A New Kind Of Film Soundtrack Manufacturing Process Saves Water!

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Peter Kline, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. Peter Kline

    Peter Kline Cinematographer

    Feb 9, 1999
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    Woody Allen Goes Green

    LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) -- Woody Allen once joked that he is "at two with nature," but when his latest film opens in September, the prolific filmmaker will find himself communing a little more closely with Mother Earth.

    That's because the next entry in Allen's celluloid canon -- "Anything Else," starring Stockard Channing, Glenn Close, Jimmy Fallon and Jason Biggs -- will be the first film released with what is known as a pure-dye cyan analog soundtrack.

    Cyan soundtracks eliminate the use of caustic chemicals used in traditional soundtracks by skipping the silver application process in the print manufacturing phase, which enables a significant reduction in the amount of water needed to produce the soundtrack. If all U.S. film release print manufacturing converted to cyan tracks, the savings would be equivalent to the drinking water needs of a town of 75,000 people for a year, according to the theatrical audio gurus at Dolby Laboratories who are behind the new print process.

    The introduction of cyan dye analog soundtrack has been under discussion for nearly a decade but has had trouble finding a champion among Hollywood's major studios. That is until the environmentally conscious executives at DreamWorks SKG, where Allen is wrapping up his four-picture distribution deal, decided to take up the cause.

    DreamWorks distribution chief Jim Tharp and operations head Mark Christiansen cited three reasons why the studio decided to embrace the new lab process on Allen's latest picture.

    "It's much more environmentally clean; the film has much better overall quality due to a decrease in chemical splash; and 'Anything Else' is not set for an ultrawide run, which makes the conversion process more manageable," Christiansen said.

    Indeed, the introduction of new or innovative elements in a film print adds an element of risk to the already-arduous task of keeping films unspooling without a hitch in America's multiplexes. Should a picture's audio cut out during a screening, movie fans are likely to become more than a little agitated.

    Case in point is a "Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of the Clones" digital cinema screening in New Jersey in May 2002. A prototype digital cinema projector broke down during a midnight screening and the police had to be called in to manage an angry crowd.

    While nowhere near as technically complex nor as problem-prone as early d-cinema screenings, cyan dye analog soundtracks will play only in those theaters that have installed red-light readers into their projectors.

    It is estimated that 85% of the projectors in the United States are now equipped with red-light readers, and the members of the National Association of Theatre Owners have agreed to equip all of their theaters with the device this year. But it is those theaters that have yet to convert that still remain a cause for alarm among Hollywood distribution execs.

    Ted Costas, Dolby's local cyan dye soundtrack evangelist in Hollywood, put it pretty simply. "The only theaters that have not equipped themselves with red-light readers, domestically, are those holdouts that have been waiting for a reason to switch, which we now have," he said.
  2. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

    May 17, 1999
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    I read about cyan dye soundtracks a couple of years ago and I'm glad to see that enough "red light readers" have been installed on projectors that they feel comfortable enough to start using it. I didn't know there was an environmental angle though, I always thought it was just a cost-saving measure.

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