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Dark Knight Rises, no 3D and in IMAX


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#1 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 02:53 PM

http://www.empireonl...d.asp?NID=29317

"What Nolan seemed most interested in imparting was that he’s convinced Warner Bros. to keep telling his story in 2D, and to continue down the path of hi-def IMAX sequences. And he’ll get no argument from us on the subject – if it ain't broke, etc."


Thankfully!
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#2 Brian Rose

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 04:22 PM

http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=29317

"What Nolan seemed most interested in imparting was that he’s convinced Warner Bros. to keep telling his story in 2D, and to continue down the path of hi-def IMAX sequences. And he’ll get no argument from us on the subject – if it ain't broke, etc."


Thankfully!


I'm really hoping this means he and Pfister have convinced them to shoot on large format. An all Imax affair would be amazing, although I'd have to do some driving to a 15/70 theatre, since all the ones around me are now Liemax.
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#3 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 27 October 2010 - 11:17 PM

Or stick with something like 5 perf 65 when full IMAX isn't appropriate/practical. Yes unfortunately you don't get to notice the IMAX system unless it's on a real IMAX screen, although after just watching Baraka on Bluray, 65mm (Todd-AO in that case) still shows it's benefits in 1080, on a nice Plasma. The post path on that one is pretty interesting.

Nolan has the budget to do whatever they can dream up.
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#4 Jason Reimer

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 02:09 AM

The theater I saw the Dark Knight in Imax on has since converted to Liemax as well; does anyone know where in Southern California I can still see real 15/70 Imax? I'd like to catch Inception in real Imax if possible, and definitely Tree of Life and the Dark Knight Rises in a couple years. It's so disappointing that as someone like Nolan is just starting to get people interested in a real large format experience, the theaters are pulling the rug out from under him. I remember when TDK came out, all of my friends wanted to know what the big deal was about seeing it in Imax, and why they should pay more. After seeing it, they were blown away and felt like it was money well-spent for an experience that you can't have anywhere else. When some of those same friends (who don't know anything about photography or cinematography), saw Inception with me on the Liemax screen, they all knew that something wasn't right, and when I explained afterwards what they had done to it, they were all pissed. At that point, I would have had just as enjoyable an experience watching it on blu-ray at home, if not better.
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#5 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 05:19 AM

The AMC LOWES in Universal City is a 70mm theater. I think there is a 70mm version not far from LAX as well.

The digital IMAX theaters still offer a better than usual experience with audio delivery that is rarely rivaled. I think they are what a normal theater should be. The price increase is a little over the top though.

Hopefully the reported sister film to The Tree of Life, known as The Voyage of Time, will make it to IMAX too. I believe Tree of Life will be in normal theaters only. It was just announced by it's new owner, Fox Searchlight, that the Tree of Life will have a May 27th 2011 release... finally.
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#6 Brian Rose

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 10:15 AM

I know somewhere once I saw a list of every theatre with Imax equipment, and it detailed whether that theatre was 15/70 or Liemax. Sadly, I can't find that list now, so if someone else knows what I'm talking about and would post a link, I'd be much obliged.

Whatever the case may be, if Dark Knight Rises winds up an all large format affair, I WILL drive where ever I need too, and see it twice. I hope someone from Warner's is reading this. We WILL go the extra mile for large format!

BR
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 02:30 PM

Last I checked, the IMAX website had that information on a map and listed the screen sizes and projections used.
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#8 Chris Durham

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 03:19 PM

Last I checked, the IMAX website had that information on a map and listed the screen sizes and projections used.


Yup. That's how I found the one in NYC.
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#9 Brian Rose

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 05:56 PM

Yeah, it looks like from KC, I'll have to drive to Branson Missouri to find a 15/70 screen. Everything else has gone Liemax. I shudder to think how many more theaters will be lost by the time Dark Knight streets in 2012.

BR
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#10 Pat Murray

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 03:04 PM

I'm really hoping this means he and Pfister have convinced them to shoot on large format. An all Imax affair would be amazing, although I'd have to do some driving to a 15/70 theatre, since all the ones around me are now Liemax.


Even then, be careful. A local "liemax" (LOL) is listed as 15/70, but also uses digital projection and I've been told is planning to go 100% digital in the near future.
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#11 Pat Murray

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 03:08 PM

The AMC LOWES in Universal City is a 70mm theater. I think there is a 70mm version not far from LAX as well.

