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Digital Cinema is HERE and like it or not it’s soon to be at every theater near you. In fact numerous theaters currently receive their digital fature and trailer files via satellite including the Loews 42nd Street E-Walk on two screens locally. the Ziegfeld is not satellite equipped, but receives their digital “prints” on a hard drive which is loaded into the media servers. The files are compressed, encoded and encrypted. They are protected by “keys” which prevent any other specific equipment from playing back a pirated or duplicated file.
Theater owners have never been seriously thought by anyone to be required to pay for the conversion to digital. Sometime soon one or more studio backed financing plans will be in place to provide the funds. While people may not flock to DLP vs. 35mm, they will notice an increase in light output, more even light distribution from corner of image to corner of image and a rock steady picture without any degradation after multiple showings. Also, since the distribution cost will be significantly reduced vs. film, more theaters and markets will be able to show a wider variety of movies that otherwise would receive only limited distribution.
An earlier poster mentioned sound … with a pristine digital sound file, the quality of sound will only be limited to the quality of the sound processing and speaker equipment in an auditorium.
There are limitations with the current 1.3K resolution DLP projectors in use. These will however, soon be replaced with newer 2K DLP projectors allowing screens the size of the Ziegfeld’s to be completely filled and not cropped and still retain light, brilliance and clarity at least matching if not exceeding that of 35mm “analog” film. Furthermore Sony has in the works a 4K projection system.
Before “assuming” the world of cinema quality digital cinema is anything like internet based movie downloads, or even DVD like quality, consider the massive file sizes required for a cinema screen vs. a computer monitor or even a large screen HD television. DO not confuse “digital” home entertainment media with Digital Cinema.
One final thought for now … those “pre-show” advertisements and mini-commercials shown at many theaters around the country are being projected via small NON Cinema grade projectors. They are low on light output and in most cases not designed to project the distances they are now being used for. On top of that, the source material is grainy and usually poor in quality as it was designed for use on television and has too low a level of resolution to be projected any actual distance and size.
The circuits using this pre-show technology to show “movies” are doing a disservice to the public and diminishing the quality of the experience. I suspect that the poor box office they have to date realized from their experiments may curtail it’s use in the future, but that may be giving too much credit.