Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My first impression of Kodak Digital Cinema

I just watched You Don't Mess with the Zohan at a local Cineplex cinema. It was a good movie, not one of the best I've seen this year but better than expected. However, this post isn't about the movie; it's about the projection. This was the first movie which I saw which was projected digitally, and I'm impressed.

Nowadays Cineplex cinemas have digitally projected video before the previews start. That video is of low quality compared to film. Resolution and contrast are visibly worse, the image doesn't fill the whole screen, and the image is often trapezoidal or otherwise distorted.

As soon as the previews started I was surprised by the dynamic range. Later during mostly black scenes I was surprised by how dark it was in the cinema. I thought I was just seeing how film was much better than the cheap pre-preview digital projector, but I've seen many movies before and I never noticed the difference like this. Right before the main feature, I saw a short Kodak Digital Cinema logo segment. I hadn't seen that before and its presence explained why the image seemed different.

During the movie the image seemed exceptionally sharp in well-focused areas, and of course there was the absence of typical film artifacts. There were also no reel changeover cues or noticable changeover interruptions. I couldn't even see any digital artifacts. It was a surprising improvement in quality.

It seemed as if the frame rate might have been higher but I cannot be sure. I guess that if the frame rate wasn't higher then at least the duty cycle must have been higher.

Before the credits there was a short interruption. The first part of the credits (which listed the more important actors) was a series of tinted images from the movie and text which quickly slid onto the screen from the edges. It seemed as if that wasn't normal video but a high resolution version of a slideshow presentation or Flash. The tinted image from the movie was perfectly still and the text seemed like it might be animated by a computer in the theatre instead of it all being encoded as video earlier. Overall, this part of the credits seemed kind of cheap, but it's not really a serious complaint. The scrolling part of the credits could have been done the same way, but it's harder to tell.

I look forward to seeing more digitally projected movies. If digital projectors can be this good then film is obsolete.

1 comment:

Tom Glanville said...

Very nice review. Here is some more information if you are curious.