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Re: [Fwd: star wars digital projection]

Kris wrote:
 It would also be interesting to know how
> the material was transferred and onto what. Is this an IP transfer? What
> is the framerate? What telecine was used? And finally what is the
> playback media?
> If any one knows please pass the info on.

I went to see the New Jersey DLP Showing. I posted to the CML my
thoughts, I will now post them here.

I like Film. That is the only disclaimer I will make, judge for yourself
how that affects my comments.
( I also saw this film projected opening night - different theater)
No Scan Lines, No real pixel problems, except in the subtitles. I sat in
the front third of the theater.
Skin tones ALL over the board, and sometimes not at all realistic looking.

I brought in my Spot meter. A Pentax Spotmeter V ( ANALOG). Very few
Highlights registered above a 7 on the gauge ( nothing made it past 7.5
and that included explosions although, I did not read them all.), any
highlight at 7 or above had no detail in it. Anakin's mom's hair in
their good bye scene read at a 1 on the spotmeter scale. Light sabers
were at about a 6. There were a good number of black areas throughout
the film that did not read at all.

I felt the digital projection helped the CGI characters merge better
with the NON CGI characters.

Impressions. One Night sequence in particular, when Liam is telling the
boy about the Mitochondria ( Meta something or other) Not good. In fact
the worst scene in the digital print, Sorry I can't remember how it was
in the film print. 
My feelings were that sometimes when going back and forth between high
and low key shots the Projector was not immediately at it's best, and
was a little off at first. I also wondered about shifting data rates as
the overall sharpness of the image changed depending on a number of
factors, Shot size, amount of motion, number of CGI elements. I also
noticed what I felt were shifting contrast ratios with in scenes, as if
the gamma curves were being adjusted shot to shot. Fast moving motion
across the screen was a little jittery, more so than in the film print.
Others and I peeked into the theater across the aisle showing a Film
Print of
the movie. One shot that I had measured as having a black area that read
off the scale on the digital print, measured at a 1 on the spot meter on
the film print. Next to the handmaids head as she talks to the boy after
they leave Tattooine, a black cubby hole I guess. Funny thing though
there seemed to be more detail in the black area on that shot in the 
Digital Projection than on the film? I didn't sit through the rest of
the film print, although it seemed to be a little
darker and a little colder than the Digital projection. One of the
people ( thank you Maria) somehow got us all in to see the projector and
talk to the Technicians. These are the specs as best I can remember them
( I don't believe I signed and N.D.A.) 1080 P at 30 FPS with the 3:2
pulldown, which was then removed for the projection at 24 FPS, D-5 with
a 5:1 compression, and it seemed bandied about that the Neg was scanned
at 8 megs a frame to begin with. I am sorry if I've confused any of
this. Transferred from an I.P.
It takes two computers to control the system, and the computers
calibrate it, Or maybe to run it. The Light source apparently is
virtually any one used presently for projection with a modification to
the reflector. The Print we saw was electronically cropped 13% so as
not to overflow the screen borders. No glass was installed in front of
the Projector in the wall. The film projector's window glass needed a
good cleaning or possible replacing.
My Impressions. Walking into the Film print projection, was a nicer
image for me. I liked it better than the Digital. Something about it I
liked. The Digital Projection was good, bright, and clean, but Not
preferable to me. I doubt it would matter to most people watching. I
don't think that the Digital Projection handled the highlights nearly as
well as a film projection, but that I guess can be modified in post to
minimize this, however I wonder if that leads to having contrast ratios
shifting within the scene. Interestingly enough the Digital Preview for the
"Fight Club" had a large explosion in it, almost no detail in the
explosion. How much that will bother the viewing audience I cannot
tell.. Technically they were pretty close. Projection weave has never
been an issue with me. There did not seem to be any Glitches on playback
from Hard disk.
The Technicians were very gracious in spending their down time with a
bunch of us asking them questions. Two Security guards are staying with
the Hard disk unit overnight to protect it, and they are having the
screen changed because the panels were visible (looked to me as if the
nap had been flipped every other panel).
 On a non technical note, the Digital print did not look as Inviting to
me as the film print. Whether this affects box office I have no way of telling.
That is about it, If I've messed up any of the factual information my
apologies. There were others there who saw with different eyes, many
other things than I. They can speak for themselves.
There is a concern of mine which I think is valid, that over time these
projection units will suffer from lack of proper maintenance, and
alignment as someone nudges them from position, as happens with 35mm
The DLP techs did say that the units are very sturdy, and although there
are controls for
alignment, the DLP's have been going right from shipping case to
projection without needing to be tweaked that way. I think the weak link
in all this will be the software that runs the system. If I understand
correctly it is the software that "Calibrates" the machines. I imagine
that in the beginning this will be looked after, but with time it will
drift, or be neglected. Not sure, but that is what my instincts tell me
will happen in the theaters, based on the exhibitions I see today. Can't
you just imagine the kid who is behind the counter, with popcorn, oil,
and soda on their hands going up to the booth to start the program running.

Steven Gladstone
Brooklyn Based, Cinematographer

Thanks to Cinesite for support in 1999
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