Side by Side : Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

...every small town theater and drive-in still left in existence. Even if your local small town picture show can afford the new technology, how long will it be before all the studios have upgraded to a newer shinier system that will show you Ewan McGregor's nose hairs in even higher-deffy high def and the system your move theater bought has gone the way of the 8 track?

I'm headed to my hometown drive-in this weekend to see Dark Knight Rises on the same screen I saw Superman on back in the 70s. I hope I will get to see more movies on that screen next year when all movies distributed become digital but, sadly, I doubt it.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Are you talking about theaters that have film based projection getting killed? Or are you talking about digital projection technologies evolving so fast and so many new versions coming out that theaters won't be able to keep up?

I've been to 5 different theaters in 3 different states. Both of my nearest theaters here in Florida have upgraded to digital. A rinky-dink local theater near where some of my relatives live in Tennessee has upgraded to digital, and it is a two screen theater and tickets a 3 bucks. Both theaters that I went to while staying in Mississippi one summer were upgraded to digital.

Theaters make plenty enough money to justify the upgrades when the time comes.

"Welcome...to Jurassic Park."
APRIL 5th, 2013

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Hasnt the internet done that already?

The faster they make the leap to above 24 frames per second the better in my opinion.

businesses will adapt to digital.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

What do you think is more expensive? Buying, maintaining a 35mm projector + the technicians to splice, clean and supervise them. Or buying and maintaining a digital projector that requires virtually no supervision or maintenance.

3 of the rep theaters in my city have gone digital because 1) it's cheaper to maintain in the long run 2) it's far easier to find prints of non-mainstream films to screen. Trying to track down a 35mm print of Chinatown is pretty difficult for a lot of theaters. Getting a digital copy of it from the distributor takes one phone call and is extremely cheap to license.

It's a no brainer for a small theater to go digital.Sure, 3D is a completely other issue entirely - but talking specifically 2D digital projection - every theater is looking at it as a cheaper option to their dated 35mm projectors.



Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

The problem in my experience with digital projectors is the fact that they are "supposed" to be fine; no supervision needed. However, like most technology, there are errors. Due to the fact that this is supposed to be an automatic start, mainly large theatre chains have all but eliminated their projection staff. Therefore, when a film goes down, unless the manager on duty knows a lot about Christie or Sony projectors or if it's just a little flaw; passes are distributed and the movie can't show.

The reason I preferred 35mm is because I'm a more visual person. I can see if there's a brain wrap. I can fix it. I can use my hands and physically FIX the problem. With digital it's all computerized, and I'm in no way a computer whiz.

Also, I truly do believe that 35mm offers a clearer picture (assuming of course, that the booth person didn't scratch the hell out of the reel, as was my experience with DKR last weekend... le sigh).

Digital has it's perks, but I think both should co-exist, not have one completely take over the other. Also, many foreign films do not come in digital presentation, same with a lot of small indies. We do a huge international film fest at my theater and we have to re-install the 35mm projectors for those 2 weeks specifically to show those films.

I do agree with the plus of digital in order to show old movies though. Got to catch Casablanca on the big screen thanks to digital. Definite perk.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

35mm is perhaps clearer when you can show the original print for the first time. But what cinemas get is more like a copy of a copy of a copy... and with every copy the quality degrades.

With digital you get the same data, every time, as was created by the filmmakers. Every copy is identical. And it doesn't matter how often it is played.

I like the charm of 35mm, of having the projector rattling away in the same room, the imperfections, ... but in terms of actual image quality a good digital projector will probably do a much better job in most cases.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

As a former film purist, I have now put aside my wistful, nostalgic memories of how great film was and I now face the reality of the digital transition and what the ramifications of what it means for not only people like myself (a DoP/operator), but also for the average, ordinary film-goer.

I think the OP is a little caught up in that nostalgia thing, the truth of the situation is pretty much as august-eighty has already stated, but there are also other factors...

