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Ballet Films at the Cinema

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I was interested to hear in an interview with Anne Bass (Dancing Across Borders) how problematic digital format for film is. She is redoing her documentary as a 35 mm film because she said that with digital the projection equipment is so different in each venue that it was a nightmare. See interview at 4.48.

Having seen a ballet film in the cinema where the really fast movement was disturbingly blurry I was wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience. The cinema blamed the the original camera work which didn't sound likely to me.

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I think there are at least two issues here:

1.) Film festivals definitely have huge variances in projection equipment, from full blown digital projections to people playing dvds off a laptop. It just depends on the quality of the festival and the screening environment.

2.) Digital projection/delivery is very unforgiving of production flaws, and if there are shortcuts taken in the editing suite, which happens often when there are budgetary constraints (I can not speak anything that did or did not happen with this particular film), those shortcuts could also be quite evident in what is seen on a big screen. For example, archival material is often includes film comprising a number of different formats (interlace v. progressive, film v. video, frame rates, aspect ratios, etc)that are not always handled properly in post. These flaws could be virtually invisible in a broadcast environment or a dvd, but blow up the image, or deliver digitally, and it could get rather ugly.

What was the ballet film with the blurriness?

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What was the ballet film with the blurriness?

It was La Petite Danseuse de Degas (Paris Opera Ballet).

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"Captured live" but shown on different days. I believe the ballet films in cinemas to be pre-recorded (live) and edited but I do not know for sure to be honest.

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"Captured live" but shown on different days. I believe the ballet films in cinemas to be pre-recorded (live) and edited but I do not know for sure to be honest.

When they're shown on tape delay it's still a live edit, so what you would see in the live cinemacast would be the same that you would see in the pre-recorded. Ultimately, from theater to cinema there are a number of locations where errors could happen, so it could be the theater, it could be the camera work, it could be everything in between, and a small error early in the delivery chain will be amplified by the time the performance reaches it's destination. If you ever get a chance to see Mark Schubin speak about the logistics of delivering the Met Live broadcasts, you will be impressed.

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