Posts Tagged ‘film’

The NIM Giant Screen Laser Projector Experience- Part Two

June 23, 2017

A Look at the National Infantry Museum’s State-of-the-art Giant  Screen Laser Projectors – Part Two

70mm IMAX film is fed from a revolving platter to the IMAX projector.

Not only was the 70 mm IMAX picture on the huge screen, one of the largest in the Southeastern United States, an impressively immersive experience, the projection booth was also big and elaborate.  The two IMAX 70 mm film projectors filled the largest projection booth I have ever seen.  Now, the theater is showing a huge picture on the Giant Screen that is, in my view, just as good, or in some ways even better, with projectors that that don’t come near filling up the booth.

Giant Screen Christie Laser projectors use hard drives, DVDs, live digital presentations, anything on a computer instead of film.


Theater Technical Manager Brad Skipwith said that instead of spending a lot of time loading the 70 mm film, the operator just inserts a hard drive and pushes a button.  He said, “The picture quality is a lot better. It’s way more sharper than film. It’s a lot more crisp.” When I pointed out that film resolution is still higher than 4K digital, he said the reason laser projection is clearer because laser light is brighter, especially when running 3D movies, and that “When the film runs over and over, you, of course, start seeing lines, you get dust. You get none of that with lasers.”

Another plus, he said, on the laser side is that 4K Xenon lamps last about a thousand hours, whereas laser lights will last ten years or more.  That’s one reason that the National Infantry Foundation decided the laser system would provide longer life and lower cost of ownership. Also, going totally digital saves thousands of dollars in shipping charges.  Film and film canisters are quite heavy. Hard drives and DVDs are not.

Now, all the theater needs is YOU.  The last two times I went, the theater was almost empty. That’s hard to understand because the documentaries that are being shown on a regular basis are really worth seeing in my view. Fortunately, the free movies shown in the summer for the kids draw good crowds. The museum comes out ahead on them because the concession stand does well.  Movies and popcorn go together.



The NIM Giant Screen Laser Projector Experience – Part One

June 22, 2017

A Look at the National Infantry Museum’s State-of-the-art Giant  Screen Laser Projectors – Part One

The sea change in cinematic theatrical projection is the relatively recent switch to digital  systems. Just as the way film systems evolved technically, digital is doing the same thing.  Film went from grainy black and white flickering silent cinema to sound on film and color and from almost square screens to widescreens that got larger and larger.  Digital has gone from 2K definition which allowed some pixels to be seen to 4K which solved that problem and from and from light bulb to laser lights.  The National Infantry Museum has one of the very few theaters in the Southeastern United States with state-of-the-art Giant Screen laser projectors.  The museum’s theater also has one of the largest screens in the Southeast.

70 mm IMAX film projectors took up a lot space in the large NIM IMAX Theater projection booth. I took this photo in 2010.

Up until last year, the NIM still used  IMAX 70 mm film  projectors. IMAX 70 mm was as good as it got in theatrical projection until digital laser came along. When IMAX switched to digital laser, the museum dropped IMAX and switched to Christie 6P laser projection, and changed the name of the theater to Giant Screen.

When I saw the new documentary “Aircraft Carrier,” I was so impressed with the experience I decided I wanted to learn more about the Christie laser projectors. I wondered why the huge picture on the screen seemed so much more vivid and immersive than the one produced by 70 mm film projectors.  I was able to take a look at the projectors and get an interview with Theater Technical Manager Brad Skipwirth.

I’ll take you inside the projection booth in my next post.





How History Lessons Could Help Carmike Cinemas Thrive During Hard Times

May 15, 2011

Carmike 15, Columbus, GA, home of Carmike Cinemas

One Ledger-Enquirer online reader, commenting on the story about Carmike Cinemas losing more than $18 million during the first quarter of this year, said the folks who run movie chains need to understand that they can make more by charging less.  Instead of charging $10 for a ticket and selling two, they could make a lot more by charging $2 a ticket and selling 20.  And that was exactly the philosophy back in the heyday of the movies.  I remember it well.  (Yes, I’m a geezer.)

Escaping the Great Depression of the 1930s,  people flocked to the theaters. For 25-cent evening tickets (25-cents in 1932 is $4.10 today) for adults and 10 cents ($1.64 today) for children they could enjoy a cartoon, newsreel, a short subject, and a movie, and in a few theaters like the 4,678-seat Fox in Atlanta they could sing along with a mighty theater pipe organ, and, like the 2,700- seat Royal in Columbus they could enjoy a live vaudeville show.  Also, there were Bank Nights which featured ticket stub lottery drawings for dishes, and other items, including some cash. 

Of course it didn’t hurt that TV didn’t come along until after World War II. (Because of the need to escape the realities of that horrible war, the largest movie audiences ever were during those four years.)   The only real competition was radio which featured comedy shows, dramas,  sports, live music, recorded music, and news.  Radio was popular enough to inspire the movie makers to feature radio stars like Jack Benny and Bob Hope in films, but without pictures radio couldn’t topple the film factories of Hollywood.    

I can remember all of that because I was around at the time.  And I can relate to the insiders of the movie theater business because I was an usher,  then a doorman who took up tickets and supervised other ushers at the first-run, 1,640-seat art-deco showplace called the Bradley Theater which stayed packed during World War II.  When comics Bud Abbot and Lou Costello pictures played on a weekend, the ticket line would go down  to the corner of Broadway and 13th Street, and then on down 13th Street to Front Avenue.   War-weary folks wanted something to laugh about.

