35mm era fades as theaters go digital

posted by Michael Zoldessy on August 16, 2012 at 4:50 am

The San Francisco Chronicle took inventory of the projection systems used in area theaters. With even neighborhood theaters being forced to convert to digital, they claim watching a 35mm film will soon be a rarity in their town.

Comments (10)

Jon Lidolt
Jon Lidolt on August 16, 2012 at 5:46 am

As someone who ran a repertory movie house for many years and knows full well the perils of running old, battered film prints, I applaud the switch to digital projection. I may no longer be in the business, but as a moviegoer I really enjoy watching a feature film that doesn’t have: changeover cues, stays in focus, isn’t plagued by dust and scratches, doesn’t jump out of frame, the image doesn’t bounce or weave, etc. What’s not to like?

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on August 16, 2012 at 8:50 am

Often, 35mm projection simply looks better, more impressive.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on August 16, 2012 at 9:47 am

Theatre projection is only as good as the equipment used and the talent trained to use it.

MPol
MPol on August 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Sure, film makes movies look much more 3-dimensional than digital projection/pictures often do, but, to be realistic, if a favorite independent, non-profit movie theatre must switch to digital projection in order to survive, so be it. I’m sure that plenty of the great, golden, oldie-but-keeper classic films will be in digital print, if they’re not already.

As a pretty frequent moviegoer who holds yearly memberships at both the Brattle and the Coolidge Corner Movie theatres, I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping that The Coolidge Corner Theatre and the Brattle Theatre will survive on the long run, even if they end up converting to digital projection in order to do so. Sure, it’s not the same as regular film, but it would be better than nothing at all, if push came to shove.

alps
alps on August 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

I have been spoiled by my blu ray, to the point I cannot stand projected film anymore. To me, digital is way superior to 35mm film. It took me a while to come around, I have been told that Moonside Kingdom is much better seen as projected film since it was shot in 16mm and blown up to 35mm. A few years ago, I went up to New York at the Film Forum, to see Bad Day at Black Rock, new 35mm print, all what was going through my mind was how better it would have looked in digital, in Philadelphia, my favorate indi theater, The Roxy, will truly suffer, since they are a three person operation. I hope Mr. Nearey doesn’t close.

moviebuff82
moviebuff82 on August 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

Some of the clearviews in NJ have 35mm projection with dolby surround sound. I went to see “The Watch” and only the preshow was digital 2k. The 35mm projection was decent for a nearly few weeks old movie, and there was the cigarette burns, but few splices and scratches as well as the cue to turn on the lights when credits roll. If Clearview needs to survive (and they are thanks to free movie tuesdays lol), they need to upgrade the remaining film houses to digital by next decade in order to compete against the big three theater chains in America, which have nearly all of their main screens digital 4k. AMC’s 4k projection is pretty good, and digital imax saves money and time for a movie to be shipped to the theater. Not only that, but digital imax allows more previews to be shown.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on August 19, 2012 at 3:35 pm

The last 2 comments don’t make sense to me. Films that are shot with 35mm cameras are superior to those shot with 16mm cameras. Blu ray is actually sort of equivalent to 16mm, but not as good as 35mm. I believe most films are sent out only in 2k, not 4k. Many previews are shown in all houses, so they don’t digital imax in order to present many trailers.

alps
alps on August 20, 2012 at 7:00 am

What I was saying was, Moonrise Kingdom, was filmed in 16mm, as a choice of the filmmaker Wes Anderson for it’s look. Did not say it was superior, he wanted to get what he felt was an early 1960’s look. Some critics say that you should see the picture (Moonrise Kingdom) projected as film, for the grain. At the theatre I attend, the preshow and ads are in 2k, the main feature is in 4k. I don’t get how 16mm is equal to blu ray. I have seen enough scratched, worn, washed out, 35mm prints now I am full digital.

HowardBHaas
HowardBHaas on August 20, 2012 at 8:08 am

Resolution. Blu Ray has the pixels equivalent to 16mm. To get 35mm, we need more than 2k though less than 4k. However, 35mm has a nicer “look” onscreen (if it is a good print, nicely projected). And, I’m speaking about the “film” the product, rather than the projection. Have you asked the theater projectionists, Alps about the projection? they are using either 2k projectors or 4k projectors, not both, and I doubt they are receiving 4k films.

alps
alps on August 20, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Thank you for explaining 16mm v blu ray. The theatre uses both. We agree to disagree on 35mm having a “nicer” look. I like the sharp, crisp, look of HD, the end.

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