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Robrt (1414)

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robert at perl dot org

Journal of Robrt (1414)

Saturday December 07, 2002
01:37 AM

Movies without Film

[ #9323 ]

You've heard all the hype: Digital Movies - no film involved - sharper, clearer, cheaper! Personally, the hype didn't do anything for me. I didn't rush out to go see Star Wars on a digital screen.

Well, I've seen the light: Digital is the future.

At my $DAYJOB, at a ${MAJOR_MEDIA_COMPANY}, I've been working with the team working toward a filmless production process. Since our movies are mostly made with computers, this allows us to create a completely digital pipeline. In the short term, we're not aiming to get rid of film entirely, and aren't going to distribute the films digitally. The system we have will allow us to eliminate costs and film processing turnaround, as well as cut down on color variances.

The big question, and what's important to the artists is how does it look?. And the answer? It's gorgeous. For the past few days we've been testing our system and comparing it to film. It's sharper, the darks are darker, and I think some of the colors are nicer. With the proper digital source, side by side with film, you'd choose the digital one.

Things aren't perfect yet, but they're improving. Raw resolution is lower (with our current equipment) and the projector bulbs are not quite as bright, leading to sizing issues. But, these are being worked out and the next generation systems will project brighter, sharper, and bigger sizes.

It may take ten or fifteen years, but digital projection is coming to a theater near you, and the first time you see it, you'll realize that you don't miss the grain, jitter, and scratch marks one bit.

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  • When I last got hard data, film captured seven orders of magnitude of light, from the brightest bright to the darkest dark. The best CCDs at the time could capture only three.

    Now, that may not make much difference if you're showing it on a video screen (in fact, you can't possibly see the difference), but it makes a big impact in a movie theatre, which can reproduce the full dynamic range.

    Have the CCDs become sensitive enough to get a bigger dynamic range, or is it still compressed?

    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge
  • Sounds like you have a really cool job with the Mouse Factory. When I was working for them all I got to do was write systems to count video sales :(