Re: getting the best out of digital projection

From: Pip Chodorov (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jun 16 2009 - 00:23:22 PDT

Re:Voir is often asked to provide films on digital formats for
screenings. For single screenings I do everything I can to persuade
the programmer to show on film and to rent from a coop. Sometimes I
have to offer to lend a projector, or I argue, "why that would be
like hanging a photocopy of a Picasso! Who would want to see that?"

It is more difficult to maintain this position when the venue wants
to loop a film for several months. Although we do provide projectors
and looping systems for 16mm films up to one hour, it can be
expensive or complicated to have new prints struck. Even a
teflon-coated print will need to be changed after 3-4 weeks.

In the case that a filmmaker agrees to screen on video, it makes
sense to start with the highest quality. We used to provide beta
tapes that would be looped in the museum or gallery. For Gunvor
Nelson's show in Sweden, I insisted on a High-Definition (2K)
projector, and we were able to output the HDCam-SR tape as a series
of Tif images onto a hard drive which we sent up to the museum. They
imported these into their server and looped the film daily in HD in a
big room. Gunvor was very happy with this.

More often than not, we are asked for DVDs, but this is really the
worst and most highly compressed home use format, so we
systematically try to convince venues to at least screen
non-compressed quicktime or AVI files from a server. In most cases
they accept. This is also the least expensive way of providing the
film. Once the telecine (digibeta, beta sp or dvcam) is digitized, it
can be saved on a hard drive or DVD-Rom if it is short, and screened
as a file, without using MPEG2 that makes DVDs so ugly and unreliable.

Since HD is on the way, it doesn't make sense to make a DigiBeta now
that you can make an HD master for half again the price: you will
probably have to make an HD transfer in a few years anyway. The new
Blu-Ray players can play burned disks, and they are affordable. This
will soon be the best and easiest standard: to make a Blu-Ray from
your HDCam-SR master. As soon as the venues are equipped. The irony
is that film projectors and new prints are still more affordable than
any of this equipment.

Pip Chodorov

At 23:02 -0700 15/06/09, Myron Ort wrote:
>Anyone have any experience transferring film to higher quality
>digital formats presumably for projection. What are these formats?
>Is Digital Betacam good enough? Which is best and still possibly
>within the budget of an independent experimental filmmaker. What
>types of higher quality formats are shown at this point in venues
>and/or festivals showing such films? What was the name again of
>that lab in LA that Criterion was using? What is the highest and
>still practical scan level? I know little of this and would like an
>overview of the possibilities and practicalities in the current
>Myron Ort

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.