This Minute at Runco
Those of you who are following this blog or Runco’s Facebook page, know that we have asked for recommendations of what I should watch on the new QuantumColor Q-750d projector going into my new home theater. Our own cinema expert, Jeremy Sternhagen, told me today that his recommendation from my list was definitely Sam Mendes’ latest installment to the James Bond series, SkyFall. “It’s the best looking of the three,” he said and then added jabbingly, “Plus, cartoons don’t count.” Of course, Cars and Avatar are mostly computer generated animation (CGI) without the use of traditional cameras.
I asked Jeremy why he preferred Skyfall, beyond the fact that it was live action, and his response was insightful, as always. “This movie was shot digitally with the Arri Alexa camera. Anything I have seen shot with that camera is stunning on BluRay. In fact, this was the first movie I ever saw that wasn’t shot with 70mm film that I thought could give 70mm a run for its money.”
He went onto explain that Roger Deakins, who was the cinematographer on Skyfall, is a huge and vocal fan about the Alexa camera. In a November 2011 article, he told the American Society of Cinematographers that “the Alexa is a game-changer. This moment has been coming for a long time, really, but with the Alexa I believe digital has finally surpassed film in terms of quality. What is quality? It’s really in the eye of the viewer, but to me, the Alexa’s tonal range, color space and latitude exceed the capabilities of film. This is not to say that I don’t still love film — I do. I love its texture and grain, but in terms of speed, resolution and clarity of image, there is no question in my mind that the Alexa produces a better image. There is a beautiful roll-off between highlights and shadows [on the Alexa] that I haven’t seen before. There’s a subtlety in color rendition that is fantastic. I tested it in candlelight, and it was beautiful how the camera picked up variations in skin tones and texture. If you shot that same scene with film, you’d get a very monochromatic feel — just a color wash — but the Alexa can read subtleties that film cannot.”
Deakens has 10 Academy Award nominations, including this past year, but not a single win. “A cinematic crime in my opinion,” Jeremy asserted. This year’s winner was the Life of PI which was beautiful, but heavily used digital effects, which are difficult to accurately compared with live action.
So, I asked Jeremy what other movies, shot on an Alexa, are worthy of screening in a Runco theater? “There are too many to list, but The Avengers and Hugo are a few that are demo worthy.” We’ll definitely add these our list, especially since some of these are among my children’s favorites. To see other movies shot with the Arri Alexa, see the filmography.
What other movies would you recommend us watching on opening night (or shortly there after)? Leave your comments and ideas on Runco’s Facebook page.
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What to watch on opening night?
As we approach the final installation of our home theater, excitement is growing. We chose a Runco QuantumColor Q-750d projector for the room. An impressive video product worthy of all the awards and industry attention is has received. It is quiet, consumes a fraction of the power of similar systems, and is lamp-free for years (literally) of maintenance-free enjoyment. It is chock full with entertainment possibilities.
As we march towards our own opening night, we are debating what we should watch first. What will be on the marquee for the first night in the new home theater?
Here are some of the options we’ve considered:
Avatar: As the highest grossing movie of all time, it would be a logical choice for the christening of our home theater. But box office success isn’t the only reason. The colors that James Cameron and his team of cinema artists achieved in the film were spectacular. In the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) color space of the commercial theater, the foliage and landscapes of Pandora, not to mention the blue skin, popped off the screen. When I saw the movie, I immediately recognized how awesome it would look on the Q-750d and its Infinilight illumination system. Nothing beats this 3-LED illumination system which can achieve DCI and Adobe RGB color space, as well as making every movie in REC-709 show brilliantly! The Runco SmartColor™ huge compensation curve and gamut mapping allow a larger color gamut to be used without affecting skin tones and grayscales. Movies, like Avatar, would look vibrant without all the characters looking like cartoons (or sunburned). The proprietary Personal Color Equalizer™ allows us even more color personalization. Avatar is certainly going to be a great choice for the theater.
Cars: A long-time favorite with our kids, this Disney-Pixar movie is getting renewed market attention because of the opening of the rides in the Disneyland California Adventure theme park. The reason that it makes my list is those opening scenes where the hero of the story, Lightning McQueen, is giving himself a pep talk in his trailer. The scene is completely black and then cuts to bright colored racing scenes in his imagination. This switch between bright and dark scenes is where the QuantumColor line performs incredibly. The LEDs literally turn off leaving the black levels so inky dark the contrast ratio can hardly be measured. The effect of this in a dark room is that the screen completely disappears. This would be a great movie to share with our kids and friends and family. I expect their reaction to be exactly like the Runco resellers when we first showed it at CEDIA, and their countless clients since then, who have been blown away by this effect.
