Topic outline

  • Why a Professional Projectionist Course

    Imagine you are in a bank computer room that controls the computers in 10 local banks. Imagine that it has millions of dollars worth of assets on the system. 

    Imagine someone offering you a job there, in fact, your being in charge there because you had grown up with computers all your life and you have a mean hand with a PlayStation. Presume that you had some integrity and the desire to be the right person for that job. Perhaps the boss told you that there is a manual AND a team of professionals who you could call for each piece of equipment. Would that be enough? What would you need to know to be able to talk to that team of professionals?

    A professional wouldn't just know how to turn on the computers. A professional presumes that there will be days when the computer just doesn't turn on. A professional doesn't just know the few buttons to push to make the other computers react – to get the day-to-day systems going. The professional knows what those systems are and knows the problems that the other people will have. A professional doesn't just know that a criminal has to be kept out of the room. A professional knows what and where to look to make certain that anyone who does enter the room, physically or virtually, is doing their job and not screwing with things that will later get the team into trouble. A professional knows all the big tricks of social engineering, as well as the basic engineering that went into the system they are in charge of.

    A professional not only knows what to do when emergencies happen, a professional knows how to prevent most emergencies from happening.

    A professional understands that they need to know more than the boss and must earn the authority to do things right for the good of the patron and the good of the company – in both the short and long term.

    Welcome to the world of the DCinema Projectionist. Your purpose is to make certain that the artist's intent is placed in the cinema theater as best as possible. You need to know about color and sound, computers and security, new technology. You must understand the 'terms of art' used by the experts so that you can communicate with them effectively.

    Don't let anyone tell you different. You must be a professional.

  • Course Basics

    There are a number of reasons to get data on a subject. And, there are a number of ways to get data.

    We will presume that you want the data of this course so that:

    1. you can more easily interact with the digital cinema equipment around you, and
    2. you can communicate with people about d-cinema equipment and your experiences with it.

    It is OK if you are here for other reasons. Perhaps you are an administrator who wants to deal better with the people involved with the equipment, or perhaps your boss said to read this or you can't clean the flux capacitor on the new projector. There's no problem either way, but just be aware that we are addressing people who are near the industry, and the equipment, and they want to learn things about it.

    There are some advantages to learning on the internet like this. Although it doesn't substitute for learning from the mistakes that we make, it can possibly enrich the experience.

    It also doesn't substitute for performing some action 50 or 100 times until it becomes 2nd nature, then fitting that knowledge with some other action that was also practiced until that is also made 2nd nature. For that we have no remedy – you must take the responsibility of drilling knowledge and action together. In fact, we are also not going to be learning how to do many of those kinds of things. We are going to presume that you can learn how to hit the Play button from the equipment manual.

    Instead, we are going to be learning background and fundamentals. All of these topics or pieces of information can be gotten someplace else, but often they are written for engineers by engineers or publicity mongers for the innocent and monied. We, instead, are going to dive into the data pool, grab what we need to know, then think about it and discuss it with others and toss an idea or two in the forum or the course glossary, organize it a bit...then not worry about it any more since it will be part of our tools.

    So. Onward.

    • Study - Part 1, Words and Concepts

      No one was born with internet and computer protocols built into their genes.

      Perhaps we may have "Study by Doing" in our blood. But this isn't that kind of course. This is a "Get the background", "Get the logic" type of course.

      So, that's the bad news. The good news is that we will need not need to learn the math.

      But we will use the problem of learning the math as the first lesson. Math is everywhere in the digital cinema world. It is essential for the light engines, for the precision of the optics and for the connections where heavy math ensures timing and security.

      Speaking math is a specialize knowledge. A simple sentence between engineers can contain several terms that seem quite innocent until you try understand. They'll take a simple word like "delta" and give it a meaning. To them it saves sentences of explanation. They are satisfied that they have communicated.

      Like a good student, you look up the word 'delta' in the dictionary. You find that it is the 4th letter of the Greek alphabet, and that the greeks have 2 symbols for it. Then the dictionary tosses in another specialized word to explain that we call it the letter 'd'. But if you didn't know that word you would be off chasing its meaning, or just giving up, especially when a quick glance down shows 5 or 6 different specialized meanings, 2 for mathematics.

      The dictionary on my computer is great for many things. I just hit a button and definitions appear. For most day to day words it is very simple and valuable. But in this case it gives a specialized definition that is completely unidentifiable as the correct definition unless you already know what you are looking for. All they needed to say was 'Delta signifies an amount of change.' But instead they talk about finite increments of blah blah blah.

      Even worse, the engineers use the word 'delta' with other letters – if you are working in one science it means one thing, and another thing in another speciality. Even worse, in the optics and color field that we are in, the definition has changed several times in the last 20 years.

      So, that brings us to the point. If you are going to look up the words, which you should, look it up in a simple dictionary. Or better yet, look it up in the course dictionary, which we have set up as a glossary. There is a master glossary that has several definitions from several sources.

      Even better, we have set up a special glossary for each course that you are expected contribute to after you have looked up a term and have it figured out.

