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Cinema upgrades technology

Abi Hoverman | Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Due to a technology upgrade in the Browning Cinema, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center can now screen digital cinema packages (DCPs), the high-quality digital format used to film most movies today.

Ted Barron, senior associate director of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, said this recent transformation would ensure the theater stays current with changing film industry standards.

“Because of the investment the University made, we are at the cutting edge of current technology,” Barron said. 

The noteworthy installation of a server and projector to play DCPs allows for higher definition image and improved audio, he said. In addition, a move to only one panel of projection room glass helps maximize image quality and brightness. 

“The quality is a world of difference from what we had before,” Barron said. “It really benefits everyone.”

Barron said movie theaters across the country have undergone similar transformations to the user-friendly DCP technology as the industry moves away from 35-millimeter film.

“This is a huge change within the film industry,” he said. 

This digital capability also ensures much easier transportation and projection of films, Barron said. Before, only 35-millimeter films could be shown, which involve manual threading of projectors and multiple bulky film reels for each film, which are much more difficult to handle than the DVD-box-sized DCP that simply needs to be uploaded to the cinema’s server.

Barron said he was grateful the Chicago-based film projection specialist Full Aperture Systems could install the upgrade because the company employs experts in the field.

Browning Cinema used to not be able to project student films in the high digital quality in which they were recorded, so Film, Television and Theater (FTT) students will now benefit from the technology upgrade, Barron said.

“It better reflects and showcases what the students are doing for FTT students who are making films,” he said. “The technology they’ve been using was incompatible with the projection capabilities we had.” 

Barron said the project fits in with Notre Dame’s mission of leadership and excellence.

“Professors are awestruck about the quality of the presentation they have,” he said. “This is a huge benefit to their academic mission.

“Faculty can now make the best use of their resources in a way they have not before.” 

This University-funded project, largely completed in June, marks the first major upgrade to the Browning Cinema since its 2004 opening, Barron said. 

“This is the biggest change we’ve done to the cinema to ensure that it is around for years to come,” he said.