Cinema Technology Magazine - June 2017

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The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals

June 2017


The next gen


Pin-sharp projection and luxury fittings fittings: welcome we elcome lcome to the film palaces of the the future

Retrofit lasers le vieux continent LED flatscreens Could this be the costeffective alternative for lamp-based projectors?

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Cinema’s birthplace is in transition: we track Europe’s shifting industry landscape

Vol 30, No2 produced in partnership with

The talk of the town at CinemaCon — coming to a cinema near you soon?

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Cinema Server


Masking / Curtains



Cinema Sound System

Cinema Core 510c


Digital 1-sheets

Concession Signage




Q-SYS is more than a product. Q-SYS is an ever-expanding family of technologies that are used as a base upon TM

which many operations and functions of the cinema complex can be combined, centrally controlled, and monitored – from virtually anywhere. Since it’s software-based, it can be easily updated as technology moves forward, which means your investment is always protected. If it can be controlled, it can be controlled by Q-SYS. QSC and the QSC logo are registered trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries.#16C

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Digital cinema MPS delivers

Looking for the digital cinema experts? That’s us.

To find out why MPS is one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain visit

For DCPs and KDMs For exhibitor and distributor For live events and technical support

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE June 2017 • Vol 30 • No 2 0

TEchnical developments NEWS promises a new method of of the most inspiring companies in 056 EclairColor 008 One providing high dynamic range images Britain? Take a bow, the team at MPS 011

Enter Richard II: the Cinema Technology Committee appoints a new chairman

COLUMNS EDCF’s annual tour to LA opened 072 The the door on some key technical issues 076

ICTA has a packed agenda this summer — don’t miss the opportunity to learn


The UKCA launches a “caption competition” for future subtitle delivery


Innovation is at the heart of the cinema world as CTC’s new chairman explains


As the ECA turns five, its impact on event cinema is being felt worldwide


Want to see technical game-changers? Head to CineEurope, says UNIC

Features Knight has a moving experience 083 Peter when he enjoys 4DX in all its glory


Multiple projection? A sharper solution from a new Canadian firm, Digizig


The Wells Festival of Film — a small city event that punches far above its weight


A revolutionary dual reader sound head is making vintage films sound amazing


A recent art installation at the Barbican shone new light on the art of projection


The Dundee Contemporary Art’s cinema gets bang up to date with 4K projection


Inside the Castle Cinema, Hackney — a crowd-funded venue fit for royalty

to entice, Cinema Technology tours around the film palaces of the future


Keeping standards high — the name of the game at a recent CTC training day


David Hancock reflects on the changing landscape of Le Vieux Continent — Europe, the birthplace of cinema


The history of cinema: Grant Lobban on the origins of the 1.85:1 aspect ratio


The future of streaming in cinemas? It looks bright, says Lucy Dougherty


How does the BFI screen quite so many films? Mark Trompeteler finds out

Events in focus von Sychowski reflects on the 039 Patrick industry’s confidence at Cinemacon


OurScreen offers a dynamic vision of the possible future of cinema choice

Features gen Multiplexes: With laser projection, 019 next luxury seating and architectural details

069 TEchnical developments laser retrofits a practical solution for 052 Are 070 cinemas with lamp-based projection?

the the is


In the Netherlands, the Earcatch app is redefining delivery of audio description Film piracy? It’s a crime and the FCPA is stamping down on it hard. Here’s how


The UKCA annual conference was a masterclass in data and technology

And one last Thing… Paul Huis in ‘t Veld looks at how 098 Gofilex’s much more cinema distribution could do

The IMIS (International Moving Image Society) powered by the BKSTS aims to inspire, educate, train and connect all members of media industry, whether at entry or professional level, around the world. The Society works to maintain standards and to encourage pursuit of excellence in all aspects of moving image and associated technologies, in the UK and throughout the world. The Society independent of all governments and commercial organisations.

The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the following companies and organisations: ARRI • British Film Institute • Boxer Systems • Christie • Harkness Screens • LB Group • London Film Museum • Marshall Electronics • Molinare • MPC • Pinewood Studios • Snell Advanced Media • Sohonet • StreamVuTV • Tradefair For membership inquiries, write to: Roland Brown, President, IMIS, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH, UK; or email:



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from the editor June 2017 • Volume 30 • No.2

Compiling the June issue of Cinema Technology magazine is always a challenge. We are delighted to be able to report on the technical happenings that recently took place at CinemaCon in the US (p39), but find it much more difficult to persuade manufacturers to reveal what they have under wraps for revelation at CineEurope, only days away now. Having a finger in most cinematic pies, however, and a list of contributors and contacts that would make any national paper envious, we have — as always — been able to come up with facts as well as predictions and opinions, making it plain that Europe forms a key part of the global cinema economy. New technologies are always of key interest to our readers, and as well as explanations of some interesting new developments in various technical areas, we feature a number of reports on the Next Generation Multiplexes (see p19) that illustrate clearly how the new technologies are being put to practical use to provide cinemagoers with ever-more enticing experiences when they visit. As always, it is informative to see how different cinema groups regard

the different projection technologies on offer — one chain recently announced that its whole empire would use high pressure mercury lamps, whilst another group has just opted to have laser projection for every screen in its latest multiplexes, and another still is staying with well-proven xenon lamp projection until it is sure that any alternative really would be better in all respects. And then we heard from CinemaCon that Samsung and Sony are suggesting that ‘active screens’ rather than projection might in fact be the future face of cinema — I have already heard the cries from traditionalists that ‘this isn’t cinema!’, but if the image quality matches or exceeds what we have now and if a realistic financial case can be made, then our industry will need to give these ideas serious consideration. I am fortunate to attend many comparative demonstrations of the different projection technologies in action, and it is apparent that there is no one perfect solution, each technology has its pros and cons. Our hope is that the range of balanced reports and informed opinions in Cinema Technology magazine will help the decision-makers in our industry to avoid the simple option of jumping on to the latest technological bandwagon, and cause them to investigate all angles before investing — and I know that many of those in senior positions are taking exactly that approach. If you are coming to CineEurope in Barcelona, where Cinema Technology is again an Official Media Partner to the show, do come and have a chat with us on our stand on the trade show floor. As well as providing an opportunity to catch up with what is happening around the world, such conversations often lead to ideas for new articles for future issues. If you aren’t fortunate enough to be coming to enjoy the Barcelona sunshine, then rest assured that our next issue will contain all the information about what went on, keeping you up to date with the latest happenings in the cinema exhibition business.

Jim Slater, Managing Editor

Writing in this issue… 1







David is research director for film and cinema at IHS Markit. In this issue, he explores the industry landscape in the birthplace of cinema — Europe, p34.

Vice-president of global marketing at Harkness Screens, Richard is the newly appointed chairman of the CTC. Read his views on the future on p78.

Based in Singapore, Patrick is the editor of the online site, Celluloid Junkie and a leading industry consultant. On p39, he reviews a triumphant Cinemacon.

JUNe 2017 | cINemA TecHNoloGY

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NEWS CT’s round-up of the latest industry news and events


London New Christie ‘Series 3’: Higher quality to smaller screens

Going against the trend to different forms of light source, Christie’s new xenon lampbased CP2308 projector has been designed to bring Christie’s large-screen technical quality to small-screen spaces. The CP2308 is a DCI-compliant, fully featured, affordable digital-cinema option that uses Christie’s advanced electronics. It is simple to operate, with user-friendly features – automated and simplified playback, scheduling, cinema content management and a large touchpanel control with a newly designed intuitive interface. The manufacturer says that it really scores on quality. It has CineLife™ Series 3 (the electronics platform that underpins Christie’s expanding DCI projector line), 9,000 DCI lumens and the reliability, image fidelity and low cost of ownership of xenon lamps have compared to laser phosphor. They describe this as ‘the right light for the right application’. The Christie CP2308 supports all external 3D systems, and if you need higher brightness for 3D, two projectors can be stacked. It is also available with High Frame Rate technology. Live event cinema sources are supported through dual HDMI ports, a Christie Series 3 Integrated Media Block (IMB), is available, and there’s backwards-compatibility with third-party Series 2 IMBs. Everything you’d expect to find in its large screen cousins — all specially tailored for small screen perfection.


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Motion Picture Solutions, the leading international film services company, last month announced the company has been identified by the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) as one of its “1000 Companies to Inspire Britain” in the LSEG’s respected annual report that lists the 1000 most dynamic companies out of the UK’s 5.4million SMEs. To be selected for this list, businesses must outperform peers in their given sector (in MPS’s case, the technology and digital sector). MPS’s chief executive Howard Kiedaisch said “To be included in such a select group is a tremendous accolade for MPS. It reflects the hard work and passion that our team has put in over the past 12 years, as well as the faith in our services that is shown to us by

our customers. Companies cannot apply to be included in this list. Your performance has to be recognised in comparison to your sector peers — and that makes this accolade all the more meaningful for us.” Last month, MPS representatives, including president Matt Aspray, finance director Sarah Thomas and founder Ian Thomas, were invited together with other industry leaders to a reception held at No10 Downing Street to celebrate the launch of the 1000 Companies report, below.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? MPS’s Matt Aspray, Sarah and Ian Thomas heading to Downing St


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New Head of Cinemas and Events for BFI


Gaylene Gould has been appointed BFI Southbank’s head of cinemas and events. In this newly created role, Gaylene will lead the programme at BFI Southbank, the UK’s national cinematheque and one of the most vibrant and important arts venues in London. Reporting into BFI head of programme and acquisitions, Stuart Brown, Gaylene will drive audience development, business planning and an eclectic programme of agenda-setting film and television screenings and events. This includes contemporary and classic film, BFI blockbuster projects and seasons, one-off events, on-stage interviews, premières, previews, regular monthly strands aimed at a wide range of audiences and educational programmes. Gaylene has over 20 years of programming experience and has consulted on projects for the Tate, the National Theatre, the Independent Cinema Office, Barbican, RSC and the BFI’s Black Star blockbuster project. Her previous roles have included creative director of Film Club, head of programme at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, national project manager for BFI season Black World (2006), project director at Arts Council England and roles at Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs and Africa at the Pictures Film Festival.


CGR Cinemas Group, the third largest cinema group in France, and Philips Lighting are collaborating to develop LightVibes into what they describe as a unique immersive movie experience in cinemas through connected light. Cinema Technology has examined how LightVibes provides compelling ambient surround lighting and video effects to intensify feature films, trailers, advertising, event cinema and other on-screen content, using Philips Luminous Textiles LED panels, Philips Showline LED entertainment projectors and more. CGR Cinemas Group has introduced LightVibes in ToulouseBlagnac as a key-component of its ICE-by-CGR premium Immersive Cinema Experience theatre concept, and feedback from audiences and cinema industry partners has been positive. The CGR Cinemas Group will now deploy this technology in nearly 20 other auditoriums this year. In collaboration with Philips Lighting, CGR Cinemas Group will be the exclusive LightVibes reseller to other operators in France and throughout the world. Philips says that it is extremely excited to continue an exploration with Groupe CGR Cinemas, into the world of immersive cinema, and the impact of light on storytelling. LightVibes introduces a powerful tool for filmmakers. A recent event featuring the Lightvibes technology was the world premiere screening of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets where EuropaCorp, founded by Luc Besson, joined the CGR Cinemas group for an exclusive screening, later rolled out to 20 CGR immersive cinemas. LightVibes was used to deliver ambient lighting using Luminous Textiles LED panels in the screening room. The screenings of the movie with LightVibes by CGR theatres also used the most advanced 4K laser projection technology and Dolby Atmos sound, providing the audiences with a unique and total connection with the movie.

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Steve Hatton Joins QSC as cinema product specialist


Experienced cinema technician Steve Hatton has joined the QSC Cinema team. Steve has nearly 20 years of experience in all phases of cinema sound and projection system design, installation, and servicing. As president of his own service company, Sound and Imaging Concepts, Steve oversaw the installation of hundreds of cinema projects throughout the United States. Prior to running Sound and Imaging Concepts, Steve worked for Shaver Sound Inc., troubleshooting and maintaining 35mm projection systems and coordinating digital cinema conversions. As cinema product specialist, Steve will provide assistance to QSC customers requiring technical support both pre- and post-sales. Barry Ferrell, senior vice president and chief strategy officer for QSC, said “Steve is a perfect complement to the QSC support team, since he has recent real-world experience that spans the transition from film to digital projection.” Steve Hatton will report to Danny Pickett, director of global cinema sales.



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NEW CHAIRMAN FOR CINEMA TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE Chairman Richard Huhndorf recently stepped down after seven years as chairman of the Cinema Technology Committee (CTC). CTC members held an election, and Richard Mitchell was appointed to the role. At the April meeting, Roland Brown, president of IMIS, endorsed the appointment, and thanked Richard Huhndorf, a member of the CTC almost from its inception in the mid-1980s. He paid tribute to his determination to maintain CTC’s existence and relevance during the period when the Society was struggling. Incoming chairman Richard Mitchell expressed his thanks to the voting panel. To read the new chairman’s thoughts on the CTC’s future, go to p78.

Left-right, Roland Brown with Richard Huhndorf and Richard Mitchell


Saving space without compromising luxury


The Verona Zero Wall, an innovative luxury recliner, developed by Ferco Seating, is helping boost occupancy levels and audience satisfaction at cinemas worldwide. Electrically operated, the chair has been designed to recline without the backrest moving backwards. “As there is no gap left behind the chair, there is no requirement for safety handrails, resulting in less capital expenditure and a more pleasing aesthetic,” explains Michael Burnett, MD of UK-based Ferco, which has specialised in designing innovative cinema seating systems for over 30 years. “The Verona Zero Wall saves vital space, ensuring that venues maximise audience capacity, whist providing a premium experience for customers.” The seat has been installed at the just-opened state-of-the art 10-screen Odeon Bournemouth, seen as a flagship for Europe, see p24. Exhibitors have the option to customise designs including the addition of integrated seat tables, thereby boosting concession revenues. The Verona collection offers additional options, such as phone charging points and the gas-assisted easylift feature can enable easy cleaning under the seats. A premium privacy panel, available as an additional feature, creates a feeling of exclusivity and ‘home-from-home’ ambience which, with integrated lighting helps clients locate items and read menus. For details contact Ferco Seating on 01743 761244 or visit



Harkness Screens has announced a new wave of research and development into screen perforation. Having launched the acclaimed 4K Digital Perforation Pattern at CineAsia 2015, which has now become the standard perforation pattern on all their screens, Harkness is set to embark on a further development to improve the cinema experience. David Harrison, chief technical officer at Harkness Screens, said that their 4K Digital Perforation Pattern has proved an enormous success. The current pattern reduces moiré fringing and has smaller holes and less open area. It was engineered to meet the requirements of today’s exhibitors, and whilst this has been a huge step forward for the industry, Harkness believes there is significant work still to be done. Its imminent research project will involve inputs from audio companies and leading educational establishments including the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at Southampton University (UK). The next phase of research will focus on further improvements to speech intelligibility, screen resonance and reduction in sound reflecting between screen and speakers. David said that the company is focused on applying scientific expertise to manufacturing to improve both audio and visual performance. By applying complex audio-based algorithms they believe they will push the boundaries on sound performance.

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CINEMA STAFF REWARDED FOR ANTI-PIRACY WORK Ten vigilant members of staff from cinemas across the UK have been formally recognised for work in disrupting and preventing film piracy. The Film Content Protection Agency (FCPA), formed last year by the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) as a specialist unit dedicated to safeguarding theatrical releases in the UK, handed out their rewards at a presentation in London. The recipients included employees from Cineworld, Vue, Showcase and Light Cinemas, with each receiving a financial reward. Collectively they represented eight incidents, four led to arrests and four to formal police cautions. Their efforts helped to protect UK releases including La La Land, T2: Trainspotting, Fifty Shades Darker and Trolls. Lord Puttnam of Queensgate CBE, president of FDA, said that vigilance in screenings is vital with the industry’s well-being relying on it. He congratulated and thanked the recipients for their continued commitment. For more on film piracy, go to p70. Vigilance pays: the cinema staff rewarded for catching pirates in the act


VUE International now all-Sony


At a time when laserilluminated projection systems are being seen as ‘the next big thing’, Vue International has made the decision to standardise on Sony 4K projection equipment using high pressure mercury lamps. After standardising its portfolio on Sony 4K, Vue has now expanded its investment in Sony Digital Cinema 4K projection systems and upgraded the remaining DLP (Digital Light Processing)

projectors across its estate in the UK, Ireland and Germany (CinemaxX), installing 44 Sony SRX-R515DS dual projection systems. Vue claims that each system offers the next level of premium cinema experience, delivering superb picture quality, thanks to 30,000 lumen brightness levels and an industryleading 8000:1 average contrast ratio — ideal for presentation in 3D or 2D on Premium Large Format (PLF) screens.



As a result of AMC’s takeover of Odeon cinemas, and following approval from the Competition and Markets Authority, Vue Entertainment has taken over the Odeon Printworks cinema in Manchester. The acquisition of the 23-screen multiplex, including an IMAX screen, will see Vue’s portfolio increase to 86 sites throughout the UK and Ireland with further expansion planned. There was a short transition period at the end of May to change signage, fit new PoS technology and move to the new Vue website. Vue says it is committed to ensuring that the Printworks continues to be a major part of leisure choices in the Manchester market. Vue is currently upgrading its London West End flagship and says that this will act as the template for this flagship cinema in the North of England. The highly successful IMAX auditorium will remain as part of the Manchester cinema offer and is due to be enhanced with new state-of-the-art laser projection technology in early 2018. It is understood that Vue will take on the current Printworks management team led by Steve Gleave.


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New phosphor laser technology from NEC


In the most common design of laser phosphor projectors, a blue laser is used to create the blue in the final image, but the same laser is also used to illuminate a yellow phosphor wheel, which emits the yellow. This is split by a prism or colour wheel into green and red components. This certainly works, giving high brightness with good colours and brightness uniformity. The newly

introduced RB laser technology from NEC, first shown in the NEC 1700L, takes things further, using red and blue laser diodes, combining the advantages of brilliant colour reproduction with cost efficiency. In RB laser projection a blue laser is used to create the blue and the significant difference from the earlier design is that a red laser is used to create red in the final image. This gives a higher red light output than earlier designs and more intense red tones. Since suitable green laser diodes for this application don’t yet exist, green is made by light from a blue laser hitting a green phosphor wheel which emits green light. NEC claims that the RB laser light source technology goes beyond the cinema colour and brightness output of traditional laser phosphor systems, as well as providing the advantages of reduced operational costs compared to RGB laser projectors. It also allows up to 30,000 hours of almost maintenance-free operation and is currently being tested by a major chain. Jim Slater

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The Rich Mix cinema in Bethnal Green, London, is just one of the sites to receive AAM’s engineering attention recently



The Arts Alliance Media cinema engineering team led by Darren Briggs has been providing complete installations and training for cinemas and integrators all over the world since 2005, supporting the many AAM deployments in the conversion of cinemas to digital projection. AAM has always provided installation of projection and sound systems together with maintenance and support for many independents here in the UK. Darren’s team is focusing even more under the new ‘AA UK Cinema’ banner to continue supporting the UK market from the oldest Series 1 equipment to complete new packages and cinema fitouts.

Recent work includes an upgrade of Screen 1 at London’s Barbican Centre to 4K using a Christie CP4230 4K Projector. The auditorium also has Dolby 3D installed. The whole Barbican centre is sponsored by Christie for front of house and art installation AV solutions. Further north, the cinema at the Chalmers Arbroath, Scotland, recently added a second screen using a Barco DP2K-10S Alchemy system. MPS’s LANsat provided a DCP delivery solution for this two-screen independent cinema The exotically decorated Rich Mix cinema in London’s Bethnal Green recently had a complete audio upgrade installed by the team, using Christie Vive LS3S surrounds and CDA3 amplifiers.


Odeon: AMC to invest ‘hundreds of millions’ There has been much speculation as to what would happen after AMC Entertainment, the US chain owned by the Chinese Dalian Wanda Group, purchased Odeon and UCI Cinemas in 2016 and Nordic Cinema Group in 2017, and the latest announcements look positive. Adam Aron, CEO and president of AMC, said that it is committing hundreds of millions of pounds to make the moviegoing experience better in their European cinemas. He said the company is aware that some Odeon theatres are tired, but under AMC ownership those are to be transformed into moviegoing palaces. He said “What Odeon as a brand will stand for 36 months from now in the UK is going to be immensely different than what Odeon stood for as a brand on the day before AMC purchased it.” He also announced that IMAX has signed a deal with AMC that will see 25 new IMAX theatres added to Odeon and Nordic Cinema Group venues in Europe.

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ANNOUNCING WIDESCREEN WEEKEND 2017 Widescreen Weekend takes place at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford from 12-15 October welcoming visitors from around the world to celebrate large format film technology. It features a screening of the world’s only remaining Cinerama print of The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm (1962) in the Museum’s Pictureville cinema — the only public venue outside the US capable of showing original three-strip Cinerama films. The event also welcomes acclaimed film historian and filmmaker Kevin Brownlow, who will discuss his restoration of Abel Gance’s 1927 silent masterpiece Napoléon. Find out more at www.scienceand

MEMORIES OF WEMBLEY PARK STUDIOS In our September 2016 issue we asked for readers to help with archive material or pictures relating to the near-100 year history of film and television production that took place at the Wembley Park Studios, also known as London Weekend Television, Associated Rediffusion, Limehouse, Lee International, and latterly Fountain Studios. A great new website has been created to display publicly much of the archive material that has been collected, together with a brilliant feature-length documentary preserving the site’s history for generations to come. Much of the archive was donated to the British Film Institute. Do have a look at http:// and watch the fascinating movie That’s a Wrap - The Story of Wembley Park Studios, which contains a mass of historic footage from TV and film, at com/watch?v=w8Gzgp3peY& JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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s at t ar ar ye e he e ry th th st of du in

The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals





March 2017

CT Th e po so w lut er io yo ns ur th bu at si let ne P ss oS

Laser tomatoes The future, now

Driving change

The science behind what we see… And how we project it on the big screen

Does the technological arms race need to be kept in check in our cinemas?

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CINEMA TECHNOLOGY ISSN 0955-2251 - is published quarterly by Motion Picture Solutions Limited on behalf of the IMIS.

The print edition is mailed to members of the IMIS and is distributed to virtually every cinema in the UK and many more in Europe and worldwide. Printed in the UK by The Magazine Printing Company using only paper from FSC/PEFC suppliers. Cinema Technology Magazine online is an interactive version of the print edition allowing free access and updated news links to the latest in the cinema industry. Views expressed in Cinema Technology are not necessarily the views of the Society.


inemacon saw the launch of Jack Roe’s new flagship product, internetticketing. com. “It’s a hybrid” explains Development Manager, Ben Saunders, “It provides the best of both worlds. Customers have the reliability and functionality of a dedicated server at each cinema but with the added flexibility of cloud access and centralised consolidated reporting. In addition we can provide live database replication online so that in the event of a cinema having a total and irrecoverable failure (which has never happened, but could in the event of a fire) then we have a complete database back-up right to the moment of the disaster.” The Development team at Jack Roe

T: +44 (0) 1980 610544 E: ADVERTISING AND PRODUCTION: BOB CAVANAGH Caixa Postal 2011, Vale da Telha, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal T: +351 282 997 050 M: +351 962 415 172 E: ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID W: E:

SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed free to IMIS Members. For subscription details — or e-mail

A peek at the theatres of the future to celebrate 30 years of Cinema Technology

Vol 30, No1 produced in partnership with

22/02/2017 10:49


identified that one of the problems with today’s ticketing systems is that the most powerful and advanced systems were server-based and that the newer cloud basic ones are too basic for many cinemas. So a hybrid was created, with cloud-access to customers’ server-based systems. It offers new ways to view and analyse data — even cinemas who installed 20 years ago can have full access via

FOR MORE DETAILS, EMAIL SALES@JACK-ROE.CO.UK f you were to pick up the phone to an Independent Cinema in the UK and ask them which Box Office System they were using, there’s a good chance they would say “Oscar”, or “Savoy”. Savoy Systems provides more than 100 of the UK’s leading independent venues with a box office system called Oscar, and of those 100+ venues, just over 50 are independent cinemas. As a company, Savoy spends time working with customers and continuously develops its ticketing system, Oscar. Much


MANAGING EDITOR: JIM SLATER 17 Winterslow Road, Porton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK


Following the comprehensive look at ticketing in the March issue, we received a couple of extra inputs, allowing us to bring the situation right up to date

Richard Mitchell (Chairman), Mike Bradbury, Roland Brown, Bryan Cook, Michael Denner, Kiril Enikov, Richard Huhndorf, Denis Kelly, Peter Knight, Graham Lodge, Adam MacDonald, André Mort, Mark Nice, Dave Norris, Ngozi Okali, Kevin Phelan, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Stephen Rance, Jim Slater, Russell Smith, Simon Tandy, Chris Tostevin, Paul Wilmott, Demir Yavuz.


Th in e t to dus ick mo tr et rr y o ing ow f



of the company’s business comes from recommendations. The Savoy Systems began in 2005 with an idea to fill a gap in the market for an affordable, featurerich box office system for cinemas. The Savoy Cinema in Nottingham became the first cinema to use Oscar. Today, Oscar is a primary player in the UK independent Cinema market, where it simplifies administration. New features such as in-depth Data Analytics tools are built right in, and an usher’s ‘Point of Entry Scan-in’ app for mobile devices allows customers to enter the auditorium quickly and easily.

FOR MORE DETAILS, VISIT WWW.SAVOYSYSTEMS.CO.UK howtime Analytics, provider of data analytics solutions for the cinema industry, will integrate its data platform with major European POS provider This partnership will allow all customers to take advantage of the Showtime Analytics data integration platform and have access to the Showtime suite of products. ticket. international customers will now have the ability to integrate Showtime Analytics first product, Insights, a cloud-based solution which brings data to life through real-time, user-friendly visual analytics via a standard web browser or mobile device. Each Insights dashboard provides a highly interactive view of key areas of business focus including;


events, concessions, distribution analysis, occupancy, retail trends, probability analysis and real-time KPIs. User and role-based security allows cinema owners to ensure only relevant content and data is visible to specific job role and function. Showtime Analytics plans to launch a second product “Engage”, a customer and marketing analytics platform which provides Cinema operators with a fully interactive view of their customer base.


