AFI Silver Theatre

8633 Colesville Road,
Silver Spring, MD 20910

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sguttag on October 15, 2014 at 10:15 pm

HDCAM is an HD format…1080i. There is also HDCAM-SR, which tops out at 1080p and 4:4:4 color space though it is almost always 4:2:2. It is nothing to worry about image or sound wise. That is the format most movies are formatted in all of the way up until release.

JodarMovieFan on October 15, 2014 at 8:36 pm

HDCam being cassette?? Nooooo. That would be a travesty. I shudder at the thought of how that would look widescreen in either #2 or the Historic Auditorium.

I think the DE of TMP was made specifically with standard DVD in mind, which is what.. 480 dp? So when BluRay came out, they couldn’t release the DE of TMP because the supplemental effects would need to be rendered for the higher standard. The AFI schedule did indicate a lot of showings compared to other Wise films. I’m hoping they present it the way I remember it, complete with curtains, light dims and the overture. :)

Giles on October 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm

‘Sound of Music’ has been confirmed to be the 4K DCP

Giles on October 15, 2014 at 1:39 pm

‘West Side Story’ – a 70mm print? – oh I’ll be there!

HDCam looks like a Betamax/VHS cassette – I’m not sure why it’s encoded, delivered, presented as such since I thought it can only feature a movie no longer than 124 minutes in length (‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ is 132 minutes)

JodarMovieFan on October 12, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Howard, I think I’m going to see the film locally at one of the Smithsonian IMAX theaters. I’m looking forward to it. If the movie is still booked through the holidays, maybe I can convince my friend to drive up with me to the Ziegfeld.

Looking at the AFI’s calendar, it seems they are booking ‘West Side Story’ in 70mm, afterall. The last time I saw it here in 70mm was underwhelming. One of the posters on the Ziegfeld page claimed he heard snaps and whistling from all over the theater, (was it) before the credits, in its original 70mm release. I didn’t experience that though I did sit way in the back in the lounge seats.

Now, if they can find one of the newer 70mm prints for ‘Sound of Music,’ this would be a retrospective even the late Robert Wise would love to attend.

It also appears they’ve changed the version of Robert Wise’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ as they are showing the director’s cut in some format called HDCam. What the heck is that? Sounds like video taken with a HD camera??? As far as I know, they never printed a film from the director’s cut even though Wise had supposedly wanted a re-release ala the ‘Star Wars’ special editions. Judging by the DVD version, its good they didn’t. I really hate the way they dumbed some of the original audio elements that, imho, took away some of the original dramatic edge. It plays okay for tv. Wouldn’t it be cool to have all 3 versions; original film (if there’s a good print), Blu-Ray (as originally planned) and the director’s cut. :)

It would be nice to have a Robert Wise pre-movie featurette before each Wise film. Or, at least have an AFI employee or intern introduce each one. With iMovie, youtube and the AFI archives, they could easily put something together… :)

HowardBHaas on October 6, 2014 at 4:36 am

JodarMovieFan, I saw Gone Girl yesterday at the Ziegfeld. For several years, I haven’t seen the curtain used. The surround sound is incredible. It is a quicker trip from Philly than DC, but if you want to see Interstellar in regular 70mm, your other choice might be to wait to see it if is in a 70mm classic series or showing at the AFI. I doubt the Regal Majestic wants it next door at the same time.

sguttag on October 4, 2014 at 5:25 am

Regarding Star Trek II at the MacArthur…I have a more lengthy response but since that is about the MacArthur, I decided to post it on THAT page instead…if interested, please go there.

JodarMovieFan on October 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

Hmm. I haven’t been to the Ziegfeld in almost 8 yrs, but I’d love to see 70mm there. Unfortunately, I’m reading their curtain isn’t used. I wasn’t so enthused about The Master when it came out. Looking back, it was just a nicely filmed movie with first rate acting that

With regard to Regal, they’ve got their IMAX-lite, AFI has real 70mm, they (Regal) shouldn’t feel threatened or try to prevent the AFI from getting it.

Giles on October 2, 2014 at 10:42 pm

The tweet/response I got from the Silver in regards to the booking of the 70mm print of “Interstellar” was that they are looking into it. I’m sure the too close to the Regal Majestic and their IMAX digital screen might be problematic.

HowardBHaas on October 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

JodarMovieFan, so far AFI hasn’t booked it. DC has 70mm Imax but if you want to see it in regular 70mm, go to NYC to the Ziegfeld (where I saw The Master). I didn’t know the Senator no longer has 70mm.

