digital projection VS film projection

Technically-oriented discussion of classic films on everything from 35mm to Blu-Ray

digital projection VS film projection

digital projection is better
2
17%
film projection is better
10
83%
 
Total votes : 12

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Richard--W

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digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 9:25 am

This poll was prompted by a screening of ZERO DARK THIRTY in a state-of-the-art theater that was so dim and murky it hardly qualified as a cinematic experience. This level of projection and the audience acceptance of it has become commonplace.

Which medium offers the best picture quality in a theater?

Vote, and perhaps say a few words about your experiences with picture quality and how it affected your viewing experience.
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fwtep

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 9:33 am

It's a reasonable poll, but your reason is off. Murkiness is not a film vs digital thing any more than focus is. Also, I'm not too sure that film isn't supposed to be dark and murky.
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Frederica

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 9:43 am

fwtep wrote:It's a reasonable poll, but your reason is off. Murkiness is not a film vs digital thing any more than focus is. Also, I'm not too sure that film isn't supposed to be dark and murky.


I had no murky issues during Zero Dark Thirty, except for the parts that were supposed to be murky. No clue as to whether the projection was digital or film.
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Richard P. May

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 9:44 am

Without knowing what the filmmakers intended, I don't think we the viewers can vote on a generality of whether digital or film capture is superior.
I have seen both very good and very bad from both systems.
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Mike Gebert

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 9:48 am

I love film, I love film screenings...

but my feeling is that digital has at least marginally improved the average multiplex screening by reducing screwups, scratches, out of focus-ness, etc. And in terms of image quality, is at least as good as the run of the mill print made these days.

None of this applies of course to Tech IB prints showed at festivals, etc.
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Richard--W

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 9:52 am

Richard P. May,

I don't agree. It is a matter of technology not aesthetics. Even nighttime scenes should have the same resolution as daytime scenes if its captured with the same system / technology. Of course you can vote.
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Frederica

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 10:14 am

Richard--W wrote:Richard P. May,

I don't agree. It is a matter of technology not aesthetics. Even nighttime scenes should have the same resolution as daytime scenes if its captured with the same system / technology. Of course you can vote.


Are you referring to the Abbottabad raid scenes at the end of Zero Dark Thirty?
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filmnotdigital

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 10:47 am

I posted a separate entry on the whole way these two questions were phrased
It should also be mentioned that ZDT was shot on video and therefore it is appropriate
to see it that way, A film projection while possibly "nicer" mght not be as close to the way
the movie was originally envisioned
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Paul Penna

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 12:08 pm

Robert Harris, who knows a thing or three about all this, has been posting his observations in a similar thread you started on the Home Theater Forum:

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/327156/digital-capture-vs-film-capture
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Richard--W

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostFri Jan 25, 2013 12:18 pm

And I've been posting my answers.

Different forums have different members, and I invite participation from everyone who has a mind to share their views, even if the views are conflicting.
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syd

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostSat Apr 26, 2014 9:32 pm

The new installment of Star Wars will be shot on film.
35mm and 65mm.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2488496/tec ... tt_dt_spec
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostSat Apr 26, 2014 11:11 pm

syd wrote:The new installment of Star Wars will be shot on film.
35mm and 65mm.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2488496/tec ... tt_dt_spec" target="_blank


While the 35mm film is confirmed, it appears that 65mm IMAX is out. (It will be released to IMAX theaters though.)

http://www.cnet.com/news/jj-abrams-fall ... t-on-film/

Derek
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostSun Aug 10, 2014 4:14 pm

I have been involved with digital projection for many years--and it looks great nowadays. FOR HOME THEATRE AND OLD MOVIE COLLECTING, DVD, cable and Blu-Ray has film beat ECONOMICALLY and practically. Sure, a sharp 35mm print is better, but who wants to shell out thousands of dollars for a print of a desirable classic title?

I used to collect film and got tired paying huge $$$ for film prints--and had to take what was available.
Sometimes the film went vinegar, prints weren't always the best, people I had to deal with to get the films were about
60% good and 40% not of good experiences.

16mm film was unsuitable for theatre use--too unclear focus at screens over 10' wide.

