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Immersive Cinema Technologies
Will it Continue?

This article first appeared on
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Mark Andrew Job, ICT Productions Montreal, Canada March 2002
How about it? - your own 65mm camera.Mr. Mark Job's own 65mm Panavision camera.

I suppose many of your readers might remember my activities from articles published in WideGauge Magazine? Since then I have been hard at work in the development of a true and full, "Cinerama where everything comes out of one whole." 

I have come close to completing final testing when my investor suddenly dropped the project!

Unfortunately for me, the company who was ready to invest in my concept, Taurus Seven Films of Montreal, had a major deal of its own collapse which had to be completed first in order for my project to be green lighted. Taurus had a rather ambitious project of its own which consisted of expanding their own facilities and building the largest shooting sound stages in the world along with their own film lab. This new film lab would have included the capability to process 65 mm negative and make 70mm prints.

Due to forces beyond my control, Taurus's deal depended on a successful bid to purchase federally owned Government of Canada Crown Land to build their new studios on. Some readers may remember how the Montreal Expos Baseball Team had made a bid to build a new stadium on land owned by the Government of Canada, but was unsuccessful in their attempts to raise enough cash to successfully do so ? Now Major League Baseball in the US will compact two teams next year, one of them is highly touted to be The Montreal Expos. The land in question was the same land which was later bid on by Taurus Films who also failed in their attempt to obtain this same prime downtown Montreal real estate.

There were many very good reasons to locate such a modern, state of the art mega studio in Montreal. One reason was that Technicolor chose the Greater Montreal Area to build their new Laboratories. If Technicolor leaves Hollywood to build in Montreal, Canada, then one would consider support for large format capabilities from their new facilities at Mirabell, Quebec (Small town just north west of Montreal) to be a definite possibility as well. Technicolor does have equipment to make 70mm prints already in its possession and has a history in dealing with 65 mm film. The Canadian Dollar is so low in comparison to the US Dollar that the savings gained in operational costs are considerable.

Perhaps the most basic reason for my project to no longer be attractive to investors is the simple fact it is based on traditional film technology. 65mm film, although without question far superior in image quality to any other currently extant format is not the direction the industry is moving in today. Digital Cinema is a by far a more cost effective, enabling technology. Perhaps the one word which best describes what the future holds for the users of digital cinema is the, "accessibility," this new technology affords to the individual ! The impact of this technology on the overall commercial film industry is immeasurable, but definitely it will be significant to say the least.

Since Technicolor is developing new digital cinema projection technology, the advantages of digital production can be listed in the following terms:
More in 70mm reading:

First in70mm article

Internet link:

 

1. Rapid & Cost Effective International Feature Film Distribution

 
With Digital Cinema Distribution an entire movie can be delivered to the venue via 4.7 Gigabyte DVD Rom Specification 2.0 (Using Special High Definition MPEG Codecs) or via high speed internet access, thus the need (And most importantly, the cost) of producing and shipping around the world expensive motion picture film prints is circumvented.
 
 

2. Rapid & Cost Effective Feature Film Production

 
Digital CamCorders can be made extremely small and lightweight, thus illuminating the need for time consuming, expensive extra camera rigging and support. Time is money and a 500 line digi-camcorder can be purchased for the cost of renting a 35 mm film camera shooting package in the US for one day ! Check out the web site and see the new camera folks are making feature films with now ! Consider this well since the studio bean counters certainly are ! There are no 'dailies' to wait for in digital cinema ? You can check what you have picture and sound wise before even taking down the set for the day! Although it certainly is important to point out that 500 lines is far from enough image resolution to even come close to 35mm film, let alone 65mm, there soon will be digital cameras which do have enough image resolution to do so.

In conclusion I have decided to sell of my Panavision 65mm camera and apply my cinema type immersive cinema lens concepts to a digital camera instead of a large format film based one. Although there certainly are image quality issues to be worked out with digital cinema, the pace of digital imaging technology remains very fast and it is improving each year. How long will it be before we reach 35mm quality with a digital Camera ? How long will it be before a digital camera and projector will reach the quality of 5 perf 65 mm film and eventually 15 perf 65mm IMAX image quality ? Perhaps it won't take as long as we think it will?

I'm a big believer in 5 perf 70mm film making. I have NEVER seen image quality, like that of what Todd AO, Super and Ultra Panavision and Imax can deliver, but I just can't get investors interested in forking out any seed money for film based technologies these days. Let's see if a Cinerama where everything comes out of one whole can be developed with digital technology instead?
 
 
 
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Updated 22-12-16