Shadow electric

As summer rolls around again I think back to a fun evening at the Abbotsford Convent where we filmed one of the great positive aspects of digital projection - pop up cinema.  

Nestled amongst the convent buildings

Nestled amongst the convent buildings

Outdoor movies in the summer months isn't a new idea but getting projected film to look and sound good in a temporary enviroment isn't easy. It takes a lot of time, equipment and know-how to achieve anything approaching what can now be done with a DLP (Digital Light Processing) projector and inflatable screen with a fraction of the same resources.

'Our Screen is this big' 

'Our Screen is this big' 

In 2014, Chris Elliot showed me around his wonderful setup at Shadow Electric which sadly folded in 2016. The stability of a roll down screen was complemented by full 5.1 playback that could be mixed for the type of film and even the size of the crowd. On our visit we watched one of my all time faves, Stop Making Sense, which ironically was the first feature film soundtrack to be recorded in a digital format. And it really sounded great. A totally different acoustic experience in the open air too. People were up around the screen dancing their asses off.

A squadron of bats signal it's time to drop the screen into position 

A squadron of bats signal it's time to drop the screen into position 

This really is the realm of digital projection. But it's not all beer and skittles for the people prepared to do it right. A limited catalogue of repertory films and a growing army of illegal operators has made it difficult for the people willing to play by the rules. Any cowboy with a bed sheet and a data projector can set up for one night in a park and charge people to watch a Blu-ray or downloaded torrent and then be gone in a few hours without paying anyone for the privilege. 

Chris monitors the presentation while David Byrne watches on

Chris monitors the presentation while David Byrne watches on

This obviously makes for a really crappy viewing experience as well as making it harder for the legitimate outdoor exhibitors. But then to these audiences, the experience they are paying for is to be watching their movie - outside; not to experience cutting edge exhibition. 

Has digital convenience cheapened the movie going experience, even in outdoor exhibition? Hell yeah, what kind of a stupid question is that?   Rob

Has digital convenience cheapened the movie going experience, even in outdoor exhibition? Hell yeah, what kind of a stupid question is that?

Rob

Bert Murphy