How to Create the Best experience in the
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Thomas Hauerslev,
and published in 1999
In recent years many new cinemas with state-of-the-art sound systems, and
giant screens covering the entire front wall of the auditoria, have been
built all over the world. Yes, cinema owners know what will attract the
audience into their cinema these days. And a modern multiplex can
deliver what the audiences want: ENTERTAINMENT.
And the audience feels good about it. They enjoy seeing the latest
movies on giant screens while a perfect digital soundtrack is delivering
undistorted sound, from 8 directional channels. Considering the amount
of equipment installed to do all this; film projectors, speakers,
amplifiers, lenses, comfortable chairs, screens etc, etc, the audiences
do get value for their ticket in 1999. The experience couldn't be
better.... Or could it?
Is the audience getting the best presentation for their money? No, they
are not. I would suggest that a visit to the cinema could be better. Not
just marginally better, but an ENTERTAINMENT EXPERIENCE several times
The cinema industry has focused on digital delivery of sound in the
cinema for the past several years, and the sound reproduction has
improved enormously. Today, it can't be better, provided of course, that
you have the necessary speakers and amps installed. Sound quality is
excellent now, and it's time to take a look at the picture quality.
Modern screen sizes are up to 30 meters wide, and in some cases often
slightly curved. 35mm films just can't be projected on a screen like
that, without a significant loss of apparent detail and resolution. It
is impossible. The result often is a fuzzy and out-of-focus picture,
weaving and jumping up and down and from side to side. If you settle for
a screen width around 13 - 17 meters you are within the safe limits of
what a 35mm picture can do. But beyond that, forget it if you want a
It's like driving 170 km/hour on the motor way in a Fiat Uno with a
little engine. It can be done, but the ride will be bumpy, the noise
will be intolerable and the whole experience not very good. The drive
will be much more enjoyable smoother if you drive a Rolls Royce with a
The only solution at present is to use 70mm prints. The image on a 70mm
print is 3 times the area of anamorphic 35mm. With a 70mm image it is
not necessary to magnify the picture nearly as much as a 35mm picture.
The improved quality is clearly visible on the screen and the audience
will discover the film to be far more intense. This sensation will
happen on a subconscious level because their brain will have at least 3
times more picture information to "process" per second. This even
happens with 35mm-to-70mm blow-ups, because of the fine-grain nature of
projection stock material. A 70mm blow-up will always look better than a
35mm print, because the 70mm image contains much more information from
the 35mm camera negative, compared to the 35mm print.
in 70mm reading:
The 2007 version
P T Anderson's "The
Master" in System 65
Published in the book:
Film Presentation for the 21st Century - 70mm Super Definition
Cinema is back!
Hauerslev, editor in70mm.com.
70mm can't turn a bad film into a good one, naturally, but a good film
will be even better in 70mm. It will be a high-impact experience for
most people and they will demand to see more 70mm once they again become
aware of the special format. Cinemas showing 70mm will be sought out for
their superior picture quality and soon 35mm-only cinemas will be
upgrading to include 70mm equipment. That happened in the 60s, and it
could happen again on one single condition: THE DEMAND FOR 70MM MUST
COME FROM THE AUDIENCE AND THEATRE OWNERS. Secondly, it is the moral
responsibility of the producers, directors, cinematographers and finally
exhibitors to deliver the best possible experience when we go to the
movies! If they don't, audiences will disappear and cinemas will close.
As the editor of "..in 70mm - The 70mm Newsletter" I receive mail from
all over the globe. I hear frequent stories about happy cinema owners
who run 70mm films. Usually they have a full house for special
performances of oldies-but-goodies like "2001: A Space Odyssey"
or "Ben Hur". The audiences seem to enjoy coming back to see
these old movies again and again, once the movies are shown on a curved
screen in 70mm. And why are movie lovers sometimes driving 4-5 hours to
see an old flick they easily could find for a nickel in the nearest
video shop? Ill tell you why. Because it is shown in 70mm with 6-track
Films like "Titanic" and "Braveheart" should have been
shot in 65mm simply because they are "big" movies. But shooting in 65mm
doesn't need to be limited to the obvious mega productions. Small
independent movies would benefit enormously with the sharper picture.
I'd enjoy seeing films like "Enemy of the State", "As Good As
It Gets" and "You've Got Mail" and many more, shot on 65mm
stock and presented in 70mm. I and most of our readership would
certainly seek out cinemas presenting films in 70mm.
As mentioned earlier, it will take a demand from the audience to get
70mm back in the theatres. Actually the demand from the audiences is
already there, but patrons need to complain to managers about dim fuzzy
images - and in the same breath, request 70mm prints in the future. And
theatre managers (this is the key) need to pass on those requests to
upper management levels so that their wishes are known "upstairs"! After
all, that's where the equipment and booking decisions are usually made.
As I see the future of 70mm films, this is the only way it can be done.
Unless of course, a miracle will happen and miracles are, as we all
know, a rare thing these days. Especially when the current focus of
"movie" exhibition is on developing electronic projection, and the total
elimination of 35mm and 70mm prints!
70mm is an attraction that will create audience satisfaction and create
a come-back effect. The tag line "...in 70mm" on the marquee signals a
superior product no other motion picture or video format can match.
Forget about the Spielbergs and Lucases of today. We need a new
generation of filmmakers who will boldly go with 65mm cameras where no
filmmakers have gone the past 30 years. They will take us to the 21st
century and show us what it will be like in the cinema.
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