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Theater Chains & the Studios make a pack with the Devil


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#1 Todd Anderson

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 01:35 PM

http://www.hollywood...814a4658dc9eedf


I think this is sad...

Granted, in some cases Digital Projection will look great, such as films made through some sort of digital acquisition to begin with.... But just like when lead based paint gave way to latex, because they said it 'works just as good'... and CRT's gave way to those horrible LCD's, because they are 'bigger and better with the 1,000,000,000:1 contrast ratio's'...and all the other great analog and quasi-analog mediums that have gone into the land fill... something else loses its 'soul' and stoops to the lowest common denominator of mass consumption...

Hopefully, the studios will still archive separations onto film, so we don't have the equivalent of those old 'studio vault fires' that burnt up half of the great silent films, this being, some smart bomb or accidental data dump that wipes out the 'one's and zero's' of tomorrows masterpieces...

... and hopefully the loss of Kodak's saving grace, the big money maker of supplying print stocks, doesn't mean it is one more step to being shut out. And not shut out due to quality, but do to the acceptance of mediocrity...

I guess Beelzebub, once again, is standing there pissing on Rembrandt's grave as he's pulling a fast one on us distracting the 'Joneses' with the new gadgets...

Damn, I must be getting old...

Todd

P.S. And goodbye art house theaters. It wasn't enough that we sat on your sans stadium seating, crappy old upholstery. Or withstood those horrible projections with the 10 foot screens...I guess you will be made into parking lots or Wall Marts while we are forced to make a date with the new explosions in 3-D... talk about eternity in flames.
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#2 James Mehr

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 10:31 PM

Hey Todd,

It's nice to see a film-medium lover on the boards. I don't think film will go away as quickly as people expect, or want it to. The whole HD craze reminds me of what happened when BetaSP came out. People were transferring there shows and films onto Beta and then throwing away the negatives... only to find ten years later that they look kinda bad. Technology always moves ahead, and rapidly in the digital world, so those who say 2K, or even 4K is "awesome" now will say that it sucks ten years from now. NHK has all ready planned the successor to the HD standard, which is roughly 7K, and it's supposed to be introduced by 2015. It doesn't mean that it will be adopted so quickly, but it gives you an idea where this is going. Are companies going to embroil themselves in megapixel wars in the future, like with still cameras? Probably not.

There needs to be a standardization for the HD/Digital realm. Working with all these different codecs and equipment is not an efficient way of doing things. It reminds me of the early days of home computers, when you had IBM PC, Apple, Amiga, etc...

There's a lot to say for film, and I think it shows ignorance when people vault towards these cameras and declare that film is dead. If you like the look of Digital, then you like the look of Digital. If you like the ease and cost of it, then it's yours to behold. But there's a reason people and independant filmmakers save up more money to shoot on film. Because to be a filmmaker and not shoot on film means you've neglected half your namesake :)
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 06:43 AM

Not to say "The Sky Is Falling", but, objectively, this transition, when it is completely worldwide, will probably be an end of camera negative stock for all color processes, ECN-2, C-41, E-6, and Aerial Color.

This move will likely be the end of Eastman Kodak (as we know it), and Fuji. I'll leave the arguing, raised voices to other people and go out and fight this change in the real world. I am in the process of forming a group that boycotts theatres in the area that employ digital projection.
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#4 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 06:56 AM

I thought this was always the idea; digital projection saves the studios money so they're the ones who'll pay for it. What's the big deal?

The only concern I would have about this is if they started trying to limit what was shown on "their" digital projection gear - which I assume is probably what will happen.

P
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#5 K Borowski

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 07:08 AM

I thought this was always the idea; digital projection saves the studios money so they're the ones who'll pay for it. What's the big deal?


Me too Phil. What's worrying to me now is that it seems like having a digital conversion is no longer "theatre optional" but rather is theatre mandatory. Bye bye Cinematheque circuit! With that in mind, I think will frequent the local one today and buy a membership. Poor guys :(
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#6 Joseph Arch

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 09:53 AM

So are we able to shoot on film any more?

I hate digital films. They look so horrible and weird. I don't know how a cinematographer can call him self one if he shoots digital. It's about art and passion and creativity. Personally, digital films should be reserved for those on little budget like documentaries, indies, music videos etc... Digital has no place in motion picture.

Why don't we also replace art with photoshop and call it even.
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 10:01 AM

I'd like to hear folk's ideas on market turf with the change-over to digital projection? Will this give indie producers better access to screens or will it, somehow, help Hollywood protect these screens for itself?

I am also concerned if film manufacturers will even bother to make negative stocks when their true money makers- print stocks- dry up.

For me, this all has a vague feeling like the death of a friend.
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#8 Russell Scott

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 08:10 PM

I'd like to hear folk's ideas on market turf with the change-over to digital projection? Will this give indie producers better access to screens or will it, somehow, help Hollywood protect these screens for itself?

I am also concerned if film manufacturers will even bother to make negative stocks when their true money makers- print stocks- dry up.

For me, this all has a vague feeling like the death of a friend.


