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My 1st Digital Presentation Theater Experience


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#1 of 7 OFFLINE   Scooter

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Posted June 30 2008 - 06:27 AM

This might actually get me back into theaters!

Saw Wall-E last night as a belated Father's Day treat courtesy of my sons Greg and Morgan. The only other flick I went to see this summer was Iron Man and it's been easily 4 or 5 years since I was last at the movies.

My main reason were the endless commercials that Clearview would run before getting to the trailers and main feature. I was pleasantly surprised to see only trailers before the flick. That, and the inconsistant quality of presentation versus the standard I could always expect from my HT.

But, MAN, when the Disney Castle logo appeared in the first preview the clarity of the image blew me away. I let out an involuntary "Wow!" Going back to Iron Man, the image was fuzzy, clicks at spliced reel changes and so-so sound. Mind you, this was in a theater built about 3 years ago! I walked out at the movie's conclusion swearing to stick with The ScootPlex 2000 for all future movie watching. After last night, I am reconsidering that position.

The audio was flawless, the image pristine! The detail I could see was unquestionably the absolute best presentation of a flick I have ever experienced. (Prior to last night my references for near perfection were the MGM screening room in Manhattan and The Ziefleld Theater's presentation of Apacalpyse Now back in 81.) Granted...everything about the movie's production and presentation remains in the digital domain, but still....

I could see some of what I think may be artifacts of the projector when the PIXAR lamp logo came on, but I will have to closely review my Cars BD to see if maybe the texture I noticed is indeed a background part of that logo. Even if it is from the projector, it's the only "unique" thing I could possibly attrbute to digital projection.

YEARS ago, both Jerry Lewis and Francis Ford Coppola predicted digital presentation of their films, via satellite delivery and a nationwide "common start time" for the feature presentation. Satellite certainly is a potential delivery medium for a movie, but so far, no national simultaneous starts for now. When I read their comments, I figured it would look like the closed circuit presentations of the early years of boxing matches and other special events presented in movie theaters. What I saw last night makes those offerings look like a 1940's B&W broadcast of I Love Lucy.

Now I know what I have been missing. Don't get me wrong...The ScootPlex 2000 is still my venue of choice. I get to pick who sits next to me, I can enjoy adult beverage and smoke, and when said beverage needs an exit via Bio-Break, I can pause the action. But now a MUST see flick can once again be a MUST see flick for me again...at the movies.

#2 of 7 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted June 30 2008 - 10:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scooter
I could see some of what I think may be artifacts of the projector when the PIXAR lamp logo came on, but I will have to closely review my Cars BD to see if maybe the texture I noticed is indeed a background part of that logo. Even if it is from the projector, it's the only "unique" thing I could possibly attrbute to digital projection.


I called them the "sparklies", which show up to my eyes when there's a bright spot/area on the screen for a digitally projected movie. It's the same as when you see a hot spot on a DLP micro-display at home, more sparklies. One of the reasons I decided against purchasing any rear-projected DLP TV sets. Most of the digitally projected movies I see look good, but do suffer from the sparklies, but I've learned to look past them. If you don't see them, I envy you. It's like once you see edge enhancement, you can't NOT see them everytime when they show up.
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#3 of 7 OFFLINE   Brian W. Ralston

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Posted June 30 2008 - 01:30 PM

I agree with you Scooter and also think that properly screened digital "prints" of films are an upgrade in the overall image quality at a movie theater. BUT...

I don't share the enthousiasm of the format and ultimately think that conversion to digital projection in movie theaters might actually hurt the movie industry to a point where it can not fully recover. This is purely a financial anaylsis from the industry folks I work with and has nothing to do with the creative aspects of film making and story telling.

Who benefits from digital projection the most? And who pays the price for it? Those are the important questions to consider.

Ultimately...the studio's financially benefit from Digital release prints by not having to create film negatives and release prints of their film and if a film can be digitally delivered to a movie theater and screened on an automated system...that is a HUGE financial cost the studios thus avoid have to incur. But, the cost of upgrading the equipment in theaters is EXTREMELY expensive and really only the largest most commercial theaters can afford it. Many can not. And what do they do to afford it? They raise ticket prices. Sometimes to an absurd level. A Friday night screening in digital project at the Arclight Theaters in Los Angeles (arguably the best screens in LA) cost $14 or more per ticket. No wonder a family can not easily go see a film any more. The only reason the theatrical releases of films seem to be making more money than ever is that theaters are raising the ticket prices. not because more people are going to the theaters. In fact, less are going. 10% of the money made on theatrical releases comes from the Los Angeles market. 10%.....one market. And who is in that 10%? The movie industry folks themselves. So 10% of the profits are coming from the people buying their own product. Kind of depressing.

Back to digital projection...