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World Premiere Introducing the OPUS Effortless Glide Premium cinema seating with our innovative sliding design for total relaxation. Worldwide delivery and installation.

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19 - 22 June 2017 BOOTH 217

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Whether the setting is on a truly grand scale in a major metropolis or in a more local, regional setting, the multiplex of tomorrow seems destined to be inextricably linked to both a modern aesthetic and the latest in technological advances. Cinema Technology takes a tour around four brand new cinemas that represent the best-in-class examples of the film palace of the future. With pin-sharp laser projection technology, state-of-the art immersive audio, enticing digitally equipped lobbies, the most luxurious recliner seating and architectural details designed to draw the customer in, the next generation of multiplexes are indicative of a confidence in the industry and the cinema experience itself.

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Showcase Cinema De Lux Southampton


Ten screens, all laser, all Dolby Atmos. Is this the paradigm for cinema’s future? Electronic signage throughout the different areas of the cinema from foyer to bar to corridors, including this fantastic curved overhead display in the main foyer, gives an exciting futuristic feel to the venue. Beaver Group provided digital menu boards, live box office screens, video walls, digital onesheets as well as the video wall/ceiling installation in the main lobby. All the signage screens are from NEC, a superb example of how creative signage can change the face of cinema.

ark Barlow, general manager Showcase Cinemas UK, took Cinema Technology on a tour of the latest UK Showcase cinema as it opened in Southampton — a key part of the newly extended West Quay shopping centre, dining and leisure complex. While this new 10 screen state-of-the-art cinema obviously represents a massive investment — it is the 21st Showcase cinema in the UK — Mark was keen to stress that this is just a part of National Amusements’ overall strategy aimed at bringing the best cinema experience to its customers, and that as well as the brand new Showcase Cinema de Lux in Southampton, the existing cinemas in Peterborough, Coventry and Bluewater will all receive further refurbishment.


Bold technical decisions At a time when laser projection in cinemas is still reasonably new and when other major operators are carrying out tests, but holding back from an all-out investment in the still-to-be-fully-proven technology, it was interesting to see that Showcase had decided to use laser projection for all their screens at this site. In marked contrast, “We won’t be converting to laser projection until I am convinced that every aspect of laser projection is better than the existing xenon technology” was a recent comment from another of the major circuits. Whilst we have seen that the Premiere cinema in Cardiff was probably the first in the UK to go ‘all-laser’, using four NEC laser-phosphor projectors, it really was remarkable to see that all 10 screens of the new Showcase use laser projection (Barco), and that six of them use top-of-the-range 4K resolution 6P RGB laser projectors, providing the brightest and sharpest of images that are available anywhere, with


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unrivalled light levels for 2D and 3D. As one who has never been comfortable to accept the current ‘norm’ of around 4ftL brightness for 3D images (I like my pictures bright), I was delighted to learn that these projectors are capable of delivering 3D through RealD XL polarisers with light levels of at least 10ftL through the glasses. But this can only work if properly graded and mastered 3D DCPs are made available — you can’t just increase the brightness from a standard 3D DCP without producing all sorts of unwanted visual horrors.

Flexible and future proof The six RGB laser projectors use the Barco ICMP module which combines the functionalities of an Integrated Cinema Processor and media server into one single board, including on-board storage, providing a simple and reliable system with multiple alternative content inputs. The arrangement is designed to be future-proof and when used with a 4K Barco projector can provide 4K 2D at 60fps as well as 4K 3D images, and can support all standard and 2K 3D HFR DCI movies.

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300 1

The laser illumination unit promises 30,000-hours at constant brightness plus savings of up to 50% on the electricity bill.

The 300-seat Screen 6 auditorium features a 64.5 ft wide screen and is the South’s biggest screen

Cost-effective laser projection

Atmos all around

The remaining four screens use Barco 2K laser-phosphor technology, Screens 1 and 8 using the DP2K-20CLP projectors and Screens 4 and 10 the slightly lower powered DP2K-15CLP models. The laser illumination unit is internal to the main projector head and the cooling unit ‘piggy-backs’ on top, promising 30,000-hours at constant brightness with typical usage conditions, as well as savings of up to 50% on the electricity bill. Each projector has been carefully chosen to provide the best-possible images for its auditorium, whilst keeping the costings as reasonable as possible, although I have to say that it appears to me that almost no expense has been spared as far as projection equipment is concerned. Doremi servers are used with these projectors.

In another remarkable ‘first’, this is the only UK cinema to offer Dolby Atmos sound in all 10 of its screens — interesting not only for the technology involved, but for the obvious commitment to this wonderful immersive sound system, which will surely have implications for other new-build multiplexes in the years to come — as well as encouraging film companies to make more movie titles available with Atmos. A fascinating ‘gimmick’ to demonstrate to Showcase customers just what the Dolby Atmos sound system can do is that LED lighting has been installed on each individual speaker in the X-Plus auditorium. When demonstrating Atmos/X-Plus trailers there is a special mode in which the lights on each speaker are modulated with the audio being replayed by each speaker at the time!

a treat for the senses Bell Theatre Services have been responsible for fitting out the two spacious projection areas and installing all the kit, and it was good to talk with Steff Laugharne and other BTS team members as they put the finishing touches to the installations before providing us with an excellent demo of just how good the 6P laser images and Dolby Atmos sound can be in the Showcase XPlus Screen 6. This 300-seat auditorium, ‘the biggest screen in the South’, features a giant 64.5ft wide wall-to-wall screen, and it was good to relax in the comfortable electric reclining seats and experience the very best pictures and sound that modern cinema technology can provide.

Event Cinema flexibility Event cinema is expected to be a major part

Showcase Cinema De Lux southampton is the 1st UK cinema to offer Dolby Atmos in all 10 screens

of the Showcase offering, so full satellite download facilities are provided. As well as opera, ballet and theatre performances, Showcase Events include a wide range of other events — I particularly noticed We Are X, a rock and roll ‘documentary’ story about the most successful rock band in Japanese history. To ensure maximum flexibility for event cinema, Showcase has installed a distributed video system, so that an MPS LanSat/Blu-ray/Conference feed can be sent to one, all, or any combination of screens at the touch of a button.

inside The projection areas After so many years of discussing ‘boothless cinemas’, it is always reassuring to come across a completely brand new cinema where the spacious projection areas would make any traditional projectionist jealous. There is certainly plenty of space in the two areas serving the Showcase Southampton’s 10 screens. The photographs show the space devoted to just

The spacious and neatly laid out projection area showing a Barco DP4K 22L 6P RGB laser cinema projector and its ancillary equipment. The large blue unit front right is the uninterruptible power supply with battery backup for the houselights, and the dark blue units on the wall contain the DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) drivers for the houselights.

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one of the Barco DP4K 22L ultra-bright 6P RGB laser cinema projectors and its ancillary equipment. As well as providing high brightness levels, increased contrast ratio and vivid saturated and uniform colours, when used with Barco’s Alchemy Integrated Cinema Media Processor (ICMP), these projectors are capable of

Showcase prides itself on offering cinemagoers the greatest possible experience whilst watching movies. Having carefully researched the latest technical developments, the firm had decided that laser projection and Dolby Atmos sound for all auditoria were the technologies that promised to give customers the best

“FULLY CUSTOMISABLE ELECTRIC RECLINER SEATING IN EVERY SCREEN UNDOUBTEDLY REQUIRED HUGE FINANCIAL INVESTMENT” showing 4K content at 60 frames per second and 3D movies in 4K. All 10 screens have been fitted into the area available and are served from two projection areas on different levels of the building. With Dolby Atmos sound for all the screens, it was no surprise to find racks of Crown amplifiers sitting alongside each projector. The amplifiers are all 2 channel. I asked why 4 channel or more amps hadn’t been used, since I am seeing these in more and more new-builds, where they save rack space. It was explained that since there is no shortage of space in the Southampton projection areas and four or more channel amps are currently more expensive, it wouldn’t make economic sense compared with 2 channels currently — these tend to be used only where space is at a premium.

Talking with the boss When I asked Mark Barlow how they had come to make such far-reaching technical decisions and investments he said that


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possible experience. These technologies, together with the best in screen technologies and fully customisable electric recliner seating installed in every screen undoubtedly required a huge financial investment, and Mark said that this will be repeated in the other four Cinema De Lux locations in the Showcase stable. Key parts of the Showcase experience are the luxurious VIP gallery and bar hospitality areas, and it was fascinating to see how much trouble had been taken to make these cosy and comfortable, places where you really would want to meet your friends for a drink and a talk before and after a cinema performance. Ticket prices start at £10.95 for a peak-time adult ticket with VIP tickets from £15.95. If you go for a basic ticket they will try and upsell various options, including a superbly comfortable reclining seat. I must say, however, that the standard seating was very comfortable with ample leg room for someone to pass in front.

Left to right: One of the compact Barco laser phosphor projectors with the cooling unit piggybacked on top; public spaces are a major draw; Atmos processors and Crown amps fill the racks

Mark said that Showcase is committed to leading innovation in the industry, and Showcase Cinema de Lux Southampton is the first cinema of its kind, offering the latest and best in technology, comfort and design. Southampton will be the model for Showcase cinemas of the future. It was intriguing to see the fruits of what must have been a major investment for Showcase (‘Multi-millions’ said the local press!) and to be given an insight into the company’s thinking when it comes to installing the latest in projection and sound equipment. As other companies are currently adopting a more cautious approach to laser projection technology, it will be telling to see just how much Showcase benefits from its ‘first mover advantage’ in terms of increased attendances at this new generation of hi-tech cinema multiplexes. A modern monument to the pinnacle of presentation — customers are in for a treat here

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18/05/2017 8/5/17 15:36 9:17



New Odeon Bournemouth at BH2


A long time in the planning, the new Odeon in Bournemouth is a flagship venue

check back through more than a decade of Cinema Technology magazines will uncover at least three major plans to replace Bournemouth’s Westover Road Odeon, which originally opened in 1929 as the Regent, a 2,300-seat Renaissance/Italianate-style auditorium with elaborate plasterwork and giant painted wall panels. All these renewal plans eventually came to nothing, so I was delighted when building actually began on a new site, the BH2 Leisure Complex. CT has carried a few photographs of the building progress over the past couple of years. It is great to be able to report that the new 10-screen Odeon flagship cinema officially opened on 9th February. I was privileged to be allowed to have a look around just after the technical work was completed, and it was obvious that general manager Richard Rowe was delighted to be in charge of this special cinema, which the company says has been built with all the latest facilities to keep it state-of-the-art for decades to come.




Ex-Cinema Technology Committee member Paul Schofield acted as consultant to Odeon in audio and projection on this project, and he told me that all the technical facilities really are top notch. As usual these days, the cinema has been built as part of a complex that includes perhaps 20 restaurants and there is even a casino. There is a spacious foyer area as you enter, with escalators leading to the upper foyer, bar, and screen entrances on the floor above. There are masses of electronic poster screens that add to the air of excitement as you approach. There is no ‘box-office’ or ticket booths — today’s 21st Century customers are expected to have booked online in advance and can print out their tickets from a bank of machines. Alternatively, you can, of course, buy tickets from the many concession stands.

ten screens: compact to spacious The ten screens vary from a compact 50 seats to a spacious 334, all with some accessible wheelchair places. Luxurious seating is a major part of the customer

Built at the heart of the BH2 Leisure Complex, this is Odeon’s flagship cinema for the future

offering at the site, with all screens offering premier seating, and eight of the 10 having luxurious reclining seats. Ferco electric recliners are used, with Figueras’ rocker seats and their premier fixed seats. A walk around the various auditoria shows that each houses the largest screen sensibly possible — impressive enough to make you feel you have come to see something special, without being visually overwhelming.

iSense: the big one The flagship is Screen 10, one of Odeon’s iSense Premium Large Format showpieces,

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Screen 10 is one of Odeon’s iSense Premium Large Format screens measuring 16.9m x 7.19m

The BH2 Leisure Centre is home to more than 20 restuarants and even a casino

The BH2 Odeon in Bournemouth replaces the Regent on Westover Road, which originally opened in 1929

a massive scale. As I have come to expect with 4K projection, when you get your head really close to the screen you can see the perforations but not the pixels.

Promoting the technologies

A 10m experiential curved corridor heightens anticipation in the approach to the iSense screen

with a huge screen 16.9m x 7.19m, truly wall to wall and floor to ceiling, and Dolby Atmos sound. Walking towards the iSense screen, you travel along a 10m ‘experiential’ curved corridor (rather like the Dolby Cinema experience) where the walls are illuminated with video scenes from content creation company Amigo, which has collaborated closely with Odeon and Christie to optimise the use of the technology. Four Christie Captiva ultra-short throw laser-phosphor projectors have their images blended together using a Christie Pandora’s Box media sever to create a seamless ultra-high definition, ultra-wide curved screen. The team has created five mood-specific video and audio stage sets that create a ‘sensory wash’. This gets you in the mood and adds to the sense of anticipation for the movie you are about to see. As well as watching the impressive Dolby Atmos trailer, which really highlights what immersive sound can do, I saw some of the Lego Batman movie, bright, sharp and colourful, even in 3D. The iSENSE screen certainly immerses you in the full sensory experience of cinema — on

After an opening speech from the Mayor of Bournemouth, the managing director of Odeon UK and Ireland, Carol Welch, emphasised the nine million pixels of the 4K display (“four times the resolution of a standard screen”) and said that Bournemouth is Odeon UK’s most innovative cinema.

spacious projection areas — how may other projection boxes are wheelchair accessible? At a later date, Odeon engineer Darren Payne, who had been ‘chief’ at the old Odeon ABC cinemas in Bournemouth for some years past, accompanied by Jarek Szczygiel, another one of the old Bournemouth projection team (they won the CTC Projection Team of the Year award in 2009) and now a manager at the new site, gave me a detailed tour of the projection area and explained how everything works. All the projection equipment for the 10 screens is in one large T-shaped area with

“THERE IS NO BOX OFFICE OR TICKET BOOTHS — TODAY’S 21ST CENTURY CUSTOMERS ARE EXPECTED TO HAVE BOOKED ONLINE” The technical areas Accompanied by Nigel Wolland MBE, retired chief of Odeon Leicester Square and Nigel Shore in his powered wheelchair, it was good to be able to take a look at the

three long corridors stretching as far as the eye can see. The table on the following page shows the detailed technical information, and you will see that as well as the Dolby Atmos in

Two long corridors make up the single very spacious projection area serving the 10 screens



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scope width

flat width

































screen TYPE


seating capacity



















































































*dimensions are in metres


Darren Payne with the projection equipment for the iSense screen — a 4K NEC 3240 projector with a 6kW lamp, and the sound racks with the Dolby Atmos processor and stacks of Crown Amplifiers Top: the neat equipment layout is typical of all screens — this is Screen 9’s NEC 2000 projector, with the Dolby 7.1 sound rack equipment at back Bottom: the RealD XL 3D polarising systems fitted to eight of the 10 screens can be switched in and out of the light beam automatically. Controlled from a macro on the projector, the RealD Mover actuator made by Amptown Systems works reliably and without attention.

chosen to provide plenty of margin to give 14fL in 2D even as the lamps age. It is noticeable that all but the two smallest screens are curved, something that Odeon technical manager Mike Bradbury considers essential in order to make the best of 3D, which eight of the screens can show.

Screen 10 (56 channels…!) the other nine screens have Dolby 7.1 surround sound. NEC xenon-powered projectors are used throughout, with lamps from 2kW to 6kW providing more than adequate screen brightness — lamp powers have been

Event Cinema provision



The cinema is fully equipped for all manner of events including the full range of satellite broadcasts. The well-equipped TMS comms room is at the heart of the cinema’s operations, and is where the event cinema

feed is also located. They can feed signals from the Intelsat satellites 905 and 10-02 or from a Blu-ray player from that location (in the foyer concourse) to any of the screens (up to 8 simultaneously) for live content. The new Odeon at Bournemouth is impressive in every way, providing pictures and sound of the highest quality with really comfortable seating. In spite of the nostalgia of the ‘Save The old Odeon’ campaigners, this is a worthy successor to its venerable predecessors and is technically advanced enough to ensure that a visit will be a superb experience for decades ahead.

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Odeon Multicines Sambil Multiplex, Madrid


A technological tour de force in Spain is a melting pot of cinematic milestones

he new Sambil multiplex owned by Odeon Multicines in Madrid sets a new benchmark for Europe with Christie RGB EWD laser projectors and all-Christie audio and projection. Ingevideo and Equipo de Cine recently implemented Spain’s first 4K cinema with Dolby Atmos and Christie Vive Audio in all 12 screens. If there is one thing for which the recently opened Odeon Sambil Dolby Atmos multiplex in Madrid truly stands


The Sambil multiplex can seat 2,000; right, the design makes a feature of the Vive Audio speakers

for the first time. EWD uses a unique mixture of Christie laser modules which reduces the impact of speckle and offers spectacular viewing on silver screens. Luis Millán, owner of Odeon Multicines (a completely separate entity to Odeon/ UCI), started out in the cinema exhibition business back in 1984. Later he set up Equipo de Cine, an integrating company that installed its first multiplex in 2003. The experience he has accrued over the

“THE SAMBIL MULTIPLEX TRULY STANDS OUT FOR THE NUMBER OF TECHNOLOGICAL FIRSTS CLOCKED UP IN ITS 12 SCREENS” out, it is the number of technological firsts clocked up by its 12 screens. It is the first multiplex in Spain with all its screens equipped with 4K projectors – all from Christie — and also the first to include Dolby Atmos and Christie Vive Audio sound in all its theatres, and currently the only multiplex in Spain with more than one laser screen. In this case, Sambil has two screens equipped with laser projection, both with Christie Solaria CP42LH RGB projectors. The list of firsts doesn’t stop there. The two Christie RGB 3DLP laser projectors introduce EWD (Enhanced Wavelength Diversity) technology to Spain


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years through several installations has made him one of the major players in the digitalisation of cinemas in Spain. In 2012, he founded Odeon Multicines, which is now one of the country’s most important chains, totalling 98 screens in the whole of Spain. So it comes as no surprise that Millán dreamt up the idea of Odeon Sambil Dolby Atmos, opened in March, which he claims is Europe’s most advanced multiplex. Located in the Sambil shopping mall, next to Madrid’s main beltway, it can seat 2,000 people over a floor area of 6,000sq m. The two largest theatres in the venue, with 18-metre screens, are equipped with

Christie RGB laser projectors. Each one of these projectors uses eight laser modules to generate 40,000 lumens — since each module can generate up to 5,000 lumens of white light. In addition, the scalability of the platform makes it possible to add, remove, activate or disable up to a dozen modules depending on brightness requirements, meaning it is possible to produce up to 60,000 lumens. The other 10 screens in the multiplex, ranging from 10 to 18 metres, have a combination of Christie CP4220 (22,000 lumens) and Christie CP4230 (34,000

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Odeon Multicines Sambil multiplex is claimed to be Europe’s most advanced, seating 2,000 people over 6,000 sq m

All 12 theatres are equpped with Harkness Clarus XC 170 silver screens and are 3D ready

Odeon Multicines now operates 98 screens in Spain

The 30sq m lobby features a gigantic video wall of eighteen 75-inch LCD screens

lumens) 4K 3DLP Cinema projectors, all coming with Christie IMB, a DCI-compliant totally integrated media block to run the cinema content easily and efficiently.

Not doing things by half If that weren’t enough, it is the largest all-Christie Vive Audio and Dolby Atmos installation in Europe. And, as Chris Connett, EMEA market development director for Christie Vive Audio stresses, it is also the most complex: “A multiplex usually has one or two Dolby Atmos theatres, with the rest of the screens offering 5.1 or 7.1 sound. But this complex has Dolby Atmos and a record number of Vive Audio speakers and amplifiers in all its theatres. This is totally unique and demonstrates the owner’s strong interest in equipping the whole complex with the best cinema sound available on the market.” With a total of 514 speakers, the impressive Vive Audio installation at the site boasts the whole spectrum of Christie LA2, LA3, LA4, LS4S, LS5S, LA3S, LA4S and LA3C models for screen, surround and ceiling, and S218, S215 and S118 subwoofers, as well as 217 CDA2, CDA3, CDA5 and CDA7.5 amplifiers. Luis Millán said that Christie’s line array (LA) speakers provide absolute sound fidelity and produce higher sound pressure

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The cinema is the first in Spain to equip all 12 of its screens with 4K projection, all from Christie

levels without disturbing the viewer because they don’t generate any kind of distortion. They offer uniform coverage across the whole theatre, meaning that spectators can hear even the tiniest details, ensuring a superior immersive sound experience. The cinema has also made an interior design feature of the ‘curve’ of Christie Vive Audio speakers (which functionally direct the sound). Another outstanding feature of the new multiplex is that the 12 theatres are equipped with Harkness Clarus XC 170 silver screens. These are 3D ready, which ensures all 12 screens can project 3D movies, another first in Spain. The multiplex uses GetD’s passive 3D system. All 12 auditoria have premium leather upholstered seats designed specifically for the multiplex by the Spanish company Josper. These high-end seats provide unparalleled comfort. The lobby is another of the multiplex’s distinctive features. Measuring almost 30sq m, its gigantic video wall of eighteen 75-inch LCD screens is proving to another talking point for visitors to the complex.

job working hand-in-hand with Equipo de Cine, the company who looked after the equipment installation. These companies introduced a whole series of technological developments into the site that are still unheard of in most multiplexes. For instance, they installed a Crestron automated control system to run the lights and doors of all 12 theatres. They also integrated dimmer LED lighting in the Vive Audio speakers to underscore the design, lending the theatres a unique cutting-edge touch by changing the colour and intensity of the speaker lights while screening the advertisements. Miguel Ángel Piqueras, director general of Ingevideo said that they enjoyed the challenges presented by the complexity of integrating so many new systems in record time. The end result is a world-standard multiplex where spectators can watch movies with unbeatable image and sound quality. Christie contends that the combination of the EWD RGB laser system, Vive Audio and Dolby Atmos in this complex enables people to rediscover the experience of going to the movies — immersed in the vivid images and clarity of sound, they will be caught up in the story. And that’s a goal for any multiplex of the future. The two largest screens at Odeon Sambil are illuminated by Christie RGB laser projectors

Making it all work together The engineering and integration of the new multiplex was commissioned to the Christie partner Ingevideo, who did an impressive


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Baron’s Quay, Northwich




Peter Davies and David Ellis took a look inside Cheshire’s latest high-tech venue ocated in the heart of Cheshire is the attractive market town of Northwich, renowned for its black-and-white timbered buildings, famed for its rich history with salt and the chemical industry. The town sits at the confluence of the River Dane and the River Weaver. Set against this traditional backdrop is the new futuristic Baron’s Quay development, home to a new Odeon multiscreen site. As my colleague David Ellis and I approached the building, we wondered how just many cinemas can boast that you can park your boat or car nearby. The cinema occupies the first floor of a large black building with vast glazed vistas giving the cinema an aesthetical appeal, and provides moviegoers with a bonus vantage point to enjoy the view of the quayside, and the River Weaver, either from the ground floor Costa Coffee lounge, or the high-ceilinged entrance foyer.


The modern approach Advancing quickly on the escalators to the entrance foyer, you enter another world, with large-scale imagery of space flight on the walls, which is part of Odeon’s present marketing brand. Before you is a large clear open space, glazed floor-to-ceiling, that is more than pleasing to the eye. Supremely ultra-modern, there is plenty of seating and soft furnishing allowing customers to sit and relax and enjoy this unique panoramic view of the quayside. The level and colour ambience of the entrance lighting can be controlled to suit any mood theme. There is no clutter of cardboard publicity cut outs, etc. enabling visitors to appreciate the sleek design of this area. It has a designated ATM area with a concessions counter, which occupies the complete length of the foyer. The standard quad poster frames are no more, having been replaced by pre-programmed screens that display visuals for the movies and cinema information. The continuous swoop of the colourful concession counter is designed to enable the customer to make purchases quickly, with clear views of the merchandise. At the ticket check, discreet monitor screens enable staff to keep a check on the operation, after which one long corridor leads to the screen of your choice. There are five screens in all, providing over 700 seats, with the premium ‘iSense’

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cinema taking pride of place. There is provision for 3D of course. Andy Elvis, the general manager took us into the ‘iSense’ auditorium, which was open for business. Immediately you are hit by the generous dimensions of this giant curved screen, with its bright clear picture, produced by a state-of-the-art NEC 4K digital projector that boasts nearly 9m pixels, four times the resolution of a standard screen. The immersive experience extends with the sound, thanks to the Dolby Atmos system that’s loud — very loud — with incredible clarity, providing lashings of effects information from surrounds and overheads.

Left, the iSense auditorium, powered by an NEC 4K projector; right, a spacious concessions area

Luxurious stadium seating throughout ensures perfect viewing for all and a pleasant colour scheme draws your attention, rightly, towards the screen at all times. Each of the auditoriums has large screens with generous seating capacities, and luxurious stadium seating in colours that complement the carpets and wall coverings. All auditoria have Dolby Fidelio hearing impaired systems. Projection management is overseen, and controlled by Andy and his team. The TMS is conveniently located near the office suite


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The iSense screen’s Atmos immersive sound system provides 42 channels in total

In standard screens, soundtracks go through CP70 processors, with Crown Audio amplification all are 7.1 speakers

The 5 screens provide over 700 seats for its viewers

of rooms. Most of the content now arrives via satellite. However, hard drives that are required to be ingested are done directly on to the TMS in this room, which is shared with other servers necessary for the cinema’s operation. The Odeon Network Operations Centre (NOC) monitors and controls the complete

array and 4642 subwoofers, 4 x ASB6115 surround subwoofers. In all other screens, soundtracks have CP70 processors, again with Crown Audio amplification and all are 7.1. Speakers in the standard auditoria are JBL 4722 throughout, utilising 4641 subwoofers and 9300 type surround speakers. Everything

“IT IS PLEASING TO WITNESS A MAJOR EXHIBITOR WILLING TO INVEST IN A HIGH-TECH BUILD IN A SMALLER TOWN” technical operation, embracing the TMS, projectors and their servers. The satellite servers are also within the TMS rack, making inputting and rehearsals easy to perform. All screens can show event cinema, being able to run a combination of 905 and 10-02 satellite events fed from the TMS. Strikingly the whole technical operation is uncomplicated.