JodarMovieFan on October 2, 2014 at 6:36 pm

With Chris Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ getting a 70mm initial release before it goes wide, I’m wondering if the AFI will book it! It should since its the only venue that can play 70mm now. I am told the Senator quietly got rid of their 70mm projectors during the remodel. What a waste!

I saw the preview recently and was quite impressed with the visuals. Nolan knows what do with his 65mm camera and the visuals, at least the space ones should look really decent in the original format as opposed to blow ups and/or digital manipulation.

JodarMovieFan on October 2, 2014 at 6:31 pm

As a Trek purist, first, then cinephile second with a stickler for good showmanship, I do remember distinct sound fx in the original theatrical releases of the Trek films, so when it comes to the movie’s soundtrack, I can pretty much tell you, which film, had this particular sound effect and how it was experienced in its original release.

However, the original post was meant to express general disappointment over 70mm anything, with regard to Wise’s films, especially with ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘West Side Story’, both of which have decent 70mm prints out there, the former having been shown just a year or two ago!

With regard to the BluRay of TMP, at least it better preserves the original theatrical release of the movie (with its flaws), which I believe is superior to the director’s edition, in that they didn’t tamper with the better sound fx, that for unnecessary reasons, was replaced for either timing or revisionist reasons and toned down in the DE DVD.

Technically speaking, TMP, aside from the reboot films, was shot in 65mm with the fx shots, which are a lot. Even reduced to 35mm, you’ve still got first rate photo res as the original source was 65mm and its larger format. I remember being disappointed with Star Trek II’s 70mm resolution (blown up, of course), at the MacArthur, and the noticeable grain and subdued colors on its initial opening weekend. On the other hand, there were some cool sound fx and tricks afforded the 6-track format. One that stands out is when Kirk yells ‘KHAAAAN’, as Khan tells Kirk he’s marooned on Ceti Alpha V forever.. that resonates starting from the front of the theater, then to the middle and trails off to an echo in the rear. My favorite sound trick was prior to that, after the crew beams down (new transporter beam effect, loud and multi layered sound beams) where one of the Regula station crew drops a ‘screw’ that hits the floor and is distinctly heard right and rear of the theater. In my subsequent viewings of the movie, it made me chuckle to myself, to watch people turn their heads towards the sound as of something DID drop inside the theater.

Robert, you’re right, the 70mm Trek movie showings were at the Royal. On TrekMovie’s website, they had the guy, who runs it I think, hosting the TOS movies along with special guest stars. From what clips I saw of the Q&A, it could’ve been much better moderated with a proper panel discussion like they do real film retrospectives.

For TMP, they did show it somehow, I think it was 35mm and it may have been that awful print I saw in WV 5 years ago. At first, I didn’t think a 70mm print existed, but was told by the moderator that there were several but in very bad shape and the one decent print, was only ½ way presentable. I would’ve shown ½ in 35mm and the rest in 70mm, with intermission, but thats just me. :)

The guest they had for TMP’s showing was one of Kirk’s girl-of-the-week TOS' guest stars, who had nothing to do with the TMP movie. I forget her name, but I think she just recently passed away. I believe they got Nick Meyer, for Q&A, for Trek II. I would’ve gladly cashed in frequent flier miles for a ticket for that, but decided not to. Given your experience, in a way I’m glad I didn’t, but I would have liked to have met Nick Meyer and asked some pointed questions about the movie.

With TMP’s rushed release, there weren’t initial 70mm prints, but I have to believe they were in the process or making them because in either Starlog or Cinefantastique, they make mention of them coming later into the release and for the European release of the movie. Plus Susan Sackett’s ‘Making of’ book makes particular mention of work on the soundtrack for an eventual 70mm release.

This is an aside and off topic, but Trek’s 50th anniversary is in 2016. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a 70mm retrospective here? I wouldn’t mind seeing a pink print of Wrath of Khan as long as the soundtrack is preserved. The succeeding movies probably look better with age. DC never got VI in 70mm, the best they could get was the ‘Grand’ THX house at the now closed Union Station 9.

If I had Steve Allen’s (whatever that Microsoft guy’s name is) money, who owns the Cinerama and has made his own preservation prints, I’d make IMAX-lite versions of the TOS movies, preserve them for DCP. :) Heck, maybe even throw in D-Box versions.

Giles on October 2, 2014 at 3:41 pm

whoever did the mastering of Paramount’s classic ‘Chinatown’ – (I saw the DCP here at the Silver and my jaw was on the floor) should do the Star Trek films the justice they deserve. There is no reason why these films should NOT look and sound their best (that properly mastered DCP resolution/audio replication can deliver)

RobertAlex on October 2, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I few summers ago (2010 or 2011?) i went to the Star Trek 70mm festival at the Royal, in West Los Angeles before it got chopped up and was still one single screen. They showed the movies on Saturday nights at midnight for a few weeks in a row.

