t s a rt ar ea ye e h e y th f th str o du in
The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals
March 2017 cinematechnologymagazine.com
Th e po so w lut er io yo ns ur th bu at si let ne P ss oS
Th e in t i d to us ck mo tr et i y rr o ng ow f
Laser tomatoes The future, now
The science behind what we seeâ&#x20AC;Ś And how we project it on the big screen
Does the technological arms race need to be kept in check in our cinemas?
001_CT _MAR17_COVER.indd 1
A peek at the theatres of the future to celebrate 30 years of Cinema Technology
Vol 30, No1 produced in partnership with
MORE IS LESS
Over 16 years ago, QSC re-defined what a cinema booth monitor could – and should – do. Today, we’ve raised our own standard. The new DPM Series processors combine the functionality and control features you love in our DCM Series with serious DSP processing power usually found in more expensive processors. Its processing capability includes room and speaker equalization, screen channel crossovers, amp fault detection, and audio monitoring via an onboard speaker. And with Intrinsic Correction™ for QSC cinema loudspeakers, you’re assured of the best possible sound with minimal set-up time. The result is the most cost-effective processor for any 5.1 or 7.1 cinema application. With two models to choose from (with or without HDMI in/out), the new two-rackspace DPM Digital Processor/ Monitor proves that you really CAN do more with less.
qsc.com QSC and the QSC logo are registered trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries.
Untitled-7 More is less1297x210mm ad.indd 1
23/02/2017 11:41 11/4/16 4:21 PM
Get back to what you love: sharing great films The cinema business comes down to sharing great films with people you know will love them. That’s why Arts Alliance Media is a proud supporter of film festivals and independent cinema. It’s also why our software makes it easier to create special film experiences, no matter how many screens you have.
Our theatre management system takes care of your content so you can spend more time running your cinema. With our Screenwriter TMS you can control all of your screens from a single central location, build schedules at the touch of a button, automate time-consuming tasks, and free up more time to make the movies magical. www.artsalliancemedia.com
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Event Cinema MPS delivers
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t s a rt ar ea ye e h e t h f t h s t ry o du in
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INSIDE THIS ISSUE March 2017 • Vol 30 • No 1 NEWS 008
The last of the ABCs shuts its doors, and an industry legend is honoured The BKSTS faces a bold new future — as the International Moving Image Society
COLUMNS The EDCF’s inaugural convention 062 identified key technical issues
TEchnical developments cinema” — a new 052 “Autonomous workflow from Unique that aims,
Features Down by the seaside, Scott Cinemas 060 has created something special in the
Movie Reading is a new app that looks 057 set to shake-up the accessibility arena
The thorny question of cinematic 075 presentation was tackled at BSC Expo
radically, to simplify digital cinema
Physical DCP deliveries? Not in the QubeWire world, from Qube Cinema
ICTA’s January technology seminar was 064 Focus: Queuing at the box office is a a real hotbed of developments 015 Inthing of the past — Cinema Technology UKCA is powering ahead into the 065 The investigates the ticketing solutions year, with big plans to nurture our talent
Savoy, Exmouth. Jim Slater takes a tour
The annual CTC awards celebrate the best in the business — we reveal who
Grant Lobban explores the history of the 076 well-framed 1.85:1 cinema format Earthquake! Billy Bell has his fillings 080 rattled by a Seventies disaster movie
that harness the potential of digital Events in focus the ECA, groundbreaking productions 067 At David Hancock reflects on the 023 help to put event cinema on the map Patrick von Sychowski reflects on the 037 technological lie of the land — is digital highlights of December’s CineAsia loves an innovator, as UNIC’s development too complex or necessary? 068 Cinema review of the state of the market shows month’s ECA conference covered 041 Laast Barco’s Goran Stojmenovik, an expert 027 truly astounding range of topics on laser projection, explains wider colour gamuts… in terms of tomatoes
TEchnical developments The big DCP changeover — what you 033 need to know about the SMPTE rollout Does refurbishing early laser projectors 044 make sense? It’s a qualified yes… and no
the the is
inema Technology is 30 this year. To C celebrate, key industry figures ponder on the state of the cinema world in 2047…
The inspiring 2016 Bernard Happé 050 lecture gave a taste of audio’s future
And one last Thing… Sony’s Oliver Pasch argues that, in 082 technical terms, we should take the time to appreciate what we have already
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 enquiries, write to: Roland Brown, President, IMIS, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH, UK; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
from the editor March 2017 • Volume 30 • No.1
With CinemaCon upon us, CineAsia still in the memory and CineEurope in June in our sights, the international nature of our business has never been clearer. Ongoing tests to ensure that the switch from ‘Interop’ DCPs to the worldwide introduction of standardised SMPTE DCPs happens seamlessly have shown how, in the era of digital cinema, engineers from around the globe can work together for the greater good. It’s a competitive world, and with the rapid development of technologies such as laser projection, immersive sound, and improved images, it is good to see how manufacturers, each with their own solutions, recognise the need to work alongside others to ensure a degree of standardisation. It ensures films can be shown anywhere, whilst allowing their own products’ technical attributes to be seen. Ensuring cinema screens display the images that the director intended is an increasingly important topic in an era when everything can be manipulated in the post-production chain. As discussed previously in CT, the British Society of Cinematographers has
expressed concerns that new generations of projectors may not always produce the images they intended. It is good to see the BSC is working closely with projector manufacturers, CTC members and technical managers of cinema chains to ensure ‘what you see is what the Director intended’. ‘Innovation and the Big Screen: The Future of Digital Cinema in Europe’ was the title of a conference held in the European Parliament building in Brussels during February. UNIC, the International Union of Cinemas, has long recognised the importance of working with the European Commission in order to foster innovation in cinema, and it is good for the Commission always to be reminded of the ongoing importance of the cinema industry. ‘Exploring the Cinema Going Experiences of Tomorrow’ was one of the main themes of the conference, discussing many of the technical topics with which Cinema Technology is familiar, but, probably more importantly, seeking wider strategies for growth — how can we best make use of the range of new possibilities to ensure cinema continues to be successful in decades ahead? Quite coincidentally, a similar question was put to the members of the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee, guardians of technical propriety for this magazine. The year 2017 marks the 30th anniversary of Cinema Technology, so as well as looking back briefly at the past three decades we asked them to predict what cinema-going would be like 30 years hence. Apart from technological predictions (even those making them realised these were perhaps the least important factors), it was comforting to read that most felt that in 2047 people would still choose to go out to share the experience of watching a film. Our industry has a future — but the experience must remain special. We report in this issue how Event Cinema is continuing to grow. It will be fascinating to see how cinema-going is affected as new genres of events are introduced, providing different experiences and further good reasons to go to the cinema.
Jim Slater, Managing Editor email@example.com
Writing in this issue… 1
MAR17_EDS LETTER.indd 7
PATRICK von SYCHOWSKI
David is research director for film and cinema at IHS Markit. In this issue, he explores the rate of technological development in the cinema industry, p23.
Goran is senior product manager at Barco. With a PhD in Engineering physics, he currently specialises in lasers, the subject he discusses in depth on p27.
Based in Singapore, Patrick is the editor of the online site, Celluloid Junkie and a leading industry consultant. On p37, he reviews the recent happenings at CineAsia.
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
NEWS CT’s round-up of the latest industry news and events
FINAL CURTAIN FOR THE LAST ABC...
Veritek boosts its engineering teams
Veritek’s investment in further digital cinema training has resulted in a total of 29 full-time engineers focusing on digital cinema service and maintenance in the UK. Recent training at Sony’s base in Basingstoke centred on the Sony 320 and 520 (SRX-R515 and SRX-R320) digital cinema projector series, covering all aspects of maintenance and breakdown. This has been supplemented with in-field training James Salamon of Veritek said: “We offer a 9am to midnight, seven days a week NOC and on-site support service for D-Cinema manufacturers and cinemas throughout the UK and beyond. In fact, Veritek has more than double the number of employed UK-based D-Cinema engineers than any other service business. In Germany we have employed 12 engineers, offering an unrivalled solution there too”. Veritek has around 200 engineers across Europe supporting not only D-Cinema but technology within the digital imaging, graphics print, healthcare and ophthalmology sectors too. James continues: “We have been focussing on service excellence since 1985; regardless of sector, we don’t sell product we simply help our customers maintain the highest levels of up-time.”
Bournemouth’s ABC, the last of the once proud chain that began in 1927, closed with a packed house for a special charity celebration showing of Back to the Future on 4 January. Its neighbouring Odeon cinema, which once had an auditorium seating 2,300, closed shortly afterwards, paving the way for the opening of the magnificent new 10 Screen Odeon multiplex in the BH2 development a few hundred yards away. The old Odeon and ABC had boasted some of the largest cinema screens still remaining in the UK, so it is encouraging to know that the ISENSE screen in the new cinema will keep up this tradition with a magnificent 18x10 metre screen showing ‘scope pictures 16.9 x 7.19 metres high.
...BUT ONE ENTHUSIAST KEEPS THE ABC FLAG FLYING
Veritek Engineers Andy Nicholson, Nick Grant, Michael Richings, Richard Neale, Tim Haslum, Stuart Boyd in training with Sony
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
As the last real ABC closed, it was fascinating to read in the press of bus driver Anderson Jones of Stoke-on-Trent who has spent a reported £70,000 building a replica ABC cinema in his garden. The 40ft long, 34-seat cinema, has a 17ft screen, original fittings from a long-closed ABC cinema, and a 35mm projector. To get in touch or donate ABC memorabilia, email firstname.lastname@example.org www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
Event cinema? MPS delivers
Event Cinema MPS delivers
Hot on the heels of the successful Event Cinema Association conference held last month in London (see page 41), Motion Picture Solutions has launched its latest brochure outlining the state of the event cinema market and the extent of its services in this sector. Simon Tandy, MPS’s event cinema advocate, explains: “Our goal was not to produce a brochure that overtly sells our products, but rather to present an objective view of the event cinema market and its future as we see it. Of course, we’re happy to help out where we can, but we’d rather people in the distribution and exhibition communities read it, study the case studies it presents and use those and the other learnings inside to help drive forward a sector that we really love being involved in.” www.motionpictures olutions.com www.lansat.com
MPS Event Cinema Outside
TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF “EVENT CINEMA: MPS DELIVERS”, VISIT WWW.LANSAT.COM
BOB SIMPSON HONOURED
Cinema Technology is delighted to congratulate BKSTS Fellow Robert Simpson on the award of his MBE in the New Year’s Honours list for services to the audio-visual industry. As founder and now director emeritus of the Electrosonic Group, Bob has helped to define the AV industry over 50 years, initially developing sophisticated slide projection and ‘multi-image’ presentations, moving on to engineering large scale audio-visual installations and complex multi-media shows around the world. He has written many books on audio-visual and lighting control topics, and has contributed significant articles to the magazine. Bob’s award fully satisfies the criterion for the MBE, which is awarded “for an outstanding achievement or service to the community which will have had a long-term, significant impact and stand out as an example to others”. On hearing of the honour, Robert said that he has thoroughly enjoyed being in an industry which has developed out of all recognition in nearly 53 years since Electrosonic was founded, and is proud of the contribution that the company has made.
