| Q. I read the Credit Suisse/First Boston report on digital projection vs. Maxivision. Interesting, and certainly well researched. While some of the financial concepts just barely made it through my gray matter, I did notice something that seemed off. There is a mention of the average life of the hardware used in projection. While I have little doubt that the electronics used for digital projection would need to be replaced/upgraded/ supplanted every three years, I don't understand the number of seven years placed upon 35mm projection equipment. Many theaters have projectors with bodies which go back to the 1940s and 50s. Lamphouses and audio gear may be upgraded, not a huge investment, but those old 35mm projectors just keep chugging along with only reasonable servicing. |
Re the visual quality of digital: My son went to see "Star Wars: Episode 2--Attack of the Clones" at a film venue and reported that it looked "soft." At [the current digital standard] 1.8k, it can't look anything but soft. As long as 1.8 is all that folks desire out of the theatrical experience, it certainly works, especially when the use of 24fps digital allows for ultrafast post-production and multiple layers of digital efx. The only problem, as you've properly stated, is that the experience of cinema is gone.
I still haven't been able to create an acceptable film look using digital restoration in anything less than 4k--and that with emulsions from the 50s and 60s (Eastman 5248).
What the public doesn't seem to recognize and what the uneducated eye will not confirm unless the two are literally viewed side by side, is that current digital technology in the ultralow-res of 1.8k looks like just so much mush when compared to a 35mm frame.
Robert Harris, The Film Preserve
A As the ranking genius of film restoration, you should know. I treasure your restorations of film classics from "Lawrence of Arabia" to "Vertigo." What has happened, I think, is that executives who are only semi-literate in technical matters have been seduced by the magic word "digital" into embracing the idea of digital projection, and are too busy, lazy or unprepared to do the necessary homework. The Credit Suisse/First Boston report essentially said the digital emperor has no clothes, by pointing out digital's shortcomings in quality, maintenance and cost. The surprise was its endorsement of Maxivision, and its conclusion that Maxivision was a natural fit for Kodak.
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