A single Projection area The projection gallery is one unit, where the five projectors purr away in near darkness. There is one NEC 1200 and three NEC2000 projectors. An NEC 3240c projector serves the ‘iSense’ screen. Xenon lamps vary in size between 2kW and 3kW, with a 6kW lamp for the ‘iSense’ projector. In the 3D screens, RealD XL polarisers are shunted in and out of place automatically via commands from the playlists.

is neat and kept minimalist in the projection area, so that the team and engineers have clear access to the equipment quickly.

An investment for the future The Odeon is the anchor in the new and unique Baron’s Quay development. The building commands a prominent position in this still-developing site. The multiplex has filled a much-needed vacuum in the area, since an independently run cinema closed several years ago. It is pleasing to witness a major exhibitor willing to invest in a high-tech build in a smaller town. The modern approach and vision held by the planners of this Odeon will attract visitors from near and far, and has provided the town with a cinema to be proud of.

Atmos/iSense In the iSense screen, the Atmos immersive sound system provides 42 channels in total. Speakers are fed from a bespoke rack fitted with CP850 and Crown DriveCore technology amplifiers. Surround speakers are JBL 7212 AE. Engineered series stage speakers are JBL 4732 5 channel screen


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Top, CP8560 and Crown Drive Core amplifiers Above, the TMS rack monitored by the Odeon NOC Left, three NEC 2000 and one NEC1200 projectors were selected for use in the standard auditoria

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Odeon is now in 14 countries after the acquisition of Scandinavian Nordic Cinema Group

West Europe made up 29.5% of box office in 1995, 28.5% in 2005 and 26.1% in 2010 but falling to 20.2% in 2016 and predicted to be 18.4% in 2020.

1896 Cinématographe moved onto London, New York & Brussels in 1896

30 The first wave of European multiplexes began in the UK about 30 years ago but soon spread to other European markets.

29.5% In 1995, Western Europe made up 29.5% of all worldwide box office revenue, but that figure fell to 20.2% in 2015



Germany had 121,100 cinema admissions in 2016, the third biggest territory after France and the UK in Western Europe

Cinématographe was unveiled in Paris in 1895

100,300 Spain had 100,300 cinema admissions in 2016, but 121, 650 in 2006 — so a steady decline over the past 10 years


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28,000 There are almost 28,000 screens in Western Europe alone

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Le Vieux Continent Cinema’s birthplace is going through a transition. David Hancock tracks Europe’s changing landscape


urope’s largest manufacturers of photographic plates, and inspired by Edison’s Kinetoscope (think VR headset to cinema’s mass medium), Auguste Marie Louis Nicolas and Louis Jean Lumière, spent several years working out a way to create moving images. They came up with the Cinématographe, unveiled to the public on 28 December 1895 in Paris and rolled out to London, Brussels and New York in early 1896. Thus cinema was born, and the Europeans became the world leaders in this new art form until two World Wars changed the demographic nature of the world and with it the balance of power in the movie industry. This is not a history lesson with little purpose other than to entertain and inform. I outline the beginnings to illustrate that when it comes to cinema, Europe is the most mature cinema market there is. However, there are two parts to Europe when it comes to film and cinema, with the Western and

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Eastern areas displaying very different infrastructures, attitudes and dynamics. Assisting the creative process of feature film production is at the heart of European film policy. In Western Europe, there are 7.1 films produced per million head of people compared with 1.4 per million in the East (the US ratio is 2.5 and India is 0.5). This highlights the emphasis on supporting local culture in the West. However, both regions have 0.05 films produced per cinema screen because the East is significantly under-screened compared to the West of Europe: 28.1 screens per million compared to 144.1, the highest in the world. Cinema is a very established medium in the West of Europe, to some extent to its detriment in these times of great change as overturning the established order can be problematic. In the East, the cinema sector is a new one, with (especially) Cinemacity building the first wave of multiplex sites in many countries, making it the leading JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Multiplex Penetration 80 70

% of growth

60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2006

western europe 2016





eastern europe 2016




north america 2016




cent/south america 2016




asia/pacific 2016








operator in this part of the continent where cinema customers see it as a new medium. There are nearly 28,000 screens in the west of Europe, a number that has stayed almost the same since 2006, underlining the mature nature of this part of the world. Compare this with a growth from 5,744 to 8,841 over the same period for the Central/ Eastern part of the continent and it is clear that while the West is larger, the growth rate is much slower. This is confirmed by the growth in admissions per head: they have been static across Western Europe for a decade (2.6 in 2006 and 2.6 in 2016) whereas they have grown from 0.6 in 2006 for Central/Eastern Europe to a provisional 1.5 in 2016. This is a positive, in that some discuss the decline of cinema, but stability can be taken for granted. The first wave of European multiplexes began in the UK some 30 years ago but soon spread to other European markets. Western European multiplex screen growth during the 1990s was high (288% between 1995 and 2005) but it slowed down dramatically after this date (19% between 2006 and 2016) and multiplex penetration growth now is more incremental than fundamental. It currently stands at 63.8% of screens defined as sitting within a multiplex cinema (5 or more screens). This compares with 88.2% in N America, 81.7% in South America and 55.2% in Central/ Eastern Europe. The latter came to modernising the screen base later, after it had come to terms with the fall of the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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Soviet-driven economy and re-structured their economies. The multiplex screen number went from 0 to 1,155 between 1995 and 2005, and 1,452 in 2006 to a provisional 4,882 in 2016. This highlights the idiosyncratic nature of the European market, across the whole of the continent. The older system of single-

there is overproduction within the West of Europe, but if it does exist, this is through a desire to support national culture as well as allowing cinema circuits to grow, innovate and thrive on the back of popular global movies. However stability, while welcome in business planning terms, also means that its global presence is shrinking. West

“THE OLDER SYSTEM OF SINGLE-SCREEN, SMALLER CINEMAS IS STILL IN PLACE IN PARTS OF THE CONTINENT, THRIVING IN SOME” screen, smaller cinemas is still in place in parts of the continent, thriving in some, declining but still existing in others. For the Western markets, a country like France still has a significant number of single screens, either commercial screens or supported by local funding and this is replicated in several other countries. For the East, older cinemas that may have existed in the communist era are declining overall, but as some serve local communities and will be the only screen serving a small community, these will continue to be supported.

Europe’s place in the cinema world Europe is a key part of the global cinema economy. The continent provides some of the largest cinema markets for global content providers, but also supports domestic markets with a system of financial incentives and grants. It is arguable that

Europe made up 29.5% of box office in 1995, 28.5% in 2005 and 26.1% in 2010 but falling to 20.2% in 2016 and predicted to be 18.4% in 2020. Even if overall contribution falls, the continent still contains some of the world’s largest film markets: two Top 5 and three of the Top 8 are European countries. A trend that is taking hold in the more mature markets, both West Europe and North America (this also coincides with higher average incomes) is boutique cinema. The growth section of the UK cinema market sits in this space, with nearly 1,000 new screens forecast to open outside of the major circuits over the next few years, to add to the current 4,200 screens. Having experienced low growth for a decade, this would be extraordinary, and is probably linked to the lower costs of digital cinema as well as the rise in experiential leisure spending. This is an

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Share of screens of leading 5 exhibitors % Average

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43.3 34.4


















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west. europe CENT/East.europe

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area that characterises mature markets rather than emerging ones, which focus on delivering attractive multiplex experiences. As with other parts of the cinema world, Europe is undergoing a process of concentration, although the established markets have taken time to reach this point. In general, the exhibition sector is fragmented with some notable exceptions, such as the UK and Portugal. The share of total screens taken by the leading five exhibitors is a metric that indicates the level of concentration in a country. In Western Europe, it has grown 10 percentage points in the past decade from 37.8% to 47.8%, while in the East the same metric has doubled from 28.8% to 57.9%. This shows the dominance of new multiplex screens in many East European markets, and how the older screen base is falling away. There has, however, been a surge in concentration recently, with a number of European companies now actively seeking to grow this way. Odeon (part of Wanda/ AMC) is now in 14 countries after the acquisition of Nordic Cinema Group, Cinemacity/Cineworld is in eight countries, Kinepolis is in seven, Vue is in six and Gaumont Pathé is in four. This could well be the sign that the established European markets are beginning to respond to the challenges around them. Europe (especially the West) has been less likely to embrace some technology trends sweeping across the world. The

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n. america



appearance of IMAX, PLF, HDR, immersive sound and seating, 4D, multiscreen formats has been well documented (with data often supplied by IHS Markit), but what the numbers show is that Asia and North America are leading the charge. Only 7% of 4D screens are located in Eastern Europe, compared to 61% in Asia-Pacific, and the West fares worse with only 3%. Around 10% of all IMAX screens are in Europe, with North America and China leading the way. Likewise, across the whole premium sector (1H 2016 data), Europe as a whole only makes up 11.3% of all PLF screens globally. Finally, Europe accounts for 18.7% of 3D screens, despite contributing 22.4% of overall screens (admittedly closer than the other measures). There are also signs this is changing. The recent deal between IMAX and Odeon/ Nordic Cinema Group will triple these operators’ IMAX base and suggest a new direction for the AMC subsidiary group. In common with several others, the French exhibitor CGR has also recently launched its own PLF brand, known as ICE which includes Philips LightVibes.

What is the future for Europe? For local producers, the value of their domestic markets is obvious as relatively few European films travel well and widely. Given the major studios’ focus on global tent pole productions, European screens are even more important in retaining the diversity of the cinema sector’s output as

africa/mid east


well as helping to drive the studios’ global growth strategy. The picture painted above is not a uniformly positive one, which as the oldest cinema economy could be expected. However, what does come through is how seriously European countries take their cultural sectors and are willing to support them. Cinema is seen as an indicator of cultural health, and audiences still hold the cinema in high regard. Cinemas are doing their bit by enhancing the cinema environment and the place of cinema in the film consumption chain is secure. Western Europe has the highest box office per screen of all the world’s regions, making it a very valuable market to global producers and distributors. Cinemas have woken up to the changing landscape and are getting on board with the technological innovation that is driving the rest of the world, not to mention the innovations in service, comfort, social media activities and content provision. The consolidation that is taking place aids this transformation, bringing the best of innovation to all cinemas. All in all, parts of Europe may have been slower to embrace the changes taking place in the cinema sector, but the signs are that the continent has understood the challenges that face it and are now actively building the cinemas of the future. David Hancock is Research Director, Film and Cinema at IHSMarkit and the President of European Digital Cinema Forum. JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Patrick von Sychowski reviews CinemaCon 2017: is LED leading the way forward?

Facts & Figures


5m rior to this year’s CinemaCon, there was a fear that industry consolidation coupled with the completion of the digital conversion would see the world’s largest cinema trade show slowly shrink. Having shared this anxiety in a private talk with journalists on the opening day, NATO president John Fithian confirmed that CinemaCon 2017 was the biggest yet — and with some major surprises to boot. The past decade’s certainty of the DCI/SMPTE open standards-based switch to digital cinema, funded by the studios' VPF, has not given way to DCI 2.0, but scores of different proprietary digital initiatives chasing customers and revenue. The industry is not only entering uncharted territory, but it is becoming ever harder to predict or provide a comprehensive overview of all the new technology on offer.


Cinema's LED Party

DirectView or emissive cinema displays were by far the hottest tech topic at CinemaCon 2017. Both Sony and Samsung showcased prototype LED displays for cinema installations; with Sony’s demo being public while Samsung’s off-site demo was invitation-only — and pointedly

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excluded journalists. They have since been joined by a third contender — HSI Immersive with its 3D LED. The terminology is also still in dispute, with Sony’s Oliver Pasch favouring active cinema screen (ACS). Whatever we call these projectionless screens, they were impressive and big. Sony’s CLEDIS (Crystal LED) was a 5m screen comprised of 72 seamlessly combined 40cmx45cm modules into one. The impression was nothing short of spectacular, leaving seasoned observers proclaiming that this was a vision of the future. Footage included Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk in 120fps HDR, some trailers and special footage. The contrast was said to be a millionto-one and the blacks were incredibly rich and detailed. The Samsung unit (which I did not see, but discussed with people who did), is said to be a 16-bit unit, while Sony’s current version was 10-bit. Samsung’s technology is in the process of being tested for DCI compliance (the encryption link to the media unit is the crucial bit) and is said to be commercially available from the end of the year. The price is said to be comparable to an RGB laser projector. Sony does not have a launch date, but wanted to solicit opinions. Samsung's screen operates at 146 footlamberts (ft/L), or 500 candela

The size of the Sony CLEDIS screens in metres — comprimising of 72 40cm x 45cm modules into one

Samsung's screens operate at 146 footlamberts (ft/L)

Cineplace Nova Arcada in Portugal is one of the first installations of NEC'S 4K RGB NC3540LS cinema projector using IPG Photonics’ fibre laser light source.

5000+ IHS estimates 375 RGB laser screens as of the end of 2016 and 5,000+ laser-phosphor screens, with China dominating deployments of both.


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per square meter (cd/m2, or ‘nits’), i.e. 10x the luminance on a standard cinema theatre screen. Sony’s display was shown at around 1,000 nits (292 ft/L.). The Sony display did not have an optimal sound system, with the problem that no speakers would work behind an LED display. But with Samsung having acquired Harmann International (JBL) for $8bn in 2016, it will no doubt have a solution using directional sound from the screen's periphery. If Xenon-based projection was the first wave of digital cinema and laser the the second (replacement) cycle, then surely LED will be the third. Not least as the price will fall given that it is based on a consumer technology where economies of scale set in. But as IHS Markit and EDCF president David Hancock observed, “Any migration to LED would take a long time for the whole industry, maybe even several decades.”

Update on laser projection

While Xenon-lamp based digital projectors are found in the majority of cinema screens globally, laserilluminated projection is the new normal for replacements and new installations. IHS estimates 375 RGB laser screens as of the end of 2016 and 5,000+ laser-phosphor screens, with China dominating deployments of both. There continues to be innovation on laser, judging from what the 3+1 manufacturers had to show and say.

CINEMACON 2017 Barco

Barco has stopped introducing new Xenon based projectors, though it still makes and supports existing lines, focusing instead on RGB and laser phosphor projectors. Barco has several all-laser multiplexes to its name, as well as the world’s largest screen: Lotte Cinema’s Super Plex G theatre 34-meter screen. Barco’s biggest announcement was the SmartCare program, guaranteeing minimum light output for 10 years on its Smart Laser (i.e. blue phosphor) projectors, to remove uncertainty for customers. In it’s third year of laser, it offers six RGB laser models and nine ‘Smart Lasers’.


Coming late to the phosphor-laser game, Christie appears to have withdrawn from competing with Barco and NEC in this space, instead focusing on RGB lasers. In a talk to EDCF members at the AMC Universal City Walk all-RGB multiplex in Los Angeles the week prior to CinemaCon, Christie went so far as to predict that 2017 will be ‘peak phosphor laser’ and that it will ‘vanish’ in three to five years. At the show, Christie showcased the CP4325-RGB direct-coupled Christie Freedom Series RGB laser projector from its Series 3 lineup. The ‘enhanced wavelength diversity’ (EWD) is also dubbed ‘9P’. Christie announced major deployments with Madrid’s Odeon Sambil, including two

32m The NEC 4K RGB NC3540LS can project on screens up to 32m in size.

In U.S. cinemas, the spend on luxury recliners and reduced seat count eclipses other investment

RGBs for two 18m, with eight laser modules pumping out 40,000 lumens. Christie also announced new Xenon lamp solutions, some with Lighting Technologies International (formerly Philips Lighting).


NEC was in Vegas to launch its flagship 4K RGB NC3540LS cinema projector using IPG Photonics’ fibre laser light source. It offers wide colour space (Rec 2020) on screens up to 32m, with 35,000 lumens. Cineplace Nova Arcada in Portugal is one of the first installations of this. The phosphor pioneer also announced the dual-Laser NC1700L, where red and blue lasers were paired with green phosphor for screens up to 17m.

Innovative alternatives

535 Christie has plenty of takers for its Christie Vie speaker solutions — 535 installations globally

Having bided its time, Sony showed off its first prototype 4K RGB laser projector (with HDR, WCG, TCO, HFR, etc.), using unique optics that combined two 4K images through one lens. The main advantage is watching 3D on existing silver screens but without a need for a filter and no, or minimal, speckle, plus cheap eyewear. “Coming soon 2018,” we were told, and more will be revealed at CineEurope. Cinemeccanica gave a private screening of its ‘LUX’ RGB laser light source retrofit solution, as did Power Technology, Inc. for legacy Series 1 and Series 2 DLP projectors.


Images on the new Sony CLEDIS LED screen solution — which was demonstrated at a screen brightness of 292ft/L

SOUND AND VISION With over 3,600 immersive audio installations globally (according to IHS), Dolby Atmos continues to dominate with around 75% market share. Promoted by GDC, DTS:X is starting to make waves with 600 screens either installed or committed, while Barco was muted about AuroMax, with efforts still underway to create open standards that square the circle of object- and channel-based solutions. Christie continues to find takers for its Christie Vive


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speaker solutions (535 global installs), with CinemaCon seeing the launch of Christie Vive Audio LS series and the new Vive Audio SD5 Sigma Delta amplifiers. As a replacement for the 16-channel amp, Dolby Laboratories showed off the Dolby Multichannel Amplifier, available in 24 or 32 channels. Samsung’s Harmann launched the JBL 200 Series screenarray loudspeakers and QSC introduced the Q-SYS Cinema Core 510c processor.

Having previously held demonstrations in Los Angeles, Ymagis’ EclairColor had its first CinemaCon outing to sell US and other exhibitors the benefits of its software-based high dynamic range (HDR) system, using the most recent Sony projectors. An unnamed studio executive said that he was not yet hearing cinemas asking for an EclairColor-flavour of DCPs, but Ymagis is ramping up titles and installations (currently in France, Germany and North Africa). It also launched Sphera, its premium large format (PLF) format based around EclairColor, coupled with Dolby Atmos and auditorium build specification such as ambient lighting. It is hard not to see this as an attempt to try to compete with Dolby Cinema in a wider scale and a lower price point. Meanwhile Dolby Cinema installations keep growing (70 installed, 300 screens committed), led by AMC and Wanda, who are also the largest customers for new installations by IMAX.

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On the PLF front, GDC Technology has thrown its hat into the ring with JetReel, which will use Samsung LED screens for an 8K (!) large screen experience. Just as at CineAsia 2016, GDC was a major presence and sponsor, also showcasing its SR-1000 IMB, NOC 2.0, SmartCinema monitoring software and TMS solutions. Barco brought Wesley Snipes along to promote his new Barco Escape film, though there is a dearth of major studio titles to follow Star Trek Beyond, while CJ-CGV’s ScreenX is reliant on Korean titles like Train to Busan and future Chinese co-productions.

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) was a major draw, with demonstrations by the likes of IMAX (The Mummy: Zero G Experience), Nomadic (location interaction VR) and CJ-CGV (Bike Type rides). It still seems more of a short-form arcade sideshow that complements films rather than replacing them, though visiting the IMAX VR centre in Los Angeles as part of the EDCF LA tour gave a glimpse of applications that seem to attract paying punters. But it is still early days.

The latest seating

In terms of what US chains are spending money on, luxury recliner re-seating that shrinks seat-count but increases attendance and spend is in a league of its own. Recliners are the default in most US cinema openings. AMC has committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the next few years, in the US as well as its newly acquired Odeon, UCI and Nordic Cinema Group cinemas. Motion seating, immersive seating or 4D also continues to be popular, with CJ’s

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Clockwise from top left, Ymagis was among a range of manufacturers to offer a suite of products with confidence; data analytics were a hot topic on the trade show floor; watching the future of cinema — LED screens; GDC had a big presence

4DX, MediaMations MX4D and D-Box, as well as several smaller operators, all showing their latest models that offered enhanced effects — and all having a tie-in VR solution too. 4DX continues to be market leader (45,000 seats in 370 auditoriums), claiming its installations generate 2.5x regular ticket revenue. Its new seat has increased from four to six motions and the company was busy touting several other solutions, including its ScreenX immersive PLF format.

And the screens and content…

On the screen front, RealD’s Ultimate screen is now in 70 auditoriums. Meanwhile, Harkness provided the screen for the Colliseum 1 (an 8.2m x 7.85m Clarus XC 170) and launched its 3D BIM (Building Information Modelling) content library for better design of cinemas. Spectro Screen had a hybrid 2D-3D silver screen , while Severtson Screen launched its new Giant QuickFolded Screen Line. On the content side, Ymagis’ Eclair launched its EclairPlay content platform, releasing first in Europe, while in North America CineConductor is Ymagis's platform for art-house and independent screens. Unique


showed Rosetta, while Compeso launched smartPricing (not to be confused with dynamic ticketing operator SmartPricer). Arts Alliance had a broad suite of software products, looking to win customers where VPFs had expired and TMS tie-ins ended. And, of course, there were lots of analytics discussions from the likes of Showtime Analytics (busy working with China’s Alibaba Pictures), SAP and Movio, whose parent company Vista had a major presence for its many companies (Veezi, Powster and more).


Even with rumblings about shrinking release windows, growth in China coming to a halt and general anxieties about protectionism under Trump, CinemaCon 2017 was a confident show. This was partly because 2016 had not turned out to be the in-between year of box office lull, Q1 2017 had already proven strong and there was a belief in the strength of the studios’ slate looking ahead. For its part, Disney did not even show any trailers, clips or bring stars to the stage. Instead VP of Distribution Dave Hollis ran through the full line-up of Disney Live Action and Animation, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm in a brisk 12 minutes, before screening the whole of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Rumours of cinema’s death are greatly exaggerated. In many ways, after CinemaCon, it looks like it is just getting started. JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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UNLOCKING DATA AND TECHNOLOGY Jim Slater reports on the hugely successful two-day UK Cinema Association Conference 2017

t is rare to attend a conference where every topic is of interest and relevance to all, but the hard work of the UKCA team, its sponsors and contributors, resulted in a packed couple of days of fascinating material, with the ultimate compliment being that many wished it could have gone on for longer. Bearing in mind many of the intended audience were from small and independent cinemas, I had wondered if the ‘techie’ title of the conference, with day one labelled ‘Data Day’ and day two ‘Technology Day’ might have put off some, but many took a couple


Day One — the Data Day

In the terrific BFI IMAX Waterloo auditorium the day opened with superbly presented images and sounds on the massive IMAX screen. The ‘2017 Cinema Sizzle’ showed a wonderful mixture of excerpts from forthcoming films. All day, clips of trailer highlights, sometimes as part of brief sponsor presentations, always showing great pictures and sound, were a credit to the BFI IMAX projection team who also provided seamless changeovers to the presenters slides — amazing to see what these looked like on the huge IMAX screen. After a welcome from UKCA’s Phil Clapp, broadcaster and cinema enthusiast Mark Kermode gave an upbeat keynote address, telling of cinema's roots in fairgrounds and showmanship. His clarion call was that cinema should be a ‘sacred space’ where something magical happens. He spoke of the importance of ‘theatrical presentations’, extolling some of the events put on by one of his favourite venues, the WTW Plaza Cinema, in Truro. He appealed to cinema owners to listen to what audiences want and remember that they are coming to see a performance, so it is essential to greet customers, for ushers to be CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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of days out to discover what new technologies are coming. In Cinema Technology you can often read about massive investments from the cinema giants, but it is important to remember that many of the independent cinema owners and operators who are so vital to the UK cinema industry are investing their own hard-earned money. At a time when new technologies are coming at everincreasing frequency, the ‘small guy’ needs to have unbiased information to support investment decisions. The 2017 UKCA conference provided all the information any cinema owner might need, as well as opportunities for detailed discusions, with networking a real strength of this event.

smiling and helpful, and for pictures and sound to be of the best quality. Daniel Hulme from Satalia, a data science company most of the audience had never heard of, proved to be a complete ‘tour de force’. Daniel is an academic at UCL who developed the commercial company Satalia. Its strapline ‘we use algorithms to solve hard problems’ explains how they get involved in all aspects of data for a range of purposes, including decision making, ‘goal-directed adaptive behaviour’ and the scarysounding ‘superintelligence’ which ‘can outperform humans in every task’! Satalia has been working with Odeon/UCI to understand what their customers value. Daniel explained the methodology of getting data, finding patterns, interpreting them, then using optimisation algorithms to help decision making. This was a brilliant presentation for a cinema conference and led to amazing audience feedback.



Mark Kermode, top, who gave the keynote address and Daniel Hulme, below, who gave an inspiring, surprising talk on data science

of consumers are focused on price. SmartPricer results show that using dynamic ticket pricing can lead to an uplift in revenues of between 5-10%.