Unique Digital has announced a number of deals and rollouts that expand its suite of software services in a number of territories. In China, Unique has recently signed an exclusive reseller partnership with Sagaology Beijing Limited, making the Unique Digital suite of software solutions available to the Chinese Exhibitor market. Sagaology will work with local Exhibitors and Integrators to debut RosettaBridge TMS, RosettaNet eTMS, and Basekey KDM management services to the Chinese market, providing installation, training services and product knowledge along with ongoing first line local support services. Additionally, Sagaology will be the primary provider of Unique Digital’s pre-show solutions suite, with software’s such as Advertising Accord, Smart Trailering and Unique’s DCP.io, which provides a new level of DCP asset quality control.
UK + Ireland
In Ireland and the UK, Unique Digital is rolling out its RosettaBridge and RosettaNet TMS suite of products to Omniplex Cinema Group. After a successful multi-site trial, Omniplex will deploy RosettaBridge TMS, RosettaNet eTMS and Basekey KDM management solutions throughout its cinemas, adding TMS services to its existing Unique Digital Movie Transit installs. In the UK, Odeon Cinemas will be receiving Unique’s RosettaNet Enterprise Theatre Management Solution. Its ability to link all of Odeon’s existing RosettaBridge TMS locations together through a single, secure interface brings new flexibility and capability to the Odeon team. Odeon group head of cinema technology, Mike Bradbury, responsible for over 100 cinemas and 850 screens, said “Unique Digital has always been an innovator, creating solutions that drive efficiencies in our workflow. The deployment of RosettaNet has been a big change for Odeon, allowing us to run our cinema management function from one location across our entire estate.”
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
FIND YOUR MOVIES WITH FILMFISH
“A movie recommendation site that thinks about movies the way people do — no more algorithms!“ — that is the claim made by FilmFish, a crowdfunded company set up by friends Alex Stephenson and Phillip Sull, both 24 years old and frustrated by the difficulty of choosing what to watch when so much is available online. Current suggestion algorithms didn’t work to provide them the movies they wanted to watch, so they developed FilmFish, an app which
uses human curation from expert film buffs, including Emmy-winning critics and Hollywood actors, instead of algorithms. The 15,000 movies available for streaming have been sorted into hundreds of different niche categories so that users can find a movie to suit their mood. FilmFish also allows you to browse all their subscription providers at once (Netflix, Amazon Prime etc) for a complete viewing experience — everything is brought into one place.
FOR MORE DETAILS, VISIT WWW.FILM-FISH.COM
QSC Cinema acquires USL
QSC has acquired Ultra Stereo Labs, Inc. but for the near term, USL will continue to operate as usual. QSC believe that USL will be a a good strategic fit at a time when exhibition chains and cinema suppliers are consolidating to provide better value and more complete systems offerings to their customers. There is some overlap between the two company’s offerings, but for the most part, they are complementary. Future integration of QSC technologies with USL products has the potential to bring new solutions to the cinema market, and will be explored by the integration team being set up to develop a seamless plan building on the strengths of both companies. QSC and USL have similar perspectives on the cinema products industry and overall technology trends, and a shared passion for the industry.
GALALITE INTRODUCES “SCREEN OF TOMORROW” Leading cinema screen technology company, Galalite, recently unveiled its marketing campaign for 2017, named “Screen of Tomorrow”. It focuses on one of the main components of Galalite’s success – futuristic innovation, and how it is changing the future of cinematic storytelling. The tagline, “Galalite Screens: The future of the movie viewing experience”, emphasises that what Galalite thinks today, others think tomorrow. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
Galalite’s use of cutting-edge technology produces screens designed to reduce hotspotting, increase gain, and provide the most life-like colours and effects. Unlike regular cinema screens, Galalite’s are treated with an innovative coating that prevents yellowing and is safe for the environment. Galalite’s Yusuf S Galabhaiwala, said, “We are constantly innovating our product and staying ahead of the trends. Our latest campaign showcases this”.
BKSTS HEADS INTO A BOLD FUTURE UNDER A NEW BRAND…
The BKSTS is celebrating its 85th anniversary by rebranding and relaunching itself as the International Moving Image Society (IMIS). The Society has reflected on the evolving nature of the industry and established this new brand which it believes is better aligned to address current changes in the industry as well as future developments. The Society is not only looking towards encompassing traditional formats like feature films, television, short films, commercials, and music promos but also non-traditional formats such as virtual reality, interactive mediums, gaming, mobile video, web series and more. In addition, the Society has laid out its aims to inspire, train, educate, and connect all members of the industry, whether at entry or professional level, around the world. The Society plans to offer new seminars and events open to members and the public, training courses, opportunities for online and in-person networking, and to expand its accreditation programme. The Society is aiming to build strong alliances with other societies, guilds and associations, both in the UK and around the world, in order to fulfil its mission. For more information visit the International Moving Image Society’s new website at: www.societyinmotion.com MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
A NEW CINEWORLD IMAX FOR ASHFORD? BKSTS CINEMA TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE Richard Huhndorf (Chairman), Max Bell, Mike Bradbury, Chris Connett, Laurence Claydon, Michael Denner, Tom Dodgson, Rachael Eldrett, Keith Fawcett, Fred Fullerton, Graham Hughes, Denis Kelly, Peter Knight, Graham Lodge, Adam MacDonald, André Mort, Richard Mitchell, Mark Nice, David Norris, Ngozi Okali, Kevin Phelan, Rich Phillips, Julian Pinn, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Paul Schofield, Jim Slater, Russell Smith, Simon Tandy, Chris Tostevin, Paul Willmott, and Demir Yavuz.
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. www.magprint.co.uk 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. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com Views expressed in Cinema Technology are not necessarily the views of the Society.
EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: JIM SLATER 17 Winterslow Road, Porton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK T: +44 (0) 1980 610544 E: Jim.Slater@SlaterElectronics.com 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
Picturehouse has submitted plans for an extension to the Cineworld cinema complex at the Eureka Leisure Park near J9 of the M20 in Ashford. The application is for a further three screens at the Cineworld site, to include an IMAX screen which, if approved, would be only the second in Kent. The expansion at Eureka will complement the proposed six-screen town centre cinema at Elwick Place. In this separate development, Ashford Borough Council has just announced that the town centre cinema will be operated by Picturehouse, Cineworld’s boutique cinema brand. Cineworld says that it is committed to bringing the best cinema choice to Ashford customers — and that means providing both an out-of-town multiplex experience at Eureka, which will include new IMAX and 4DX theatres, and an in-town boutique cinema offer with a best-in-class, tailor-made, food and beverage service at Elwick Place. Cineworld’s commitment to bring the boutique Picturehouse brand to Ashford town centre should make a real difference to the local economy, including in the evening, strengthening the existing leisure offer and benefiting the town as a whole.
Arts Alliance wins JinyiGuangMei deal
AAM has been selected by cinema operator JinyiGuangMei to provide automated scheduling and content management across its entire cinema chain. AAM’s Producer and Screenwriter solutions will be deployed in all 150 of JinyiGuangMei’s screens, which span over 15 sites across China. The deal was concluded with AAM’s Chinese reseller partner, Guangdong Pearl River Cine & Video Equipment Co., Ltd. The combination of Producer and Screenwriter will provide JinyiGuangMei with an extensive, at-a-glance view of what is happening across all its sites,
including early warning of any potential upcoming errors. Producer also offers complete transparency over what has played and where, with reporting from each screen available at the touch of a button. AAM’s Producer circuit management software will enable Jinyi GuangMei to centralise content management so that head office can monitor content status at all 150 screens and automate common tasks.
FOR MORE DETAILS, VISIT WWW.ARTSALLIANCEMEDIA.COM
E: email@example.com ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID W: www.spacehopperdesign.co.uk E: firstname.lastname@example.org
SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed free to IMIS Members. For subscription details — www.cinematechnologymagazine.com or e-mail email@example.com
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
WANDA’S EXPANSION CONTINUES INTO NORWAY AMC, Odeon — and now Nordic Cinema Group, subject to approval from the European competition authorities, the Chinese conglomerate Wanda has agreed to take over the chain in a deal reputed to cost around £745 million and expected to complete in mid-2017. The Nordic group will become a subsidiary of UK-based Odeon/
UCI, which is now controlled by AMC, the world’s biggest cinema operator, bought by Wanda in 2012. The deal will effectively add 68 cinemas and 463 screens to the Odeon estate, already the largest in Europe. The Nordic cinemas will continue to use their existing brand names, including SF Bio, SF Kino, FinnKino and Forum Cinemas. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
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MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
ticketing: much more t h a n a p i e c e o f pa p e r
TICKETING TECHNOLOG Y SPECIAL
Queuing at the box off ice for a paper tick et from the reel of an old ‘tick etmaster’ m achine used to be the norm — t h i ng s have move d on. Soph isticated self-service terminals a ll now await the c redit card’s touch in the foye r, where th e offers for upgrad es or the d eals on concession s vie for at tention. Increaingly , tickets a re sold online, w ith the c ustomer able to pr int out the ir o or store th em digitally wn on a smartphon e. A wide va riet ticketing so lutions is av y of ailable to cinema o perators la rge and small, so Cinema Tec hnology asked a nu mber of pr oviders to explain what their systems do and the reasons cus tomers might choo se their pa rticular solution on line and in foyers.
