I for one really appreciated this and broke the news to my senior projectionist at my cinema and an argument ensued. “don’t tell me how to do my job!” she said. I said that i knew how to do very few of the things Terrence describes in his letter, but i would love to learn and will do my best to make sure that when my cinema receives a print of Tree of Life that it is projected the way Malick meant it to be.
In the letter Mr. malick describes that the bulb should be turned up, the aspect ratio set to a very specific 1.85:1, and that the sound be turned up to 7.5 or 7.7 ( much higher than the standard 5 or 6 ).
Now on the first subject of the bulb, earlier this month Ebert posted a letter about how many cinemas dont turn their bulbs up to even half, as the theater managers are trying to save money… though in the same article the research said that through tests the standard bulbs a cinema uses only saves 1/16 when used at low capacity.
I brought this news to my manager who is also the training projectionist, and he promptly turned down my request to change the bulbs stating that we couldn’t afford to be wrong, and that tinkering with anything is entirely out of the question.
With Sound in a cinema there is a very tricky thing, the trailers advertising products and coming features are already very loud as to get peoples attention. So naturally out of laziness and sheer distress ,as we projectionists also have to ensure that all 7 screens start on time (each being within 5 minutes of each other), the sound systems are not set to their proper settings as there is too many complaints about the cinema being too loud when a show starts. When I brought the idea of turning the sound system up to the senior projectionist she said that it would be too loud and that too many people will leave and ask for the volume to be turned down.
As a projectionist i believe that it is my duty to ensure the film is presented the way the film maker intended.
If anyone comes out of a movie claiming it is too loud, i will go up to the booth ensure that the volume has not been cranked and if it is at the standard volume setting, i will do nothing. I refuse to turn down the volume during a feature. Though there may be one person thanking me for turning it down im sure there will also be another wondering, “why did the sound all of a sudden get quieter?”, and these people will not leave and complain about the sound because they are watching the movie and trying to get into the story and immerse themselves in this experience.
Some people are too used to having a remote control in their hands, being able to control every aspect of the entertainment they are subjecting themselves to, even when to watch it with features like pause, scene selsction, and PVR’s.
If it’s too loud for you, leave. maybe this isn’t the right film for you as each film has very different soundscapes.
Back to the idea of control, the other day a man showed up late for a show and he asked me if i could rewind the film. I said " no, no i cannot it’s film" and the guy blew me off going “that’s fucking stupid!”.
So I do appreciate Terrence Malick writing this letter, even if the majority of people and projectionist’s will blow it off as “fucking stupid”.
I have to get my own Tree of Life thread…
Nonetheless, that was interesting and who knew?
Thanks for the info.
The Tree bears much fruit.
The world is full of bad projectionists and bad theaters that prevent good projectionists from doing their jobs well, but perhaps that’s another thread.
I did recently read an article in which it was noted that the images projected in one multiplex had acquired a sickly greenish cast . . . apparently this was because the digital projectors and the popcorn popper shared a common ventilation system and somehow popcorn oil had been drawn back into the projectors.
If I had known about that, I could have started my own ToL thread.
Yeah, this is great. Finally, someone who cares about standardizing the quality of the experience. So many theaters are cutting corners, and when the bulbs are significantly dimmed, it really ruins the look…is it any wonder people started abandoning the theater-going experience?
This drives me crazy. I understand they save money by doing it, but really, they’re going to go down the same path as Blockbuster if they keep this up. For god’s sake, man.
I haven’t been reading the ToL threads, but I think the OP has some interesting information. A part of me wishes I remained ignorant, though, because now I’ll be wondering if I’m watching the film at the ideal specs!
Matt said, …the popcorn popper shared a common ventilation system and somehow popcorn oil had been drawn back into the projectors.
Oh man, that’s hilarious.
Kubrick used to do the same thing
When I worked as a projectionist, most of us who cared about that kind of thing found it flattering that someone would actually rememebr we were there and take interest in how their film was shown. Woody Allen movies (at least used to) come with a letter from Woody explaining the mono sound mix. Big Disney movies (especially Pixar ones) come with nice letters, trading cards with the tehcnical specs, entries for prize drawings, etc. Disney were even nice enough to warn me about some fadeout reel changes in Wall-E, which was a major courtest.
It always seemed that distributors didn’t care; theater management sure as hell didn’t. A studio (or, more often, exacting producers or directors) caring, and realizing that somebody else out there might too was always nice.
Nastygrams about piracy or combo locks on print cans are what would piss the hell out of me. I’d hope if someone is insulted by the thought of being told how to do their job that they’re really insulted about being called a thief.
Unfortunately, at the screening I attended this afternoon the image seemed dim and a lot of the whispered dialogue was hard to hear (the beginning whisper is inaudible). What the hell am I playing $11.50 for when I can get a better experience on my HDTV and sound system at home? Great film, shitty presentation.
The show I cought was great. The sound was awesome and the images were sublime.