Film Projection v. Digital Projection

This stems from another topic, but it seems to be a topic worthy of debate: Should the movie industry move to digital projection, or find ways to make film-based systems better?

In favor of digital:

  1. no more film wear
  2. cheaper distribution (via computer)
  3. picture as good as today’s film

I personally prefer film.
(1.) Film wear is usually not a big deal at a good first run theater (it’s only scratchy for the first few feet on a reel anyway).
(2.) As far as cost, you know that the savings aren’t going to get passed on to the consumer. Theater owners have also balked at paying $15k per screen for the projector when they’re not saving anything.
(3.) It’s like watching a very large TV. Why not make movies better? Anyone with a DVD player has seen digital compression artifacts, studios will start comprimising the compression for sake of cost (and I fear that this will be done mostly on smaller films, the kind I prefer). And if I can’t trust a projectionist to frame the movie right, why should I give him color and brightness controls, too?

There’s a superior film based system that uses 48 fps film on the same 35mm stock that is used today. The projector will be relatively cheap (~$1k) because it will use the same lighting elements as the current projectors, only the motion unit will change. read more at

I could say more, but this is getting too long already. Would anyone else like to chime in?

I agree with you. Roger Ebert agrees with you. What other support do you need? :slight_smile:

Are you sure about this one? I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison myself, but the rumblings I hear are that digital projection is not as visually appealing as film. Of course, those with a vested interest in the technology say it is; I would expect nothing less. But “digital” does not automatically mean better.

I would be interested in hearing from someone with first-hand viewing experience.

like it or not, it’s going to happen. Digital will take over.

From my point of view this is a favourable change, since cinemas here in the UK tend to use worn USA prints rather than pay for first runs. It’s a real pain.

One benefit you didn’t mention is that the movie makers don’t have to worry about the cost of film stock or the burn ratio - if they mess up a take they can delete it, and they can view the results of a take instantly. Very small movie makers might compress their film to death, but if they’re willing to do this they can’t care too much about their work anyway.

I’m giving benefit of the doubt. Most people who have seen both say digital is not as good yet, but even the biggest proponents say that the bast they hope for is “as good as”.

More reading: Roger Ebert’s Opinion

Here’s something odd: In home theater, I *support[/] digital. DVD’s all the way, baby. But for $8+ at the theater, it’s gotta be film.

An exception: Digital can save some big bucks for independant filmmakers, so at festivals, let digital be the way. But put it on film for distribution if it gets bought.

Hey, if I could afford a real projector in my home, and didn’t mind paying for and then changing the real 35mm reels, then maybe I would. But who do you know who has the money to do that? And if you did, wouldn’t you just open your own theater?

Digital’s as good as we can get at home, but you notice that whenever reviewers really go ga-ga over a piece of video equipment, they always praise it’s “film-like quality”? We poor schmoes do what we can with digital projection, but it just ain’t the same.