      That's right. We expect you to find words that are not so obvious and when you have worked out their meaning so that you understand them, write your version of the concept in the course glossary. And if you see someone else's version, refine it a little - think in a manner of explaining it to someone else.

      • Study - Part 2, Communicating

        If we were going through the method of making a playlist, or adjusting the level of a color on the projector, we could watch each other move a control and do it enough times that it would be as simple as opening a box. You wouldn't think about it, you would think with it, just another tool.

        But we don't have that luxury. We have the luxury of ideas, so to work with them we are going to talk to people about them. But who? and how? That's where the forums come in. Each course has one.

        You can use them for anything. Discuss a word, discuss a concept. Discuss an idea that doesn't fit right. Discuss an idea that does fit.

        Maybe you don't need it. Maybe you have everything figured out. But 'help forward'. There will be a time that you need a little assistance and all that help you gave will have inspired so many others that there will be someone to help you when you need it.

        And even if that seems impossible, communicating is a way to work with ideas. Work with an idea enough and you won't have to think about it when the concept passes by a few weeks later. It will be one more tool that you work with.

        • Study - Part 3, Habits

          Let's face it. When we are at our best the world is moving with us like it did when we were kids. 200% imagination, all motion, all grins, all excitement.

          It is a little difficult to place ideas into the same stream, but that is the goal. As a professional you are expected to be able to see the same thing and be excited by the fluid motion of it all. Or worse, see something completely new yet understand it enough to grab some excitement from it.

          So, before you can write it down in the glossary, before you can discuss it with others, how can you do this with an idea? At best you get a picture or a diagram. But if you don't get a diagram, you must make one yourself. Draw that picture. Or lay out some objects on the desk that can act as if they are items in a diagram, like making a physical diagram. Move the pieces around, or draw arrows and circles around your diagram. Something. Anything to get the mental confusion into the physical.

          There are some people out there who understand things so well, so naturally. For the other several billion of us on the planet, we have to work a little to make ideas work for us. This technique of making diagrams or moving objects around helps that process. And don't just do it once. If you were moving a knob or adjusting something on a screen, you wouldn't just do it once. So do the same for ideas. Work them out until they are simple. Don't stop at the point where they are boring. Keep at it until it is exciting. It will be worth it later when you have to defend your idea in public.

          • Study - Part 4, Habits Part 2

            You are way to busy for all this. I mean, really. So am I.

            There is always an emergency. Or if you ignore things, there will be an emergency. Let's face it, if there weren't problems, they wouldn't need you. It is so much easier to just deal with problems.

            On the other hand, if you don't get new information about computer networks and optics that will come later, you will be even further behind when lasers start showing up in the projectors. So, break the emergency habit now. Set aside a realistic amount of time to study, and make it regular.

            Don't pretend that you can miss it all week and catch it all up on your day off. It just won't get done, and after a couple weeks it will get to be a frustration.

            Plus, people need you. There are answers that you have, and someone on the forum needs your special way of expressing things. And if you don't think that is true, just wait.

            Ten minutes isn't going to cut it either. Twenty might be cool. Thirty is probably better. I don't know, but I would guess that 2 hours in a day will be too long. And hour might be OK. Experiment a bit. But find a way to be consistent. That's probably your goal at work and with your friends, so consistency in study sounds like a good idea.

            There's another good aspect about consistency. You can get a sense of yourself, when you feel like it is coming together or when there is something wrong. Since there is no hurry for getting through, or extra points for going fast, take a moment. Look back at the previous material. Find the point that you got distracted. Find the point were you were doing well. Work forward from there. You'll find a problem that you didn't work all the way through. Work it through again. Check to see if there are some special word or phrase in the glossary. Or even a normal word in the lesson that is used in a special way. Something stopped it from being enjoyable, which you shouldn't let happen.

            We're here for the fun. It's like the story of the guy retiring from the circus after 60 years. The boss asks why he never left, why he kept sweeping up after the elephants. His answer is the story of my life: "What? and leave show business?"

            Don't let this be anything but fun.

            • Study - Part 5, Stay On Top

              We are going to guess that there are other areas of entertainment technology that you are interested in. If you have stayed away from it for some reason, now is a good time to invest a little time in it. While you study these topics in the exhibition field, you'll find a lot of connections with your other area of interest.

              Bring it up in the forum. There will be others who share your dual interests.

              These days each tangent of entertainment technology shares details with each other. Everything has computer technology, there are security issues, there are companies that cross over. Getting the perspective from multiple sides is a way to keep it interesting. It will also help you to have those unique insights that will help you solve people's issues in a manner that doesn't just bring more problems in the future.

              That is one of the reasons that DCinemaTools was formed, to give a broad view of the industry, with a slight tilt to the technical side of exhibition.

              You will notice some links up in the upper right of this site. There are hundreds of other places to go as well. Just remember, they are not all staying away from math. They will get into the subject of their focus in details that will be distracting. They will often presume knowledge that you don't have. Don't get trapped into it while doing this course.

