Splatter University coming to DVD

Discussion in 'Slashers' started by Vdlman, Aug 23, 2004.

  1. "Run for Cover" is about terrorists on the loose in Manhattan. It was shot in 3-D. It played NYC in four engagements. We had a lot of names in the movie. Adam West plays a crooked senator as did Viveca ("Stargate") Lindfors although she died before she saw the completed film. I also hired some politicos to do cameos including Ed Koch, Curtis Sliwa and Al Sharpton.
    I think the 3-D is quite effective. I made sure there would be minimal eyestrain and I had some neat off screen effects including blowing up the Queens midtown tunnel, the Manhattan tour ship and a police precinct.

    The opening of the film shows a terrorist circling NYC by helicopter looking for a target. He even circles the twin towers since this was shot in 1995. As far as I know, it's the only 3-D footage of the buildings. I could never have shot this sequence after 9/11.

    Pathfinder only released a letterbox flat version of the film on DVD. However, I did do a commentary about the making of it which might interest you if you want to buy or rent it.

    After I get the rights back, I'll release a 3-D version of it on DVD in both sequential field full color and anaglyph red/blue so viewers have a choice of formats to see it in.

    As of this writing, I don't know what suppliments Elite will be including on the DVD of "Splatter University". I gave them a lot of materials and am waiting for my screening copy to see what they used.
  2. bigwes15

    bigwes15 Active Member

    Jun 15, 2004
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    thanks for the info, Richard. It is great to have you here! I will definitely pick up a copy of run For Cover when you release your 3-D version and would be interested in grabbing an autographed Splatter U poster from you as well.
  3. If you would like a poster, email me and I'll give you the details.
  4. I know I'm going to depress some of you, but here's additional information on the problems of film deterioration.

    It was originally thought that merely transferring nitrate to tri-acetate
    safety film was enough to ensure long term survival of the film. A one shot deal. For example, the studio would take the nitrate negative of
    "Dracula" (1931) then make a fine grain master positive (F.G.M.) on tri-acetate and from that a duplicate negative and they were set. Kodak
    claimed the tri-acetate was good for 400 years.

    Unfortunately, their projections were exagerated. In the nineties, some studios opened their cans of tri-acetate and they had a strong
    chemical stench. When they unwound the preservation negatives,
    they were twisted and beyond the tollerance of either projector or
    printer flatness. What happened?

    It turns out that tri-acetate is subject
    to deterioration, just like nitrate. (Color fading is another problem but I'm just referring
    to the base of the film now, not the image). That's the bad news.
    The good news is that tri-acetate seems to be only potentially unstable, not inherantly unstable. I have 52 year tri-acetate Technicolor and Super Cinecolor prints in my archive that is like brand new. I've also seen tri-acetate that is only 20 years old and was
    deteriorated completely. So what was the difference.

    The difference was quality processing and storage. If film is not developed according to Kodak specs, residue hypo and other chemicals can act as a corrosive and decompose the stock. Another factor is storage conditions. Film must be kept cool and dry. Humidity can
    cause mold to grow on the stock which will also eat away at it on a molecular level.

    What apparently happened is that many studios made their tri-acetate duplicate materials from the nitrates but used the cheapest labs available which cut corners in the processing and then stored them at room temperature in California which was totally inappropriate. In general, film that was kept in a can in bad storage deteriorated rapidly whereas release prints kept on reels in the open air (which allowed the film to breath and gas out residue processing chemicals) remained stable.

    Since the discovery of hydrolisis (also known as 'vinegar syndrome' because of the stench from decomposing tri-acetate), most studios have built temperature controlled storage vaults to extend the life of their libraries. However, in many cases the damage has already been done. Now they have to check every can of archival film which is thousands of reels for deterioration.

    Kodak introduced a new type of film for prints (but not negatives) in 1995 known as 'estar' base stock. This is used for all release prints now. They claim it is not subject to any kind of deterioration although considering how poor their nitrate and some tri-acetate has held up,
    I wouldn't take their word for it. They did develop a small white package known as 'molecular sieves' to place in the can of film that absorbs residue chemicals and helps the film air out in storage. I use them for my negatives and prints. I'm not sure the studios do though.

