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recommendations? 31 Jan 2001 19:57 #1182

  • videodrome
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do any of you have any equipment recommendations for a first time theatre owner...eg: a good projector, and screen to begin operating with?
in an earlier post, someone mentioned that having plates on a projector would be a possiblitly of limiting films with certain distributors (why is this?)...what are some other choices for me to begin with?
thanks in advance
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Re: recommendations? 31 Jan 2001 20:16 #1183

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or any recommendations of a good distributor(s) who distribute foreign, classic, and independent films...
thanks in advance!
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Re: recommendations? 01 Feb 2001 08:30 #1184

  • John Pytlak
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Some distributors may prefer reel-to-reel operation over platters because they believe that film damage is more likely on a platter.

In reality, both sytems can handle film without damage when used properly by a skilled projectionist. Obviously a platter requires removing the film leaders from the reels, and splicing the reels together. Good practice is not to lose any film when making these splices --- when the print is returned, tape splices should be carefully peeled apart and the leaders reattached without "chopping out" any frames.

Care is also needed to be sure the film is guided properly, so the film surface doesn't get rubbed by the rotating platter or a misaligned roller --- typically this misthreading causes horizontal or diagonal scratches across the image.

IMHO, platters got a "bad rep" because this form of automation has allowed a few unskilled or careless people to mishandle film. A skilled projectionist can show a print hundreds of times without damage, whether they use reels or a platter.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
EI Worldwide Technical Services
Research Labs, Building 69
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: 716-477-5325 Cell: 716-781-4036 Fax: 716-722-7243
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Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: recommendations? 01 Feb 2001 14:10 #1185

  • Mike
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Subscribe to Box Office and Film Journal magazines ...find them in the link pages... they have editions which list every supplier and distributor of every thing and movie possible. They will have copies of the volumes you want. Use www.imdb.com to find older movies and they'll always say which company distribbed it. All film comps have web sites now: search for them. Look in our www.bigscreenbiz.com directories and you'll find lots of info also.
Michael Hurley
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Re: recommendations? 01 Feb 2001 22:19 #1186

  • Avalon
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I agree with John about platters vs. reels. Automation has made it easier to put people in the booth who would be much better suited to flipping burgers. The other night i tossed the last two reels of my print off the top platter (demonic static strikes again . . . ok, i forgot to fill the humidifier). i was off the screen about four minutes and only had one splice. I was bragging shamelessly about this (much as i am now) at another theater, and their projectionist said he'd have to refund and spend the night fixing the print. Frankly, that's not acceptable. And this is where platters get their bad name. Granted, there is a difference between lopping two reels onto the platter, taping it down, and getting back on the screen and tossing a whole print, but many projectionists are just "monkey see, monkey do," with no understanding of the machine. what was the question again???
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: recommendations? 02 Feb 2001 01:06 #1187

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Platters vs Reel to Reel

Yes I will also agree with John that given competent projectionists both systems will perform well, and given the requirement of multi and megaplex operations, platters are a must. A good projectionist will run any number of showings on either system and always exhibit an excellent presentation, and show proper respect to the film stock seeing that it is not damaged in any way.

However, having just said that... I would never recommend a platter system in a single screen theatre, or possibly not in a twin either. I will NEVER have a platter in my single screen house.

Why you may ask? I think it is fair to say that most of the people that contribute to this and several other theatre websites are those that are most conscientious of our industry and strive to set the highest standards. However, you will have to agree that most of the people that have posted have been able to tell of some horror stories that they have had in the booth, mostly with platter systems which is what is in almost all theatres today. Does this mean that they are not good operators? Not necessarily, as even well maintained equipment does break down on occasion. The unfortunate aspect of this system is that whenever anything does breaks down, it almost always either creates a long interruption of the show or a complete cancelation requiring refunding receipts or giving out passes.

What if you recieve a new trailer just minutes before showtime that should go on screen for that showing. Can you change it in just a couple of minutes? Not easily. What if your schedule needs a fillin for some reason for just one showing of the day, can you add a cartoon or short? No! You do not have the flexability to change your programing from show to show that you have with reel to reel. OK...so most theatres never make any changes to their programs you may say...but, when that special occasion arises, you're out of luck.

Getting back to the reliability of the platter system...remember it is similar to a chain, only as good as it's weakest link. You have a power supply, the platter itself and all of it's components, the projector head, the sound head, the lamphouse and of course the bulb, not to mention a number of other small items... if any one of these fails... it's REFUND TIME! OK, so maybe you can change the bulb in just a few minutes, but the others mean real down time and loss of money and goodwill. What is the worst that can happen with reel to reel? You stop the machine and switch the reel to the other machine, and within two or three minutes you're back on screen. Do I have breakdowns with my reel to reel system...Yes, a couple of times a year, maybe. But, I can honestly say that in the thirty years that I have run my theatre I have NEVER had to give out even one refund or pass because of a booth or film breakdown. I also never have to worry about all those static problems that I see mentioned in here so often. I can start my show and not have any worry about whether the show will make it through. The only thing I do for piece of mind is to usually be in the booth for the changeover, just in case it wouldn't start due to missed or dirty cue tape. That seldom happens. The few times it has ever failed to start was due to me forgetfing to set the automation to "ready", and then all I had to do was push the manual override, and thus possible miss a second or two of screen time.

