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Re: Consumer Reaction To Digi-Projection

Bob writes,

>>Once the majors figure out a way to get this really going, where there is
>>an electronic projector in most theaters, delivery is via tape or
>>satellite, and they don't have to make 2000 release prints, the desires of
>>the big name cinematographers and directors will be as meaningless as if
>>they now insisted that all projectors showing their work must be in focus.

>>Digital projectors will become commonplace whether anyone will be able to
>>tell the difference between the digits and the celluloid or not because [...]

In the interests of keeping a lively discussion going, I'd like to offer a few
reasons why I do not think digital projection is going to displace film from
theaters--at least not any time soon.

1.  Those thousands of release prints everybody is worrying about have far more
of a life (and economic value) than most people realize.  After a release print
makes its first run at a premier theater, it is normally returned to the
distributor, who usually makes an effort to clean and repair it if need be.
Then it goes out on the "second-run" circuit--small town and discount theaters.
After that, it typically goes back to the distributor, gets fixed up again, then
gets exported for release in another country.  Unless all the theaters in the
film "food chain" go electronic, prints still have to be made, or a lot of
residual business is going to be lost.

2.  The major public demonstrations of electronic projection to date have been
with animations like "Tarzan" and "The Phantom Menace" (which was a cartoon in
more ways than one, in my opinion).  Nobody is bragging about how well it holds
up with nature and real-life shots where the cinematographers have been turned
loose to really practice their craft!

3.  The latest trend in film projection is unitized, all-enclosed machines
instead of open ones with separate platters.  These tend to keep the film a lot
cleaner and in better condition, since it is not out in the open any more.
Kodak is making great strides in film technology, and there is no reason to
think that they've come to the end of the road on future development.  Not to
mention the fact that Technicolor is working on reviving the IB dye film
printing process.  Better film and projectors might make electronic projection
less competitive than it appears now.

The way I expect to see all this go is that you will have electronic projection
in theaters, and in theme parks and special venues.  It will be used for what
video does best--timely events such as sports, news, and advertising with a
local flare.  Maybe even some features and locally produced entertainment.  But
right next to the electronic projector will be a film machine, and most main
attractions will still come from that.

Best regards,
Christopher Bacon

Thanks to Complete Post/Bob Blanks for support in 1999
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