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
VEEZI Engineered by Vista: Looking after the independents oin the revolution’ is the global tagline of independent cinema software provider, Veezi. And a large number of independent cinemas around the world have done just that. Engineered by Vista Entertainment Solutions (VES), Veezi is a cloud-based cinema management product designed specifically for the independent cinema market. Since its launch in 2012, Veezi has grown from an internet ticketing solution to a comprehensive offer that matches the business and operational needs of the independent cinema community.
keeping the offer affordable VES specialises in providing major chains with cutting-edge cinema management software. Independent theatre owners are passionate cinephiles challenged both by a commitment to bring the finest films to their customers and the ability to do so profitably. Veezi resolves both these challenges. Back in 2011, realising that independents comprised a significant and under-served exhibition sector, VES set about engineering a tailored solution. Using the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, Veezi provides all the Vista bells-andwhistles, without over-complicating day-to- day operations. Veezi is simple, cost-effective software that can run a small cinema business. Veezi’s monthly, uncontracted ‘pay-as-youplay’ model has been eagerly adopted by independents — it remains something of a FROM THE EXHIBITOR
departure from the VES structure designed for large cinema circuits in that it adapts to the cash flow realities of a smaller cinema.
knowing the customer’s business Understanding the business characteristics of ‘small cinema’ has been critical for Vista. Many owners of smaller cinemas maintain direct ties with their communities and know many of their customers by name. The variation of the operational environments is extensive and a ‘one-sizefits-all’ product doesn’t work. Independents know what they need and want and Vista, through Veezi, delivers that at an affordable price point.
tailored to suit Veezi can be tailored to deal with every type of independent cinema, from conventional first run sites, to pop-up events and even VR. With the flexible approach that Veezi enables, exactly the required functionality for each operational requirement can be tailored. From selling tickets and food beverage in one transaction at point of sale, to integrated sales online, Veezi caters for every aspect of running an independent cinema. Additional options allow for everything from a fully integrated loyalty and inventory system through to Veezi Kiosk which allows customers to collect their own tickets. Veezi can integrate with everything from the cinema’s website through to the theatre management system, including automating box office reporting and film
Danie Van der Merwe, owner of the Epic Cinema, in the Sun City Casino Resort, South Africa, explains how Veezi has helped his business: “After taking over the Epic in October 2013, I immediately switched to digital — now Epic shows new releases at the same time as competing metropolitan cinemas. Next, after I installed Veezi, attendance rose by 50%. Having used Vista at a previous, larger, theatre, I knew I could trust the product”. Danie claims the system gives him time to concentrate on delivering the theatrical experience. He continues: “I often despaired at the modern-day cinema landscape where everything is so mechanised, with people being pushed through. I wanted customers to experience the ‘magic of the cinema’ — and the beauty is that while the cinema is in Sun City, I live in Johannesburg. I can manage Epic remotely, even last-minute scheduling-changes, like a late DCP-delivery.”
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
Veezi launch ed in 2012 as an internet ticketing so lution
Veezi’s PAY G model ha s been eagerl y adopted by independ ents
rental through to providing a film database to copy directly into your system. The Veezi client base includes independents in locations all over the world — 17 countries at the last count — which is an impressive tally for a product that has only been on the market for just four years. Adding to this growth is the imminent launch in 2017 of Veezi in China, India and wider Europe. ‘Power to the Independents’– another rallying Veezi cry — has never been so real.
Saffron Screen had been operating their online sales and box office using a system created by one of its volunteers. After about 5 years, with ever increasing demands for extra functionality, it became obvious that this was not going to be sustainable in the long term. In 2015 a project was initiated to find a replacement that best fit the cinema’s needs. The result was that Veezi was installed in November 2015. Paul Willmott, business and technical manager, explains: “None of the systems available matched all of our requirements, but Veezi came very close! Two major factors gave it the edge for us, a cloud-based solution, meaning less equipment to install, and a very responsive Veezi support team. As a small independent, both of these requirements were key. We are now working with Veezi to move our refreshment sales onto the system and looking at their new Kiosk system to allow customers to pick up their own tickets at the box office”
Jack Roe: Worldwide with the local touch ack Roe has been providing ticketing systems for over 20 years, yet has the enthusiasm of a Silicon Valley start-up. With customers on several continents, year-on-year expansion at a high and offices in Herefordshire, UK and Tennessee, US (where the US company will celebrate 15 years in 2018), the UK’s oldest cinema supplies company reveals some of the secrets that make it the first choice ticketing system for so many cinemas.
Owners and moviegoers “There are two main customers for the TaPoS product and it’s important to keep them both happy” says group managing director Alan Roe. “There’s the owner (or manager) who needs functionality that doesn’t just process ticket sales, but helps to generate new profit — that functionality needs to be delivered so that it is easy to use. This customer votes by buying (and keeping!) the system. For example when we added online gift card sales it needed to be easy for cinemas to understand and set up. “And then there are the moviegoers who vote when they buy tickets through the various channels that we help create. The user experience of selecting the gift card design online and sending it as a gift to a friend or relative had not only to be navigable, but a pleasure to use — it’s a special moment and an emotional transaction, not just a number on a report. That’s a big responsibility for us. It’s important to focus on both customers. “Jack Roe’s new iFrame-based online booking platform (launched last year) was shown to be a good example of this when it was recognised by one of the UK cinema industry’s best web development companies as ‘definitely as far as we know the best on the market for developers and customisation… awesome’.
Keeping things simple for the user “Software development looks easy — make clean interfaces with powerful functionality,” explains Alan, “But there’s a contradiction between complexity and ease of use. Packing more features into the back office software, into the Point of Sale itself and also into the customer interfaces is not easy without adding unwelcome complexity. We were developing computer systems for over a decade before we even started ticketing. And that’s where one of our strengths comes from — writing good software requires experience.”
Continuous Evolution — and growth Recent growth has included triple digit expansion into the North American market, double digit growth within the UK (boosting an already large domestic UK customer base), as well as reaching new continents that are enjoying using TaPoS for the first time. The owner at a recent installation contacted Jack Roe after a few weeks: “Things are working great with your software being a perfect addition to our growing business.” “Writing and supporting software is hard work,” Alan continues, “and it’s a huge advantage that we were in cinema long before we started in software in 1982. We have unrivalled knowledge of the industry and have built software and service around that. There’s also a huge benefit in being able to trust that we are around for the long haul. Whenever we replace others’ PoS systems, we see the disruption caused by systems that no longer meet the cinema’s requirements being removed, selling up after a few years, exiting the market or just closing. The resultant loss of data and retraining is not good for cinemas or moviegoers. We’ve gone further than just PoS, or as we say ‘Thinking outside of the box office’. It’s one difference that has helped to set our product and service apart. With our asset management system, purchase ordering, centralised system management, integration with Microsoft’s analytics platform, mobile access, mobile apps, digital signage, soft play areas, staff scheduling and even complete cinema websites, we have a unique package providing room for customers to grow at their pace.
TICKETING TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL FROM THE EXHIBITOR
Dan Harris, general manager of the Scott Cinemas group, said that his company has been using Jacro TaPoS since 1999 and in that time they have seen it grow into a powerful system. Feature-packed, it still remains easy to use for staff and customers alike. As well as including all the modules required for day-to-day use, Jacro TaPoS allows online sales of cinema tickets, gift cards and loyalty schemes, where implementation is well thought out and seamless — which translates into a positive experience for customers. “Jacro TaPoS provides a full software solution for all of our continuing needs at a very sensible financial outlay,” says Dan. “It is continually evolving, meaning that exhibitors using the system can easily keep pace with larger operators as new features are added. In addition to this, the support provided by the team at Jack Roe — both in terms of regular support to cinema teams and discussing potential new features and improvements for the system, has always been nothing less than exemplary.”
Comparisons “Some PoS companies offer a basic ticketing product to independent cinemas, created specifically for this market, designed with limited features instead of providing the full-featured system that they offer larger circuits. Understandably, they want larger customers to feel they are getting more than smaller companies that pay less, but this approach disadvantages independents, and cinema owners aren’t fools. With Jack Roe it’s all one system — whether you have 100 locations or a single screen, you’ll have the same great system and service. Jack Roe level the playing field for independent cinemas — we have been helping independents to thrive and grow since 1929. That’s been our battle flag and brand since before film had a soundtrack.”
Established in the UK in the 1920s, Ja celebrates its ck Roe 15th year in the US ne xt year
Veezi’s PAY G model Jack Roe st ha s been mim arted in icked so ft ware in 19 by inde 82 pendents
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Maximising ticket sales: MovieTickets’ affiliate service ovieTickets was formed in 2000 to provide advanced ticketing capabilities for cinemas and theatres. The company works with 29,149 screens in multiple territories, and in 2010 was responsible for more than 16million ticket sales through MovieTickets.com The site is a leading destination for news, celebrity interviews, film reviews and trailers. You can also access cinema information, check film showtimes, view video clips, and much more. The company’s roots go back to 1999 when wireless internet access protocol, or WAP, was making waves as internet-onthe-go. Over the years that followed designers, content managers, and developers have seen the industry go from 15kb gif banner adverts and browser wars to rich video, geo-location tools, parallax scrolling, and responsive web design across multiple platforms. Marketing executives have rethought strategies in the light of data processing, data sharing, social media and the rise of streaming/on-demand services. Payment methods are widening too, with Amazon payments, and digital wallets like Apple Pay and Android Pay all on the scene. As the worldwide count of internet users heads towards four billion there is rich space for targeted solutions to fill every user’s preference.
getting more customers into cinemas Research by Dres Consulting in 2012 revealed that only 55% of respondents viewed their cinema showtimes on an official exhibitor website. The list of other locations they go to is extensive: search engine listings, mobile apps, showtime aggregators, local sites, newspaper/ magazine websites, distributor micro-sites, film buff blogs, and Facebook pages are some examples. Why? It could simply be personal preference influenced by design, accessibility, usability, following a link from a push notification or shared from a friend via social media. It could also be familiar behaviour — i.e. where they’ve always gone. It is next to impossible to provide a website that appeals to everyone. It would also be ridiculous to expect exhibitors to risk time and money on every potential next big thing. Most would rather focus on their core business and wait for another exhibitor to prove technology.
The Affiliate Network MovieTickets has a solution that bridges
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
customer preferences with exhibitors needs to maximise ticket sales, making use of the evolving internet landscape. Normally, when customers go to any of the main internet destinations they get the information they expect and their journey ends. Using this route, they never reach an exhibitor’s website, there’s no chance to upsell to premium formats or special deals, and there’s no customer information added to a marketing database. You could fairly believe that customers may decide to change website and visit the exhibitor’s website to purchase tickets. Some do, others may start and then decide against it. The rest will not bother. The MovieTickets system funnels customer choice by focusing on reducing the number of instances customers are given an opportunity to abort a sale. It facilitates the link between the different websites and the exhibitor, allowing customers to continue their journey in the manner they are comfortable with. By striving to make the purchase process frictionless MovieTickets eliminates points of failure where a customer decides against booking. In the company’s most developed and settled affiliate network, in North America, customers who go direct are already using their preferred method. There has not been any large shift of customers from one channel to another. As the UK affiliate market matures, MovieTickets expects exhibitors to see up to a 20% increase in online sales originating from affiliates. This will be driven by a combination of: l Allowing customers to use their preferred FROM THE EXHIBITOR
The two-screen cinema in Brynamman, Wales (north of Swansea), has been open since the 1920s and has kept up with all the changes the film industry has made over the years, thanks to the work of volunteers who run the day-to-day business of the cinema. It now uses Movie Tickets for its online bookings. Brian Harries from Brynamman Cinema notes how the system has benefitted them: “Since joining MovieTickets our online sales
channel and/or payment method, improving customer satisfaction. l Affiliates promoting available ticketing inventory to their visitors. Their marketing pushes the cinema’s tickets. l Affiliates reaching wider audiences that might not be engaged. The ability to reach customers beyond a cinema’s normal reach without having to develop that channel themselves is invaluable.
