> There are instances in the US already where some studios are refusing to freight 35mm film prints to cinemas.
Yeah, because it's crazy expensive. It costs ~$1500 to strike and ship a 35mm print. Also, did you know that prints are delivered by some specialized delivery company? They're not just shipped around by FedEx. I can't remember the name of the company right now.
This incident sucks for them but I feel like this move to digital is great for the environment and a better moviegoing experience. I love the rock-solid picture with awesome contrast, and not to mention the lack of nasty chemical process in order to create it.
 - My original comment on "RIP Movie Camera": http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3114120
 - http://www.laweekly.com/2012-04-12/film-tv/35-mm-film-digita...
It should also be straightforward to offer functionality that verifies if the digital key is valid before the show starts.
I would not be surprised if those options already exist and they simply did not know how to use it.
Though, they are super expensive to ship. Maybe it's a regional thing, the delivery? Here in Mass you need to be a licensed projectionist due to the flammability.
Huh. Go figure. Maybe things have changed. The only reference I've been able to find is on this page: http://business.highbeam.com/industry-reports/personal/servi...
Film delivery services, also known as film carriers, were usually classified under the transportation services industry, in particular SIC 4213: Trucking Except Local, but belonged under both classifications because of their unique services. Film carriers were specialized transportation companies serving the needs of motion picture theaters by delivering and picking up rented theatrical films. Film was transported between the cinemas and the national network of film exchanges, or film depots, or directly between theaters, based on their booking schedules. Metal canisters of 16mm or 35mm film were delivered to the theaters, usually on a weekly basis. Unlike other delivery services, film carriers had keys to the theaters they supplied so they could drop off and pick up film when the theater was closed. Most delivery was done by truck or van because of the heavy weight of the film canisters, which made them impractical for air freight, except in rush circumstances. Film carriers served only theaters, since other organizations that screened films tended to use the more easily transportable videotape format, or else had only occasional film needs, which could be handled by any non-specialized delivery service.
There were fewer than 40 major film delivery companies throughout the country that served nearly the entire theater market. Most served up to a couple hundred theaters, some covering a region comprising several states. There were also a commensurate number of smaller film carriers that exclusively served single theater chains of around 15 to 20 theaters. Films generally weigh about 62 pounds, and are often accompanied by large cardboard stand-up displays and other promotional items theaters place in lobbies.
This is incredibly interesting though. How such specialized industries develop and evaporate.
Film today is printed on mylar which isn't very flammable, prior to mylar, acetate was used (also known as safety film) and also wasn't flammable. Nitrate was discontinued in the 30's-40's and that was the scary stuff.
Long term, I hope this is self-correcting. People still like vinyl, and although you can't find a Tower Records anywhere on earth, you can find vinyl shops that are still doing really well. The same could end up being true for film-projecting theaters.
My bias for digital probably clouds my judgment now so I have a question: would you be interested to see these on film if you could see a cleaned up, perfect, version on a 4K+ digital projector? What about the film version appeals to you?
Not to mention how a good 70mm print looks. Or that a large percentage of screens aren't 4k but 2k.
4k is ok for me for most current releases. The difference is there, but I don't care too much. 2k is distracting.
But I cry at the idea of a rep house screening of 2001 even in 4k. Pay for that and you're being robbed.
What difference are you referring to? If you're talking about clarity/pixels, the source format is as important as the projection. Academy and super 35 waste a lot of space on the frame. Super 35, which was really common for big time movies a few years ago because you could use spherical lenses, actually requires an intermediate step making it anamorphic for projection... which makes it less clear on the print.
The only 35mm source format I would argue provides higher resolution on 35mm than a 4K projector is going to be anamorphic (aka Panavision or 'Scope). It requires no intermediate step before projection. It looks like Nolan is shooting Dark Knight Rises anamorphic and 70mm for the IMAX stuff.