The digital projection install costs are greatly affecting the movie theater's bottom lines in a negative way. And...digital projection is not taking off in Europe. So...that has its own implications. Add to that the theater chains who went digital right out the gate 3 years ago who are now discovering that their theater equipment is now obsolete and they have to pay all over again to upgrade their systems once again to meet the new demands of 4k projection and the new digital movie package delivery requirements.

People are already going to the theaters less and less every year. Many for the reason you have alluded to and I have discussed. It is expensive. The quality is almost better at home. And the popcorn at home costs $1, not $6-8. And one can pause the movie when a bathroom break is needed. And there are no annoying pre-teens texting or talking during the film (unless they are your own pre-teens Posted Image )...and on and on.

Is Digital projection a great thing? Artistically? Yes, I believe so. Will it revive the theatrical movie going audience? No...not in my opinion and not in the opinion of many other industry folks. It is looking pretty bleak.
Sure there will always be some big budget franchise films made and released on the big screen. But in general...less feature films will get made every year. Less feature films will get the tens of millions of dollars needed to get theatrical releases (despite the lowered distribution costs of digital cinema)...and really, very few theatrical release movies will ever make any money. I think the actual statistic is like 99% of independent films never make any money theatrically. It is almost like the theatrical release anymore can only be afforded by the big studios and it is really a big publicity event to get a more successful DVD release in multiple territories/countries.

I am happy that you had a great experience in seeing WALL-E projected digitally...and am glad that you feel it may get you to go back to the theaters. But as a whole...there will probably not be enough people who feel the same way or even care about the quality enough to even notice a difference. And hence, not enough to revive the movie going audience as a whole. Not in a world where people prefer the convenience of compressed MP3s on iTunes to the high quality CDs or DVD-Audio/SA-CDs...and certainly not in a world where a fast internet connection and a few google searches can lead one to find any film for download anywhere and any time for free...and watching that horrible looking .avi file on a 19" LCD computer screen is just as entertaining.
Regards,
Brian W. Ralston

#4 of 7 OFFLINE   Don Solosan

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Posted June 30 2008 - 05:47 PM

Actually, I hear that attendance is going up because of the bad economy. Last weekend's box office was up 22% over the same weekend last year. Despite what you might think about watching movies at home, people still want to get out of the house.

This is from the weekend roundup over at IMDB:

"The box office is incredibly robust right now," Media by Numbers chief Paul Dergarabedian told today's (Monday) Los Angeles Times. "Historically, films do well when times are tough, when going to the movies is an inexpensive way to forget about your troubles. This is a perfect example of that."

#5 of 7 OFFLINE   Brian W. Ralston

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Posted June 30 2008 - 07:10 PM

Single weekends (and results of individual films) are not indicative of any trends. At least not the long term ones that have impact on how the industry and studios function. And looking at the box office numbers and comparing it to years past does not take into account that ticket prices are going up and up, which account for the increase in box office take. Attendance is not.

One has to look at the larger picture of all films made and distributed by the industry and when you do that, you see that the theater attendance has been going down every year for the last couple decades. In general...people are finding other alternatives for their 'out of home' entertainment and in regards to the film business...they are in growing numbers preferring to be entertained at home far more than at theaters.

Believe me when I say I would like to not see this trend be true. I work in the industry and want to see good theatrically released films be made more and more. There is still something in me that tends to think if a film is a good story and executed well in terms of the acting, filming, writing, editing, etc...audiences will come out and support it. But even that is not always the case. Times are changing...that is for sure.
Regards,
Brian W. Ralston

#6 of 7 OFFLINE   Scooter

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Posted July 01 2008 - 10:17 AM

This is neat site:

DCinemaToday Home Page

And I was suprised to find that 720 was once a minimum theater digital presentation standard. Now that minimum is 1080.

I am sure I was in a 4K theater.

#7 of 7 OFFLINE   Leo Kerr

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Posted July 01 2008 - 11:12 AM

Rumor has it that there are some... "sharing of costs" in the works, as Hollywood & Co suddenly realized that, yes, converting a theater to digital is expensive.

And maintaining a digital theater is expensive. At least with certain 4k projectors on the market today.

As for attendance, I don't think the money figures are a good comparison: I typically go to early showings (that are supposed to be cheaper,) and, especially comparing year-to-year, a slight change in ticket cost can cause some pretty severe distortion. Instead, does anyone count tickets sold? That might be more reasonable, but then I also think that week-end to week-end comparisons aren't real good, either. Maybe month-to-month, but it depends a great deal upon what is being released this week. Or next week.

After all, if a Harry Potter, a Star Trek, and a James Bond film were all released on the same weekend this year, there'd be a whole lot of tickets sold. And last year? Same weekend? The great new release was Baby Einstein IV?! Right, like anyone is gonna see that!

Leo