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michigandriveins
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Digital Projection
« Thread started on: Jan 28th, 2006, 3:49pm »

I hate to say it, but I think digital projection will bring the closure of many movie theatres, and drive-ins. The cost of the equipment will be too great and many will just fold up. I also think eventually ALL theatres will be extinct, as technology marches on. Like I always say, enjoy what you have TODAY, because it may not be around tomorrow.

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elsrbagokrapp
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #1 on: Jan 28th, 2006, 9:40pm »

I read some time back about the cost of digital projection equipment, which is of course higher than a buzzard atop a screen tower (haw). Easy to see that many theaters could not afford it, however, I would think the cost savings to the print makers would allow for a good discount on film rental. Over time, the cost of mailing a cheap disc to theaters rather than manufacturing a 3 foot diameter roll of film for each show ought to make up the difference. It would be a shame though, to walk past the projection booth and not hear that familiar clatter.
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GratiotDriveInFan
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #2 on: Feb 3rd, 2006, 09:56am »

The cost of digital projection changeover could be mitigated to a degree if a projectionist was no longer needed to maintain a film system. I know that job elimination is a touchy subject, but it is a factor. No more broken film, no more film storage, possible computer downloads of movies could replace shipping cost, reduced mechanical maintenance. Technology always starts out expensive and then falls. I wonder if Technalight can be adapted to digital? Digital combined with Technalight could possibly be something that saves Drive-Ins and encourages new ones. What if the cost for a digital system fell below the cost of a mechanical film system? New mechanical systems aren't cheap, take up a lot of space and may be more difficult to adapt to new technological innovations. We keep thinking in terms of buying old used systems from closed Drive Ins because it is what is available. It's the best alternative to buying brand new especially working on with a limited buget and because digital is still a speck on the horizon. There are other more immediate factors that endanger Drive-Ins.

We have to keep thinking and not dreaming!
« Last Edit: Jan 16th, 2007, 10:19pm by GratiotDriveInFan » Logged

steelbeard1
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #3 on: Feb 3rd, 2006, 11:04am »

When the Capitol Theatre in Flint was briefly reopened for the Flint Sesquicentennial last year, a Christie digital projector was brought in. It was placed on top of its carrying case and aimed at the old pre-CinemaScope screen. I talk about it in a previous on-line Flinn's Journal at http://waterwinterwonderland.com/flinn110705.asp
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michdi
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #4 on: Feb 20th, 2006, 4:07pm »

Digital projection is being pushed mainly by the studios, who want to avoid the cost of making thousands of expensive 35mm prints of their films. They could also streamline the distribution process greatly. It was a topic at the recently held Drive-In Theatre Owners Association Annual Convention. Unfortunately, there isn't much of an advantage for the exhibitor or the moviegoer for that matter. Yes, you would avoid some freight charges and some set-up time. As for reliability, it is incorrect to assume that digital projectors would necessarily be more reliable than the existing projection and platter systems. I have been to some digital features and have seen numerous glitches, mostly due to software problems or communication issues with the host. On the other hand, I have seen very few major glitches that prevented a film from continuing using the existing technology. Yes you could provide movies on some sort of digital media, but they can get scratched and the players can have issues as well. As a good refurbished projector and platter system runs into the 10ís of thousands of dollars, most exhibitors wonít be too thrilled about tossing them all away and having to invest thousands more into a system that really benefits the studios more. This would be especially true of the smaller operations where many of them are barely staying afloat financially as it is. As for the level of skill required to run the equipment, the era of the union projectionist who is highly trained and well-paid has been over for years. Many multiplexes already have part-time, lower wage workers running the booth, so you canít really push it much lower down the ladder to save labor costs. The technology will get better and become cheaper to purchase over time, and surely some of the larger chains will want to adopt it. Perhaps there could be more flexibility put into the booking of films if there was not the need to be shipping cans of prints all over hellís creation. Like, if a movie tanks, then just download another one! It has been said that the folks who fail to go digital may eventually be asked to pay a premium on film rentals for the privilege of getting 35mm prints. As some rental rates are already in the 70% + range now, that does not seem tenable. As piracy is becoming a huge issue for all of the large media companies, this technology INCREASES the risk of that greatly. Instead of the bootleggers selling 2nd generation dubs of films that were obtained by aiming a camera at a screen in a movie house, they would have access to pristine digital versions of films the day they came out, ready to burn to DVD! I think the film industry would be better served by trying to figure out how to get attendance figures up and releasing better product than ramming new technology down the throats of the exhibitors!
« Last Edit: Feb 20th, 2006, 4:17pm by michdi » Logged

GratiotDriveInFan
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #5 on: Feb 25th, 2006, 8:47pm »

Just like video tape replaced 8mm and super 8, then VHS is bowing out to DVD, with digital on the horizon, film will probably fade into history. If technology follows it's own history, the equipment prices will fall, especially if several companies compete for the market. Cost is the biggest factor that will determine whether cinemas and drive-ins sink or swim.

