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TOPIC: Digital maintenance costs

Digital maintenance costs 28 Oct 2007 00:07 #16496

  • Cinemateer
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We've all heard that the maintenance costs associated with D-cinema is higher than 35mm, but what are they? I have yet to hear exactly what type of maintenance needs to be performed on a digital projector compared to what is needed on a 35mm projector.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 28 Oct 2007 00:18 #16497

  • Transit Drive in
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Cinemateer:
We've all heard that the maintenance costs associated with D-cinema is higher than 35mm, but what are they? I have yet to hear exactly what type of maintenance needs to be performed on a digital projector compared to what is needed on a 35mm projector.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am sure that Access/IT or Technicolor would be happy to answer that question for you. There are several exhibitors already converted to D-Cinema who might also be willing to share their maintenance information with you. The simple answer is that is will most definitely be higher with D-Cinema than with 35mm film.

There are both positives and negatives associated with D-Cinema, and maintenance costs are certainly a concern. I do not feel it will be dealbreaking concern, but it should be a serious concern.

In the view of the people who have made the conversion to D-Cinema, the positives outweighed the negatives, such as the ability to exhibit 3D and other alternative content, as well as program flexibility, improved presentation quality, and reduced payroll.

Digital projection maintanence is certainly something that needs to be considered carefully when choosing your D-Cinema integrator.

Rick

[This message has been edited by Transit Drive in (edited October 28, 2007).]
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 28 Oct 2007 00:52 #16498

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I'm intimately familiar with the pros/cons with D-cinema, but what I'm only concerned with is what "high priced" maintenance is involved with digital? Lamps? Cleaning? I've discussed this personally with AccessIT at ShoWest, but they side-stepped the question. High maintenance costs wasn't exactly something they wanted to promote in a group setting.

I'm not one to believe a statement that isn't backed up with fact, so does anyone have the specifics on why digital maintenace surpasses the cost of 35mm maintenance?
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 31 Oct 2007 03:24 #16499

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This is the reply I got from a senior/Mainter projectionist of 35 mm and digital projectors.

Other than needing a laptop, all the digital projectors made today have self analyzing software for just about anything. You can do it yourself with a laptop and the proper programs. The various parts of a digital projector are more expensive than those of 35 mm. Bulbs, lenses, circuit boards, etc. Maybe that's what they mean about being more.
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 31 Oct 2007 05:30 #16500

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From reading a thread on another forum, I found the figure of $2,250 per year. That was verified in a Securities and Exchange form that Carmike has posted on their web site and can be found by a simple Google search:

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>The Company has agreed to pay an annual service fee in the amount of $2,250.00 per screen (subject to limited annual consumer price
index adjustments) for each screen installed with the Digital Equipment.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This figure does not include bulbs or filters, but would include emergency visits/repairs and other parts.


See the following links:
http://www.carmike.com/secfilings/Form_8K_12_21_05.pdf
http://www.secinfo.com/dsVsf.v754.a.htm
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 31 Oct 2007 09:04 #16501

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As with any new technology I would expect the prices to drop on bulbs, boards etc as we get more in use and production shifts from the old bulbs to the new style etc. Then the old bubls will cost more and we will be complaining about on the boards here.

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Re: Digital maintenance costs 31 Oct 2007 09:07 #16502

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From what i found out yesterday CARMIKE did not pay 1 cent for the digital projectors up front.They paid of instalation and pay a larger fee every time a digital film is sent to the theater .
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 31 Oct 2007 10:35 #16503

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Slap is correct from the information I received that Carmike didn't have initial costs outside of upgrading electric, ventilation, etc. Access/IT took legal possession of all of the 35mm equipment Carmike disposed of and probably ended up selling it overseas where 35mm continues to thrive.
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 31 Oct 2007 13:19 #16504

  • Transit Drive in
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There is no reason why you could not negotiate the terms with an integrator to service your own D-Cinema equipment, provided that your technician is suitably qualified and approved to service the equipment by the digital equipment vendor. Just because Carmike choose to pay Access/IT $2,250 annually per screen, does not mean that you have to accept the same terms.

Rick
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 31 Oct 2007 22:14 #16505

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What is the life of this equipment?

I believe most of now are using projection equipment that can work well for decades with reasonable maintenance. Will be able to use this equipment for 20 years before needing to be replaced?
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 01 Nov 2007 09:21 #16506

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by rufusjack:
<B>What is the life of this equipment?

I believe most of now are using projection equipment that can work well for decades with reasonable maintenance. Will be able to use this equipment for 20 years before needing to be replaced?</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

The lifespan will be for as long as the studios choose to support the DCI specs and JPEG2000 format that the equipment was engineered around. It will require regular maintenance and calibration, just as 35mm does now, to be long lasting.

