Jimaku and focus

Aaron Gerow gerow
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.

Aaron Gerow
Yokohama National University
KineJapan list owner
For list commands: send "information kinejapan" to 
listserver at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
Kinema Club: http://pears.lib.ohio-state.edu/Markus/Welcome.html

More information about the KineJapan mailing list