Middle earth is fighting again. Gandalf the wizard, the hobbit bilbo baggins and 13 dwarves sharpen their axes and swords and strap on their staves to stand up to hungry trolls, bloodthirsty orcs and the cunning gollum.
Things are quieter behind the scenes. In the projector room only the air of the beamer can be heard, which casts its images on the screen of the cinema hall. In the prevailing darkness, operator lothar michel watches the yellow, red and blue flashing high-tech device at work. The head of cineworld watched the film being shown in the front of the auditorium during the first screening. He did not let himself be deprived of that. "What peter jackson offers visually is truly impressive", he says.
More contrasting and sharp
Michel had good reason to look forward to the premiere, because peter jackson's film comes with new technology that promises even higher contrast and sharper images. Two cinema halls have been converted for this purpose. "An IT specialist spent a day reconfiguring the server and beamer for us," he says, he reports.
For about a year now, all the films have been flickering digitally across the screen in the kinocenter. "The good old 35-millimeter film has gone bye-bye", he says. A little nostalgia resonates in his voice. 24 images were thrown from the projector onto the screen in a second. For comparison: in old silent movies with charlie chaplin there were only 16 frames per second. "It made the film jerky to play", he says. In principle, it is like a flip book.
The eye is tricked
The higher frame rate has, in his words, been preserved and will continue to be so. "But there is a certain disadvantage in the digital area", explains the cinema operator. During extremely fast and action-packed scenes, there is a slight wiping effect. Lothar michel holds a burning tea light in his hand to illustrate the point. "Imagine taking a candle and pulling it back and forth very quickly in front of your eyes. Then the flame also draws a tail behind it", he explains. The human eye is outwitted by fast movement.
And now comes the trick: the film "the hobbit" doubles the frame rate and plays 48 frames in one second. "The human eye is again outwitted and the wiping effect is avoided", michel is enthusiastic. The principle is similar to a slow motion recording. There, the camera also shoots a lot of individual photos very quickly. During playback, for example, the images are played back not in one second, but in two seconds. This slows down the film.
Three film show
Michel estimates that some moviegoers will find the new super-sharp images uncomfortable, especially because "the hobbit" is a "very good" movie is also presented in 3D. In order to accommodate all of his customers' viewing habits, he presents the fantasy spectacle in three versions: once in high-resolution 3D. The frames with 24 images per second are shown three-dimensionally and quite old-fashioned in 2D. Michel himself is completely fascinated by the new technology. "Reality is sharp and you can shoot it sharp", he says and jokes: "but you get twice the number of images for the money".
Despite lothar michel's enthusiasm for technology, he is skeptical about some of the developments in his industry. "The industry dictates to us to a certain extent what we have to buy and when", he says. This is where decisions are made about when technology is outdated, when to buy a new beamer and when to replace the servers on which the films are stored. "We'll have to keep adding to the ranks to maintain the level", he estimates.
Differentiate from home entertainment
Lothar Michel considers this a necessity, after all, a cinema has to offer people something they don't have at home. "We must differentiate ourselves from home-entertainment. Otherwise no one would get in the car to go to the cinema", he says. One remedy is razor-sharp 3-D shots that bring wizards, hobbits and dwarves to life against the scenic backdrop of new zealand