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Monday, September 01, 2008

Excerpt from 'Inventing' in Digital Cinema Report

Nick Dager edits one of the most respected sites that focuses on digital cinema, Digital Cinema Report. The September "edition" of the site includes a new excerpt from Inventing the Movies, which I adapted especially for Nick's site. It covers the many false starts of the digital cinema revolution...from predictions in the 1940s and 1950s that digital cinema was right around the corner... to efforts by Pacific Bell, George Lucas, and Texas Instruments in the late the present day, when we still haven't hit the digital cinema "tipping point."

A snippet from the beginning of the excerpt:

    When did the digital cinema revolution begin, and who started it?

    A handful of Hollywood soothsayers were predicting the imminent arrival of digital cinema in the middle of the 20th century. In 1949, the independent producer Samuel Goldwyn, who’d helped to launch three Hollywood studios (Paramount, MGM, and United Artists), anticipated the development of video-on-demand systems that would allow movie fans to view the movies they wanted to see at home, as well as methods for delivering a movie electronically to thousands of theaters, saving the studios the cost of making film prints.

    A few years later, in 1954, Albert Abramson, a CBS television engineer, published an article titled, “A Motion-Picture Studio of 1968.” In it, he sketched out how digital cinematography and a film-free distribution system would work: movies would be shot with electronic cameras, and then “sent by radio-relay or coaxial cable to the theaters. Five or fifty theaters in an area may be receiving the same program. An area may cover the whole state, a county, or just a large city. But no theater is shipped the actual picture tape.” Abramson also expected that by 1968, a new generation of electronic cameras would be totally self-contained and cordless – capable of capturing 3-D imagery and transmitting it wirelessly back to the production center.

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