"ID4" World Premiere of 70mm DTS
at the Spektrum, Oslo, Norway
This article first appeared in
The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Torkell Sætervadet||Issue 47 - December 1996|
Independence Day advert
If you want to see some 70mm film these days you have to come to Oslo, Norway.
Because in Oslo, they recently ran "ID4" in 70mm!
And not only 70mm, but the Norwegians also managed to celebrate nothing less than a world premiere of 70mm DTS digital sound!
The following article will give you a few details of this event.
|Further in 70mm reading:|
What is 70mm DTS
Films in 70mm DTS
"Dinosaur" in 70mm DTS
"Pearl Harbour" in 70mm DTS
"Blackadder" in 70mm DTS
Digital Theater Systems
"Star Wars" advert
The Norwegian people are often said to be somewhat strange and crazy, and "You are crazy!" was 20th Century Fox first response when they were confronted with Oslo Municipal Cinemas' idea: to arrange a gigantic screening of "ID4" on a 40 (forty) meter/131 feet screen for an audience of 4500 spectators! The screen was to be installed at the Oslo Spectrum - a large combined concert hall and indoor sports arena in the very heart of Oslo, Norway.
After some negotiations and discussions with 20th Century Fox, Oslo Municipal Cinemas at last received a hesitating "Yes" to the project.
The worlds largest screen. Picture by Torkell Sætervadet
Oslo Municipal Cinemas technical assistant also tried to convince 20th Century Fox that 70mm was the way to go for such a screening. Even if it is obvious that you do not improve resolution itself by blowing 35mm up to 70mm, the technical department claimed that a 70mm print could be exposed to more light without buckling than a 35mm print, due to the fact that the heat is spread over a larger picture area. Even with an efficient cold light mirror and a heat filter, a 7 kW xenon bulb fed with the maximum current produces such an amount of heat that a 35mm print will suffer to some extent.
|"The Lost World" advert|
To make the final decision, 20th Century Fox European Print Manager, Mr David Kerr, came to Oslo with two rolls of film in his suitcase; 50 meters of a certain part of "ID4" on 35mm and the same 50 meters on 70mm.
The A/B comparison told us exactly what we expected: The brightest and best looking picture was gained with 70mm. As this motion picture is shot on Super 35 instead of anamorphic scope, the film did of course not have the desired resolution, but the immense blow-up to a 40 meter wide screen taken into consideration, the picture really looked acceptable.
The choice of DTS had two reasons. First of all, DTS is obviously much cheaper than magnetic sound. In addition to this, the entire space between the sprocket holes could be used for the picture. Every millimeter of picture counts when you want to fill the largest cinema screen in the world! This way, the original 2,35:1 aspect ratio was kept on the blow-up.
Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 with Kinoton 7000 watt lamp house and Kinoton non-rewind platter model ST-270. Picture by Torkell Sætervadet
One of the leading companies when it comes to cinema technology in Norway, Knutsen Kinotekniske A/S, had the responsibility for the installation. They bought a Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 equipped with water cooling, a Kinoton 7 kW lamp house and the Kinoton ST-270 platter system.
The projection lens used was the impressive looking ISCO Ultra MC with a focal length of 62,4 mm. When it came to sound, Crusing Audio Concept delivered a Turbosound system with a rated power of 80 kW.
The screen delivered by Mechanische Weberei in Germany was of the so-called Open-Air type, without perforations. To obtain the status of the worlds largest cinema screen in the Guiness Book of Records, the screen was measured by a police officer (!) to a width of 40,24 metres/132 feet.
The first regular motion picture release in DTS 70mm, was meant to be the restored version of Hitchcock's "Vertigo", but the occasion forced DTS to proceed with the world premiere of their new system. The DTS company backed the event heavily by bringing their studio engineer from Brussels, Mr Hector Cordero. Mr Cordero also finished the DTS 70mm installation at the Colosseum (1158 seats) in Oslo, as the print was to be transferred to this cinema after the seven screenings at the Oslo Spectrum.
The Norwegian premiere of "ID4" would of course be an event even without the the Oslo Spectrum screenings, but the rumors of this happening increased the interest immensely. Everyone wanted a ticket to the show, and all of the 31.500 tickets were completely sold out three days before the premiere, even if the tickets cost more than double a regular cinema ticket. Fifteen minutes before the start of the show, tickets were sold on the black market for eight times the rated price (approx. USD 120)!
"Tomorrow Never Dies" advert
The atmosphere in the auditorium was simply incredible during the whole show. The patrons were very satisfied indeed, and did not notice any of the problems: Of course the picture was anything but bright (presumably 15 candles per square meter) and anything but razor sharp, and unfortunately the seams of the screen were anything but invisible. The acoustics can never be perfect in such a hall either, so the show was anything but a THX experience.
But in this case the main issue was the event itself; the feeling of watching a film together with 4500 other spectators on the largest screen in the world. Even in the eyes of a cinema technician, this special event was nice to join, at least if I forget the curious feeling I had in my stomach when I heard the applause from 9000 hands when the president said "..Nuke 'em".
For a 70mm enthusiast, it was also exciting to see how the DTS 70mm system worked, and it is nice to announce that the system performed to everybody's satisfaction. Some minor running-in problems occurred the day before the premiere, but this was easily solved when it was discovered that the time code was more dense than the reference time code. The print has been running in Oslo since September 19, and so far there has been no use for the back- up DTS unit.
Knutsen Kinotekniske A/S even received a phone call right after the show from a film producer in Hollywood that claimed that the successful DTS 70mm screening in Norway convinced him that he would like to start shooting on 65mm and distributing on 70mm again thanks to the new economical and convenient sound system. If this becomes reality, the special "ID4" event in Norway means a lot more than commercial success.
In the future Oslo Municipal Cinemas would like to do more screenings of this kind, and for this purpose they urgently need 70mm, preferably shot on 65mm. Lets hope that the rest of the cinema industry realizes that 70mm is the only way to go for the major first run theatres, even with a screen not as wide as 40 metres.
|The worlds largest screen. Picture by Torkell Sætervadet. Click to see enlargement|
Torkell Sætervadet (b. 1972) has had his passion for cinema technology since he was a young boy, and he is now (-, at the time of writing 1996) working as the technical manager for The Norwegian Film Institute in addition to his job as a projectionist and cinema technician at the Municipal Cinema Enterprise in Oslo. During his last eight years, he has been collecting retired cinema equipment in order to establish a cinema museum in Norway. As a Bauer enthusiast, he is now installing two Bauer U2s in his home theatre. This will allow him to enjoy The Splendor of 70mm as often as he likes.
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