I do not see the studios requiring theatre operators to replace their projection systems every 20 years. Sure, there will be upgraded systems and components available, but they would be backwards compatible, and easy to adapt to DCI compliant projectors in the field via retrofiting. The soundhead upgrade to red readers a few years ago would be an easy example of a recent content upgrade which required projection equipment to be retrofitted in the field, but did not require a full system replacement.

If you are wondering if the digital projectors bought today will still work with studio content in 20 years, the answer is probably yes. Will 35mm film still be supported by studios content in 20 years? Probably no.

Rick

[This message has been edited by Transit Drive in (edited November 01, 2007).]
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 02 Nov 2007 12:14 #16507

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I think rufusjack's question was whether or not the equipment itself would hold up after 20 years, which is an excellent question.

35mm projectors are made of solid cast iron, stainless steel, no electronics, and are virtually bullet-proof, as everyone knows. But digital projectors? Cheap Chinese plastic, mostly electronics with cheap components, and unproven limits and tolerances. The new industry standard of switching from lead to lead-free solder on all electronics limits the life of ANY electronic equipment severly. We're in a disposable electronics world now.

As an ex-Electrical Engineer, I can attest that mixing heat with electronics is suicide. There are measures that can be taken to limit the amount of heat that reaches the electronics, but the components on the circuit boards will degrage much faster than in cooler environments. I worked mostly in military aircraft applications and even with their high standards in quality, heat is always the second highest priority consideration (water being the first). When something breaks down, you simply replace it. But theater owners don't usually have pockets as deep as our government's.

Just one more reason not to shell out $60k for something that may last only 5 years or will be constantly down for repairs.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 02 Nov 2007 13:24 #16508

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Cinemateer:
<B>I think rufusjack's question was whether or not the equipment itself would hold up after 20 years, which is an excellent question.

35mm projectors are made of solid cast iron, stainless steel, no electronics, and are virtually bullet-proof, as everyone knows. But digital projectors? Cheap Chinese plastic, mostly electronics with cheap components, and unproven limits and tolerances. The new industry standard of switching from lead to lead-free solder on all electronics limits the life of ANY electronic equipment severly. We're in a disposable electronics world now.

As an ex-Electrical Engineer, I can attest that mixing heat with electronics is suicide. There are measures that can be taken to limit the amount of heat that reaches the electronics, but the components on the circuit boards will degrage much faster than in cooler environments. I worked mostly in military aircraft applications and even with their high standards in quality, heat is always the second highest priority consideration (water being the first). When something breaks down, you simply replace it. But theater owners don't usually have pockets as deep as our government's.

Just one more reason not to shell out $60k for something that may last only 5 years or will be constantly down for repairs. </B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Do you mean to say that you can operate 35mm projectors for 20 years, for multiple shows per day, and never replace a single sprocket? The intermittent movement alone will blow out at least once or twice. Current 35mm is hardly maintenance free, why would you expect D-Cinema to be any different? The last time I rebuilt a 35mm projector, I paid a pretty penny. I expect digital projection maintenance and reliability to be the about same or better than 35mm film projection, when the technology matures. We are still in the early adaptor stage of digital, and the costs for parts and service will fall more into line after the bulk of the screens have been converted in a few more years.

Rick
"As long as there are sunsets and stars at night, there will always be drive-in movies."
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 02 Nov 2007 22:52 #16509

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Of course both require regular maintenance. Having equipment that is "maintenance free" was not mentioned.

Beyond normal maintenance however, digital projectors themselves can never compare to 35mm's track record. Having been on the design side of similar electronics, there is no guessing or gut feelings here. Modern components made of cheaper materials using lead-free soldering simply aren't designed to last. It holds true for any modern electronics. It would cost an absolute fortune to make a digital projector robust enough to last 20 years and the success of Wal-Mart proves that Americans are looking for cheap, not high quality. You can't have both.

Technology isn't "maturing", it's getting worse all the time because costs are being cut everywhere. Cheap injection molded plastic ain't gonna cut it... ever. We just have to get used to the idea of living in a disposable world and quit hoping our new electronics will last years because it simply isn't designed to, no matter what the manufacturers will tell you (they don't know- it's the Engineers that truly do). DVD players go out all the time and are tossed, not fixed. Cars. Computers. Projectors. That's just the nature of today's electronics... unfortunately. I would love to have hope that something electronic would have a decent life span, but it's just not reality.

In rock-paper-scissors, steel wins over plastic every time.
"In a place like this, the magic is all around you. The trick is to see it." -Martin Landau
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Re: Digital maintenance costs 03 Nov 2007 12:36 #16510

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DVD players go out all the time and are tossed, not fixed.


True... and when a new digital projector costs the same as a DVD player, you can count me in as a believer!
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