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The Impact of Showscan
Experience by in70mm.com readers

Read more at
in70mm.com
The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: readers of in70mm.comDate: 26.06.2011
Babelsberg (4D Cinema, Filmpark Babelsberg, Berlin) had it's Showscan experience upgraded in 2004, with 3D capability and more motion, adjusted wind blowers and fog machines and a smell unit. The booth houses two 70mm Showscan projectors that can run at 30 or 60fps. Installation was done by German Showscan partner Entertainment Resource GmbH.

I was at the Filmpark Babelsberg near Berlin three years ago [2008], and the 'Metropolis Action Cinema' had a ShowScan system. I took two pictures of the small auditorium, which can be seen here, with some additional system. I don't know if it's still in use.

Roloff de Jeu, Mon, 6 Jun 2011
 
More in 70mm reading:

Showscan: A High Impact Experience in 70mm

Showscan: The Best 70mm I have ever seen

"New Magic" in 70mm Showscan

Showscan: The Future is Now - The Future of Feature Film Exhibition

"New Magic" in 70mm Showscan

 

 

It was quite effective

 
I saw two early versions of Showscan in the Seventies. The first was a whitewater rafting scene shown as a short at the Cinerama Dome before a 70mm print of "RETURN OF A MAN CALLED HORSE" in 1976. It was quite effective. Three years later, when I was working on "STAR TREK - THE MOTION PICTURE", Doug Trumbull invited us to a screening at the National Theater in Westwood called "NIGHT OF DREAMS", a dramatic short which was also very effective. Later I saw a skipframed 35mm anamorphic printdown of "NEW MAGIC" which looked good and some ride films at Showscan's Culver City studios, one a CGI film that looked like CGI, but the other a live action film done by Hal Needham that was quite exciting. I would like to see a direct comparison between Showscan and Bob Weisgerber's Super Dimension 70, whose test film I've seen numerous times. I don't recall seeing much difference in the effectiveness of the two speeds, but if a film were to be made in Bob's system, it could be put into an existing theater much easier than Showscan. I believe both formats are better for dramatic films than Imax.

Rick Mitchell, Film Editor/Film Historian, 6 June 2011
 
 

My jaw dropped to the floor due to the incredible picture sharpness

 
Regards having seen Showscan, I did -- unexpectedly. I live in the Detroit, MI area. Every January we have a huge auto show. I went to the 1987 auto show and while walking around came upon the Chevrolet exhibit. They had a short promotional movie showing in a relatively small temporary "theater" with bleacher seating. I don't think it could seat more than 50 people. The lights went down and the movie began. My reaction was that my jaw dropped to the floor due to the incredible picture sharpness and "you are there" effect. I glanced through the window of the booth where the projector was and could clearly see the identifier "SHOWSCAN" on the side of the projector. I sat through the movie another three or four times. It's the only Showscan production I've ever seen -- and it was entirely unexpected!

I hope this story is useful to you.

John Schmuhl, 12.06.2011
Detroit, MI area
 
 

It was all very exciting and extremely impressive!

 
I saw the Showscan film "Street Luge" at Futuroscope in France in the 1990's. It was little more than a demo as it was a "short" (5 minutes or so?) with no real story line! As I understand it a "luge" is a small sledge where the "driver" lies on it face-up and feet first. In this film as I recall it the camera was fixed to the luge with wheels on, and it travelled at high speed in a twisty steep hill whilst having to negotiate through all the other traffic! It was all very exciting and extremely impressive!

Is it still on show in Futuroscope? In fact, is Futuroscope still there?? The whole thing was a tremendous couple of days out! Hope this helps. I'll try to tell you a bit more about it if you want me to,

Martin Humphries, 6 Jun 2011.
 

 

The superiority of the process was very visible in fast action scenes

 
There was a theatre in Paris on “Les Champs Elysées”, The Ermitage, own by UGC that was briefly equipped with the Showscan process. The theatre was at that time on the way down showing film at the end of their distribution just before they were taken out, it could be also “B” films like horror second rate American comedies that wouldn't play anywhere else... here was at the time 3 screens, I think it was a large cinema that had been divided probably in the seventies, that was a common practice at the time in France. The Showscan process was used for not more than a year.

