View Full Version : Coming to a Theater Near You: Digital Films

12 December 2003, 06:56 PM
"LONDON (Reuters) - Grab the popcorn, cinemaphiles. You may be about to sit through one of the best movie sequels in years: digital cinema.

"The digital image is brighter, sharper, the colors are more crisp and the image is a bit steadier," says Patrick von Sychowski, an analyst with Screen Digest, the British-based media research firm.

After years of Hollywood hype, 2004 could truly be a watershed year for digital cinema. A recent surge in investment by theater chains and technology companies means the number of digital projectors in cinemas will more than double to over 400 in the next 12 months, Screen Digest reports.

There's no guarantee the technology will make the next Jennifer Lopez-Ben Affleck film more watchable, but at least the final product will look better.

As always, whenever art and technology collide, snags emerge. Installation costs for cinemas are high and the major studios are slow to churn out fully digitized blockbusters until technology standards and anti-piracy measures are resolved.

But cinema operators, eager to show off their new digital projectors to the public, aren't waiting for Hollywood. A host of European chains have begun to show digitized rock concerts, documentaries and features from independent filmmakers.

"The new technology, we see, gives the local filmmaker the chance to exhibit to a bigger audience. Those films that do not get a chance under the 35-millimeter distribution model, will get a fresh chance," said Steve Perrin, deputy head of distribution and exhibition of the UK Film Council.
">>link<< (


12 December 2003, 03:22 AM
I saw some tech footage of Episode II being displayed by a digital projector. All I can say is after seeing that, then seeing the film projector version, we are missing out on a lot of the imagery. Film projectors are bright, blurry, and filthy compared to a digital projector. I for one can't wait until all theaters are using this instead of film projectors. It seriously makes a huge difference!

Plus one upside to this technology was something Rick McCallum pointed out when they displayed the Ep II stuff. With digital projectors, independent film makers can just upload their movie, and theaters can download that movie and display it, without having to transfer, or duplicate numerous copies of actual film. Sweet! Imagine being able to see everyone's demo reel on the big screen... Maybe one day. :thumbsup:

12 December 2003, 12:29 PM
Well of course indie producers could upload their movie, but i don't care how good those projectors are, you still need high-res imagery for a decent bigscreen projection.

I've seen several DV projections, they mostly look crap.

rich novak
12 December 2003, 11:47 PM
which leads into my question:

what resolution would you need to film or render at if your finished product will no longer be a filmed frame of your movie? maybe i'm mistaken... i was under the impression that films like shrek or ff:tsw needed to be rendered at a fairly high resolution, the actually got filmed as the animation played?

if that's the case, then the projects we're working on now would need to be rendered at an enhanced res, right?

i'm such a newbie!!


12 December 2003, 12:35 AM
What does "filmed as the animation played" mean? That does not make sense.

Almost all of the work we do is for film, and 99% of the time its at 2048x1556 which is 2k full appature.

But if its an indie movie, 1024x778 will be fine. And if you want to hard letterbox your work, you could do 1024x(whatever you aspect is) and get away with it.

Some jobs need 4k, but thats mostly for anamophic. The DLP projectors are only 1k right now, but look amazing. The new 2k ones are almost ready for prime time.

12 December 2003, 01:00 AM
I've had mixed results with the films I've seen with digital projection. I go to Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood to see most of my movies and have seen 2 DP films there. The last one was Matchstick Men, by Ridley Scott. Most of the film quality was good, but I noticed right away with the opening credits, which were very high contrast, that there was some definite pixelization, but I didn't notice any artifacts after that opening.

In many cases, the difference between digital and film projection seems to be the projector and the operators. At Arclight, their film presentation is unmatched for both digital and film. Nice bright bulbs, lovely contrast, and clean film prints (provided you see a movie early on in it's run). Compared side-by-side, I think most would be hard-pressed to find a difference.
If you took a digital film and compared it to a film projection at your local mall megaplex, you're likely to see a major difference because of the machine and bulb qualities.

I like digital because it's waking the film stock companies and forcing them to become innovative with the film processes. I've heard great things about Kodak's new 16mm film and that it's look is much like a 35mm stock. I haven't seen the results first hand, but it sounds promising.

12 December 2003, 01:27 AM
I've only seen Finding Nemo digitally projected so I can't compare it to any live action footage, but I definately liked what I saw.

I also think it's very good news for independant and amateur film makers everywhere.

