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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At least not when it's transferred to film. Here is an excerpt of his Star Wars Episode II review from the Chicago Sun Times. I thought this was relevant to all of us, being the first major film shot in HD. And at least one critic didn't like the results, at least not after transferring to film. It will be interesting to see if he changes his mind after seeing the film projected digitally:


"But I felt like I had to lean with my eyes toward the screen in order to see what I was being shown. The images didn't pop out and smack me with delight, the way they did in earlier films. There was a certain fuzziness, an indistinctness that seemed to undermine their potential power.


Later I went on the Web to look at the trailers for the movie, and was startled to see how much brighter, crisper and more colorful they seemed on my computer screen than in the theater. Although I know that video images are routinely timed to be brighter than movie images, I suspect another reason for this. "Episode II" was shot entirely on digital video. It is being projected in digital video on 19 screens, but on some 3,000 others, audiences will see it as I did, transferred to film.


How it looks in digital projection I cannot say, although I hope to get a chance to see it that way. I know Lucas believes it looks better than film, but then he has cast his lot with digital. My guess is that the film version of "Episode II" might jump more sharply from the screen in a small multiplex theater. But I saw it on the largest screen in Chicago, and my suspicion is, the density and saturation of the image were not adequate to imprint the image there in a forceful way.


Digital images contain less information than 35mm film images, and the more you test their limits, the more you see that. Two weeks ago I saw "Patton" shown in 70mm Dimension 150, and it was the most astonishing projection I had ever seen--absolute detail on a giant screen, which was 6,000 times larger than a frame of the 70mm film. That's what large-format film can do, but it's a standard Hollywood has abandoned (except for IMAX), and we are being asked to forget how good screen images can look--to accept the compromises. I am sure I will hear from countless fans who assure me that "Episode II" looks terrific, but it does not. At least, what I saw did not. It may look great in digital projection on multiplex-size screens, and I'm sure it will look great on DVD, but on a big screen it lacks the authority it needs."
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

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Yeah, but Mr. Ebert sees pristine 2nd or 3rd gen copies, not the 3rd - 5th gen copies that have been shown several dozen (or hundred) times, with all the glorious scratches, jumps, degraded colors, etc. that the unwashed masses (like me) get to see.


Personally, I'm looking forward to the totally digital movie experience.
 

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Although it's true the digital master for AOTC is [email protected], the current large-venue DLP projectors are predominantly XGA resolution, with a few SXGA (1280X1024) models. (The theaters do tend to use all the available resolution with widescreen projection lenses.)


The point being, what you see in a digital theater is not the native 1080p, rather it has been scaled down for the projector being used. It's not clear to me if the digital theater is superior to the DVD display of the movie in a home theater, as one would assume the scaler used to produce the DVD is optimal - whereas the scaler in the theater may or may not be.


I was looking forward to a digital theater presentation here in the SF Bay Area, but the only local DLP theater is the downtown AMC at 1000 Van Ness. Their DLP was an XGA model - but they are not listing any digital presentations on the web, only film. (I did see Shrek there in digital.) I'm not going all the way to Hollywood to see a digital presentation of AOTC.


Gary
 

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Attack of the clones is being shown digitally at Century 22 in San Jose. Not sure what the projector resolution is though. How do you find out? I'll see how it looks first hand this Friday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Gary, are you sure that's correct? There are full blown movie theaters using XGA projectors? Are they at least using anamorphic lenses?


Are there any theaters anywhere that have 1080p capability?
 

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I read Ebert's comments a while back and there was a thread that discussed this in another section of the forum. I have to say that he is on sound physical grounds. The resolution of a digital projector can't compete with film done correctly, particularly if he is comparing it to 70 mm. And so when he sees a film transfer from digital on a really big screen it doesn't look that great. Don't forget he is not talking about multiplex size screens.


I don't interpret what he said to mean that digital projection can't compete in a real world situation.