I'm a bit surprised by all this to be honest. first of all this will most definitely give better access to screens. There might be deals struck initially, but digital projection will both improve and drop in price to a point where such deals will be untenable for theatres to continue with. If anything digital projection will *increase* the number of arthouse cinemas, if they can fit out a small theatre with good projectors for $15k (probably 2 years away) it can only help.



likewise:

I don't know how a cinematographer can call him self one if he shoots digital. It's about art and passion and creativity


if its about art and passion and creativity, then don't stress about the technical details. As the product matures you might find chip size is adjusted resulting in more filmic DOF, better lenses, better digital 'film response' approximation etc. you are all talking about a product in its infancy, and talking cross purpose too, digital projection is not digital capture. Digital projection simply lets you cut vast quantities from your films budget. If you want to use 'real' film to capture nothing is stopping you... plus the comments have fundamentally ignored DI as a process that many films are undergoing. does that cheapen the whole thing? what about going from DI to film again isn't that a bit nonsensical?
I'm left scratching my head a bit here. Lower distribution cost can only be a good thing and most large budget films that can easily afford distribution costs are already digitized.
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#9 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 08:54 PM

this will most definitely give better access to screens


I'm not so sure. First, getting a movie theater to take your film is to do with a lot more than having it on a format they can project. The main concern is what limitations of use the studios put on equipment they effectively own.

A fairly broad-based industry cartel has been set up to manage this process; they presumably have guidelines for this, but I don't know what they are.

P
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#10 Russell Scott

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 10:20 PM

I'm not so sure. First, getting a movie theater to take your film is to do with a lot more than having it on a format they can project. The main concern is what limitations of use the studios put on equipment they effectively own.


I can certainly see your point in the near future. however in the longer term I don't see it a problem, I don't believe that digital projectors will remain so expensive that cinemas will remain in limiting agreements.

from the point of view of the cinemas, restricting themselves to a certain type of content for the sake of a $15-30k outlay will not be an attractive prospect. Admittedly I am picking numbers randomly - a current long throw digital cinema projector costs $110k and a short throw costs $30k but I expect these to drop to a certain baseline price. I really can't see a long term business case for the cinemas locking themselves into restrictive contracts.


additionally, in the US as I understand it, there are strong laws preventing such anti-competitive behaviour, though obviously its no guarantee of proper conduct...
"Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be punished by fine"
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#11 James Mehr

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 01:06 AM

if its about art and passion and creativity, then don't stress about the technical details. As the product matures you might find chip size is adjusted resulting in more filmic DOF, better lenses, better digital 'film response' approximation etc. you are all talking about a product in its infancy, and talking cross purpose too, digital projection is not digital capture. Digital projection simply lets you cut vast quantities from your films budget. If you want to use 'real' film to capture nothing is stopping you... plus the comments have fundamentally ignored DI as a process that many films are undergoing. does that cheapen the whole thing? what about going from DI to film again isn't that a bit nonsensical?
I'm left scratching my head a bit here. Lower distribution cost can only be a good thing and most large budget films that can easily afford distribution costs are already digitized.



I argue that the art and passion and creativity come from shooting on film. Personally, it annoys me when people all of a sudden become "pragmatic" about shooting on HD. When I shoot on Digital, the camera is a just a tool to me, and while you can certainly still be creative on a shoot, the experience is diminished. When I shoot on film, I feel like a filmmaker.

I think there are a lot of young filmmakers who are discovering film, and realizing the threat HD has over it all. It certainly concerns me.

At first, when I watch footage from an HD shoot, I think "Wow, that looks pretty good." Then after a while, I realize that I'm just looking at ones and zeroes, a rigidly defined image that really be no more than that.

I think film will be around because it is such a solid recording medium. I may be wrong, but don't they burn Movies/TV shows onto flim for archival purposes? I was always taught that with digital archiving, you constantly have to be upgrading your hardware and making sure to migrate your data regularly. With film, you keep it in a can and in a cool place.

Of course it's all subjective. But should we be so dismissive or blase of a medium that holds over 100 years of our cultural history?
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#12 Tom Lowe

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 01:54 AM

So digital technology is "the Devil"? :huh:

Trying to fight this is like trying to fight the hands of time. It's no use. I understand the need to gripe and get it off your chest, but we all knew this was coming. George Lucas was pushing this and predicting it almost 10 years ago.

Along with the highly advanced new digital cinema cameras currently in development, and the fact that rapid theater adoption of digital projection will surely spell revenue losses for companies like Kodak (prompting them to charge more and more for film even as digital cameras gain market share) -- all of this will create a strong negative-feedback loop for film, hastening the shift from chemical to digital acquisition.

The shift will happen much faster than most people think.

My question is, what percentage of these d-projectors are going to be 4K vs 2K?

4K is the way of the future. I think it would be extremely foolish to invest in 15,000 2K projectors that could be "outdated" in 5 years.
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#13 Russell Scott

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 04:36 AM

At first, when I watch footage from an HD shoot, I think "Wow, that looks pretty good." Then after a while, I realize that I'm just looking at ones and zeroes, a rigidly defined image that really be no more than that.

