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Technical information



The first thing you should know about Warwick Student Cinema is that we do not show DVDs, Blu-rays or any other home cinema format media to our audience. Only industry standard equipment is used, that means playing real film; both 35mm and 70mm, as well as DCI compliant movies.

35mm & 70mm Film

Unlike many other cinemas, Warwick Student Cinema operates its 35/70mm projectors mainly using a changeover system. Films are transported on spools of about twenty minutes each. A typical feature will have 6-7 reels. Basically a system of two projectors is used. One reel is played on the first projector and at the right moment at the end of this reel, we switch over to the second projector and so on. This moment is indicated by 'cue dots' (marks on the film) which appear in the top right hand corner of the film. There are two sets of dots, the first is approximately 8 seconds before the end of the reel and indicates to the projectionist to start up the second projector. The second set, about 7 seconds later, signals the time for changeover. This should result in an almost seamless changeover which you, the audience, should not notice.


Not only are we able to project standard 35mm film but our projectors are also capable of handling 70mm film. We are the only student cinema in the country capable of playing 70mm with fantastic 6 channel magnetic sound as well as the DTS digital format (see below), and one of only a handful of cinemas in the UK that can show 70mm films on a regular basis. This provides an improved picture due to two reasons. Firstly the film is often in better condition as it will have been played far less than 35mm prints. Secondly, because the film is larger the image is magnified less, providing a higher quality than that of 35mm.


Warwick Student Cinema is also able to operate with a long play system. This involves, in our case, a platter which was kindly given to us on permanent loan by the Projected Picture Trust in 2002. The platter consists of three giant plates, each approximately 54 inches in diameter. The entire film is spliced together and placed on one of the plates. The film then makes it's way to P1 (from which it is projected on screen) via a circuitous route using a series of rollers, before going back to one of the other plates. This is particularly useful in the event of one of the projectors failing, an event which previously would have resulted in the cancellation of the film. Also, unlike any other playing system, films can immediately be played again due to the fact that the film uptake is from the inside of the reel.


Digital Cinema

Our society is also lucky enough to have a 2K Digital Cinema projector. The renovated Christie CP2000S was installed late in the summer of 2011. The digital projector consists of projector head (which contains the lamp, lens, douser and pixel boards) and the pedestal (which contains the projector server and alternate content processor). The Cine-IPM 2K (alternate content processor) allows us to display content using the projector that the server would not normally accept (non-DCI compliant content). Naturally, our digital projector does not operate a change-over system. Instead a hard-drive containing the film arrives at the cinema and is then 'ingested' (uploaded) to the digital projector server. This takes about 3/4 the time taken to play the whole of the film. A playlist on the server is then created which includes auditorium automation (lights, curtains...), pre-film trailers and the film of course. All that needs to be done by the projectionist on the night is to then hit play!

..and Sound

The picture is only half of the cinema experience, the other being the sound. Warwick Student Cinema is able to play all industry standard cinema sound formats including all three major digital systems: Dolby Digital, Digital Theatre Systems (DTS) and Sony Dynamical Digital Sound (SDDS) as well as the older analogue formats: the single channel mono as well as the stereo and analogue surround sound Dolby A and Dolby SR. Digital films all have a standard digital sound format.

Our cinema can play up to 5.1 surround: left, centre and right channels provide precise and clear positioning of dialogue, separate left and right surround channels help provide the feeling of immersion in the sound and give general atmosphere and lastly a subwoofer/bass effects channel produces extra strong bass sounds which are particularly audible in action and special effects sequences.

The sound readers pick up the information on the film print and send this to the CP500 which can decode the Mono, Dolby A, Dolby SR and Dolby Digital formats. Once decoded, if need be, it converts the digital signals into analogue signals which are then split into the separate channels which are themselves sent to the corresponding amp. The amps then amplify the signals before sending them to the designated speakers in the auditorium.

The DTS and SDDS systems both consist of separate readers (that are bolted onto the Vic 8 projectors) and processors. Once processed the information is then sent to the CP500 which does its usual magic. The Digital projector also sends a digital signal to the CP500 which is converted into an analogue signal.

But it is not just a crisp picture and clear sound that makes Warwick Student Cinema what it is today. All of this equipment would be useless if it wasn't for the steady stream of dedicated technicians who maintain the equipment and the projectionists who run it. These people all give up their time to first be trained and then in turn train the next generations.


Technical Specifications

  • 2x Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 35/70mm Projectors
  • 1x Christie CP2000S Digital Cinema Projector
  • 1x Christie Cine-IPM 2K
  • 1x DTS 6-D Digital Sound Processor & DTS readers for 35 and 70mm
  • 1x Dolby CP500/70 Digital Sound Processor and 2x CAT689 Dolby CP500 Remotes
  • 2x Dolby/Cinemeccanica Reverse Scan Analogue/Digital Readers
  • 1x Dolby DMA8+ Digital Media Adapter
  • 1x Sony DFP-D2000 Digital SDDS Sound Processor
  • 2x Sony DFP-R2000 Digital SDDS Penthouse Readers
  • 7x QSC ISA450, 1xQSC ISA750 Profession Amplifiers (giving 7000 - 8000 Watts)
  • 3x JBL Loudspeaker Stacks for Left, Centre and Right
  • 2x JBL 4645B and 1x JBL 4645 Subwoofer Loudspeakers
  • 8x JBL 8340a Surround Loudspeakers Output rating (250w Continuous Pink Noise per speaker)
  • 4x Wharfedale Diamond 7.1 Monitor Loudspeakers
  • 1x Marantz CD-36 CD Player and 1x Sony MDSJ320 MiniDisc player
  • 1x Cinnemeccanica Electric Rewinding Bench
  • 1x Philips ST-270 platter
  • 1x Component Engineering MS100 Booth Monitor Panel Unit

Dolby Digital & DTS equipment installed by Bell Theatre Services, Ltd.
Additional audio equipment supplied by Sound Associates.
Lamps supplied by Jack Roe (CS)
Electronics and other similar equipment from RS Components Ltd.
Dolby and the Double-D symbol are trademarks of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation.
Platter kindly loaned by the Projected Picture Trust.
Sony Dynamic Digital Sound (SDDS) Equipment kindly supplied on permanent loan by Sony UK.
Digital Projector and Dolby DMA8+ supplied and installed by Arts Alliance Media.

Originally by Amanda Window (Technical Team), updated by Timothy Green (Chief Projectionist 2011-12).

Thu Sep 22 14:33:27 BST 2011