Monday, May 11, 2009

Whatever happened to movies on film?

Well, this old fogey has found something else to complain about. Have you been to a movie lately? At a big cinema chain? Then you probably watched it on a DLP digital projection system. No clickety projector, no light bulb, no big metal reels. Bye bye, film.

I went to see the new Star Trek movie today (I won't comment because it just came out, and many have not seen it yet. But I wasn't impressed.). The Wynnsong theater puts a big blurb up on the screen just before the moving trumpeting their DLP digital projection. If I were them, I wouldn't brag about it.

Movies on film were crisp and clean, with beautiful Technicolor, bright whites and true blacks. Digital images on DLP? Well, no. The colors are muddy, blacks are more dark gray than black, and the action is blurry. Really fast motion seems to turn images into a smear. This is particularly a problem with the current penchant for fast cut/cut/cut editing. This movie didn't come off as badly as some, though. We went to the Harry Potter movie last summer and between the murky lighting, the terrible jerky editing and the pitiful DLP digital projection, I'm not exactly sure what I watched - I felt like I could only see about half of it.

It might be that this theater is cheap and hasn't upgraded their equipment. Maybe there have been vast improvements I'm not seeing because Wynnsong doesn't want to spend the money. Or maybe it all looks this bad. My whole "movie-going experience" wasn't enhanced by the fact that the sound was turned up so loud that my ears were ringing when I left the theater.

And the big dirty blotch in the center of the screen didn't help either. It looked like someone threw their Coke at it. Everybody's a critic.

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