by being able to advertise they have better than home theater.

#23 of 33 Chris Dugger

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Posted May 08 2006 - 01:01 AM

I have to agree here with Chad.

The theatres owners see zero financial upside.

Projectors cost north of 100k per auditorium. Yearly maintence cost per projector is north of 2k per year.

Studios get the lions share of the box office which will never change.

This is why you haven't seen an aggressive roll out of DLP projectors.

As for the 2k vs 4k DLP.... On a normal screen, you would hard pressed to tell them apart.

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#24 of 33 TedD

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Posted May 08 2006 - 02:20 AM

Theaters don't pay the shipping charges, the studios do.

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#25 of 33 Nils Luehrmann

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Posted May 08 2006 - 03:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Dugger
The theatres owners see zero financial upside.
Apparently "zero" is not accurate as many exhibitors have been and continue to be purchasing digital projectors. There is a marketing advantage to having a digital projector as most of the general public is very curious about them and thus they cause a significant draw. Point of fact, many exhibitors are adding digital projectors to their line-up, and paying even more to advertise the fact. Just open a Sunday paper and you'll surely see some theater advertising that they have a digital projector.

While there is a good deal of contention between exhibitors and the studios as to who "should" purchase this new equipment. So far it has been the exhibitors who have been footing the largest share of these bills, so clearly theater owners do not see zero financial upside.

Quote:
Projectors cost north of 100k per auditorium.
Not anymore. Just like consumer digital projection, commercial digital projection has not only gotten significantly less expensive, but has also improved drastically over the years. As an example, arguably the best commercial digital projector is Sony's 4K LCoS SRX-R110/105 which lists for $95K, not North of $100K - and there are plenty of other commercial digital projectors that sell for much less. Panasonic has some superb models one that sells for under $30K.

Quote:
Yearly maintenance cost per projector is north of 2k per year.
Can you break that cost down? Regardless of that, the cost of properly maintaining a film projector is far more than that of a digital projector. It is because of this that many, perhaps most film projectors are not properly maintained and why they do not perform nearly as well as they could.

Quote:
This is why you haven't seen an aggressive roll out of DLP projectors.
There hasn't been an aggressive roll-out of commercial digital projectors for many reasons. Limited available equipment, few titles from the studios available for digital projection, and of course the initial costs, among others.

Quote:
As for the 2k vs 4k DLP.... On a normal screen, you would hard pressed to tell them apart.
Well you know you were not going to be able to make this broad statement without an explanation right? If the film was shot digitally in 2K, then most likely that statement will hold true - although it might help if you explained what a "normal screen" is to you.

However, the vast majority of films were and are still being shot on... well... film, which can capture far more detail than 2K digital cameras can. A 4K digital master made from film negatives will certainly be distinguishable when compared to a 2K digital master made from the same film negative.

If you can tell the difference between 35mm film and 70mm film, then you'll be able to tell the difference between 2K and 4K.

In addition to having a draw to their theaters, digital projectors are much more economical to operate and maintain, and unlike film, they can run a film a thousand times and it will look just as good as the first time. Film prints on the other hand are easily damaged and quickly start to degrade due to the mechanics and how they are handled.

I really enjoy the energy level of an opening night crowd, and yet I have never seen a film on opening night that had no film print artifacts. If you wait even one week to see a film, the average print will have gone through several screenings and will be riddled with these artifacts. Something digital film never has to suffer from.

So yes, there are many advantages to digital projection for all parties involved including studios, exhibitors, and consumers.

As I suspect you can tell from my signature I am still very much a “film” guy, but I am also not so caught up in the nostalgia of film to realize there is great potential in digital film and some of that potential is already being made available today.

#26 of 33 Leo Kerr

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Posted May 08 2006 - 05:34 AM

Quote:
As an example, arguably the best commercial digital projector is Sony's 4K LCoS SRX-R110/105 which lists for $95K, not North of $100K - and there are plenty of other commercial digital projectors that sell for much less. Panasonic has some superb models one that sells for under $30K.

Quote:
Quote:
Yearly maintenance cost per projector is north of 2k per year.

Can you break that cost down? Regardless of that, the cost of properly maintaining a film projector is far more than that of a digital projector. It is because of this that many, perhaps most film projectors are not properly maintained and why they do not perform nearly as well as they could.

That projector referenced above does not include the cost of a lens. Nor would I pay anything for the lenses Sony wants to sell with 'em. And actually, I've been disappointed by the registration of the three color imager panels in the close of a dozen different serial numbers of this projector. (Yes, I've seen quite a few of these units in a variety of situations.)

Moving on, if we say a projector runs for five showings/day, at 2 hours/showing, that means its lamp is on for 10 hours/day, 3652.5 hours/year. That's not including strikes and shut-downs per day, which isn't the best thing to actually do to a xenon lamp.

The 10k lumen projector, which I've heard evaluated to be not believably close to 10k lumens, requires both lamps to run to achieve that brightness. (Dual lamp unit.) The lamps are precision optical instruments, and even if they last 2000 hours (high), you're still looking at close to two lamp changes/year, meaning four lamps. Because the lamps are precision instruments, they're not cheap; I've heard that they list for $4000 each, and given my own experience with old Christie Roadie S12s, that's not unreasonable. Already, we're talking $16,000/year.

