It was the year 1982 when “The Clash of the Titans” arrived in Mexico; I was only 11 years old when I have a really cool experience while watching this movie. Next door neighbors worked at the movie theaters all their life. One day, I helped their patriarch picking up some trash bags; in exchanged, he invited me to watch that movie for free plus a tour to “behind the scenes” at thetheater. I really enjoyed the free popcorn and candies provided by staff, and of course the movie was great, but the coolest thing I experienced in that trip was the chance I had to go into the projector cabin.
AMC Mainstreet front door. 14th and Main
Once inside the room, Mr. Victor explained step by step how they received the films and how everything is prepare for the show. Film was mounted on a superior spinning drum reel, passed it through a sprocket and the film created a semi loop before passing through the gate. This gate is where the light from the lamp behind passed through and picture goes into the lens, projecting the image. After that, film went into another sprocket and then through the sound drum where audio is been picked and amplified for the show. After that, film is rolled into a lower spinning drum reel.
Popcorn like fixture inside turret
When I told the story to all my classmates, I felt the coolest kid in school because I thought I knew all about the cinema industry. Few days ago, I got the same feeling during a field trip scheduled for the class to the AMC Mainstreet, located at 14th and Main in Kansas City, MO. On what it used to be the old Empire Theater, one of Kansas City’s original vaudeville palaces. Unfortunately, I also realized I’ve been leaving another mesofact; movies are no longer produced in film, they are digital.
Old stairs used by African-American back in the dark American apartheid like history.
The AMC Mainstreet features six digital screens; three of which will include dinner and drink service. Some of these rooms feature a coliseum style seating with rumble seats that I bet are excellent for new action movies. For the minute you walk in, the turret with fabulous light fixture like popcorn immediately get your attention. The catchiest phrases from the biggest hits are listed on the floor.
Marquee Bar view
Besides the nice architecture fixtures, the Marquee bar, the awarded bathrooms, and all the amenities in the building, the coolest thing was once we got into the projection rooms. My eyes got wide open when I saw the way film arrives to the building. A hard drive is delivered in a look-alike armored case; this hard drive is plugged via USB port to the projector. The manager has to make a phone call to get the digital key to decrypt the file where the movie is located. We also had the opportunity to see a 3D movie projecting. We were given an explanation on how the movie is projected using two lenses; like projecting the same movie twice but at the same time, this is what gives the 3D vision. We also were invited to see their library, and once again, I realized another mesofact, this was a digital library. Their library room consists of two servers where digital movies are stored; these servers are also connected via network to the small servers on each projection room. This way, if they have the need to project an old hit, they don’t have to wait for the look-alike armored box to arrive with the hard drive.
Exterior Turret view
We were told that all the film industry is backing digital projectors, first because dramatically improve the picture and sound quality, while also reduced the cost of shipping film reels. The experienced lived in this field trip is something is going to stay with me for some time, just as the experienced lived when I was eleven years old. But something is true, all these years living in a mesofact about movies, makes me wonder how the film industry will changed in the next decade, if film was replaced by digital, how is digital going to be replaced by?