Sterling Six goes digital

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Register/Richard Luken
Sterling Six Cinemas manager Ben Olson shows a new digital projector and REAL-D processor capable of broadcasting 3-D movies. The new system will be unveiled Friday.

A new digital projection system, capable of showing movies in 3-D format, will be unveiled Friday at Sterling Six Cinemas with the premiere of the Disney/Pixar animated film “Up.”
The Christie digital projector, installed with a REAL-D processor, is certain to enhance the moviegoing experience for audiences, said theater manager Ben Olson.
“It’s difficult to explain how the new system works,” Olson said. “The easiest way is just to come and watch. It’s very high tech, and it’s very cool.”
While 3-D movies have been around for years, advances in digital moviemaking technology means audiences can see crisper images coupled with more subtle 3-D effects, Olson explained.
There are some similarities. For example, audiences still need glasses in order to watch 3-D movies.
But unlike 3-D glasses of years past, with their distinctive red and blue lenses and flimsy cardboard frames, the new glasses have just slightly tinted lenses, enough to separate and break down color differences on the screen.
“They almost look like sunglasses you’d wear outside,” Olson said.
Sterling Six received several cases of the new plastic-framed glasses, each of which is large enough to wear over another pair of glasses.
“One of the biggest complaints about the old glasses was that it was so difficult to wear them if you already wore glasses,” Olson said. “These are much easier to use.”
The digital projector is capable of showing more than movies. Live concerts, sporting events and even operas have been shown at some theaters, Olson said. The digital projectors can be set up for laptop demonstrations as part of company meetings.
Olson mentioned an enticing possibility for video game enthusiasts.
“You could hook an Xbox to the projector and have a ‘Halo’ tournament on the movie screen,” Olson said. “Part of B & B Theatres’ desire is to create as many potential entertainment possibilities as they can.”
The new system also incorporates the use of a silver-coated movie screen, capable of reflecting more vibrant colors than its matte white predecessor.
B & B Theatres, the 29th largest theater chain in North America, operates 179 screens in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, including Sterling Six.

THE DIGITAL equipment has several advantages over traditional film projectors.
Setting up a film projector typically takes 90 minutes or longer to splice together several reels of film, Olson said, and another 30 minutes or an hour to break the movie down after it ends.
With the digital projector, preparing a movie takes just seconds, long enough to insert the movie cartridge and setting a few controls for the REAL-D processor.
The machine takes it from there, controlling everything from when to dim auditorium lights to the beginning of the movie.
Olson found another benefit, particularly for Kansans accustomed to occasional stormy weather.
If a tornado warning is issued for Iola while a movie is playing and the theater is given an evacuation order, the movie could be paused and restarted at that point later when an all-clear signal is given, Olson said.
“With a film projector, it’s extremely difficult to just stop the movie and there’s no way to rewind it,” Olson said. “You’d probably have to start over.”
The new system is available only in the largest auditorium of Sterling Six.
“Our goal eventually is to get rid of film projectors entirely,” Olson said, “but that’s probably several years down the road.”
Tickets for the 3-D movies are $2 higher than traditional movie releases, Olson said.
“Up” is the first of several movies scheduled to be released this year in the 3-D format. Other pending releases include “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” and the re-releases of the popular “Toy Story” and “A Christmas Carol” movies.
Robert Bagby, B & B president, said Iola’s is one of several B & B outlets with the new digital projection system.
“We are very excited to team with Christie and REAL-D to bring this experience to Iola,” Bagby said in a press release. “The technology enhances the moviegoing experience, and we knew Iola was the perfect place to put it.”