Accessing the affiliate network Small cinema operators with no online booking facilities can be provided with this at no cost. MovieTickets will promote a set number of tickets across its site and affiliate network, as well as providing booking links to be add to your site. Sites with online booking already, have two options to exploit the MovieTickets affiliate network. The first option is similar to the above — allocate the company a small number of tickets to sell for each performance which will get promoted similarly. The second option is that MovieTickets investigates interfacing with the PoS so that any tickets sold are updated in real-time. Wherever a sale originates from, the cinema has the details in its box office instantly.
Divining the future MovieTickets has a focus on future developments, addressing several questions on behalf of exhibitors, notably: l How will exhibitors make the most of 5G technology, due to launch in 2020? Speed wise, it is expected that an HD movie will
have increased, with more patrons now using the system. “It gives the customer peace of mind that their seat is booked and the advanced booking system for blockbuster releases is also proving popular with patrons who want to be with the first to see certain films. “From the cinema’s operational point of view, the system proved easy to set up, thanks to the expert help we received from the MovieTickets team. We like the weekly listings e-mailed with all the information about the week’s playlist and the showtimes. It is all simple very smooth, and really is a first-class system.” Steven Metcalf, from Cinemac in Macclesfield’s Heritage Centre, is similarly
ticket. international: Excellence for the industry THE SUCCESS STORY
MovieTickets aims to keep its customers ahead of technological trends — and clear of its fads
be downloadable in less than 10 seconds. How will ticket purchasing journeys evolve when it is faster to download movies (illegally) than fill in payment forms? MovieTickets is researching expedited booking techniques, with the goal of having an avenue that takes five seconds (two clicks) at best for those customers who truly want a quick book option. Digital assistants such as Microsoft Cortana and wearable smart-tech will all influence purchase paths and in-foyer interaction. Behind the scenes, MovieTickets aims to bridge the gap between the customer’s interest and the exhibitor’s PoS. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of trends across the internet. How much free time or inclination do exhibitors have to make sure they’re aware of each one, track new ones coming to market, evaluate which us going to be big, develop a relationship and connection, and measure the results? MovieTickets aims to to do this on their behalf, linking exhibitors through to the greater internet, wherever it’s going in the next five years and beyond. l
enthusiastic, saying: “We approached Movietickets seven years ago because we were looking for a stand-alone advance booking system that would link to our website straightforwardly and provide swift and simple access by laptop to booking details, without incurring either a set-up fee or running costs. We’ve been pleased to use it ever since. Any amendments to the programming are handled by the software and the US teams with very reasonable speed. The system excels in its UK support — I can’t commend David Lowry’s assistance and constructive, useful advice over the years too highly — and for that reason in particular I would recommend MovieTickets.”
The leader in the Dutch cinema market uses advanced technology from ticket. international — Pathé operates throughout the Netherlands, running 23 movie theatres and multiplexes with more than 170 screens. With more than 26,000 seats and roughly 1,000 employees, Pathé is a major player in the European cinema market. Since 2006, Pathé Netherlands has used ticket. international’s Dolphin system throughout its entire cinema chain, and the 3-tier-architecture, including the central server concept was a critical factor for this decision. The Pathé data centre is dimensioned for the smooth operation of the entire cinema chain. More than 400 workstations are directly connected with the central system with the administration, purchase of films, management and the entire box office system. For online and mobile ticketing, Pathé uses the professional interfaces of ticket. international. An independent web-agency developed the portals for web and mobile phones. Beside box-offices, combo PoS and concession PoS, Pathé lays immense value on kiosks. In total, Pathé utilises more than 120 kiosk-systems from ticket. international. All in all, they have 28 pick-up terminals (Dispenser) and 95 vending machines (ATM). But also in case of a line failure, Pathé is equipped. In this particular instance, the Dolphin product line has an offline mode. In the event of a line failure, the affected site will remain fully operational and can continue its sales without any interruption through this sophisticated mechanism. The databases will be automatically synchronized after the recovery of the connection. www.pathe.nl
TICKETING TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL
icket. international develops, sells, installs and maintains professional ticket and inventory management systems for the leisure industry and especially for the cinema industry. All its products are fully integrated and brought together in its “Dolphin” product line. Founded in 1996, the company has worked successfully for more than 21 years in Europe and worldwide, with more than 550 successful installations speaking for themselves. Whether box office, PoS systems, hospitality/restaurant PoS, online ticketing, mobile ticketing, print@home, Orderman, kiosk systems, event management, access control or complex management systems, ticket. international stands for excellence in software systems for the leisure industry with a focus on cinema. Mobile solutions like Mobile Manager, Mobile Reports, Mobile Entry Control, Mobile Stock Taking round up the product portfolio.
Dolphin integrates it all The product line Dolphin is a highly integrated system for ticketing and concession sales, gastronomy, access control, online and mobile ticketing. In addition to the sales modules are extensive management and reporting modules. Dolphin offers a central server solution with 3-tier architecture, a central database
Pathé has m ore than 120 tic ket. internationa l kiosk systems
20% increase in UK Vee onlziin’s PAYG m de has beeenticmket saole sl from affilim icke iate s d by indepe ndents
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
TICKETING TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL
ticket. international’s new Kiosk touch-screen
(Oracle 12, SAP Sybase SQL or MS SQL), the application server (C++) and the web systems (php). Front-ends are programmed in Delphi (Embarcadero) for rapid development (RAD). Standard PCs with Windows operating systems are supported as hardware. The central server is either located in the headquarters or a data centre. For smaller customers, a safe and costeffective hosting contract at a high-security Deutsche Telekom data centre is offered. A central solution, the headquarters is up-to-date on figures and revenues of the whole enterprise at any time. Dolphin does not require error-prone data transfers and has an offline mode in case of network failure. This means businesses are still fully operational even if the line to the data centre is interrupted. After reconnecting, all data is automatically synchronized. The integrated software deployment dramatically reduces the time required for updates. Dolphin technology requires little bandwidth and is safe and fast, needing minimal admin effort in comparison to other systems. Companies with Dolphin significantly reduce their TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). ticket. international is open for co-operation and integration with third parties. Besides the state of the art solutions ticket@web and mobile ticketing, ticket.
international provides a powerful API for web developers to build their own look and feel. Most current TMS systems can be connected via Dolphin’s TMS interface. In addition, ticket. international is currently working on the integration of Showtimes Analytics and Smart Pricer. A further product highlight is the brand new Kiosk system with a 42 inch multi-touch-screen (pictured, left). The newly designed Kiosk software application is divided from the presentation layer. The presentation layer is designed in HTML5 and this enables every customer to realise its own look and feel.
service that inspires ticket. international continues to invest in training and expanding its workforce. The team consists of more than 40 employees from different countries. Professionalism, competence, team spirit and enthusiasm are written in capitals at ticket. international.
Service around the clock The availability of the systems is also a critical success factor for the company. In case of errors, ticket. international has a strong team behind its customers and guarantees excellent service and care around the clock, 365 days a year. That is performance that inspires!
Compeso WinTICKET 7.0: the latest ticketing system from Compeso ompeso’s newest and biggest competence is WinTICKET 7.0. With more than 15 modules, WinTICKET 7.0 is a modular solution that empowers cinema experiences. Compeso’s focus is on the versatility of WinTICKET 7.0 — a key aspect of the product that the exhibitor benefits from. The company believes the versatility is unlimited, allowing cinema chains to adapt WinTICKET 7.0 to the headquarters’ management software in full scope — box office, concession, e-ticketing, real-time statistics and more. WinTICKET 7.0 integrates every required module to help drive revenue optimisation.
unstoppable progression In continual evolution since 1990, Compeso WinTICKET has achieved its growth by implementing cutting-edge technologies such as agile development and progressive fully automated tests. This unstoppable progression has rewarded the company with a strong reputation among more than 2,500 customers, with whom the company
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
enjoys hand-in-hand communication. The chosen suppliers of Odeon/UCI Cinemas — one of the company’s biggest customers — WinTICKET has also consolidated the company as the market leaders in the wider European cinema market, where it has more than 50% market share.
What is COMPESO doing now? Compeso has a proactive participation in international events that drive forwards the industry, such as ICTA’s Seminar Series held in LA in January, where the company introduced smartPricing, its newest software, to the US market. The next date on the calendar is CinemaCon, Las Vegas, where operators can see the company in Booth no. 2817A.
investing in future technologies Compeso summarises its products in just three words: next- generation technology. To back up the claim, Compeso is working closely with Sthaler Fingopay on the integration of its Fingopay vein ID recognition system, a safe, fast and smart retail payment system. Also, in November
A full browser based solution
2016, it launched to the international market a new and fully automated pricing software — smartPricing, born from a partnership with Smart Pricer. It supports the latest in algorithm technology conceived to leverage the cinema business.
Where is the company headed? Compeso’s mission is to provide to the motion-image industry with the most efficient and most modern solution software to help enable the growth of the cinema business. The company vision is to establish itself globally as the experts in the cinema software solutions industry through Compeso competences.
The #1 Ticketing Solution from Europe – inemaCon See us at C A 17 Booth # 28
“Only the one who walks his own way can‘t be overtaken.” Marlon Brando, 1924–2004
Empower your Cinema Experience! www.compeso.com
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
Technology development: overly complex or driving necessary change? * *Hint: a bit of both
David Hancock reflects on the technological lie of the land in the cinema industry
studio executive in charge of producing and delivering discs recently said that â&#x20AC;&#x153;we have reached the point where technology in the home has exceeded the capabilities of what the [film] masters haveâ&#x20AC;?. His argument was
more about increased work in the postproduction phase, but the fact remains that the cinema is no longer the most technically advanced film-viewing experience for the consumer. Does this matter? Surely the cinema is more about the social element than the technology being used to present it? The cinema continues to exist after more
than a hundred years because it serves what is clearly a human need to leave the house and be with others. However, the medium exists within a wider digital world where leisure options abound and the money with which to engage with them is stretched. The cinema owner needs to provide a space that is unmatched at home MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
RGB Laser Projector Installed Base 375 400 350
or elsewhere and will use a range of techniques, such as design, food and drink options, and service levels — not to mention the content on the screens — to attract and keep clients coming back. Technology has become a crucial element in the proposition but as more of it appears in cinemas, and each has implications on the distribution phase, can we keep track of it all? In this context, discussions about technology in the film industry are even more relevant. As we head towards CinemaCon in March this year (Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, 27-30 March), I thought it would be a good idea to take stock of where the industry has got to with technology and innovation. Whilst DCI2.0 may not work as a term for getting to grips with technology, opening up the memories of VPFs again (just to be clear, there is no appetite for a VPF2.0 amongst studios and even many exhibitors), a process of education, standardisation, workflow rationalisation and technology assessment is becoming necessary for the industry in order to make sure we move as one on these issues. The versions of a DCP provide a good test as to how complex the industry is becoming: a large film can now have well over 500 versions going out of a lab, with audio, image, premium, experiential and language versions adding to the many permutations. There is a risk of divergence between premium cinema and the rest leading to a two-tier cinema industry, which was what the original DCI specification was aimed at preventing. Fundamentally, there is a need to address driving higher quality from the current pool of equipment, as well as addressing new technologies and replacement equipment. There is also a communication issue between the creative community and the distribution/exhibition community. Since Avatar drove the take-up of digital cinema equipment and 3D systems in order to be ready for that event movie (10,000 screens CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
were equipped in place when the film was released), there have been attempts at pushing the technical boundaries that have not had the same impact. In fact, The Hobbit was available on upgraded servers (at a cost) on a lower number of 2,500 screens and by the time we reached Ang Lee’s 120fps Billy Lynn, that film wasn’t available on any screens at all, bar five specially built sites that showed it in the “full shebang” of technology options. The confusion over the changed aspect ratio of 2015’s Tomorrowland also backs up the point that there needs to be greater, earlier communication between producers and exhibitors.
