June 18, 2011 6:23 PM   Subscribe

To record the history of the large format movies and the 70mm cinemas as remembered by the people who worked with the films.
posted by Trurl (18 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't a 3or4D sequel to Super 8, is it?
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:39 PM on June 18, 2011

I heard in the past year that the folks at the Somerville Theatre (Somerville, MA) are in the process of *installing* a 70mm system. They weren't able to get it up and running for the most recent Boston 24 hour SF movie marathon.

And then (hopefully) they can run a 7mm print of Lawrence of Arabia. Awww yeah.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:48 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

Branaugh's Hamlet was filmed in 70mm. It's glorious on the big screen. The details in the picture are intense.

And then there's real IMAX... Truly a glorious film format. Too bad the brand is being diluted by FauxMAX.
posted by hippybear at 6:56 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

God, I would take theaters with 70mm or IMAX over this new 3D shit any day.
posted by boubelium at 7:17 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

70mm. mmmmmm.

Almost related: I always wanted to see one of the high frame rate projections, where instead of 24 FPS they use a much higher rate in shooting and projection.It was supposed to be startlingly real. What ever happened to that idea?
posted by cccorlew at 9:09 PM on June 18, 2011

My first Big Movie Memory was seeing Star Wars at the Plitt Theatre in Century City in L.A. When I was in high school I got a job at Mann's National Theatre in Westwood Village, and one of the premier movie theatres in the city. My first few shifts we were showing The Fan, with a few people trickling in. The next time I went to work I was shocked to see a line of people camped out around the block. When I asked what was going on, I was told they were there for our next scheduled movie: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Down the block was the Village Theatre, where The Shining scared the 70mm shit out of us. Then there was the Picwood, about a mile south, where I saw Apocalypse Now on my first Worst. Date. Ever.

70mm defined my movie-going experience, and even though that means I'll never enjoy going to the movies the same way again, it was worth it.

And yes, I hate the smell of popcorn.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:39 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

^^ Welp, there are a bunch of cameras that shoot at higher framerates, but most prosumer cameras seem to shoot at 12/24/48 fps, 30/60/120 fps, and/or 25/50 fps. I believe the Phantom camera is capable of shooting at 1000fps - but most of the time, you end up seeing the overcranked shots played back at 24/25/30 fps in slow motion. In the post-houses I worked at, I never really saw any decks (or sync generators) capable of handling, say, 60 progressive frames per second, but the ability must exist somewhere. Digital delivery may be a different story; but you also need projectors that are capable of handling full-speed playback of such high framerates. In the digital world, you're also limited by the resolution of the content (HD, 2K, etc) and the speed of your harddrives - playing back full-res HD footage at 120fps requires many fast hard drives, and it's not really something I've ever seen before.

I can tell you that the difference between film (or video) shot at 24fps and video shot at 30fps elicits a very different feeling - in a theatrical setting, you hardly see anything projected at 30 fps, unless you're watching a documentary, and, these days, even those tend to be shot at 24fps.

I will say this, though - if you start to compare things shot at 24fps and things shot at 25fps, for me, at least, there is a very subtle, uncanny, even more "real" and/or "soap-opera" feeling to the 25fps stuff. As a kid, I had always thought European films felt slightly different, and I was never able to put my finger on it... but the more sensitive I became towards framerates, the more aware I became of the potential psychological effects it could have on an audience.

Having grown up in the US, where films are shot at 24fps (or 23.976 fps) and later converted to 30 (29.98) fps, I'm really interested to hear how PAL audiences, whose film and video are both 25fps, react to 24fps / 30fps.
posted by bxyldy at 9:53 PM on June 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I used to run a student movie theatre in Baltimore that would show second-run 35mm films. We would occasionally run into the folks who ran the Charles and Senator theaters, and through these contacts we managed to get ahold of an Embassy Pictures print of This Is Spinal Tap just before they went bankrupt, as well as get an early viewing of Vertigo in 70mm at the Senator. I loved that place – ushers wore uniforms, and the projection booth was such a marvel. It was a rush to see that house featured in 12 Monkeys, which also showed a snippet of Vertigo within the film itself.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:04 PM on June 18, 2011

Europeans do not shoot their movies at 25 fps. However they do Telecine movies at 25 fps when converting to video, which makes them 4% faster on TV. Oddly, nobody seems to notice.
posted by w0mbat at 10:57 PM on June 18, 2011

Bxyldy, 720p is 60 progressive fps. Also, the newest hdcam-sr decks will play 1080p @ 60. What the earlier poster was thinking of, though, is showscan:

It tended to unsettle audiences, and I'm told the projectors tended to destroy themselves.
posted by higginba at 11:41 PM on June 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Euro vs. US thing certainly *is* noticeable, and I was really glad when somebody pointed it out to me, as it affirmed that I wasn't crazy. (Of course, these days, this is a lot less important, as LCD TVs do not derive their refresh rate from the mains voltage, and can display content in its native frame rate).

In particular, comedies transferred particularly poorly, which (to me) really emphasized the importance of comedic timing. From what I remember, Friends is pretty weird at the other framerate, while Seinfeld is virtually unwatchable.

And, of course, many British dramas look like soap operas due to this effect (although, to be fair, many of them have that aesthetic natively as well). I can't stand those TVs that do 120Hz motion blur. Scenes do indeed look more "real," and it's uncanny as hell.
posted by schmod at 12:58 AM on June 19, 2011

The Lightbox here in Toronto has a 70mm projector. I caught 2001 last fall and it was fantastic. Later this summer they're screening Lawrence of Arabia, Sparticus and West Side Story.

There's something properly epic about seeing film in 70mm
posted by thecjm at 1:09 AM on June 19, 2011

I went to a Showscan demo in the 90's. the effect is has on the picture is hard to describe, everything is more vivid but it's a subtle effect. I remember getting motion sickness during a point of view shot of skier going down a mountain. It was very impressive.
Actually it's exactly as described in the wikipedia article : "As the speed of projection ramped up, so did the emotional response..."
I couldn't take my eyes off the screen, and i almost didn't blink, it's almost hypnotic. That's probably why some people found it unsettling.
posted by SageLeVoid at 3:07 AM on June 19, 2011

Yeah, Showscan woud have been awesome if it had come to pass.

In other similar news, Peter Jackson is filming The Hobbit at 48fps.
posted by hippybear at 4:08 AM on June 19, 2011

The next time I went to work I was shocked to see a line of people camped out around the block. When I asked what was going on, I was told they were there for our next scheduled movie: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Oh ffs -- I meant Raiders of the Lost Ark.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:28 AM on June 19, 2011

1977. Star Wars. Eastwood Theater. Indianapolis. 70mm, curved-screen, Dolby stereo goodness. Me and a friend sitting dead-center in the room.

Best damned theater Indy ever had.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:05 AM on June 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

Seeing 2001 in 70mm really cements how revolutionary that film was in its effects. I mean, everything is IMPECCABLE.
posted by Dmenet at 9:49 AM on June 19, 2011

A few months ago Jim Cameron was making the rounds and making noise about high frame rate projection. I recall him saying that the difference in projection, on the fancy shmancy digital projectors that everyone installed pre-Avatar, is a fairly simple software fix. I'd love for that to gain acceptance.

Can't find the 'easy fix' part, but here is him mentioning Avatar Jr. in 60fps
posted by dirtdirt at 4:17 PM on June 20, 2011

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