Sarah Lewthwaite from Movio (part of Vista group) explained how the company uses marketing data analytics and campaign management software with leading exhibitors, film distributors and studios. Joined by Gabriel Swartland of Picturehouse and Ian Wild of the Showroom cinema, Sheffield, they gave insights into how data can help operators to increase profitability through better marketing, and came up with new ideas about how event cinema marketing can go beyond the tried and tested. Sarah said the industry is ready for a leap forward through better use of data. Christian Kluge from SmartPricer started by asking why the industry doesn’t use dynamic pricing models used so successfully by airlines and hotels. Cinemas tend to vary their prices only in so far as to charge extra for blockbusters and for better seating, and with seat/concession bundles. Use of data analytics and modern ticketing/PoS systems can now enable more flexible pricing systems. He stressed that analytics are only a tool — there will always be some ‘gut factor’ involved in pricing decisions. He discussed pros and cons of some interesting pricing options. Their work had shown that when offering seats

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Facts & Figures After a commercial presentation from Sony's Tim Potter, extolling the virtues of Sony 4K projection systems, and their HDR capabilities, David Hancock of IHS Markit kicked off the day by bringing us up to date with the latest statistics about exhibition:


Releases in the UK last year, including Event Cinema

priced according to demand, most audiences still make a decision based on convenience, but 25% are focused on price. SmartPricer results show that using dynamic ticket pricing can lead to an uplift in revenues of 5-10%. Dimitrios Mitsinikos of Gower Street Analytics explained ways in which customer data can help exhibitors to improve decision-making, showing how predictive analysis can be used to optimise release data. Although he admitted that human skills are more advanced than ever before, machine learning algorithms can not only improve the forecasting of box-office data but also help a cinema operator to determine which screen should carry which movie in order to optimise sales revenue. He ‘did the maths’ to show the thousands of options five movies in five screens can give rise to, and said that results have shown this type of data optimisation can increase revenue by 4-8%. Some audience members noted that distributors place constraints on operators (they must show a film for two weeks, for example) and that it would be hard to factor in the effect of favourable or unfavourable reviews into these predictions. Richie Power from Showtime Analytics took a different approach. ‘We

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love data’ was his opening remark, and he said that although William Goldman (author of Adventures in the Screen Trade) had famously said that nobody in the motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work at the box-office, Netflix had proved him wrong. Cinemas currently don’t have the same in-depth info about customers as Netflix, but there are many sources of data. The Showtime Analytics Insights Tool pulls all this into one place and enables cinemas to see information in many different ways. Graham Spurling, with 40 years' experience running cinemas, said that though he uses ‘gut instinct and pieces of paper’, he had been won over by the new data analysis system. It enables him and his staff to make better decisions, and to compare the performance of any week year by year. They are now able to move films to different screens according to their performance and to understand the fine detail of changes to concession sales components — a change from large Pepsi to large Coke doubled sales, and selling 65-68% of combos online increased revenue per customer. This data allows them to know which are the best-performing staff members for concession sales, and adoption of the system has proved beneficial.

Box office revenue, and PLF showings are increasing in importance, for the UK's top 100 films

The IMAX venue proved a brilliant location for both screenings of material and presentations

The various forms of ‘Experience Cinema’ are expanding around the world.

50% 163,000 cinema screens worldwide, including 87,000 3D (50% in China) & 2,600 Premium Large Format screens

The latest figures for laser projection currently around 5,000 laser phosphor projectors and over 375 RGB are installed

3% Technology is driving a broader range of content... esports, gaming, Virtual Reality, multi-screen,4D... And event cinema now represents around 3% of the box office.




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UKCA CONFERENCE 2017 In the plenary session, Tanya Eastermann of Cinema First was joined by Keith Pullinger (Light Cinemas), Dan Radford (Disney), Eva-Marie MullerStuler (Avarez and Marsal), Daniel Hulme (Satalia) and Peter Waugh (Odeon UK) for fascinating discussions on lessons to be learned from the day. Peter Waugh said that Odeon is on a continuing journey with data. They have changed from being film-centric to customer-centric and are learning that decision-making can only be as good as the underlying data. Keith Pullinger said that they are just beginning to learn how to use data from their customers — the key is to maintain a dialogue with them and to understand better what they need. There were questions about the amount of data and which data you can trust, and a suggestion that too much personalised data could ‘turn-off’ customers. Eva said that there is no evidence that people find use of this data obtrusive and all agreed that if it is relevant and adds value, it will help the business. Questions of trust, privacy and the length of time for which data should be stored (throw away data after two years, when it will have become outdated was one suggestion) exposed differences of opinion, but there was general agreement about the need to build long-term relationships with customers and develop trust. If the cinema exhibitors can make increasing use of the data they amass every day, this will prove immensely valuable to long-term profitability.

Day Two — Technology Day

The conference moved to the IMAX screen at the Cineworld Empire Leicester Square for the second day. Although we saw some wonderful IMAX trailers, the same screen was

also equipped with other projection equipment for the various technical presentations, and, thanks to Chris Tostevin of the Empire and the MPS engineers in the projection room, together with the All Safe and Sound AV company, there were some noticeably slick changeovers between movie clips and slide presentations. During the break delegates were able to move to the adjacent IMPACT screen to see and hear demonstrations of the Dolby Atmos immersive sound system at its all-enveloping best.

High Dynamic Range

Julian Pinn (Julian Pinn Ltd.) provided an in-depth session explaining all about High Dynamic Range images. He had hoped Peter Doyle, colourist on Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and the Hobbit would provide some practical experiences, but Peter had unexpectedly been called to work on his latest project. Julian gave examples of the ratios between the largest and smallest brightness values that a system can provide and compared them with those that the human eye can detect. He showed HDR pictures at different levels, showing how crushing can take place at both white and black extremes, but unfortunately a side-byside comparison of ‘standard contrast’ and ‘HDR’ images was technically too difficult to achieve. A side-by-side simulation would clearly show the small cinema operators in the audience how much better HDR images can be — they are the ones who will have to be convinced. There are differing opinions as to whether or not the screen we were in could be defined as HDR, and this stands to reason when HDR has yet to be defined. Julian suggested the need for clear definitions for Standard


years in the industry for veteran Graham Spurling

Brightness and contrast ratios for Dolby Vision — up to 1,000,000:1 at 31fL, with 14fL 3D, and EclairColor (8000:1 at 30fL 2D).

75% Sound represents 75% of the artistic creativity in his films, according to Danny Boyle

The plenary panel on Day One: Daniel Hulme, Satalia; EvaMarie Muller-Stuler, Alvarez & Marsal; Keith Pullinger, Light Cinemas, Dan Radford, from Walt Disney and Peter Waugh from Odeon

Dynamic Range, Extended Dynamic Range and High Dynamic Range.

Who provides HDR?

Julian gave interesting comparative facts and figures of brightness and contrast ratios for Dolby Vision (up to 1,000,000:1 at 31fL, with 14fL 3D), and EclairColor (8000:1 at 30fL 2D). [See page 56]. IMAX never give such figures of course. Special DCPs are required for all these. It was interesting to see some comparisons with home entertainment systems that showed as one example the UltraHD Premium Standard 2 that specifies 158 fL (540 nits) with contrast ratios of tens of thousands to 1 for OLED displays, although these ratios are unlikely to be achieved in a home environment. Julian stressed the difficulties in quoting accurate figures for contrast ratios — you can’t always believe what the different manufacturers claim. He gave the best sequential contrast figures he could get after checking with each vendor and mentioned that these really need to be considered along with intra-frame contrast figures, which are impossible to get from vendors. His advice was to go and experience each vendor’s offering so that they could put some context around these ratios — they are only indicators of quality and not the total qualifier. HDR programming is now available to stream and download from Amazon Prime, Netflix and Vudu, but how is HDR really achieved? Through more light, enhanced pixels, and a controlled viewing environment with specially selected screens. More pixels will always be more expensive, enhanced pixels require only more care. There was a good deal of audience response, with queries about whether HDR movies would be interoperable (we are not going to stop supporting SDR said a distributor) and a cinema operator saying that the situation is confusing with so many different types of HDR — how do you ‘sell’ the concept? Oliver Pasch of Sony said that HDR has to be affordable, and that HDR is a natural fit with 4K. Cinematographer Nic Knowland said the important thing is for all involved in HDR to care about the quality of the images.

Immersive Sound

Laurence Claydon of Motion Picture Solutions provided a really practical assessment of the various immersive sound systems available, aiming to help cinema owners understand the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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differences between the competing systems in order to help their decision making when it comes to investing in sound equipment. His overview started with a reminder that surround sound in the form of Dolby 5.1 has been around for about 40 years, since Superman appeared in 1978, and he said that a good 5.1/7.1 production can truly provide an immersive experience. His survey of immersive sound systems included the NHK 22.2 system that accompanies their 8K TV broadcasts, and he explained the practical reasons why it makes sense for cinema sound systems to find other options than merely to keep on increasing the numbers of sound channels. Laurence explained the differences between multi-track and object-based systems, describing the features of Barco Auro (not object-based), Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and the IMAX 12-channel system that was installed in the room. He made the important point that a benefit of all the systems is that they are accompanied by ‘best practice’ in the installation of excellent sound processors, amplifiers and speakers, so that even 5.1 and 7.1 movies sound better through the new systems. Installation-wise, Laurence showed an interesting series of slides demonstrating how the Universal screening room in London had been retro-fitted with a Dolby Atmos system. The process was complex, but for a new-build it would be more straightforward and less expensive.


The technical plenary panel: Laurence Claydon, MPS; Nic Knowland BSC; James Collington, Savoy Cinemas; Julian Pinn; Andrew Turner, Fox and Mike Bradbury, from Odeon/UCI

treated to some wonderful clips from Everest in the IMAX immersive format.

The Plenary Session

David Hancock brought together all the speakers plus James Collington from the independent Savoy Cinemas and Andrew Turner from 20th Century Fox to tease out some conclusions. This turned into a discussion that could have gone all day! Points to ponder from the day included: l Do cinemagoers care about the technology? l Do we need innovation? Can we be sure that an exhibitor isn’t investing in obsolescent technology? l Standards are vital. You can’t have a free for all with new technologies or cinemagoers and cinema owners will

suffer. F1 racing is a good example — lots of rules, but you still get innovation. l What are the risks in investing in new technologies? How can we assist the cinema operator to make the right choices? l We certainly need to provide a better experience. We want to please as many people as possible - aim high. l It is vital to convey the director’s creative intent. l The studios’ job is to sell the content — the cinemas’ job is to sell the experience. So much packed into such a short time with so much feedback from the audience made this a two-day conference to remember. I can only look forward to the next one!

The creative side

Glen Freemantle, award-winning sound designer and sound editor (T2 Trainspotting, Everest, Gravity) provided an insight into how immersive sound systems are used as part of the creative process of movie-making, noting that Danny Boyle had said that sound represents 75% of the creative stuff in his movies. He explained the sometimes complex processes involved, saying that for Everest the sound was mixed in three separate formats, starting with Atmos, then doing an IMAX 12-channel mix in Canada, followed by an Auro mix in Belgium. All the sounds for were redone during the production process — the audience didn’t hear sounds shot when the filming took place. Glen obviously loves creating immersive soundtracks, and said that he would love to do every film with immersive sound — you are always going to gain and you never lose anything! We were

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LASER PROJECTION Mike Bradbury from Odeon/UCI provided a brilliant overview of all aspects of laser projection — no mean feat with so much technical and artistic ground to cover. He explained why it is currently of interest, describing the limitations of xenon regarding both light fall-off with time and the difficulty in turning brightness levels up and down. Laser light sources can overcome these disadvantages. He explained the different types of laser projection available — 6P bespoke, 6P RGB, 3P RGB, two types of laser phosphor, giving pros and cons of each, including costs and energy usage. He explained the advantages laser projection can provide for 3D, stressing that it isn’t a case of getting more light — bad 3D is bad 3D and it is important to have projectors set to project the light levels that the DCP has been mastered for. Using a greater light level can result in ‘washed-out’ images as well as

increased ghosting. Work with creatives, such as cinematographer Nic Knowland BSC, who was on hand to deal with such issues, had shown that laser projectors can provide images subtly different in colour from xenon projectors. These differences need to be resolved before laser projection becomes universal. Mike also raised the issue of how extraneous lighting from exit and safety lighting can reduce the effective contrast of on-screen images, an issue that will be more important as higher dynamic range images become available. Speckle is an undesirable artefact of laser projection (hardly noticeable from laser-phosphor) that Mike feels needs to be eliminated. He felt it needs to be dealt with in-projector, and that solutions such as screen-shaking aren’t viable for the industry as a whole. Finally, Mike brought us up to date with laser safety. In Europe (but not the US) all cinema laser projectors are now regarded as ‘Class-1’ meaning they are safe to use in cinemas, but ‘risk zones’ keeping audiences out of the projection beam must be observed.


16/05/2017 13:56

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a beacon of movie magic Lucy Dougherty, from CenturyLink EMEA, says that streaming has a bright future in cinemas


ata from the British Film Institute (BFI) shows that a record £1.6bn was spent on film production in the UK last year, a 13 percent rise year-on-year. The economic and social implications for such production rates are profound, creating jobs and opening up careers for a whole generation seeking to enter the creative industries. Generous tax incentives have meant major US-funded films like Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant, and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk have been made in the UK. Huge box office successes like Rogue One, Bridget Jones’s Baby and Fantastic Beasts were all shot here. As consumers, we are hungrier than ever for entertainment content. On-demand is our currency — we want it all, now, on our own terms. The streaming business is booming. Earlier this year, Deloitte forecasted the number of video-on-demand viewers to reach 209 million by 2021, up from 181 million in 2015 — highlighting that we are watching more and more content when and where we prefer. Yet the rise of online streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix pose a real threat to Hollywood, and by association the cinema industry. Will consumers start to choose binge-viewing on the laptop in the comfort of their own home, instead of spending extra money and travel costs to view a single movie in their local cinema complex? Cinema chains need to work harder to win over customers. It’s not


of the UK population visit the cinema at least once a year

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a matter of upgrading the air conditioning, replacing the seating or improving the quality of the popcorn; the necessary changes must be fundamental, and framed around improving customer experiences to encourage loyalty and return visits.

Changing the methods To win over customers, cinemas need to re-imagine how they bring entertainment to consumers. One way to do this is to shift to a streaming format to reduce time spent physically transferring high-security film reels. Even bespoke arthouse cinemas like Curzon offer on-demand services for specialist movies, giving viewers access to favourite films at home. For filmmakers, the associated risks of moving to a streaming format are a concern. A single copy of a newly released film can spread like wildfire online, heavily denting the commercial success of major movies.

Overcoming piracy problems So how can technology help protect critical IP and keep it beyond the reach of movie pirates? The answer lies in highspecification encryption technologies, delivered through secure cloud computing to ensure streaming remains completely unbreakable and out of reach of hackers. With the right back-office infrastructure in place, the cinema and film industry can embrace the benefits of secure streaming of critical content. This also opens up the


Average price of a typical UK cinema ticket


opportunity of using cinemas for streaming of major TV shows as well as live sporting and public events. Cinemas can also use this infrastructure to obtain and analyse information about visitor trends and develop bespoke loyalty schemes. The data can be used for repeat film screenings or tailored movie nights, with selected films based around visitor preferences, identified through online voting. The introduction of such technology puts the power of personalisation in the hands of cinemagoers, and by implication helps increase revenue streams through frequency of visits.

Improving the customer experience User experiences can be improved by more investment in mobile applications to offer discounts, deals and access to film reviews. Food, drink and merchandise can also be promoted by using data analytics to map offers to consumer preferences. In the cinema itself, so much more can be done to bring these buildings to life, by investing in connectivity and using technology to drive sales, engagement and enjoyment. On-demand viewing is here to stay, and managed correctly can breathe new life into the cinema industry. But this can only be achieved with the right technology infrastructure in place to enable secure streaming. So let’s equip cinemas with the tools they need to survive and thrive.

The UK is the only major European film territory to digitise without public funding


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BFI Southbank: the nation’s repertory Projecting films at BFI Southbank is a mammoth task — Mark Trompeteler meets head of technical services, Dominic Simmons, to see how it’s done n the heart of London, attached to the side of Waterloo Bridge, on the South Bank of the River Thames, is a piece of cinema signage that dates back to The Festival of Britain. In post-war austerity, Britain’s National Film Theatre was initially opened in a temporary building (the Telekinema) at a location close to this sign in 1951, and then it moved to its present location in 1957, replacing the Thameside restaurant on the site. Now known, since 2007, as BFI Southbank, this has become a thriving and essential destination for anyone who loves cinema and is visiting London or Britain. It is the première repertory cinema in the UK featuring seasons of contemporary, classic, independent and non-English language films and a host of film festivals. Open to the general public, it also operates a membership scheme. BFI Southbank is one of the few remaining cinemas regularly to show film on film, in the format the filmmaker originally intended. It is operated by the BFI (British Film Institute), which is also responsible for the country’s national film and television archive, one of the largest film archives in the world. With its four cinema screens, its host of film festivals, special events, growing private hire of auditoria, the technical services operation at BFI Southbank must be one of the most challenging in the UK. All in a day’s work, the team might be called



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upon to undertake several private hire functions or events, as well as undertake the projection of movies that might be anything from a highly flammable nitrate print dating from the silent era, to a 16mm sixties “underground” movie, or a 70mm film presentation as well as dealing with DCPs in 2D or 3D. CT readers may remember recently retired Richard Boyd when he was Head of Technical Services and the pioneering conferences in Digital Cinema hosted at the venue. Dominic Simmons is now Head of Technical Services at BFI Southbank and I was delighted to spend time with him to catch up on what happens there today.

screens and four houses in the fourth, making a total of 68 public screenings a week on average with about 15-20% of those houses being non-standard screenings, a mix of shorts programmes, clip shows, and on-stage discussions. The rest of the time is devoted to corporate hire — an increasing source of revenue — education events for schools and content preparation and rehearsal. Corporate hire often entails early starts and overnight get-ins, so we have a lot of time to cover. MT: How is the technical services team made up? How many are there in the team, and in what kind of posts?

“WE ARE UNUSUAL IN THAT WE STILL HAVE A LARGE TEAM OF TECHICIANS… ABOUT 40% OF OUR SCREENINGS ARE FROM FILM” Mark Trompeteler (MT): Dominic I wonder if you could describe the kind of hours you and the team have to cover. For instance are you showing films seven days per week morning, afternoon and evening? DOMINIC SIMMONS (DS): On a standard work day the team covers hours from 9am to 11pm. Generally we only have one afternoon matinee on weekdays and two houses per screen in the evening. At weekends we run three houses in three

DS: We are unusual for a cinema in that we still have a large team of technicians. This is due to the number of events that we cover and the still considerable amount of analogue film that we screen — approximately 40% of our screenings last year. Apart from me there is the technical manager, Chris Clarke, five shift supervisors, four for projection and one for content, and 16 technicians. All of the supervisors are full-time but most of the technicians are part-time with 10

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The biggest of BFI’s three screens, National Film Theatre Screen 1 is an imposing auditorium with 450 seats and a 9.2m x 3.8m screen

permanent and seven casual employees. All our techs have to be multi-skilled operators and run analogue film and digital screenings, and live events. It’s a testing place to work with a large range of equipment and such a varied programme. The content team could be considered specialist in that they are responsible for the material as it enters the building and creating DCPs for events and screenings, rather than operating on shows. We also have Orianne Bastar, our co-ordinator, who amongst many other things, looks after the very complex rota. MT: You must have quite a challenging workflow and work management system to maintain and operate. How do films and drives enter the premises? How are they recorded, checked and prepared, rehearsed and tracked through to projection, repeat showing and then returned? DS: We have more than 1,500 titles coming through the building each year. As you say, this does require a huge amount of processing and co-ordination. Much of the initial administrative work for this is undertaken by the cinema and events team,

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rather than the technical team. They are responsible for sourcing and booking digital and analogue prints and the physical print transport. Our team takes over when the content arrives at the building. All material into the building is logged on a database by the Content team. So both DCPs on physical hard drives and networked DCPs are recorded. As with most cinemas, everything is ingested on to our TMS or NAS boxes, and networked around the building to the screens. We have around 80TB of available storage if needed and we do get pretty close to needing this much during the BFI London Film Festival. Again, as with most cinemas, we run pretty much all of our DCP content on automated playlists so, once ingested, the techs build and rehearse all titles. This is the point when ratios, volumes, subtitles etc are checked and saved on the playlist for screening. All analogue prints are also recorded on the database on arrival, but we still use a pretty manual process to track film prints. When they arrive they are briefly checked by the Content Team to ensure that it’s the correct version or title and that it has the

correct number of reels, then they are noted in a log book under the correct screen and date. The technicians then take the prints to the projection boxes for a more thorough examination during makeup. We have a strict makeup procedure, all titles are run through fingers on flatbed rewind benches, every join and torn perf is checked and repairs undertaken where necessary, condition reports are produced and the print is made up on reels for screening. We often screen archive prints so we regularly run on single reels with multiple changeovers. Finding screenable prints is becoming harder and the cinema and technical teams undertake a lot of research. We often check multiple prints in advance of a season to ensure that we have the best copy available. In terms of keeping track of titles, the weekly schedule is king — this provides all information needed on screening times and screens, repeat screenings, film length and year and date of return. It’s produced via the cinema team’s database, but we use a paper print out. It’s also used for notes and screening updates. Ultimately we will do this electronically, but at the moment the analogue version works for us. JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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(Top) the digital cinema booth in NFT1 and (below) the customised Kinoton FP75E projector that serves the same screen

BFI SOUTHBANK SCREENS AND EQUIPMENT All screens at BFI Southbank have mini-perf matt white screen fabric. The vast majority of screenings are 2D and Technical Services don’t want to compromise image quality.


NFT1: THE PREMIÈRE SCREEN 450 seats with 9.2m x 3.8m Screen

D-CINEMA: Christie CP4230 4K (Dolby 3D ) with Doremi ShowVault, & HFR and 4K capable. BACKUP: Christie CP2000S 2K also with Doremi. All high profile events are run with main and backup. ( Multi format video shows use a Barco ImageProII matrix switcher to output a Mac Pro, a Blackmagic Hyperdeck StudioPro, Oppo multi-region Blu-ray, Icecrypt S6000 for satellite screenings and a DVD player. CineIPM and Crestron system for running SD tape shows — Digibeta tape deck ) MT: Keeping track of the myriad aspect ratios, and projecting them correctly in front of a discerning audience, across four different auditoria, must be challenging? There are times when the Director, Cinematographer or members of the crew are in the audience… DS: We have comprehensive notes on ratios in the makeup procedure document, so there shouldn’t be too many mistakes in choice of ratio, but ultimately it comes down to the experience of the technicians and we have a wealth of good knowledge in the team. There are areas of confusion of course; the mid-1950s period when widescreen was first brought to cinemas can throw up some conundrums, especially when credits were shot for both academy and widescreen. UK titles in particular being shot on both 1.66 and 1.85 and occasionally 1.75 can catch you out. Often if there is no perfect reliable information, it comes down to sticking it on screen and making a judgement based on what looks best. This is pretty rare though and I think we have a good record of getting it right. When all the correct information such as ratios and sound formats have been determined, detailed screening notes are written on leaders for repeat screenings. In the next issue: running festivals at BFI CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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ANALOGUE FILM: 2 x Kinoton FP75E 35/70mm projectors - adapted to run with white light readers, six track mag and capable of screening nitrate, as well as the standard reverse scan red laser, Dolby SRD and DTS (35mm and 70mm). 2x FP16 16mm projectors, ( occasionally running 16mm on changeovers ). Magnatech sound follower for 35 and 16mm separate magnetic sound (- rarely used in NFT1 but reasonably regularly in NFT2 ) AUDIO: Panastereo CSP1200 Cinema Sound processor, with a CSP4000 for 70mm. Coupled with Yamaha DME64N mixing engine for EQ. Luis Wassman Speakers.

and Digibeta and CineIPM to switch formats. (Will change shortly, with another ImageProII to bring it into line with NFT1 and 3. ) ANALOGUE FILM: 2 x 35mm Cinemeccanica Vic 8s. NFT2 is setup for nitrate too. 2x Phillips FP16s and a Magnatech sound follower. Basic 8 channel lighting setup. JBL Speakers. Separate PA installed. NFT3 134 seats with 8.2m x 3.5m Screen & JBL Speakers.


D-CINEMA: Christie CP4230 and ShowVault for 4K and HFR. Also ImagePROII installed for Mac, Hyperdeck, Blu-ray, DVD and Digibeta playback. ANALOGUE FILM: 2x Cinemeccanica Vic 8s for dual 35/70mm. No nitrate capability but can screen 35mm interlock 3D. THE STUDIO: 38 seats with 7m x 3m Screen & JBL Speakers. DIGITAL ONLY: Christie CP2000S, a Doremi DCP2000 and same kind of video formats as the other boxes. Rarely staffed for screenings.

SOUND BOOTH: 32 channel DMX lighting system, with a mixture of LED fixtures and tungsten lamps. Analogue Venice Midas mixing desk connected to a separate PA for onstage interviews. Separate PA installed.


NFT2 125 seats with 7m x 3.6m Screen

D-CINEMA: 2K Christie CP2000Z and a Doremi DCP2000, set up more pared down, but includes a Mac, Hyperdeck, Blu-ray player, DVD player

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n e w


Upgrading to laser projection


T’s Managing Editor pulled my leg a few weeks ago over a statement in one of our recent Illumina advertisements — ‘email us today and never buy a bulb again!’ These are unashamedly the words of a marketing man rather than an engineer, but as an engineer who has spent a working lifetime with lasers I really do believe the time has come when converting your xenon lamp projector to use a laser light source has become a realistic prospect, both technically and financially.

The time is right In 2017, RGB laser projection really has “come of age”. According to IHS, over 175 laser-illuminated projectors are installed globally. Buying a new projector is not the

Walter Burgess of Power Technology explains how third-party laser projector upgrades offer a practical cost-effective solution for cinemas

only path to having technical superiority in your theatre. At the 2016 IBC Conference in Amsterdam, I was able to get across the message from Power Technology that buying a new laser-illuminated projector is not your only option if you want to take advantage of laser technology. Of the world’s 150,000+ cinema screens, thousands of projectors are now outside of their manufacturer’s warranty period. While they may provide faithful service for many years, some owners are not content with merely providing the same audience experience they have for the past decade. They are looking for innovative ways to provide a better experience for their audiences. They have begun to question how laser-illuminated projection can be applied to existing equipment.

A SOLUTION WITH 40% MARKET SHARE? Upgrading existing projectors with third party light sources is now a viable solution used to improve viewer satisfaction. One Chinese exhibitor, Jinyi Cinemas has signed an agreement with the Italian firm Cinemeccanica to supply 100 retrofit kits. If installed today, a hundred screens represents an approximately 40% growth in the number of RGB laser projection systems globally. Laser retrofits or upgrades are hard to ignore when they have a 40% market share. Over the past few years, owners of existing (used) projectors have learned all about the benefits that laser illumination can offer. These include: Wider color gamut, more vivid colors Cooler electronics last longer

Increased audience satisfaction

50% savings on electricity

Eliminating the expense of replacing Xenon bulbs

Your investment lasts even longer

Laser light sources can be transferred to another projector.

Extended projector life

Many exhibitors want these benefits but are unwilling or unable to pay for a new laser based projector with integrated light source. Upgrading their existing projector with a new laser based source of light meets many of the exhibitor’s requirements.


