By Genine Hopkins
Tom Koch, owner of the Ideal Theatre in Clare, Michigan, has been proud to show the many films at his business the “old school” way – reel to reel. Times change, however, and recently Koch made the switch to a digital, better than High Definition projector for all the movies. The first showing in this new, high tech projector– Iron Man 3 – “premiered” on Tuesday, May 7, 2013, to regular audiences attending the Theatre.
It took awhile for Koch to make the switch and was not an easy decision for him to make. But with the movie industry pushing for the change, he finally relented, despite to the cost for upgrade, which would inevitably cause him to raise his prices a bit.
“That was indeed the hardest part,” said Koch, “Having to pass on the cost of the equipment – which is amazing – was a difficult decision. But I made sure it was a nominal amount – only a buck for per ticket moviegoers – and I truly apologize for any inconvenience this may cause to my customers.”
Still, Koch stated, the quality of the films will be vastly improved. Once the equipment arrived, so did the “techies” who assisted Koch in learning how to navigate the new technology.
It is quite an impressive piece of equipment. A PC helps to control the system, which contains a monitor and a hard drive that loads each movie into the system. Movies themselves, including trailers and other extras, are contained in their own hard drive, then downloaded into the projector for showing.
“These movies is its own hard drive, indeed it resembles a personal computer hard drive,” said technician Daniel Ruppel, one of the many people assisting in getting the system up and running. The system comes in two parts – the NEC 900 Projector and something called “Doremi,” (yes, it’s not a joke, literally the line from the Sound of Music movie song) which is the server each movie is downloaded to for projection .
The result will be a more positive experience for moviegoers. Such was the case for the first run on Tuesday, with a tremendous improvement in sound and picture quality.
“I am very pleased to have invested in this equipment,” said Koch, “Even though prices were raised a dollar all the way around, we’re still the best value in the area. It was a smart choice, and apparently it was something that needed to be done regardless. I can’t wait to hear customer responses on this improved experience.”
The only unfortunate casualty is the loss of longtime employee Gary Hitchens, , the “old tech” guy who previously ran much of the equipment for the previous medium used at Ideal. Still, he was fairly excited about the new technology, and Koch, known for his dedication to the people around him, will most likely find some capacity to use Hitchens as the switch is made complete.