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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
An interesting article about the amazing showing of Spiderman today in the

Wall st. Journal. What is interesting to me is that they credit "megaplexes"

with the high profit margins for this movie -- a complex that can show

the same movie every 30 minutes.


Combine with the future of digital cinema, which will allow most of the cost

of distribution to be reduced while dramatically shortening the time to

ship the movies to theatres.


What does that have to do with HDTV ? Hollywoods move away from 70mm

large venues and towards small venues, perhaps with projectors that have

equal or less resolution as HDTV dramatically narrows the advantages of

public movies vs. private HDTV viewing. Hollywood is dumbing down theatres

while HDTV is making inroads in homes.


Indirectly, they are also aknowledging HDTVs main advantage, that it is a

home theatre solution. People want to watch movies at their convenince,

taking a lower quality picture over longer lines and less movie start times.

And the ultimate convenice is pushing a button and staying home.
 

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For many of use, the point of Home Theater is to achieve the best possible image that most closely approaches the look and feel of a theater. Implying that Home Theater owners are happy to accept less than the best possible image and sound available is not accurate. The real situation is that the cost of using the absolute best possible technology is too great for the majority of home theaters. CRT, D-ILA, 3 chip DLP, 35mm film, etc.. All of these technologies are used, but there is a reason that the vast majority of use use rear projection or some less expensive version of a digital projector. Cost.
 

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I saw the trailers for Star Wars 2 in the theaters.. and though they say it was filmed in 1440x1080.. I certainly couldn't tell the difference in that and the other stuff that was filmed on film.. perhaps I'm an idiot, or perhaps the stated resolution of Star Wars 2 is incorrect? On a large movie screen you should be able to see pixels if the resolution is that, shouldn't you? If that resolution is adequate for a screen with probably a 40ft diameter.. then HDTV ROCKS! :)
 

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That is perfectly adequate. SMPTE engineers admitted last year that they had to re-evaluate their assumptions about the resolution needed to match 35mm film projection. They had taken Kodak's assertion that video would need at least 4k as gospel. But real-world experience has shown that that is not the case. Toy Story was "only" 1.5k wide, and that looked great. Pixar did a lot of experimenting to figure out the best compromise between quality and resolution. Now their output format was their own laser film recorder, but an optimal digital projection should show the input resolution with no gaps between pixels, like the film recorder. If you have that, 1k by 1.5k should be enough.


Personally, on a 40' wide screen, the TI DLP system is not smooth enough to hide the pixel stucture for viewers in the first 5 rows. I attended a day-long seminar on digital projection at the Pacific Theater, the SMPTE digital test theater. IMO, the JVC dILA projector was smoother at the same screen, with smaller gaps.
 

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There have been many many debates about the actual vs. stated resolution of film. The general understanding I have is that your basic 35mm distribution print is pretty crappy. After a few showings the dirt and scratches will degrade the print even more. At some point, the color fading will affect the print. Finally, sprocket hole wear begins to degrade the visual resolution by allowing the frame registration from frame to frame to randomly flutter around. By the time a print has been used for a couple weeks a digital print would be vastly better in almost every regard.


However, a very good quality 35mm print used in a well maintained and operated projector will have more than double the actual visual resolution of a HD digital print.


When it comes to transferring digital to film, there are tricks to smooth out the "digital" look of the image so that a film print will pretty much look like a normal average 35mm film. The 24p cameras used on Star Wars Episode II are one such trick. There is something very film like about 24 frames a second....
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Dylan Savage
I saw the trailers for Star Wars 2 in the theaters.. and though they say it was filmed in 1440x1080.. I certainly couldn't tell the difference in that and the other stuff that was filmed on film.. perhaps I'm an idiot, or perhaps the stated resolution of Star Wars 2 is incorrect? On a large movie screen you should be able to see pixels if the resolution is that, shouldn't you? If that resolution is adequate for a screen with probably a 40ft diameter.. then HDTV ROCKS! :)
One factor is you sit back from the screen commesurate with its size,

so the net size of a pixel hitting your retna may not be any different than

your HDTV at home. For example, if you were to go home, and sit close

enough to your TV so that if you stare at the center of the screen, the

picture just about fills your field of view from side to side, then do the

same thing at the movie theatre, the size of a pixel according to your

eye will be identical even though the pixel real size in a theatre is much

larger.


