Jimaku and focus
Fri Apr 20 00:00:38 EDT 2001
>After the movie finished I spoke to a senior member of staff who told me
>that "in Japan, we have to adjust the focus to accommodate the subtitles
>(jimaku super), so the focus is often going to be slightly out".
>But is this actually the case? Are subtitled feature films from
>overseas screened with a separate subtitle projector in Japan? Does focus
>really need to be sacrificed? Am I completely in the dark about this? Or
>have I been duped by some popcorn-flogging schyster?
As far as I remember, this is actually not completely bogus. In Japan,
most subtitles are not made optically (that is, by actually adding them
while printing a postive print), but are "burned" onto an existing
positive print, either with lasers (the new system) or an older printing
system. This means that the subtitles are the potion where the image has
been burned away or removed, thus leaving only the lower, clear area of
celluloid. I don't have my reference books here, but I think this means
that the subtitles and image would be at different levels in the
celluloid and thus different focal levels. Perhaps this accounts for the
theater's explanation? Anyone with more expertise in this area?
But personally, I think that with a good projectionist and a good
projector, this should not make a difference in most cases. If you did
not even see them try to readjust the focus in during your screening,
they were probably just being lazy.
In fact, there are many Japanese theaters that are just bad about this.
Not to damn Theater Shinjuku, but even Aoyama Shinji, in his public diary
on boid.net, complained about the lack of focus for the screenings of
Eureka. What made him even more mad was that when he complained to
Theater Shinjuku and Suncent Cinema Works, both treated it as a very
minor problem not worth dealing with. That, to Aoyama, represents a bit
too much the state of film in Japan.
Yokohama National University
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