The digital IMAX theaters still offer a better than usual experience with audio delivery that is rarely rivaled. I think they are what a normal theater should be. The price increase is a little over the top though.


I respectfully disagree. I saw Avatar on a regular screen and was blown away by the presentation of the 35mm print. When I saw it again with family at Imax, my wife and I wanted our money back. The visual experience of watching 35mm film at a regular theatre is far superior to watching a digital blow up on Imax. Or Liemax.
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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 04:47 PM

I respectfully disagree. I saw Avatar on a regular screen and was blown away by the presentation of the 35mm print. When I saw it again with family at Imax, my wife and I wanted our money back. The visual experience of watching 35mm film at a regular theatre is far superior to watching a digital blow up on Imax. Or Liemax.


I disagree -- in general, I would rate the quality of projection for first-run theaters in this order:

IMAX DMR film print projection
Digital Projection
35mm film print projection

From best to worst in terms of average quality of presentation (focus, steadiness, cleanliness of the image, etc.)

The only thing I would add is that there are visual differences between the IMAX DMR version (generally better blacks, but more obvious noise reduction and sharpening artifacts) versus the digital projection version, that can make it a toss-up as to which is better.

But the 35mm print version tends to be the worst all-around in most theaters, except for black levels, which tend to be better than most digital projectors can achieve. But otherwise, you have poor/uneven focus across the whole width for 35mm scope print projection, you have steadiness problems, you have dirt & dust, and you have wear-and-tear after the first week of release. I'm generally much happier with the digital presentation. But at least IMAX blow-ups are super-steady and the projection tends to be fairly clean, and the focus even and consistent.
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#13 Michael Kubaszak

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 09:58 PM

But the 35mm print version tends to be the worst all-around in most theaters, except for black levels, which tend to be better than most digital projectors can achieve. But otherwise, you have poor/uneven focus across the whole width for 35mm scope print projection, you have steadiness problems, you have dirt & dust, and you have wear-and-tear after the first week of release. I'm generally much happier with the digital presentation. But at least IMAX blow-ups are super-steady and the projection tends to be fairly clean, and the focus even and consistent.



What do you attribute this to? Poor handling, old projectors?
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 November 2010 - 10:54 PM

What do you attribute this to? Poor handling, old projectors?


IMAX projectors are very well-designed for one thing -- they have to be, because unsteadiness is pretty distracting on a huge screen, as well as dirt & dust, so the projectors are unique in those areas compared to a 35mm projector. I once saw a registration grid projected in IMAX and I was shocked at how rock-steady it was.

Yes, some of this is due to poorly maintained projectors (and maybe unskilled projectionists), but also the nature of mass-produced release prints. Plus, as far as I know, scope movies don't use anamorphic projector lenses when shown digitally, the chip is just cropped to 2.35 and spherical projector optics are used. And there seems to be almost no focus drift throughout a digital screening of a movie.
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#15 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 01:15 AM

Yes, some of this is due to poorly maintained projectors (and maybe unskilled projectionists), but also the nature of mass-produced release prints.


On multiplexes and in non-union locales (pretty much 99% of theaters across the US nowadays), there is only one or maybe two projectionists (generally poorly trained, usually teen-aged, and almost invariably making close to minimum wages) on duty at any given time.

These projectionists are responsible for keeping up to 24 projectors going when the theater is open. The head projectionist usually just makes sure the projectors are running and that there is an image on the screen, and that is the extent of his involvement and care. Virtually all of these theaters operate platter systems, and sometimes, if the movie is hot enough, a single print will be run on several screens using a really long leader and a pulley-like roller system to deliver the film to multiple projectors as it comes off the first one. Depending on the scope of the multiple screen projecting task, this may require more skilled operators and in greater numbers to pull off, but the profits soar exponentially. If one ever goes to a movie theater where they are showing a hot title on multiple screens (and it is a film projection) with shows that start within a few minutes from each other, that is what they are doing in the projection booth. The flip side is that during those types of multiple screen projections, the film is likelier to be scratched or damaged.

The last time I went to a multiplex theater, the weave on the projector was so noticeable that at first I thought it was the beginning of a camera pan, then I wondered if the camera op was drunk. After a few moments, I realized it was the projector. It was very noticeable and distracting, but no one around me seemed to care. Theater owners have very little incentive to keep the projectors running tip-top. It would mean a highly trained projector tech on staff and tinkering all the time on the projector during the off-hours. And that is expensive.

