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TOPIC: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT

DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 10 Apr 2006 23:48 #22390

  • RoxyVaudeville
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Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend the NATO of Pennsylvania Spring meeting.

The major topic, as should be no surprise to anyone, was the transition to digital cinema. John Fithian, national NATO prexy was the main speaker.

The point made was that it has now begun, and there's nothing stopping it. There will be an upswing in conversions this year, but next year, 2007, will see a major shift with thousands of screens going digital. Maybe 10,000 in the next 3 years, with film in American being a thing of the past within 10 years.

The reason for this metamorphosis suddenly taking place after many years of delays is that NATOs efforts to negotiate with the studios and equipment manufacturers on a wide range of important related topics has now born fruit.

1. Standards: An agreement has been reached whereby equipment will be compatible for all films from every studio and will run on all manufacturers equipment, so as not to recreate the nightmare we went through with the advent of digital sound.

2. Quality: Digital projection must be SUPERIOR to 35mm film projection. Fithian announced that that goal has been met as well.

3. Cost of Conversion: Since the studios will over time save billions of dollars with digital, and exhibitors will save 0 dollars, the studios through an agreement with third party concerns will pay for the conversion of all theatres, INCLUDING small independent exhibitors as well. NATO made it a major point to make sure that the little guy was not left out in the cold.

All that sounded great, but as the old saying goes... actions speak louder then words. Time will tell, right?

After lunch, we had a tour of the booth of the theatre where the meeting took place. A major megaplex in the Philadelphia area operated by one of the largest circuits, which will go nameless, and we got to see firsthand the digital equipment and how it operates. The projectionist was very knowledgeable, appeared to be well trained, and explained everything clearly, and answered many questions.

They were using the Dolby Digital server system with a Christie digital projector, using a 4200 watt bulb to light a 52 foot screen. They ran some trailers for us followed by the feature The Shaggy Dog. The picture was brilliant and perfectly in focus. It was like watching a giant TV screen. There were no hot spots, even light everywhere. No soft focus anywhere. I was truly amazed. When can I get my free equipment?

Wait... not so fast. One slight problem seemed to arise. After our booth tour, but before the feature screening, we were given a presentation about the Cinema Buying Co-op. It has been around for a few years now, so that we can as members purchase theatre supplies such as xneon bulbs, paper goods etc. at prices comparable to what the big chains pay. It was suggested that it would behoove us to join so that we would have the power of numbers to help us negotiate our deals for ditital cinema.

Negotiate our deals for digital cinema??? What deals?

Up went my hand. "Excuse me but, earlier today I heard that NATO had met it's objectives, and that one of them was that the studios would pay for digital conversion INCLUDING the little guy" What will we be negotiateing for through the co-op?

After a few minutes of what could have been an academy award winning song and dance number, I realized that I had not been given an answer.

So... I left that meeting completely satified by the quality of digital, but seriously concerned that we "little guys" may very well be left on our own to make this conversion.

I asked what the current price was. The answer was between 80 to 90 thousand dollars. It will probably come down more as the rollout continues.

We better start saving. Start brown bagging lunch, and take those bottles back to the store for the deposit. Can you still do that?

Have any of you attended any similar meetings, and if so, what did you hear?



[This message has been edited by RoxyVaudeville (edited April 11, 2006).]
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 11 Apr 2006 02:48 #22391

  • outaframe
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Well, the cat is finally out of the bag, and he's exactly the snarling beast I've been expecting him to be... All that BS about "free" equipment for all, even the little guys, is just a lot of doublespeak... All I can say is this tears it: at my age with the margins we're forced into today, I'm not about to shell out those kinds of $$ just to play the kind of crap that MOST pictures are now... I have a serious buyer who wants to buy me out, and keep me on as operating manager/booker/projectionist... I told him in the beginning that film would be dead within the next 4-5 years, and that didn't even slow him down, so I think he just bought himself a theater... Good luck to Roxy and all the rest of the old timers around here, as well as you new guys... I'm still gonna roll the dice but with someone else's money...
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 11 Apr 2006 22:54 #22392

  • Ken Layton
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial, helvetica">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by RoxyVaudeville:

It was like watching a giant TV screen.

B]<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Exactly----that's all it is---- a big screen tv. In a theater it will even have tv commercials except you won't be able to mute them or skip through them. Why even bother going to a theater anymore?

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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 12 Apr 2006 09:54 #22393

  • sevstar
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Sure hope that $80 - $90 thousand also covers any booth work needed for extra electric and cooling needed. I have also heard up to a 10 year service contract is required to be signed.

Then hope the Studios don't collapse the time between theatrical and video release dates over those 10 years.

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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 17 Apr 2006 08:25 #22394

  • ShyGrl2408
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The theater I work at is family owned(and they own many). Not sure what the problem is but I hardly have what I need in booth most of the time.