Its not a pointless factor. Most people adjust their viewing according to

field of view even if they don't realize it. If you are used to filling half

your field of view at home, then you are probally going to sit in the theatre

about where the same FOV occurs.
 

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An original film has much greater resolution that 1080p. However what you see in a theater is a fourth generation copy of the original. (Guessing it is: Original negative->Positive for editing->Negative for distribution master->Print.) I saw Star Wars Episode I in a digital theater at 1080p and it appeared to have better resolution than a film print. Also there was no jitter, scratches, etc.


So what I see at home in 1080 is the same as a theater, depending on the set.


Rick R
 

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"Indirectly, they are also aknowledging HDTVs main advantage, that it is a

home theatre solution. People want to watch movies at their convenince,

taking a lower quality picture over longer lines and less movie start times.

And the ultimate convenice is pushing a button and staying home."



Except that there's a catch. Most people (including a large number of us on this board) will absolutely balk at a "solution" that does not allow complete control over the presentation, including recording and archiving for future use. Since those types of "hard media" sales make up the majority of the $$$ for most films, it's highly unlikely that Hollywood would allow recording of first-run presentations in the home, and that's a deal-killer.
 

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Quote:
...Except that there's a catch. Most people (including a large number of us on this board) will absolutely balk at a "solution" that does not allow complete control over the presentation, including recording and archiving for future use...
"Complete control"? I dunno about that. I'm a videophile, not a Control Freak.


If they start issuing D-Theater editions of every new flick and you can run down to Blockbuster and rent them for $5 -- well, I don't know about you, but at that point I'm reaching for my checkbook for a JVC D-VHS. Especially if it has an ATSC tuner built in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by dkeller_NC



Except that there's a catch. Most people (including a large number of us on this board) will absolutely balk at a "solution" that does not allow complete control over the presentation, including recording and archiving for future use. Since those types of "hard media" sales make up the majority of the $$$ for most films, it's highly unlikely that Hollywood would allow recording of first-run presentations in the home, and that's a deal-killer.

I'd be happy with HD-DVD, and probally a PVR for off air/satellite. I think

it has been several years since I last recorded a VHS. I want to watch what

I want, and when I want. I'm not big on compiling huge off air collections of

tapes to keep n' trade. Sure, I know people who do, and most of those

don't see anything wrong with having a few they don't own.


Not a popular opinion here, I wager.
 

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Three observations:


1) Hollywood really doesn't care how it's viewed, in a theater, PPV, or you by the HD-DVD. As long as they get their money. AND as long as you can't copy it or play it many times for a "one ticket" price!


2) Hollywood would love to get rid of print film labs. A "good" theater will only run a print for a week then it's destroyed and replaced. Satellite delivery is a long dream of the studios since at least 1975 only limited by the technology of the day.


3) "Spiderman" did what $1.1 million the first two days. Granted these figures don't come often it proves theater distribution can be very rewarding with the right film at the right time.
 

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My observation:


The key catch about digital distribution and exhibition is the cost of the PJs and ancillary equipment. Most truly high quality systems cost between $80k and $250k *per screen* to install depending on model, resolution, light output, etc. (try that in a 30-plex!). The problem is that the cost savings accrue mostly to the studios/distributors, *not* the exhibitors. Yet it is the exhibitors who are expected to pick up the tab. You can argue that the improved quality of the viewing experience (particularly vs. older prints) will draw in more theater goers. But enough to pay for the digital PJ set up? Not likely IMO.

