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Give an Oscar to the Shannon Theatre - it's now digital

Pete Suter goes over final instructions Monday night on operating the Shannon Theatre's movies digitally

Pete and Kim Suter deserve an Oscar. The Icon may nominate them.

Click here for a video interview.

The Suters made Bluffton movie history on Monday night: They successfully converted the Shannon Theatre from 35 mm film to digital projection. Until Monday night, every film ever shown in a Bluffton theater, going back to the Carma and Star Theater (the Star showed silent movies), were on film.

"It's the biggest change ever in the film industry," said Pete in an interview with The Icon.

"Just Go With It" is the first digital movie shown at the Shannon. That movie is also the last-ever 35 mm film to be shown in the theatre. The film distributor sent both versions of the film to the theatre.

According to Suter, the motion picture industry's move from 35 mm to digital is substantial.

"Many smaller theaters won't make the change and in the next three to five years many will close," he said.

In addition to going digital, the Shannon has a new silver screen.

"The result of our switch is will be noticeable. The films will be very high quality. There will be no scratched on the film and there will be a very quiet running projector," he said.

The major reason to make the conversion from film to digital is to stay in business, according to Suter. "It's a significant investment, but it's worth it."

"Movies will now come in to the theatre on a hard drive. The distributor will send a timed electronic key with the hard drive," Pete said. The hard drive comes by UPS, just as the films arrived at the Shannon.

The digital system will be much easier to operate. Suter says that he can program the computer every Friday and that basically takes care of it.

Going digital is a huge cost-saver for the film producer. It costs $1,500 to create a 35 mm copy, while costing from $15 to $20 to produce it for digital use.

Pete said that the conversion to digital at the Shannon Theatre has been in the planning stages for two years.

With digital, Bluffton moviegoers will see a broader range of movies and some 3-D content.

One new feature digital brings is the availability for the theatre to show live sporting events, symphony performances and even opera. For example, said Suter, Bluffton residents may soon be able to watch a live performance of a Boston Symphony Orchestra concert at the theatre.

In making the switch on Monday, the theatre did not have a 7 p.m. show. The digital movie was shown at 9:30 p.m.