Black Hobbit

Yesterday I let myself coax into a second viewing of The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug and alas, no good deed goes unpunished… As bad luck would have it, there were some severe technical issues with the projector halfway through, meaning the lamp went out and we only got audio. The tragedy then took its turn because inevitably nobody of the technical personnel noted it until the point when people started storming out of the projection room and started shouting at the unknowing students that were just doing their weekend job at the vending bars, ticket control and cleaning duty. This nicely illustrates one of the big issues with these big multiplex cinemas and digital projection. In the olden days with real film there would be at least one projector operator per room responsible for monitoring everything and changing the reels when necessary, these days it’s 2 people per shift running everything for 8 projection venues from a centralized room somewhere in the building. So in case of emergency this means they first have to notice the black screen on their surveillance cameras or get a warning beep and then make it to the room with the actual projector to fix it. This all costs time and when finally the movie rewound to allow spectators to view the missing 15 minutes again, about 25 minutes in all had passed. If that hadn’t been enough, the same happened again about 10 minutes before the end of the film and this time they didn’t rewind. Someone poked a bit of fun by using the flashlight of his mobile phone and doing finger shadows to Smaug‘s voice, but it couldn’t prevent people from being miffed. After the show quite a mob of dissatisfied customers was forming at the info counter and the only way they could defuse the situation was by giving out free tickets for next time. Regardless, it was positively a disaster, on a weekend no less, for everyone involved. My only consolation was that I already knew the missing parts from last week or else I would have been quite aggravated as well. On a side note, since we saw this on a bigger screen this time, the HFR thing seemed a little less annoying, probably to a slightly reduced overall sharpness at longer projection distances…

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