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Manufacturers disagree While exhibitors have been considering how to enable projector upgrades to their equipment with third party light sources, projector manufactures have been trying to figure out how to prevent equipment owners from using third party equipment. Naturally, projector manufacturers want to protect their market share. They prefer to sell exhibitors a new projector or their own laser-based retrofit kits. They even try to scare exhibitors away from choosing the third party technology. This protects their bottom line. But the recommendation of the projector manufacturer may not always be the best business choice for the exhibitor — that is where companies such as Power Technology and Cinemeccanica come in. Let us take a look at a few of the common objections that projector manufacturers throw up to discourage exhibitors from using third party light engines. This may help owners whose projector warranties have expired to consider whether benefits of the upgrade outweigh potential ‘risks’.

Projector electrical safety In the case of laser light source manufacturers, both Power Technology and Cinemeccanica have decades of experience making equipment powered by 120V or 240V AC. Power Technology traces its roots to 1969 while Cinemeccanica’s history begins in 1920. Neither company would be in business if they made products that didn’t comply with accepted safety standards. CE, UL and TUV certifications are not a large hurdle for a company that has certified products for many decades. Additionally, no significant modifications to the projector’s electronics are made.

Reliability Projector manufacturers may present concerns about the reliability of third party equipment. It is natural to be sceptical if you

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Cinemeccanica’s conversion — both third party vendors and projector manufacturers offer retrofit solutions

don’t know the quality built into another company’s product. In the case of American and Italian companies, you should expect the quality level to exceed the exhibitor’s needs. Both countries have a long and solid reputation for quality manufacturing. In the case of Power Technology, its analytical and instrumentation lasers often operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for more than 30,000 hours. Projector reliability is actually improved by upgrading to laser illuminated projection. By remotely installing the light source separately from the projector (it is connected via fibre optics), the amount of heat generated inside the projector is reduced by more than 90%. This cooler environment is ideal for electronics. Electronics that are in cool environments are proven to last longer. In this way, upgrading to laser projection can extend the life of projectors and can possibly delay the next projector upgrade cycle by years. Projector Warranty is an issue that should be considered while evaluating your upgrade options. Exhibitors whose projector warranties have expired have the

• • •

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easiest decision. Since the warranty has already expired, the decision is down to the quality of customer experience they want and cost of ownership. Exhibitors whose projector is still under warranty will want to compare the benefits of upgrading to the risk of losing their warranty. It is certain that projector manufacturers will void the warranty of the projector once upgraded with a third party’s laser light source.

Projectors can clearly be repaired Integrators and service companies have provided repair services since the dawn of digital cinema. No-one expects a projector to become unserviceable. Repair services and repair frequency might be reduced based on the heat issues discussed above. For projectors under Virtual Print Fee programs, manufacturers may have special upgrade offers. Overall, projector manufacturers face the same problems as third party light source manufacturers. The same engineering constraints and the same laws of physics apply to anyone who upgrades the projectors. Given the limited number of projector architectures, the third party light

Laser safety should be and is taken seriously. It is great that the topic is a part of the upgrade conversation. Although it is unclear how all manufacturers address laser safety., Power Technology has 47 years experience manufacturing lasers, and laser safety has become a part of the company’s fabric. It has two Certified Laser Safety Officers on staff including its VP of operations. He has actively participated in writing of laser safety regulations for 11 years by serving on the ANSI Z136 ASC committee. He also serves on the Regulatory committee within the Laser Illuminated Projector Association. Power Technology only ships products that meet safety standards and only when the proper registration and documentation is complete. Ultimately, laser safety is everyone’s responsibility. The light source manufacturer is liable for certain safety problems. It is in their best interest to make safe products. Power Technology guides exhibitors and integrators on the relevant laser safety regulations that they must follow. There is no additional cost for those general services. Additionally, projector integrators and service personal are well trained in laser safety before they are ever dispatched to an exhibitor’s site.


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SOLUTIONS FROM BARCO AND CINEMECCANICA The Barco retro-fit unit carries the laser light source and cooling unit on top of the projector. Barco, whose xenon projectors have been unique in having a beautifully engineered separate removable lamphouse, are currently advertising “If you already own a Barco DP2K-15C digital cinema projector, you can now also benefit from laser technology, simply by replacing your current lamp house with a laser phosphor module. This offers a future-

source often looks similar to the projector manufacturer’s own laser light sources. For example, Christie, Power Technology, Cinemeccanica, and IMAX all use fibre optics to deliver light from a remote source.

Performing the upgrade One frequently asked question is how the upgrade is performed. This is a natural question and is the result of trade secrets that surround the upgrade process. No equipment manufacture wants to give away its intellectual property, but in general it is acceptable to describe the process this way: The projector is inspected prior to installation to guarantee its hardware quality is acceptable. This is generally done during a site survey weeks or months prior to installation. A light source is installed in the booth The fibre optic delivery fibre is routed

• • •

proof and cost-effective way to upgrade your technology while providing superior image quality.” Cinemeccanica offers its ‘badgeengineered’ Barco-based models together with its LUX external laser light unit which feeds its output via a fibre optic fibre directly into the optical light path of their projectors. A major cinema chain in Russia has recently adopted this solution in many of its cinemas. It is noticeable that Cinemeccanica is advertising ‘easy retrofitting for any digital projector’, and it is not only working at the low end — it offers a modular 6P RGB laser light source to satisfy even the brightest projectors.

between the light source and the projector.

projector. There is some considerable engineering expertise involved here. A unique projector conversion kit is engineered and manufactured for each model of projector. Contrary to what some think, it isn’t acceptable simply to shove the fibre optic up to the projector’s “integrating rod” — it is rather more complicated! But manufacturers such as Power Technology have worked out optimum solutions. The final element is integration to the Theater Management System or other onsite kit.

Texas Instruments DLP chip. This determines the maximum lumen rating of the projector, and was entirely appropriate for Xenon light sources. If a company like Power Technology were to shine 50% more light on the DLP chip, the cooling system would be inadequate to dissipate the additional heat load and the chip would fail. However, if you have been using 2kW bulbs in a 4kW projector, the laser could be configured to replace the 4kW bulb. There is also a good chance that our coolerrunning laser light units will actually prolong the lifetime of the projector.

More brightness? Not a good idea

Different laser solutions

During the upgrade process it is often asked — can I get more brightness from my projector? The answer should be “No”. Bulb-based projectors were designed with a specific and finite amount of cooling for the

From examining the news articles about RGB laser projection installations it is clear that RGB laser is a great solution for large screens. Smaller screens needing less than 20,000 lumens are being served well by projectors using phosphor-based light sources. Retrofit solutions are also becoming popular for smaller projectors. With all of these options to evaluate, it is clear you do not need to replace the entire projector to achieve better image quality and higher customer satisfaction levels. Exhibitors can replace just the light source of their projector to achieve these goals. And you don’t have to stop at converting a single projector — once you make the decision to convert more than two it could make sense to consider converting your whole multiplex. Illumina laser lightfarm technology allows for a single central laser source to deliver light around the building to each projector, giving exactly the amount of illumination needed for each screen and providing significant cost savings. For more details, email WABurgess@

• The delivery fibre is joined to the

The Cinemeccanica retrofit conversion - showing the optical fiber bundle that brings the laser light generated by the double rack at the rear of the picture to where it connects to the projector’s light-pipe. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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ECLAIR COLOR Jim Slater joined members of the Cinema Seeing HDR Technology Committee to view special at The Curzon demonstrations of EclairColor at in Soho An ideal venue Just prior to CinemaCon, Ymagis Group’s CinemaNext and Eclair put on a series of demonstrations at The Curzon, Soho, to showcase EclairColor, their digital high dynamic range technology, to a range of industry experts from origination through post-production to exhibition. Screen One proved ideal for the demos, giving the atmosphere of a proper cinema whilst being intimate enough to allow us to get close to the screen to examine the images. Ambient light levels from safety lighting were low enough to prevent virtually any extraneous light falling on the screen, a key factor when looking at darker, more graduated blacks that HDR systems need to provide. The Curzon is equipped with Sony Digital 4K projection equipment, and we were told that its unique high-contrast ratio capabilities (up to 8000:1 is claimed) make it the only standard DCI projection system that can currently be used with EclairColor, although next generation DLP projectors about to be announced will have higher contrast ratios than current DLP systems, and are expected to work with EclairColor. Manel Carreras, SVP business

development and studio relations, set the commercial scene, explaining the relationship between CinemaNext, Ymagis and Eclair and how EclairColor fits into their plans. He stressed that as well as it being a new method of providing highdynamic range cinema images at sensible costs, it would also become a certification system, and they would be working with partners throughout the business including installers and integrators as well as cinema operators to provide a quality certification

“THE BENEFITS CLAIMED ARE SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED IMAGE QUALITY VISIBLE TO BOTH EXHIBITORS AND CINEMA AUDIENCES” programme to ensure all screens showing EclairColor meet recognised high standards of picture quality. It is some years since THX quality certification effectively disappeared, and the Kodak ScreenCheck programme never got off the ground. Cinema owners proved unwilling to pay even modest amounts to have their screens checked and certified. Any scheme seems

ECLAIRCOLOR - FACTS AND FIGURES The colour range is richer, particularly in high and low light situations: the gradients more refined, even in the darkest colours. The additional contrast reveals finer details even though pixel resolution is unchanged.

to achieve the best results, but can be implemented in the later stages of post.

EclairColor is a type of HDR. Currently, there are no HDR standards for cinema projection, but SMPTE, DCI and CST are investigating.

The EclairColor colour grading workflow enables colorists to work on both versions (standard and EclairColor) simultaneously. The improved colour range is largely due to the increased contrast. The original artistic intent of the film is maintained, operating under the direction of the client.

EclairColor can be implemented at various stages in the content post-production process. The images are shot as usual. Ideally, EclairColor mastering should be performed with primary files (rushes)

EclairColor is based on AMPAS’ ACES workflow, meaning it can be implemented with any grading tool on the market. A specific ODT (Output Device Transform) matches the customised projector profile.


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likely to face similar difficulties unless incentives can be offered to cinema owners. Eclair VP of technology, Cédric Lejeune, then explained the technology behind the system. EclairColor is a new digital HDR range colour solution that combines a mastering process and the optimisation of select projection system technologies already on the market. The benefits claimed are significantly improved image quality that is visible to both professional exhibitors and cinema audiences, this being achieved

through better colour fidelity, greater contrast, more brightness, sharper details and more depth, the overall result being a more immersive experience. From the pictures we were shown I can accept all those claims — as a regular user of Photoshop I could understand how the EclairColor process provides higher contrast and a wider colour range with a

Eclair and Eclair-certified postproduction facilities can provide EclairColor post-production services. A film can be remastered in EclairColor from colour-graded rushes, a DSM or a DCDM. Time to grade will depend on the content. On average, remastering (working from a DCDM) for a feature takes 5-10 days. EclairColor is not entirely DCI compliant in terms of colour encoding but is entirely compliant on all essential levels, such as security and interoperability. EclairColor DCPs are SMPTE DCPs using additional metadata. EclairColor versions are packaged in a separate, encrypted DCP. An EclairColor DCP can only be projected using EclairColor technology.

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T E C H N O L O G Y finer range of colour gradients, and it was noticeable how the additional contrast seemed to reveal finer details in the images. But I am afraid that I found the claim that ‘EclairColor is like a stereoscopic film without 3D glasses’ to be ambitious. Thanks to the projection team (remotely controlling equipment from the auditorium), the demonstrations were well-engineered and presented, and it was great to be able to see side-by-side comparisons of standard images from a DLP projector (at 14ft/L, the standard DCI brightness setting) with those from the Sony 4K EclairColor-equipped twin projector setup that provided 30fL. If you want a simple conclusion, the EclairColor images were all significantly better than the ‘standard’, with more brightness, more contrast and betterlooking colours — I would prefer these images every time. But there will be many other criteria to satisfy if Eclair’s dream that their system is to be come ‘The new cinema standard’ is to come to fruition.

From post to projection Cédric explained that EclairColor does not require any changes during the original filming. The process only applies to the post-production and projection phases. Ideally, the EclairColor mastering process would be carried out on the studio files, but it seems likely that in practice this will more frequently be done by remastering an existing DCDM, which will have already been through the standard mastering processes. Either process can provide first class results, with higher dynamic range images. Eclair and Eclair-certified postproduction facilities can provide EclairColor post-production services. In post-production, each image is

FOR EXHIBITORS EclairColor currently requires the installation of a specific projection system. Cinemas need to be equipped with a Sony Digital Cinema 4K R510 or R515 projector, which provides a 1:8000 contrast ratio. It is likely that Barco will soon be able to provide RGB laser projectors that are also compatible with EclairColor. 30 foot Lamberts (fL) on screen is needed to meet EclairColor’s technical specifications. EclairColor works on virtually any screen size using multiple Sony Digital Cinema 4K (R510 and R515) projectors. The equipment includes an automatic alignment system and needs a software upgrade to play EclairColor content.

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processed in EclairColor using a standard software suite customised by Eclair’s engineers to provide a wider colour range. Comparing the images side by side the colours did seem to look more natural, especially looking at the greens of landscapes, but it was also clear that facial skin tones looked more realistic. Having recently sat and watched movies with DoPs critical of projected images not accurately respecting the colours they had intended, I wondered how the ‘creatives’ would react to these images. They were reassured that the remastering is carried out under the control of a film’s director and director of photography, so the initial intent can always be maintained. Several in the audience made favourable comments and the main questions from this sector of the business were about how Eclair’s use of the ACES mastering workflow would fit in with their current practices, which often include small modifications to the ACES workflow, and their use of Output Display Transforms. The questioners seemed satisfied with replies on this topic and on the time likely to be required for the re-grading process, which could be as little as a day or so where only a ‘trim pass’ is required, up to three or four days when a fuller regrade is needed. At the production and distribution end Eclair is making great progress in building a strong line-up of films in EclairColor in Europe, with around 30 available so far. La-La Land gained great reviews for its sparkling images in the EclairColor format.

Projection — some major restrictions I love the HDR pictures that EclairColor can provide, but struggle to believe the claims that EclairColor will be ‘The New Cinema Standard’. There is a major snag with the

An EclairColor DCP will not play in a standard projector Any integrator who has undergone the EclairColor certification program will be able to install the system. Once the EclairColor software has been installed, the projector can run both EclairColor mastered films and standard DCP content. 3D content can be shown in EclairColor — tests are currently under way, including finding the best silver screen technology. EclairColor requires that the inside of the auditorium be as dark and free of light artifacts as possible. It is preferable that the walls, ceiling and seats be black.

The new standard for HDR? Ymagis hopes so

system at the exhibition end of the chain, which Eclair acknowledge, but in my view fail to highlight significantly enough — Sony 4K R-500 series Digital Cinema projectors are currently the only affordable cinema projection equipment that meets image brightness and contrast requirements for presentation of movies mastered by the EclairColor High Dynamic Range process. With over 120,000 DLP based projectors worldwide, none of which has anything like the contrast required for HDR, (compare Sony ~ 8000:1 with DLP ~ 2000:1) it is surely not possible for EclairColor to become as widespread as its proponents would like? Till Cussmann, SVP CinemaNext is quoted as saying “The significant advantages that EclairColor provides… should greatly ease the adoption of this new technology by cinemas since we have rendered this process compatible with a range of existing projectors, allowing for virtually immediate access to our solution”, but the range of existing projectors is limited. Contacts with manufacturers of DLP-based projectors suggest the next DLP- based machines will indeed have improved contrast ratios that will allow EclairColor to be used, but no matter how fast these replace existing projection equipment, (and it won’t be fast) it seems unlikely that will see EclairColor becoming ‘The New Cinema Standard’ they hope for.

Chicken and Egg.... EclairColor provides great results on screen and could offer something unique to the business, bringing HDR images to cinemas large and small at low cost — allowing HDR to escape from PLF venues and allowing more people to view better cinema pictures. The same equipment can be used to run EclairColor mastered content as well as standard DCI content, but while there is a dearth of projection equipment that can cope with the brightness and contrast requirements, it is difficult to foresee a rapid expansion. I look forward to seeing what happens as more EclairColor-compatible projectors come to the marketplace. JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

16/05/2017 14:22

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DIGIZIG Canadian company, Digizig, A new solution for Aclaims to have the solution for bright and stable multiple projector pin-sharp, multiple projector installations. Jim Slater outlines the concept. installations


inema Technology readers are no strangers to the world of multiple projectioWn set-ups, until recently reserved for major premières where, especially in 3D, the only way of achieving adequate brightness was to overlay images from two or more projectors. You generally find that the projectionists use a telescope to examine the alignment of images on screen, and they are on hand to make any necessary adjustments during the performance. It is not a solution that would be of much use in today’s standard cinema environment where the projection kit is expected to look after itself We have also seen how IMAX 3D uses two projectors in a unique configuration where the two images are pre-processed and projected superimposed on each other in a technique called ‘Super-Resolution’ that is claimed to increase the image’s fidelity and quality. The data from the 4K Digital Cinema Package is split into two parts, with each part being sent separately to one of the two projectors. The pixels from each are

Stacked Projection Two or more projectors overlap significantly

offset by about half a pixel width when they hit the screen, which means that the resulting image resolution is greater than 2K. The secret of making this system work in the real world of cinema is that it has a built-in automatic closed-loop selfalignment system based on a series of red and green dots in a test pattern that uses a video camera to look at the screen and feed back its measurements to automatically keep the projectors aligned and balanced. In more recent times, Sony has successfully brought to market its Dual 4K system under the banner ‘like a single projector but twice as bright’. Its standard 4K projectors can be stacked vertically or side-by-side to suit any projection booth, and the key to its success in both set up and operation is its smart auto-alignment system that comes with the package to ensure accurately calibrated images across the whole cinema screen. Alignment can also be performed easily at any time during routine service, for optimal performance. In an age where projection technology is automated and operates ‘unattended’,

For 3D display without flickering

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cinema operators are realising that constant monitoring and control of what is on the cinema screen is becoming more and more important. Harkness Screens has licensed Highlands Technologies Solutions (HTS) Qalif light measurement products for commercial cinema, and under the banner of its Curolux screen monitoring platform is offering a way of allowing cinema

Edge Blending Two or more projectors overlap at edges



For 2D display with improved brightness

Three Christie projectors = a lot of brightness


For 2D display with wider field of view


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Frequency-Based Projection Each projector provides a subset for different frequencies of the content aka. projector stacking.

Stacked projection problems




A portion of the first projector provides a lower frequency illumination

A portion of the second projector provides a higher frequency details

The superimposition of both projectors faithfully renders original content

There are a number of practical issues that make stacked projection challenging




misalignment degrades image quality

calibration costs time, disruption & labour

Image maximum sharpness is reduced due to random relative vibration Image quality degrades over time due to relative drifting Warping error inherited from the calibration method or software

Separate calibration process reduces projector availability Separate calibration process disrupts user viewing experience Separate calibration process adds cost to operation and maitenance

non uniformity & metamerism causes colour artifact

exhibitors to maintain and manage presentation quality in cinema, using automated audio and visual monitoring tools. The idea is that using such tools you can now monitor and maintain presentation quality in a way that, until recently, only a traditional projectionist could.

Smart Frequency Projection Attracted by the strap-line ‘Projecting a Better World’, I was interested to learn about a new multi-projector monitoring and control solution being demonstrated by

William Tan (former senior image scientist at IMAX) were keen to explain what their new solution entails. Smart Frequency Projection is a revolutionary patented technology for all stacked projection systems to achieve robust performance with unprecedented image sharpness. As we know, stacked projection systems are widely used for compatibility of 2D and 3D content and increased brightness. Pixel-bypixel alignment is usually achieved by calibration with a dedicated test pattern. Digizig has developed a patented algorithm,

“DIGIZIG APPEAR TO DO SOME INNOVATIVE THINGS, SO FAR KEPT CONFIDENTIAL, BUT NOW SEVERAL PATENTS HAVE BEEN GRANTED” Digizig Media, a company that specialises in innovative media technology. Digizig is a Canadian company that focuses on novel digital display technologies, high dynamic range media and related intellectual properties and products. It was initially established at Waterloo, Canada, in May 2012, but with a recent change of ownership moved its HQ to Mississauga and Toronto. They appear to be doing some innovative things, which have so far been kept confidential, but now that several patents have been granted, partners Jay Kowsh and CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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Smart Frequency Projection (SFP) that essentially detects any drifting in dual projected images and instantly calibrates the equipment in real time. This differs from manual, periodic calibration that cinemas have to do for dual projectors (once a week, month, quarter, etc.) and Digizig claims that it can improve the quality of the visuals of dual projectors by up to 400%.

Stacked projectors — the problems:

• Projector vibration (up to 4 pixels) often makes perfect alignment impossible.

Non-uniform brightness may cause noticeable colour difference Metamerism may cause colour artifact in 6P laser projection

• The misalignment is drifting over time • •

due to thermal, mechanical and optical reasons. Traditional calibration takes labour and time to run. Traditional calibration methods can disrupt the viewer experience.

The Digizig solutions: 1. Smart Frequency Stacked Projection The traditional multi-projector stacked system sends the same image to each projector for display. Any misalignment at any pixel location between projectors can lead the on-screen image to appear blurry. Digizig technology applies mathematical algorithms to generate multiple images so that fine detail information in any region of the original image is reformatted and displayed by one projector only; remaining low frequency illumination information is displayed by the other. The stacking order may vary from region to region. The end result is to send different frequency content to each projector for display, achieving a robust anti-misalignment stacked projection system, providing the advantages of image sharpness as in a single projector system and the high brightness of a multiple projector system.

2. Smart Self-Aligning Dynamic Calibration When using the Smart Frequency Stacked

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Advantages of Smart Frequency Projection

Real Time In-content Alignment Calibration


Real Time In-content Colour Calibration

Since the image details follows only one projector, the final image appears sharper (improved 6dB) if two projectors misaligned

before +

= Blurred

after +

= Sharp

Track detail moves between overlapped projectors

Track colour changes between overlapped projectors

Cinema Technology and several members of the Cinema Technology Committee expressed interest in the technical detail and performance of the Digizig system, and in particular about issues relating to DCI compliance and assurance that the system would not compromise the normal DCI security requirements. We are careful not to pass an opinion on a new technology without seeing it in action, so plans are underway for Motion Picture Solutions to collaborate with Digizig to evaluate independently this solution with projectors from the different manufacturers. Watch this space...

Projection technology for 2D/3D display, the on-screen image details are characterising the position of one of the projectors. If we rearrange the same image detail to characterise the other projector, we can find and track the misalignment relationship between the stacked projectors so it is possible to eliminate digitally the misalignment during the show in real-time. This new way of calibration can happen in the background automatically and constantly without using a dedicated test pattern which would be noticed by viewers. By using Digizig technologies, a stacked projection system can have its calibration done smartly, with many inherent benefits: No interruption of the show No need for a special test pattern No need for separate calibration session Unnoticeable to the viewer All happens in the background, automatically, in real time, and constantly Most accurately because algorithm converges quickly And no additional expensive hardware or complicated methods are required.

• • • • • • •

Ready for the cinema marketplace Digizig provides an advanced self-aligning dynamically calibrated projection system. The technology and products can be integrated and used in any digital 2D or 3D projection system where two or more

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projectors are used and stacked. The market can be commercial theatres and cinemas, theme parks, museums, conference rooms, tradeshows, events presentation, schools, companies, advertisement, and home theatre systems, etc. Digizig media offers the system (equipment and software) for sale or for licensing. The company has practical experience and detailed know-how to help the cinema owner to develop and integrate the technology into any cinema system — they will effectively offer a custom-built solution for any particular situation.

8K. Cinemas will need to be thinking of the consequences, and Digizig is already saying that its solution will be important for cinemas. The last thing cinemas want to do is invest a lot of money into upgrading to 8K hardware and then find that they aren’t actually showing 8K images (due to calibration issues). The Digizig algorithm can be implemented in projectors (both existing and future) through software modifications or as a hardware plug-in. Cinema owners and integrators wanting more details, should visit

Optimised projection whatever happens The Digizig system has been developed with one clearly-focused aim in mind — to ensure that any dual projector system’s output is optimised. As well as for cinemas, the system has many applications in the field of ProAV and Live Events. At a time when more and more cinemas are adopting dual-projector systems, this seems likely to find a ready market. But the solution isn’t limited to today’s 2K and 4K cinema systems. Japanese broadcaster and research house NHK has already shown that 8K is just around the corner —there were significant demonstrations at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and plans are well advanced (as manufacturers develop consumer TVs) for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be broadcast in

A picture of the Digizig team, William Tan and Jay Kowsh, that shows what SFP stands for by making a blurry, off-colour picture a clear one JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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n the world of film archives and dedicated film theatres, operations have, for the most part, long ago switched to red light reader technology in order to enable them to show the latter-day cyan dye tracks on 35mm prints. The bulk of optical sound recordings in most libraries, however, remain on high-density silver or opaque dye tracks which require a white light reader to elicit the best response. While it is true to say that a perfect optical sound recording on a good blackand-white print will sound acceptable when played with a red light reader, it will sound much better when reproduced using white light. It is also true that because we don’t live in a perfect world, a proportion of archive recordings are not perfect to begin with! There are also some types of recordings, such as the variable density system, which will perform below average when played with red light, but will be worse still when reproduced from a tri-pack colour stock with its tell-tale purplish hue. Save for bouts of high-level modulation, such as a big band number for example, the track will spectacularly fail to reproduce correctly; dialogue will pump and low level music and effects will also struggle. This begs the question: would you attempt to play a 78rpm record on a high fidelity stereo disc reproducer?” Of course it would be absurd to consider it. Any specialist projection facility would shudder at the thought of showing a film with the wrong lens, so why would anyone choose second best when it comes to sound fidelity for the reproduction of a beautiful archive print? The answer has always been that because the mainstream film exhibition industry chose a specific path, it was the easiest option for archives to follow suit. Additionally, the mechanics of sound head design on a diverse range of film projectors would have made it extremely challenging to come up with a quick fix alternative. For those of that remain committed to the conservation of the historic motion picture experience however, why would we even hesitate to ensure that every aspect of a film’s performance from every period in its history can be recreated perfectly? I challenge every archive and preservation professional throughout the world that uses only red light readers, to undertake some comparison tests. We should be saying to the world, we hold your heritage in our hands and we want to ensure that the

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Getting the best sound from film Bryan Lindop MBKS meets Ronald Rosbeek to discover more about the revolutionary dual reader sound head he developed craftsmanship of the silver screen is showcased to the best of its capability.

