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Digital Cinema - Deluxe, Dolby and Days of Future Past

Shaun666

Well-known Member
I recently went to see Edge of Tomorrow at Cineworld in Crawley. While i enjoyed the film I was disappointed with the presentation which seemed overly dark and murky in the night time scenes and bleached of colour in the daytime scenes. It didn't seem to bear any relation to the trailers I'd seen so I paid to see it again in the Empire cinema in Sutton. It was so much better, the colour was back and I no longer struggled to see what was going on in the dark scenes. Just goes to show that even with digital presentations you're not always guaranteed to get the best picture.
 

Makemebad1978

Active Member
Shaun666 i went to the IMAX in Crawley to see it and it was good. I'm wondering what screen you were in as a couple of weeks ago i went to see x-men and that seemed to suffer from what you are mentioning, it was so dark in places that with the added darkness of the 3D glasses i struggled to see what was happening, i think it was screen 14 or 15, downstairs to the left.
 

Shaun666

Well-known Member
I think it may have been screen 14 but I opted for the 2D version of Edge of Tomorrow rather than the 3D both times I saw it.
 

Steve Withers

Reviewer
Whilst the DCP might be perfect, the distributors are at the mercy of each individual cinema. Funnily enough the guys at Deluxe said that rather than worrying about just increasing the resolution, if the cinemas tuned their equipment more often and made sure that projection was top notch it would pay greater dividends.
 

MahaRaja

Member
With big budget movies, it's worth spending extra and visiting premium cinema halls, which tend to have bigger screens and importantly, better digital presentation. Cineworld, from my experience, are poor, though cheap to see. It's always a lottery as to which screen a movie is shown, as the screen size vary, from small to large. What annoys me most in a cinema is when people in front are switching on their phone, the bright glare is very distracting!
 

Makemebad1978

Active Member
Cinema ticket prices have gotten out of control, without Cineworld's £16 a month (+£5 per IMAX film) for as many films as i want to watch i doubt i would go anymore. £9 minimum for a ticket, might as well wait and get the blu-ray
 

mike7

Distinguished Member
Shaun666 i went to the IMAX in Crawley to see it and it was good. I'm wondering what screen you were in as a couple of weeks ago i went to see x-men and that seemed to suffer from what you are mentioning, it was so dark in places that with the added darkness of the 3D glasses i struggled to see what was happening, i think it was screen 14 or 15, downstairs to the left.
Our local Odeon cinema uses two 2k projectors working simultaneously for IMAX 3d presentations. I suppose this adds up to the advertised 4k presentation and might account for the apparent dimness of the picture. IMAX do use other systems but one is forced to believe that this is a cheap solution. They are experimenting with a system using lasers. IMAX 3D is not to be confused with Real 3d used on normal screens.

Incidentally running two projectors at the same time is not new. The first 3d presentations in the fifties used both projectors. This presented a number of problems. Normally they were only expected to show 20 minute reels alternately so they spliced 2 20 minute reels together. There had to be an interval after 40 minutes to change reels. Of course both projectors had to run in sync and if a portion of film was damaged on one reel it had to be matched at the same point on the other by splicing in blank frames. Another problem was overheating because the lamps were used to having a 20 minute rest period. Customers often complained about headaches and 3d films were dropped after only a few being made. Later 3d used the blue/green specs which were also unsatisfactory.
 

Makemebad1978

Active Member
Our local Odeon cinema uses two 2k projectors working simultaneously for IMAX 3d presentations. I suppose this adds up to the advertised 4k presentation and might account for the apparent dimness of the picture. IMAX do use other systems but one is forced to believe that this is a cheap solution. They are experimenting with a system using lasers. IMAX 3D is not to be confused with Real 3d used on normal screens.

Incidentally running two projectors at the same time is not new. The first 3d presentations in the fifties used both projectors. This presented a number of problems. Normally they were only expected to show 20 minute reels alternately so they spliced 2 20 minute reels together. There had to be an interval after 40 minutes to change reels. Of course both projectors had to run in sync and if a portion of film was damaged on one reel it had to be matched at the same point on the other by splicing in blank frames. Another problem was overheating because the lamps were used to having a 20 minute rest period. Customers often complained about headaches and 3d films were dropped after only a few being made. Later 3d used the blue/green specs which were also unsatisfactory.
Sorry, the screen we're talking about (screen 14) isn't the IMAX screen, screen 14 is probably the smallest screen they have at Crawley. The IMAX screen is the newest there and is always alot clearer than the older screens although i have been a couple of times 1st showing of the day where they have had to stop the film after 10 minutes to recalibrate and start from the beginning again.
 
So if I understand correctly, the Tiff (Loseless) frames of the movie are being compressed to a lossy (jpeg2000) format. Since each Tiff frame is only 10MB/s, so 240MB/s which means a 2.5 hour film is 2160GB uncompressed, now lets say adding the extras eg audio, would make it 3TB. 3TB dcp file on hard drive seems manageable, as the drive can be reused for another film. Why use JPEG2000 compression then, unless there is no visible difference between the uncompressed Tiff and jpeg 2000 dcp file when viewed on a large projection screen.