3D: a minority sector with potential? There were just over 87,000 screens equipped with 3D at the end of 2016, or 53.3% of all screens in IHSMarkit’s Cinema Intelligence countries, a considerable number despite rumours of the format’s demise. Nearly 40,000 of these are in China, which underlines the importance of 3D in that market and reinforces the country’s right to be called the home of 3D. Globally, these 3D screens account for somewhere around $8bn of box office, which confirms its position as a minority sector within the market but one that can provide a very powerful experience for customers, done right. The extension of laser illumination for projectors (both RGB and laser phosphor) will help the issue of brightness for 3D, although only producers and distributors can address the issue of quality content. Certain films have shown that it really can work as an enhancing technology, but only when done properly. There is a distinct risk that the format will be left to wither slowly, rather than utilised effectively for the right films. I would rather see a sustainable 3D sector releasing far fewer films, with each seen as an ‘event’ in itself, rather than a higher number of post-converted 2D films that capture neither audience attention nor income.
Laser technology Laser is still a work in progress but seems to be moving along nicely. There was a significant surge in numbers of RGB laser projectors installed globally in 2016 and the more workhorse-like laser phosphor is also making good progress in smaller screens, especially in China. At the end of last year, there were 375 RGB projectors installed around the world, an increase of 294 (363%) over the 81 installed at the end of 2015 (see above). As well as RGB projectors from TI licensee manufacturers, there are Dolby Cinema installations (a Christie projector), IMAX venues and a retrofit RGB solution being marketed by Italian projector company Cinemeccanica. A US company, Power Technology, is using its expertise in the field of laser to enter the cinema market, proposing laser farms off which a group of projectors can work.
Immersive audio technology Immersive sound technology is proving popular with exhibitors, with over 3,000 systems installed worldwide. This moves it beyond premium screens — and there are several cases of immersive sound being installed across a whole site. Dolby Atmos leads the way in cinemas and content provision, with 2,300 systems installed and over 500 titles mixed in Atmos for cinemas. Outside of Dolby, Barco’s Auromax is installed in 650 cinemas and mixed on closer to 200 titles, while relative newcomer DTS:X is in about 120 screens. There is a certain hesitation in the exhibition community in signing up to immersive sound until a standard is agreed, as no-one wants to invest in a potentially obsolete technology. On this point, discussion is progressing within the standards-making process. One issue that does need to be addressed is that not all immersive sound content is equal. For every one great mix that really makes the most of immersive sound technology there is another title that www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
“THERE IS A DISTINCT RISK THAT 3D WILL BE LEFT TO WITHER RATHER THAN BE USED FOR THE RIGHT FILMS”
Growth in Number of 2D vs 3D Screens Globally 180,000 160,000 140,000
120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 0 2011
does not reach the same heights. This is frustrating for exhibitors who have invested in the equipment. We have seen what happened with 3D and the industry must be careful not to make that mistake twice.
Multi-screen formats Multi-screen formats are not taking root as quickly as the manufacturers would like. The issue with such technologies is often finding a sufficient supply of content that will drive customers to watch their proposition, and to prove that the concept works. Korean company CGV is behind ScreenX, a multi-screen format in 107 locations in South Korea, China, the US and Thailand, with 15 Korean and Chinese titles produced in this format and a recent agreement for the first US film to be released in 2018 (We Kill Death). Their target is 1,000 screens by 2020. Rival Barco Escape has talked of several thousand screens within a few years, but is also still in the early phases and in around 30 screens worldwide. Barco has a content deal with
Fox and a development deal with Jerry Bruckheimer. Barco Escape also managed to develop 20 minutes of content for Star Trek Beyond. Chinese company CGS is also a player in this market niche. There were some optimistic predictions of multi-screen take-up which have not materialised. The complexity in the post-production phase is an issue, as are some issues with the customer experience. The take-up may not yet justify any overblown optimism, but the systems do still have potential.
4D and Immersive motion seating Korean group CGV is also active in the 4D world, with 43,000 seats in 350 4DX screens in 44 countries at end 2016, grossing $200m in box office according to CGV. Rival US-based Mediamation offers MX4D, with 84 screens as at end 2016. Other smaller players include E-motion and Shuquee (4DM). Immersive motion seating (IMS) is more subtle than 4D, which includes environmental effects added to a motion seat; the main player in the IMS
HDR & IMAGE QUALITY The consumer market seems to be the driver for HDR, with TV and physical media adopting both HDR and UHD — but it is gaining traction in the cinema sector. There is no standard market definition or understanding in the cinema sector for what High Dynamic Range is although higher contrast ratio is a good start. The projector manufacturers are developing and marketing higher contrast ratio machines. IMAX is also installing its laser projector in some higher footfall sites, and this machine also fits the bill. With a stated contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, Dolby is at the forefront of developing HDR in cinemas with the Dolby Cinema concept. With over 200 committed, mostly between AMC and Wanda, the company has now installed over 70 of these screens, and has released or announced 75 films to be formatted for the concept. EclairColor is a software-based system that allows exhibitors to display HDR without the need for expensive specially purposed projectors (it has been developed with Sony projectors). It is new in the market, developed by Ymagis, and being shown to key parties now. EclairColor is present on 18 screens (16 in France and 2 in Germany) — and LaLaLand became the first Hollywood film to be released in this format. So far, there are 10 titles lined up for French release in 2017.
space is Canadian company D-Box. Its technology is present on 615 screens (installed or in backlog) as at end 2016.
Virtual Reality The appearance of VR in cinemas is polarising the industry, but there is some element of misunderstanding in what is being proposed. There is no current move to make feature-length VR content, rather to create spaces in cinemas where speciallypurposed VR content can be accessed using high-quality professional equipment. This can support the movies being played or be stand-alone experiences worth paying for. IMAX is the biggest name involved, with 10 test sites being created, and it has created a $50m production fund for content creation as a way to ensure that consumers get a high quality experience.
going digital, being digital Since 2015, cinema has gone digital but there is a difference between going digital and being digital. The latter is thinking digitally in the cinema space, and I would argue that only now are cinemas beginning to act and think digitally. Practical issues such as film flexibility, event cinema, use of technology, and using analytics to deliver a more effective operational infrastructure are becoming more commonplace. I have said before that digital cinema is no more: cinema is back to being cinema that happens to be digitised. The cinema that is evolving does differ from what went before. It is a more vibrant and exciting space to be in and should offer the customer a richer experience of filmed or live content. The industry needs to keep a watchful eye on technology proliferation to ensure that it is of benefit to us, not a source of tension and a reason for decline. David Hancock is Research Director, Film and Cinema at IHSMarkit and the President of European Digital Cinema Forum. MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
r f u ul w o l or co e
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Goran Stojmenovik, senior product manager with Barco, works on laser projection, and he combines deep technical knowledge with a love of the art of motion pictures. His thoughts on colour are relevant as ‘wider colour gamuts’ come closer to fruition
hen I was a kid in a small country far away, we only had a black and white CRT TV set at home. It didn’t stop me from imagining the hair colour of my favourite actress, or filling in my mind the blue colour of sky or green colour of grass. Moving to a colour TV
lost much of the magic and need for imagination (the nostalgia remained), but suddenly I understood that the reality our new TV set was trying to mimic was far more colourful and vivid than a colour set could produce. So my mind continued to fill in the picture with yet more colourful colours than the TV was capable of. Much water has flown under the bridge since, with the cinema and TV
industries vying to improve the reality of the images and immerse the viewers more and more. The Rec.709 colour space came along with HDTV, the wider DCI P3 colour space for digital cinema followed. Most recently, we are closer to an even wider colour space, dubbed Rec.2020 (ITU Recommendation BT.2020). This article aims to tell you all you need to know about colours, and why it all MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
FEATURE LASER PROJECTION NAME
Colour Representation of the visible wavelength
FIGURE 2 A colour representation of the visible wavelength with some key laser wavelengths. Note that you only see the colours that your display or paper allows you to see: in reality the colours on this chart are much more saturated. FIGURE 1 Back in the day: black and white TV
matters when it comes to projectors and displays. It covers wavelengths, spectral power distributions, colour matching functions, tristimulus values, luminous efficacy curves, chromaticity charts, colour gamuts, all the way to how a projector or display generates an image with strict colour fidelity. If this doesn’t scare you, you are surely ready to read on. If it does, think of it as a challenge and keep reading!
% of wavelength reflection of certain foods % reflection 100 80 60 40 20 0
Why’s a tomato red? wavelength colours Light has several fundamental properties. The speed (remember Einstein?) and polarisation of light are important, but we will not discuss them here. We’ll be concerned with the wavelength (in nanometres or nm) and power (energy per unit of time, thus ‘optical watts’). • Note that colour and brightness are not fundamental properties of light — these are the result of the light’s interaction with the human visual system. • Humans only perceive light with wavelengths between roughly 400 and 700nm. Below this range is ultra-violet (UV) light, and beyond, infra-red (IR) light. Fig. 2 gives an indication of the colours produced by any given wavelength of light. For example, 465nm is very definitely blue, as 532nm is very definitely green and 638nm is pretty bloody red. A typical natural light source has a very broad mixture of wavelengths (for example
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
butter tomato in $m lettuce
FIGURE 3 A typical spectrum of a xenon lamp. Note the peaks in the IR region — bad for projectors
FIGURE 4 A tomato is red, and lettuce is green, because…
properties. Hence the wavelength distribution of the reflected light and thus the perceived colour of that object will change. As you can see in Fig. 4, that’s why tomatoes are red and lettuce is green. Butter, however, reflects both yellow-red and blue parts of the spectrum, making it yellowish. So how do we know upfront what colour any given wavelength bunch represents? Also, why are some colours brighter than others? We realise that using wavelengths is not an efficient way to describe colours in daily life. We’ve got to make it simpler.