Skyfall: This latest James Bond installment is a favorite of the boys of my family and would be a great movie to watch in our home theater. The intense action scenes would be life-size on our Stewart StudioTek 130 110” screen. And the dark scenes, of which there are many, could be discerned. Scenes where the screen is mainly dark, but with points of light (like some of the outdoor night scenes) would be incredible. The lights would appear to realistically glow, just like we were really there on the Cliffside. Although too intense for our younger family members and friends, this is certainly a possibility.
What other ideas do you have? Considering the ideas above or other movies that you have seen on the Runco QuantumColor, what would you recommend?
Visit Runco on Facebook and tell us your thoughts. I’ll report out our final choice in a future blog post.
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Three Reasons to Install a Runco Home Theater
After years of coveting and contemplating, I am finally installing a proper front-projection Runco system into my own home. I don’t want to make too many lame excuses for being behind my colleagues and friends in having a theater, but I finally have a room where I can control the light and have the wall space to accommodate a theater and construction has begun. I will provide additional progress updates as it continues, but needless to say, myself and my family are very excited!
Which leads me to the discussion today, why install a Runco home theater? As a self-described technology geek, I had always wanted a theater, but the reason that we pulled the trigger was more about my role as a Mom and Wife, than as the VP of marketing for Planar and Runco. Here are the three, very personal reasons, why I wanted a Runco theater in my home.
3. Nothing beats diagonal inches for family movie night
We have a long-standing Friday night tradition of getting pizza and “watching something upstairs.” Recently, we have enjoyed a beautiful Runco Vistage 63” flat panel and I have nothing but good things to say about that display. Absolutely beautiful! However, due to the layout of the room, my daughter (who is seven and quite petite at that) could only see the screen when the sofa was reclined and she was sitting in one particular place at the table. It was less accessible for her than it was for others in the family. So, now we are looking forward to watching movies or “So You Think You Can Dance?” episodes on an 110” screen for a more immersive experience that can be viewed from any portion of the room. That 110” Stewart screen is a whopping 300% bigger than the Vistage in terms of square inches (5,167 vs 1,695) and those extra diagonal inches have a huge impact.
2. It makes my home a destination for our friends
For years, my husband has participated in a Sunday night “Men’s Movie Night.” They go to some shoot-em-up movie that nobody’s wife wants to see and love every minute of it (well, except for the sticky floors, uncomfortable seats, and noisy patrons). If nothing of interest was in the theaters (and that is often the case), they’d meet up in someone’s home to watch a BluRay instead. Due to the set-up we had, our home was always on the list (I mentioned earlier how incredible movies looked our Runco display). But with this new set-up, our house will be the preferred location for these home cinema experiences.
Sure, I am in the professional video business and having nice displays at home is an occupational hazard, but now that will be apparent from the moment someone walks into the room and sees the impressive QuantumColor Q-750d on the ceiling and screen on the wall. We choose not to put it in the back of the room, although we could have with the equally-fabulous Ultra version, because we wanted the room to be a spokesperson for Runco. It will get lots of deserved attention and I have already heard my husband giving an impassioned explanation to our friends about the benefits of Runco’s Infinilight LED illumination system and Runco SmartColor. Which, I must admit, is a proud moment!
1. It makes my home a destination for my kids’ friends
Friends of mine, whom I consider particularly good at this impossible job called “raising kids,” have expressed to me time and time again the importance of knowing your children and their friends as they grow. This is especially true during the teenage years, where the influence of peers is so pronounced. My children are still in elementary school, but even now I see the impact of their friends on their choices and attitudes. And frankly, I want to continue to know them, and their friends, and have an influence as long as I can. Having a home theater is the kind of thing that will bring kids to our house. We will stock the fridge in the back of the room with snacks and beverages. We will have great movies and shows available. We will create the kind of environment in our media room that makes our house the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.
These are just some of the reasons that we are now working on the theater. We know that it is an investment that will pay dividends for our family and friends for years to come.
Stay tuned for more updates on the theater and for pictures of the finished room, coming soon!
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