New technology takes over at the State

A $100,000 investment in digital technology has killed off celluloid at the State Cinema Motueka.

As of today, films at the cinema will be screened via a hard drive, meaning that picture quality and start dates will be the same as State Cinema Nelson.

Cinema manager Mark Wentworth said that although it was sad to see the end of light streaming through film, the basics of which have not changed in 100 years, the choice was either to move with the times or "shut the doors".

The new NEC 1200 replaces a $60,000 projector that is 10 years old but the old technology was very reliable and could have lasted 50 years, said Mr Wentworth.

But the manufacture of film is being phased out, spelling an end to shipping giant spools of film around the country at $70 a pop.

Skyfall and The Hobbit were the last movies to be shown on film, and Mr Wentworth was to work all day today to install the new projection unit, which will be able to show The Hobbit in 3D and at the new film rate of 48 frames per second.

The cinema will also show it in 2D and 24 fps.

Mr Wentworth said the new digital projection would mean that sound and picture quality would not degrade with showings, as happened with film, meaning every screening would be as sharp and clear as the makers intended.

It also makes it much easier to insert different trailers and advertising.

Every year about 140 mainstream movies are released into New Zealand and this year the Motueka cinema showed 127 of them.

Mr Wentworth said 25 of those were "day and date" releases, which means they open the same day all over the world.

Those releases accounted for 26 per cent of the cinema's revenue, but the remaining 102 movies were shown up to eight weeks later than in Nelson, depending on print availability.

Now Motueka can show all movies at the same time and with the same quality as Nelson, he said.

The format also has "huge freight savings" and cuts the amount of labour required to run the cinema.

Mr Wentworth said no-one was losing their job but his seven-day-a-week workload would be reduced.

He retains affection for the old technology and would like to enclose an old projector in perspex and put it on display.

The Nelson Mail