Sunday, July 02, 2006

Digital Projection

I went to see Superman Returns again this evening, this time I took my children and I went to the local Carmike Cinemas. Carmike has switched half of their screens over to digital and I figured the best test would be to see a movie I just watch on film projected digitally. Only then I could truly test the difference.

You've heard me talk about digital projection at Carmikes before.

(By the way, I liked Superman just as much the second time. I was worried my kids wouldn't sit for it, but after a minor amount of restlessness in the middle, they were fine. Elias had some problems with it, but I'll let him tell you about those.)

But, I have to say the projection was gorgeous. There were no dark spots on the screen, no annoying flicker, no streaks where a timing belt might be off, no scratches, no blemishes, no nothing.

It was gorgeous.

My only problem with the digital projection was purely nit-picky:

I missed the reel markers.

Since I've been screenwriting, I pay so much attention to pacing and length it gets to be a habit when you watch a movie. Having been a projectionist for almost ten years, I've been trained to spot reel markers (or "cigarette burns") and I count them. Since I've assembled hundreds of movies, I've become very familiar with the average running time of a reel. So, I was interested to note that Superman doesn't appear in Superman Returns until the fourth reel, which is generally 30-50 minutes into the film.

With the digital projector, there are no reel markers. I've been watching for them for so long to judge pacing and length, it felt like something was missing from the movie.

Like I said, it was nit-picky. That was the only thing wrong with the projection so far as I could tell. And I know what film projection is like. I live at the goddamn movies.

So, head to a Carmike theatre and check it out for yourself.

(On a sidenote, I have the display on my DVD player so I can watch the running time of movies. You can place what page something appeared in the script and it helps the pacing of screenwriting become something more of an instinct. Anyhow, you should watch the DVD of Return of the Jedi with the timer on. I guarantee, that movie bends time and space. It's paced so efficiently, fifteen minute portions of the movie feel like forty-five minutes and forty-five minute portions of the movie feel like fifteen. Seriously, it will mess with you.)


Anonymous said...

As far as digital projection goes...Megaplex theatres is still the place to see them. The Wynnsong's systems are not calibrated (at least they weren't last week when I went and saw Devil Wears Prada). The audio channels were all off and the picture wasn't masked correctly. Anyway...I'm also nit-picky...that's why I say if you want to see Digital projection at its finest, go to the Jordan Commons or The District. Plus, with megaplex you get reserved seating in the digital houses; so there's no longer a need to stand in line for an hour before the film just to get good seats.
-Jed Ivie

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