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History of cinema has gone a long way. Movie Magic has never been seen in such a crystal clear platform plus on a very huge silver screen. I was absolutely blown away as I caught Star Wars III again, but this time - DIGITAL! Thanks to the Christie 2K DLP Cinema projector on load to GV; I think both my eyes and jaws grew bigger when the Lucas Film logo dissolved onto screen. No film scratches, no film jerk, no colour inconsistency. It was the most perfect screening I've ever seen. Everything was so clear and rich. In fact - too clear! In itself, the technology was an experience. Coupled with digital surround sound, it made the mediocre story plot so much bearable to catch a second time round.

Remember those days when we were just happy to catch a movie on a BIG screen; then there was THX, DTS, 3D films, film restoration and now digital... my love for the cinemas has just grown deeper.

The Digital Experience

1) Images are consistently crisper and cleaner than on today's films. Unlike celluloid, digital pictures don't break, scratch or smudge. And each frame is more evenly lit from edge to edge: There's no bright spot in the middle.

2) There'll be more 3-D films (although you'll still need special glasses). A single digital projector can beam images that trick each eye into perceiving depth. With traditional film, theaters need two prints running simultaneously on two projectors. Lucas, for one, recently said that he'll release remastered 3-D versions of all the Star Wars movies.

3) Competition with HDTV. Digital film promises at least 2,000 lines — topping the 1,080 in high-definition TVs. It will accept a format promoted by Sony that goes to 4,000.

4) Different languages and trailer ads all in the same disc.

5) Digital theaters can show supersized non-movie entertainment including live concerts and major sports events to fill the house in typically slow periods. They can become more attractive venues for corporate presentations, college lectures and religious services.

How the process works:

1) Filming
Lucas used digital cameras to film nearly all of his three latest Star Wars films. That made it easier to mix live actors with digitally created characters and settings. Upon the movie's completion, digital copies could be identical. Today, digital and film copies of the 35mm master offer less resolution than the original.

2) Transmission (3 methods: DVD, satellite, hard drives)
The film is compressed and encrypted before being sent via satellite (or by fiberoptic wire) from the studio to theaters. Some studios might send the movies on high-resolution DVDs. For the demonstration, Pluto's bulk-storage hard drive is being used.

Done with mirrors
Inside are three digital micromirror devices (DMD) chips, one each dedicated to red, green and blue light. A prism takes white light from a projection lamp, splits it into the three colors and directs each color to the corresponding DMD chip. Each chip consists of an array of 1.3 million micromirrors that can flip back and forth in response to electric signals.

New instructions to each mirror come from an underlying memory cell 50,000 times per second, varying the intensity of each color. The light from each pixel and color is recombined by the prism, greatly magnified by a projection lens and focused on the cinema screen.

3) Digital projection
A digital movie system in the theater decompresses and decrypts the movie and sends it to a digital projector. Texas Instruments' DLP Cinema prototype projector attaches to a conventional film-projector lamp console.

Sources: CineComm, Dolby Laboratories, Lucasfilm, Pluto Technologies, Texas Instruments, THX, USA TODAY research

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