Illumination CIE (CIE 1931). And people are still working on improvements. Such a model employs what is called a ‘colour matching function’ — CMF (Fig. 5) It determines how much each particular wavelength ‘weighs’ towards each of the three receptors. Multiplying the SPD with the corresponding CMF at each wavelength and summing the result, we finally come to just three numbers called the ‘tristimulus’ values (X, Y and Z) that are linked to the output of our three different ‘sensors’. Now we’re talking! We finally have just three numbers that can represent each and every visible colour in this universe — done with wavelengths, SPDs and CMFs. These three numbers succumb to what is called the metameric principle. According to that, if two colours have the same tristimulus values (X, Y and Z), then they will look the same to a person, no matter what the spectral power distribution is behind them. These two colours are called ‘metamers’. Let’s take the next step and see how these tristimulus numbers relate to what we humans readily perceive, namely brightness and colour. All energies are equal, but some energies are more equal than others. As it turns out,
“WE DON’T ONLY NEED PROJECTOR LUMENS, WE NEED EFFICIENT LUMENS PRODUCED FROM THE LEAST AMOUNT OF WATTS” the sun, a candle, or a projector lamp). In fact, such a light source has all possible visible wavelengths — only the distribution of these wavelengths (how much power there is per wavelength) is different from one source to another. This distribution is called the ‘spectral power distribution’ (SPD or simply ‘spectrum’): Fig. 3 is an example. When light from a lamp or the sun falls on an object, some is reflected, some absorbed, depending on the object’s
From many to just three As it turns out, we humans only have three sorts of visual receptors (a short, medium and long wavelength-range receptor). Wonderful! So in some ways, we already interpret all of the wavelengths in terms of just three numbers. Now all we need is a model that corresponds to how our receptors and brain do this. Several models exist, the first one presented in 1931 by the International Commission for
Colour matching functions (CMFs)
The dark side of the moon
x ( λ) y ( λ) in $m z ( λ)
1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0
600 700 (nm) FIGURE 5 The three colour matching functions (CMFs) according to CIE 1931 400
x,y chromaticity chart 0.9
480 470 460 380
FIGURE 6 An illustration of an x,y chromaticity chart. Note that you only see the colours that your display or paper allows you to see: in reality the colours towards the edges of this chart are more saturated and pure. The wavelengths of the pure colours (in nm) are shown along the horseshoe line
the green curve in the middle of Fig. 5, also called V(λ), measures our brightness sensitivity across wavelengths. So the tristimulus value Y derived from V(λ) and the SPD is linked to the visual perception of ‘brightness’ of the object or image, or more strictly ‘luminance’, measured in cd/m2 (nits) or foot-Lamberts. Instead of nits, we can use lumens, if refering to ‘brightness’ of the light source (projector) spread over a wider surface and angles. Now note the position and shape of this green curve. For the same 1W of power, green light is the brightest, and the more you go to red or blue, the darker the light (less lumens per watt), before it ‘disappears’ in the invisible UV or IR regions.
Why do we care? Because power is power, whether you see it or not. So in pumping watts of energy through the projector optics, lots will be absorbed or scattered and will heat the optics, but not all watts projected produce a lot of lumens. In other words, we don’t only need projector lumens, we need ‘smart’ (efficient) lumens, produced from the least amount of watts possible. Keep it cool! www.cinematechnology.co.uk www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
Having a way to get from a myriad of colours to only three numbers is wonderful. The next step is to make it simpler still. What is simpler than three numbers? Two. Math comes in handy here: starting from the tristimulus values X, Y and Z, we can derive two numbers called x and y (dubbed colour chromaticities), in this way: x=X/ (X+Y+Z) and y=Y/(X+Y+Z). This transformation “warps” the pure wavelength spectrum (Fig. 2) onto a sort of a ‘horseshoe’ called the ‘spectral locus’ (the outline around the coloured chart in Fig. 6). Inside this horseshoe you can find the ‘chromaticity chart’: the mixed colours like yellow, orange, cyan, magenta (purple), or white. The colours represented by the pure wavelengths have the highest saturation. Outside the horseshoe is the forbidden realm. There is no colour in this universe that can go out of this enclosure — those (x,y) values just do not represent any humanly “visible” colour. There is, however, a catch: because this chart misses the third dimension, that of brightness, you cannot see the dark colours like brown, dark green, grey, or black. They are so to speak ‘below’ the chromaticity chart. So consider this just to be the top view of the bright side — it also has a shadow, dark side below. The complete colour space is actually a three-dimensional thing, but people love simple stuff — why otherwise would you be reading this? And the full moon is a circle, not a sphere, right? So now we can finally relate language to (colour) maths. If somebody tells us ‘this colour has (x,y) chromaticity values of (0.235, 0.710) and a brightness of 500 cd/m2, we know that he’s talking about green, and a highly saturated, bright one!
The bright side of projectors What happens if we mix colours? There is a theory called Grassmann’s law. To calculate the X,Y,Z values of a colour consisting of a certain mix of two distinct colours (say a% of one colour and b% of another), you simply add X,Y,Z tristimulus values of the two mixed colours, respecting the proportion (so X=aX1+bX2, Y=aY1+bY2 and Z=aZ1+bZ2). So picking any two colours on the chromaticity chart, you can create all colours that lie on a line between them. And then apply the maths to calculate the (x,y) or (u’,v’) values – and so you can predict the chromaticity of the mixed light. This is a wonderful tool. It also means that by having just three different colours (typically red, green and blue), one can occupy a whole surface — a triangle within the (x,y) chart and produce all the colours that are within the triangle. And by mixing red, green and blue, we get (a kind of) white. This ‘triangle’ on the chromaticity chart (including its ‘dark side’) is called the ‘colour
gamut’, the three colours at the triangle’s corners are called the RGB ‘primaries’. How does a projector make colours? Using a lamp or a laser light source, and suitable colour filtering (not necessary for RGB lasers), the projector is able to produce three distinct ‘primaries’: red, green and blue, each of which is directed to a dedicated ‘imager’ (e.g. a DMD) using a coloursplitting prism. Mixing back all three of the primaries at their maximum power will produce the ‘native white’ of the projector. This white might not necessarily be the white that we need (maybe it’s too bluish, maybe too greenish) — so by applying electronic correction, or by dimming the power of the distinct red, green and blue lasers in the case of an RGB laser projector, we can influence the r-g-b balance and thus shift the white point to where it needs to be. And, of course, by mixing the primaries in a certain given proportion, we can also produce all colours within the native projector colour gamut — even those at the dark side. (See Fig. 7 to see how we can make a khaki colour). And due to the metameric principle, if we produce a colour that has a certain X,Y, Z value, it should look the same as that very colour from nature that has the same X,Y, Z value, but probably a widely different spectral power distribution. One final note in this section. The CIE 1931 graph is the most widely used ‘colour chart’ in common industry literature, but also the most “wrong”. It is fairly nonuniform — the same numerical (∆x, ∆y) difference can be either hugely noticeable or not seen at all, depending on the colour region. In 1976, colour scientists proposed a new chart, called the u’v’ chromaticity chart. It is also based on XYZ tristimulus values, however the expression to the chromaticity values u’v’ happens differently, the aim being to produce a more ‘perceptually uniform’ colour space. Fig. 8 shows the details of this colour space. The choice of primaries (or colour gamuts) has always been a hot topic in the display industry. On one hand, you want to go as wide as possible in order to represent reality faithfully (or exceed it). On the other hand, you have… technological limitations, price, availability, other practicalities and trade-offs. Let’s look at these trade-offs, and how we have come to where we are today.
A walk in a forest Let’s get back to my black and white TV. Representing colours on a TV definitely adds a dimension over black and white — but are the colours accurate? A clever guy named Pointer measured a lot of colours found in “everyday” nature, and derived what’s today called “Pointer’s real world colour gamut” — see Fig. 9 (and remember that in fact it’s actually a colour volume). It MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
FEATURE LASER PROJECTION NAME
Colour arithmetic for video displays =
520 530 540 550 560 570
0.6 610 620 630
(u’v’) representation of common colour gamuts
(u’v’) chromaticity chart CIELUV 1976
460 450 440 430 420
When selecting the laser primaries for a projector design, next to covering as wide as colour gamut as possible, one needs to take care of: 1. The luminous efficacy (lumens per watt) that directly impacts the projector cost and cooling requirements 2. Speckle reduction (the more wavelengths the better for despeckling, but not all lasers come ‘despeckled’ so this is a trade-off that needs to be considered carefully) 3. 6P 3D. For this system we need two sets of each primary colour that are sufficiently separated (15-20nm) and despeckled. This means the luminous efficacy decreases and also means that one deviates from the Rec.2020 ideal. But you do get crystal clear
“WE NEED TO STRIKE A BALANCE BETWEEN GOING CRAZY IN TERMS OF WIDE COLOUR GAMUT AND PAYING AN ARM AND A LEG” projectors. Because of the properties of the film, and the fact that digital projectors handled just three primaries, one needed a sufficiently wider colour gamut to cover most of the specific ‘P7’ colour gamut. Hence came ‘DCI P3’ colour gamut, today’s standard for digital cinema projectors. l And recently, with the advent of new technologies such as OLEDs, quantum dots and laser projectors, an even wider colour space is being proposed — the so-called Rec.2020 colour space. Fig. 9 shows the three most current colour gamuts in the industry today, together with the Pointer colour gamut of real life colours. That’s the theory — now let’s get practical. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
doesn’t mean that colours beyond these don’t exist — think for a moment of lasers — pure wavelengths. It’s just that we don’t really bump into lasers when we go for a walk in a forest or shopping for tomatoes… The holy grail of display technology would be the ability to represent faithfully each and every colour in nature (provided it can be captured correctly by a camera). l The colour gamuts of early TV (Rec.601, SMPTE) were defined by the practicality of the phosphors used in CRT television sets. l Then came HDTV and with it a newer colour gamut standard (just slightly different than Rec.601) — the now famous ‘Rec.709’ colour gamut. l Then came the age of digitisation of film
610 620 630
FIGURE 7 Colour arithmetic for video displays. Mixing red, green and blue in different proportions we can produce all colours within reach of the display’s colour gamut, including khaki
0.4 0.5 0.6 u’ FIGURE 8 an illustration of a (u’,v’) chromaticity chart. This one is more uniform, so that the same distance between any two u’v’ points anywhere in the chart is perceived as roughly the same visible ‘colour difference’. We’ll use this one from now on on. It’s 40 years old, so it’s about time it reaches maturity…
520 530 540 550 560 570
and bright 3D – typical cinema audiences would know what to choose! 4. Other technical properties of lasers (beam divergence, output power per diode) determining the maximum optical power that can be coupled onto the projector imager. 5. Availability and economy of lasers with above properties All these choices together will hugely impact the cost effectiveness of the laser projector.
