Thursday, 16 June 2011

Developments in projection technology since 2001

Remember the Fumeo? How quaint and mechanical it was? Remember the switches, the levers, the "gentle" purr as 24fps passed through its gate? Remember the massive spinning wheels of death that you needed to use to rewind the film after the show?

I'm sure we all know that cinema projection has changed a bit since OFU shut down. Most cinemas are using digital projectors now, resulting in brighter, cleaner pictures with less jitter and no sudden popping noises at the end of every reel.

But it turns out that not all of the progress has been good or even very straightforward to manage.

For example: you might know that the spec for HDMI (media interconnect) allows for encryption, which means that the projector can refuse to play media for any reason it likes. For example, somebody I know recently took over a working two-screen local cinema and needed to test the shiny hi-def digital projectors that they were paying ridiculous quantities of money to rent. Not unreasonably, he bought a Blu-Ray player and a disc of something with superheroes in it, then settled down to watch two hours of a huge sign that said, "You are not authorised to view this content."

Anyway, it turns out that Hollywood is even more paranoid than we might have assumed. Apparently, you now need a password in order to make changes to the projector hardware settings.

Just imagine that we'd needed to get explicit permission from a film studio every time we needed to adjust the anamorphic lens or the racking. Makes nipping downstairs to beg AVS for a spare amp seem completely straightforward by comparison.

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