    The new attitude for film preservation is that to make a film last into the future is not a 'one shot deal'. It's a constant on going process and quite expensive since movies will have to restored and preserved over and over given the volatility of today's film stock.

    Now for the ultimate irony...

    The film industry had an archivally stable process for color known as 'Technicolor'. While the lab still exists, they no longer use the
    process that made them famous ('Glorious Technicolor'). Technicolor
    was a dye transfer method of making films rather than a chemical processing format like today's Eastmancolor. Each color record was on a separate piece of film which was known as a matrix. It was basically
    a rubber stamp of one color but on movie film stock. Very stable ink like dyes were applied to each matrix and the color was literally wiped onto the print stock layer by layer. The contrast and richness of the hues was far superior to Eastmancolor and they never faded. Since the image was not processed but mechanically transferred, fading and deterioration were not a problem. This system existed from 1953 through 1975. It was sold to China and I went there to make Technicolor prints of my film, "Space Avenger" in 1989. Then in 1997, the process was briefly re-introduced in the U.S. and movies like "Apocalype Redux", "The Wizard of Oz", "Funny Girl", "Toy Story II" and "Bulworth" were printed in the format. Then it was abandoned again in 2001, primarily because directors and the cinematographers were not interested. The emphasis was on digital technology and DVD's, not theatrical release prints which were considered disposable
    by distributors. A real tragedy since the quality of current release prints is quite poor these days.
  5. Some people believe that digital is the answer to film preservation.
    Alas, digital is more unstable that motion picture film.

    Anything based on magnetic tape for it's base is inherantly unstable.
    Magnetic deteriorates over the years and loses it's magnification.
    Oxide flakes off. The base itself is very thin.

    Even with all of the problems of color fading, nitrate and tri-acetate deterioration, film has turned out to be a longer lasting audio/visual
    medium than anything yet invented. Therefore, I believe it's important
    to continue to preserve film elements for every movie. DVDs, CDs, tapes, laserdiscs and other formats have a limited life since the computer data can be either erased or lost over time. At least with film you have a hard copy of the actual image and optical sound track to work with. Properly processed and stored film stock can last a very long time. The key is to make sure you use a good lab and have a temperature controlled storage vault.
  6. walkingdude

    walkingdude Megatron

    Oct 9, 2004
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    Are you saying that my DVDs and CDs have limited life and will eventually fade?Is this something that will take a long time or will it be noticable the more I watch them?
  7. DVDs will not fade but they have the same potential of 'laserot' as laserdiscs.
    It depends on the manufacturing (there's about a 10% defect rate) and storage. Among the things that archivists are noting is that some of the DVD cases scrape off the middle of the disc when it's removed from the middle.
    This can cause the disc to separate or allow in air which is a contaminate.
    It's probable that they will be subject to oxidation among the layers like
    laserdiscs which will cause them to get noise (static) or the image will break up into pixels or freeze and make you use your remote to get past the defect.

    CDs also have problems in the long run. Some radio stations are noticing that
    extended plays of the same disc (which heat up from the friction) can get microscopic pits which also cause them to freeze. I have some older CDs with this problem.

    If you really want something that will last you indefinately, you can purchase 16mm Technicolor prints of your favorites filmed in that process on ebay or 35mm Technicolor prints on www.35mmforum.com.

    Old vinyl records seem to have no problems with deterioriation although they can scratch if you're not careful. I have vinyl records from forty years ago that play fine just as I have fifty year old Technicolor prints that seem brand new.

    I wish I could claim that the new technology of digital CD and DVD is archivally permanent but it's not. DVDs are especially subject to playback problems from scratches and fingerprints which is why I won't rent them.
    They are less durable than the laserdisc format which it replaced.

    I do purchase DVDs if I can't find a print of the film for my archive and in the case of many Eastmancolor titles, the original prints are too faded to project.
    They were able to restore the color on some pre-1983 Eastmancolor films if only on a temporary basis. B&W is also holding up okay providing it's been processed correctly and I have 40 year old prints that are fine. I have some
    laserdiscs that are 20 years old and still play and others that have laserot.