I've heard from a reliable source that the projector has other significant consumables. Reflectors that need to be replaced on a regular basis (~$1000/year). Image blocks every 10,000 hours or so ($16,000/ea, every 4 years, breaks out to $4000/year.) So, discounting the cost of electricity, one of these big guys (and they are big,) requires at least $21,000/year in maintenance.

I don't know what the conventional mechanical maintenance for a platter system and projector cost, but I do know about their lamps - ~$600/ea, 2000 hour lamp life. Call it $1500/year for booth consumables (lamps, tape, canned air, et cetera.)

The big DLP projectors are much cheaper to operate. The Christie 2k projector eats conventional theater arc lamps ($600/ea), and needs to have its optical path cleaned every year or so (ideal,) to every 3 years (minimum,) requiring, in essence, 4 hours of technician time.

And it's a unit that lists for, if I remember properly, $125,000, without lens. To be fair, it also wants a heck of a lot of power; 1 3-phase, 30amp/pole feed for the ballast/lamp chain, and 1 240v 20amp feed for the projector head and fans.

Don't let anyone get away with "digital projection is inexpensive." Not now, and probably not for quite a while.

#27 of 33 JediFonger

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Posted May 08 2006 - 07:54 AM

has anyone tried to buy a consumer/prosumer DLP for commercial applications? i'm talking smaller cinema-houses, not the hugeass multiplexes.

just get one 100-200" screen, with $1-3k DLP projectors, low maintence, play anything they like, etc. that'd be killer business =).

#28 of 33 Bill Buklis

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Posted May 08 2006 - 11:19 AM

Do the digital lamps have to be a lot brighter than the lamps for a film projector? I take it that film lamps are a lot cheaper, right? I wonder they can't be the same or at least fairly similar. The needs are lot similar - only what they shine through and project that's different.

If the lamps are that different then that's certainly one area where technology can really improve on to reduce costs.
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#29 of 33 Robert Harris

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Posted May 08 2006 - 02:30 PM

No.

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#30 of 33 Michel_Hafner

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Posted May 08 2006 - 11:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nils Luehrmann
Well you know you were not going to be able to make this broad statement without an explanation right? If the film was shot digitally in 2K, then most likely that statement will hold true - although it might help if you explained what a "normal screen" is to you.
However, the vast majority of films were and are still being shot on... well... film, which can capture far more detail than 2K digital cameras can. A 4K digital master made from film negatives will certainly be distinguishable when compared to a 2K digital master made from the same film negative.
If you can tell the difference between 35mm film and 70mm film, then you'll be able to tell the difference between 2K and 4K.
.
The difference between 35mm material from 2K versus 4K is nothing like 35mm versus 70mm. It's pretty small. The difference between 35mm from 2K/4K versus 70mm from 4K is big on the other hand. 4K comes alive with 70mm and 4K digital cameras. With 35mm the improvement is rather subtle.

#31 of 33 Chris Dugger

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Posted May 09 2006 - 12:41 AM

Ken,

Excellent breakdown of cost.... you are pretty close if not dead on.

Also let me add here for Nils.... The majority of DLP projectors in theatres today are apart of the Technicolor or AccessTi deals. Some exhibitors have stepped up and purchased, but again the cost makes it very prohibitive for them to bear the cost alone.

Theatres pay the shipping cost on film.... Studios do not.... I get a shipping bill from DHL or local film carrier every week... at all 16 of my theatre locations.

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#32 of 33 Leo Kerr

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Posted May 09 2006 - 02:37 AM

"Early" digital cinema projectors were built much like conventional digital projectors, where the lamp is all part of the tight, high precision structure. Hence, you end up with 135w mercury arc lamps that sell for, say, $50 at Home Depot (not actually - they don't have 'em that small,) that sells in the home projector market for $300.

Some more recent digital cinema projectors are going back to the idea of a seperate lamp-house "notion" - not exactly that implementation - but where the whole lamp "module" provides a refined light output for the projector head. Then you can slap in an off-the-shelf 2000w Osram XBO short arc lamp for, what, $600? Yes, the lamp build quality isn't as fabulous as a Perkin-Elmer Ceram-Lux arc lamp assembly, but that's taken care of by the light integrators, cold mirrors, and other things in the overall lamp "module."

Some of the digital projectors - mostly from Digital Systems (Now generally sold under the DigImax line) - literally mount their projector head onto a conventional 35mm lamp house.

Leo

#33 of 33 Peter Apruzzese

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Posted May 10 2006 - 03:19 AM

Quote:
large upfront investment but lower overall distribution for the cinema owners. and it's far more flexible. if attendees for mi3 are low (just an example) they can swap that out easily for a classic like lawrence of arabia, etc.

Studio contracts forbid that type of thing.

There is virtually zero incentive for a theatre to upgrade to digital projection at this time.

Chris is, of course, correct regarding shipping on film prints. I have to figure in significant shipping costs when budgeting my special events, the 3-D festival cost us over $1000 in shipping.
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