I think film will be around because it is such a solid recording medium. I may be wrong, but don't they burn Movies/TV shows onto flim for archival purposes? I was always taught that with digital archiving, you constantly have to be upgrading your hardware and making sure to migrate your data regularly. With film, you keep it in a can and in a cool place.


:P

isn't that the real issue though? its the idea of a non-physical medium that you don't like not the actual images(not trying to get into a flame war here)?


as to storing digital films you can back it up to tape drives, which are just as stable as film reels probably better too, because a tape could store multiple films, allowing you to make multiple copies . ie, instead of having 20 individual backups of 20 individual films, you could have 20 tapes each with 20 backups... your physical footprint is much smaller too...
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#14 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 08:32 AM

Has tape gotten that much better while I wasn't watching? I remember having to shuttle every tape on the shelf to prevent magnetic bleeding. Even though we did this once a year, the 3/4" Umatic tape's images were degrading after only about five or six years. Maybe tape has better integrity, now. Is that the case?
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#15 Jay Taylor

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 11:17 AM

I think it would be extremely foolish to invest in 15,000 2K projectors that could be "outdated" in 5 years.


Hey Tom,

Funny thing is, ALL things digital will be outdated in 5 years. Not much of an investment really.

It seems to me that people who are into digital don't really understand why people that shoot film love the medium so much.

You have this strip of plastic with these little holes on the sides. You run it through your camera. You get it back from the lab, and you have these little pictures one after another on this strip of plastic. You run it through a projector, and a light shines through these little pictures, and projects them on the screen, and creates the illusion of movement.

I realize with digital that it's still pictures one after another, but it's all ones and zeros, you know? It's JPEG's, or whatever.

Something about the strip of pictures on a piece of plastic. Something about the way the light is burned into the emulsion. Something about having to think about your exposures, because you can't see what you're getting until it's developed.

All of this adds up to magic for me. I don't get that sense of magic with digital.

It really saddens me to think that I may not be able to experience this magic in ten years.


Jay
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#16 Dan Goulder

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 11:21 AM

4K is the way of the future.

I don't think your boy Jannard would even agree with that one, although it did provide a catchy marketing tag line. By the way, the latest generation of film scanners go all the way up to 8K. One must resist the temptation to regard every step in a continuing evolution as a "milestone", or the "end all, be all".
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#17 Tom Lowe

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 12:10 PM

My guess is that 4K will be the gold standard in the years ahead - maybe for quite some time. This means not only digital film projection at 4K, but soon computer LCDs and down the road, home theater.

The reason 6K or 8K will not become the gold standard in the foreseeable future is that all the existing 35mm stuff shot over the last 100 years really will not hold up beyond 4K, except for recent stuff, anamorphic, etc. So why have a 6K screen or broadcast standard if 97% of entertainment shot over the last 50 to 100 years will look degraded on that set? Many of the movies shot over that period, frankly, will not even hold up at 4K, IMHO.

I could be wrong about all of this. But all the indicators seem to be lining up toward 4K as a real possibility to eventually replace 1080p as the "cutting edge," gold-standard display.
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#18 Chris D Walker

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 01:56 PM

Here's my understanding of why I love film over digital; I grew up with film. I'd walk into the cinema and the only way to see the movie was in 35mm. Going to the cinema was an event, it got you away from the TV in your home and put you inside a dark room with a hundred other people for the same reason, to watch a movie that was like nothing you could see on TV.

You can buy decent camcorders anywhere nowadays, and people with video on their mobile (cellular) phones can have their footage on prime time BBC and CNN news. Digital is a convenient way of money saving for broadcasters and the consumer. Film-making is something different, it's a separate being from the TV soaps, chat-shows and reality series. The average person has a DVD player and PC in their home, but they don't have a projector that plays reels.

I end up going to see a lot of movies shot and projected digitally in the cinema and I know where I'd rather be watching them, at home. Why? Because digital doesn't feel right. When I pay £6.00 for a ticket I would rather have a print instead of a hard drive. I aspire to use film because the medium takes me half-way towards what I understand as making a movie.

I may have to attune to reality at some point and grow out of my crush, but I am a big kid at heart. Lastly, instead of paying Keanu Reeves or Tom Cruise $20,000,000 a movie why not cast a better actor for less and put back some of that money into the budget for the best 35mm film cameras you can get? You know it's the right thing to do.
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#19 Paul Bruening

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 02:08 PM

I guess we'll see in time what the studio's motives are. If they write the checks, they call the tunes. Hollywood has tried a few times to dominate the show side of the industry. Don't think for a moment that they aren't aware of the benefits to them of controlling every single ticket sale. Let's not be naive.
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#20 Tom Lowe

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 02:12 PM

Getting back to digital projection, let's also keep in mind that films shot on 35mm, scanned to 4K and projected at 4K will have visual fidelity on par with 70mm prints projected at 70mm. This will be a massive increase in resolution, detail and image quality.

Right now the average multiplex is only showing these films at somewhere between 720p and 1080p visible, testable resolution. 4K will blow these prints out of the water.
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