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Why Movies Don't "Look Right" (Roger Ebert Explains)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by SWFF, May 26, 2011.

  1. SWFF

    SWFF Screenwriter

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    I have to admit the DVD representation of movies look ten times better than what I see on an actual theater screen these days, 3D not withstanding. I have never had ANY desire to partake in a 3D experience, and after reading this I will continue to feel that way. Sound off, if you like.


    The dying of the light
    By Roger Ebert on May 24, 2011 9:46 PM

    SUNTIMES.COM: Do you remember what a movie should look like? Do you notice when one doesn't look right? Do you feel the vague sense that something is missing? I do. I know in my bones how a movie should look. I have been trained by the best projection in the world, at film festivals and in expert screening rooms. When I see a film that looks wrong, I want to get up and complain to the manager and ask that the projectionist be informed. But these days the projectionist is tending a dozen digital projectors, and I will be told, "That's how it's supposed to look. It came that way from the studio."


     
  2. Jose Martinez

    Jose Martinez Screenwriter

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    excellent article!
     
  3. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    As much as I disagree with Ebert on his opinions about movies and other matters, I think he’s spot on here. I despise the industry’s fascination with 3D, and I believe it’s destructive to movie quality and making watching them more expensive. I appreciate the information he gives about what to watch for. For many years, I was of the opinion that watching a film in a movie theater was the best way to see it. I still think that, if it’s projected correctly. It seems, however, that the industry’s infatuation with 3D makes it less likely that will be the case. My desire to see movies at theaters is fading (my home theater has far better black levels and sound anyway), unless it’s one of the special showings at venues in and around Hollywood, where I know they do things right. For those of you who think 3D is the bees knees, enjoy yourselves. I’ll pass.
     
  4. SWFF

    SWFF Screenwriter

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    Nowadays when I go to the theater and see a movie I'm thinking I might wanna get some day on DVD, I use the theater experience as a testing ground to see if the movie is any good, knowing it's gonna look like shit, but if I end up loving it, also knowing, the DVD is gonna look SWEET! And, when I DO get the eventual DVD, that's when I relax and REALLY enjoy the flick. Something I should also being doing in the theater, but can't because of lack of education, complicated machinery, and, apparently, laziness on the part of the studios and the projectionists.
     
  5. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I don't think 3D is the "bees knees" but I think it has a lot to offer when properly implemented. The problem with 3D is that it's not always presented with the projection quality that any film of any type deserves, and laziness on the theater's part allows 3D equipment and filters to be used to degrade the 2D experience. I don't view this as being a problem with 3D - I view this as being a problem with theater management. Every film projected in a theater should be presented with the best quality that theater is capable of offering. I know and accept that not every theater will have the most state of the art projectors, that equipment will get old, that prints provided aren't perfect. But when theaters have it within their means to do a better job without spending any extra money (and essentially, that's what this article about keeping 3D filters on during 2D screenings is about), that to my mind is unacceptable. I don't expect absolute perfection each and every time - all I ask is that the best effort is made to make each showing as good as it can be. When theater managers choose to leave the 3D polarizer on out of what is either laziness (in that they don't care or don't notice the difference) or incompetence (that no one working in the theater knows how to take it off), that's a problem, and one I'd consider to be almost unforgivable. I personally don't think it's fair to blame the 3D medium in and of itself for this (it's not the fault of the people who invented the current technology that end-users are abusing it) -- but I think it is terrible that it seems to happen more and more these days.


    All it would take would be for each movie theater - not every screen, but every movie-house - to employ one person who's job it was to do QC work each and every day. One person. At $40,000 a year or something along those lines. That they don't, that's what I find inexcusable. Most multiplexes do not have a full-time projectionist on-staff, and digital projectors have allowed theater owners to believe (mistakenly, in my opinion) that it's not necessary to have one. It's a damn shame. I would have loved to have been a projectionist if that work was still available. I would love to be placed in charge of QC for a theater - it would be a dream job for me if one of the giant multiplexes in NYC that has 10 or 15 or 25 screens were to say to me, "hey, we're gonna pay you to walk around every hour of every day we're open, make sure that everything is right, and give you the keys to go into the booth to make whatever adjustments are needed." I don't need to get rich doing that job, but it would be something I'd gladly do. It's a shame that theaters don't value the technical presentation enough to keep someone on staff who's job is just that. I don't think it's fair to blame any particular technology for that; I think the blame is solely in the corner of the theater owners and managers who continue to look for new and innovative way to cut costs and cheapen the overall experience.
     
  6. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    The apparent fact is that the laziness of theaters, which seems to be a rampant given, means that the big push for 3D has the practical result of degrading the 2D experience. Yet another reason for me to despise 3D.
     
  7. zubidoo

    zubidoo Auditioning

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    You know, lately I've been noticing that films have actually been looking worse and worse in the theater but better at home. It got to the point where I just figured "well, maybe it's supposed to look that way because the image is blown up so much". Right now there are two major drawbacks for me going to the theater - 1. 95% of the movies coming out in major theaters suck anyway and 2. they don't really look great enough to justify not waiting for the blu-ray to come out. Theaters have such a great advantage of being able to awe audiences with a professional theater experience and yet they aren't doing that, it's really pretty sad and pathetic.
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Studio Mogul

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    I'm glad my local theaters are still up to par with their theatrical presentations of both 2D and 3D films.
     
