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Digital Screening, what they use today


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#1 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 05:29 AM

Hello,

maybe all this is old news to you, BUT, yesterday I saw for the first time a digital screening in a regular movie theater, before I saw digital screenings at festivals where I accepted it as a compromise. In a regular theater it felt strange to pay for digital screening.

It was "This Is England" at the Odeon Covent Garden in London. Knows anybody what they use: Format, Projector etc.? It was kind of funny, the adverts and trailers were film, when the movie started in video I was pretty shocked, after a while I got used to it, just the bright areas where blown out, and the borders had chromatic aberrations. There was still some grain to give a film-feel, but amazing low for S16, wonder how much they posted it away...

So I asked my self if this is the future, to pay the same price(specially annoying with london ticket-prices) for digital screening, while it looks worse and the distributers spend less money on the copies?

Or will future 4K machines look that much better than what they have today?

Any other experiences or comments on digital screening?

cheers, Bernhard
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 11:11 AM

Since they switched to 2K DLP projectors here in the U.S., I think the digital screenings look great, much better than the last generation of 1.2K projectors mostly just showing HD-D5 material.

I saw "Spider-Man 3" projected digitally and it looked like an answer print.

Contrast and black levels still aren't quite as good as film prints, but it's better than it was few years ago.

Having now done two D.I.'s that were projected at 2K on a big screen at the D.I. facility, in some ways, I think the 2K DLP version of the movie probably matches more how it looked to the DP while timing it.
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#3 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 07:24 PM

Since they switched to 2K DLP projectors here in the U.S., I think the digital screenings look great, much better than the last generation of 1.2K projectors mostly just showing HD-D5 material.

So there's hope.

I just wonder what they use in the UK, and what one has to expect for the future.

How's the ratio digitalscreening/35mmscreening in the US. How many productions get a digital copy able to be screened on a 2K DLP projector?

Over here in europe I have seen only one movie screened digital in a regular cinema(exept festivals), maybe not enough for an argument, but as I said it was rather disapointing.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 07:28 PM

How's the ratio digitalscreening/35mmscreening in the US. How many productions get a digital copy able to be screened on a 2K DLP projector?


So far, there are very few films booked in the theaters projected in 2K to DCI specs, mostly the blockbusters.

There are private screenings and screenings at film festivals, usually using HD tapes as a source.
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#5 Dominic Case

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Posted 06 June 2007 - 11:01 PM

Why shouldn't you pay the same price?

Once you start differentiating price, you will be looking for discounts if an old 35mm print is screened - to account for scratches, dirt etc. And D-cinema has taken as long as it has to get going because it has actually cost MORE to distribute and exhibit that way.

Then again, why should I pay the same to see a 90-100 minute feature as I pay to see a 3-hour show that the director didn't know how to finish. I think long films should be CHEAPER - 2 hours of my life is enough to see anyone's work, after that I'd like to charge for my time.

the adverts and trailers were film, when the movie started in video I was pretty shocked

but there is every chance that the adverts were finished as video (maybe not even HD) then transferred back to film for the cinema. And the trailers were probably DIs.
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#6 Max Jacoby

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 01:02 AM

I too saw 'This is England' digitally projected in London, but on a different screen and to my surprise it looked much better than previous digital screenings I have seen. This was the first time I did not find the digital projection objectionable, but like David says, they still have to improve the contrast and black level, but it is definitely improving. If you only do a 2K DI then the digital screening will look sharper than the film projection obviously.
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#7 Cameron Glendinning

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 01:25 AM

What digital projector is in the box? I dont honestly know for sure but D Cinema 2K projectors are being installed through the UK arts council's digital screen network, NEC seems to be a popular choice with QuVis servers.

Here in Australia E cinema is being installed at the moment mostly for advertising and non film content. E cinema tends to be 720 line HD projectors (panasonic is popular) with the Ec2 Atlab servers. Many arthouse films are avaliable for presentation this way, unfortunatly scope tends to be letterboxed in the 1.85 frame like a DVD.

Picture quality really seems dependant on the quality of the digital file

Edited by Cameron Glendinning, 07 June 2007 - 01:29 AM.

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#8 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 03:35 AM

Why shouldn't you pay the same price?

Yeah maybe this was a silly point. I was already shocked by the ticketprice in london and when finaly the movie started in a very videoisch look I just felt a little ripped off.

It's funny how one(maybe just me) recepts a videoisch picture in an intuitive way as cheap, and film as exquisite. Maybe I just have to get used to digital projection.

I wonder what makes the difference(beside all the contrast and blacklevel issues), is the fact that there's no dust and that the image is perfectly stable that makes it feel cold and steril or is it the fact that digital projectors use different lamps (HMI) I guess and 35mm projectors use Xenon Arcs?
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#9 Cameron Glendinning

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Posted 07 June 2007 - 04:21 AM

D cinema, 2 k from what I've read is xenon.
DLP 2k info
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#10 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:01 AM

D cinema, 2 k from what I've read is xenon.

you're right, NEC, Christie and Barco use Xenon. So why digital projectors feel (look) colder(bluer, higher Kelvin or peaky spectrum) than a classic Film-projector? If you have a lot of white in the frame it's most noticeable. For example white titles or credits on black ground. On digi it almost hurts your eyes while on film it feels much warmer and smoother (besides the flickering of the shutter).

Not that someone gets me wrong: I don't want to say wether one is better than another. I just try to explain the difference in my perception and the different aesthetic of two different technologies.
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#11 Andy_Alderslade

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 07:30 AM

So I asked my self if this is the future, to pay the same price(specially annoying with london ticket-prices) for digital screening, while it looks worse and the distributers spend less money on the copies?


