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ShoWest 2000 Report 13 Mar 2000 13:29 #247

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It was good to see ShoWest again. Ky was able to talk to some film companies. He found the hot products we want. We made contact with "Phony Ear" so we can become ADA compliant. Ky won a SMART Center Surround 3X Junior digital adapter. Does anyone have a use for such a thing? It is a processor for the home that mimics Dolby EX. Just email us and we will pick a winner for the lamest use or the highest bid. www.phonicear.com

I spent a lot of time in the Kinoton, Boston Light & Sound Booth, and not just because I like Chapin Cutler. I am starting to get a soft spot in my heart and lusting after the Kinoton PK 60 D Projector head. It uses an electronically controlled synchronous motor for the intermittent. This projector is rock steady and quiet. Ah! German engineering. www.blsi.com/kinoton

I visited with Chuck Collins at the Digital Projection room. They had a very impressive display using their Lightning 10sx. This puts up a bright image on a medium size sheet. I'd say theirs was about 30' across in 1.85:1 ratio. I'd say that the year Chuck spent on the festival circuit has done him some good. He now admits that Digital Cinema is about two generations of chips away. Remember that that is only two years. www.digitalprojection.com

We stopped in to the Barco demonstration and were underwelmed. There was a lot of video moiré in the image and the clip they used had the worst camera work since Blair Witch. http://www.barco.com/projecti/index.htm

I am now hot for a set of SA (Stage Accompany) loud speakers. This little company from the Netherlands is going to revolutionize theatre sound. They use a ribbon tweeter instead of a horn. The speaker is only 9 inches deep. UA bought them for a space problem they had in Union Square in NY. They really didn't care how they sounded. The public makes a point of telling the management how great those two rooms sound. They are a little pricey, but then I have never been a cheap date. www.StageAccompany.com

There were quite a few interesting platters at the show. After looking at all the platters I went by the Strong booth to look at my personal favorite. You can really hear the bearings in those Potts. At least it has bearings, my Speco's don't. Gary Stanley is really impressed with the Big Sky platters. I discovered that most of my roller arms in my booth are from Big Sky. I guess you can’t jam the Big Sky Platter. I tried and got it to smoke. www.strong-cinema.com

Sony had an impressive booth, again proving that they have a great industrial design group. www.sdds.com

Kinotone looks like it has a good platter system, but what would you expect. They had a picture of an endless loop system the looks a fright. www.blsi.com/kinoton

The Panastereo guy gave me a great talk on the state of analogue sound. He was convincing enough that I would like to hear one of his systems. I wish more exhibitors would do full set-ups. http://www.panastereo.com/

JBL has some new monster speakers. You would have to have quite a room for these monsters. One set stood 8 or 9 feet tall! www.jblpro.com

I discovered that EAW did the speakers for my local 16-plex so I will run off to listen to those. I think they have good acoustical theory and I am eager to listen. www.eaw.com

DTS is busy with their home push. They showed a cool combo unit last year but this year there was nothing new. www.dtsonline.com

I sneaked into the Kodak talk about Digital Cinema. It was just some guy droning on about something with a power point presentation using a couple of Sanyo LCD projectors. I didn't listen. But they did fire up the Gone In Sixty Seconds trailer using the CFS Gearless Projector. It runs real quiet and had a great steady image. The real question is will it still be running in 40 years like my Simplex XLs? CFS looks like they have a good platter system. They invited me to try to brain wrap it. I got bored before it would stop.

So I had to leave on Wednesday and the big Electronic Cinema demo was on Thursday, and it is sold out to boot. So Lonny led the way. We turned off the main street at the Paris, went down a service corridors, under a tunnel, up past a restaurant office, up another flight of stairs and into the booth of the Jubilee Theatre. I got to watch the dress rehearsal for the big show. They used a Christie/TI digital projector. Now Boston Light & Sound supplies the film projection systems. Last year they set up a Kinotone. When the image hit the screen, the producers groaned because the image was so steady. This year they asked that Chapin not use the Kinotone but use a projector that is common in the US. He bought along a 20 year old Century C from his rental stock. This is a projector that looks like it has out lived it's useful life, plus imagine that it gets carted around allot. They were happy until it hit the screen. There was zero bob & weave. You don't think that Chapin would have crap in his rental stock, do you?


