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Tech Talk Radio Show 49 of 2009
Transmission date: December 7, 2009

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Ep 49: Last show for 09. NBN adds 600k of fiber optic, cinema comes of 3D age, We launch slashrant.com.au, Google luanches new DNS service, plus the year that was wrap!

December 7, 2009

The holiday season is upon us yet again, and as we down tools and prepare to indulge in that once a year family fun day, which traditionally reminds you why you only do it once a year, it’s nice to know that escapism is only a short drive away, and this year the big screen has really come of age.

In these digital days more and more cinemas are install digital theatres, and more and more films are being released in digital 3D, so would it surprise you that the image you see in the new whizz bang digital cinema is in fact originating from a hard drive or media server and not from film? That’s right, what your watching is more or less very high definition television projected onto a large screen with a sound system that any die hard home movie buff would sell his family into slavery to have!

Yes, 35 and 70mm film is slowly loosing it’s cinematic strangle hold that it’s had since nitrate film caught fire way back in the very first cinemas when sound was just a dream.

Feature film cameras have almost done away with film too, with the latest Panavision camera heads equipped with Sony High Definition SR recording decks – yes these record on half inch videotape, and Red’s new hard drive based camera systems. There is a trade off – some of the new movies look so crisp and clean that they almost look too good.

JJ Abrams made the latest Star Trek incarnation using film because that was the look and style he was after, where most of the new films, live in the realm of the digital world. James Cameron’s film Avatar, which debuts December 18, is probably one of the most technically advance productions in cinematic history. Because its origins are digital, 3D is now just par for the course.


When Cameron revived the Avatar project in 2005, it seemed the techniques required to achieve his vision were right around the corner. At that time there was still concern that the characters would not appear quite real, and would suffer from the disturbing "dead eye" effect seen in some early performance capture films. Cameron's team sought to go far beyond prior efforts, to ensure the complete reality of the characters. To do this, they developed a new "image-based facial performance capture" system, using a head-rig camera to accurately record the smallest nuances of the actors' facial performances. Instead of using the motion capture technique of placing reflective markers on the actors' faces to capture their expressions, the actors wore special headgear, not unlike a football helmet, to which a tiny camera was attached. The rig faced towards the actors' faces and the camera recorded facial expression and muscle movements to a degree never before possible. Most importantly, the camera recorded eye movement, which had not been the case with prior systems. (www.iesb.net)

Most people are familiar with Standard Def and High Def television. It’s what we have right now in our living rooms, but few people know that television capture and production continues above SD and HD TV to formats know as 2K and 4K. 2K and 4K are recorded on Sony HDSR equipment but it’s still digital video.

So what we’re seeing this holiday season, is an explosion of 3D digital films in Digital Cinemas. Village, Hoyts and even the independent cinema operators all have at least one digital cinema in most of their complexes, and this will become the norm very soon with the old film based projectors very much on the way out. What we’re seeing in cinema right now is what we saw happen to CDs and records back in the 80s. And just when you thought it was safe to go out and buy a nice brand new flat screen panel for the living room, manufacturers like Sony and Panasonic will soon start rolling out 3D TVs to allow the 3D experience to flow from the cinema to the living room.

Don’t take my word on the new look cinema, experience it for yourself, but be sure to immerse yourself properly.  This holiday season, take a trip to you local IMAX theatre. After all, seeing and hearing IS believing.

 This week on TTR

  • Adam has a surprise guest in the couch this week
  • Google thinks it’s become a scapegoat for poorly run newspapers
  • Cinema group Hoyts says goodbye to film as it starts to convert all its cinemas Aus-wide to digital projection and
  • Conroy ramps up the NBN Roll out