Farewell to film at fully-digital Odeon

A NEW era for cinema in Harrogate is set to begin after the remaining 35mm-film projectors at the Odeon were replaced with digital versions.

The picture house on East Parade already had two digital screens but the remaining three have been upgraded this week allowing all five to begin showing better quality pictures with improved sound from today.

“It’s a shame that it’s the end of an era as 35mm has been going on for 100 years or so but it’s a case of going with the modern times,” said cinema manager Kevin Langford.

“Most films are on digital format now and having all screens digital will improve the picture quality for audiences, the sound has been upgraded and it means we can do other things – such as adding subtitles.”

The new digital projectors will also allow live-feeds to be shown on all five screens and the Odeon will keep a 35mm-film projector on-hand in screen one for showing any films unavailable in digital format.

Mr Langford added: “With digital projectors there’s scope to do more such as showing things like live operas, ballets and musicals.”

With 35mm-films, movies would be delivered to the cinema as a bundle of reels lasting around 20 minutes each and projectionists would be responsible for physically splicing them together along with advertisements and film trailers ready for screenings.

Now, under the new digital theatre management system, hard drives containing the full film are connected to a main computer and downloaded on to the system with adverts and trailers all added electronically from DVDs or USB memory sticks.

Technical manager Graham Bird, the Odeon’s chief projectionist, said: “I’ll miss the physical side of things – touching the film, running it through your fingers and holding it up to the light. With digital you can’t see it all work – it’s just a series of zeros and ones that’s converted to an image.

“But the new screens are fantastic – all the screen sizes are increasing with the exception of screen five and the sound is going to be much, much better.”