With digital projectors at least there aren't any moving parts to go out of calibration. So once the projector is professionally installed and focused, since there aren't any lens changes, the image stays pretty much the same for a long while. All the projectionist has to do is press on and off and play on the media player. Much less to go wrong with it. Most of the digital movies come in large capacity USB-type solid state drives that plug to the players. There has been talk of delivering them via internet, but I am not sure how many theaters do this now.
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#16 Pat Murray

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:54 AM

I disagree -- in general, I would rate the quality of projection for first-run theaters in this order:

IMAX DMR film print projection
Digital Projection
35mm film print projection

From best to worst in terms of average quality of presentation (focus, steadiness, cleanliness of the image, etc.)

The only thing I would add is that there are visual differences between the IMAX DMR version (generally better blacks, but more obvious noise reduction and sharpening artifacts) versus the digital projection version, that can make it a toss-up as to which is better.

But the 35mm print version tends to be the worst all-around in most theaters, except for black levels, which tend to be better than most digital projectors can achieve. But otherwise, you have poor/uneven focus across the whole width for 35mm scope print projection, you have steadiness problems, you have dirt & dust, and you have wear-and-tear after the first week of release. I'm generally much happier with the digital presentation. But at least IMAX blow-ups are super-steady and the projection tends to be fairly clean, and the focus even and consistent.


The picture may be steadier and cleaner, but the quality of the picture regarding digital projection is not good in my town. I still stand by my Avatar comparison. I didn't see them too far apart and whatever digital projector they used in the so called IMAX Multiplex, it was an inferior visual experience for me. Ditto for Inception, which I noticed has been discussed.

Quite possible you have access to much higher quality digital projection than what I get in the theatres up here. Around here, I'd rather take my chances on a 35mm print. For sure, I am sometimes treated to some pretty bad film projectionists, but I don't want to pay a premium for digital projection. It isn't worth the extra money.
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#17 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 10:01 AM

The picture may be steadier and cleaner, but the quality of the picture regarding digital projection is not good in my town. I still stand by my Avatar comparison. I didn't see them too far apart and whatever digital projector they used in the so called IMAX Multiplex, it was an inferior visual experience for me. Ditto for Inception, which I noticed has been discussed.

Quite possible you have access to much higher quality digital projection than what I get in the theatres up here. Around here, I'd rather take my chances on a 35mm print. For sure, I am sometimes treated to some pretty bad film projectionists, but I don't want to pay a premium for digital projection. It isn't worth the extra money.


Los Angeles theaters don't charge more for their digital screenings. Perhaps you are thinking of the digital IMAX theaters only, not the regular digital projectors used in half the rooms these days in multplexes. They do charge more for 3D digital presentations, and if you saw "Avatar" in a film print, it would have been 2D, except for, I guess, the 3D IMAX prints of "Avatar".
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#18 russell fowler

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 11:05 AM

The classic 15/70 IMAX projector has stationary registration pins in the gate to create the same steadyness as Bell & Howell 2709 or ACME optical printer camera.8/70mm Kinoton projectors with electronic intermittent are also rock steady....simple laptop program to dial in the specs. I have followed print releases to Latin America and Asia and have seen better quality 35mm in use......projectionists are also more prone to be a staff position than a multiplex popcorn jockey....
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#19 Jason Reimer

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 06:44 PM

The AMC LOWES in Universal City is a 70mm theater. I think there is a 70mm version not far from LAX as well.

The digital IMAX theaters still offer a better than usual experience with audio delivery that is rarely rivaled. I think they are what a normal theater should be. The price increase is a little over the top though.

Hopefully the reported sister film to The Tree of Life, known as The Voyage of Time, will make it to IMAX too. I believe Tree of Life will be in normal theaters only. It was just announced by it's new owner, Fox Searchlight, that the Tree of Life will have a May 27th 2011 release... finally.


Thanks Vincent!
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#20 K Borowski

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 08:03 PM

David, where exactly in LA are you?

I can check to see if there are still some IATSE Local #150 theatres out there; they're still listed as an "Operator's" Union on the IATSE Int'l website.


