Friday, 26 April 2013

The Hawthorne Theatre goes digital

In the autumn of 2012, a great change took place in the projection room at the Hawthorne Theatre.

The Digital projector goes live
On Sunday 9 September at 10.15pm the main 35mm projector, an Italian made Cinemacanicca Victoria 5, was switched off for the last time and its long-play film carrier – a Westrex 5035 was moved into its new position behind projector No. 1, previously only used to show adverts and trailers.

The 35 mm projector finds new home
The following morning at 7am engineers moved in to carefully dismantle the old projector, to be restored and displayed as a working model at the Museum of Cinema Technology at Bletchley Park, to make way for our brand-new Barco 2k 19B digital projector and Dolby server.  The installation took three days, scheduled around, an existing film programme and without closing the cinema.  Films were ran that week using Projector No. 1; strange to note our main machine had always been referred to as Projector No. 2!  The last 35mm presentation was The Flowers of War with Christian Bale starring.

The Digital Key
After a week’s live performance our first digital showing was Jo Nesbo’s Jackpot.  Content now comes in the form of a hard-drive, which is ingested onto the server, typically taking between half-hour and an hour and it is unlocked for us to show by delivery of a ‘key’ from the distributor, only active for the duration for which we are showing it.

All projectors to all people
The picture quality and light output is outstanding with all over sharpness across the 31-foot screen.  We can do everything we did before, and more, including live satellite feeds.  We still have 35mm capabilities – watch out for these rare screenings, as film is becoming increasingly scarce, and even 16mm as we still have our Fumeo projector, which gives a superb image and is regularly used to this day for Welwyn Garden Film Society.

Projectionists do exist!
We always have a technician in the projection room, nothing is left to chance, so you can relax. In fact, if we do our job correctly, to the customer, - we shouldn’t exist.
One last thing, to ensure a perfect presentation every time, we are using automotive cues, to present the whole show timed to the second; rest assured, we’ll always be watching!

Steve Baker
April 2013 

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