John Moschella
 

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chrisreeves, the "large venue" projectors (i.e. 10000 lumens or greater) all are either XGA or SXGA. That much brightness in a three-chip projector costs $100K to $150K plus lenses.


There are a few 1600X1200 projectors, at 7700 lumens, that might be adequate in a small theater, and would be wonderfull in a home theater. The three models I know of are the Sanyo PLC-UF10 and two OEM versions sold by Eiki and Christie. The list prices are up to $60K but you can get one for $31K street price. (Still, these are 4:3 panels - scaling required, and in this price range, an ISCO II anamorphic lens makes a lot of sense.)


There is one single large venue projector, the JVC DLA-QX1G, which costs $220K (plus lenses) and produces a real modest 7000 lumens (think small and very dark theater) and has true 2048X1536 resolution. It also sucks 2800 watts from a 220v circuit, and changing the 2000 watt Xenon bulb cost more than most of us spent on our projectors, every 1000 hours. But at least with this projector, you would be scaling the 1080p source UP and not DOWN.


There is one projector vendor, LaserGraphics, that claims 1920X1080 projector resolution on a 2000-lumen, $13K model known to be built with native XGA panels. Let the buyer beware, the LG2001 has been discussed in the AVS Forum before.


Rich, today is the first day I've seen the DLP showings listed at movietickets.com. Be aware that the last time I was at the AMC Van Ness, they had a first generation, XGA resolution DLP. I thought Shrek looked about the same at my house on my own XGA projector.


Simba, where did you hear the Century 22 in SJ has digital? Last time I was there they did not. Hopefully they got a good unit if it's new.


Gary
 

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Quote:
Although it's true the digital master for AOTC is [email protected], the current large-venue DLP projectors are predominantly XGA resolution, with a few SXGA (1280X1024) models. (The theaters do tend to use all the available resolution with widescreen projection lenses.)
I believe the actual digital content was captured at approximately 1920x768 resolution, letterboxed on prototype 1920x1080x24p HD cameras. This was necessary due to the unavailability of anamorphic lenses for the bleeding edge prototype cameras. Because of the limited resolution of the digital content, all live scenes were shot on both digital and film, in case the the digital content proved inadequate. I don't know if any of the film was ever used.


Also, the vast majority of digital movies are shown at SXGA resolution, windowed inside a 1920x1080x24p HD carrier, using a 2:1 horizontal anamorphic expansion lens. I wasn't aware any theaters were using XGA projectors. I didn't think any digital cinema content was available at that resolution.


Dave
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the synopsis, Gary - very helpful.


In that case, isn't it possible that the movie could potentially look better on film than digitally projected using current digital cinema projectors, if they used a projector capable of the full resolution of the master tapes to do the film transfer?
 

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Dave, the large-venue Electrohome (now called Christie) and Barco XGA projectors shipped for about 18 months before the current-technology SXGA models, and still exist in larger numbers than SXGA because most theaters refused to "upgrade" a year after going digital. I agree digital content was not available at those XGA resolutions - digital scalers by Faroudja were common then. I don't know what the scaling solution would be today, but if the source is 1920X1080 letterboxed, and the distribution is 1280X1024 and this is then shown inside a 1920X1080 frame, resolution scaling has occurred twice.


I'm wondering about the details. The Sony HDW-F900 camcorders Lucas used support either elliptical lenses (which will use all of the 16:9 panel for a 2.35:1 image) or sperical lenses, which would require "pixel cropping" to the extent that about 25% of the panel is unused for 2.35:1. I think you are describing the latter. But I also read that standard Panavision lenses used for film cameras fit these camcorders.


So I'm gonna go see it at the Century 22 next week (as I hate lines). I have seen a lot of film there over the last 15 years, including the first-run exhibitions of both Jurassic Park and T2. The comparison should be interesting.