Cinemark currently pays starting operators (Orwellianly referred to as "Booth *Ushers*") 29¢ an hour above minimum wage in Ohio. Managers run AMC and Regal projectors. There are limited Union contracts in Cleveland, and maybe Columbus, Cincinnati. Theatres also have a policy to not give any non-management positions forty hours a week. So there is absolutely no incentive to work up in one of these booths. If you do a good job, they promote you to manager, and you are no longer working there. Surprise surprise that the skilled candidates get the hell out as soon as they find any other job. Making hamburgers at McDonalds pays more money!

From my understanding, the only other two Union "strongholds" in the United States are in New York and Chicago. Chicago is/was the strongest, probably.

I have heard recently, from someone who lived there, that Florida, despite being a "right to work" [for pennies] state, starts full time 40-hour projectionists at $18/hr. with opportunity to make as much as $26/hr. Cinemark and AMC are involved in this, I assume only in the cities. I'm sure quality here is superb, as well.


Even where Union Operators work in the booth, they are often relegated to only working Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Sometimes they run the shows, sometimes they are just doing maintenance of equipment or building/breaking down prints. When the Union guys are there, they don't have time to perform the love and care that they could if they were just paid for 40 hours a week (at under $20/hr, the cost of two admissions, this is still too much money for the "Big Three" to shell out in most markets). There are film cleaning rollers to remove dust, agents that fill in base scratches, and film paths to clean, that are usually ignored today unless there is a big disaster or huge screwup.

Very few theatres have "closed" booths (only Union projectionists/threaders).

So, even when there are Union Operators, you have management sharing their duties. You have, say, a 26-y.o. kid running movies and then heading downstairs to make popcorn. Only the larger non-union theatres have dedicated booth staff, and these staff are "trained" by said managers. As you can imagine, in an industry where no one has a degree, most senior management is under 30, and they only really learn what they are doing if they have worked with union guys, or rack the booth tech's brains for training, there's not much skill or knowledge to go around.

I've met exceptions, but not many. You would be surprised what sort of interlocks the management comes up with, or how many "false-starts" they have before they get it right.


I've gone into work to make up prints and seen intermittent loops banging against the front of the lens turret. It's actually amazing how GOOD prints look in the interim period between Union hours.

Saying, though, that film doesn't look good after the first week in a theatre where the staff even know half of what they should be doing, is nonsense. 35mm film prints I have run looked good 4 or 5 months in.

The continuous (as opposed to frame-registered) contact printing process, and the color drift on prints, frankly, suck, but the DI process is far worse.

I'd say, objectively, that SCOPE movies (yes, the lens has to be focused across the horizontal axis) look BETTER than 2K projection, because 2K is just cropped from a 1.85:1 ratio chip, whereas the 2K DI is 4-perf.'s high.

FLAT movies tend to look better in digital than 35mm, resolution wise, but the colors and dynamic range on film are all-around better, and digital movies files are compressed too; I'm assuming that they're pretty close to true 2K resolution.


Whenever I see a movie that starts out-of-focus, I keep complaining until they fix it :-D


But let's please not act as if 35mm prints are inherently prone to getting scratched and destroyed. It's surprisingly easy to thread a projector right, every time. I have never scratched a movie, as a projectionist. I was responsible for scratching two trailer packs (both of which I caught, when working with new projectors, before the feature started), and I was partially responsible for prints getting scratched because there was buildup on a sound roller that was scratching all the movies that went through it, and I didn't catch it .

The management comes up with all sorts of "alchemy" for treating film too. My favorite? WD-40. Close second? Anti-static guard, I assume designed for clothes sprayed on film.



As for bad registration, Saul, I don't know what would cause that, except for film being overlubricated with a "fix" above, a tooth or teeth missing on a sprocket, or maybe you are trying to describe the intermittent movement being out of registration (same effect, unintentionally, as throwing the shutter out of sync in "Saving Private Ryan" - another simple fix on modern projectors, if you know what you are doing.


As for "old projectors," there are dirt buildups, and maybe aging optics, that tend to cause image quality to degrade over time, but the basic projector models are basically unchanged in almost 50 years. The only change, having worked with the latest and the 50 year old models, is the sound drum. It is still the weak point in the chain, even with new projectors, where dirt can build up in a hard-to-see spot and scratch the print.

However, projectors are very simple to maintain, and operate. An old projector, properly cleaned and maintained will project a film just as well as the latest Strong or Christie model.
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