From the image below the difference is clearly apparent.

JPEG 2000 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Digital Cinema Deluxe care to shed some light on this?
 

anephric

Active Member
If they're using Tiff, why not use LZW compression? It's lossless.
 

mike7

Distinguished Member
So if I understand correctly, the Tiff (Loseless) frames of the movie are being compressed to a lossy (jpeg2000) format. Since each Tiff frame is only 10MB/s, so 240MB/s which means a 2.5 hour film is 2160GB uncompressed, now lets say adding the extras eg audio, would make it 3TB. 3TB dcp file on hard drive seems manageable, as the drive can be reused for another film. Why use JPEG2000 compression then, unless there is no visible difference between the uncompressed Tiff and jpeg 2000 dcp file when viewed on a large projection screen.

From the image below the difference is clearly apparent.

JPEG 2000 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Digital Cinema Deluxe care to shed some light on this?
Not sure about where the compression comes in. In the cinema I'm familiar with, which may not have the latest projector technology, the film file is actually loaded onto the hard drive associated with the projector from the sealed drive unit received from the distributor. The projectionist also loads in the trailers and adverts etc and can even program the lights and curtains operations so once this is done it's a single button operation to run the films for the day. In a multiscreen it may be that more than one feature film is loaded on to the drive to go out at later showings. A unique pass code is required for every time a feature film runs, otherwise it is locked. This way the distributor gets their money and there is no way of sneaking and extra show. Adverts can also be preprogrammed to run at different times, much as they are on tv, so that adverts for drinks and adult products will only go out at evening shows. We are, of course, only a hairs breadth away from movies being played from an on - line source dispensing with distributing them in sealed drive form.

I've a feeling that there are no separate 2k and 4k versions and that cinemas using older 2k projectors simply downscale. There are certainly quite a lot of 2k projectors still in use. This might be the reason for some of the poor pictures people mention. It is also fairly common practice for projectionists to pull the picture slightly out of focus to conceal the jagged edges of a digital picture.
 

bigal5000

Novice Member
You know shortly after leaving school many moons back I really wanted to be a projectionist......fortunately I chose a different career path as they must all be gone by now?
I was a 35mm film projectionist for 6 years, however, we have all been replaced by computers. I would complain if it wasn't for the clarity of modern digital cinema.
 

Geoff_D

Distinguished Member
That's the thing. For all of the bitching about digital, it's brought sharp, stable images that are entirely free of dirt and damage to even the lowliest multiplex. The cinema owners still have their part to play in ensuring that that experience is presented an acceptable fashion of course, but at least the issue of wear and tear on prints (especially for smaller second-run cinemas) isn't a factor any more.

As for the questions upthread about the compression formats, people have got to bear in mind that the DCI standards were not invented yesterday! They were done several years ago, when the issue of boiling down these huge uncompressed file sizes and being able to then efficiently transport them around the world (either on portable media or via IP streaming) was of much greater import.

It's not like the specs haven't had constant revisions, what with stuff like 3D and HFR and so on, but the fundamental basics won't change unless the standards are overhauled (which is being looked at but I doubt we'll see anything big happen any time soon). It still kicks the arse of consumer video though, being in XYZ 12-bit colour and using intra-frame compression unlike the temporal compression techniques which are so prevalent on home media.
 

theprestige

Member
I was a 35mm film projectionist for 6 years, however, we have all been replaced by computers. I would complain if it wasn't for the clarity of modern digital cinema.
Hell bigal,

First of, respect for being a film projectionist. It's what I wanted to do after uni, I wanted to train as a film projectionist, but by the time i graduated, I was told that they would be phased out by 2020 because digital prints were proving to be more convenient to cinemas ):

I have to disagree with your last sentence, though. 35mm has proven to be just as clear as any digital print/native digital film. I want to the cinema a LOT as a teenager, and I rarely saw dirt and debris and all that. Sometimes the odd speck here or there, but nothing that undermined the film. The most important thing was the feel for what I was watching. It's very hard to explain, but watching something shot and projected on film brings a level of comfort that's missing from the digital revolution.

The depth, image quality and warmth of film has yet to be replicated successfully in digital prints/native. Sure, digital has come a long way, but theres still a flatness to it that prevents me from going to the cinema as much as I would like to. If all we're seeing is digital images, which, if you really think about it, is somewhat of a step back for the cinema experience, then why bother going to the cinema when a decent sized telly that can output 1080p is right there in your bedroom?

Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive is the closest I came to appreciating digital. I was convinced that was shot on film until the daylight scenes.
 

mike7

Distinguished Member
There are so many 'variables' here. A lot of smaller cinemas are using 2k projectors. There are differences between IMAX 3D and Real 3d presentations. Some directors are still insisting on shooting on film when the end product is always going to be digital presentation. I still believe that 70 mm film presentation beats 4K digital. Lawrence of Arabia was a prime example although I admit it has converted to digital pretty well. I concede that the glitch free digital presentation is a plus. Projectionists have told me that they would sometimes clip out a few frames of a movie for their private 'unofficial" collections!
 

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