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Re: MV 48

I also read this article and found part of me in agreement, but I also had to react to some of the many inaccuracies and statements made out of ignorance.

Here are my highlights....

First I will say what I liked about what Ebert says in his article. I am particularly happy to see anything that will prompt the industry to a provide a better presentation for the average person sitting in the neighborhood theater.

I do agree that the TI resolution of 1280 x 1024 is insufficient for the screen sizes they are targeting. For those that have seen the D-Cinema presentations, particularly in the first 15 rows,  you can measure objects by pixel height and width!

My main agreement with Ebert is the common statement that the current offerings of electronic projection are 'Good Enough' for replacing film to the general public. I have heard this often and it really does bug me. E-Cinema needs to be great! It can be great, but it is NOT great yet.

I further agree there is no doubt that 48 fps capture and projection would do wonders for the imagery presented on film. There are those who have lobbied in the past for 48 frame photography and it has gotten nowhere. Special venues like IMAX and others have yet to catch on in a way that might even hint that mainline production companies do anything except 24 frame capture. However, switching over the existing production structure to 48 frame would be a big, but not impossible challenge. As a starter, we would double film cost, half the load in the magazines, double the processing time, double the rendering time in the graphics generation, double the platter size on the projector, etc. etc..  The big question is (as always) who is gonna pay???

After that, the issues brought up in the article are a mix of misinformation and over-reaction. Most of these would be resolved in the final delivery 'system' of electronic distribution. But the ones that really got are these...

1. Ebert states that the projectionist could easily adjust 'color tint and contrast according to his whims' In the final version of E-Cinema these controls would be set and supervised in such a way to minimize tampering. On the other hand, maybe Ebert hasn't sat in my  local venue and seen what they do to film!! When I saw 'Toy Story II' (on film) they were sections so full of roller marks, torn perfs, and splices that the image was truly awful. When I complained to the manager, I was told that not enough people had complained about it to replace it. When I asked how many it took she said 'I don't know'!

2. Ebert says piracy would be harder for 48 frame than digital because piracy labs couldn't accommodate 48 fps film! Gees, either can anybody else! This is a silly argument. Those that pirate film can buy upgrades like anybody else. As to encryption, comparing what would be used in E-distribution cannot be compared to DVD!!!! The fact is that piracy will always be a problem and our best efforts can only minimize it, not eliminate it.

3. Ebert says that nobody has displayed 40:1 compression and that simply is not true. He is completely unaware of the issues and technology dealing with compression systems.

We all must remember that electronic distribution is in it's infancy. It has barely taken the first steps on the road to maturity. Personally, I think that some of the 'push' for E-Cinema is going to fast. But on the other hand, this is how things happen. It should not be an issue of who has the most P.R. bucks, but of what is best for the audience vs. satisfying the bean counters.

Ebert makes one statement that stopped me cold, he said about  the industry 'At the end of its first century, it shouldn't be so cheerful about throwing out everything that "film" means. And it should get over its infatuation with the "digital" buzzword.'

At first I liked it ( there is wisdom here) then I realized that he probably typed it on his computer and emailed it to his editor where it was electronic edited, formatted and typeset just before it was published on the WEB.

Balance is everything!

Ron Martin
HD Telecine Center
Universal Studios

Bill Schultz wrote:

There's an interesting article from Roger Ebert on
He's got a few words to say about the impending retirement
of film at the hands of digital projection (dijection!).
Long live celluloid....
Bill Schultz