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Rick Spilman June 19th, 2003 06:41 AM

Among Film's Ghosts, Its Future
From this morning's NY Times:

"Behind cast-iron gates lies the Hollywood Pacific Theater, an Italianate palace originally built (but finished too late) for the 1927 premiere of "The Jazz Singer," the first sound film with some spoken dialogue. It has been closed for years, but recently reopened as a test bed for the motion picture industry's next great technical revolution: digital projection.

Where thousands once congregated in ornate halls, today a handful of film executives and technicians use cellphones to communicate across the dark, ghostly space, awaiting the next screening of test images in the otherwise empty theater. On any given day, Shrek and his friends might be gamboling across the screen or Obi-Wan Kenobi might be dueling with his light saber as experts work to devise standards for the movie theater of the future.

The tests are being conducted by the Digital Cinema Laboratory, an organization set up by the University of Southern California's Entertainment Technology Center. A consortium of seven Hollywood studios have contracted with the laboratory to choose the specifications for the equipment and software with which the industry will one day distribute and project feature films without any film at all."


Rob Lohman June 19th, 2003 06:57 AM

You need to register to follow that link. Does the article have
photo's of the place? Otherwise I'm not bothering.

Sounds like a very nice place to be and would probably be a very
cool set to use on a movie.....

Rick Spilman June 19th, 2003 07:11 AM

Registration is free and it is one of the better newspapers in the world. (Did I mention it was free?) And the article does have a lot of interesting info. But if you'ld rather not bother, it is up to you.

A couple of interesting, at least to me, tidbits from the article: Film has around 5,000 lines of resolution when new but after multiple showing is closer to 800. The goal of the folks working on digital projection is to develop a system that delivers a noticeably better image than 35mm. Current digital projectors handle around 1,300 lines. Screenings of DP images at 2,000 lines have been well recieved but the concensus is that they lacked the "wow" factor. They were about as good as 35mm but needed to be significantly better.

This may or may not be good news for indies with DV25 cameras. On the other hand it will take years for digital projection to be developed and rolled out so we will all be shooting some variety of HD by then anyway.

Rob Lohman June 19th, 2003 08:50 AM

But does the article have any pictures?

Ken Tanaka June 19th, 2003 09:10 AM

Yes, the article has a few photos (but nothing of a technical nature). The article presents a good, non-nerd summary of the issues surrounding digital projection.

I also strongly agree with Rick that the NYT is not only a worthwhile registration but a bargain at free.

Mark Moore June 19th, 2003 11:16 AM

I've been a member for years and really love the movie/entertainment email-news that comes several times a month.

Rob Belics June 19th, 2003 07:28 PM

I hadn't thought about the fact that the projection systems must be "better" than 35mm. The reason is the cost of the equipment to the theatre owners. You can't charge the same price for an inferior product.

That line about film dropping to 800 pixels resolution was weird to me and I find it hard to believe.

One thing no one mentions though is that if digital does get to the quality of 35mm film, then production companies could go to 70mm! That would bump up resolution 4x and, essentially, use much cheaper equipment for the theatres.

Now, yes, I know shooting in 70mm is more expensive but compared to the overall multi-million budget, it's not. What if Kodak knocked the price of raw materials for 70mm down to the price of 35mm. Would that impede the introduction of digital productions?

Just some thoughts.

Michael Wisniewski June 21st, 2003 06:01 AM

Digital technology advances so quickly, I'd bet that digital becomes much more appealing before 70mm can make serious in-roads - mainly based on how far digital has come in the past 5 years.

<<<-- Originally posted by Rob Belics : What if Kodak knocked the price of raw materials for 70mm down to the price of 35mm. Would that impede the introduction of digital productions?

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