A dual solution The obvious solution is to install combination red and white light readers. Easy to suggest, but how do you go about it? The answer would have to be a specialist precision engineer — and it just so happens that there is one available who many in the film archive world may well already be aware of. His name is Ronald Rosbeek of Rosbeek Techniek, based in the Netherlands. When it comes to bespoke engineering solutions for the film archive projection industry, Ronald is a perfectionist. His capability to resolve complex technical problems and find an elegant solution for any design concept is a challenge he always enjoys. He was first called in to look at the possibility of installing combination-readers by Jan E. Olsen, head of projection department at the Norwegian Film Institute. Jan is a great fan of the historic German projectors made by Bauer, citing that they are friendly to older film The design uses fibre optics to emulate a tungsten filament

material. He considers that, being fully mechanical, they are a most reliable choice for the future. Ronald stated, “For me this was quite a challenging job because the audio readers of these Bauer B14’s were designed in the 50s with just one single optical mono-reader and I had to find space for a second one. The only way to realise this was to take the optical diodes away from the PC boards and find a new way to mount them directly behind the sound-lenses for the white and red light pick-ups. For the commercial cinema industry the red LED was developed especially for this purpose and was so small that it was possible to place it directly behind the film.” He explained, “Inside, there is a bar holding 24 small LEDs which give a perfect emulation of the tungsten filament that they were replacing. Nobody ever thought of constructing the same LED with white light because this was the period in film sound evolution when digital soundtracks had become the norm. The analogue track was therefore only thought of as a back-up.” JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Top: a beautiful piece of engineering; below left fitted to the FP30 and right, in The Egyptian Theatre

To create a reader with white light, Ronald had to look for an existing LED with the right colour temperature of 2700 Kelvin. He found that all of the available LEDs were much bigger in size than would fit into the available space — so he decided to transport the light to its intended destination using optical fibre technology. This gave the advantage that the ancillary equipment could be tucked away neatly. The first models he produced used four fibres of 0.7mm each to create an emulation of a tungsten filament in the same way that the red LEDs did. For the later versions he used a round tube made by a third party which he found much easier to install. The white LEDs work within the same range as the original red ones, thereby enabling the original power supply to be retained with some small modifications.

An instant success The installation was a huge success, so much so that Jan Olsen wrote an article about it for the April 2016 edition of The Journal of Film Preservation. He says, “I have worked with Ronald for a number of years now, and I am impressed by his work and skills. He is a true professional in the field, and one of the few technicians with a heart (and knowledge) for historic film formats. I encourage film archives and revival movie theatres to take advantage of his work.” One of those establishments decided to take Ronald up on the challenge of converting their theatre to dual reader — Paul Rayton from the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood got in touch. An order was placed for two modified readers for their DP70s. Knowing that I had FP30s with dual digital/analogue readers, Ronald used my own installation as a test bed to construct an experimental switchable red light/white light reader using his fibre optic design. Because this design of analog-digital reader already had two readers, this allowed more space inside to play with. Besides changes for the positioning of the digital reader bracket, space was already available to remove the CAT. 1054 digital board and put a Dolby CAT.655A analogue board in. Ronald spent a day installing the beautifully crafted modification on my number one projector. The tests were outstanding and he then went on to reconstruct the pair of sound heads for the Egyptian Theatre with the same excellent results. As someone who is lucky enough to be the recipient of one of these readers, I know just how good the sound reproduction of archive tracks is now with the white reader. Every film sounds just as CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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it should. It is especially good on poorly processed and sparkly or worn tracks and indeed, especially with variable density recordings, the results are marvellous. For Ronald, feedback from Paul Rayton in Hollywood was the icing on the cake. Paul enthusiastically reported, “When we installed the readers, everything went fairly smoothly. The physical alignment of the reader heads was 100% compatible with the DP-70. I put the Buzz Track loop in and one was slightly off — almost couldn’t hear any error at all — and it corrected easily and quickly. When we did the Dolby tone setup into the CP-200, it was so close we could have run a show ‘as received’. That was right “out of the box” and very impressive! We

listened to a reel of a Universal show from 1950 called Outside The Wall with variable density as a test and it sounded great. Hard to believe it was audio from 1950. We did, in fact, switch in the red light while test running the reel and could immediately notice an increase in the soundtrack noise level (minor clicks or pops of one sort or another) while in the “red” mode. I think we’ve scored a very significant victory.”

NOT RESTING ON ANY LAURELS Ronald is not someone who sits back and rests on his laurels. I asked him what plans he has lined up next. His reply was, “For the future I would like to design a new digital reader which will replace the upper sprocket of an FP20 / FP30 so there is again the possibility to scan SRD without the “bulky” CAT 700.” So, I will watch this space with interest and if by chance he should ever require a guinea-pig to test it out again, I will be leaving my door firmly open! Visit

16/05/2017 13:33

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the choice is yours I

Yoel Noorali, from spoke with Jim Slater on a development which could revolutionise cinemagoing habits for the millenial generation

n an era when people have become used to downloading movies on smartphones, the longstanding cinema model, with distributors offering a “take it or leave it” selection of movies at a number of set times, seems increasingly outdated. For cinema to continue to progress we must find ways to remind people that watching a movie on a smartphone is a poor substitute for the cinema experience. Although cinema ‘movers and shakers’ such as MPS with Jukebox and GoFilex with Cinio have long offered huge backcatalogues of movies and special events to cinemas, take up has been constrained by the reluctance of big distributors to move away from their long-term successful model with cinemas contracted to show the latest movies for given periods, leaving little flexibility for cinema operators to try new programming ideas. is the latest in a line of attempts to change moviegoing habits and offer new ways of sharing and watching movies. It certainly looks to be gaining popularity. Yoel Noorali, catalogue and communications manager for explains: “OurScreen is a revolutionary new system that enables anyone to create their own screenings, either private for their friends, or public ones for anybody who wants to come. If sufficient people book tickets, the screening happens. If not, the screening doesn’t happen, and no-one is charged.”

HOW IT WORKS… Launched in 2014 with the explicit aim of “getting more people watching more films at their local cinema,” enables films fans to create and attend screenings at their local cinema, including previews, recent runs, and classics. The concept is simple: in three easy steps:

What films can you choose? “We have access to more than 10,000 films, although there are generally only around 600 on the platform at any one time, ranging from recent hits like Moonlight, to foreign language masterpieces like Jules et Jim, to classics such as Taxi Driver. The ways in which exhibitors are interacting with the catalogue, and the flexible technology behind it, means that the available menu varies a lot. Some see it as a tool to democratise their programming, and devolve some of the power over their programme to the community, inviting them to create screenings of the films they want to see, which aren’t playing currently.

the cautious approach… “Others see it as a tool to trial content they aren’t sure of, to programme OurScreen screenings of films they’d like to play, but which represent some financial risk; the screenings only go ahead if audience interest is sufficient, as the cinema deem it. Most cinemas, though, use OurScreen in a combination of ways, the aforementioned as well as a host of others, the overarching finding being that the platform is a fantastic means of engaging with both existing and new audiences, in a more participatory manner than was previously possible. “Whilst OurScreen represented the first iteration of cinema-on-demand in the UK, it was not the first to debut globally; America’s Tugg was. Tugg, OurScreen, and Australia’s FanForce are all thriving in their respective homelands, and similar recent start-ups, including Spain’s and Italy’s Movieday look set to perform in much the same way, but others, including France’s I Like Cinema and Holland’s We Want Cinema, didn’t fare so well.

What sets OurScreen apart? Unlike other cinema-on-demand platforms, OurScreen makes cinema slots available ahead of time. OurScreen presents the time/

date options that the cinema has, and customers select from them, whereas some platforms operate on a slot-by-slot request basis only, which delays things by necessitating regular exchanges with cinema programmers. The OurScreen team believes breadth of content, knowledge of the cinema industry, flexibility when working according to the different needs of cinema-partners, and emphasis on excellent customer service have helped them establish and grow cinema-on-demand in the UK. OurScreen has facilitated 2,500 screenings since launch, achieving an average occupancy of 68%, including the special screenings put on to help brands and companies organise events at cinemas, as well as the ‘peoplepowered’ ones set up by members of the public, of which there were 325 last year. A recent highlight for the platform was My Feral Heart, of which there have now been 74 screenings organised through This distributor-less independent drama harnessed peoplepower to provide UK cinemas with a film that attracted a sizeable new audience, 60% of whom had not been to the cinema they attended before. The release, which made use of a large number of Q&As and post-screening panel discussions, was something of a first for OurScreen, in how it played at every variety of venue. It was adopted by OurScreen’s multiplex, boutique-chain, and arthouse sites, demonstrating just how extensive and embraceable the audience-appeal of cinema-on-demand technology is. OurScreen technology is available in over 80 cinemas in 44 different cities in the UK, which, for scale, means that OurScreen is operating in almost as many cinemas as several of the UK’s largest circuits, a figure that’s set to increase with new cinemas added regularly. Cinemas participating in OurScreen showings include Vue, whose early adoption has proved successful, and

Pick a Film Decide where and when you would like to see it Share your screening with your friends


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Odeon, which has recently made 20 of its multiplexes available to, including the Bournemouth Odeon described in this issue. Empire, Picturehouse and Reel Cinemas, Cityscreen and a number of proud independents are also enabling guests to organise crowdsourced, on-demand screenings. The OurScreen model already works with student audiences in university towns — a few Facebook messages can rapidly gather sufficient numbers to make a screening worthwhile for a cinema. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that this could become popular for family parties and reunions , especially as modern cinemas improve hospitality options. To discover screenings, visit www.OurScreen. com and for further details, contact Yoel Noorali

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In the previous issue, CT looked at the Moviereading App being trialled in the UK. A similar system, Earcatch, is being rolled out across The Netherlands.

rom the moment films were introduced, blind and partially sighted people have been left out of experiencing the full extent of the spectacle, leaving a gap in the enjoyment of the medium. That gap is now considerably narrowed in the Netherlands, thanks to a new app: Earcatch. The Earcatch project focuses on making audio description, also known as visually impaired narration, for films available to people with visual limitations, so they too can enjoy the cinematic experience. Earcatch is available in every cinema in the Netherlands and Belgium covering 1,300+ screens and is expected to branch out into other territories. Audio Description makes films and television series accessible for those who are blind or partially sighted by adding spoken description in between dialogue. Adding an explanatory voice-over describing characters, facial expressions, locations and plot developments enables people with visual impairment to enjoy the story and not be left out on the details. In the Netherlands, approximately 350,000 people are blind or visually impaired. In Flanders (the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium), an additional 150,000 people have

similar difficulties. The investment made in Earcatch’s accessibility program not only reaches an underexposed potential audience of half a million, it also means these people can experience films in more detail than ever before. Earcatch also focuses on usability at home, with similar usage being available for TV, DVD/Blu-Ray, and VOD. The Earcatch app allows users to listen to audio description independently of the contentplaying medium. Earcatch uses audio recognition software (fingerprinting) similar to the technology in apps like Soundhound or Shazam. It will record a few seconds of audio from the soundtrack of the film and match the title and time position with titles in a database. Once synchronised, the app will play the right audio description automatically over a headphone. Users download the audio description file (about 10-20Mb) before they see a show. The audio description data is not accessible to the user in any way other than the intended functionality.

An efficient, accessible solution Earcatch is a free application, available to any smartphone, thus reducing costs for cinemas which would otherwise have to invest in expensive equipment and handling staff. All that is needed is a smartphone and

a headset or earplugs. Internet access is only necessary for the addition of new audio descriptive features, rather than running the audio file. During and after synchronisation, no original film content is transferred to the user’s device. Instead, Earcatch utilises a thumbprint, which only works in sync with the original soundtrack. The original audio track of the film is transformed into a data string enabling synchronisation. No registration is required, neither does the app collect personal data from users. This makes Earcatch extremely beneficial in terms of costs, privacy and service availability. Earcatch addresses criticism of phone use in cinemas by having the screen fade out after initial synchronisation with the film. Cinema chains including Pathé, VUE and Kinepolis, reported no change in phonerelated inconvenience since the app’s arrival in September 2015. Initiators of the project are Bartiméus Sonneheerdt, an NGO which focuses on furthering social participation and inclusion of people who are blind or partially sighted, in co-operation with Soundfocus, a post-production facility specialised in accessible media. The project is supported by the Netherlands Film Fund and the Dutch government.

The Earcatch app brings a convenient and secure audio description facility into the cinema

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PIRACY T With 90% of pirated films sourced direct from cinemas, the Film Content Protection Agency supports and safeguards the UK film industry and filmgoers

is a

he FCPA was launched in Autumn 2016 by the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA). A specialised unit with a remit across the UK and Ireland, the FCPA aims to prevent illegal copies of any theatrical release from being sourced in the UK and Irish theatres. The audio-visual components of films are constantly vulnerable to theft, especially given the rising trends in UK-first and ‘day and date’ releasing and the international appeal of English language soundtracks. That said, through the work of the FCPA (and that previously undertaken under the FACT umbrella), considerable success has been achieved in making the UK one of the most secure film territories. But with UK cinemas alone presenting around 10,000 public screenings every day, there is no room for complacency. In recent years, case law has increasingly shown that copyright theft by

CRIME. WORK IN A UK CINEMA? EARN A £500 REWARD! Identify a person recording or copying a film in a cinema; Disrupt and stop the recording before the film ends; Notify the police immediately and file a report with the police; Contact FCPA within 24hrs and complete/submit a FCPA Incident Report via email Awards are given out at a high profile ceremony, recognising the importance of


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this work. Recipients at the most recent event included employees from Cineworld, Vue, Showcase and Light Cinemas. Collectively they accounted for eight incidents, four led to arrests, four to formal police cautions. Their efforts helped to protect UK releases including La La Land, T2: Trainspotting, and Fifty Shades Darker. ‘STOPPED AT SOURCE’ TRAINING Last year the UK Cinema Association commissioned a special training video

illegal recording activity in cinemas amounts to a criminal offence of fraud (Section 6 of the Fraud Act 2006). A key element of the FCPA’s work therefore focuses on working closely with the law enforcement community, including local police officers, to investigate and process reported incidents in cinemas.

REwarding staff vigilance A key task of the FCPA programme is to develop the awareness and vigilance of cinema staff by providing them with anti-piracy training and advising on current best practice guidelines. The FDA/FCPA offer rewards up to £500 (or up to £1,000 in special doublerewards periods) to individual members of cinema staff who are successful in disrupting attempts to ‘camcord’ a film in a UK cinema. The eligibility criteria are outlined below, alongside two key training initiatives.

£500 Reward for FCPA Quiz The FCPA quiz is a great way for cinema staff working in the UK and Ireland to test piracy knowledge. All correct entries are entered into a prize draw to win £500. There are four draws a year, and one entry per person. Go to: filmcontentprotectionagency/fcpa-quiz-page FCPA Training for staff The FCPA offers free anti-piracy awareness training for cinemas in the UK. To arrange training or for more info, email or filmcontentprotectionagency/landing

— Stopped at Source — to provide a better understanding of the background to film theft, methods adopted and steps cinema staff should take if they suspect illegal activity is taking place on their site. Produced and shot by graduates from the National Film and Television School, the film features senior staff from the UKCA, key cinema operators and the FCPA. The film is available to all UKCA members to use for staff inductions and training. For a copy, contact Grainne Peat at the UKCA, on who will arrange for distribution via the good people at Motion Pictures Solutions.

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Fight film theft – it can occur at any time

Check the screens – using night vision devices if available



Prevent illegal recording of a film

Alert the FCPA and you could earn up to £500

Reward £500

Cinema staff can be rewarded up to £500 for reporting suspicious activity in a cinema screen or they can enter a draw to win £500 by completing the FCPA quiz.

Full details of current best practice and the rewards available to you: please visit filmcontentprotectionagency/landing

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Dave Monk, CEO of EDCF, tells how delegates learned from colleagues in different areas of the US film industry EDCF’S ‘ANNUAL’ TOUR OF Hollywood facilities resumed this year with 27 delegates in tow. Most agreed that this whistle-stop tour of eight places in two days just prior to Cinemacon surpassed anything the forum has done in the past. The trip encompassed: l Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science l American Society of Cinematographers l Barco Innovation Centre @ LA Live Theatre l Christie @ Universal City l Dolby Labs @ Vine Street Demonstration and Test Centre l IMAX VR Centre l Paramount Studios l Sony Pictures A key aspect of the dialogue with each participant is that the discussions are ‘off the record’ and non-attributable for the most part so this report is a digest of what was learned.

Next generation standards

Most of the delegates had a concern that there are now a plethora of new capabilities that are being pursued by manufacturers with their own vision of what that capability should be — in likelihood based on their capability and current costs. This situation encourages competitive differentiation, but ends up in a multitude of standards and practices. It reminds me of the saying ‘Standards are great, everyone should have one’. Of course, the exhibition customer wants competitive choice and interoperable compatibility. So far the cinema industry has survived well with standards for both film and digital formats, but just as the latter is beginning to be fully adopted with the SMPTE DCP format, things are beginning to unravel. The cinema institutions (DCI, NATO, ASC, AMPAS) have teams working out what to do, but, without the imperative of a second round of VPF, this is largely an undercover effort. What is clear is that now that conversion to digital is complete, the idea of another round of subsidised equipment (VPF2) is not in anyone’s plans or expectations. Just as we experienced at the turn of the millennium, the hard part is the analysis of what makes theatrical sense. Any new capability must offer a clear improvement in either image, sound or the event experience.

Clockwise from top left: archiving at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science; testing out the IMAX VR experiences; the Universal City cinema; the Barco Innovation centre at LA Live Theater

And beyond that it must be something that either drives a premium ticket price, box office volume or lower operating costs.

High Dynamic Range Projection

This term refers to contrast, but is nearly always coupled with the idea of higher brightness. Let’s keep them separate here. Contrast is usually measured as a ratio of the luminance of the brightest white to that of the blackest black. The contrast of an image contributes to the tone detail and the depth of colours. Most importantly, contrast delivers image sharpness which we all see as the most critical driver of picture quality. Projectors, especially bright ones, are hard to build without residual light leakage. This determines the black level, but the full-on/full-off ratio is only part of the story. The small area contrast describes the deterioration of contrast (veiling



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glare) that is caused by light scattering within the projector when light is passed through the optical system. Light from one pixel gets transported into the place of another and lowers the native contrast. What we found was that the importance of higher contrast or HDR was universally agreed as the best opportunity for picture improvement. But the open question is ‘How much more do we need in a dark theatrical environment which is ultimately limited by reflections and other light sources within the auditorium (required for safe exit)? Currently, the reference HDR projector is the Dolby Vision projector. The company’s demonstration at its Vine Street theatre showed not only the superior contrast but also its impressive colour gamut and higher brightness. This provides over twice the SMPTE spec for 2D brightness at 31FL and full SMPTE spec 14FL 3D. They can do this on metallised or flat white screens with colour separation eyeware. The hot HDR talk on this trip was about two direct-view prototypes which were to be shown by Sony and Samsung at Cinemacon (see page 39).

High Frame Rate (HFR)

High frame rate photography allows motion to be captured with more detail. This motion can be either fast motion by a fixed camera or steady motion with a moving camera. Today,

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cinematographers understand the limits of these motion constraints and stage their shots accordingly, to minimise unwanted artefacts like blurring or strobing. TV already uses double the frame rate of cinema standards because the nature of live acquisition is not under the control of the cameraman or director. No one would deny that HFR delivers more detailed images, but the appetite for this capability is still not high. The current standard of 24fps is almost indelibly associated with the ‘film look’ such that patrons and cinematographers have rejected HFR — for now. What no one really understands is whether that will change as filmmaking pioneers (Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, and James Cameron amongst them) perfect the art of storytelling using the new tool set. Our trip confirmed that ‘the jury is still out’ on HFR, a view that a majority of cinematographers hold too. The word on the street is that James Cameron may well use different frame rates on the upcoming Avatar sequel, reserving their use for sequences enhanced by the technique. This might present some new server and projector challenges depending on how it is done. Until then, equipment manufacturers will have to guess what’s going to be required with the ‘full shebang’ currently being 120fps at 4K and HDR.

Wide Colour Gamut (WCG)

For economic reasons all print and display devices make compromises about the colours which can be displayed in comparison with those that are perceptible by the human visual system. For the most part we neither miss them in printed form or in our displays. One of the differentiating things about movies is that they have historically cared more about colour than television. This refers to both range and consistency. Digital cinema made this consistency and quality more reliable and has come to be called P3 colour. It surpasses the standard for HDTV (REC 709). With the advent of RGB laser projection, projectors can now be economically built with expanded colour spaces that can display more colours than we can see in the real and synthetic world (REC 2020). This capability comes with a small burden that makes some different colours look the same (metamerism). The extended colours are ones that are often deeply saturated and sometimes not naturally occurring. Not surprisingly, animated film makers have the most passion for this new capability. We saw at the last IBC that Pixar has already made WCG versions of two of its movies and doubtless use this capability to great creative effect. We also saw some impressive clips from Sony’s new Lego Movie, demonstrating that interest in WCG is not restricted to Pixar Animation’s creators. The small population of

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projectors with this capability doesn’t make for current economic viability, so this sits with HFR as a capability lacking standardisation and market at the moment.

3D Movies

3D has failed in television, but what about cinema? While the shine of 3D and its box office impact has declined, major Hollywood studios remain committed. Were it not for China, the case might be different, but this is a box office driver in the world’s most dynamic market. Christopher Nolan is even making his next movie in native 65mm 3D with two giant film cameras! Everyone agrees that 3D brightness, silver screens, heavy glasses, bad projection practice and some poor stereo conversions have not helped 3D prosper, but for now it remains a key theatrical differentiator that is earning its place. Most action blockbusters will continue to be offered in 3D. Meanwhile, laser projectors promise to fix the brightness problem, which will be very helpful.

The Digital Dilemma

Our trip to the Academy provided a review of several of their activities. We toured their impressively managed film archives and learned that they had received a major upsurge in film stock resulting from the closure of many film facilities. Although they have a large backlog of filing, they are fortunate to have enough space to store everything. Interestingly, the quest for an


enduring storage technology has not been found, although they continue to see promising possibilities. We learned many studios are not making film archive versions of digital movies, accentuating the digital dilemma first published some 10 years ago.

LED Lighting

When we last visited the Academy two years ago, they had established an innovative split Macbeth colour screen rig to test LED lights. Since then they showed us what huge improvements had been made in colour quality. This has surely contributed to manufacturers making the improvements now in production. We saw this at IBC last September from ARRI where colour can be wirelessly tuned on-set to save reconfiguration costs. Technology expert Michael Karagosian made a presentation at the Academy which is available to members. The Academy is building a huge Museum of Cinema which is scheduled to open in 2019. We saw the site and foundations being laid later in the day. That will be fun to visit.

Virtual Reality

EDCF members had their second chance to experience VR in Hollywood after getting a taster at the EDCF conference last December at ARRI. This time it was at the IMAX VR site in Hollywood. Here they have created a test centre which is open to the public. The idea is to test ‘experiences’ using VR headsets, JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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headphones, shaking back-packs and hand grip actuators. Each of these experiences was set in a bull-pen area with overhead cable assemblies to avoid tripping and special flooring to alert the customer on physical wall limits. With some trepidation we all ventured in to receive the ‘experiences’. Each location was staffed by a helper to ensure that the equipment was properly fitted and used. The experiences were varied, from a bit slow to completely engaging and taxing. Some were seated, most were standing. The experiences were fun and probably more so for the target audience (teenagers). The cost was about $10 per ten minute session, which is normally prebooked. IMAX says it is getting a high number of repeat visitors and there is no cinema at this facility! The site is a test, and that was made clear by IMAX, but it has had 17,000 visitors in the 10 weeks since opening and IMAX are learning a lot about expectations, requirements, staffing levels, cost, headset usage and comfort, customer disorientation and so on. This is clearly an opportunity for pre-show entertainment especially if linked to a particular movie release or franchise. It seems a compact pod with lower supervisory requirements would be high priorities for this to work in theatres.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Barco hosted our visit to LA Live (in partnership with Regal and AEG) which it has coined as the Barco Innovation Centre. This is one of the places where the company tests new technology ideas for theatres. We first saw an impressively co-ordinated lighting and digital signage show in the lobby, which engaged patrons to make promotions for upcoming movies and concessions. It certainly captured attention. Next, we saw an augmented reality app display fixture which was able to wrap a special movie scene around a photo of a patron that had been taken on their own phone. A great device for capturing loyalty co-ordinates. Barco will be introducing no new models of xenon-based projectors, while continuing to manufacture existing ones. Its smaller projectors will be laser-excited phosphorbased and the high end will all be RGB laserbased. These are currently providing contrast of 3000:1 (cf 2000:1 Xenon-based) but new products will deliver 6000:1 and up to 60,000 lumens. We didn’t see Barco’s laser phosphor projector but had a strong pitch about cost of ownership benefits due to optical efficiency and avoidance of lamp replacements. Industry evangelist Ted Schilowitz showed us Barco Escape. This is a 3 screen, 3 projector immersive picture system. Barco have been working to make the screens butt together more seamlessly and are working CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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with screen manufacturers to address brightness uniformity differences. The screens were mounted higher than normal to avoid interrupted sight lines. The three screen content was custom made and created a special experience not unlike the screen equivalent of motion seating. It may appeal more to a younger generation who will enjoy the 180 degree experience. The challenge is the ability to get content required for this format. We were shown the StarTrek movie segment made to demonstrate the capability. Although done for only part of the movie this was apparently very well received and generated repeat ticket sales. In general, studios love innovation, but do not always appreciate higher production costs and more DCP versions.

Christie at Universal City

Not to be outdone, Christie hosted the group at Universal City, showing off their new loudspeaker range and laser projectors. Christie has a different perspective on laserexcited phosphor projectors, which it will not be offering. It will continue to offer Xenon lamp-based projectors, arguing that their cost of ownership is lower than laser phosphor. It also maintains that Xenon images are both brighter and offer better colours. Christie is owned by lamp manufacturer Ushio, which may explain this perspective and ability to get the best value from Xenon lamps. In this large screen venue we saw the company’s 6P RGB laser projector with higher dynamic range and REC 2020 colour performance. Christie technology is used to power Dolby’s highly acclaimed Vision products and they have been building laserbased products for several years including the (non-DCI) Mirage product that was used to première Ang Lee’s recent film Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk. Christie has equipped the auditorium with its Vive range of speakers which use ribbon driver technology for crisply controlled high frequency response.

