Classic Films Meet High Tech at Cinequest
Audiences at San Jose’s Cinequest film festival are getting a close-up look at a cutting edge technology that will make movies sharper and richer. This focus on technological innovation is a trademark feature of Cinequest.
This year’s festival is focusing on projection technology that does for movies what high-definition did for TV. The technology is called 4K, and it packs more pixels into a smaller space.
Cinequest co-founder Halfdan Hussey says a 4K picture contains 4 times the amount of visual information as in high-def television. “So what it does both in the cinema and then in the televisions that are coming, is it provides even more opportunity to really see and experience the film that the director made,” says Hussey.
Hussey says 4K is also useful in film restoration. That’s why the festival is screening 4K versions of classic movies such as Lawrence of Arabia, Taxi Driver and Doctor Strangelove.
It’s not meant to change the film-watching experience, says Hussey, but to reveal the nuances of light, color and contrast that the cinematographer shot originally.
“So the audiences need to experience 4K and see what they think,” he says. “I think they’re going to say 'Wow, this is Taxi Driver like I’ve never seen it and I like it better'. There might be a lot more information than they’re used to seeing.” The grainy textures of Taxi Driver will convey even more of the gritty street life that director Martin Scorsese was trying to portray.
Hussey says audiences often go through a period of adjustment with a new technology. But he says technology in the hands of an artist should always enhance the viewing experience, not distract from it.