I guess I've ranted long enough. I don't mean to suggest that there is anything wrong with platters, there are many really fine ones that will perform their duties for many many years, but I would still be willing to put any well maintained reel to reel system against any well maintained platter system and see which one causes the least headaches.... I know the platter would lose.

PS. When I say reel to reel...I'm talking about using one hour reels with automatic changeovers, and a xenon light source. I would never want to go back to carbon arc or twenty minute reels!
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Re: recommendations? 02 Feb 2001 18:25 #1188

  • Avalon
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I agree with many of Roxy's comments. There is a lot of truth to there is a lot less to go wrong with one hour reels on two projectors. However, if you are trying to get the doors opened, it is much cheaper to get a platter system and one projector than buying two projectors, lamp houses, etc . . . . If you really had to start small, there are the ol' "double mutts" that put the whole move on one reel. hope you plan time for rewinding if you use one . . . . I used these for years and actually really like 'em.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: recommendations? 04 Feb 2001 20:48 #1189

  • videodrome
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i definately think i will be going reel to reel, unless i can find one of those "double mutts" that avalon was talking about...is that the technical term for the projector, or is there a different term that i should research...
thanks!
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Re: recommendations? 05 Feb 2001 15:14 #1190

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A double mutt is a device that will pay our film off of a 13,000 foot reel. A 13,000 foot reel is large enough to put an entire film on. Then the film is rewound on to anouter 13,000 foot reel. after the film is over, all you do is rewind it all. It takes at least 15 minutes.

Don't go this route. Get a platter. Or use two projectors with the 6'000 foot reels with automatic changeover.

I couldn't even find a picture of a double mutt or a listing of one for sale.
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Re: recommendations? 05 Feb 2001 22:43 #1191

  • Avalon
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A friend and i have a double mutt we float between our theaters when one of us is having platter troubles. The most reliable system is two projectors with 1k foot reels, in my opinion. But, you have to have two sound heads, two projection heads, two lamps, two power supplies, two sets of matching lenses, etc. The double mutts are very reliable, portable, but you have to have a larger time between films to get everything rewound which can amount to losing one showing a day. that a lot'a bucks. If you happen to be able to to fix your own stuff, then you can work on a double mutt, otherwise parts are almost nonexistant. The platter system is very reliable, repairable, easy to use, no rewinding. Just make sure your booth person has two brain cells to rub together. And, perhaps its best atribute, it requires only one projector. However, the first time you have the coupler on the sound head motor go south, you'll wish you were running two projectors. if cost is not a problem, there is nothing more reliable than having two projectors int he booth.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: recommendations? 05 Feb 2001 22:44 #1192

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A friend and i have a double mutt we float between our theaters when one of us is having platter troubles. The most reliable system is two projectors with 1k foot reels, in my opinion. But, you have to have two sound heads, two projection heads, two lamps, two power supplies, two sets of matching lenses, etc. The double mutts are very reliable, portable, but you have to have a larger time between films to get everything rewound which can amount to losing one showing a day. that a lot'a bucks. If you happen to be able to to fix your own stuff, then you can work on a double mutt, otherwise parts are almost nonexistant. The platter system is very reliable, repairable, easy to use, no rewinding. Just make sure your booth person has two brain cells to rub together. And, perhaps its best atribute, it requires only one projector. However, the first time you have the coupler on the sound head motor go south, you'll wish you were running two projectors. if cost is not a problem, there is nothing more reliable than having two projectors int he booth.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: recommendations? 07 Feb 2001 05:49 #1193

Another possibility if finance is a problem
is a single projector with 6000 to 8000 foot
spools and have an intermission. We have
always had an intermission (All New Zealand
theatres did until about 8 years ago when
multiplexes appeared on the scene) and it is
surprising the number of people who express
appreciation for a break in the middle of the
film especially if they have a bladder problem or stiff bones.
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Re: recommendations? 07 Feb 2001 13:09 #1194

  • Mike
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In 6 yrs the only equipment lost show was from a "shear pin" sheared on one Brenkert. The obvious problem with no platter is that you have to be there for every reel without one. I belive
that good equipment and a good platter will make for a good show and less labor. One platter costs a lot less than another whoe set up!


Mike Hurley
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Michael Hurley
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