Members of the EDCF entourage relaxing in LA

Inside the ASC clubhouse

Curtis Clarke ASC, Michael Goi ASC and Michael Karagosian kindly hosted our final visit to the American Society of Cinematographers’ clubhouse, where the hospitality was hugely appreciated after a long, hot day. This element of our visit to LA proved to be more of a fireside chat about what the ASC believes is important about the future of cinema. It is usually the director and cinematographer that determine what format is chosen for a movie. We discussed our frustrations about the evolving lack of standards for the next generation of technologies, referring back to the work originally done by Texas Instruments demonstrating different capabilities at the clubhouse. We got a sympathetic hearing to the idea of working with EDCF and UNIC to help determine customer needs for the next generation of products. We shall be pursuing those options as part of an initiative to engage with all groups trying to set out requirements that enhance the movie-going experience in a world where new TV standards are ambitious and underway. This was an exciting, stimulating trip for us all, making new contacts for the EDCF and our members. Made in the context of a fastmoving technology environment, the subject discussions and areas of interest regularly came back to the ramifications of this. There are no answers for now, but we are doing our bit to get these items up the global agenda.

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The ICTA has a packed series of events this summer which will help drive the industry forward THOMAS RÜTTGERS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE ICTA l President’s

Banquet. The ICTA Summer Business Retreat takes place in Berlin from 23-27 July Membership of the association is required and accommodation for the event will be centred around the Marriott Hotel am Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. For information on both events go to For enquiries please send an email to office@ or telephone +49 211 52287520.

Seminars At CineEurope

AFTER OUR SUCCESSFUL technical seminar in Munich earlier this year, the ICTA is ready for its next major appearance in Europe: from 18-20 June, the association will be hosting the 22nd ICTA Seminar Series in Barcelona, Spain. The ICTA Europe team has a packed schedule of the multiple seminars, detailed below. Topics including “Active Cinema Screens — the End of Projectors?” and “VR – Killer App or Companion Experience?” are set to attract high numbers of attendees.

The ICTA Awards 2017

On the evening of the first day of the seminar, the attendees will come together for the award presentation. Boos’s Restaurant on the beach close to CCIB will once again be the right setting for the ceremony. In the run-up to the event, the ICTA members voted for the following winners per category: Classic Screen Of The Year Award awarded to Tennispalatsi, Helsinki, Finland New Build Screen Of The Year Award awarded to Hollywood Megaplex Pluscity & IMAX-Theatre, Pasching, Austria (pictured)

New Screen Of The Year Award goes to Arcadia Cinema, Melzo (MI), Italy. In my capacity as ICTA’s international vice president, I look forward to presenting the awards in person to Veronica Lindholm and Janne Uusi-Kölli (Tennispalatsi), the Hueber family (Hollywood Megaplex) and Piero and Laura Fumagalli (Arcadia).

Berlin Convention

The next highlight on the ICTA members’ calendar will be the yearly convention which will take place in Berlin this year. The ICTA Europe team is currently working on putting together an extensive programme for our members. The activities include: l Welcome reception and dinner at the Marriott Hotel l Visit to the 3IT — Innovation Centre for Immersive Imaging Technologies l Tour of the Dome of the Reichstag Building and dinner at Käfer Dachgarten restaurant l Day trip to Studio Babelsberg/Potsdam l Rustic dinner at historical Wirtshaus Moorlake at the Havel River



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Sunday, 18 June, Cinesa Diagonal Mar - Cine 13 l 2pm: Welcome at Cinesa Diagonal Mar l 2.15pm HDR — The Next Big Thing or Just Another Hype? l 3pm Smart Connect — How to Empower Marketing for Personalised Customer Touch Points l 3.30pm: Coffee Break l 3.45pm: Active Cinema Screens — the End of Projectors? l 4.30pm: Innovations In The Pipeline — What’s New In Cinema Technology l 4.50pm: New Sound Format for Large Screen Cinemas l 5.10pm Innovation in Cinema — Pain Points and Relief Missions l 5.30pm: Market Update l 6pm: End of Programme l 8pm: Dinner on the Beach l 9pm:Presentation of Awards Monday, 19 June, CCIB, Room 116/117, Level 1 l 8am: Location Foyer 1, Level 1 l 8.30am: Virtual Reality — killer app or companion experience? l 9.30am: End of Programme Tuesday, June 20th, 2017 Trade Show Floor l 11.30 am: Innovative Ways To Add Screens To An Existing Mulitplex l 12:00: Diversifying the Cinema Going ExperienceThe Business Case l 12:30:Innovations In The Pipeline - What’s New In Cinema Technology l 12:45:Having €50,000 to spend, how can I best spend this to increase profitability? l 1.15 pm: End of Programme


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UKCA launches a “caption competition” for future delivery of subtitles for the hard of hearing Grainne Peat Policy executive, UKCA

universally-adopted CC solution has not been as swift as any would have hoped. Operational and other issues around the Sony device led to the company withdrawing it from the market outside of the US in 2015, and, while several other parties have come to the Association to discuss alternative approaches, no viable solution has yet emerged. With the above impasse in mind, and with a desire to ensure further progress in making the cinema-going experience a truly inclusive one, the UK Cinema Association is now looking to stimulate innovation in this area.

Seeking proposals for the future

FOR THE PAST DECADE and more, UK cinema operators have invested significant resources in improving access for disabled customers. For customers who are deaf or have hearing loss, this has resulted in a significant increase in the number of subtitled or ‘open captioned’ (OC) screenings, to the extent that every week there are now more than 1,200 subtitled shows at UK cinemas; a 120 per cent increase in their provision over the past five years alone. While undoubtedly this is a positive development, the provision and availability of subtitled screenings remains a somewhat contentious issue. Given the dislike the general UK cinema audience has for ‘open’ subtitles on-screen, most operators that provide such screenings choose to do so on a limited basis and outside of peak viewing times. Both of these aspects give rise to a good deal of criticism from those organisations representing disabled people’s rights, who believe that such provision should be available on a more frequent and convenient basis.

Opening minds to “closed” solutions

The provision of ‘closed’ subtitles – those only visible to the individual on a personal device such as a screen or pair of specially-adapted glasses — is seen to offer one way forward. These ‘closed’ caption (CC) devices, if widely adopted, have the potential significantly to increase access to the cinema for disabled customers, and allow for a more integrated audience experience. In March 2013, in partnership with a variety of industry partners, the (then) Cinema Exhibitors’ Association organised a test day, whereby an invited audience of deaf and hard of hearing people were asked to try out the seemingly most viable devices in a ‘real life’ cinema environment. Of those systems tested, in truth none was seen to be perfect. However the glasses-based devices were preferred by the majority of those involved in the test. While the time since has seen the roll-out of the Sony Entertainment Access Glass device — one of those tested — across a large number of sites in the US, progress towards a


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Specifically, working with the BFI and Action on Hearing Loss, the Association will shortly invite proposals to address the provision of ‘closed’ captions. Those invited to be part of this exercise — which will include technology companies, academic institutions and interested organisations and individuals — will be encouraged not to limit themselves to currently understood solutions when formulating their proposals, but will equally need to address the following key principles to find a workable solution: It must support an inclusive cinematic experience, ie people who are deaf or have a hearing loss must be able to enjoy the cinemagoing experience as part of the general audience; It must be viable in financial and operational terms. The solution cannot be prohibitively expensive, nor can it be difficult for staff to maintain or customers to operate; It must also be robust enough to withstand repeated use, and capable of straightforward maintenance or be suitable for single use; The processes by which film content is mastered to supply the device must align or be compatible with existing workflows within the industry. The Association is looking to put together a technology steering group to advise and provide support throughout the process. The fund will launch in the next three months. For more information on how to be involved, please contact Grainne Peat at the UK Cinema Association on grainne.peat@


16/05/2017 14:04

78 cinema technology committee

cinema’s beating heart

The Cinema Technology Committe champions technology as the heart of innovation in cinemas

RichaRd Mitchell chaiRMan iMiS ctc

rise it indicates one thing — people love the big screen and the shared experience of seeing great content on the big screen. This isn’t an industry changing because it’s under threat and needs to, it’s an industry that’s evolving, diversifying and showcasing best-in-breed technologies available because people and companies in this industry care about what they do and providing the moviegoer with an unforgettable experience. Tim League pointed out in his riposte that “we must continue to maintain high exhibition standards, invest in new sound and picture technology, improve the digital experience for our guests, develop innovative ways to delight our guests and ensure that we live up to our one job — making going to the cinema an amazing experience,” and he is absolutely correct. “How did distribution innovate in the movie business in the past 30 years? Well the popcorn tastes better, but that’s about it.” Just before our industry descended on Las Vegas for Cinemacon, Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix) threw out some incendiary comments about cinema which whipped up a storm before the brilliant Tim League, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse replied with an articulate, direct and passionate response which would have received universal applause from the entire movie industry. Now maybe we all over-reacted a little to some off-the-cuff comments, but what struck me was the lack of direction to the comment at the top of this article. It does disservice to an industry that has made major technological step-changes en masse in a short period of time to maintain its prestige as the medium to watch a movie.

Your sixty seconds starts now

As an exercise I timed 60 seconds and listed all of the technological innovations that have hit cinema over the past three decades. Whilst the list isn’t exhaustive it does give some perspective about what we have achieved, much of it through the partnership between distribution and exhibition and for all its criticism, the opportunities that VPF

afforded the industry. Here we go: Digital content delivery infrastructure, digital projection, laser projection, 4K, high frame rate, high dynamic range, wide color gamut, scientifically engineered screen surfaces, LED screens, 7.1 audio, immersive audio, 3D, 4D, reclining seats, moving seats, premium large format, multiple screen formats, augmented reality, virtual reality, pre-show entertainment and gaming, themed auditoriums, in-theatre dining, interactive digital signage, online ticketing seat and concession selection, improved food and beverage offerings. What we have created as an industry through innovation is state-of-the-art entertainment centres where the moviegoer has choice in the setting and format in which they enjoy a wide variety of movies and live events whilst enjoying a range of service offerings pre- and post-movie.

cutting ribbons on new theatres

When you consider that exhibitors in most markets continue to build new theatres whilst renovating existing sites and that in spite of all disruptive technology and an increasingly wide choice of entertainment mediums and on-demand services, box office revenue and admissions continue to

“The imis cTc Team are focused on learning and sharing knowledge on all aspecTs ThaT improve The performance of cinema” CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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Don’t just invest, check

But as well as investing in new technology we must not forget the basics of investing in existing hardware to ensure it is performing at its best. On a fundamental level, simply cleaning or replacing optical components in ageing projectors can improve light output dramatically, as can dust removal from 3D systems, port glasses and even screens. Sometimes it’s the smallest increments that make the difference between a good and bad movie-going experience. The IMIS CTC team, many of whom will be at CineEurope, are focused on learning and sharing knowledge on all aspects that improve the performance of cinema and the movie-going experience through technology (not just in the auditorium). This year, the group will look at pertinent issues such as event cinema content delivery, 3D quality, SMPTE DCP, cinema design principles and accessibility as we strive to help the industry improve customer experience. I’d encourage those of you at CineEurope to seek out a member of the team (see the list on p16) if you’re looking for guidance or support to improve the movie-going experience. Richard Mitchell is VP of Global Marketing and Commercial Development, Harkness Screens

the iMiS cineMa technology coMMittee exiStS to aSSiSt the induStRy in RecogniSing the poSitive Role that technology can have in iMpRoving the Movie-going expeRience.

18/05/2017 11:03




As the Event Cinema Association turns five, it’s impact is beginning to be felt around the world

Melissa Cogavin managing director

now have advisory committees rolling out worldwide to better understand the microissues facing the sector. We’re lobbying government on a variety of issues and supporting our UK members as we find ourselves entering into Brexit negotiations with Europe. We’re chairing a working group to push the provision of subtitles and audio description in event cinema, which is at present woefully inadequate and urgently needs to be addressed.

And China joins the club, too

THE ECA STARTED 2017 WITH A bang — our fourth ECA Conference and Awards took place in February at the QEII Centre in London. Feedback on the content, the venue and the speakers has surpassed all previous events. The exceptional views across the Thames taking in Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye added some glamour and we had a record turnout of 250 attendees from 22 territories worldwide, including Australia, the US and Canada. We have already booked next year’s event so please put 10 October 2018 in your diary! Onward to CinemaCon in Las Vegas in March, and we smashed another great drinks reception with our partners Fathom Events and Cineplex Canada (John Rubey and Brad LaDouceur are both recently appointed ECA board members), and our coffee morning on the Monday was well attended by around 40 ECA members and a number of new friends.

The ECA on tour

Recently we took a road trip around the UK’s Midlands to meet the Derby Quad (pictured above) and Wolverhampton’s LightHouse, which are both absolute gems —it was a privilege to see these sites doing such

impressive work with event cinema. We also popped in to say hello to the lovely Art Deco Savoy Cinema, in Nottingham. As we celebrate our 5th birthday the ECA can be proud that we are now an organisation of 200 members from 38 territories worldwide with multiple achievements: l driving the reporting of event cinema box office receipts through our partnership with ComScore; l our 2015 Technical Delivery Handbook is now due an upgrade and will relaunch in November; l we’re about to publish our third bi-annual industry report; l we’ve had a presence at conventions all over the world and have hosted four of our own high-profile London conferences; l we’ve raised the profile of the industry with four awards ceremonies; l our hugely popular (and about to be relaunched!) cinema trailer helped spread the term event cinema, and it is now used instead of alternative content in much of the English-speaking world Aside from the above, we have ECA representatives in the US, Germany and Russia, supporting our members locally. We

We are delighted to be welcoming our first member from China; Citylights Events in Shanghai and we’ll be working to forge new links and provide our members with the vital information necessary to navigate this complex territory. As part of this initiative we will be offering a ‘Focus on China’ at our ECA Showcase in Barcelona on Wednesday, 21 June from 9am-1pm at the Hotel SB Diagonal Zero, across the road from the CCIB. David Hancock will present the findings from the third instalment of the industry report he has worked on in collaboration with the ECA and ComScore, detailing the progress of event cinema box office stats around the world, and we’ll be inviting some of our members to present their impressions and experiences of the event cinema landscape as they find it. We are also launching a new initiative this year: a tabletop showcase for our distributor and content provider members. The idea is that they will be able to use the facilities at the Hotel Zero to bring their content direct to exhibitors and partners for the first time, all in one room. As part of our mission to support the industry, we feel this opportunity is an essential ingredient to good communication. There will also be a showreel of upcoming releases for 2018. Finally our ECA Drinks Reception will take place from 6pm on the terrace at the Hotel Zero for our invited members and guests, and we’ll be celebrating our 5th birthday in style. I can’t promise fireworks but you may get a slice of cake!


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16/05/2017 12:09

Save the Date Conference 14 – 18 September 2017 Exhibition 15 – 19 September 2017 RAI, Amsterdam


Where the entertainment, media and technology industry does business Join over 1,800 exhibitors showcasing the latest technological innovations, 400+ speakers delivering the latest industry insights and 55,000 attendees providing unlimited networking opportunities at IBC’s 50th annual conference and exhibition. Add dates to your diary Follow us on social media for the latest news and updates #IBCShow 000_CT_JUN17.indd 24

18/05/2017 15:45




Want to know about big technologies? Head to CineEurope this month, says Guillaume Branders


Tangible returns on technology

IN 2016, THE 36 TERRITORIES that UNIC represents, covering a market of 770 million consumers and 35 languages, saw cinema admissions increase by 2.7 per cent; a total of 1.28 billion cinemagoers, grossing more than €8.4 billion at the box office. Cinema-going remains one of the most popular leisure activities and research proves that nothing beats experiencing great films on the big screen. Nevertheless, cinema operators must continue to invest in new technology and experiment with new techniques and tools to interact with their audience. Our objective at UNIC is to assist exhibitors in this endeavour and help them navigate a technologically complex landscape.

The innovation cycle

Cinema operators across Europe continue to innovate and upgrade theatres to provide cutting-edge ever-more immersive cinematic experiences. Together with a growing supply of films, as well as event cinema offers, more dynamic and flexible programming helps to meet increasingly diverse consumer preferences. Cinema-going has evolved into a more engaging experience, confidently competing with online entertainment options.

To further highlight this new state of play to policy-makers and industry leaders, in February UNIC published a report — Innovation and the Big Screen — which illustrated how European cinema operators of all sizes have embraced change to the benefit of their audience and the wider film sector. The report touches on three strands of innovation: creative audience development; the big screen experience; and social innovation. It is available in its entirety on our website ( During CineEurope 2017, the official annual convention of UNIC, which takes place this month in Barcelona from 19 to 22 June, we will organise a panel, entitled Innovation and the Big Screen Experience, in collaboration with the European Commission. This will be part of the European Film Forum, an initiative proposed by the Commission to develop a strategic policy agenda for the European film industry. This panel will give us the opportunity to explore how European cinema can continue to embrace innovation and change in order to grow further its competitive edge in an increasingly global and digitally connected motion picture value chain.

The UNIC Technology Group plays an active role to help exhibitors identify these “game changing” technologies, evaluate new consumer trends and ensure that investment in upgrades leads to tangible returns for our sector. In collaboration with key suppliers, service providers, international bodies, partners from distribution as well as the creative community, the Group actively engages in discussion and projects focused on key challenges and opportunities, such as the SMPTE DCP roll-out across Europe — an operational transition managed by the EDCF in partnership with UNIC. Most importantly, we will continue to ensure interoperability and access to films for all types of cinemas, as the development of a new generation of technology standards will be a strategic imperative for the industry. Recent developments have demonstrated that innovation and change remain a central element of the business. Showcased for the first time during CinemaCon in Las Vegas in April, direct-view LED screens are another technology that could potentially redefine the concept of theatre design and sound and image quality. The same is true for Virtual Reality (VR) and its potential range, from those who see it as primarily a way to market films to others who see it as a fundamental disruptive technology that challenges the cinema business model. We will explore all these topics during the various seminars and panels at CineEurope. We will be partnering with the International Cinema Technology Association (ICTA) on series of focus sessions dedicated to cinema technology, on the trade show floor of the CCIB. These seminars will explore how operators could best diversify their current offer, experiment with theatre designs and investigate the business potential of new technologies. The convention will also serve as a unique opportunity to discover upcoming films, discover new products and network with cinema owners, international film business professionals and key industry suppliers. We hope to see you there!


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EXPERIENCING 4DX Peter J Knight gets a real kick from immersive technology



Each 4DX chair is equipped with motion simulators and programmed for three basic movements: heave, roll and pitch. The combination of these movements in various degrees gives a fluid, dynamic motion that mimics the action on the screen.

echnology, like fashion, goes in circles — especially in cinema. A few years ago, D-Box was introduced. It was the start of the immersive experience, and for years there has been 4D at theme parks (sometimes called 5D). Unlike the 4D or 5D which we have become familiar with in those settings, the 4DX® product is designed to work with major Hollywood titles. Each 4DX auditorium incorporates motion-based seating synchronised with more than 20 different effects designed to complement the on-screen visuals.

The technology 4DX technology is owned and developed by South Korean company CJ 4DPLEX, a part of the CJ Group. It allows a motion picture presentation to be augmented with effects such as seat motion, wind, rain, fog, lights, and scents alongside the standard video and audio. Seats move in a variety of different directions (up, down, forwards, backwards, left, right), with additional lighting and fans in the auditorium ceiling Bring on the thunder: Cineworld Wandsworth is the newest in the chain to get the 4DX treatment



In addition to the seat movements, a 4DX cinema is equipped with environmental effects to enhance the experience. Some of the effects the 4DX experience offers are:




and fogger units by the screen. CJ 4DPLEX also provides its 4DX technology to visitor attractions and similar. A separate control system is linked to the cinema server which receives a data file for the 4DX and it is this which makes the effects work, meaning the system just requires an ‘ordinary’ DCP adapted afterwards, rather than having a whole new version created. 4DX has been around for a while, having launched in 2009 with screens in Korea and then spreading with partnerships in territories including Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Indonesia, Japan and later this year Live Regal Cinemas in LA. As of April, there are 370 4DX® theatres in 47 countries, with additional auditoriums opening. Unlike D-Box, the whole auditorium has to be turned over to 4DX rather than a few rows, with auditoria of about 150-200 seats being preferred. The first film to experience the 4DX technology was Avatar and there are now more than 140 titles including films such as Gravity and Iron Man 3. More than 600,000 people experienced Frozen and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 4DX, but it is not Hollywood titles alone that have the 4DX experience added; there have been a number of event cinema concerts in China, Taiwan and Indonesia, seeing 80-90% occupancy.

in the hot seat My first experience of 4DX was a demo at CineEurope in 2014. It was interesting but not a particularly “real world” experience of the technology. So, having heard much about 4DX, but not having experienced a complete film, I was happy to accept an invitation to watch Logan in the format at Cineworld Wandsworth earlier this year. In 2015, Cineworld at Milton Keynes became the first cinema in the UK to be fitted out

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Warm air


with 4DX and nine Cineworld’s locations, including Wandsworth are now equipped.

A moving experience The auditorium in Wandsworth has only recently been fitted with 4DX and has gone from 250 seats to 148. Nevertheless, with the additional ticket price, the auditorium is taking more money with reduced seating. Organised by DCM and Cineworld, the session began with an introduction to the technology and a demonstration of the way advertising brands and distributors have utilised the system. Admittedly, I am sadly no longer part of the key demographic (18-34) for this cinema experience, which is why I may not have enjoyed an exclusive screening of Logan as much as I would have hoped. At many points, I enjoyed the enhanced experience and, for another title, I could see where it would create a greater immersive impact. My real concern was that sometimes the effects didn’t truly match the on-screen action. For instance, whenever the scene cut to the outside, fans in the ceiling kicked in, even though it was a desert and therefore no breeze; or when inside a limo, my seat vibrated to indicate a car ride. It felt more like I was in an old Land Rover… Additionally, I was able to tell when an internal scene was due to end and switch to the outside because the fans started 10 seconds before the transition. The lack of precise synchronisation was occasionally frustrating — the effect often occurred ahead of the film, i.e. the seat kicked you in the back before the action. I support all technology that encourages people to come to the cinema, and 4DX does a fantastic job of encouraging under-35s to the auditorium. I would happily try it again as it also provides an experience that cannot currently be experienced elsewhere. JUNE 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

16/05/2017 11:25



a celebration of local film CT was delighted to attend the industry day’ that now forms a part of the annual festival of film in Wells


he second Wells Festival of Film celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Wells Film Centre, a family business founded by Derek Cooper, now run by his daughters. The headline-grabbing parts of the festival this year included a celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the movie Hot Fuzz, shot around Wells and directed by the cinema’s one-time employee Edgar Wright, and then premièred at the Film Centre. There were many related events, including walking tours identifying locations used in the film, and magnificent outdoor screenings of the film at the Bishop’s Palace, put on by Geoff Bissex of Filmair, from Bath.

The industry celebrates, too Rather more low-key, but equally celebratory, was the ‘Cinema Industry Day’ organised by Derek and Louise Cooper, which brought together people from different sides of the film industry for presentations, discussions, and even a mini trade-show. The occasion was hosted at the nearby Swan Hotel, which sponsored and provided the lunch. After a welcome from Derek Cooper, a long-time supporter of the UKCA and a tireless worker for the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund, UKCA chief executive Phil Clapp enthusiastically took the audience through a positive review of the state of the cinema industry, reporting that after a record-breaking 2016, cinema attendances in March 2017 were the best for 46 years. He acknowledged the need for the industry to stay at the top of its game at a time when there are so many competing interests, but felt that the regular press reports of Netflix heralding the death of the industry were ‘rubbish’. They are not comparing like with like — going to the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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cinema is a unique ‘out of home’ experience. Nick Adams, of the FDA, talked about their work in developing cinema audiences today and for the future and about their success with anti-piracy measures. He told the audience, which included some exhibitors, that there is a need for more flexibility in regard to the 16-week ‘window’ that separates the end of the cinema run of a movie from its availability in other formats — always a controversial subject to raise! He agreed that going to the cinema is a social experience that can’t be replicated by video on demand and explained the ways in which the FDA promotes cinemagoing.

