What's the state of the art in 3D projection? For Ang Lee's Life of Pi, which premiered last Friday in the New York Film Festival's (NYFF) cavernous Alice Tully Hall, it's two Christie CP4230 DLP Cinema projectors running in tandem to double the brightness levels of a standard stereo presentation.
The two-projector system was specified and installed by Digital Media Systems (DMS) to throw a sufficiently bright, clear image onto the big screen in the auditorium, which seats more than 1,000 viewers. "They wanted the most reliable, most powerful projection system in the industry," said DMS President Gregg Paliotta in a prepared statement. "The feedback from the audience was remarkable …. Everyone was beyond blown away by how it looked."
Perhaps not coincidentally, both Christie and Life of Pi distributor 20th Century Fox are NYFF sponsors. Working together, they delivered a presentation that helped make Lee's film an early leader among Best Picture Oscar contenders.
Picture quality is key for the NYFF, which has a reputation, even on the festival circuit, for catering to an especially discerning crowd — and one that remains skeptical of the merits of digital projection compared to 35mm film. Case in point? The festival took a beating in social media and on the web on Saturday night, after the scheduled 9 p.m. premiere of the new film from Brian De Palma, Passion, was delayed and then canceled due to a problem with the digital print, apparently related to the encryption. (Another digital screening, of the Spanish-U.S. co-production Aquí y Allá, reportedly suffered from subtitle glitches earlier in the day.)
A story at Popdose.com
's "digital disaster" sparked quite a bit of discussion, including a comment posted earlier today by director Alex Cox, who related a story about screening a digital print of one of his films at the Venice Film Festival, only to see the picture go blank intermittently. When he complained to the projectionist, he says, he was told, "Oh, don't worry — that's been happening with all the DCPs!"
Cox is a great storyteller, and that's a great punchline. But it won't seem so funny if it happens to your project.