Beyond the theater’s plush new seats, fresh coat of paint, new carpets, and enhanced lighting, the Dryden has undergone some serious technological overhauling and upgrading both up in the projection booth and behind the screen (did we mention the screen is new too?). These new features enable us to maintain our high standards of motion picture exhibition and also greatly expand our projection capabilities. Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s been added and augmented:
1) Barco DP2K-32B Digital Cinema Projector
Motion picture distribution is moving away from traditional 35mm film, and movies are now being presented on DCPs (Digital Cinema Packages). These high- quality, heavily encrypted hard drives are quickly replacing 35mm prints as the primary format for film distribution and are slowly becoming the new finishing format for many film preservation projects. Our new digital projector will allow us to exhibit DCPs of both new first-run features and digital restorations of classic films with a bright, brilliant image and crisp, full surround sound. Of course, the Dryden will continue to primarily screen photochemical film (we always will, whenever possible) but this new technology greatly increases the depth and variety of films we can now show in the theater.
2) Automatic Masking System
The masking encompasses the black curtains on the top, bottom, and sides of screen. In an archival theater such as the Dryden, which exhibits a wide range of films with different aspect ratios, it is imperative that the masking be adjustable to fit the projected image. In the past, the masking had to be manually fine tuned by the projectionist using a system of pulleys behind the screen (and even then we could only adjust the sides!). Now, all four masking curtains are connected to independent motors that are operated from touch panels in the projection booth. This system not only makes the projectionist’s job much easier, but it also facilitates more precise control of the screen’s size and shape, which in turn allows us to exhibit any film the way it was intended to be seen.
3) Enhanced AMX Control System
With all these new gadgets, we needed a way to effectively control them all in a simple, elegant fashion. Our booth had an existing AMX system that controlled some aspects of our film projectors and auditorium lighting, but that’s next to nothing when compared to our new capabilities. The AMX touch panels in the booth are now linked to nearly every aspect of theater. A projectionist can control the lights, sound system, masking, video decks, in-booth monitors, and the digital and film projectors all from one screen. Although unseen to most Dryden patrons, this interface is the nervous system of the theater that makes everything you see possible.
And there you have it! All of these features were expertly installed by a crew of cinema engineers from Boston Light and Sound in conjunction with LeChase Construction and IATSE technicians. Everyone involved with the renovations showed unparalleled dedication and prowess in their efforts and I feel honored and privileged to have been part of this workforce. I sincerely hope you enjoy the new Dryden and that you have gained at least a small appreciation for what’s going on in the dark little room at the back of the theater.
More on the Dryden Theatre Renovation:
Part I, The Curtain Stays
Part II, Seatless
Part III, Cement, Lighting, and Accessibility
Part IV, Painting, Listening System and Digital Projection
Part V, Stage and Carpet
Part VI, Seats and Projection Booth
Part VII, The Curtain Returns