Financing a new digital system will help. Film projectors will probably become boat anchors. You can be pessimistic and say that digital will doom the industry, but that's the last thing the studios will want to do. Why would they want to kill their market. If digital can prove superior to film, the move can be benificial. It would be better to start planning ahead than to ignore the possibility. There will probably be a shakeout, but if players want to stay in the game, they'll have to ante up.

If picture quality can be enhanced for drive-in venues and movie selection can be broadened. cost will be the most painful aspect of digital projection. It would be cool to be able to devote one screen of a multiscreen drive-in to classic or special feature movies. especially if car cruise nights can fill a lot by showing Elvis or other period movies.

Drive-ins have always had an uphill battle V.S. hardtops. People patronize a drive-in because of the drive-in experience, not because it's more comfortable or convenient.

A drive-in movie theater should not be the sole source of income for the property the drive-in sits on. That's a disaster waiting to happen. Diversifying the property by including other income generating attractions can be incorporated. Many drive-ins feature daytime flea markets. I think that's just a stop gap measure and doesn't offer the resilient protection needed to keep a drive-in from being killed off.

Joe
« Last Edit: Feb 25th, 2006, 9:41pm by GratiotDriveInFan » Logged

GratiotDriveInFan
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #6 on: Feb 28th, 2006, 10:22am »

I Googled "Technalight" and found this description: Technalight is a combination of specially engineered lamps and reflectors designed to restore brilliance, resolution and clarity to the projected image and any lamphouse can be retro-fitted with the system without changing the projector's existing main head.

Technalight is available from Robert Film Service and I think they're out of Canada. Several drive-ins in California have Technalight and they're getting rave reviews for it. I don't know if Technalight can be incorporated with digital projection but it's obviously enhancing film systems now.

Daylight savings time is the biggest reason movies have to start later. Screen position offers marginal advantage as far as sunlight is concerned and could be a big disadvantage in lot utilization. First, you have to be located on the correct side of a north-south street for esthetic appearance and for the screen tower to face west so the screen is on the east side. Sometimes a forest-like tree line helps darken a drive-in lot. Second, since competetive economic survival dictates a multiscreen operation, you couldn't use a central projection booth/snack bar arrangement if you had to position all screens in the same direction. An alternative would be that digital projection would not require the hands on labor of a film system and you could probably put them on automatic and each could have their own mini projection booth location. I don't have independant recollection of the Gratiot Drive-In projection arrangement, but Ron's early aerial photos seem to show a projection booth separate from the concession building. One drawback would be if the screens were all lined up in a single row in the same direction, like parallel parking, it would look like a bank of TVs.

Joe
« Last Edit: Mar 3rd, 2006, 10:48pm by GratiotDriveInFan » Logged

GratiotDriveInFan
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #7 on: Oct 17th, 2006, 10:03am »

Hi Gang, I was channel surfing this morning and caught a discussion on Digital Projection on CNBC. They were saying that it is catching on with movie theatres and is threatening to send 35 mm projection onto the scrap heap of history. They talked about how easy it is to download movies to the theatres instead of making expensive film prints, how digital projection delivers pristine quality while film degrades over time and use and that the "cost per house" is about $100,000.00. Also mentioned is how movie studios may subsidize the cost of the technology, the desire to cut cost of delivery and reduce pirating. They referred to the effort as the "digital projection initiative." Maybe someone here can locate the story on the CNBC website. Sounds like bad news for Drive-Ins.
Joe
« Last Edit: Oct 17th, 2006, 10:06am by GratiotDriveInFan » Logged

elsrbagokrapp
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #8 on: Oct 19th, 2006, 9:14pm »

Link to a good article titled "Coming Soon - The Digital Drive-in Movie Theater" -

http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2006/05/28/coming_soon_the_digital_drive_in_movie_theater/
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GratiotDriveInFan
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #9 on: Jan 17th, 2007, 02:31am »

I stopped by one of the local indoor theatres to see if I could get a glimpse of the new digital projection systems and was told that I would have to get permission from their headquarters. I was also told that they have converted all of their "houses" to digital and have only a couple 35mm film projectors set up to run incase they happen to receive a movie in film format. That means that they have several film projectors and related equipment (platter systems) laying around which they can use "for parts." I'll bet that the price for used film projectors will plummet since the conversion is gaining steam. Maybe some of our Michigan Drive-Ins can pick up some equipment cheap! In know that the US-23 could use a couple platter units and the HiWay might be able to use a couple platter units as well as modern projectors to replace the small reel converted carbon arc antiques they have. Hopefully, 35mm will be around for a while longer.
Here's a photo of a Christie Digital Projector.....