Take advantage of this on Tuesdays when you can buy popcorn and a drink for $1 each and you'll have a really big deal.

If I remember correctly, the evening tickets at the Bradley in 1945, at 47-cents for adults and 14-cents for children, were the most expensive in town.  47-cents in 1945 would be $5.87 today according to the Inflation Caculator.  Evening ticket prices are close to twice that much now, but if you go between 4 and 5:30 p.m. hours you can get into Carmike theaters for $5. That means Carmike understands that a lot of people paying less can add up to more than a few people paying more, but if they really want it to make a difference they need to do it in the evening also.

“How to Train Your Dragon” is Sensational in IMAX 3D

June 27, 2010

Theatrical release poster (Paramount Pictures)

Even if you’ve seen “How to Train Your Dragon” at a conventional theater, you’ll do yourself a favor to go see it again at the National Infantry Museum’s IMAX  Theater.  As  New York Times movie reviewer A.O Scott says, “And the real distinction of ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ — the reason it deserves to be seen in a theater with special glasses on, rather than slapped on the DVD player when the children are acting up — lies in those airborne sequences..”  Add the huge IMAX screen and those dragons really soar.

 After enjoying the IMAX experience with a fairly good-sized audience Saturday evening, I can understand why the movie got so many good reviews.  Not only is the animation art breathtaking, but, you actually start caring about the characters, including the dragon Toothless. 

 While I heartily recommend this highly entertaining animated film, I would add one note of caution.  It is extremely violent with a lot a crashing sound effects and dragons spitting blazing fire.  It might be too scary for a child under five. A friend of mine said it would be too scary for a child under ten.  I guess it depends on the child.  Of course, people like to be scared by movies. I guess it’s sort of like the thrill you get when riding a rollercoaster.  One friend told me a few years ago that when she took her small boy to see “Jurassic Park,” he got down on the floor and hid under the seat, but when she asked him, “Do you want to leave?” he said “No!”

Behind the Scenes at IMAX at Patriot Park, Home of the New National Infantry Museum

March 16, 2009

Before last Thursday the only thing I knew about IMAX theaters is that the screens dwarf all other movie screens,  and the viewing experience is exhilarating,  and the IMAX 3D film experience is astounding.   I learned those things at IMAX theaters in Chattanooga, Atlanta,  Pensacola,  and at one other place that I can’t remember.  When I went to the sneak preview given for Columbus area media at the IMAX at Patriot Park in the Soldier Center section of the National Infantry Museum Thursday,  I learned how it works.

IMAX at Patriot Park, National Infantry Museum,  Columbus, GA

IMAX at Patriot Park, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GA

My former WRBL-TV co-worker and present friend Chris Joiner,  projection and audio visual manager of IMAX at Patriot Park,   which is part of the new National Infantry Museum on Fort Benning Boulevard in Columbus, Georgia,  invited me to join him in the projection booth.   There I got to see the two IMAX projectors that throw the incredibly huge and clear picture on the five story high and 70 foot wide screen. 

Chris Joiner, IMAX Projection and Audio Visual Manager, IMAX at Patriot Park, National Infantry Museum

Chris Joiner, IMAX Projection and Audio Visual Manager, IMAX at Patriot Park, National Infantry Museum

Each of these projectors costs  $600,000.   Only one of them is used for non-3D films.  It takes both of them for 3D.   These projectors and the 15/70 film, which is ten times larger than 35mm film used in ordinary movie theaters, produce a picture 9 times clearer than any other movie theater in the region.  It is so huge that you become immersed in it.

Becky Donovan, assistant projectionist, loads 15/70 IMAX film into $600,000 projector,  IMAX at Patriot Park, National Infantry Museum,  Columbus, Georgia

Becky Donovan, assistant projectionist, loads 15/70 IMAX film into $600,000 projector, IMAX at Patriot Park, National Infantry Museum, Columbus, Georgia

Many regular movie theaters use digital projection now instead of film,  and when IMAX at Patriot Park shows movies made in the conventional format,  it will use the theater’s $90, 000 digital projector.  Those conventional movies in the letterbox format will not fill the entire IMAX screen,  but will still be larger than in any other regional theater.  Many of the military oriented Hollywood films shown on Military Monday will be shown in the conventional format,  but the rest of the week only IMAX movies will be shown.

You’ll be able to particpate in the IMAX experience starting next Thursday, Marh 19th, when the Soldier Center, or first half of the National Infantry Museum, will open.   And,  if  you like,  you can eat in the museum’s full service restaurant.  Also,  on that day,  the first basic training class graduation ceremony will be held on the parade grounds in back of he musem.  That part of the musem complex is actually on the Fort Benning reservation, but the museum building is located in Columbus.  The grand opening of the entire musesum will be on June 19th.  Former Secretary of State and General Colin Powell will be one of the notables attending that event.

On Thursday the IMAX theater will show two documentaries,  Mysteries of Egypt starts at 5:30,  Everest starts at 6:30,  and the Hollywood hit The Dark Night, a Batman movie,  at 7:30.   Prices for films 70 minutes and under are $8 for general admission, $7 for seniors, active and retired military, and high school and college students,  $6 for children in non-school groups of 20 or more, and $5 for school groups of 20 or more.  (For double features add $4 for second film.)  Prices for films over 70 minutes long are $10 for general admission,  $9 for seniors, active/retired military and dependents, and high school and college students, $8 for children. 

Is it worth it?  Based on my experiences in IMAX theaters, including the sneak preview at this one,  I would definately say yes.