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Friday, April 6, 2012

100th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster

 
 
Titanic sinking – from the 3D release
 
To all,
 
Yesterday, at Hoyts Forest Hill, April 5, 2012, I saw the Titanic movie, the superb 3D 2012 remake of the 1997 2D version.
 
At 3hrs and 15mins, with an extra 20 mins for pre-show entertainment, this was a long sitting! No intermission. Hoyts was selling huge buckets of popcorn at low pricing – these buckets were about the same size as a garden plastic bucket. One kid had to carry his bucket in both arms! The guy sitting next to me munched peanuts for the entire show....!!
 
The 3D effects were amazing, as was the huge sound, particularly the scenes of the iceberg collision, the breaking up of the vessel, the sinking, and the frenzied evacuation.
 
The audience felt they were actually in the action – the 2D version pales into insignificance in comparison.
 
The emotion and suspense were compelling, even though those of us who seen the 1997 version knew how it would end. I saw the first release in 1997 and watched a TV version some years later, where several scenes had been deleted.
 
The movie opened to thousands of theatres world wide on April 5 2012, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the ship's fateful maiden voyage on April 15 1912, and the 100th birthday of Paramount Pictures. Titanic has been meticulously re-mastered for a 3D re-release. Director James Cameron poured over 60 weeks and $18 million into the 4K resolution (that's twice pixel count of 1080p) and 3D conversion process, even going to far as to accurately update the stars and their position in the sky to match April 1912.
 
Through tragic emotion and awe-inspiring spectacle, the film grabs us and holds us during its climax as few movies ever have, and possibly ever will. The resonating power of it all follows you, and even haunts you, after the movie ends. Many people in the audience were unashamedly weeping.
 
If the romantic drama doesn't get you, the spectacular visual effects ought to do the trick. Watching this restored Titanic, one can appreciate the details and great craftsmanship put into every scene and shot, not only to make the film the first time fifteen years ago, but to re-master it to its present incarnation.

100tjhThe movie is a technical marvel on every level. The sound work is exceptional from the largest boom to the smallest movement. The Digital Domain visual effects fill in the world already occupied by the extremely detailed set and production design.
 
While the fictional love story is what gave Titanic its massive box office success, one cannot leave out the respectful tone the film takes to honour the 1912 tragedy that claimed over 2,200 lives.
 
Enjoy the nostalgic journey back and treat yourself to a modern classic!
 
Digital 3D Projection Technology
The projectors used in the theatres are state-of-the art digital equipment, with content stored remotely on 300 GB hard drives as a Digital Signal Package (DSP).
 
Distribution to the networks is generally via satellite or optical fibre – this enables simultaneous release worldwide to thousands of suitably equipped theatres. The theatre which I go to is Hoyts Forest Hill, in Melbourne's east – there are six cinemas there, each seating around 160 patrons. The multiple surround sound is from 12 large speaker systems – four along each wall, four under the projector box, and four behind the screen.
 
The 3D uses the "RealD 3D" system . The 3D visual effect is generated using circular polarization – this is quite dissimilar to the gimmicky so-called 3D offered on some new TV sets, Smartphones, or pon some You ube videos. The screen is a special "silver screen". Watching a 3D film without the $1.00 glasses is useless, as all you see is a blurred mix of colors. Cover one lens up and you see a 2D image, but what's the points of doing that – may as well see the 2D version instead at a cheap price!
 
The Titanic's Radio Equipment
In 1912, ship-to-shore radio was a developing technology, using clunky wide-band spark gap transmitters for radio telegraphy.
 
The Titanic's wireless equipment was the most powerful in use at the time. The main transmitter was a rotary spark design, powered by a 5 kW motor alternator, fed from the ship's lighting circuit, using a spark gap coil. The equipment operated into a four-wire antenna suspended between the ship's two masts, some 100 metres above the sea. Tere was also a battery powered emergency transmitter.
 
The main transmitter was housed in a special room, known as the "Silent Room". This room was located next door to the operating room, and specially insulated to reduce interference to the main receiver, ands to reduce mechanical noise and ozone smells. Spectrum occupancy was extremely wide, operating in what would become the longwave band. Total RF (CW) bandwidth would have been about 1000 kHz.
 
The equipment's guaranteed working range was 400 km, but communications could be maintained for up to 700 km during daylight and up to 3000 km at night. During sea trails, messages were exchanged with shire stations in the Azores (3000 km) and Egypt (5000 km).
 
Titanic was assigned the callsign MUC in January 1912. Some time after January, Titanic's callsign was changed to MGY - this was previously assigned to the US vessel Yale. As the dominant marine radio company of the time, Marconi allocated their own callsigns, most of which began with the letter M - these basically identified a Marconi installation, regardless of its location or the country of registration of the vessel in which it was installed.
 
Callsign allocation was eventually standardised at the London radio conference of 1912 (post Titanic), with prefixes being allocated on an international basis. UK coast stations and ships thenceforth used the letters G or M as the first letter of their callsigns. US ships and stations used K, N and W, German stations and ships used D, Italians I, French F, etc.

In the 36 hours between leaving Southampton and the collision, the Titanic's Radio Officers received and sent 250 passenger telegrams.
 
The movie shows the wireless room, which was built from detailed study of the only only known photograph.
 
A replica of the Titanic's radio room has was recreated at Fort Perch Rock in Wirral, Liverpool in 2012.
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References
There is a vast amount of internet, print, DVD, audio and video information about the Titanic and the movies, as well as additional details about the radio equipment used on the ship, and transcripts of the distress messages which were exchanged at the time.
 
The April 2012 issue of Popular Communications carries an article, with images, about the ship's communications' equipment.
 
Yes, "My "Heart will Go On".
 
Bob Padula
 
 
Titanic Radio Room recreated – from the movie set
 
Titanic Radio Room recreated – from the movie set
 
The only known photo of Titanic's radio room – 1912

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