The plan was to have half the screen with the film image and half the screen with the digital image. They can jog the digital image and get perfect sync. The sound came off of the digital image and was played though the house sound system, with little EQ. I watched them focus the light on the film system and was a little concerned. The digital system looks like it has perfect light with no flicker. The film side had some flicker and they couldn't get a flat field. Since they were only using half the screen, the hot spot was on the side of the image. There also could have been an issue with the projector to lamp house alignment.

What I saw.

I asked the producer if I could wander up to the screen and look and she said yes. (I don’t think the paying audience was able to get out of the seats and approach the screen.) I sat just next to the soundboard at mid-house. The first clip was Star Wars. The digital image looked better to my eye. Up close you could see the loss of detail in the digital image but back where I was the digital image looked sharper. The colors were crisper, the film looked a little dull. Advantage Digital. Then came Toy Story 2. Again the colors and details were better in the digital image. Remember that each of these films came mostly from a computer. Then they hit the screen with Snow Falling on Seders. The digital image looked bad. The film was richer, the color better and the detail better. Advantage Film! I have always said that Digital Cinema will not be able to beat film in a well-photographed film. Think The Straight Story or A League of Their Own. Then they showed an all-digital clip from American Beauty. It was missing some detail as well. I can't comment on the color, as I couldn’t compare the two.

There is still a problem with the black levels and the contrast with the DLP projectors. When the scene is real dark there is no detail. And if there is a lot of black, then the black starts to look like there is light behind it. But it is not as bad as when you have a dirty or old lens on your film projector.

Let's see, with Digital Cinema being pushed by the studios and the manufactures it is believed that in five years it will be common. The Art houses will get some additional time. And we will all need to be dual system for some time to come. www.christieinc.com

Christie is leading company in digital cinema. They have a working alliance with TI and they are making the Digital Projection Head. It is a simple system inside. It is beautifully machined from solid billet. I am sure that the head will be much cheaper after they start using stampings. I am sure a production lens will be less expensive as well. www.dlpcinema.com

Christie bought Electrahome. E-home was a leading video projector manufacture. I haven’t seen good stuff from them in a couple of years but their expertise will no doubt enhance Christie’s entry into Digital Cinema. Other projector manufactures should take heed and get into bed with some of these video projector manufactures.

Christie had a new platter mutt for the Autowind II. It has two little platter decks and you can build up and tear down two films simultaneously. They didn't demo it with a 6,000-foot reel, which would be my main concern.

Christie has produced a less expensive film, projector head. It uses pressed in parts on the back plane instead of what other method they were using. Proceed with caution. It sounds like it was made to appeal to large corporate bean counters.

It was great to meet John Pytlak and the crew from Kodak. They told us some secret stuff about film coatings and static. It was very educational. Let’s just say that it should be less of a problem in the future and that we all learn from our mistakes. www.kodak.com

I met up with a bunch of my Telluride Film Festival buddies. We had a nice conversation with the vice president of UA because our new theatre used to be in his district and he knows all the players. http://www.telluridefilmfestival.com/

The trade show is great because you can meet the people you talk to on the phone. At the show they seem like they are really willing to make an effort on your behalf. There seems to me an amazing amount of projection equipment manufactures for what is a fairly limited market. Frozen beverages were big at this years show. The room with the video games was pushed to the other side of the hotel and was lightly attended. They had cleaning products and other ancillary theatre products. If it wasn’t for the video projector displays over there, I don’t think I would have made it over.

As Aaron Siesmore said to me, I have learned more about film systems in a day at the show than a year in one theatre.



[This message has been edited by Large (edited March 13, 2000).]
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Re: ShoWest 2000 Report 13 Mar 2000 19:13 #248

  • Mike
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Large! You were evereywhere! I'm too tired to write a decent review but you shame me! I am not worthy. For such an awe inspiring post.. you are awarded the order of the bigscreenbiz.com t shirt. Size and where to?
Michael Hurley
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