Here's a photo of a 35mm projector and platter system.

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elsrbagokrapp
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #10 on: May 1st, 2007, 9:40pm »

on Jan 17th, 2007, 02:31am, GratiotDriveInFan wrote:
I stopped by one of the local indoor theatres to see if I could get a glimpse of the new digital projection systems and was told that I would have to get permission from their headquarters. I was also told that they have converted all of their "houses" to digital and have only a couple 35mm film projectors set up to run incase they happen to receive a movie in film format. That means that they have several film projectors and related equipment (platter systems) laying around which they can use "for parts." I'll bet that the price for used film projectors will plummet since the conversion is gaining steam. Maybe some of our Michigan Drive-Ins can pick up some equipment cheap! In know that the US-23 could use a couple platter units and the HiWay might be able to use a couple platter units as well as modern projectors to replace the small reel converted carbon arc antiques they have. Hopefully, 35mm will be around for a while longer.


What exactly then is the physical media that carries the "print" for digital projectors? I am guessing it would be something like a DVD disc, but that's only a guess. Has anyone seen it?
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GratiotDriveInFan
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #11 on: May 2nd, 2007, 08:16am »

Here's the lowdown on Digital Cinema:

The exact answer to your question what of physical media carries digital content, or, what the delivery system entails is answered here:

"Cost savings Ė Windows Media introduces a whole new streamlined distribution process that will no longer involve dealing with bulky expensive film reels. Films can be delivered digitally over the Internet Protocol (IP) network to targeted theaters (or on physical media such as a DVD) without producers and distributors ever having to duplicate a 35mm reel."

The preceeding paragraph was quoted from the following article on digital projection.
www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/mediaent/whitepapers/dcinemaapp.aspx

The Getty 4's parent company has not committed to equipping the Drive-In with Digital Cinema capability, which may be an indication a lack of willingness to invest further in that venue. The new screen that they installed was a stop gap measure to regain profitability and allow the doors to stay open for the time being. Maybe they'll donate some of they're future used digital projectors to the Getty as hand me downs.
It's not a good sign when a large, profitable company like Loeks declines to share digital cinema with their only Drive-In. What are the smaller independants going to do?
Maybe Drive-Ins will find a way to rent digital projectors for the few months they're open during the summer. Easy financing would be key to Drive-Ins obtaining Digital Cinema.
« Last Edit: May 2nd, 2007, 08:47am by GratiotDriveInFan » Logged

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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #12 on: May 2nd, 2007, 6:50pm »

Yikes....

In the 80's it was property values that ended a lot of the drive-ins. I think the digital age is a bad thing for the drive-in. That is why it took me so long to buy a digital camera, I felt as if I was stabbing myself in the back!

Now, you can download movies from i-Tunes. I think you could purchase "Cars" the day it came out on DVD. I can see movie theaters purchasing movies that way in the future. Not even mailing a DVD, just downloading it for a fee/specified time.

I just hope if this is the way of the future, prices of the equipment come down so the smaller operators can afford the equipment.
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elsrbagokrapp
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #13 on: May 2nd, 2007, 7:54pm »

on May 2nd, 2007, 6:50pm, AlgiersGirl wrote:
Yikes....

In the 80's it was property values that ended a lot of the drive-ins. I think the digital age is a bad thing for the drive-in. That is why it took me so long to buy a digital camera, I felt as if I was stabbing myself in the back!

Now, you can download movies from i-Tunes. I think you could purchase "Cars" the day it came out on DVD. I can see movie theaters purchasing movies that way in the future. Not even mailing a DVD, just downloading it for a fee/specified time.

I just hope if this is the way of the future, prices of the equipment come down so the smaller operators can afford the equipment.


Here's one good situation I thought of if a drive-in had digital - many of the older outdoor type movies popular in the '60's and '70s are out of copyright if the holder did not renew them. The original prints are either all gone or too rotten from age to be shown again. If a drive-in wanted to show these classic movies and a DVD is available, they are in business with zero rental cost. They could change the movie nightly if they wanted to, and there must be over a thousand of those old rot-gut titles to choose from.

Some of the old low-budget movies are actually quite good. It's in the writing, not the budget.
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steelbeard1
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Re: Digital Projection
« Reply #14 on: May 3rd, 2007, 10:34am »

I wonder where I can get those P.D. DVDs of this genre? I'm having a tough time finding them in the dollar stores.
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