With the gorgeous new transfers the major distributors supply, for a few bucks I can get quality that looks good on
a theatre screen! As I'm writing this I am in the booth area of a local theatre running my Blu-Ray of THE QUIET MAN--and it looks great on their 20 foot screen. (yes, we booked it through the distributor)
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostMon Aug 11, 2014 2:31 am

Marr&Colton wrote:16mm film was unsuitable for theatre use--too unclear focus at screens over 10' wide.


It all depends on the quality of your prints and what projectors you use. I've done some really nice looking shows at the Texas Theater here in Dallas. I use 350w xenon projectors. I've also seen nice 16mm prints at the Egyptian Theater during Cinecon.
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Mike Gebert

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostMon Aug 11, 2014 7:47 am

In my film society days, of course a lot of prints were TV chain prints which were deliberately timed to be gray because TV film chains didn't handle dark areas well, and nobody cared that much about fine detail and focus. But there were certain companies that struck prints with such care that they could fool you into believing they were 35mm; New Yorker Films was one that clearly had someone who really cared overseeing printmaking. Mediocrity in 16mm was rarely a matter of resolution or projection so much as care exercised in the making of the print.
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Jack Theakston

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostTue Aug 12, 2014 11:00 am

Also, most of the lenses that were distributed with 16mm projectors were pretty junky stuff. Compare some of the factory brands with reputable lenses made by outfits like ISCO-Schneider of the same size and you'll be amazed.
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silentfilm

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostMon Aug 17, 2015 11:41 am

This question is looking for a simple answer to a complex question. A digital projector's image should look better than a 35mm image, but it doesn't always. As mentioned above, the lens used, the strength of the bulb, and the competence of the projectionist come into play.

And while I do love my BluRays, I still collect 16mm film. 16mm film is a better medium for showing a film to a small-to-medium sized group. There are also rights issues that are different between film and video. Screening your BluRay publicly usually means that you need to pay a fee to the distributor. Screening a 16mm print licensed for non-theatrical rights means that no extra fees are needed. There are also a lot of films (especially silent) that were never issued on BluRay or even DVD.
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Mike Gebert

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostMon Aug 17, 2015 12:12 pm

I think there's also a definition of "better" issue. High definition video is teaching us to rate absolute sharpness as the highest goal... but that isn't how old prints looked, they had a certain softness which made actresses look better, for one thing.

The biggest difference is that video cannot do black levels like film (where film is literally blocking the light, video black is still kind of glowing). The current Mission Impossible movie, for instance, is one where I thought images fell into grayish murk because they were at the limit of how well video can show shadowy images.
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostMon Aug 17, 2015 4:28 pm

It's basically a combination of the following:

- Image quality:
Is the film a print off the camera negative or a dupe and what condition is it in?
Is a digital file uncompressed, mildly compressed, or heavily compressed, and are there data dropouts?

- Equipment quality:
Has a film projector been well-maintained to provide a steady, bright, in-focus image without adding scratches, dirt, or torn sprocket holes?
Has a digital projector been configured for the proper file format, focused properly, and is the lamp still bright enough?

- Operator quality:
Is the film projectionist competent to thread the film correctly without scratching it, adding dirt, or causing film breaks, as well as keep it in focus and in frame?
Does at least one employee at a digital cinema understand how to correct any digital anomalies (mostly regarding aspect ratio, but also potentially faulty data or server programming)?

Film projection relies heavily upon the quality and condition of the print, but just as heavily on the competence of the people maintaining and running the projector. Film projectors are precision machines that require much more extensive cleaning and regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly than do digital projectors. A good polyester film print on a good projector should look virtually identical on the screen after 200 showings as it did on opening night. Either a sloppy projectionist or a poorly-maintained projector and/or platter can damage a perfect brand-new print beyond repair at any single showing, including opening night. Film inevitably picks up some wear each time it is run (especially if projectors are not kept in top shape and cleaned after every reel), whereas digital files are always the same, looking first-show perfect at each showing until the data becomes unreadable and the entire signal breaks up, skips, or disappears.

Digital projection, once set up and configured by expert technicians (usually most of this is done at the factory for consumer equipment), is nearly foolproof for operation by almost anyone (press "play") as long as projection lamps are replaced regularly. Simple periodic maintenance by trained personnel or traveling technicians is all that is needed to keep them as good as new. Digital files of films are typically scanned from the best available sources, most often camera negatives or other archival elements, and digitally "cleaned-up" if necessary to look new, and thus may often look as good as or better than film prints of identical movies, even if shown on properly-maintained film projectors. A good film print on a good projector has an organic richness to the image that is rarely if ever reproduced by digital projection (although proper file encoding, authoring, and projector color/image configuration can make digital look very close indeed to film on the screen).