Even if the so-called, 'small town picture show' does have to upgrade to a new system somewhere down the line, so what?

Digital equipment has already proliferated on a massive scale, why? Because the digital gear is already quite affordable and with greater proliferation, future upgrades won't necessarily break the bank.

I'm old enough to have seen some those big 70's classics in their original releases - such as Superman, Star Wars, Close Encounters, The Omen, etc...

Let's not forget Jaws - which recently had a glorious digital restoration and it has to be said, has never looked better!

This leads me to my next point - the wide availability of digital 'prints' means that older films (such as those mentioned) can have a new lease of life and be seen again on the big screen without the huge difficulty of sourcing of a (film) print.

But regardless of the age of a film, the bottom line for the film-goer is nothing but good - (pretty much) identical picture quality for the people in a tiny, single-screen, old cinema as for those attending a big, fancy premiere in Los Angeles.

Don't get me wrong, I really do love film and it is still (just about!) a viable acquisition format, but it as a presentation format, it's time is almost over.

Peace,

PG.

''...a little whimsical in the brain-pan''

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Well this is a totally different topic to the one the film raises.

I am pro-film when it comes to shooting, but I am all for digital projection. My local cinema (which is probably the same for most people) is a multiplex - which are great because they give you choice!

They even have 4 small studio screens to watch smaller films, and an IMAX rip-off for big screen experiences. The IMAX screen would be impossible without a digital projector, which is cool. Although it is the only cinema in the world I can see the pixels.

I don't think we ever even had drive-in cinemas in my country, and film prints often get worn.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Man, I LOVE/LOVED Drive inns.... the little speaker on your window or radio broadcast, the gravel parking lot, the raw fresh greasy burgers and buttery popcorn, those stupid cartoons before it gets dark enough, the moths flying in front of the projection light that look like shooting stars...

alas, old memories. Even the modern drives I still try to go to look like crap.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

I think its an inevitable change to digital though classic movies will keep 24 frames per second as the standard frame rate for a long time. There's just too many classic films shot in that format for it to become obsolete.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

In Norway we last year concluded the full digitalisation of the cinemas. All Norwegian cinemas are now digital.

What happened was that the small cinemas had a large increase in ticketsales.
In my hometown, with a population of 5000, the local cinema had an increase in 48% in number of tickets, and a 68% increase in box office.
This due to fresher films as well as more possibillities to show the movies the cinemas wants to show.

This was the model all over, so all in all the increase in box office was 15% across the country due to the smaller cinemas.

As long as there's agreement on which system, then I can't see the troubles. In Norway the cinemas organization was deciding together with the industry what system which was chosen.
Don't forget that the new digital systems actually are cheaper than the old cinematographer machines!

So I hope you're wrong.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…


In Norway we last year concluded the full digitalisation of the cinemas. All Norwegian cinemas are now digital.


That's good that theater attendance increased after they went digital, but why was it necessary for EVERY theater in Norway to make the change at once? That's a bit silly, but I guess that is a very Scandinavian way of doing things. Why couldn't they do it like most other countries, and slowly make the change and still have some old style projectors in theaters?

Some theaters actually do BOTH in the same theater here in the United States. It's odd that it was necessary for you guys to require EVERY theater in the country to make the change at once, with everyone conforming. Very odd. But again, I guess that is Scandinavia.....

Speaking of Norway though, I recently watched your homegrown movie "Headhunters", and I was blown away. It was probably the best movie I watched this year, and I watched a lot of movies this year.....

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

You're right. That's probably very Scandinavian. But still great for the industry too see what the consequences are by digitalisation. Lots to learn from that, I guess.

I think many cinemas still have the old film projector. But for how long?
Still it not practiacal with many standards, so I think it's a good idea.
At least the possibilities to download a movie insted of making a lot of copies which are to be freighted around is a great progress.
Maybe that's why "Kon-Tiki" got a record turn up at the cinemas in Norway, as well as "Skyfall" and The Hobbit", which all smashed the top 3 in first weekend turnups in Norway. (1. Kon-Tiki, 2. Skyfall, 3. Hobbit).

