Indian Lake Theater joins the digital revolution

Vincent Smith, Indian Lake Theater’s projectionist, mans the controls of new digital projection technology.

Vincent Smith, Indian Lake Theater’s projectionist, mans the controls of new digital projection technology. Photo by Bill Quinlivan.

— On June 14, the Theater officially made the transition when two children — chosen from the audience — started the first digital movie, “Epic.”

The digital project will cost about $80,000, and the Theater received help through a matching grant from the Charles Wood Foundation and donations, which are still needed.

Though digitization of the Indian Lake Theater will not add directly to the bottom line, it will bring some definitive operational benefits along with noticeable improvements to the theater-going experience for patrons.

Theater Director Danielle Shaw said it used to take five to six weeks of lead time to secure a movie in film, and it will now be reduced to as little as two weeks lead time for digital movies. This will result in “fresher” films being made available.

Shaw promises that patrons will experience a noticeable improvement in picture clarity and in sound quality versus what was possible from the previous film projection technology. And it will hopefully translate into increased patronage and ultimately contribute to the financial health of the theater.

Lamenting film

Vincent “Vinnie” Smith has been working at the Indian Lake Theater for five years and has been the theater’s projectionist for more than two years. Every time a new film was delivered, it would arrive in four or five large film cans. Smith would take the serial film parts and go through the painstaking process of physically splicing them together into the total movie. He would then place the hand-assembled film on large spools and carefully thread the film through a behemoth of a projector. Once the film had finished its run, Smith would then have to disassemble the film back to the parts originally received, load it into the individual film cans and prepare it to be shipped back to the distribution outlet. Then there was the cost of shipping the heavy film-laden cans.

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