Milaca Theater upgrades to digital

Milaca Theatre owner Brigid Halberg’s hand rests upon the “new” film projector from the 1980s that is in the process of being replaced by its newest digital version to the right. Although larger and much heavier at 300 pounds, the technological advancement will shave off hours from owners Brigid and Josh Halberg’s weekly duties.

Milaca Theatre owner Brigid Halberg’s hand rests upon the “new” film projector from the 1980s that is in the process of being replaced by its newest digital version to the right. Although larger and much heavier at 300 pounds, the technological advancement will shave off hours from owners Brigid and Josh Halberg’s weekly duties.

While the main lobby and aisles look more like a scrap metal enthusiast’s playpen this week, by day’s end Friday, the Milaca Theater will have a new look, new sound and new beginning.

After a year-long effort to raise the funds for the transfer from film to a modern projection system, the Milaca Theater is going digital. In preparation, owners Josh and Brigid Halberg, along with a hearty troop of friends, family and coworkers, have been gutting the old and bringing in the new.

Amid piles of old film projectors, reels and reels of movie preview film and boxes of gadgets and thing-a-ma-jigs, the Halbergs and their volunteers are hammering, drilling and hand-sawing away.

“That’s my goal today — not get in the way,” Brigid Halberg said Monday with a laugh.

Working for pizza and perhaps a little good karma, volunteers were busy installing speaker mounts, stands and cases for the new digital surround sound system. Two giant subwoofers and 12 large speakers will replace the old three-speaker, mono system.

“I’m way excited about the sound,” Brigid Halberg said. “I can’t wait until I see a movie in the new theater. Now, you can sit anywhere and the sound will be great.”

Audience members may notice the new audio right away, but the new, crisper, clearer picture should be an added bonus as well. The digital projector not only provides a sharper image, it will shave off hours of the Halbergs’ time in “building” a movie. With the film projector, Brigid or Josh would spend up to two hours on every movie splicing and winding film around a reel. Now, it will take Brigid about five minutes on her computer.

“It’s just like building a play list on an iPod — a really expensive iPod,” said T.J. Hopland, the Bright Star digital projector installation specialist. “Now, they can pick the trailers they show, too.”

The theater will be offering free showings of the movie “Madagascar” all weekend so patrons can see the difference in the new equipment.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Jan. 31 print edition of the Times.

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