Perceptive patrons of the Hollywood Theatre may notice some time-honored traditions missing from their movie-watching experience: Film that stutters or breaks, the fluff of lint in front of the lens, yelling "FOCUS!" at the projectionist.
That's because the landmark Arbutus neighborhood movie house has installed a state-of-the-art digital high-definition projection system in one of its four theatres, now showing The Lorax.
"I think it looks fantastic," said employee Tyler Roseberry from behind the snack counter. "People are beginning to take notice."
The image produced by the new system is crisp, evenly bright and as visually perfect as when it was first recorded.
"It's the latest technology," said theatre manager Larry Bell, who began his movie house career working at the Benjies drive-in back in the 1960s and recalls an era of "20-minute reels and carbon arc" projection bulbs.
Traditional movies—actually a series of 35-mm still images—wind through a projector by way of massive rotating platters that spool the film on and off.
The new digital movie formats are delivered to theatres on a device that looks remarkably like a hard drive, because that's what it is.
Plugged into the computerized projector system, the image on the screen is digitally pure—with none of the specks, degradation or distractions of traditional film.
The new digital system also allows the Hollywood to play films in DVD format. When the system was first installed weeks ago, Bell treated himself to a private viewing of one of his personal favorites—Lady and the Tramp.
"It looked beautiful," he said.
Depending on how patrons respond, the Hollywood may install three more digital systems in its other theatres and get "rid of film," Bell said.