About "Headhunters" ; I agree. I liked it very much. They are now to make a remake in the US, of course...
There's been quite a lot of good movies made in Norway and Scandinavia now.

Digital is to film what the CD is (was) to music….

Nice and flashy, but vinyl was always incomparable in sound quality. This is why vinyl as a format is alive and well today, and has a massive fan base. Same thing with film. Nothing digital technology does will ever surpass the raw, grainy, flawed feel of film, and this is why film will stay on for an indefinite time.

-Goodnight, mother of six!
-Goodnight, father of two!

Re: Digital is to film what the CD is (was) to music….

There are many ways to make digital look EXACTLY like film to a degree that almost everyone would never be able to tell the difference. So, if needed the option is there.
Vinyl records are for antique collectors only, not regular people... so, I agree, film will be just like Vinyl very soon. ;)
I've got several overpaid, "audiophile" friends that buy the best of everything and none of them bother with Vinyl.

Re: Digital is to film what the CD is (was) to music….

Not really. Vinyl has it's charme, and it's more of a celebration of music than a CD or a digital file. You have to get it out of the sleeve, carefully put it on the record player (that is very expensive), make sure the vinyl is clean, maybe first put it in a washing machine, maybe play it wet, you put the needle on the record... it's an experience.

But the audio quality? Please... it's easily possible to reproduce even the imperfections of vinyl. The warmth. Everything. The reason why it DOES sound better on some recordings is because it is treated as an audiophile format these days. New vinyl pressings are made in the knowledge that the buyer truly cares about sound quality and music, thus the mastering is done with that goal, with that sort of listener in mind. That the dynamic range of vinyl is so poor that you can't do much loudness helps too of course. Same thing with DVD Audio and SACD, though they have more dynamic range than even CDs. They are aimed at music lovers with a serious investment in equipment, and that's how they are produced. I have a Porcupine Tree DVD Audio, and it sounds absolutely glorious. I also have a digital copy of some Red Hot Chili Peppers vinyls. Sounds great, much better than the CDs, but it's not because CDs are an inferior format. The vinyls are just better produced.

CDs are aimed at the general public, with crappy CD players, amplifiers and speakers. Or worse yet MP3s... played on $5 earbuds. Or in a car.

Btw., it is of course also possible to emulate the grain of film. It is possible (and done) to emulate exactly the way colors look on film... on different film stock even. All that had to be done was to analyse which color on which sensor would look how on a certain film. The only thing missing (yet) is the dynamic range of film.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Everything dies.... Being the nihilist I am I realize everything goes eventually. Time washes everything away. It's just the way of things...

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Can I do away with a few myths about what has happened regarding the Digital Switch over mainly in the UK.

1/ No cinemas wanted to go digital due to the huge cost involved. For one Cinema chain in the UK converting all screens to digital cost £60mil. Did admissions go up because of Digital? No. In 2005 the Uk Film council surveyed a very large cinema going audience who for 91% asuumed cinemas had been presenting films on DVD for years. So why the change to digital? Hollywood offered every UK chain of cinemas a Virtual Print Fee payment. Every time someone goes to see a digital film the cinemas get an extra £1.50p for every admission. If the film is shown 35mm they don't get the extra payment. This was done so that cinemas could pay for the the new equipment and Hollywood studio's could do away with physical distribution.

2/ Cinemas were promised that digital especially 3d would benefit them because they could charge higher ticket prices which has come back to bite them as more people are choosing to watch films in the UK in 2D + the images would be harder to pirate. This hasn't been the case at all as most piracy is done before any films reach the cinemas.

3/ Showing older films is easier? No. once a film has been released digitally, within 12 months the hard drives are wiped and re used for other films. However, I can still get a 35mm print of any film ever released in the UK.

4/ Image is better? Most cinemas adopted silver screens for 3D presentations resulting in a 40% light loss when showing 2D films.