Other than resolution, the blacklevels of film are higher and there's weave on film. Plus, unless you only go to high end theaters that take projection seriously, your typical projector jockey at the local AMC can barely get the movie in focus. I once saw Saving Private Ryan projected with no matte. So every time an effects shot came on, the top and the bottom were cropped. Non effects shots had full frame. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_matte)
Anyway, given what we've seen with digital photography, I'd expect the technology here to advance pretty fast.
But yes, you're right that the capture method is the biggest influence. And since digital is becoming the default choice even on mainstream projects, 35mm projection would eventually seem sort of silly anyway. Even Malick is shooting Alexa now!
Plus there's all the 2k DI stuff that's been out there, muddying the waters even more.
Nolan is one of the few with both a strong preference and the financial clout to hold on to high quality film capture, but I suspect a couple of projects down the road even he will have to give in.
I have a weaker opinion of vinyl, but from what I understand, it's a similar situation. Vinyl is probably a lot worse than film for retaining quality technologically but because of commercial interests, sometimes the vinyl release has far better mastering than the digital release. You can see this with older music, such as David Bowie's original releases on RCA and the later CD versions that are "remastered" such that they have a lot more dynamic compression. And you can see it in new releases as well with electronic music, where the vinyl release is targeted at DJ use and the CD one for listening at home, leading to different mixing. So while digital may be strictly better than vinyl in terms of retaining quality of input, due to cultural reasons the input is uneven depending on medium.
The KDM unlocks the content of the file and allows the cinema to play the film. It is time sensitive and often is only valid from around 10 minutes prior to the screening time and expiring as close to 5 minutes after the scheduled time.
This made me shiver... no delays allowed at all. I dont want to know how many employees got bitten by that.
As a concrete example, there are tens of thousands of seeders of Prometheus right now at a couple sites I just checked. And quite a few people I know, who know exactly how to use torrents, went to see it in the theater.
Camrips are not a serious threat. Day zero 1080p 5.1 leaks most certainly are.
1080p looks great and all, but 4K is simply stunning in comparison.
We're approaching the limits of human perception, but we're not there yet; 4K does seem like a useful improvement over 1080
1080p is decent enough for a ~50" TV, but for 60"+ you'd probably want 2K and for 100"+ you'd almost certainly appreciate 4K.
Having said that, even at that distance high quality HD content is noticeably better than standard resolution content.
Cineva is interesting as from what I have read it can survive even pretty extreme audio changes so even the audio from a CAM copy with crappy mono sound will still carry the watermark from capture to encoded MP4 (or whatever you capture to). I have not seen any statistics on how successful it actually is at surviving in real world use though.
It also strikes me that this allows distributors to control for unreported screenings, which allowed for unreported income. Probably not as common as it was way back when, but certainly possible.
The big chains are all computerized and report back to the distributors and can generally be trusted to be truthful. It's the mom and pop theaters that might have cheated in the past.
BTW, the screen servers will show when a accepted KDM unlocks a feature and for how long it's valid. I have never seen a KDM that is accepted by the screen server and then "doesn't work".
Seems like this philosophy has not prevailed in the actual implementation...
The [DRM key] arrives as an email zip attachment that then needs to be unzipped, saved onto a memory stick and uploaded onto the server.
Seriously? That's how we're delivering time-sensitive digital information? In 2012? Ugh, it makes my head spin.
Is there some reason that the projector can't be connected to the network directly, so the vendor can push the key straight to it without all the sneakernet nonsense?
Even if the internet connected box gets hacked, they have no chance of accessing the screen server through the serial cable.
I believe there's a push to start distributing the encrypted films over satellite but that has its own problems because now many theaters have to start negotiating "roof rights" with their landlords.
(Environmental issues aside, that is -- I recognize that the chemicals needed to manufacture and develop traditional film are pretty nasty.)