All this and a trade show, too The afternoon trade show featured stands and merchandise from several concession suppliers, including popcorn and icecream. The Jack Roe stand, manned by the ever-enthusiastic Sandie Caffelle, included supplies of Cinema Technology which were eagerly snapped up by visitors — Sandie is tireless in carrying supplies of CT to the many cinema events she attends worldwide. Delegates later moved to the Wells Film Centre to watch a movie. I was interested to meet two of the young ‘stars’ of the festival, Michael Morris, from Bristol, who produced the movie Mercs and Jon Callow, from Glastonbury, who shot a ‘behind the scenes’ documentary following the cast and crew as Mercs was filmed. The festival showing, a UK première (it had first been shown in Florida), on Blu-ray, was followed by a Q&A session including cast and crew members. This all made for a fascinating series of events — look out for the 2018 festival! Jim Slater Top, filmmakers Michael Morris and Jon Callow; Middle, the festival celebrated the 10th anniversary of Hot Fuzz; Bottom, the UKCA’s Phil Clapp

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18/05/2017 15:47



Projection as an art form A recent exhibition ‘Incoming’ at the Barbican shows how digital projection technology is enabling new art forms and audience engagement.


n extraordinary exhibition in the Curve Gallery at the Barbican, used footage from a military camera capable of detecting an individual from 30.3km day or night, to make a visceral three-channel video installation about the journeys of refugees fleeing conflict. Christie M Series 3DLP projectors were designed with features able to show the luminous footage, with remarkable clarity, at a greatly enlarged size. The immersive quality of the projection, hosted at the Barbican between February and April, underlined how technology is putting new tools in the hands of artists, and how those tools can create new art forms, content possibilities and experiences to keep audiences engaged. It certainly worked — a record 20,000 visitors attended in three weeks, with 2,400 on the opening weekend. For ‘Incoming’, conceptual documentary photographer and Deutsche Börse Photography Prize winner Richard Mosse, worked in collaboration with composer Ben Frost and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten. They followed refugees trying to flee conflict on foot, by boat or vehicle. The camera’s extraordinary telephoto capability picked up staggering details of the human form from a great distance. Of particular interest to readers were the projection arrangements. Projecting on the curved wall were three Christie HD10K-M (3-DLP, 1080P, 11,000 Lumen) projectors, with dual lamp lens. When enlarged in a


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three-channel display over the curved wall, even a human hair filmed from hundreds of metres appeared crisply defined. There are specific aspects of the M-Series processing that allow the projector to produce the quality of these images. The processing in the Christie M-Series was designed to maintain the best possible

expansive video installation. The unusual nature of the camera created distinctive images in terms of resolution and colour – almost black and white. The camera uses a thermal sensor cooled to minus 50 degrees Kelvin. The resulting images, though quite low-resolution, are extremely crisp and enlarge fantastically. They were scaled up to

“ENLARGED ON THE CURVED WALL, EVEN A HAIR FILMED FROM HUNDREDS OF METRES AWAY APPEARED CRISPLY DEFINED” quality video through all aspects of the video path. Some of the key items that make the M-Series work so well with avant-garde cinematography are its true 10-bit processing and enhanced Gamma curve for improved detail definition. When added to proprietary image processing algorithms that are designed to optimise the quality of image resizing, the Christie M-Series is an ideal projector for leading-edge imagery and artistry. The scale of the projections seemed to envelop the viewer, forcing them to confront this reality in high definition, and with a precision that heightened the otherworldly, cinematic nature of the film. Mosse slowed down the footage from its original frame rates to achieve a cinematic quality. The famous ‘curve’ of the Barbican’s 1960s architecture provided the perfect projection wall for this ambitious work, using the three projectors to show a single

8x5.5 metres per screen — the resulting imagery was totally immersive as well as very alien in feel. Mosse said he had never seen cinema look like this. Jim Slater

THE DIRECTOR’S VIEW “It was breath-taking to see the initial test footage on the Christie projector within The Curve at the Barbican,” said Mosse, “The high-end projection technology married to this very unusual military surveillance technology created an experience that felt entirely new, shockingly unfamiliar, and beautifully articulated.” Photos by Tristan Fewings/Getty

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cinema_technology_Layout 1 07/02/2017 20:29 Page 5



PREMIUM 3D SCREENS ENRICHING Dundee Contemporary Arts WHITE GAIN SCREENS EVERY PRESENTATION MONITORING Cinema upgrades to 4K CINEMA APPS AND TOOLS Dundee Contemporary Arts, a leading centre forPROJECT SUPPORT EXPERIENCE. visual culture, is now home to Screen 1 equipped

with state-of-the-art projection facilities.


e show the best in new releases and a unique SEE USprogramme AT CINEMACON of alternative world cinema, all BOOTHand #2203A selected and programmed by ourteam, writes chief projectionist Ian Banks. We recently upgraded Screen 1 to 4K projection. The outgoing projector was an original UK Film Council Digital Screen Network Christie CP2000S. This was still functioning, but it was time to upgrade. We chose a Christie CP4220 4K Projector with the Christie IMB server to replace our system and this was supplied and installed by Arts Alliance UK Cinema have supported both our screens since 2005. We also upgraded Screen 1 to 7.1 and added a new Calibre video scaler.

Our cinema continued to build on its success in 2015–16, with 430 films screened to 93,544 audience members, an increase of nearly 12% on the previous year. We present a huge range of special film seasons and festivals, all increasing the vibrancy of our programme. Screenings of arts and performance films continue to be popular, with audiences enjoying National Theatre Live, Live From The Met, Bolshoi Ballet, and ENO. Our screening of The Guns of Loos proved one of last year’s most significant projects. Working in partnership with The Great War Dundee Partnership, DCA commissioned Stephen Horne to compose an entirely new score for the 1928 film, which had not been screened in Dundee since the 1930s.


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To adverTise, please email MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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A castle fit for royalty A Darren Briggs reports on how Hackney’s Castle Cinema has been reborn new cinema has opened its doors in Hackney, East London. Cinema enthusiasts Asher Charman and Danielle Swift, who previously headed the pop-up ‘Hot Tub Cinema’ and ‘Pillow Cinema’ projects, launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring back to life the Castle Cinema in Hackney, opened in 1913 and last used as a cinema in 1958. More than 650 people raised 120% of the target funding. Over the years, the building, which originally had 619 seats in the stalls and a small balcony area, has been used for bingo, as a warehouse, a snooker hall and then the original stalls area was converted into a convenience store which remains today. Luckily, many of the cinema’s original features remain, such as the barrel roof and decorative plasterwork — it is amazing that these were not destroyed over the years and the many uses to which the site had been put. The small circle had been built out to the proscenium wall in the past to create the upstairs which is divided into two spaces, a bar/restaurant and an office space. The office space has now been converted back to cinema use at the proscenium end of the building. The original projection room has long gone — the space is used for toilets and a kitchen.

LS1S line source surrounds, LW Speakers for stage and sub (chosen as they are slim-line to allow the screen to be as close to the wall as possible, so maximising the auditorium space) l These are fed by a Datasat AP20 cinema

Projection from above Asher wanted to keep visible the original plasterwork above the proscenium which was still intact, so this meant that the room had to be the exact reverse of what we might consider an easy install — adding a projection booth/enclosure in the bar pointing through the wall at a screen where the proscenium is visible. Arts Alliance UK Cinema was contracted to assist the design and installation, and proposed placing the projector above the area, using a front surface optical mirror arrangement to hit the screen. The result is a very neat and tidy installation. Seating is in the form of large armchairs on raised tiers to allow perfect sight-lines — the seating tier system was installed by Asher himself. The adjoining bar serving snacks and drinks makes for a complete evening out. Together, Asher and Danielle and their Castle Cinema have brought back to life a little taste of 1913 cinema décor but with a new state of the art cinema experience.

Technical equipment l The projector is a Christie CP2208 with

Christie IMB-S2 server.

The Datasat AP20 processor feeds the audio in

The ornate barrel roof’s plasterwork has survived

processor. The sound/AV rack is placed at the opposite end of the building, completely remote from the auditorium — this is an arrangement that it is becoming more common to see in cinema installations. l A LANsat content delivery server from MPS is housed in the sound rack. l AV patching is available from beneath the screen to allow the space to be used for events and projection of laptop presentations or hooking in locally any other video and audio sources. l Screen frame and installation by Powell’s l Complete Cinema design and fit by Arts Alliance UK Cinema.


The castle cinema, HACKNEY SCREENS: One Projector: Christie CP2208 Number of seats: 60 Managers: asher charman/danielle swift Website:

l Audio is provided via Christie VIVE range

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17/05/2017 11:32



KEEPING STANDARDS HIGH The CTC’s ‘Making the best of your image’ training course helps the magic of cinema to flourish


he renewed interest among many in the cinema world to ensure that audiences get the most out of their visit is encouraging. The latest CTC ‘Making The Best of Your Image’ presentation training course proved the point — more than 40 people gathered in the Atmos Screen at the Odeon Milton Keynes and there was a definite ‘buzz’ amongst the group as those who care about cinema came together to learn and share experiences. Thanks to the cinema’s general manager Kenny Simmons and Mike Bradbury, Odeon’s head of technology, we were able to use all the facilities. The CTC technical team, Richard Huhndorf, Michael Denner from Dolby, Peter Knight and Dave Norris had spent the previous evening and the early part of the morning checking the equipment and loading the special DCPs used to illustrate what can go wrong with pictures and sound, and to show what ‘perfect’ on-screen results can be like.

Presentation is everything The whole day has been designed to remind cinema staff of the importance of highquality presentation with the message that a little extra care can make all the difference to the cinemagoers’ experience. As the delegates entered the auditorium, the screen was showing digital ‘curtains’ CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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looking as they did in the old days. Welcoming music added to the carefully contrived air of anticipation — then the theatre burst into life with superb showings of promos from Universal and Warner Bros. So good were these that we received requests from delegates as to whether they could have copies for use in their own cinemas. The unfortunate answer was “No”! An on-screen personalised welcome from broadcaster and film enthusiast Mark Kermode strengthened the message that cinema people are important and make all the difference in ensuring films are shown as the director intended. Peter and Dave treated the audience to a well-polished routine, showing movie clips which had been ‘doctored’ to show the on-screen effects of a projector being wrongly set up, coaxing the delegates into guessing what might be wrong and explaining how to fix the problems. They also showed the effects of different sound faults and explained how to cure them. The essence of these courses is full participation, so TLS light meters were distributed around the group to encourage them to make screen brightness measurements for themselves — the hope is that this will encourage regular screen checks in their own cinemas. Sessions on simplifying the complexities of the digital cinema naming

Clockwise from top left: the simplicity of testing screen brightness; Mike Bradbury takes questions; decoding DCPs; and a great turnout

convention and on demystifying the use of KDMs also relied on audience participation. The latest on testing prior to the changeover from Interop to SMPTE DCPs was also provided, and the implications explained.

the event cinema side of things The packed afternoon continued with a presentation on the technical side of event cinema. John Moran, Odeon’s event cinema technical coordinator provided a wealth of practical information about how to make such events glitch-free, and was rewarded with masses of detailed queries from the audience which he answered with aplomb. Mike Bradbury gave a master-class in the state of laser projection, giving rise to lots of questions and the day finished with some spectacular Atmos immersive sound demos, including clips from Everest and Gravity. The final ‘wrap up Q&A’ session continued outside the auditorium as we were ushered out to allow in the paying guests. A really successful day, thanks to all our contributors, to the Odeon Staff and to Sandie Caffelle from Jack Roe who looked after the admin. The CTC is currently considering its next courses — look out for details in Cinema Technology.

16/05/2017 12:52


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18/05/2017 15:16




rationalising aspect ratios



reviously, in the March 2017 issue, we looked at the origins of the cinema’s still popular 2.35:1 (2.40:1) and 1.85:1 picture shapes. Although inherited from the days of film, they have survived the switch to digital, with no general desire from either film-makers or exhibitors to abandon them in favour of, perhaps, a new single ‘digital’ ideal screen shape.

Keeping them in shape The coming of digital projection has helped ensure that pictures are now displayed correctly, without the options presented when showing a film print, sometimes leaving the projectionist to make the final aspect ratio decision. With all of today’s post-production digital manipulation of the image, the picture on the screen can appear very different to that photographed through the film or digital camera’s lens. However, its chosen aspect ratio and framing is now more likely to be preserved. Back in the all-on-film analogue days, it was left to the director of photography, with help from the laboratory, to create the style and look of the image reaching the screen, but its shape and the camera operator’s careful framing was far less secure.

Less scope for spoiling ‘scope The anamorphic 2.35:1 format was in less danger of abuse. Apart from the loss of image when an optical track had to be added to the first CinemaScope films, originally photographed for their magnetic sound only 2.55:1 prints, most would go missing due to architectural problems, with cinemas trying to fit its wider picture into unsuitable prosceniums designed for the much smaller 4:3 screens, common before the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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1950s big-screen revolution. Some would say goodbye to them altogether, often losing seats to build a new wider screen frame and curtains in front, now becoming the main centre of attraction and, like cinemas in the future, no longer having to compete with the auditorium’s

Adding an optical track to ‘scope’s original 2.55:1 magnetic sound only format reduced it to 2.35:1. This squeezed image uses the full frame area, leaving very narrow framelines. In the reduce the risk of joins appearing on the screen, the height of the projection aperture was reduced a little to give the now also quoted 2.39:1 and 2.40:1

17/05/2017 12:07





Some theatres couldn’t present ‘sco pe to its best advantage, with 4:3 and Wide Screen often appearing to be larger

Many prosceniums didn’t suit the new wider screens, so a new one was sometimes built in front, in this case also hidin g the exit doors

An interesting solution, to keep the ‘4:3’ proscenium at the historic Elec tric Cinema in Portobello Road. The scre en moves forward and expands sideway s to provide for today’s wide screen pictu res.

A reduced 4:3 picture, to prevent it from being cropped by a wide screen gate

FEW IN THE AUDIENCE WOULD NOTICE IF THE PICTURE WASN’T WIDE ENOUGH often highly elaborate decor of the past. Unfortunately, some theatres didn’t have the room to spread out, and even in some of the much later smaller and narrower auditoriums squeezed into the first multi-screen conversions and multiplexes they chose to reduce the width of their ‘scope picture to keep it a reasonable height. It was thought that few in the audience would notice that it wasn’t wide enough, but more likely to complain that they hadn’t left home and their televisions sets only to come to the cinema and watch another small screen.

Too many ratios to get wrong In greater danger of complaints was the alternative masked-frame ‘wide screen’ method of producing a wider picture. When introduced, together with CinemaScope in 1953, three different amounts of cropping emerged, producing aspect ratios of 1.66:1, 1.75:1 and 1.85:1.

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Before long, Hollywood would settle on 1.85:1 as its ideal screen shape, but in the UK, despite a recommended standard of 1.75:1, our cinemas would continue to show all three. Most of the West End and other showcase theatres had lenses and aperture plates to present all the available ratios, but many local cinemas chose just one to suit their individual auditoriums.

Making the most of all the shapes If space permitted, it was generally thought that a common height for all the ratios was the best arrangement, opening out from the occasional old ‘small’ 4:3 picture, through the selected wide screen ratio, to show ‘scope to its best advantage. This favoured 1.85:1, but in theatres with restricted available width, they preferred to have movable top masking to allow for a larger 4:3 and wide screen picture. This time, it was 1.66:1 which gave a bigger image, sometimes with a greater area

‘Wide Screen’ only projects a portion of the 35mm frame. Sometimes, only the chosen aspect ratio is photographed on the film, as below


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than ‘scope. On the production side, our nonanamorphic films were also being composed in different ratios. 1.66:1 remained popular during the 1960s. As an example, the sets for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, including the famous war room, were designed for its higher frame. Although still in use in many cinemas, 1.75:1 would begin to lose favour as a filming format, with a growing trend to follow Hollywood’s 1.85:l, particularly for films with international ambitions. Before only ‘scope’s 2.35:1 could contain all their

further cropping up to 1.85:1 during projection. Now this ‘hard’ masking on the print sometimes extended down to 1.85:1, a ploy to impose this ratio with assured framing. The move to 1.85:1 becoming the universal standard received a boost with the coming of the cinema’s saviour, the multiplex.Apart from, perhaps, screen one, their designers simplified the projection and screen arrangements by only providing for 2.35:1 and 1.85:1, banishing 4:3 and the other ratios forever. To save them from the chop, the few remaining 4:3 films,

THE MOVE TO 1.85:1 BECOMING THE UNIVERSAL STANDARD RECEIVED A BOOST WITH THE COMING OF THE MULTIPLEX action, the first Bond films began modestly on 1.66:1 screens, but changed to 1.85:1 when they briefly shrank back to non-anamorphic filming during the 1970s. Also in the 1970s, many cinemas were giving up 1.66:1 after frame lines began to appear on the screen. Some widescreen films had used a maskeddown gate in the camera, but usually this had stopped at 1.66:1, with the image itself either composed for this ratio, or for CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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including a number of Disney re-issues, had to reduce the size of the image to make it fit into the centre of the reduced height 1.85:1 frame.

Clash of the ratios All this seemed to go unnoticed by many film-makers. As late as the 1990s, published guides and manuals for cinematographers still suggested that they still had the choice to shoot in 1.66:1.

KEN ADAM’S INC REDIBLE WAR ROOM SET IN DR. STRANGELOVE CAN BE SEEN AT ITS BEST IN THE FILM’S INTENDED 1.66:1 RAT IO Even new 35mm cameras, like the Arriflex 535, came with a 1.66:1 option built into its illuminated viewfinder guidelines. The lack of an agreed common ratio would inevitably lead to films being composed for one ratio, but shown in another. This can result in either 1.85:1 on a 1.66:1 screen with the headroom looking sloppily loose, and the risk of a microphone creeping into the picture, or more likely, 1.66:1 films at 1.85:1 with noticeably cropped head and foot room.

Don’t shoot the projectionist The end of the practice of including full aspect ratio information on the film’s leader and can, together with a growing disconnect between the production and exhibition sides of the industry, would lead to many ‘misunderstandings’ about the ‘correct’ aspect ratio, often leaving the projectionist to take the flack. Busy directors of photography and their camera operators often only see the results of their work under the controlled conditions of daily rushes, crew shows and other special studio viewings, rarely

17/05/2017 12:07


ONE FILM, THREE DIFFERENT SCREEN SHAPES venturing out to share the experience with other cinemagoers at local cinemas. Film festivals often bring film-makers and projectionists together. Unfortunately, sometimes this leads to a director ending up in a huff complaining that his film, often a revival, is being ruined by careless framing and in the wrong ratio. In defence of their presentation and showmanship skills, all that the projectionist can do is point to the can, which often simply states that the aspect ratio is ‘flat’ or ‘1.85:1’, used this time as a catch-all term to describe any film not presented in ‘scope. Given sufficient notice and the nature of these events, the projectionist would, of course, have made every effort possible to project the print in the requested screen shape, even if special arrangements had to be made. In other situations when a full range of screen shapes are available, but without instructions regarding which to use, the projectionists must use their own judgement. As a rule, American films can safely be shown at 1.85:1. On rare occasions individual films come with different advice. Spielberg’s Duel (originally a TV movie) and E.T. apparently look best at 1.66:1, but can be shown at others, ‘not exceeding 1.85:1’. For the UK’s own past films, and those from abroad, clues to the ratio include the




width of the framelines, the design of the titles, and the amount of headroom that has been provided.

What’s going on, or not, on the screen At times over the years, interested parties, such as the BKSTS and BSC, have expressed concern about the situation. In touch with its camera operator members, The Guild of British Camera Technicians drew attention to the unhappiness felt by


still projecting their non-anamorphic films on 1.75:1 screens.

Digital help on the horizon Eminent cinematographers would also put their weight behind ways to end the conflict. Usually this involved, like the old 1.37:1, and the 2.35:1 anamorphic formats, simply photographing a tamper-free 1.85:1 image on the camera negative. They had to convince others, including the distributors,

IN THE END, IT WOULD BE THE ADVENT OF DIGITAL CINEMA THAT PUT MINDS AT REST many of them that their fastidious framing for the format being photographed could not always be appreciated by the audience. Some of the last 1.66:1 films, like Hope and Glory and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, were being shown almost exclusively in 1.85:1. Fortunately, today’s trend to much tighter close-ups makes this less noticeable. Even Shirley Valentine, also confirmed by its operator to be framed for 1.66:1, received its Royal Première in the wrong 1.75:1 ratio, although it is unlikely that all the celebs, including the Prince and Princess of Wales, noticed the error. This was blamed again on the lack of information, and the inquest also revealed that even by the beginning of the 1990s, 50%, of Odeon cinemas were

who were sometimes willing to have the laboratory mask down the picture on the cinema prints, but still appreciated having extra image on the original negative for conversion to the aspect ratios of other presentation methods, from television at home to giant screen IMAX. However, attention would soon turn to the challenges of digital imaging. There were suggestions that 1.85:1 should be changed to 1.78:1 to match the new shape of digital television, which was about to share the cinema’s wider window on the world. In the end, it would be the advent of digital cinema which would at last put minds at rest, finally only sending a fixed protected image to the projector and out of the lens in the selected, perfectly framed, aspect ratio.

Ready to shoot in 1.66:1, but with the risk of being disarmed in 1.85:1

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17/05/2017 12:08



Vorsprung Durch Technik Working for car makers can be a literal case of watching paint dry, says Billy Bell


orking on film production was never one of my favourite assignments. The waiting is endless, whilst the film director, after taking numerous shots of a particular scene, decides that the first take was the best one after all. The old adage that “A true artist is never satisfied” usually applies to someone who suffers from an obsession of indecision. One crew member, who worked on a film directed by the late Sir David Lean, told me the story of a camera platform, which had been specially rigged at great expense, in readiness for the filming of a street scene in A Passage to India. On the day that the renowned director arrived to direct the street scene, and with a crowd of extras already booked for the day, Sir David said that the sun was in the wrong position and that the camera platform would have to be re-erected on the other side of the street…

with the lens set on a low stop value, and if the scene is not being recorded, to remove the porthole glass. I spent the first day setting up the projection equipment in a makeshift booth and was then asked to be at the studios by 7o’clock the following morning, when the filming of the “Ben Hur” chariot race sequence was scheduled to take place.

“The rig got only halfway round, when the horse disgraced itself whilst at full gallop” Most directors whom I’ve met give the impression that they‘re making decisions on the hoof. This took on a literal meaning when I was asked to set up projection equipment and to provide general advice at Isaac St. Studios in East London for a television commercial for Audi cars. The storyline was to show how the roadholding or, co-efficient of friction, of Audi cars, compared with the chariot race in the classic Ben Hur. Stroboscopic bar lines are the main concerns of directors of photography when filming a picture from the silver screen and whether there will be sufficient brightness and also that the aspect ratio is correct for the period. I have always found that stroboscopic problems are usually overcome by matching the shutter angle of the camera to that of the projector, also to maximise screen brightness by filming from the reflected angle of a high-gain screen, with fast film in the camera and CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2017

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I arrived exactly on time next morning, but waiting for something to happen seemed endless as I watched white gloss paint dry on a large circular area of the studio floor, which was being prepared for the main event. When the paint was finally dry, the director called for camera action. A white horse pulling a replica Roman chariot and driven by a Charlton Heston lookalike, dressed as a gladiator, clattered into the studio and began to circuit the studio floor at great

Never work with children or animals. In this instance, Audi should have heeded the mantra

speed. This Roman rig, however, got only halfway around the course when the horse disgraced itself, amazingly, whilst still at full gallop. During the subsequent clean-up operation, a member of the film crew, who was allergic to horses, was taken violently ill, with coughing, sneezing and streaming eyes and was eventually sent home. The floor was re-painted, while, once again, I watched and waited. By late evening, and after many takes, the director decided that the white horse and chariot scene was finally in the can. It was now my turn to show the filmic episode from Ben Hur. But as the screen was being rigged, a continuity girl rushed in and began taking photos of the projection setup. She told me that the production company’s time at Isaac St. studios ran out at midnight. I was then asked to dismantle the projection equipment and to re-assemble it at Shepperton Studios the following morning, where the final scenes for this TV advert would be filmed. I am still waiting to see this finished ad appear on television, but I shall always remember this particular assignment as “Vorsprung Durch Technik”… and the pony and trap. Billy Bell died, aged 90, in February 2014, but left a legacy of unpublished stories which Cinema Technology magazine will be proud to publish in the coming years.

16/05/2017 11:43

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19/05/2017 11:50



Paul Huis in ‘t veld from GoFilex looks at how much more cinema distribution could be achieving paul huis in ‘t veld gofilex

OUR KIDS LIKE what we are doing, connecting cinemas to an innovative network for delivery of features, trailers, and livestreaming, but I have a hard time explaining to them why cinema owners don’t use the “Big Screen” in a way kids use their phones or our smart TV. “We can do much more,” they say. Content owners are looking for new added value possibilities, cinema owners want new features that are commonplace in other digital industries. The common denominator is not only the cinema visitor but also the “free flow of content” for the cinema visitor — remember that their ticket pays everybody’s bill.And yes, the children are all right to be posing these questions.

The old-fashioned business model

In all parts of the film industry supply chain, stakeholders and vendors still use traditional, ‘old-fashioned’ business models based on customer end-to-end ownership. This holds back the collective innovative opportunities, to the detriment of all. Why is this happening? Why do we need new solutions? Let’s go back to my children’s questions. With our background in logistics and IT, it was already common in the 1990s that highend supply chains focused on “Value adding

and Value sharing”. This was achieved because both customers and vendors had a common interest in focusing on the best interests of the customer. For example, in a lot of industries, it is quite normal for relevant parties in a supply chain to share operational information, not just on their own processes, but also on the mutual processes that affect each other. This was followed by establishing easy ways of technical integration to move the customers’ products downstream between the different vendors — towards the customer and the customer of the customer. Each vendor was thus able to focus on the true value they add as they move products through the supply chain from source to consumer. Ebay can deliver a supplier’s product using a courier and get it quickly to your doorstep purely because all stakeholders in the chain are focused on best practice and the value they add to their part of the whole process. But it is not only having the willingness to work together towards common goals — they could not do this without using the available technologies within their separate businesses. Networking cinemas is a key step to the future. Our company is only focused on best practices within the “last mile”, so we constantly innovate our digital delivery



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services. Simple e-delivery in 2008 was followed by live-streaming in 2012, and by 2014 we established partnerships with other vendors whose own business is sending deliverables to cinemas, effectively using a “lane” on the digital highway that we created. It is not that we must own the last mile, we created an entry point to be shared, enabling partners to benefit from our technologies and innovations, avoiding others’ having to cope with things that are not their specialty. They know it is our specialty — they rely on it and on us. “Networking” cinemas allows content owners and cinemas to have a free flow of content and services. But the advantages for the film industry are just starting. The SMPTE DCP distribution format is a step forward which allows the benefits to be shared. Each vendor of part of the content can deliver it through our network, driven by the upper layer process between booking and screening, directly towards where the content is needed on the screen. Users can change their supply chain and post-production processes to reduce time to market their content. Cinema equipment vendors are already using new methods to show content on screen, and there will be more innovations. Software systems for cinemas are slowly becoming “cloud based” which will create flexibility between booking and screening, increasing the variety of content that a cinema owner can choose.

Keeping the customers satisfied

So, are we getting anywhere near making my children happier? Remember, they are the current and future cinema visitors. Yes, there is some movement. But it can be done quicker. Looking at the technologies used in other businesses, we still have huge steps to make in working with each other before a cinema owner can do the same as our kids to interact with content. Using and applying proven existing technologies makes it possible to focus on adding value, based on a vendor’s core business instead of end-to-end solutions requiring total ownership. This will speed up the willingness to co-operate in the different fields of technology used by the film industry in each step from shooting to screening. Cinemas are packed with digital kit, but we’re nowhere near to maximizing the use that could be made of the current technologies, to everyone’s ultimate benefit.

16/05/2017 12:59

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