From what I recall, they could not even find a 35mm print of the original Star TreK, The Motion Picture. I think they started the festival with ST2: Wrath of Kahn, which was a horrible 70mm print that was faded and looked all green. It was still a blast, and the sound was fantastic.

Giles on October 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

a bluray presentation of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” – ewww, yuck. Have any of the Star Trek movies outside of the two latest versions been encoded on DCP? For such Paramount tent pole A-list sci-fi films, the transfers to bluray have been a mixed bag (i.e, pathetic)

as for Wise’s ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Sound of Music’ the AFI is still working out if said presentations will be 35mm prints or DCP’s – but the tweet I got from them, said that 70mm was a no-go [insert sad face]

JodarMovieFan on October 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm

After checking the AFI Silver’s website, they are finally having a Robert Wise film tribute. This is a long time coming. They should’ve done this years ago. I may actually make time for this one.

What is interesting to note is that his more popular films, ‘West Side Story’ and ‘Sound of Music’ are NOT in 70mm. BOO! And they have two measly showings of each film. TWO!

I’m especially glad to see they’ve booked the Wise’s ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture’ on the list! I have not seen the movie theatrically in 5 years and that was a horrible, horrible scratched up print that definitely was not cared for. Its too bad they couldn’t get a good archive 70mm print or a decent studio print they had for a 70mm Trek festival in Hollywood a few years ago. AFI is showing it on Blu Ray and its not the Wise revised director’s cut! Ho hum. Might as well see it at home. :P

The last movie I saw here on Blu Ray was the Superman II Donner cut, which I had seen on DVD at home, but here, theatrically, even in the Historic Auditorium, was a major disappointment. Little surrounds, very low sound levels.

As I’ve seen the movie many times during its original release as a child and since, it introduced me to the world of cinema showmanship, at its best, with curtains opening and closing, proper light dims and a real overture. While the movie has its detractors and criticisms, it was an event experience for me that is forever ingrained in my mind. I am hoping the AFI will show the film the way it should be shown..with the complete overture, the curtains opening and closing and the light dims at the right time! Even if its not in the Historic Auditorium, I’ll settle for #2, which has a similar size screen anyway. :) With the THX certs and the volume amped up, Blu Ray’s digital mix of the original soundtrack, theoretically, the experience should SURPASS my original memory of the first theatrical release back in ‘79, right? Okay, sans the 900 or so in the sold out crowds back then.

It would be nostalgic if they played the original trailers that are on the DVD. The teaser one has a 5.1 surround mix that plays nicely at home. On the big screen, it should be better.

sguttag on September 7, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I can’t speak to the Ziegfeld’s set up…but I can to the AFI/Silver’s (and MOST of the 70mm venues in the DC area during 70mm’s heyday. At some point, I probably tuned most of them…notably, the K-B Cinema, The Uptown and even Embassy and Avalon. the AFI/Silver’s sound system(s) are spot-on on levels, including surrounds.

In fact, few venues outside of a studio get the kind of attention the AFI gets. They have to run most every type of movie ever made in whatever format it was made.

Setting levels is not something done on popularity of having hot surrounds but by precise measurement to recreate, as accurately as possible, the environment that the movie was mixed. This is NOT something that a home release enjoys where the mix is deliberately altered from the theatrical mix to cater to wants of the home and the typically different listening environment.

Unfortunately, the subject of surround levels is further muddied by the fact that before digital audio, SOME cinema sound processors (Dolby CP55 and CP65, in particular), would raise the optical surround level by 3dB…allegedly to overcome the effects of the 2:4 decoder. This is a practice that was not used in prior processors (CP50, CP100, CP200) or latter processors (CP500, CP650).

Cinema surrounds has yet another complication that home video does not have to contend with…a legacy of a monaural surround. The surround level when all speakers are playing should have the SAME SPL level as any one of the stage speakers given the same input level. However, when cinema went to a stereo surround, it was essential that the same soundtrack play at equal level in a mono or stereo surround theatre. To accomplish this, the stereo surrounds are lowered by 3dB each such that when they acoustically sum, they once again play at the SAME level as either a mono surround system or any one of the stage speakers. When Surround EX came out in 1999…we AGAIN had to ensure that regardless of the theatre capability, the same track would play at the same level and Surround-EX decoders had to ensure that either stereo surround or EX movies would play properly at the same level. At the AFI you can go through any mode, mono surround, stereo surround, Surround-EX, Surround 7.1…given the same source level, the same SPL will be in the theatre and precisely balanced to the stage channels. Furthermore, when non-Cinema content is played (Broadcast or even consumer formats like BluRay), there are gain stages in the sound systems to ensure that they too will playback at the correct level since they didn’t ever have to content with the legacy of backwards compatibility with a mono surround system.