With digital, if it works, it's 100%, which is great, but if it doesn't work, it's 0%, and that can make it hard to even get a grip on what the problem is or which direction to go to find a solution. (DRM just makes this worse.) I've got some weird routing to my TV because the obvious HDMI connection doesn't work, and how do you troubleshoot that?
I once went to a theatre where the projectionist came out and announced that they had just broken a lens (apparently they had the largest lenses in town at the time) and couldn't project the film as they wanted to. They offered a refund, but for those who stayed, let us vote on what to do: use a smaller lens and see the film normally but smaller, or use the proper size lens but put up with 3-4 minute pauses every 20 minutes. Everyone stayed, and we chose the latter (who wants to see a small movie in a theatre?), and I don't think it was the wrong choice, but I learned that changeovers are not like commercial breaks: some of them are in really inconvenient places in the film, plot-wise!
That's a situation that could never happen with a new digital projection system. The odd thing is that even though we groaned at how poorly-timed the changeovers were, in my mind the whole event is an overwhelmingly positive memory. I learned something about how projection systems work, and we got to interact with the projectionist, and it was a unique movie night we got to talk about, and I even enjoyed the movie still. We sometimes act as though the only goal of cinema is to reproduce every pixel and soundwave perfectly, but my most enjoyable movie experiences don't correlate to that, and in this case is almost the polar opposite.
I suppose I'm a bit weird like that.
I might be misunderstanding something about cinema projection, but how does a broken lens lead to 20-minute segmentation? The only things I can think of are perhaps it has some sort of cooling mechanism (I know the bulbs do emit massive quantities of heat) that needed a chance to cool off, or they were somehow playing it on a different projector which couldn't handle a full film-reel?
Certainly a more interesting experience than the few glitches I've encountered including "Yes, we know you've been complaining since the 3rd minute of playback that we had the aspect ratio wrong, but we're only going to fix it now, 70% of the way through the film"
I think a "proper" analogue theatre has two projectors. With the films split into reels, one reel is played through one projector, and then when it's time to switch to the next reel, the projectionist cues it up on the second projector, and then switches between the two. Like a DJ mixing records, I suppose.
So if one lens is broken, they need to stop the film, feed in the second reel, then carry on playing. Hence the 20 minute break.
I may be wrong about this. Other commenters seem to be former projectionists; I'm just some guy who's seen Fight Club ;)
Many still do run changeover systems, though.
(In case you're interested, I work in an indie cinema in the UK, and we're really scared about the costs of changing to digital, which we will need to do in the next 12 months)
On Youtube, if you search for words like "theatre projector changeover" there are some great videos of projectionists showing how it's done.
Apparently there are "platter" systems that let you splice all the reels together and project the entire film through one lens with no changeovers, but my story took place at least 15 years ago, and it was not a very big or modern theatre.
This seems like a simple and critical feature. If the distributor wishes to impose these extreme constraints on the projectionist, then the projectionist needs to know its going to work well in advance. The projectionist shouldn't even need to be in the room when the movie starts.
I've run into this pattern a lot in web development. If you want a feature to go live at 6:00pm, you don't release it at 5:59pm and just hope it works. You program it to go automatically flip at 6:00pm and release the code early. The pre-programmed time can be overridden in the production environment, so you can easily test and know for sure (or as close as possible to sure) whether it will flip at 6:00pm or not.
(I'm not saying my solution is perfect, just better than the naive solution.)
If the key is only good to decrypt a random part of the movie, then the test says nothing about the success or failure of the key to decrypt the rest of the movie.
Tangentially related: what is to stop a technically inclined projectionist to use the key during the time it is valid to decrypt the movie?
I would assume that at presentation time, there is enough of decryption key material available to the projection system to cover all of the movie, otherwise a presentation would have to be interrupted as the cinemas internet goes down.
> One of those would be manna from heaven for any unsavory projectionist who wanted to make high quality copies from theater prints.
