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Film quality over time Vs Just wait for the DVD

Discussion in 'Movies' started by DanielKellmii, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. DanielKellmii

    DanielKellmii Supporting Actor

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    I am sure this has been discussed somewhere, but I just need to vent. A new movie theater has opened up very near my job. This will allow me the occasional privilage of taking a LONG lunch to see a flick. So, I went to see Narnia. There were 5 people in the audience, so I could sit wherever I wanted. At first, I was sitting halfway back in the middle. The picture quality looked pretty good. There was the occasional blob that showed up, but not too bad. Then, I moved about 15 feet closer. I wanted to be overwhelmed. The pic quality suffered a bit and I noticed a lot more dirt and stuff. At that point, I knew my home DVD player would look better. (55 inch Mitsu) I also know that the first few showings of a movie look perfect. So, about how many showings of a movie does it take for the pic quality to look worse than a DVD on a good TV?
     
  2. Mike Heenan

    Mike Heenan Second Unit

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    If they're a good theater, they can run a print for its entire run with no scratches, wear, etc. If they suck, and there's someone who doens't know what they're doing in the booth, then it probably wouldn't take more than a week or so for the print to look bad, maybe sooner
     
  3. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    Define "worse". A DVD has a resolution of 345,600 pixels (720x480). Film doesn't have pixels, though according to what I've read it's usually scanned at 8 megapixels or so (4k resolution), in order to fully capture the picture content. So regardless of the amount of dirt and scratches on a film print, you will never be able to comfortably sit as close to a DVD as to film.

    Digital artifacts (macroblocking, mosquito noise, EE, etc.) take me out of the picture far more than film imperfections.
     
  4. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    ...Which describes most of the theater chains in operation today. Unless it is a high profile theater like the Mann Chinese, chances are that the manager is the one who threads the film and presses "Start". It used to be that dedicated projectionists ran the booth, and did so exclusively. We would check focus periodically, and do sound checks from within the auditorium. Above all, we held the responsibility for overall presentation quality.

    Anymore, the management is "trained" how to thread the film, and shown where the "Start" button is, and that is the limit of their "training". God help them if there is a film break that needs splicing (a 30-second job) - they will probably need to call the nearest union repair guy to come and fix it. When I went to see "Star Trek: Generations" in the theater, the moron who built the film up from the individual reels neglected to check the head and foot of the second reel, and "accidentally" put it on backwards. This was discovered on opening night, during the first showing, to a packed house. It took the idiots 45 minutes to find someone who knew what they were doing to fix it...?!? An experienced projectionist, with a break-down table and a splicing machine could have done it in 10...

    Another incident was with "Top Gun" in 1986. At the sister theater to the one I worked at, the idiot manager threaded the film, started it, checked the focus (on the trailer core, not the feature), and went back to his office. He never checked on the film, because no-one complained. There was a bad splice between the "No Talking" trailer and the feature, introducing a longitudinal tear after the failsafe. The failsafe is a pair of hinged levers that rest on the film after it passes through the sound heads in a platter system. If the film breaks, both levers are tripped and the projector shuts down. In this case, only one lever was tripped, and the film continued. Since it was after both the projection lamp and sound head, nothing appeared wrong in the auditorium. However, in the booth, one half of the 35mm print was spooling onto the destination platter and the other half to the floor. Needless to say that the print was completely trashed (and it was not discovered until the manger went to thread the film for the next showing - I could'a bought a new car for what that print cost!).

    The most common form of print damage from repeat playing is scratches in the emulsion; and these come mainly from a dirty aperture plate. Film is notoriously prone to static, and hence collects dirt and dust readily. This can get caught in the aperture plate, scratching the film as it passes through. Ideally, the plate should be cleaned between each presentation, but this is beyond what most theater managers are shown how to do. So, someone who "knows what they are doing in the booth" is a growing rarity, unfortunately....
     
  5. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    what's more, very few theaters put in the very expensive bulbs that would make the film look just as good close up as it does from a normal viewing distance. and screen quality makes a big difference, and hardly any theatre out of a top ten market will get an early generation print. All of these affect how the quality of the print changes as you get closer to the screen.

    a print in a theater shouldn't be viewed from less than one screen height distance away, if the front row is four feet away from the screen, then yes, that and the next eight rows (at least!) will probably look like crap.

    Take a look at a 35mm negative of still film. turn it sideways (so it goes vertically up and down), now divide each negative in half. That is roughly the size of a single frame of 35mm film being projected to 20 feet high. And it will still look good from the distance of one screenheight away from the screen. projected DVD should ideally be viewed from 1.6 screenheights away.

    And I've seen 35mm film and DVD (academy ratio for both) projected onto a twenty foot high screen and covering the same area. if you get up close to the 35mm film, it still remains looking good until you're unreasonably close. The DVD, depending on the video quality, will look atrocious from three screen heights away or look almost exactly like film from about 1.5 screen heights away (that would be the Complete Goofy dvd actually), but it falls off very quickly as you get closer and closer, the resolution simply isn't there to hold up the image.

    But I can definitely understand why you find your HT to be better in your own instance, I'm saying it's not objectively better, but subjectively different from theater to theater based on a variety of different reasons, objectively a 35mm frame has vastly more information than a dvd image.

    Adam
     
  6. Alex-C

    Alex-C Screenwriter

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    Sort of related....

    Saw King Kong today. Previews come on...out of focus, noticably. I think, they will fix it. I can hear the idiots talking in the projection room. Doesnt bother me, it was just temp. Anyway, movie starts, still not focused. I am starting to get annoyed. Fix that damn thing !
    Just as I am about to get up, I see a dude down near the front get up and he emerges 2 mins later. So I go down to him and ask him quickly and quietly, did you just go and tell them its out of focus ?
    Yes.
    I said thank you, I was about to do the same. But the movie continues, and the right quarter of the screen is out of focus. Noticably. I mean it was plainly obvious. Then a guy in the row in front of me falls asleep and starts snoring loudly. someone wakes him up, then he repats, then wakes up, then snores again. some guys watch alarm goes off.
    I am too lazy or too interested to try and "get into" the movie to tell them about the unfocused quarter of the screen.

    After all this, I think, why dont I just leave, get my money back, wait for the DVD and enjoy it in my own house. I like a good movie on a large screen as much as the next guy, enough to endure the slime that distract me and others to a certain degree.

    Also, this theatre (which is the only one in town) has dimmed their movies many times before. I swear. why do I punish myself. why do I keep giving them my money ??
     
  7. DanielKellmii

    DanielKellmii Supporting Actor

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    Ricardo, by worse, I meant the dirt, hair, and other blobs on the screen. Other than that, the picture quality itself was excellent. The theater is only 2 weeks old, so the equipment and bulbs can't be that bad.
     
  8. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    Did I mention that the chain I worked for ran their bulbs at 2/3 brightness to extend their life? Also, I started as a projectionist when the theater was built (1986), but the projection equipment was ancient (circa 1960's)....

    Count me in a someone who would not lose any sleep if films came directly to DVD: The last film I went to was "Narnia", and to sumarize, it was out of focus all the way through, the sound was too soft (usually it's the other way around), and the picture was washed out somewhat because they don't turn the lighting completely off (just dimmed them - I'm told they cannot turn them completely off legally, but we used to...). All the resolution in the world won't do anything for a washed-out, soft focus, mis-framed picture. The theaters are gonna have to do a lot more than come up with some gimmic not yet available in the home before I will plunk down the price of a DVD for a single viewing, as opposed to owning the film, watching it at my leisure, and getting 10 times the presentation (IMHO) on an extremely modest HT....
     

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