What is the schedule for conversion to dye tracks?
The conversion to the interim High Magenta format is already under way, with all new theaters built in the last 5-6 years equipped with red readers. Retrofitting of red readers to projectors in existing theaters is proceeding steadily. Some laboratories are now making release prints in the High Magenta format, including all releases from Warner Bros and all prints made by Fotokem laboratory. When the proportion of red readers reaches about 85% (estimated in 2002 in the US) it is likely that the laboratories will announce their intention to switch their production to Cyan Dye tracks.
Have Cyan Dye sound tracks been tested in theatres?
Yes, a limited release of prints of Get Over It (Miramax) with cyan dye sound tracks was made in March 2001 and distributed to theatres known to be playing analog sound tracks using red readers. These prints ran completely successfully for 3 - 4 weeks. It is planned to make larger-scale releases of prints with cyan dye sound tracks during the remainder of 2001 to further demonstrate the technical feasibility of this sound track format and to encourage other theatres to convert their projectors to red sound readers in preparation for the switch to cyan dye sound tracks.
Can I use the same soundtrack negative to print standard silver, high magenta, and cyan dye print soundtracks?
No specific recommendations have been offered with regard to soundtrack negative density, although the optimum negative density for both the high magenta and cyan dye formats will typically be higher than that used for traditional silver plus dye prints. As always, optimum negative density should be determined for any print format using the cross-modulation test.
Will the same print soundtrack conversion(s) occur for 16-mm prints?
We've had no discussions with manufacturers of 16-mm projection equipment. We believe, however, that 16-mm projectors may be more difficult to convert to red readers than 35-mm projectors. As a result, we are not recommending a conversion to cyan dye tracks for 16-mm for the foreseeable future. While theoretically high magenta prints are very likely to be satisfactory for 16-mm, no tests have been run.
What are the implications for archival film elements stored in preservation vaults?
Black and white prints (with silver tracks of various formats including variable-area and variable-density types) have been reproduced in tests using red LED sound readers with excellent quality, indistinguishable from that produced by white-light readers. Color prints with redeveloped silver-plus-dye sound tracks may experience a little distortion when reproduced with red LED readers, as is the case with current release prints with reveloped silver-plus-dye sound tracks (hence the reason for introducing the compatible High Magenta sound track format). The printing of archived sound negatives, intended for making redeveloped silver-plus-dye sound tracks, to produce cyan dye sound tracks, is currently being evaluated and will be reported on to the Dye Track Committee in due course. It is anticipated that some film processing laboratories will retain the facility to print redeveloped silver-plus-dye sound tracks for some time, to provide this service for film preservation clients.