Not really. The keys and image decryption happen in a tamper-resistant "FIPS can" in the media server and then are re-encrypted and sent across a bus to the projector. Some newer projectors have the FIPS can directly inside so that there are no physically exposed interfaces with anything other than the full-blown AES encrypted frames. Having a KDM means you can play the movie but you can't ever actually get to the data.
Fun fact: before DCinema there used to be people who owned tele-cine scanners mounted in the back of flatbed trucks that would go around to theaters and pay unscrupulous employees to borrow the film for a couple hours. They'd have an very nice scan of the movie for pirate DVDs the day the movie came out.
I used to manage a theatre and sometimes had issues (more often re-releases than new releases) for instance our copy of Pulp Fiction was missing a reel, had to wait days for another one to ship rather than just making a call. Sometimes movies came reeled backwards, missing reels, missing entire canisters with multiple reels, scratched reels etc. Digital removes all those distribution problems (and that is some heavy material). And not to mention the times when a platter would break and drop the entire film on the ground every now and again. I'd say digital has less problems.
I did have fun building movies on Thursday nights and watching them for quality but digital is much better in terms of distribution. The reel feeling will be missed though.
If your fervent supporters lose faith, you are in trouble.
What I’d really like to leave you with here is the essence of how last night made us feel: the industry is shifting – not only its medium, not only its focus, but with it – and most significantly for theatres like us – it’s shifting the element of control. We’re in relationship with you, our audience, but it seems to me as though someone is trying to break us up.
So much of the problem with DRM, and the weirdness of copyright-based business models, is not logistic ("I want to watch the Matrix in HD now!") but aesthetic, artistic, moral: it feels wrong on a basic human level to thread your engagement with the culture through a maze of technical, legal, bureaucratic obeisance.
I've decided, personally, to do my best not to violate IP laws, because I don't want the moral hazard of arguing against a law while financially benefiting from violating it. I want my vision clear. But I can say with clear vision that there's something inhuman and anti-human about the scenario described in the article, and I hope we find a better way.
Remember this cinema is in Melbourne, Australia. Australians (like the rest of the non-US world) are sick of delays in films being released. Piracy has done a bit to help get rid of the stupid regional delays (Matrix №2 was released at the same time globally). Digital film distribution would do wonders to help the Aussie cinema industry!
DRM muck-ups like this are, of course a problem. However, the quality of the product isn't up to snuff yet either. e.g. Digital IMAX is terrible. The whole point of the IMAX format is to project a massive image with incredible detail. It's supposed to feel more real because so much of your peripheral vision is engaged while you're still able to focus in on one spot and see very fine detail. Digital IMAX gets the size right, but the detail is lacking. In every digital IMAX theater I've been in I was able to see individual pixels on the screen. This of course, leads to all sorts of digital artifacts like shimmering (especially noticeable during credit crawls).
IMax film is still breath-taking and superior to anything digital. I hope it sticks around in at least some theaters until digital IMAX gets its act together. I also hope to see some of the great 70mm classics (e.g. Lawrence of Arabia) on film before it's too late.
That's a bingo. Like with so many things DRM, where rights are no longer balanced and only the concerns of one side, the DRM-issuing side are ever taken into account, this is a power-grab.
1. Since when does a blog need to be secure?
2. The certificate is issued to "*.wordpress.com", which is useless. Each subdomain under wordpress.com should have a distinct certificate since they have a distinct author. The certificate should be specific to the author, not the host.
- I realize it is not realistic to assign unique IP addresses to each wordpress.com subdomain. I just don't like it.
3. The page loads insecure content from gravatar.com and googleservices.com, which throws up annoying errors.
Now sure, there might be value in having per-subdomain certs in wordpress (though that would be rather complicated for wordpress to administer). But there's nothing wrong with that wildcard cert -- it provides proof that you've reached a blog hosted at wordpress, and not a MitM ready to lift your account password when you try to leave a comment.
The one quirk is that I'll always have to have something to redirect to unsecured should traffic ever get so high it becomes an issue. Although I certainly don't expect that any time soon.