As far as I know all projectors in the UK Digital Screen Network are 2K.

Why should you pay as much? - Well if you had seen this in a cinema which had purchased the projector themselves, they would be paying an enormous £90 000 loan and probably paying for regular external mainenence checks.

It seems Digital Screening could be another way for the big distrubitors to bully exhibitors into brunting more of the costs - the distbrituors no longer have to pay for 35mm prints, while the cinemas have to pay for all the new expensive equipment and its instalation, as well troubleshooting it.

It will be interesting to see how a change from 35mm to digital will affect national economies - Maybe it means no longer will prints have to be made localy in places like Technicolour and Deluxe but a great deal of money and employment will being going offshore for building digital equipment.

I saw This is England projected on 35mm, it was very grainy, mushy at times - perfect for the feel of the film, but i'm curious to see this projected digitaly now as well - since there's been so much discussion about it.
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#12 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 08:36 AM

I saw This is England projected on 35mm, it was very grainy, mushy at times - perfect for the feel of the film,

The digiprojection had less grain and looked sharper and cleaner than other S16 I've seen on the big screen.

Knows anyone if the 35mm copy was optical or DI?

It seems Digital Screening could be another way for the big distrubitors to bully exhibitors into brunting more of the costs - the distbrituors no longer have to pay for 35mm prints, while the cinemas have to pay for all the new expensive equipment and its instalation, as well troubleshooting it.

This will be a big problem for small cinemas that can't afford digi the day blockbusters will be digi only...

If the distributors go digital only, will they really save money? (I guess yes, otherwise they wouldn't) If yes, will they charge less?
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#13 Chris Keth

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Posted 08 June 2007 - 11:01 PM

I have no problem with it until theater managers start doing things to movies like was done in some places with "The Painted Veil." I still don't know who that owner/manager thought he was to pan & scan a movie in a theater. Dumbass. :angry:
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#14 Max Jacoby

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 01:37 AM

I have no problem with it until theater managers start doing things to movies like was done in some places with "The Painted Veil." I still don't know who that owner/manager thought he was to pan & scan a movie in a theater. Dumbass. :angry:

That wasn't the theatre manager's decision but the distribution company's.
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#15 Bernhard Zitz

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 05:08 AM

pan & scan a movie in a theater.

that's what they do for 2.35 in digital projoection ?! isn't there a better way to screen scope in digi?

anyway, what is the native aspect ratio of these projecors? if the pixels are square with 2048x1080 it would be near 1.9, guess to goal is 1.85?

why don't they simply cropp 176 horizontal lines to get 2.35? or use anamorphic attachements? they had to be 1.27x. Or the 1.33x ones they use for 4/3 to 16/9 and cropp the sides, you would loose aprox 100 vertical lines... or make 2.46 the new standard for wide screen...

just anything but pan&scan!
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#16 Marcel Zyskind

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 11:04 AM

that's what they do for 2.35 in digital projoection ?! isn't there a better way to screen scope in digi?

anyway, what is the native aspect ratio of these projecors? if the pixels are square with 2048x1080 it would be near 1.9, guess to goal is 1.85?

why don't they simply cropp 176 horizontal lines to get 2.35? or use anamorphic attachements? they had to be 1.27x. Or the 1.33x ones they use for 4/3 to 16/9 and cropp the sides, you would loose aprox 100 vertical lines... or make 2.46 the new standard for wide screen...

just anything but pan&scan!



Hi

Technicolor has just finished a version of A Mighty Heart for a D-Cinema release in the US as well.
Out of the ca. 1500 copies, 500 will be projected in D-Cinemas.

I most say I was happily surprised when I saw it projected at Technicolor in London. The film was originated on HDCAM and I always thought that a filmout helped the HD look less videoish.
But now I'm not so sure. I thought it looked great. No scratches, no bad projector switchovers. No odd colors in the print.

It opens June 22 in the States and it will be released in 1:2.35.
All the best.
Marcel

Edited by Marcel Zyskind, 09 June 2007 - 11:05 AM.

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#17 Jon Kukla

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 03:16 PM

The Odeon Covent Garden uses a 2K Christie. It's a pretty decent projector, but I find that the quality has more to do with the way that the D-Cinema file is mastered - some films look great while others clearly had less effort put into them. One even had some major aliasing problems.
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#18 Marcel Zyskind

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 11:41 PM

The Odeon Covent Garden uses a 2K Christie. It's a pretty decent projector, but I find that the quality has more to do with the way that the D-Cinema file is mastered - some films look great while others clearly had less effort put into them. One even had some major aliasing problems.



I heard the other day that Odeon Leicester Square hasn't screened a film print for 3 months.
But then again I haven't been there for 3 months myself so I don't know for sure.
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#19 Marcel Zyskind

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Posted 09 June 2007 - 11:41 PM

The Odeon Covent Garden uses a 2K Christie. It's a pretty decent projector, but I find that the quality has more to do with the way that the D-Cinema file is mastered - some films look great while others clearly had less effort put into them. One even had some major aliasing problems.



I heard the other day that Odeon Leicester Square hasn't screened a film print for 3 months.
But then again I haven't been there for 3 months myself so I don't know for sure.
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#20 Jon Kukla

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Posted 10 June 2007 - 12:24 AM

No idea about the L. Square Odeon, but I'll ask. It wouldn't surprise me at all, though. But I also am 100% sure that they will always have a film backup being run simultaneously without the douser open in case of digital failure. The guy who runs the booth (forget his name) has backups upon backups for just about every scenario imaginable. They also have technicians in who regularly service the equipment on ridiculously small intervals (like every week or two, IIRC). Definitely the best screen in the UK.
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