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65 posts

Master Geek

#78700 6-Mar-2011 11:38
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Has anyone had a look inside the projection room in a ¨digital¨ cinema these days? I´ve done a bit of internet research on the state of the art in a modern cinema, but watching a projectionist at work could be interesting.

This week I have been to a couple of screenings at the Docmentary Film Festival in Newmarket (Ak), but the pictures have left something to be desired. Certainly both films were nice and sharp, maybe too sharp, but the tonal range was disappointing.

The second film ¨Mrs Carey´s Concert¨ suffered severely from crushed blacks and clipped whites, in my opinion. It looked like someone had cranked up the contrast without looking at the result on the screen. As a result the noise in some scenes (underexposed ones here and there, it was a doco) was very obvious. Also the result overall was not kind to people´s complexions - facial blemishes were much emphasised.

I had the feeling that the producer of the film would not have been pleased with the presentation in this cinema. Do  the projectionists fiddle around with the picture, do you think, or is it ¨hands off¨? I will be interested to try this film at  home if it ever comes out on a DVD.

They have some very noisy machinery too that starts up from time to time in this Event cinema complex. A bit slack, to put it mildly.

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1425 posts

Uber Geek

  #446121 6-Mar-2011 21:38
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The modern projectionist is the kid off the candy counter.

Tongue out

Stuff is probably "set and forget" with maybe an annual checkup.


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Uber Geek

ID Verified

  #446125 6-Mar-2011 21:53
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The way things are going there won't be many traditional 35mm camera projection systems around for much longer. I remember Event saying that when they brought out SkyCity Cinemas the plans was to upgrade every screen they have to Digital/3D. Also the new Hoyts complex being built in Te Rapa (Hamilton) will be fully Digital/3D

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Master Geek

  #446200 7-Mar-2011 09:57
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The results in today’s cinemas are less than desirable, I went to see the "Kings Speech" at St Lukes, and the screen results where shocking!

Believe me, after being a cinema projectionist for more than 35+ years it no fun to viewing the results we pay good money to see in today’s cinemas.

I guarantee when I buy a copy of "Kinds Speech" on Blu-ray, my results at home on my 145” Scope Screen will be stunning!

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Ultimate Geek

  #446222 7-Mar-2011 10:50
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70mm: The results in today’s cinemas are less than desirable....

Couldn't agree more, and personally need a pretty compelling reason to even consider going to the cinema these days.

Things are LookingUp....  A photo from my back yard :-) 


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Master Geek

  #446232 7-Mar-2011 11:34
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Thanks for the comments everyone.

It sounds like my less than optimum digital cinema experience was par for the course. We home theatre people are probably a very critical audience, mind you. It's just that sometimes you look at the "film" in the cinema, and know that it can look or sound so much better with just a tweak in the projection room.

Too much automation these days, not enough pride in the result.

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  #446237 7-Mar-2011 11:45
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I remember the last time I went to the movies, which was the free screening of the social network, I left thinking that the black levels on my crap LCD at the time were not actually all that bad. Actual picture looked great, and thankfully it was full screen so no distracting grey bars top and bottom like on a TV, but every fade out etc was quite clear that it was not black.

Brightness was great tho.



65 posts

Master Geek

  #446313 7-Mar-2011 14:25
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Hello Richard. I don't get a solid black when the picture fades to black either, (LCD projector), but I would rather the blacks were up a bit than crushed. You don't really notice the raised blacks off the LCD on most average picture content.

Anyway, glad to hear that your cinema experience was not a bad one. A nicely projected 35mm film looks great (if they focus the projector). I suppose The Social Network was off film?

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Uber Geek


  #447762 12-Mar-2011 10:50
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I think it all depends on well it's been setup and the quality of the source.

A lot of movies these days go through a Digital Intermediate (DI) which is often only 2K. So when that is output back to film or to a projection digital format, that's the maximum resolution of the picture you're going to see.

Looking at the specs of Dolby Cinema, these are the main picture attributes

Purpose-designed digital cinema image decoder supports content in JPEG 2000 and MPEG-2 formats; JPEG 2000 maximum bit rate 250 Mbps; supported frame rates 2D at 24 and 48 fps, 3D at 24 fps; 2K or 4K content playback at progressive scan 2,048 x 1,080; MPEG-2 maximum bit rate 140 Mbps; supported frame rates 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 30 fps; progressive scan 1,920 x 1,080; MP@HL

So they can project 4K content at 2048x1080 which is better than any home theatre system you can purchase.  Of course the cinema chain could use poorer quality kit or not have it setup properly which would result in a poorer quality picture.

You can't really beat 35mm film for quality. But then again remember that even if the picture was shot on 35mm film, and likely to be Super35 these days, and then they use a 2K DI, even if they output it back to film, the maximum resolution of the image on the screen is 2K.

At that point you might as well wait for the BD and watch it as one poster says, on your home 140" screen, pay peanuts for popcorn, be able to stop for loo breaks and not put up with people chatting on cellphones :-), got frustrated with trying to find parking, have heads in the way and other theatre annoyances.

I think I saw two movies in the cinema last year and watched a ton more on my HT system which is only 100" but it is a 1080p projection system with full lossless audio.

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