Paper or plastic? Film or digital projection? These are the great debates of our time. OK, maybe I'm over-dramatizing this a bit, but still... Within our industry, everyone seems to have an opinion, but what about Joe Moviegoer? Does he even know that he's watching a digitally projected film? Doubtful. So how do you convince a theater-owner that showing digital films will bring in more people and revenue, especially when they are being asked to foot the bill for some very expensive digital cinema technology?
In this issue, Claudia Kienzle reports on the adoption of d-cinema overseas, especially in Asia. They are currently gearing up for the big changeover. What can the US learn from them? Please turn to page 39. I recently spoke with a couple of post pros/movie fans that don't work directly with digital cinema but are aware enough and interested enough to offer their thoughts. David Emrich, president/senior editor of Denver-based Post Modern, believes that digital cinema has a big part to play in our future. "There is not quite the depth or sharpness of images with digital cinema, but the lack of dirt and scratches starts to tilt my opinion toward digital. If [I could] see a brand new print, I'd still like to see film, but if I'm in the theater on week two, digital most likely gets my vote. I think that once the theaters' budgetary issues are resolved, which is just a matter of time, I would expect that digital projection will be the standard."
He adds that if the question is mastering/color timing for film, "that's a different matter. The color correction tools we have in the digital world far surpass those in the photochemical world, but I've seen tests that definitely show that film has a resolution approaching 8K. Therefore, any film that uses digital intermediates is forever limiting the resolution to below that of the original negative. What this means is that we can and should use the digital intermediate to have the creative tools to make the final picture for today, but today's digital intermediate should not be considered to be an archival medium."
Dave Tecson, president of Edgeworx in NYC, thinks digital films are starting to look "really good. Still, it doesn't compare to a good film print, but I've seen my fair share of film prints that are in bad shape recently. It's an interesting dilemma. It's coming into some interesting middle ground at the moment."
He has heard some buzz on movie lines lately about viewing digitally. "There's definitely some awareness of digital cinema out there, and there seems to be a belief that digital is better, especially compared to a bad print. Even if they aren't pros that can articulate those issues they do sense there's a difference."