              On the other hand, if they have their own glossary, use those. Don't get into the trap of using something like Wikipedia as a source of your knowledge. People who are experts in a field will tell you that whenever they look at a wikipedia page they will find errors or data that has been superseded. So, use it to look for other places to look. If you do that you will often find the original source of what you are searching for, and it will be given in more interesting detail. Plus, wikipedia quickly goes to math whenever it deals with technical material. Math that has funny squiggles that mean something that will never help us understand. So – don't get trapped.

              But do expand your focus. plays all the latest press releases. Often boring, but if you poke in every once in a while you will get a view of the motion of the business, how others are handling problems. Mark Shubin has an expertise in television technology, especially live broadcast of opera. But his view is so wide and his ability to write, to portray a story is so wonderful that it is always beneficial to read what he says.

              And, of course, if you find a cool place, mention it in the forums.

              • Study - Part 6, Finally

                If your company is paying for this adventure, make sure to tell someone how you are doing on a regular basis. It shouldn't be long. It shouldn't be something that explains how bad everything is now that you can see things more clear. (Remember the saying - Chinese or Yiddish perhaps? – The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when he speaks .)

                But you have an obligation to promote yourself. If you wait until you are completely full of wisdom, you will never do it. Not only will you realize better what you don't know, but you will not have the habit of the short, friendly note and will be so busy that you will write a long one. (That's a stolen thought from Pascal, who apologized for writing a long note because he didn't have the time to write a short one.)

                It is guarantied that you will make mistakes during this adventure. This arena is a good place to make them. But somewhere outside is someone who will be interested in your progress. If it isn't someone who is paying for this study, write someone from your past. Get into the habit of staying in touch with people. Around the world, it is a small industry, all contributing to that one concept - bringing the artist's intent to the public.

                Good luck.

                • Study – Oh yeah! Tests

                  You will have already noticed some quick quiz-like question/answer blocks in the past chapters.

                  In the future they will be a lot more serious – electric shocks from the keyboard for every wrong answer, two for right answers. Or, maybe worse. Because, it is actually going to be impossible to get from one chapter to the next without getting the answers 100% right.

                  There won't really be any punishment for right or wrong answers, just the benefit of an opportunity for review and taking the test again.

                  The reason is obvious, yes? Just like the object of the course is to bring an expertise and professional aspect to your daily tasks, the object of each chapter is to bring a foundation to what comes after. If we want a small pyramid, we could let some of the foundation slip aside. But we want tall and strong pyramids.

                  Or something like that.

                  Anyway, they aren't meant to hold you back.

                  So part two of this "Oh Yeah!" Chapter is: Write if there is trouble. There is every possibility that an error has snuck into the regime. Whatever it is, it ain't your fault since it is our responsibility to get the information to you.

                  That's it. Pass the next quiz and onto the details of sight and sound in the form of digits.

                  • This topic

                    Everything is right...wrong...right?

                    To prove a point, we will admit to lying. You can't just get into learning by going to the next step, the next lesson.

                    There is an underlying level below each individual piece of knowledge. It has been proven physically over and over. For example, 115 years ago the atom was considered the smallest physical piece of matter. This idea was developed 3,000 years ago in both Greece and India. Now we know that it is the smallest recognized division of a chemical element.

                    Look what we have done here. In a sense, depending on what question we are answering, the data we have had for centuries is true. At the same time, in a different sense, the data has always been false.

                    As professionals, we can categorize this as "nuance". If we were chemists or physics students we could go looking for the differences in the statements above, get real familiar with "What is an 'element'", "How is that different from a 'chemical' element", and probably end up researching for hours on that one phrase, those two words. Or, we could say that the smallest common ingredient that defines the chemical gold from the chemical oxygen is the atom. Right?


                    But the important part to this is that there is always more to know. And if there isn't always more to know, there is always more to categorize and place into different levels of importance.

                    From the earliest school lessons, we know that the three primary colors - "Here's your crayons children. Look what can happen if we combine these basic colors, red, blue and yellow."

                    Yet, somehow we learn that the three colors are supposed to be red, blue and green.

                    Now, some of you might be experts in the field the deals with the different theories of color. We wouldn't want to tell you to forget everything you know. But if you are not an expert, know what experts know: There is always more nuance, and there is always new implications from re-balancing the importance of information for an application.

                    Projection involves color at several levels. For example, color is an inherent part of the digital data stored and manipulated by the media player. Color is part of the science in the way that the lenses inside and outside the project are designed. And color is affected by the design and color of the screen. So, we will look for nuance in all these subjects.

                    On the other hand, we don't want to get too complicated. This is something to remember while you look at other sources for information and definitions. Don't get lost in interesting traps. For example, here are two incredible pieces of course material...incredible if you were studying to be a color scientist. Don't spend more than a few seconds on these links, but get the point. There is a level of information that we don't need to discuss in this primary course.

                    Understanding Color – Giordano Beretta; Hewlett-Packard Co.

                    Color Glossary

                    OK. Get the point? Here is is, spelled out. There is high odds that:

                    • Everything we know is wrong, or in the wrong category or misplaced in importance to other data.
                    • To learn, we have to go into the subject willing to learn new data, or reorganize data that we already know.
                    • Don't go wading into technical waters that have data currents too strong for you current skills. Build an appropriate foundation and build further with appropriate speed.