Marcophiles: Marco Movies has its own digital drama

CHRIS CURLE
Chris Curle/Eagle Correspondent
Marco Movies owner Nick Campo, in the film projection room thatís about to have a major makeover. All the film related equipment is about to go, to be replaced by a state-of-the-art digital projection system.

Chris Curle/Eagle Correspondent Marco Movies owner Nick Campo, in the film projection room thatís about to have a major makeover. All the film related equipment is about to go, to be replaced by a state-of-the-art digital projection system.

The digital revolution is coming to the Marco Movies. Owner Nick Campo is thrilled with the changeover from the world of 35- millimeter film, but, as he says with a grin, "I really had no choice.

"Last fall, I got a letter from the president of the National Association of Theater Owners. He said 'you need to decide either how you're going to convert or how you are going to get out of the business.' So we're doing it and it is great."

How will the average Marco Island film fan notice the difference when digital movies begin next month?

"The picture is going to be beautiful, very rich," Nick says. "In our case, it'll be a night-and-day difference, because, for one thing, our equipment is 18 years old. With digital it will be amazingly crisp. I just can't wait.

"Thirty-five millimeter film is warm with beautiful images, but it's all mechanical. There's a degradation of the print over time, plus other problems. With digital, no human hands will touch it. The image will be the same after a hundred screenings as it is the first time. But with 35-millimeter, the film goes through thirty rollers, through the projector. It gets hammered and one little piece of dirt can put a line in it forever."

Nick says digital movies were not always warm and cozy.

"As the computer age came on, we started getting digital movies on our computers, plus DVDs. However, they were never able to reproduce the warmth of 35- millimeter through digital until three or four years ago.

"And that's when the digital conversion started. Up until then it was a very cold, stark picture on the screen. It wasn't inviting like a regular movie is and the directors were the ones who balked at it.

"Hollywood always wanted to do it because it's a cheaper way for them to process, but the directors didn't want to see their beautiful warm images on the screen in the cold, crisp image. Some compared film v. digital to a wine bar v. a car dealership.

"Then, they were able to make the digital image look like film. I don't know how they worked their magic but that's when the revolution started. The directors said, 'OK, this is beautiful, I can work with this. I can make this movie and I agree this is the way to go.' "

Going digital also will make a huge change behind the scenes at the Marco Movies. Until Now, Nick and his crew got movies in film cans and they had to splice the reels together, plus adding on the trailers.

"Now we'll get the movie on a small hard drive that we just plug into a server on the new digital projector. Then we can sit at an office computer and run the movie like you're running QuickTime on your computer. The little bar goes across the screen to tell us the progress of each movie.

"It's going to be a wonderful evolution of projection for an exhibitor like me. We won't have to break down the movies any more, worry about scratching them, threading them up or moving them from projector to projector.

"So the old projectors and other gear related to 35-millimeter films will be gone and pretty much worthless. They won't make that film anymore."

Congratulations, Nick. What's next, a digital popcorn machine for the lobby?

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail chris@chriscurle.com. Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: don@donfarmer.com.

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Comments » 2

capfau writes:

I miss Marco Movies!

Mayor_McCheese writes:

Now if they could only find a way to improve their food.

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