5/Maintenace is easier. Not always. Modern 35mm projectors require very little maintenace other than a quick brush over after each screening. Digital projectors require filters to be regularly cleaned (not done) or replaced at specific hours (not done due to the cost of the filters) plus the lamp has to be re aligned at regular intervals (not all makes) not done. Also for many 3D screenings a light box has to be pushed infront of the lens which is mechanical. Cinemas either keep the box in front of the lens for all screenings including 2D films resulting in massive light loss or if you keep sliding the box this eventually leads to the equipment going out of alignment. This equipment has to be checked every week many don't.

6/ 35mm projectors usually have some indication of a problem allowing a projections to intervene before the problem manifests itself in a bad way. Digital falls off the cliff with no warning. If your basically mechanically minded you can fix a 35mm projector but even if your a Digital whizz you can't fix a digital projector without certain access codes which aren't given to the projectionist. 2010/2013 one company registered a 27% increase in loss of shows due to digital.

7/ Film arrives late! 35mm can be shown within an hour even if another film is still being shown or if you have two projectors instantly. Digital could take several hours to load in and you can't do that on most systems if another film is running.

I actually like both technolgies. But most cinemas rushed to go digital mainly for reasons of greed. It hasn't produced the financial bonanza they thought it would. One cinema company is trying to woe projectionists back under a different title due to so many problems arising.

It was never the technology that was at fault with film but the culture within cinemas. That corner cutting culture went rampent with digital. The Cinema Exhibitors association is currently investigating all cinemas due to the over whelming complaints regarding digital projection from customers as well as film makers.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Can I do away with a few myths about what has happened regarding the Digital Switch over mainly in the UK.

1/ No cinemas wanted to go digital due to the huge cost involved. For one Cinema chain in the UK converting all screens to digital cost £60mil. Did admissions go up because of Digital? No. In 2005 the Uk Film council surveyed a very large cinema going audience who for 91% asuumed cinemas had been presenting films on DVD for years. So why the change to digital? Hollywood offered every UK chain of cinemas a Virtual Print Fee payment. Every time someone goes to see a digital film the cinemas get an extra £1.50p for every admission. If the film is shown 35mm they don't get the extra payment. This was done so that cinemas could pay for the the new equipment and Hollywood studio's could do away with physical distribution. it also meant that film makers could no longer choose in what format their films were presented.

several independent cinemas in the UK re installed 35mm projectors for Django Unchained as the demand by audiences to see it on film was massive and they knew the multiplexes wouldn't agree to show it on film.

2/ Cinemas were promised that digital especially 3d would benefit them because they could charge higher ticket prices which has come back to bite them as more people are choosing to watch films in the UK in 2D + the images would be harder to pirate. This hasn't been the case at all as most piracy is done before any films reach the cinemas.

3/ Showing older films is easier? No. once a film has been released digitally, within 12 months the hard drives are wiped and re used for other films. However, I can still get a 35mm print of any film ever released in the UK.

4/ Image is better? Most cinemas adopted silver screens for 3D presentations resulting in a 40% light loss when showing 2D films.

5/Maintenace is easier. Not always. Modern 35mm projectors require very little maintenace other than a quick brush over after each screening. Digital projectors require filters to be regularly cleaned (not done) or replaced at specific hours (not done due to the cost of the filters) plus the lamp has to be re aligned at regular intervals (not all makes) not done. Also for many 3D screenings a light box has to be pushed infront of the lens which is mechanical. Cinemas either keep the box in front of the lens for all screenings including 2D films resulting in massive light loss or if you keep sliding the box this eventually leads to the equipment going out of alignment. This equipment has to be checked every week many don't.

6/ 35mm projectors usually have some indication of a problem allowing a projections to intervene before the problem manifests itself in a bad way. Digital falls off the cliff with no warning. If your basically mechanically minded you can fix a 35mm projector but even if your a Digital whizz you can't fix a digital projector without certain access codes which aren't given to the projectionist. 2010/2013 one company registered a 27% increase in loss of shows due to digital.

