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About Digital porjectors in the theater?

514 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Dean McManis
OK, I just need to ask....what type of digital projectors are used in movie theaters that use them?

What would be the point? I mean I do not know much but...can you do better than 35mm film? I mean I would think the best you could do with a digital projector would be 1080x1920p..

I mean 35mm film has a resolution of around 2050p
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Digital will not get you any dust on the film, no wear or tear, and a little better brightness. Resolution is the only thing digital is short on, although you can not tell the difference.

I suggest that you see it first and then compare.
I have had a chance to see a digital projector at work.

I still like the way 35mm film looks. It has a deeper more detailed look.

The only thing that gets me with 35mm is that vertical refresh rate is a bit low. I mean at 48Hz you do see a lot of ficker. But the pans are much smoother and the detail is higher.

How can a digital projector make up for the lower resolution and...less detail.

I mean maybe in the future but now....I am not so sure.
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The comparisons we are getting are not fair.

Digital projection continues to be done with care, generally with on-site engineers. In contrast, film is projected through suboptimal equipment, operated by little trained theatre staff.

If you have a level playing field, film still looks better in most performance parameters (but not noise and scratches).

Digital will replace film before it is actually better. That is the way technology always works.
Noise and scratches are definitely issues. So are degradation and generational loss. What most of us see at theaters are 3rd and 4th generation copies that have had extremly intense light shone on them dozens or even hundreds of times. Digital will be relatively the same regardless of times of use or generational copies.

I'm sure every film to digital comparison has been done with unused 2nd or 3rd gen copies, showing film in it's best light. Unfortunately, that's not what the studios get out to the average viewer. Digital is still in it's infancy, yet is starting to give film a run for it's money. Once recording and display resolutions exceed 2100 horizontal lines, film will become a "technique", much like using black & white for films has become.
Actually, I find resolution of 1920x1080p to be superior to the suboptimal 35mm presentations locally -- so while film has an equivalent of about 2000 lines or so as you say, you won't really see that unless you're in a place that "does it right", such as Uptown or Chinese Mann, etc.

There's none locally that "does it right", it seems though (Ottawa, Ontario). I think that digital projection will definitely be an improvement in most categories at least for the local multiplexes, at least with the new QXGA DILA.
Most of the movies I've seen in the local multiplex are shown so poorly that anamorphic DVD on a good FP is at least its equal, if not superior. Same goes for sound.

I have seen many DLP presentations in theatres in NYC at the Ziegfeld, AMC Empire 25 and Loews E-Walk. My rule of thumb is that if the original source material was digital (i.e. SHREK, ICE AGE, DINOSAUR, TITAN A.E., etc.), the results are jaw-dropping.

If it was filmed and converted to digital for presentation, film is clearly superior.

STAR WARS EPISODE II looks sensational in DLP, as it is an all-digital production. There will be "select" prints in high-profile presentation houses for EPS II as well. The labs will do their best to make them look as good as possible... "here's hoping''

If you were looking a a single slide shot of 35mm film, you could maybe measure 3000 X 4000 resolution. And the picture does have great depth.

If we all got to review private first showings of what I call "pristine film" we would not want to give that up for lessor digital technology.

But I don't know about your local theaters, but at my local 20-plexes the screen size is hardly larger than what I have at home. The bulbs are kept on low wattage to extend to life. There is pronounced jitter which cuts the actual resolution considerably. Hair, fuzz, film break edits, and holes in the screen are more common than not.

So with the average cheapo theaters the actual picture quality is sometimes less than I see with scaled DVDs (720 X480p) at home, and certainly less than HDTV presentations.

I watched Toy Story II at the Apollo AMC DLP theater, and then later at a regular local theater.

The first thing that struck me was the complete lack of film jitter. It was a totally stable image, which was hard to get used to at first.

Then the picture was easily many times brighter, and the color clearly better than the dim, hair and debris covered film version.

Arguably, digital source (read animated) movies show up best on digital projectors, but I also saw The Bicentennial Man in DLP and it looked excellent as well.

The complete digital theater solution will have the movie encrypted and digitally transmitted to the theaters to local hard drives for the picture run.

The thing for me is that outside of pristine film (which can look superior) the bulk of the movies that I see in the theater have been run dozens if not hundreds of times before I get to see them, and the wear visibly shows.

The carrot that is pushing the studios to support digital presentation is the huge savings in film processing and distribution costs which will be saved with transmitting the movies via satellite.

But the theater owners are not likely to foot the bill for the conversion from film (which they've already paid for), and the $100K per projector digital replacement cost.

Ultimately, I think that the digital theaters will get to preview the EPII movie first, but I think that maybe the SECOND day the film will be distributed to all of the rest of the regular theaters to rake in the bags of money.

For specs debate there are already 4800 X 3600 D-ILA projectors in testing, and matching cameras pending, but since the storage is still huge for that resolution, and most modern movies have been remastered and archived in 1920 X 1080p digital form already. Progressive HDTV will be the resolution of digital theaters for some time to come.

It may not happen this year, but it's definitely coming within the next 5 years. Not to totally replace film, but to augment it for the higher budget theaters, who also upgrade their audio often as well.

That's where I want to go and If I can get in, I definitely want to see EPII in a digital theater.
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