    If you collect DVDs (which is usually all that's available) then try to be careful removing the disc from the case and store them in the coolest and driest part of your house. Be carefull not to scratch the surface or put fingerprints on it. Off the record, some manufactures anticipate that DVDs that were manufactured correctly and stored properly are good for about 10 years which is less than videotape which is good for about 20 to 25 years before it oxidizes.
  8. walkingdude

    walkingdude Megatron

    Oct 9, 2004
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    That is not good news.I was really hoping this would be the last time I had to buy most of these movies.Ikeepvery good care of my DVD's and never scratch or leave finger prints.Hopefully they will last as long as I need them.Thanks for your input.
  9. horrorlover

    horrorlover Active Member

    Dec 20, 2001
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    I have the very first cd I ever bought over 12 years ago, and have never had a problem with any of my cd's except for one, which I scratched up pretty badly. I've never had a dvd mess up either so far, and that's in 5 years, I think we underestimate how long these things will last. Sure if you throw them around and all that they won't last long, but if you take care of them, I think they'll last for at least as long as video tapes, which by the way I have the first video tape I bought and it's 20 years old and it was used when I bought it and it still plays perfectly.
  10. DVD and CD deterioration might happen on a molecular level regardless
    of how well you handle the discs. Oxidation is still a problem and the
    fact is, few consumer products are made to last. Planned obsolesence
    is built in because manufacturers want you to keep purchasing copies.
    Since the films will be re-mastered over and over from film elements,
    it's vitally important that the studios, distributors and archives maintain
    topnotch preservation negatives on motion pictures. They will outlast
    any digital or tape format that comes along if handled correctly.

    The fact that some products have lasted is usually unintentional. As I stated, vinyl records seem to have no long term
    deterioration problem with the plastic. They can scratch but will not
    decompose. 35mm and 16mm tri-acetate Technicolor film stock is less
    subject to hydrolisis than other formats because there is no residue
    processing chemicals on the stock since it's a photo-mechanical
    system and the dyes are very stable and do not fade. I don't think
    Technicolor was trying to make an archival release print process. It
    just happened to be one of the attributes of dye transfer printing which
    was adapted from still dye transfer printing which also didn't fade. Thus,
    Technicolor prints made over fifty years ago still look brand new as well
    as having superior color dyes. Unfortunately it was quite expensive whereas Eastmancolor was cheap
    although in the case of the latter, you got what you paid for since it
    faded to red.

    B&W tri-acetate release prints in any format are stable
    providing they've been processed correctly. Some have, others haven't.

    DVDs do have an above average defect rate and most titles that I have
    purchased have a few artifacts (gliches where the image breaks into
    pixels for a second and then restores itself back to a full image). Most
    deterioration takes about ten years and DVDs are still a relatively new format so we'll see what happens to the earliest discs over the next year or so.
    If you do some web searching you will see reports that some are deteriorating
    and the manufacturer protections are no longer than a 10 year lifespan which is the same as the abandoned laser format. The disc casing is part of the problem since many scrape the inner hole which can cause air holes to make it oxidize quicker. Part of the problem of DVDs is that so many are made on each title because they're cheap to manufacture. The more copies there are, the greater the defect rate. Laserdiscs were a high end consumer product with limited runs so they could be monitored more closely. Videotape will slowly deteriorate regardless of whether you screen it or not. It's a very unstable format with a thin base and all magnetic materials gradually lose their magnification which in the case of audio tape means layers of hiss and in the case of videotape means drop outs (static on the image). The tape base is so thin that it can stretch over the years as you play it. As the oxide comes off, it flakes off on the tape heads which is why they have to be
    cleaned every so often.

    Among the CDs that have deteriorated (they lock in at least one place now)
    are "North by Northwest" and a Natalie Cole album. These were stored in archival conditions with my film elements so they deteriorated on a molecular
    level as I stated above. Among the laserdiscs that have deteriorated are "Kismet" and "Doctor Zhivago".
  11. walkingdude

    walkingdude Megatron

    Oct 9, 2004
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    Nova Scotia Canada
    Wow I was always under the assumption that if properly taken care of DVDs would last forever.I gues it was almost 5 years ago that I purchased my first ones maybe I should look more closely when I watch them.I guess it really doesn't matter since studios keep releasing different versions with features not on the previous so die hards have to buy them again anyway.I can think of a couple that I have bought 4 different versions of and numerous that were released with no special features then re-released in special edition so you have to shell out the money againMany people I know don't care about the specs as long as they have the movie.A lot of my friends even refuse to buy the new Friday the 13th Box Set after spending the money to buy all 8 of them individually.When they were first released in Canada they ran around 35.00 a piece but anyway the point is if they keep releasing new versions of the DVD's you may never notice the deterioration becuase you buy a new copy every couple years anyway.
  12. That's the idea. To get you to keep spending your money...