It should also be good news for film goers as we 'should' see a wider range of international films seeing as cinema chains don't have to pay 3000 for each film print if they can just download it.
I say 'should' because whether the cost savings goes to displaying more varied films or whether it just gets shoved onto an already huge marketing spend for a typical hollywood formula movie, remains to be seen.

12 December 2003, 01:34 AM
I actually got to see a side by side presentation of the DLP and a regular projector. The stability and cleanness of it is amazing. And even being only a 1k project, it looked shaper than the film did. This is because the projector is doing a realtime sharpen on the footage.

it does lack the depth in the dark areas, but once it becomes 10 or 12 bit, that will fix it.

12 December 2003, 04:49 AM
My church is looking into high range, high end video projection systems. We Got to sample a Christie Projector. Its got 4 lamps and Its HUGE... It wasn't working at full colour though becuase of something wrong with the chip (lucky we figured this out before it got shipped to the final costumer).

The image you get from that thing is so crips and clear, and we were only watching at 1024x786. Now They need to get more Projectors into the 16:9 aspect (they have some christies there) and I'll buy one :D lol (a 500lbs projector in my room pls!).

yeah Digital has alot of quality, also there are quite a bit of anti piracy things that christie has built in... we also tried a sony, it was okay.. Christie had like 37 000 lumans or something insaine like that.

12 December 2003, 04:56 AM
Originally posted by parallax
Well of course indie producers could upload their movie, but i don't care how good those projectors are, you still need high-res imagery for a decent bigscreen projection.

I've seen several DV projections, they mostly look crap.

But, it's much cheaper for an indy producer to buy or rent a bunch of 24p HD cameras and shoot than it is to use 35mm film stock, they can save a fortune. I saw Spy Kids 3D and Once Upon a Time in Mexico which were both shot on DV and projected in DLP and they looked great. I've seen a bunch of films in DLP; I think my favorites were Monsters Inc and Nemo, but Signs, T3, Alien and The Last Samurai all also looked excellent. The only movie I saw in DLP that I wasn't thrilled with was a Bug's Life, and that's because the contrast was off.

12 December 2003, 05:08 AM
HD camera's I hear are a bit of a pain, not in use or working with the content of the film... but in cutting it to something in the end, going digital output though makes it much much easier!

12 December 2003, 07:17 AM
i saw Episode 2 in DLP it was very nice. it's like VCR to DVD, that simple. we even got to go up and see the new computer/projector. she showed us the major pieces and told us they dl the movie [which prompted us to ask for the ftp site they were dl'ing from...]

i could see this helping the indie scene, hell, even us. imaging if movie houses across the world started to show "cg saturday morning matinees" of people's work? doesn't have to be rendered at full resolution to enjoy.

12 December 2003, 04:53 PM
the only movie i've seen in dlp was disney's dinosaur when it first came out. but i remember being amazed by the color quality and crispness of the picture. no scratches or marks on the screen. looked fantastic. i can really understand the piracy concerns though. imagine downloading the same file the movie theaters have and watching it at home before it even is shown in theaters. it's pretty tempting for most people so i really hope they figure out a way to prevent that so the studios will really begin pushing the digital format. it'd be like upgrading a projection tv to a plasma.... and damn, thats a sexy difference!

12 December 2003, 09:02 PM
The reason why you see pixelation during the credits and any crisp lines is that most of the DLP projectors out there are only projecting around 1k rez(1024x768 or 1280x1024) with an animorphic lense to project it at the correct aspect ratio. Once we start seeing DLP's projecting full HD 1080p it will get rid of alot of the pixelation. Also they are still working on getting the contrast ratio to that of film. Currently DLP are only like 350:1 or 500:1 so you don't get real blacks, but dark, dark grey. Most of these issues will be gone in the next few years.

12 December 2003, 09:11 PM
man, i thought digital projectors were 4096x2048 or something, not crappy low-res.

this sucks

12 December 2003, 09:20 PM
I don't know what resolution was displayed when I saw the footage of Episode II with a Digital Projector. But what I do know is it did not "suck" in any way, shape or form. In fact, everyone loved it so much they displayed it again, in just a few seconds. Try doing that with a film projector... :rolleyes:

CGTalk Moderation
01 January 2006, 01:00 AM
This thread has been automatically closed as it remained inactive for 12 months. If you wish to continue the discussion, please create a new thread in the appropriate forum.