Until Lucas (or maybe spielberg) pulls a 'you can't show this movie unless you project it digitally' or until the distributors agree to shoulder much (or at least some) of the cost, the exhibitors are going to resist as long as possible methinks.


TM
 

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There are other benefits to having digital projection. One that I've personally experienced is the multi-city corporate meetings. A local theater is setup to receive live video feeds and display them on the big screen. That's a completely new business model that could work for all kinds of events that need to allow several locations to participate.


I don't know if this type of event makes the theater much money, but what else would they be showing at 2:30PM on a Wednesday that might get the house more than a 10% full.


Other ideas that have been floated around include the ability to show any movie ever made. TV shows. Special events. Etc. There is a lot of possible ways to recoup the cost, but I doubt that many home theater types would bother running down to the local multi-plex to watch the Olympics in HD, but there are plenty of people who don't have projectors in this world.
 

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I think Hollywood does care about how you view your movie. For sure, they care about how you listen to your music. They're issuing CDs that can't be played or copied everywhere, as if they expect you to buy a second CD for you car.


DVDs are the happening thing right now. When DVD sales start to taper off in a few years, then they'll be eager to offer something new -- blue DVD, maybe? -- that will make everybody buy the same thing all over again. (Works like a charm for Bill Gates.) They probably look at D-VHS now as so many lost DVD sales.


Oh, and by the way, Glimmie -- I think you got your decimal point in the wrong place about the Spider Man grosses...
 

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I wouldn't consider the digital future of movie theaters, "dumbing down" I think the experience will be much better than you expect.


However, since there wouldn't be a cost for the print any more, I would guess that they will start making theaters smaller with more theaters per megaplex.


BTW, Star Wars was shot with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio using 1920X080 cameras for an effective resolution of aproximately 1920X810. And yes I agree the trailors for Star Wars shown on film look as good as the other trailors and even the feature presentation itself. The digital nature is hardly the limiting factor.


-Mr. Wigggles
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by MrWigggles
I wouldn't consider the digital future of movie theaters, "dumbing down" I think the experience will be much better than you expect.


-Mr. Wigggles
I consider the trend towards smaller theatres in bigger numbers (megaplex)

to be dumbing down. I said that in the original message, so thats what

happens when you selectively quote.


In a way, I think this may benifit cinema quality

indirectly. The theatre operators are making the theatre experience so much

like a home theatre in terms of screen size and quality that it will eventually

drive more people to go the home theatre route. Cinema may yet rediscover

big screens and quality as a way to keep theatres alive.


With a 120" screen, I don't supress my families desire to go see a movie.

We have some of the largest screens around with huge 70mm theatres

(the Century theatres/San Jose, CA). Thats ok, we don't do that very

often.


The couple of times that we have seen movies in the 'plexes the result

has allways been the same. The screen is not that much bigger than

at home, and none of the comforts are there. The food is bad, the prices

are bad, and theres a %50/%50 chance that some idiot will decide to

talk through the picture. Also with an all girl family, there is a big factor

in being able to stop the movie and declare a bathroom break.


Oddly, Hollywood sees that as the future. I see it as the past.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by S. A. Moore




The couple of times that we have seen movies in the 'plexes the result

has allways been the same. The screen is not that much bigger than

at home, and none of the comforts are there. The food is bad, the prices

are bad, and theres a %50/%50 chance that some idiot will decide to

talk through the picture. Also with an all girl family, there is a big factor

in being able to stop the movie and declare a bathroom break.

Last summer while at the beach on vacation we had a rainy day. Looking for something to entertain the kids, we decided to see Jurassic Park III in a local multiplex. When the movie was over, my wife commented that she much preferred to watch movies on our home theater setup: better picture, better sound, better food, more comfortable seating and no jerks sitting in front of you.


