Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Special Edition Movie Screenings

Digital film revolution poised to start rolling
go to original article ... or email me for article text
"'A current 35-millimeter film projector costs about $30,000 and lasts 35 years,' says NATO head Fithian. "Digital costs upward of $100,000, and I doubt it will last 25 years. You're giving us something akin to the first generation of a cell phone or a laptop."

His organization took a tough negotiating stand in November. It passed a resolution insisting that all of the major studios — the companies expected to benefit most from digital — finance in some way all the costs to buy and install digital cinema equipment for any theater that wants it. In addition, theater owners want the right to decide what models of gear to take and then want to own the equipment when the financing period is up.

What's more, NATO wants studios to guarantee that they'll offer digital versions of their movies to any theater that has a digital projector."
This is a comparison, sadly, I'd never actually thought about. It is going to suck when the second and third generation projectors roll out at a quarter of the price and twice the quality 10 years down the line. There's a huge amount of capital involved and the theaters absolutely cannot afford to be early adopters in this case.

Of course, if they aren't, then there won't be any adopters. That's why it's such an apt analogy to pick this as a chicken and egg situation.


But now that Star Wars has gotten everyone excited about digital again (my newswire has been overflowing with articles in high profile publications detailing the exhibitors' transition to digital projection) here's something that I haven't actually heard anyone talking about. One thing that I found was really enjoyable about the film festivals I've attended has been the presence of the directors, writers and actors and their availability for questions. Everyone knows how much interacting with them can enrich a film, so booking the creative talent behind a film is usually a something lots of theaters would like to do (although few have the power to do so).

The digitization of movie houses, though, demolishes one of the primary barriers preventing filmmakers from doing Q&A sessions _everywhere_ a film plays.With all of the techological advances made in teleconferencing and long distance learning technology, Once there are digital projectors in all theaters, there is very little to stop a directors from holding a nationwide simultaneous press conference with every single one of the people viewing the film!

I mean, is anyone else excited about this?!

Everybody would win. People would connect to film makers and give them valuable feedback. The directors could open up their vision even beyond the potential flaws of the film. People could see what it means to other people in other parts of the world. Imagine a panel of the Spielberg, and Tom Cruise being beamed down onto a movie screen once the credits of War of the Worlds roll. Then people in theaters across the country can step in front of cameras and submit questions about the movie. The best, or most common ones could be shown in front of the whole country and the filmmakers could answer while behind the scenes footage or supplemental material played next to them while they answer the question.

All the talk is about alternative content like concerts and meetings. But why not make the alternative content about the real human connections long promised by telecommunications technology. The production and sales of special edition dvds have shown how hungry the public is for "special feature" content. If the movie exhibition industry is so threatened by the growth of the home viewing business, why not beat them out by providing an even richer experience while keeping amplifying the experience and spirit of communal viewing. Of course this stuff would be ready made for the dvd release, but how much more compelling would it be if _YOU_ could end up on the dvd.

And it'll finally reward all those people who sit in the theater until the final credits roll.


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