Gary
 

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to be honest, a DLP projector on a 45' wide screen (i have no idea what the actual measurement is on average) would give you a resolution (pixel to pixel) of about 10 mm. that is similar to alot of the large LED screens that people do not like for being to "blocky"
 

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chrisreeves, I don't know of any digital projector capable of 1920X1080 native resolution as I said - but there might be some form of studio machine that would be capable of exposing film at that resolution. Most 9" CRT and some 8" CRT projectors are capable of 1920X1080 and that would be one means of making film from digital source. CRT projectors are actually analog displays if you get picky, but offer better black levels than digital projectors, and although unsuitable for large theaters, would be fine for mastering production negatives. Then the actual distribution prints would be second generation optical copies (versus fourth generation optical copies when you have film source material). But I'm speculating - i've hunted for the answers and not found them.


A detailed discussion of the digital technology used would be a great Special Feature for the DVD version of AOTC, IMHO.


Gary
 

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> to be honest, a DLP projector on a 45' wide screen (i have no idea what the actual measurement is on average) would give you a resolution (pixel to pixel) of about 10 mm. that is similar to alot of the large LED screens that people do not like for being to "blocky"


Is it not safe to assume that digital projectors have the option (and, I would think, default) of performing a realtime filter on the image to smoothe out the blockiness?


This is nothing new, of course. When talking about bitmapped polygons for 3d graphics, this process is called either bilinear or trilinear filtering, and basically always represents an improvement, even though if the original resolution was particularly poor, the result is an image that looks blurry to the point of seeming out of focus.


And it's what you get with pretty much any media player (like Windows Media Player) if you expand the image beyond its original resolution.


So no, hardly a new idea. It changes "blocky" to "blurry", and blurry is certainly better in this case. But it's starting to sound as though these ultra-expensive projectors don't have such a capacity. And I suppose that's just a limitation of DLP technology.
 

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From what I understand, when Lucas needed to start shooting, only a few prototype 1920x1080x24p Sony cameras were ready to go, and all the lense options were not available. They were not stock HDW-F900 cameras, but were customized by Panasonic, which is kind of strange.


Only one scaling step is required for presentation in a digital cinema, from the native resolution to the projector resolution. The content is prepared ahead of time, so the scaling can be done in software offline, allowing nearly theoretically perfect algorithms to be employed. Scaling in itself is not a bad thing, just poor scaling. Windowing the 1280x1024 frame inside a 1920x1080 frame is harmless, since the projector knows to only map the window onto its panel.


Film is converted to high def video in a machine called a telecine. It has a very high quality line scan imager in it to digitize the image, not totally unlike conventional desktop document scanners. They are easily capable of 1920 horizontal pixels. Various filtering is done by the telecine to reduce or eliminate aliasing and other artifacts. Film is converted to 1920x1080x24p and stored in either uncompressed format (enormous storage required), or in compressed format on HD tape (Sony HDCAM, for example), or possibly hard disk.


I don't know what technology is used to transfer digital content to film.


Yes, the pixels on the screen at a digital cinema are quite large, but between slight misalignment of the 3 panels, as well as softening due to anamorphic exansion, pixelization is reduced quite a bit. The pixels are still noticeable until about halfway back in the theater though. Switching to 1920x1080 resolution will move that point up somewhat, but not until we get to quad-HD resolution (3840x2160) will it truly be a moot point.


Dave
 

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Actually Episode II was shot in less than 1080x1920!!!



He used that new sony camcorder which has a native resolution of 1080x1920. However, in order to achieve 2.35 aspect ratio, what Lucas did in postproduction was framing only 2.35 out of the that total 16x9 panel he got from the camcorder. As a result, less than 1080P! In other words, he did not use an anamorphic lense like they usually do when shooting of 2.35 movies in 35mm.


To understands this better, let say if you are viewing a 2.35 aspect ratio movie on a 16x9 flat-panel screen, the top black and bottom black bars are the total missing pixels that Episode II film should've contained.
 
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