With the price of DV creeping downward and the cost of film transfer still sky high, digital video has emerged as a real democratizing force in not just Hollywood but world cinema: filmmakers who can’t afford shooting or editing on film can get a relatively cheap DV camera, and, if they’re outside of traditional distribution channels, their work can feasibly find an audience via satellite or the internet. Which is why digital projection has been a hot topic in the Walker’s film/video department. This morning Wired reports that a digital standard has been agreed upon in Hollywood, which could mean an end to film reels:
Studios spent more than $631 million in 2003 on film prints for the North American market alone, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Subtracting reels from that equation could reduce total distribution costs by as much as 90 percent, according to U.K. digital cinema analyst Patrick von Sychowski. Add in costs for overseas distribution and exhibition, and the move from prints to digital files could mean an eventual annual savings of up to $900 million.
Advocates of the shift to digital exhibition say theater owners also would benefit from new flexibility: If a movie sells out in one theater, an owner can quickly switch other screens to that feature to accommodate the unexpected demand. And if a supposed blockbuster turns out to be a bomb, it can be yanked from screens just as instantly — no new prints from the studio, no reel swaps.
Proponents say there’s something in it for moviegoers, too — digital in-theater display means no out-of-focus projection, no out-of-order reels, no scratches and pops on film that’s been played too many times on old projectors. And digital systems could make other kinds of content possible in theaters, including live, high-definition coverage of sports events, Broadway plays or group games…
Click here for a pdf of the DCI Digital Cinema System Specification.