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TMCNet:  Starmax goes digital

[November 16, 2012]

Starmax goes digital

Nov 12, 2012 (The Deming Headlight - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- You should notice an obvious improvement in the aesthetic and visual quality of movies being played at the Deming Starmax after an investment of about $390,000 into a digital conversion of projectors.


Digital films are already being projected at the theater, located on North Country Club Road, after the county spent approximately $392,000 on six digital projectors and the accompanying computer equipment. One of the six projectors will be able to show 3D movies in coming weeks after the system is fully fleshed out.

"In an ideal world, in four years the county is going to get reimbursed for that $400,000," Ira Pearson, Starmax manager, explained.

He and assistant manager Tom Long said theaters across the country are being mandated to go digital by 2014, because making films in digital is much cheaper for filmmakers than using traditional film. But along with that mandate comes a reimbursement program that gives money directly back to theaters for every first-run film shown.

"Basically, Hollywood is paying for our equipment," Long added.

The county's logic, explained by the Starmax managers, is to get a jump on the conversion by getting the ball rolling on having the cost of the system reimbursed through rebates while making the movie going experience for patrons better.

"The one feedback I'm hearing, they notice a difference, but we didn't tell them we were going digital," Pearson said. "They're coming out of the theater impressed." He also said that one complaint from before the conversion concerned the audio playback during films. According to him, there had been no checks, or at least, not proper checks, of the sound system in the previous years of operation. Upon inspecting the system, Pearson's team found blown out speakers and sound levels not equalized for playback.

The system itself allows employees to totally control a moviegoer's experience from a laptop computer or the touchscreen monitors installed on the projectors. Everything down to what trailers should be shown and when lights should dim are at the programmer's fingertips. There is no more tedious cutting and splicing of film, or attempting to synchronize the video and audio.

Another bonus of the conversion, in their eyes, has come from the ability to play movies on multiple screens at once. Because physical film is not used -- instead, movies are shipped on hard drives -- the projectors can play on multiple screens at once, as shown with last weeks premiere of the new James Bond flick, "Skyfall." The film is running on two screens throughout this week as well.

They also plan to show "Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" on two screens when it releases on Friday, Nov. 16.

Another change at the theater has been the formation of a 12 member Starmax committee comprised of local citizens. Pearson said the board will soon be expanded to 14 with the addition of two Deming High School students to represent the youth population.

For information about the facility, show times or to make suggestions and complaints, contact (575) 546-SHOW or e-mail starmax@lunacountynm.us.

Matt Robinson can be reached at mrobinson@demingheadlight. Follow him on Twitter @mattrob722.

___ (c)2012 The Deming Headlight (Deming, N.M.) Visit The Deming Headlight (Deming, N.M.) at www.demingheadlight.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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