the cost of colour Zooming in on luminous efficacy (‘the price of colour’), we need to strike a balance between going ‘crazy’ in terms of wide
460 450 440 430 420
spectral locus 0.3
spectral locus rec. 709 dci-p3 rec. 2020 pointer real colour gamut FIGURE 9 a (u’,v’) representation of three common colour gamuts: Rec.709 for HDTV (the smallest triangle), DCI P3 for digital cinema projectors (the middle triangle) and Rec.2020 for next generation UHDTV sets (widest triangle). The Pointer gamut of real life colours is contained by the wobbly line.
colour gamut, paying an arm and a leg for lasers and cooling, and frying the projector. This is summarized in Table 1 and Fig. 10. For instance, Rec.2020 primaries would require about 27% more laser power (and cooling) than a laser projector tuned only for DCI P3 gamut. That’s some expensive colour. If we have to spend more money/ watts/cooling, we had better put other things in the equation next to a wider colour gamut, things such as good despeckling, 6P 3D, a long lifetime etc. That is the choice Barco made (see Table 1, right). Although the above considerations balanced a given target colour gamut with the needed laser power, a wider colour gamut is only one portion of the image quality puzzle. Keeping speckle under control, exceeding current DCI standards for brightness and colour uniformity, increasing contrast levels, and even increasing the ‘pixel squareness’ (reducing pixel flair and hence increasing image sharpness) are all even more important than colour alone. And then you have to consider prosaic issues like engine cooling and laser lifetime… All of these improvements come not only by the choice of RGB lasers, but primarily by projector design (optics, cooling etc). In other words, a laser projector is not only good because it’s RGB laser: a good projector is much more than that. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com www.cinematechnology.co.uk
Produced watts per lumen for selected wavelengths 700
1 spectral iocus 2 rec. 709 1 dci-p3 2 rec. 2020 1 pointer real colour gamut 2 rec. 2020
FIGURE 10 The produced watts per lumen for the wavelengths required for Rec.2020 and for DCI P3 colour spaces. It can be seen that the DCI wavelengths are more efficient
200 2 100 1 2 0 400
WRAPPING IT ALL UP Making a new technology very expensive will be prohibitive to most cinema owners. As a result, very few people will adopt it and as a consequence very few people will see, or be touched by, the new exciting visual experience that the creative has envisioned. These are the two sides of this coin. A visual experience attractive enough â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and an affordable technology are both needed, and one cannot exist without the other. So are we willing to depart from the dream of showing every colour exactly as it is in nature? Taking all the other benefits laser projection can bring? The answer is of course yours to give. It takes knowledge and judgment to make the right engineering choices, but also courage, faith in your decisions and hard work. Having seen the results in real life, I am about ready to forget (or bury) the nostalgia for my black and white TV set and enjoy the spectacular and accurate colour of Barco RGB laser projection. Now you can too!
Laser wavelengths & resulting power to make 60.000 lumens with the chosen colour gamut & DCI white point Most efficient laser primaries for DCI P3
Rec. 2020 primaries
Barco 6P projector (weighted ave. primaries)
Hypothetical 3P primaries
NEEDED OPTICAL POWER 60.000 LM
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
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The big DCP changeover:
Involving the exhibitor
Testing times in the world of SMPTE DCPs as the rollout to UK cinemas begins. Jim Slater explains
s the latest stage in the long-promised transition to the use of SMPTE DCPs (digital cinema packages), the UK Cinema Association recently gathered together representatives from all sides of the UK cinema community in Screen 5 of the Vue, Piccadilly, to announce the transition to the new delivery system has begun. The objective of the day was to raise awareness of what has been achieved in other territories and get agreement on the approach to be adopted in getting UK cinemas to perform the test to confirm their equipment is ready for use with SMPTE DCPs. Phil Clapp from UKCA introduced the session and Toby Glover
from DeLuxe Technicolor, who has played a major role in the preliminary testing work, explained the current situation and the forthcoming tests which aim at getting every cinema screen in the UK to try out a simple DCP test. This will confirm that they are able to use the system without problems.
A single inventory It is obviously important to producers and distributors that each of their releases plays in cinemas without problems — nobody wants a blank screen — but at the current time there can be no guarantee that the new SMPTE DCPs will play everywhere. Nobody has yet checked out every cinema screen. This has meant that, for SMPTE releases, distributors have had to produce
two versions of every DCP package, one in the current ‘Interop’ format, the other in the new SMPTE format. Producing this ‘dual inventory’ involves extra time and resource, so studios are keen to get to a situation where a single version works in all cinemas.
The need for change Toby explained the need to change from the current ‘Interop’ DCPs, explaining the improvements and simplifications that SMPTE DCPs will bring. He explained the technical differences between the packing formats of the two systems (not something that need concern the average exhibitor), but noting that they cannot be used together in a single DCP. From an exhibitor’s position, it is important to understand that SMPTE
TESTING IN THE UK: A MORE COMPLEX SCENARIO Previous successful tests took place in countries where overall cinema distribution system is simpler than the UK, so the plans for coping with the greater complexity of the UK were discussed and explained. Beginning in April, the EDCF SMPTE test DCP will be distributed by DCM and Pearl and Dean to all UK cinemas to which they supply advertisements. The distribution will be done in the normal manner for each cinema — the vast majority electronically, with some via hard-
drive. There are a very few UK cinemas that do not carry advertising— special provision will have to be made for these. The DCP is approximately 90 seconds in duration, and at the meeting we were shown this three times in order to highlight how the various test sequences work. It comes with instructions and when ingested into the server, the DCP provides a self-explanatory on-screen test graphic. It works through a defined set of tests that check the fundamental requirements
of playback of subtitled 2D content. The basic image is designed for showing as 2D ‘scope at 24fps, and in order to emulate the real life situation the content, though short, has been divided into three reels in order to check for any potential problems with loading of assets when content switches reels. The on-screen display highlights the parameter currently being tested, and these include subtitles, sync tracks, 5.1 audio, HI/ VI audio, and ‘motion seating’ signals.
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
DOING THE TESTS Below is the typical test procedure, but each cinema should follow the actual instructions that they are provided with. Once you receive the test material from DCM or P&D, ingest it into the TMS and/or individual screen server. Read the supplied instructions and watch the examples of how to conduct the test and what to look for. Configure the projector to ‘scope and 5.1 audio, depending on the screen. Ensure Hearing impaired and/or Visually Impaired (Audio Description) services and equipment are working. Taking a Vue — industry representatives all gathered together in Piccadilly to discuss SMPTE delivery
DCPs are effectively an enhanced version of the DCPs they are used to, which will not affect or change a cinema’s normal operational methods, but will offer some simplification. The numbers of different versions for which KDMs may be required could be reduced, simplifying operations and giving less room for error. The many benefits that SMPTE DCPs will bring include direct support for many of the new technologies coming to the cinema business — the immersive audio systems, improvements in subtitling, including encryption and, in the future, precise control of 3D subtitling. Higher Frame Rates and Higher Dynamic Range pictures will also be enabled for capable screens. SMPTE DCPs have the ability to include additional metadata as well as the picture, sound and subtitles. They enable systems like Dolby Atmos to pass data from the playback server for onward processing. The DCP can include data necessary to drive moving seats, to synchronise lighting effect systems (through markers) with the film playback. In reality SMPTE DCPs will allow for the support of innovations that the industry hasn’t even thought of yet.
Initial tests, positive outcomes Testing has already taken place in parts of the USA, and it was explained that initial tests of the SMPTE DCPs in Norway, the Netherlands and Finland had gone extremely well. Every screen had been tested. Representatives from the Netherlands and Norway explained that virtually all digital cinema hardware, including Theatre Management Systems (TMS), servers, and projectors had proved that they were able to cope with SMPTE DCPs, but it had been found that all the equipment software and firmware needs to be up-to-date if everything is to work properly. Some cinemas had been better than others at keeping software up to date, CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
so in the early phase of the testing a few problems occurred. Once these cinemas were given advice and help to update their software they were able to run SMPTE DCPs without any problem. A few cinemas using equipment that was many years old had to be advised to replace it, but these were very much the exception.
What next? If each of your screens runs the tests successfully and no anomalies are highlighted, this should ensure that your cinema is all set to be able to play SMPTE DCPs. If something isn’t quite right, then the first step is to contact your usual service company or integrator. They will ensure each piece of your equipment is running the most up-to-date version of its software — if you are in any doubt before running the tests, talk with your service people first. Apart from software issues, previous tests have shown up most problems with audio routing (sounds coming out of the wrong speakers), subtitle display, and problems with HI/VI tracks. The testing programme is expected to start in April and will probably take six months for all UK cinemas to report back on
If appropriate, ensure that any subtitling/closed caption equipment is connected and working. Run the test material in each screen and record the results on the checklist from the online link provided. WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN? Audio should come from the correct speakers or headphones, corresponding with what is indicated on screen. Subtitles should appear in the bottom centre of the screen in the area highlighted. They should appear and disappear in sync with the surrounding box, with entry and exit times matching. Whenever there is audio, there should also be a subtitle to describe it.