Air conditioners that don't work. Heck, we've had a ac drainage leak in the booth now for 5 months.

I don't see this happening where I work.
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 18 Apr 2006 09:44 #22395

  • theBigE
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Forgive my ignorance as a newbie, and I didn't check the FAQ first about this, but how exactly does digital work? In particular, where do you get the "film?" Is the movie downloaded somehow, similar to digitial satellite television, or do you actually get a "hard copy" (similar to a DVD) that you then return at the end of the run? If it is downloaded, on what type of memory device or hardware is the movie stored until you finish with it?

Thanks in advance for helping me with my ignorance and curiousity!
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 18 Apr 2006 11:40 #22396

  • Mike
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..... that's why I think film is not dead.... it will be too expensive for smaller theatres..... and the 2nd and 3rd world: forgetaboutit. There will continue to be film available. IMHO. Maybe there is a sub plot to make all theatres that cannot afford the stuff 2nd run and forced use of less expensive video projectors?

Michael Hurley
Impresario
Michael Hurley
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 18 Apr 2006 13:49 #22397

  • rodeojack
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I have also heard up to a 10 year service contract is required to be signed.

I've just been told that the Christie/Access AIT program comes with that requirement... but that you can use your own service (and change your own bulb) with Barco and NEC projectors.

There's going to be a demo of NEC's large-screen projector at a drive-in near Buffalo next month. I'm looking forward to attending, as this is (I believe) the first such demo in an outdoor theatre.
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 18 Apr 2006 14:18 #22398

  • ttroidl
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If you find out what Drive-in let us know!

I'd love to see what a 2k Digital pic looks like on a REAL big screen!

Tony.
tony.
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 18 Apr 2006 18:55 #22399

  • rodeojack
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It will be at the Transit Drive-In, on the evening of May 17.
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 18 Apr 2006 23:11 #22400

  • Large
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but how exactly does digital work? In particular, where do you get the "film?"

Digital Cinemas is just a big video projector about the size of a small fridge. The picture plays off of a video server about the size of your Dolby processor. The files are on an array of hard drives. The file can be loaded to the array via, multiple DVDs (The file is much larger than consumer video), or downloaded from Satelite or loaded up from a removable hard drive.

After all the had stuff is done in the install, the operator has to just push play. All Digital Cinema installations up to the moment have retained the 35mm installation as well. So far no cinema equiped with digital has run 100% digital yet. Film is still King until otherwise informed.
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 21 Apr 2006 09:55 #22401

  • John Pytlak
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When you finally decide to install a Digital Cinema system, please consider Kodak Digital Cinema:
http://www.kodak.com/go/dcinema

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 Cell: +1 585-781-4036 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
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: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 22 Apr 2006 19:47 #22402

  • leeler
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back to Roxy's question. Has anybody heard how this is supposed to work with us little guys? Here are my concerns:
1). The rollout will begin in earnest one day and theaters will be converting fairly quickly. The studios will start releasing fewer and fewer film prints and us little guys will get the squeeze for film until we get converted over.

2). It is all a song and dance about the studios paying for anything and the big chains will convert over as slowly as possible and it will be a big huge mess with fewer film prints available but still no clear way to convert without spending the big bucks.

I guess what I'd like to hear is some studios step up and say what it is they are planning to contribute. I guess I'd also like an example of someone using the co-op to buy equipment (scenario A) and somebody going it alone (scenario B) and see just what these differences are. Any ideas? This is major important stuff here. I'm sure glad we have a discussion going about it.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 22 Apr 2006 23:16 #22403

  • jacker5
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NATO is calling for a financing plan where the studios pay for the cost of the transition.Various thridd party integrators have proposed financing and instalations plans to North American Exhibitors that are backed by an agreement with the studios.
Under these plans,the thrid parties rasie the capitals to buy and install equipment in the cinemas.Over time the studios will then pay virtual fees to the thrid party for the use of the equipment.Severla exhibitors have already anuonced that they have reached agreements under these models.
The resolution also urged that financing plans be opened to particiaption by all exhibitors regardless of size or geographic location.
*More on this in the April issue of Box Office*
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Re: DIGITAL is IN, FILM is OUT 22 May 2006 09:25 #22404

  • Tom Watkins
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ok....I'm in the design phase of our new theater and I'm going to be installing all used projection equipment because of the possible changes in the next few years. I don't want to invest in new film equip if it's going to be obsolete.

If you were re-building your theater would you forgo film and jump right into digital....if money was no object and you could roll it into your construction costs?

If so, how to go about it if there are "deals" being made for conversion. My timing is about 6 months before I really need to figure it out and start buying.
Tom Watkins
Magic Lantern Theater
Bridgton Maine
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