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HomeCommunityEventsQube Cinema Enables Historic Screening of Digitally Restored Oklahoma!

Qube Cinema Enables Historic Screening of Digitally Restored Oklahoma!

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Oklahoma-Poster-emailOklahoma PosterQube Cinema participated in a landmark screening of the restored and digitally mastered Oklahoma! at the TCM Classic Film Festival on April 10 at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Attendees, including Oklahoma! lead Shirley Jones, were treated to a 4K high frame rate (HFR) premiere of the classic musical projected onto the large screen by a 4K projector containing the Qube 4K Xi integrated media block (IMB) and relying on a high bitrate DCP streamed by the Qube XP-I server. This historic screening of the 1955 Todd-AO classic is the first time a high bitrate and HFR DCP has been created and exhibited as part of the restoration of a feature film classic.

Todd-AO was a widescreen, 70mm film format that was developed by Mike Todd and the American Optical Company in the 1950s. The original version of the Todd-AO process used a frame rate of 30 frames per second, but only two films were ever shot at 30 fps – Oklahoma! and Around the World in Eighty Days.

“Both Festival goers and industry pros in attendance were stunned and amazed at the sharpness, color saturation and brightness of Oklahoma! at this higher resolution and frame rate,” said Christopher Reyna, co-technical director of the TCM Classic Film Festival. “The higher bitrate made the 4K presentation an amazing treat for the 59-year old Todd-AO restoration, establishing a new benchmark for digital restoration.”

The Qube Cinema XP-I server is capable of streaming up to 1 Gbps of uncompressed data to the Qube 4K Xi IMB, delivering 4K resolution at 30 fps. For the Oklahoma! premiere, the XP-I server streamed the high bitrate DCP to a Xi IMB embedded in a 4K Christie projector.

“Qube has already completed 500 Mbps installations for 4K giant screens in museums and science centers,” Reyna explained. “With this Oklahoma! presentation, Qube is helping define advances in both mastering and exhibition technology that will benefit mainstream 4K theatrical exhibition as well.”

Scanning and Mastering a 4K HFR DCP of the Historic Film
Oklahoma! was the first Todd-AO feature shot at 65 mm and one of only two shot at 30 fps. It was downconverted to 24 fps for distribution but FotoKem had a negative of the 30 fps version. Nine years ago, FotoKem, noticing that the original negative was badly faded and continuing to fade, made a 65 mm interpositive of the film. For the restoration, it scanned this 65 mm source at 8K to capture as much detail from the film as possible. FotoKem mastered two DCPs: a standard version and a HFR DCP that took advantage of the Todd-AO 30 fps film capture.

Mastering at this rate – double that of most DCPs these days – made for much more data in the DCP. This meant that the TCM Classic Film Festival needed a server and IMB capable of handling the amount of data being streamed to the 4K projector.

“We went with Qube Cinema because the XP-I server can play back at a much higher bitrate than what other servers can do,” said Chapin Cutler, owner of Boston Light & Sound, the company responsible for technical setup for the entire festival.

FotoKem, which recently bought a Qube XP-I server and Xi IMB for its 4K studio, was able to QC its high bitrate DCP at the studio, before heading to the film festival for a final run-through.

“We did QC on the high bitrate DCP using our Qube XP-I server and Xi 4K IMB embedded in a Christie 4K projector,” said Andrew Oran, VP sales & operations, restoration at FotoKem. “Then the night before the premiere, the DCP was checked onsite at the theater with the Qube equipment as well. Both checks went flawlessly.”

The Premiere of 4K HFR Oklahoma!
The opening night premiere of the 4K HFR Oklahoma! was shown on a 66-foot screen. Oran was glad he got to watch the run-through at the TCL Chinese Theater the night before because he spent the first half-hour of the premiere watching the reaction of the crowd.

“The audience was thrilled to see such beautiful images on the screen,” Oran said. “The Qube server and 4K IMB allowed this presentation to be as close to the uncompressed source as possible.”

“It was the best digital film I’ve seen,” agreed Chapin Cutler, who was also co-technical director of the TCM Classic Film Festival. “The fact that we filled the 950-seat theater on a Thursday evening to see a movie made in 1955 is quite an accomplishment, and, thanks to Qube, the quality of the exhibition was stunning.”

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