Digital world hits West End screens

West End Cinema, Boston, switch over from film projectors to digital.
West End Cinema, Boston, switch over from film projectors to digital.

TWO weeks ago anyone entering the projection room at Boston’s West End cinema would have witnessed a scene not dissimilar to those seen at picture houses over the past 100 years.

With four of the five screens still operating old-fashioned 35mm projectors, the control room of the West Street cinema was filled with large machinery loaded up with 200-foot film reels – but not anymore.

Because last week the site made the move over to digital projection, installing state-of-the-art machinery across all of its screens in a bid to offer the most up-to-date film experience it can.

“The digital transition is the single biggest change to how the commercial cinema industry operates since its inception in 1986,” said James Collington, managing director of Savoy Cinemas, which owns West End.

James, who opened the cinema in 2002, added that although the change would bring great benefits to cinema-goers, it would be sad to see the back of the old projectors.

He told The Standard: “It’s like the end of an era. 35 mm film has an arty feel to it, as you are watching the film as it goes on. Digital is more souless. You’ve got the boxes and you can’t see anything happening. I was brought up on 35mm and the sound of the reels and the chap walking up and down. It will be sad to see the end of traditional projection.”

Around 80 per cent of UK cinemas now have digital projection. James said the company had waited until now to change over in order to try to avoid teething problems in the technology. He added it was ‘the right time’ to make the move, which has cost more than £300,000, and predicted that all UK cinemas would be using digital projection.

West End installed one digital projector two years ago to enable the cinema to show films in 3D, but it has now completed the transition.

The change means the cinema will now be able to use more than one screen to show 3D films, as well as providing a better quality projection. Along with that, the site has also taken delivery of a satellite delivery system, which will allow it to show live events such as sports, opera and theatre, although James said this would not be happening for a month or two.

l You could be one of 100 people enjoying the new technology for free with West End’s ticket giveaway to mark The Standard’s centenary. Get your paper next week to take advantage of this great offer.