It had been mainly built to show a French production “France”. It was a stupid propaganda film on the “glory” of France with sequences of historic reconstitution involving famous French characters, I don't remember much more, possibly about the French revolution, with approximate make-up, wigs and costume that really showed ugly on the large pristine 70mm/60fps Showscan process...

Some of the scenes involved the French Army actual aircrafts, I must admit as I remember this was the most enjoyable part of the film. All this was stuffed together with an inexistent screenplay, that was supposed to cover 200 years of history in 40 minutes...

But it was filmed in Showscan and the fast speed seemed to melt the grain of one frame to the other and improved the sharpness compared to a standard 70mm presentation. In addition to that, I’ve seen in the same theatre “New Magic” (1983) directed by Douglas Trumbull himself. The film includes some similar scenes that are included in the effects segments of “Brainstorm” (1983) directed by the same Douglas Trumbull, with some similarities in the plot.

The film as I remember was very good, with fine photography and tried to use all the advantages of the technology. Some scenes have probably been shot simultaneously in the two formats: Super Panavision 70 & Showscan. Rumours said at the time that “Brainstorm” was intended to be shot in Showscan. In the end approximately 40 minutes were shot in Super Panavision 70 & principal photography was shot in 35mm 1.85:1.

Natalie Wood died during the shooting, Douglas Trumbull insisted on finishing the film nevertheless, rewriting the script to make it work more or less without the original unshot scenes involving Natalie. On some scenes, when the character played by Natalie “Karen” is seen only from the back, a double was used...  At the end of the credits you can read : “To Natalie”... Seeing the movie with that in mind makes it an emotional experience, in addition to that, the plot is mainly about death...

But let me go back to Showscan, the superiority of the process was very visible in fast travelling, fast movements, they had very little blur, the picture stayed quite sharp even in the fast action scenes... In my opinion, it was better, but still not enough! 60 fps instead of 24 fps is better, but is still insufficient for the continuous vision of the human eye...

As I remember the projection booth, the 70mm film was on platters and the projector had to be water cooled. The projection itself was of extreme quality, the theatre was very well equipped with a totally new sound system installed that was perfectly working. The screen was probably about 15 meters wide and was more or less from wall to wall an from floor to ceiling... And for a brief moment, “The Ermitage” became the greatest theatre anyone had ever seen:)

Rumours says that James Cameron is working on a 48 fps or 60 fps camera, of course involving digital technology. Film might soon be something of the past...

Jean-Luc Peart, 7 June 2011
 
Champs Elysseys
French projectionist forum
 

Film broke or started melting

 
I sure do remember seeing Showscan for the first time!!! i took a taxi across Washington, D.C. just to experience it. It started out showing a regular movie but the film broke (or started melting I seem to recall), the lights went on in back of the curtain and a workman got up from a couch backstage, walked up to the screen and (I swear it looked like he pressed on the screen). It was 3D without glasses. Of course I finally realized, along with the rest of the audience, this was part of the movie. I also remember a lot of the scenes were like 3D but without glasses.

I googled Showscan and it is still in existence at:

UNITED STATES
• Niagara Falls, NY - Niagara State Park
• Las Vegas, NV - Excalibur Hotel & Casino
• Reno, NV - Boomtown Casino
• Primm, NV - Buffalo Bill's
• Gatlingburg, TN - Ripley's Believe It or Not
• Myrtle Beach, SC - Ripley's Believe It or Not
• Chesapeake, VA - Funscape
• Syracuse, NY - Funscape
• Fair Oaks, ID - Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure
• Port Charlotte, FL - Sun Flea Market
• San Antonio, TX - Riverwalk•

Looks like I have a few new destinations for my vacations.

Marshall Ellenstein, 12.06.2011
 
 

The ultimate movie format

 
Hello,

A big thank you for your articles. I also discovered Showscan at Futuroscope and it was a shock, a revelation. For me it is indeed the ultimate movie format. It is very difficult to get information on it and I visit your site because it is one of the few to provide information on it.

It's my dream to own my projection room in Showscan, just have to buy an ARRI 765 and a Kinoton  SP-75E Showscan to make my own short film, for example :) it's important to have dream and Showscan is the best way to materialize a dream.

Rémy Vannoni, France, 16.08.2011
 
 
  
  

Did you see Showscan?

 
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Updated 22-12-16