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Unprofitable Classics Series Ends Long Run

By Alex Ianculescu

Suspending a forty-year tradition of providing classic films to the MIT community, the Lecture Series Committee has decided to no longer screen a classic film weekly this term.

LSC is suspending its classics series in order to make some substantial improvements to the program and to resolve issues with its profitability. In the past few years, "the classics program has incurred significant monetary losses that LSC has absorbed," said Rex K. Min G, LSC chairman.

Although LSC is a non-profit service for the MIT community, declining attendance at the series last year made made it difficult for the organization to justify the losses.

Over the summer, LSC worked to diversify the classics program and obtain more funding for it. However, while LSC made some progress this past summer, there was not "adequate time to complete these goals. We must work into fall of 1998 as well," Min said.

Classics to return next term

LSC expects to resume showing classics again next term. According to Jered J. Floyd '98, publicity director for LSC, "the classics series isn't gone for good."

The classics program has existed for more than 40 years. "We have no intention whatsoever of terminating this program," Min said. Instead, LSC plans on "improving and diversifying the program to provide a better service to the MIT community, while easing its financial burden to LSC at the same time."

LSC hopes that next term the classics film series will resume its former weekly showings, including a wider variety of foreign and cultural films as well as its traditional' classics, generally defined as "movies 25 years or older," Floyd said.

Although the weekly film series is suspended this term, the classics program will nevertheless host some events this fall. "As co-sponsorships and other opportunities become available to us, the classics [program] will be offering special presentations," Min said.

The first of these showings is "Hana-Bi," a Japanese film, which will be playing on Oct. 12. LSC plans to show some cultural films at the planned Fall Festival in late October.

LSC adds DTS sound system

In addition to the change in the classics program schedule this fall, LSC has recently upgraded its sound and speaker system.

Because of improvements in theater sound system technology and a donation from Digital Theater Systems, most films shown in Room 26-100 will now feature digital sound.

"This is the latest in a long series of improvements we have made to keep up with film technologies, to provide the best in entertainment to the MIT community," Floyd said.

This fall, 22 of the 25 feature films on LSC's movie schedule will feature a DTS digital soundtrack. "Deep Impact," LSC's registration day movie, was the first show to present the new sound capabilities.

LSC's new sound system is a significant technological improvement. The DTS system provides multi-channel digital audio on CD-ROM. A timecode track on the film synchronizes this audio track with the video. The system virtually eliminates the noise and scratchiness associated with older, analog sound reproduction.

Because DTS also offers much greater dynamic range and higher peak sound levels than conventional analog sound, LSC has improved the speakers and amplifiers in Room 26-100 to "handle louder sound levels," said Floyd. "The stage channels have each been upgraded from 275 watts to 1200 watts," bringing the potential power output of the system to over 7000 watts.