I just watched the Simpson’s Movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Now I know what ‘spiderpig’ means!

What I didn’t enjoy was the brand-new all-digital projection system that my local cinema recently installed, and which they are proudly touting.

It’s crap.

Digital cinema offers improved picture quality on screen that is maintained over the entire life span of the film because a digital image will never degrade.

Or so they claim. Alas, this isn’t true. It offers worse picture quality, the best that can be said about which is that it is, at least, consistently and predictably poor.

I’ll be more specific. There are two really noticeable problems with the digital projectors that they’ve installed at Odeon Surrey Quays. The first is the discernible mesh between discrete pixels, an example of which you can see by looking closely at the screen in front of you (if it’s a TFT).

The second problem is that the resolution isn’t high enough—it’s not even remotely adequate. Granted, there are more pixels than the average computer monitor, but even a couple of thousand pixels doesn’t go very far when the screen is five metres or so high. Even with anti-aliasing, the step as an angled line crossed a pixel boundary was glaringly obvious. Whilst film grain is also sometimes perceptible, the fact that it’s randomly distributed makes it a lot more tolerable and a lot less distracting.

I’m sure that the technology will improve, but, for now, it’s very immature. There are many potential advantages to digital technology, but it’s all for naught if the actual picture quality is rubbish. I fear that we are going to end up with a lot of digital installations that look much worse than the old projectors they replace.