Now add into all of that exhibitors know that people like to hear the surrounds and would goose the levels (“If I paid for them, I want to hear them!”). It doesn’t make it right but it make make some happy. Whereas I often have to set up a theatre for a studio screening, the levels have to be exactly right.

The DCP of “Oklahoma!” was a 4K 30fps version. It was within a Scope container. The image was good, the colors were very good. It was a FAR cry from a 70mm image though. It was more akin to a good 35mm image.


HowardBHaas on September 6, 2014 at 4:44 am

Yes, we’ve now met. Thanks again for taking the photo. Had seen a 70mm print of The Sound of Music in 1991 at the Uptown. My article at top right links to my article last year about 70mm festival at Seattle Cinerama. Saw magnificient newer, restored looking 70mm print of The Sound of Music there.

Giles on September 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

in regards to “Oklahoma!” – which I wasn’t able to see, it doesn’t make sense that the restorers spent so much time on the image, but couldn’t encode the sound with the five front channel setup, when DCI compliant processors actually can encode/extract the left/center, right/center channels of sound.

The bluray is actually mixed to 7.1 sound (left, center, right, side-left surround, left center rear, right center rear, side right surround). Technically the AFI Silver which can playback 7.1 films on all it’s three sceens, this could have been a possibility, but ultimately that would have furthered the sound experience from the original theatrical mix (that SHOULD have been on the DCP). Interestingly the bluray is video encoded at 1080i to recreate the 30 frame per second Todd-AO ‘look’.

Giles on September 5, 2014 at 8:20 pm

this weblink actually denotes the change from the planned DCP to a 35mm ‘Sound of Music’ screening:

while I agree that the pink-red tinged print of the ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’ was disappointing, I thought the directional sound was the highlight, except when there was some odd ‘thumping’ in the surround channels (which I assume indicated that the audio tracks on the prints were slightly damaged in some way)

but overall I was very very impressed by ‘Ryan’s Daughter’ (both films I had not scene before)– notably the photography during the love making scene in the forest – it felt like maybe Terrence Malick was inspired by said scene.

Giles on September 5, 2014 at 8:11 pm

oh that was you Howard? I was the one that took that second picture of you in front of the doors…

from what I remember of ‘The Sound of Music’ last year was that it was supposed to debut the new DCP system in the main auditorium, but when the system had been delayed, the AFI had to do a change over to a 35mm print.

JodarMovieFan on September 4, 2014 at 7:33 am

Great article, Howard. ^5.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been to the movies this year as often as I would have liked, the AFI’s 70mm festival included. I’ve just been too busy with work and other things. Your review of the 70mm Ryans Daughter notwithstanding and with my previous lackluster experience of 70mm at the Silver, I wasn’t too enthused to make the trip to see anything here.

My enjoyment experiencing 70mm lies, in large part, to the sound. If the sound isn’t engulfing when its supposed to, the immersive experience is not attained. I’m not tech enough to explain the differences. I remember a Ziegfeld theater posting about ‘West Side Story’ in 70mm and the opening whistling sequence heard around the theater. When they showed it here, just about all the sounds seemed to come up front. Thats just an example of those sounds that make a film come ‘alive.’

HowardBHaas on September 4, 2014 at 5:47 am

I wrote up this year’s 70mm film series here. There’s links & names of the prior festivals’s movies, too

HowardBHaas on August 22, 2014 at 5:07 am

I had intended on going this past Sunday to see silent 35mm The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and 70 mm The Agony and the Ecstasy. I had read that prints shown in prior years elsewhere in the world of the 70mm print were excellent. Did anybody see it this past weekend? How was the print?

JodarMovieFan on July 13, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Howard, looking at in70mm’s website, NY and Chicago had/have 70mm festivals with titles that AFI can’t seem to get at all. One would think with AFI’s hook into the film community, they’d be able to get them. On the other hand, the local AFI has had some interesting premiers and directors for film discussions recently.

The site seems to be getting better, the email notifications are workinf for me, for the first time in years.

On the other hand, I believe they’ve been pruning site comments as I have seen mine disappear. This majorly sucks. Now, some of my memories of certain films are gone forever.