By 8:00 am Friday morning I had three voicemails and five emails all either trying to pass along or confirm the same implausible news. Rumor was spreading fast that France’s Le Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, otherwise known as the CNC, had banned silver screens throughout the country, giving exhibitors a five year timeframe to comply. If true, it could have enormous implications in the 3D market.
I initially thought some announcement the CNC had made was being misinterpreted after the rumor mill twisted it into something far more alarming. As a part of France’s Ministry of Culture the CNC is responsible for regulating cinema as well as the production and promotion of “audiovisual arts” within the country, so it’s easy to see how such a rumor could be easily believed. However, a quick trip to the CNC website informed me the news was accurate.
At the start of a six day conference on technology in exhibition and distribution, CNC president Eric Garandeau announced an “agreement to ensure the quality of film screenings in movie theaters in the digital age.” In his opening remarks Garandeau acknowledged all the hard work that goes into making a movie and that, “if so many people put so much care to seek perfection in the image, it is necessary that these efforts are visible and even sublimated on the screen, in the most beautiful manner.” Wanting to see the difference for himself, Garandeau held a test screening to see “if a layman could make a comparison and tell the difference between a white screen and a silver screen.”
Garandeau says he saw the bright smile of Oscar winning actor Jean Dujardin switch from white to gray during the test and that the brightness level at the edges of the screen, compared to the center, decreased significantly. Not surprising since color balance, luminance consistency, and hot spots are the major drawbacks when it comes to silver screens, especially when they are used for 2D films.