The catch is, that 35mm film is a standard that has been tweaked and improved for over 120 years while remaining compatible with projectors throughout its history (with a few exceptions in early color and sound technology). Modern film prints can play on century-old projectors, and century-old film prints (if not too shrunken or beat-up) can play on modern projectors. Digital projection uses numerous standards, all of which are constantly changing and being upgraded, with no guarantee they will not be totally obsolete within a decade or two, if not a year or two, or that new standards will include backward-compatibility.
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostMon Aug 17, 2015 5:52 pm

It's so long since I have been to the pictures to see a film! I think the one in the regional city where I used to go - one of those complex things - showed pictures on fillum with one of those great big flat spool things. Whilst I found that it was adequate and usually kept in focus - the sound was often played too loud for my liking.

I watch all pictures now at home on DVD and I am quite content. The picture always seems good to me as is the sound going through my loudspeakers separate from the tinny ones in the television. It all depends of course on the condition of the print and the sound quality the DVD is run off from of course.
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostTue Aug 18, 2015 2:34 pm

Mike Gebert wrote:I think there's also a definition of "better" issue. High definition video is teaching us to rate absolute sharpness as the highest goal... but that isn't how old prints looked, they had a certain softness which made actresses look better, for one thing.

The biggest difference is that video cannot do black levels like film (where film is literally blocking the light, video black is still kind of glowing). The current Mission Impossible movie, for instance, is one where I thought images fell into grayish murk because they were at the limit of how well video can show shadowy images.


I thought a lot of Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation was shot on film; Cruise is a big advocate for celluloid. The problem with blacks may have been due to projection issues.

The big exception was the long chase scene, for which director Chris McQuarrie used small digital cameras and what he described as "proprietary" hardware and software.

But you're right. Filmmakers with clout (like Jerry Bruckheimer) still try to use film for exteriors because of its richer blacks.
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Mike Gebert

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostTue Aug 18, 2015 2:36 pm

I think, in general, I noted it in the chase scenes toward the end. But it could also be where I saw it. In any case, I'm glad I saw Interstellar in 70mm with real blacks...
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostSun Sep 27, 2015 8:48 pm

My biggest annoyance with digital projection is the annoying and disorienting jerkiness with panning and horizontal motion image and that goes with modern LCD TV's too. Not sure if my eyes are the problem but I don't have the same problem watching real film or old CRT TV where horizontal motion is seamlessly smooth.
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostMon Sep 28, 2015 8:59 pm

LCDs with true 120hz (or 240hz) capability do much better with motion whether source is 24fps or 30fps. Blacks are still a problem though, although (when properly calibrated) they are getting better. Overall, I prefer film to digital but I do like that digital allows me to see films in the theater (recent Psycho showing for example) that I would otherwise rarely, if ever, get to see on the big screen.
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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostTue Sep 29, 2015 8:01 am

Horizontal movement jitters? Hmm, I was streaming Testament of Dr. Mauser from Kanopy a d was disturbed by am slight jerkyness when either the. Camera panned or something drove or ran across the screen. Tried on several computers at various internet speeds including very high but it never improved.

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostWed Nov 04, 2015 1:25 pm

I find it hard to justify going to the theater to see a movie that was shot on film prior to the year 2000 only to see it digitally projected. At that point, how superior is it to the Blu-ray I can buy for almost the same amount of money in many cases? It had better be a huge screen, a 4K or 8K projection and a film that can really benefit from a big screen. I will make an effort to see a 35mm theatrical print of the same movie, even though there will almost certainly be drawbacks.
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Jack Theakston

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Re: digital projection VS film projection

PostWed Nov 04, 2015 3:02 pm

Depends on a lot of factors. If you saw a film in the '70s up until the '90s and it was flat, chances are the DCP is going to look better in many respects because most of those prints were high-speed runs off of a dupe neg. Most films after 2000 or so (as mentioned) were from a DI, but 'scope presentations cleaver the resolution of a flat image essentially in half, so even if you were looking at a 'scope 35mm print of a film, it's likely going to look better in some respects than the DCP.

I run both formats every week. I've also seen a blu-ray look comparable when projected through a 2K projector. Presentation is far more important than format these days.
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