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I agree with you on these points Richard. also, I don’t like the trend over recent years of filmmakers (an ironic term in this example) opting for video rather than originating on film. Of course we can appreciate that viewing, editing and production processess can take place more quickly via video, but as you say, this dispenses with the hardcopy that film provides.
I would like to see all production continue 35mm as the originating format. There seems to be no problem now in the transfer of film to video for editing, etc (no visible loss of resolution) but after the final cut is done, transfer all product intended for cinema release back to conventional film. This was done with wonderful effect in the French arthouse film ‘Amelie’, in which the beautiful and rich colour enhancements (particularly with flesh tones) were all done in the video domain.
The release print we screened of Amelie was superb in all respects of technical quality.
The other situation concerning exhibitors is the current explosion in popularity of home-cinema. In our country it is being blamed for an otherwise unexplained reduction in cinema admissions (coupled with increasing frequency of pirating and downloading of new product via the internet). I can only surmise that when consumers one day total up the cost of dvd’s they have collected, and consider the comparitive cost of seeing the same product on the giant screen (where it belongs), they may see sense and abandon the fad???
One would think that the level of technology employed in the SXRD and associated equipment by time of installation would be above the sorts of problems Mr Haine mentions. Most of those mentioned are more asociated with cheap dvd players or improperly recorded discs or use of inferior media. Having worked for a television network undergoing the transition from analog to digital, many of the problems mentioned could be traced to any number of electronic processors, mixers, distribution amplifiers, converters, recorders, players, stores, delay lines etc. In other words, an inordinately complex signal path – but that is the ‘norm’ for a broadcasting station.
The trick is that a digital cinema should be employing the LEAST complex signal path between player and projector – ensuring a lot less chances of malfunction getting to the screen.
Our cinema (along with glorious 35mm) plays dvd to a 5 x 3 m screen over a throw distance of 14m. Projector is a Sony VPL-VW-10HT, an ageing model but outputting an entirely acceptable picture for a paying audience – with this exception: we do not sell our first our two rows (18 seats) as the pixel makeup can be seen from them.
I do not agree with the ‘flat’ comment at all. I have viewed many different movies via this LCD projector, in some cases as a follow-on from a 35mm print. Apart from a drop in resolution (WXGA) the biggest difference from film is the lack of contrast – our electronic picture is simply not capable of the wide contrast ratio of film. Beyond that limitation, I have seen very acceptable pictures via the medium. One more proviso: the quality of the transfer of program material from its source to the dvd. This has been found to vary wildly, from visible aliasing to almost film-like quality.
Given the good results we generally are able to get with this relatively modest dvd and LCD projection equipment, I would imagine hi-resolution, high contrast Digital Cinema in years to come will be totally acceptable, provided a hi-res playback format is adopted i.e higher than dvd. The bonus points in digital projection must not be discounted either – the complete absence of speckling, scratches, wobbles and bad splices!
As a commercial exhibitor, I would fear only one thing from the installation of high-end video projection: the extremely high cost of lamp replacement – and this I think will be the limiting factor in the growth of the medium. Only the larger chains with high turnover will be in the market because of this, and could be reflected in higher admission costs. For the rest of us, the transition will take a lot longer.