    I don't think DVDs were meant to replace the high end laserdisc format
    which was originally advertised as a long lasting system although those
    projections turned out to be inaccurate (as usual).

    DVDs were meant to replace videotapes as a collecing format because
    they were cheap to manufacture and cheap to purchase. Laserdiscs started out cheap and then ended up very expensive, the best of them topping the $80 price. Fortunately, DVDs have replicated some of the laserdisc format's superior standards of
    presentation (mastering from the best surviving materials) and containing interesting suppliments. In some cases the suppliments are better
    than the movie. However, they are a 'fast food' type of product. Fine for the short run but not archival. Nothing digital is archival. Digital by it's very nature is unstable. Zeros and ones encoded electronically but not permanently. As I said earlier, the advantage of film is that you have a hard copy of the image and the optical soundtrack. You can actually see it on the reels whether it's a print, negative, interpositive or internegative. Even with the problems of deterioration, there are so many hard copies of a movie
    on film (within those categories) that there's a better than average chance that something will survive over the years, even if relegated to private film collections. There are many techniques that have been developed to restore deteriorated film, sometimes with great success as the restorations of "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Vertigo" show. (Robert A. Harris was the co-producer of my Technicolor film, "Space Avenger", by the way) There's is nothing anyone can do to restore a deteriorated electronic signal whether it's analogue or digital. The data is simply gone.

    So, by all means go ahead and collect DVDs and enjoy them while they last.
    They look better than videotapes although if you get a chance to see your favorites projected in a movie theater on screen (re-issues, revival house) then by all means attend since that's the way they were meant to be seen.
    You cannot really 'experience' a movie on television. You can still enjoy certain qualities whether it's the direction, editing, acting or special effects but the impact is lost unless you see it on a 30 foot screen with an audience.
    Certainly for horror films, part of the appeal is sharing the terror collectively with a group of complete strangers that you will never see again but for that moment in time are all going through the same emotions. That's the 'moviegoing experience' that I hope will never completely disappear although megaplexes are not as impressive as movie palaces.
  13. RickB

    RickB New Member

    Jun 1, 2004
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    It's heartbreaking news indeed. When DVD's first came out we were told they'd last over 100 years. This is very depressing. Sure BIG titles like Halloween and Friday the 13th will get re-issued again about movies we were lucky to get ONE release of? I mean can we ever expect say Slumber party massacre,My bloody valentine or Just one of the guys to EVER get a second release? I have Cd's and so far none of mine have had problems (heck next year my Goonies soundtrack turns 20 years old) it just scares me my collection I love and cherish dearly is on borrowed time. People are gonna be pissed with companies when formats they were ORIGINALLY promised to last over 100 years start dying in 10. It isn't fair we were suckered into this DVD format. I recall reading where some places were saying DVD's would last up to 500 years.
  14. I guess I'll give a shameless plug to my last book, "The Moviegoing Experience 1968-2001". All of these topics are contained with the
    manuscript including the history of splatter exploitation, indie companies, history of the production code and ratings system that
    replaced it, a different perspective on the Hollywood blacklist that goes against conventional wisdom on the subject, digital vs. film, history
    of the various video formats, video projection in cinemas from the 1950's onwards, demise of drive-ins, Technicolor, revival theaters and 70mm and many
    other topics that might be of interest. You'll have to read it twice to
    assimilate all the info and it might even get you to rethink much of
    what you know about movies.

    The reason it's so extensive is that I originally proposed a whole series of books on these subjects. The publisher preferred to have it contained all in one manuscript rather that separate ones thus the scope of the book.

