Digital Focus: Engineer Deutch wants DLP
technology back in KC
Despite the apparent benefits and much hype, digital technology has been taking only baby steps on its way to the Big Screen. In fact, little more than one tenth of 1% of the world's theaters (160 in total) have installed the technology (DN MyView 08.18.03) since 1999. And for Kansas City residents, there's been a big step back. Reader and rabid movie fan Keith Deutch, a product designer at Honeywell, reports that much to his dismay the only digital screen in the Kansas City Metro area was removed sometime after Star Wars: Episode II came out. Curious to find out why, he contacted the theater chain's corporate office. Customer relations rep Linda Garland offered up this explanation: "The main reasons for the DLP being moved from KC to another city were projector expense [an estimated $150K per projector], no other local digital screens to compete with, and the fact that movie-goers appear not to notice the difference." Deutch himself takes issue with the last part of that statement. "Several weeks after the movie Seabiscuit opened, I went to see it on an analog screen. There was a scratch down the right side of the frame for the first 20 minutes, and the screen had a slight frame jitter throughout the entire show," he says. Rumor has it that George Lucas will distribute Star Wars: Episode III exclusively in digital format for the two opening weeks. Some see it as a good strategy for creating momentum for digital cinema technology. But it could alienate movie fans like Deutch in the Kansas City area. With no digital screens within easy driving distance, they just might decide they'd rather wait for the DVD.