  9. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    Excellent article and another reason why I don't go to theaters much. Next time I go, I will pay attention to the projection.


    On a side note, one of the best projectionist is named James Bond? How cool is that and yet at the same time, probably a pain.


    "Your name sir?"
    "Bond, James Bond".
    "Ha ha.. very funny".
    "No really...".
    "Sir, I don't have time for jokes..."
    "No.. serioulsly..."

    "SIr please..."

    'No really... I'm James Bond, DAMMIT!"

    "Call BellVue... we got a live one"
     
  10. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Note that not all theaters mark their digital screenings. At most local theaters here, digital is now the rule rather than the exception.
     
  11. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    When radio threatened cinemas, they (at this time, the studios owned the cinemas) responded by adding sound to films. It was years before TV arrived.


    When TV threatened the cinemas, they (the studios didn't own the theaters anymore, but they were still arm-in-arm because there was not yet a home video distribution channel that bypassed the theaters) responded by creating widescreen formats. It was years before big-screen TVs arrived.


    Now home theater threatens cinemas (which are much less integral to the studios than they used to be), and they respond by creating digital 3D.


    But digital 3D has barely caught on, and people can already have digital 3D in their home theaters.


    Is the Blu-Ray, surround-sound, 3D-capable home theater the threat that finally kills the movies as we know them?


    I think the theaters that are adding other value, like onsite childcare and dinner-theater-type sit-down meal and bar experiences are the ones with the right idea. Play up the social experience.
     
  12. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    Yeah, I've never known any theater around here to specifically mark their digital presentations. Most of the larger theaters are completely digital anyway.
     
  13. Todd Erwin

    Todd Erwin Producer
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    I think Roger Ebert needs to check his facts regarding this statement:



    The move by the studios to digital pre-dates the current 3D craze. The main push to digital is a cost-saving one, reducing the need for 35mm prints and the heavy freight costs associated with them. Currently, studios either ship their movies on hard drives or transmit them over an encrypted internet connection.


    Yes, 3D is considered a "premium," with surcharges ranging from $2-5, depending on the theater and 3D technology being used (RealD, Dolby 3D, etc). But not all theaters with digital projectors are capable of showing 3D. Most theaters in my area have dedicated less than 1/4 of their screens as 3D capable. And RealD requires a special screen, while Dolby 3D does not.
     
  14. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    Previously there was a push to go digital but I think Ebert's point is that push has become a requirement because of 3D. I don't believe the studios are releasing 3D film prints so the theater must have a digital projector for 3D and I'm sure the studios are also demanding that the theater show it in 3D first and may have 2D showings that must be fewer in number than the 3D showings. So no digital 3D projector, no blockbuster movie for you, at least not for the first run.
     
  15. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Sony sez "Nuh-uh!"

    http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/26/sony-stands-behind-its-digital-projectors-claims-the-only-thing/


    http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/mkt-digitalcinema/resource.solutions.bbsccms-assets-mkt-digicinema-solutions-SonyDigitalCinema4KTheFacts.shtml
     
  16. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Some of the Sony facts seem right - for instance, I thought the claim that it takes hours or special passwords to remove the 3D filter from the projector was bogus. That only makes theaters unwillingness to do so that much more unforgivable. As for the light output, 85% reduction seemed extreme, although 20% seems a little on the low end. I'm willing to bet it's much more noticeable because theaters often have the bulbs turned down too low to begin with.


    Basically what Sony has confirmed here is that it's sheer laziness that's keeping projection in theaters from being all that it can be. Which sounds about right to me.
     
  17. Joel Fontenot

    Joel Fontenot Supporting Actor

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    To quote the Sony Press Release article...


    "It takes less than 20 minutes for a trained technician to change the lens."


    And just how many projectionists in any of these cineplexes are "trained technicians"? I think that right there is a telling fact.


    Thank goodness the theater I frequent uses Christie DLP projectors. And I only go to the 2D versions.


    Even in the very dark scenes of "Half Blood Prince" and "Deathly Hallows Part 1", I could see every detail.
     
  18. SWFF

    SWFF Screenwriter

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    My local theater. as of late, is opting out on showing any 2D showings. I would have gone to see THOR and GREEN LANTERN, but they were only in 3D. And when I went to see SUPER 8, I ran into a problem that's all to frequent, any scene where there is a lot of light has a weird strobing effect. The night, and dark, scenes were fine, but if someone in the movie were to use a flashlight, the light source would strobe.
     
  19. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    That is interesting. In my local area south of Atlanta, 2D showings of a new movie now equal or exceed the 3D showings (quite a change from a month ago) and if the movie has been out more than 3 weeks, it is only 2D even if that means no 3D showings of any movie in the theater when they can support 3D in at least 4 theater rooms. I guess they would rather show a 2-week 2D-only movie on their bigger screens over a 3-week old 3D movie. So in my neck of the woods, the theaters seem to be responding to patrons' preferences.
     
  20. SWFF

    SWFF Screenwriter

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    With my theater, I suspec,t it's a money thing. They're not making enough on 2D showings, so, they'll just kill some of them and replace 'em with 3D only showings. Yet, KUNG FU PANDA got 2D as well. Don't know how they pick and choose which ones to only give the 3D showings, too. Would love to see TRANSFORMERS next week, but, well, we'll see what they do. The only other theater is at the mall, 30 minutes away, and those days are gone when I'd travel a half hour just to see a movie.
     

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