    You can get it on Amazon.com or at the publisher's website: www.mcfarlandpub.com

    Feel free to comment or review it on line. I'm curious what readers have to say. The same applies to my previous book by the same publisher, "Technicolor Movies". In fact, I made a lot of changes in my second book based on feedback I got from the first one. Some people complained it was too technical so I decided to offer both tech specs of each subject and also simplified explanations so a layman could understand. For example, I would describe the Technicolor process in the technical terms of a dye transfer imbibition mechanical method of making fade proof release prints directly off the camera negative. The simpler way of describing would be having each primary color contained on a separate roll of film. A rubber stamp impression of each color. Dyes would be added to these rubber stamps on film and then each color would be wiped onto the release print. Since the colors were separate, you could add more or subtract from them thus giving the director complete control over the look of the movie be it saturated like "Goldfinger" or subdued like "The Godfather". It was similar to how newspaper comics were printed except the quality was much better.

    I used a similar method of describing technolgy for "The Moviegoing Experience" when detailing the problems of 'platter' projection vs.
    reel to reel and 70mm vs. 35mm. Eastmancolor vs. Technicolor and so on.

    Some of it is controversial. I have to wear different hats in my career as a filmmaker, historian and film buff. They don't always coincide.
    For example, I happen to like a lot of exploitation movies. Among my all time favorite films were Paul Morrissey's outrageously gorey spoofs, "Andy Warhol's Frankenstein" and "Andy Warhol's Dracula".

    However, as film historian I had to note the demographic change that the glut of R and X rated movies caused between the years 1968-1972.
    Attendence was reduced from 41 million weekly to a mere 22 million weekly. Too many restricted films could not fill up the movie palaces nor drive ins so they began to fold like dominoes or get twinned into tiny multiplexes to compensate for the smaller crowds. Obviously there was a tradeoff. You can't have the majority of movies available for release in the R and X category instead of PG and still maintain large theaters. Something had to give. Although I still enjoy the movies I mentioned, I'm not sure the trade off was worth. At the very least, there should've been some coordination between producers, distributors and exhibitors to ensure enough general attendence product so that that the large screen theaters could survive the transition. Food for thought.
  15. RickB,

    Speaking of victims, here are some of the formats I invested in over the years on home video:

    3/4" They used to release movies in this format although the equipment was so bulky, only libraries and schools usually purchased them. Machines were good for about 10 years before the pinch roller went and the cost of fixing them exceed the cost of buying a new one.
    Each tape only had a one hour recording time at one speed. It's obsolete as far as home video is concerned.

    Betamax. Better image quality than VHS but only one hour running time. VHS rendered it obsolete. Betamax was also tied up in litigation
    via the notorious Disney/Universal copyright suit against the company.
    Fortunately, Betamax ultimately won the suit although it was too late to save the format. If Disney/Universal had one, you'd be paying extra for each videotape you purchased to compensate for it's potential use for piracy. There probably would never have been a home video revolution if Betamax lost. Ironically, both distributors ended up making a lot of money from home video even though they attempted to squash the format upon introduction.

    Selectavision. Needle vision records. They came in slip covers and were inserted in the machine. They looked better than tape and about as good as 3/4" but dirt particles got inside the sleeves which made them skip like crazy after a few plays. Gene Kelly was hired to promote it. I purchased about 100 discs before the format was cancelled. This was the first format to introduce letterboxing of the image.

    Laserdisc. A high end format that looked and sounded quite good. The first discs were very cheap but extremelly unstable (DiscoVision). They deteriorated rapidly. Later, Criterion and others offered letterboxing, digital sound and many suppliments. They were the first format to transfer from negative materials rather than release prints like VHS. The quality was excellent for it's time but they became extremelly expensive. It was originally advertised as a very stable format although the decision to have Ray Charles the pitchman bizarre to say the least. It was less subject to playback problems from scratches and fingerprints than later DVDs. However, the laserot problem became notable after 10 years although companies with very high manufacturing standards like Criterion were less subject to the problem.
    Indeed, most companies claimed the problem had been 'solved' although some discs relased towards the demise of the system have deteriorated. I had well over a 100 discs before the format became obsolete.

    There was also the short lived DVD DivX. A total ripoff that was dead on arrival. I'm glad I didn't invest in this one. The disc was cheap but you were charged each time you saw it through a telephone/computer link. Hardly consumer friendly.

    What has lasted for decades for me personally has been my Technicolor print collection which is why I've invested so heavily in my archive. It's the only stuff that seems to last.
  16. WesReviews

    WesReviews Active Member

    Aug 11, 2001
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    Pikeville, KY
    Very interesting stuff. My parents owned a video store during the golden age of the format, so I was introduced to VHS, Beta, etc. at a very young age.