I actually don't think consumers of MOVIES (music, I think, is different in this regard) care if they "own" the underlying content so that they can copy it, watch it multiple times, etc. With respect to movies and TV shows, I think most consumers would be happy to pay a modest fee for a "watch it once" model as long as they could control the start time and could pause the viewing for convenience purposes.


We're probably not there yet in terms of "big" home theater penetration, but 10 years from now, when 50% of the population owns 60" plasma screens or digital projectors firing onto an 8-10' wide home screen, you wonder whether Hollywood might do just as well or better in terms of profit by offering new film releases in downloadable digital format rather than through theaters. Maybe you'd have a specialized PVR that would download the film via satellite in HDTV format for viewing ONE TIME (automatic erasure afterward?) at a $10 charge. The viewer controls when to begin the film, and would have the ability to stop it for bathroom breaks or whatever, but you would only get to view it once at that price. Older films, back episodes of TV shows, etc. could all be done the same way - look, I pay $3 to rent a DVD; in theory, sure, I can watch the DVD 10 times during my 1 or 2-day rental period, but who does, really? (OK, so some kids may watch the latest Disney release 50 times straight before they burn out; it's not common).


Yeah, I know this sounds a lot like the dear departed DIVX; the problems with that model, however, were both the marketplace confusion issue with DVD and the fact that the distribution system didn't really save the consumer any effort - you still had to go to a store and "buy" the DIVX disc. Current PPV technology doesn't allow you to control start times or pause in the middle. But imagine the following. I have a TIVO-like box in my home; new movies are released on Fridays, and on Thursdays I read all the ads in the papers about the upcoming new releases. I decide to watch SpiderMan this weekend, and instead of standing in a long line to watch it on a small multiplex screen with 250 slobs, I simply tell my TIVO-like box to download the film. It does it; my family watches it Friday night on my HD front-projector, DD5.1 (or 7.1 or whatever) setup. Would I pay $10 to do that? In a heartbeat, since I'm going to end up paying $30 or more to take the family to a theater. Would Hollywood end up making as much or more $$ using this distribution model? Don't know. But I do know that we rarely go watch a movie at a multiplex these days - we just wait to rent the DVD, because it is such a more pleasant experience.


John C.
 

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I purchased my HDTV when I moved into my new home last March. I have only been to the movie theater one time since then, and only because the tickets were given to me.


Back when I could get discount tickets for $4.50 at the grocery store, I might be tempted to take the wife out for a must see movie and drop $20 on the tickets, sodas, and popcorn. But now that those prices have gone up to $7.50 locally and the product isn't any better (same theater, same snacks, no new technology at the theater) I'm more likely to wait for the $2.99 rental, $0.99 2-Liter of Coke, and $0.50 bag of microwave popcorn.


As long as you can get past the new movie hype, try not to read to many reviews, etc....the ~3 month wait for the DVD isn't all that bad. Instead of having summer blockbusters, we have fall/winter/holiday DVD buying/rental sprees :)
 

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This thread is elaborating on precisely the point that I alluded to in the

Star Wars Episode II > thread:


The home theatre experience continually evolves toward a goal of more closely approximating a traditional cinema. All the while the cinema experience becomes nothing more than a glorified home theatre (dumbed-down).


Will this narrowing of the vast chasm between the quality (image, sound etc) of the experience in the cinema (digital) and the home theatre (HDTV) result in the studios being even more reluctant to allow 1080i (not to mention 1080p or better) reproductions in consumer's homes?


The likes of Lucas, Spielberg etc are already very reluctant to allow 1080i broadcasts of their blockbusters. Hell, they even make us wait a long time(compared to other films) before we get a stinkin' 480-line DVD (SW:Ep1).


I suspect that they will be incredibly reluctant to allow consumers to own copies of films that are essentially equivalent to (or even arguably better than) that which was presented in the cinema.


It will be interesting to see how long it takes for SW:Ep2 to be broadcast/made available in a 1080i HDTV format.
 
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