From the local weekly:
Local film fans are in for a permanent treat as The Movies at Midway converts all auditoriums to digital cinema technology.I've seen a few digitally produced, screened films and my impression is ho-hum, so far. I'll reserve judgment until I see more digital output coupled with the projection quality of the end product. I do know that the sound quality is hands-down better than that on film.
“It means we won’t be using 35-millimeter film any more. With digital, people will see a clearer, sharper picture,” said Brooke Lowe, The Movies at Midway manager.
The days of a projectionist threading reels of film through a massive a projector aren’t gone entirely, but digital cinema means those days are winding down.
Digital movies use hard drives, optical drives and other computer-based storage technology to capture, distribute and project motion pictures.
Lowe said three Midway auditoriums went digital last month, three more are set to transition this month, and by the end of November, the switch will be complete.
She said three auditoriums have been running digital movies since 2009 beginning with Disney-Pixar’s “Up.”
Lowe said the digital conversion costs about $80,000 per auditorium. “Movie studios are offering theaters an equipment rebate to essentially get everybody on the same page with digital equipment,” she said. Lowe said ticket prices are not expected to change.
Instead of huge, heavy reels of 35mm film, digital movies are shipped to the theater in a container about the size of a cigar box.
Lowe said each movie has a digital key code, which generates passwords that must match serial numbers of the theater’s projectors.
Movies are also encoded with start and end dates that allow screening for a specific number of days. “That ensures we can only play what we’re allowed,” Lowe said.
Hard drives are connected to an NEC brand projector that beams the image onto a highly reflective silver screen, which is required for 3D movies.
All 14 auditoriums in the theater will have a digital projection system; a dozen will have both a digital and 35mm film projector.
A central control system is being installed that will allow the projectionist to send movies to any auditorium from a single location.
The theater’s film projectors have been in operation since 1999. “We’ve kept them working over the years, with a couple of upgrades here and there,” Lowe said.
“With the 35mm film, you have a 2,000-watt light bulb shining light through the film, through the lens, then onto the screen. Now that’s all computer-generated. Viewers will see brighter, clearer images,” Lowe said.
In the theater’s projection area, film projectors make a constant clattering sound as sprockets continuously pull thousands of feet of film through the machine.
Digital projection systems are silent, except for the slight whirring of cooling fans,
“Films are sometimes scratched, or you might see little black dots where it’s gotten dirty over time. You won’t have that with digital movies,” Lowe said.
Most movies shown at The Rehoboth Beach Film Festival are on 35mm film. That’s changing, too. “This year, they’re starting with some digital,” Lowe said.
And so it goes.