    As for DVD's not being stable years down the road...I have way too many DVDs to stop collecting them now. :)

    Besides, if I sold my entire collection, I'd probably only be able to buy one 35mm print of something. And of course, I'd have to get a projector as well. :)
  17. You're correct that 35mm prints are quite expensive. 16mm films are a bit less but what an item to have! Imagine screening an original Technicolor print of "Thunderball" in widescreen that fills up the entire length of your living room wall. It's somewhat like being in a movie palace because the image is so enormous compared your your distance to it (about 15 feet).
    The color is spectacular and is so much better than a tiny letterbox image
    on DVD or VHS. Nothing looks like Technicolor. Video can only simulate it and Eastmancolor doesn't even come close.

    Or...imagine screening "The Tingler" on film on a large 10 ft. screen. You could rig the chairs with tiny hand vibrators to similate Percepto. They even made rubber Tingler models that can make an appearance at the appropriate moment by pulling it from the back of the screen with a string. Or "House of Wax" in real 3-D with the famous paddle ball buy knocking it into your eyes.

    16mm projectors are less than a top of the line DVD player. You can get a Kodak Pageant for under $100 on ebay. Another $50 for a cinemascope lens and you're in business. Old B&W features are between $100-$300. You can probably get "Psycho" or "Night of the Living Dead" for the latter price. Of course Technicolor is much more expensive depending on the title. I'd guess a 16mm Technicolor print of "The Horror of Dracula" would be about $600. However, a widescreen (scope) Technicolor print of "The Illustrated Man" would be about $250. If you want to sell your house you could buy "Gone with the Wind". Clark Gable's personal Technicolor print was sold at auction for $10,000 which gives you an idea of the range of prices.

    On the other hand, the prints would outlast you and could be willed to your successors. An expensive hobby but very rewarding. Some collectors only have a handful of prints. Few studios kept actual release prints of their films, even those filmed in Technicolor so you'd have something that no one else can see.

    Log onto ebay and check out what's there. Try "16mm Technicolor" in your search engine for example.
  18. X-human

    X-human I ate my keys

    Mar 1, 2003
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    There's a very good introduction to technicolor on Digital Bits:

    Along with other articles by the same author:

    I've read and article on the development of color on film and it's very insightful to the entire process and helps in the understanding of film preservation, but I've lost the bookmark in a hard drive crash. But as a general recommendation anyone interested in film should read about color processing and color theory.

    The plus side to DVDs though is that there is a cheap and easy dublication process which will make identical copies. If you're really keen on a DVD, make a copy of it (before degration sets in, and of course DVD-R's are more suceptable to manufacturing faults so beware of the brand of DVD-R you buy). This copy will not last as long as the original, but it will be identical. And since both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD will be backwards compatible you'll be able to make copies for some time.

    The big problem with DVDs, even if they do last for ever, is that as technology improves the DVD's image will comparitvely get worse. As you buy better TVs with more pixels the then lower pixeled image on the DVD will have to be blown up and cause a blurry image. This will be solved perhaps 15-20 years down the road when Ultra High Definition comes out, which will have a higher resolution then film so you'll technically be able to stop right there with film.

    BTW Richard, if I may call you by your first name, I have the Astro-Film Region 2 of Splatter University and wondered if you could comment on that transfer. If it's PAL native, OAR (DVD is 1:1.66) and if it was captured properly (ie very little cropping). Thanks.
  19. I don't have region 2 player. I make my foreign deals through a sales representative and have little say over what they do. I did supply them
    with the same low contrast 16mm camera negative print that Elite used
    so I assume it looks as good it's capable of looking in this format.
  20. And you are correct in noting that video technology is constantly changing
    and some day the current DVD format will be obsolete. Let's hope the film
    elements are still preserved so future systems have no worse quality than
    what's available now. Another advantage of motion picture film is that it
    hasn't changed much over the last hundred years. With some notable exceptions, most movies are still four sprockets high (regardless of whether
    it's flat or anamorphic). It can be adapted to any video format that comes along. Thus far, none of the home systems have come close to the resolution of film.

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