A few months ago I wrote an article about how “I Miss Celluloid” since my local multiplex has moved over to digital projection. Two things got me thinking about that article this week. I went to see On the Road, arriving at the cinema during the adverts but before the trailers. The image was strangely small and off centre. I pointed this out to a member of staff and was told he would fix it. The trailers started and nothing was done so I told someone else and was told ten others had brought this to their attention and it had been fixed, the image would revert to normal during the film. Then the film started a full twenty minutes after I had first made them aware of the problem. A few others got up to go and explain the situation, at which point a member of staff came in and said that they would have to restart the projector to fix the problem. This took 20 minutes. I am happy to report all was well after this.
Now I know film has had its problems and the films used to break or get stuck and burn but to be honest having watched thousands of traditionally projected films I have never seen any of those things happen. But having seen around two hundred digitally projected films it has gone wrong in a similar way to this four times. Realistically a 2% failure rate on what is essentially a new technology isn’t bed and I am probably me been unfair.
I tweeted “Is digital projection really the future? It seems to go wrong a lot more than film ever did.”
@LambThe reminded me “Its not that strange analog film has a long history and less variables than digital projecting so I don’t think its strange”
And @matinee_ca said “Films used to break, burn, bulbs blew out. I don’t think it’s proportionately higher with digital.”
The second thing was Ryan McNeil from The Matinee’s review of the documentary Side by Side. The film explores the production and exhibition of both traditional and digital movies. I look forward to seeing this movie and see it as a good companion piece to The Last Projectionist that I saw earlier this year.
I’m not a total Luddite, I can see the good things about digital projection I just hate the assumption that new is better than old. Change isn’t always progress and doesn’t always equate to improvement. My real objection probably has nothing to do digital v photochemical it is the lack of a projectionist or staff member to take responsibility for projection and ensuring films are displayed properly.