7/ Film arrives late! 35mm can be shown within an hour even if another film is still being shown or if you have two projectors instantly. Digital could take several hours to load in and you can't do that on most systems if another film is running.

I actually like both technolgies. But most cinemas rushed to go digital mainly for reasons of greed. It hasn't produced the financial bonanza they thought it would. One cinema company is trying to woe projectionists back under a different title due to so many problems arising.

It was never the technology that was at fault with film but the culture within cinemas. That corner cutting culture went rampent with digital. The Cinema Exhibitors association is currently investigating all cinemas due to the over whelming complaints regarding digital projection from customers as well as film makers.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Why wouldn't digital projectors get cheaper if cameras are?

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Because cameras can be made in their billions not so projectors,plus cinemas are now having to update i.e IMAX 48fps etc.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Well I have heard of a case where a local art house theater had to raise funds to update to digital. They were doing this by crowd sourcing the community who went there. Bummer is the community might have went there in large part for the format. I'm not sure what happened to them. But crowd sourcing for anything seems like a good idea in theses cases. Another thing I don't know is how does a theater even get movies on 35mm print these days? I know for instance that QT's New Bev in Hollywood only shows that format and is able to get quite the assortment.

The last film I watch on the old 35mm print format was like a blast from the past. My brain had forgotten what it was like, but instantly recognized it at the same time. After like act 1 of the movie, your brain switches off all the imperfections of a film projector. On the other hand its nice to not have those distractions in digital. I'm not sure if anything is necessarily lost in the story telling process, so perhaps the leap to digital isn't all that bad.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

35mm prints will be made available until 2015 when most Hollywood studios will stop producing them.

I recently took part in a debate at a film school where all the students and lecturers watched Side by Side. My contribution was how Digital has affected cinemas. The debate wasn't about which technology was better but more about how technology changes established cultures that are taken for granted within the industry. Most of the students were in their mid twenties abd were pro digital.

At the end of the debate they all had very long faces. They had worked out from talking to everyone on stage that they were in a unique position. They were the first generation who would most probably be made redundant before their careers had even got started, thanks to digital technology.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

Yeah but due to digital technology, they can have careers as editor at home. Da Vinci coloring is an art in itself bc you can isolate colors. You can make home movies now in 4k, and the latitude of film is now present in 4k cameras. What has changed about their careers is that now they are forced to become self employed. Some might welcome that. Share holders probably not so much. I think share holders ought to be worried, not students or free lancers.

Personally I prefer film only bc you'll never have glitches or memory loss. But even that is getting better these days. I agree with David Lynch on most of his opinions. And if the actor needs to rest, that's something a good director is responsible for, not the DP who probably loves the pace.

Fincher makes the best arguments in favor of instant playback thats for sure.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

what about this! (and I just thought of this just now, so it might not be fleshed out very well)

Maybe, MAYBE with the dawn of everyone access to everything, there will be a better chance for REAL TALENT to float back up to the top??? If everyone with a laptop and some freeware can do 100% quality work AS THE BASELINE AVERAGE NORM now, MAYBE those with true gifts and REAL TALENT can go beyond to 125%, PROVE they have more skills than Joe Average and make his mark that way.

In a sea of well done, yet average, basic 100% good enough, the 125%ers will pop up higher like a beacon of unique skills that not everyone has: the ability to go beyond average.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

REAL TALENT can go beyond to 125%

I would suggest that real mathematicians and statisticians might argue with you!

TxMike
Make a choice, to take a chance, to make a difference.

Re: Digital will bring new life to filmmaking and kill…

I remember when cinema competed with television by giving something you couldn't get at home. It looks like the situation is reversing and the cinema is just becoming an adjunct. And geared to make as much money as possible by new releases for the 2 or so weeks people pay to see them. I would rather wait for the bluray than pay to see a digital film digitally projected.
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