to 48 and 60fps, but those organising the tests advised that using just 24 fps would help answer the basic question ‘Is this cinema ready for SMPTE DCPs?’ without making the testing too complicated for owners of smaller cinemas. It was suggested that any ‘extra’ tests could be made available for interested cinemas to download separately, an idea in consideration. After confirmation that the planned tests are intended just for UK cinemas, it was suggested that there could be advantages
“IF EACH OF YOUR SCREENS RUNS THE TESTS SUCCESSFULLY, YOUR CINEMA SHOULD BE ALL SET TO PLAY SMPTE DCPS” all screens, but if your cinema can provide its results quickly, that will help all involved and enable the roll-over to SMPTE DCPs to take place as smoothly as possible. The UKCA will be the focal point for feedback. Various people at the Vue meeting noted that there could be benefits in including extra tests in the proposed programme. It was suggested that various different frame rates might be included, from 25fps through
for distributors (reducing the need for continuing dual-inventory) in including the 400 screens in the Republic of Ireland. The test organisers will have another look at whether this would be practical. Preparatory work for these tests has been the result of a joint initiative between EDCF and UNIC with excellent support from its cross cinema members to help the transition run as smoothly as possible. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
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23/02/2017 13:28 14/02/17 09:53
GROWING IN STATURE
CineAsia truly reflects the diversity of the market it represents — that makes for a busy event, as Patrick von Sychowski discovered when he headed to Hong Kong
$5 price for entry at the world's most successful Imax screens — in Ulan Bator, Mongolia
ineAsia took place in Hong Kong last December, a little over a month after China officially surpassed the United States as the country with the world’s largest cinema screen count. The chairman of Wanda, Wang Jianlin, had just been to Hollywood to discuss investing there and buying a studio, with his AMC-controlled cinema about to complete its twin acquisition of Odeon and UCI and Carmike that would make it the world’s largest cinema chain. The buzz leading up to the show suggested this was Asia’s and particularly China’s moment. Despite representing the world’s largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing cinema market, CineAsia has always been a distant third in terms of global cinema trade show after CinemaCon and CineEurope, just ahead of ShowEast. It faces challenges in competing with a native Chinese (Mandarin language) event like Beijing’s BIRTV. As such, half the attendees at CineAsia seem to come to Hong Kong just to be stuck in meetings in hotel rooms the entire time. “Oh, you were there too? I had no idea,” you often find yourself saying to people afterwards. Yet there was something about this year’s event that made it grow in stature, although it www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
is hard to put a finger on what it was. Rather than starting with the traditional MPAA AntiPiracy Asia briefing, Dolby legend Ioan Allen kicked off the ‘Trends in the Asian Cinema Market’ seminar with a telling question to his panelists: What surprised you about the past 12 months (not counting Trump)? Answers ranged from the resilience of the box office after 2015's highs and the success of 4DX in Japan, to the intensity of cinema mergers and acquisitions and the pan-Asian success of local titles such as Korea’s Train to Busan and Japanese animé Your Name. Even though demographics are an issue in Asia, with its aging audiences, there is a feeling that there is still scope for growth in countries such as India, Indonesia and beyond. Asia is a region full of surprises, as I discovered in a coffee break talking to the leading exhibitor from Mongolia. They now have two screens in Ulan Bator and had been invited to present at Imax’s internal meeting at CineAsia of how they have become the most successful Imax screens in the world, despite charging around $5 per ticket. Meanwhile, the panel on online and mobile ticketing, with particular focus on China’s platforms, demonstrated how far ahead China and Asian countries can be of European and American counterparts. “It’s
Arguably, the queues for the VR experience on the GDC stand were more dignified than the ride itself…
Held in Hong Kong, CineAsia reflects the needs of a wide market
AMC's acquisition of Odeon/UCI and Carmike to make the world's largest cinema chain has the industry buzzing in the runup to CineAsia
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
GDC Technology won the firstever Technology Innovator of the Year Award at CineAsia
Christie was proud to announce the 400th installation of its Vive Audio cinema sound system — in Taiwan's Showtime Cinemas.
lumens - the brightness of Barco's newest 4K laser phosphor projector unveiled at CineAsia last December. all nice and well when you can build your cinema infrastructure largely from scratch,” a European vendor grumbled from the sidelines. Yet while ‘Big in Japan’ was a joke in the 1980s, everyone’s ambition is now to be Big in China. Companies such as Barco and Disney have worked to establishing an organic local presence that is paying off with the installation of laser projectors and superhero films beaming from them. Ireland’s Showtime Analytics was CineAsia’s Cinderella story, having received a major investment from Alibaba Picture’s Yueke cinema software platform. The only other foreign venture Alibaba Pictures had previously invested in was Steven Spielberg’s production company.
Concessions and Retail
While CineAsia was at one time as sprawling as the continent it represents, the most consistent strand in the show — other than the Hollywood studio product presentations — was the CineAsia University on the Trade Show Floor, with its focus on retail and concessions. Programmed and presented very ably over two days by the National Association of Concessionaires (NAC), led by Larry Etter and Dan Borschke. Now in its fourth year, it managed to keep this year’s topics as fresh as the popcorn that we were urged to pop in front of the customers. Cretor’s Shelly Olsen shared the Do’s and Don’ts of popcorn making; Kathy Horgan revealed the breadth of movie-tie ins produced by Golden Link; Mariam El Bacha’s learnings from promotions that failed demonstrated why success is not the best teacher, while Larry and Dan presented home truths of the F&B business with an American flavour, but global implications. Customers might say they want “healthy options” at the concessions counter, but in reality they go for the treats that indulge on a trip to the cinema.
in seminars, screenings, off-site and on the trade show. Projector makers continue to bang the drum for laser, with Barco unveiling its 24,500 lumen 4K laser phosphor projector, while Christie touted its wider offerings by announcing the 400th Vive Audio cinema sound installation with Taiwan’s Showtime Cinemas, who also installed a Christie RGB laser projection system with enhanced wavelength diversification (EWD), plus Christie CP2215, Christie CP2220, and Christie CP2230 DLP digital cinema projectors, making it Christie’s largest installation in the Asia Pacific region. Perhaps an even more significant presence was the large trade show footprint of Korea’s CGV. Not just the second-largest cinema operator in Asia after Wanda (now including Turkey’s Mars cinemas), it was also demonstrating its 4DX immersive seating (including the signing of a major deal with India’s PVR), the Screen X surround viewing format (used to great effect in Korean zombie thriller Train to Busan) and its many ticketing and cinema software solutions. In Asia more than anywhere else, it is looking like a challenging catch-up game on the immersive seating front for 4DX’s rivals MediaMation, D-Box and other vendors. There was the solid presence of the cloudbased cinema solutions vendors, including Vista, Movio, Arts Alliance Media, Unique Digital, Ali-infused Showtime Analytics and several others. Big Data was not as much of a panel topic at CineAsia as it had been at CinemaCon and CineEurope this year, with
Digital from the outset
With most Asian cinemas never even having seen a 35mm projector, there was no letting up in the technologies presented CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
A timeline of development — the GDC trade stand
CGV signed a major 4DX deal with PVR at the show
the panel ‘Maximizing Business Performance through Investments in Next Generation Cinema Technology’ instead hearing from the likes of Barco, RealD and TK Architects. It was left to Eric Lam, of local Golden Dynamic Enterprises to explain ‘Why Do Cinemas Need a Tailor-Made Ticketing Solution on Cloud?’ in his solo ‘panel’ presentation. Nor has event cinema made much of an impact in Asia (outside of Australia and New Zealand) and as such was almost non-existent at CineAsia. Yet these regional differences must be understood in terms of different market dynamics — and a very challenging time difference for the New York Metropolitan Opera’s live programme.
Hollywood — and beyond
As at the other trade shows, Disney had the most impressive showreel corralling the full force of Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, Disney Animation and Studios that often led the other studios to scrabble to remind the exhibitors that they had titles and franchises with blockbuster potential as well. The challenge of pitching a film like Ghostbusters to a Japanese audience only became apparent when the “Lifetime Achievement Award” was presented to Sony Picture’s Noriaki (Dick) Sano, with the director and star of the Resident Evil franchise, Paul W. S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich coming to join in the on-stage accolades. Apart from them, CineAsia's celebrity quotient was low, though Luc Besson made up for it www.cinematechnologymagzine.com
Mariam El Bacha gave a masterclass in marketing
A major presence at the show: GDC Technology
with the sheer energy with which he pitched EuropaCorp’s Valerian space opera opening next summer. It might be a French comic book adaptation, but it has no less of a franchise ambition than the next Avatars that Asian exhibitors are impatiently waiting for.
GDC Technology takes the limelight
Of all the companies represented, GDC Technology took centre stage at CineAsia 2016, both literally at the trade show and figuratively. Awarding it the first ever Technology Innovator of the Year Award, GDC Technology could more appropriately have been declared Technology Innovator of the Decade. No other company has been so closely associated with the conversion to digital cinema in Asia as that built and guided by Dr Man-Nang Chong. Dr Chong gave Cinema Technology a personal tour of GDC’s impressive booth, which was as much a demonstration of leading technological innovation as it was a tour of the history www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
of the company in Asia and worldwide. “You remember, Patrick, how we go all the way back to e-cinema in India with our first servers,” Dr Chong said, pointing to the timeline on the wall that reached back to the company’s founding in 1999. It illustrated the first steps of what was then considered both daring and foolhardy; a cinema server built around software decoding. There was a candid admission about challenging years before the digital cinema roll-out got underway. Yet anyone who thinks that GDC’s success in Asia and beyond was a given should know that the Singapore-Hong Kong company was no less considered an outsider in the Mainland cinema market than the likes of Christie or Imax. It was only by carefully cultivating local ties, combined with a strong technology portfolio that GDC was able to become the biggest server company in China. In parallel it grew to become a strong force in the rest of Asia and Latin America (particularly with its VPF scheme), with significant market share in North America and Europe as well. Dr Chong seemed humbled by the award and keen for the recognition to be shared by his colleagues. “It is an honor to lead such a great organisation of individuals who innovate and experiment, come up with new ideas and drive the advancement of the cinema industry.” That innovation was on display at GDC’s booth, which dominated the show the way that typically only CocaCola would manage at CineEurope. This booth was backed up by the off-site cinema demonstration of DTS:X object-based immersive sound technology that GDC was first to incorporate in its server. Centre of the booth was the futuristic virtual reality (VR) ride, that attendees were lining up for the privilege of strapping themselves into. But it was small-scale innovation that impressed more, such as remote monitoring of ambient cinema conditions, ranging from brightness on screen to humidity in the projection room. While two air conditioning
Twentieth Century Fox's Sunder Kimatrai
brands dominate internationally, GDC had to develop interoperability with dozens of local Chinese brands. GDC continues to impress with its range of solutions, remembering the tiniest detail while never losing sight of the importance of technology serving the magic of the big screen experience.
CONCLUSION The best summary about the position of cinema in Asia came from Sunder Kimatrai, exec vice president of Twentieth Century Fox International and long-time CineAsia veteran, in response to a question about whether the theatrical window is going away. “It is certainly evolving. Theatrical is still an important part of the entertainment experience. So cinema going is not going away. Will consumers have a choice of where to see films? Yes. It is a question of timeline of where to see film. There is a huge diversity of practices in local markets in Asia. In some, very early and some, later. The industry has to find a way to satisfy as many consumers as possible. Therefore it will still evolve." CineAsia is often as sprawling and diverse as the region it represents, stretching from New Zealand to Turkey. Its growth is not uniform nor linear. China dominates, but the importance of India, Japan, Southeast Asia and others is not lost on anyone. Above all CineAsia grew so much in 2016 that if it grows further this year (it will) it might no longer be physically possible to fit everyone into the screening auditorium in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wan Chai. While there is no appetite to move CineAsia (again), the problem it faces is that it has finally begun to reflect the diversity and size of the massive market that it represents.
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
ECA CON 2017
THE ECA CONFERENCE: QUITE AN EVENT FOR CINEMA! The Event Cinema Association conference, held last month in London, covered a truly remarkable range of salient topics
arely does a single conference successfully provide a day that is engaging and informative to a whole range of people, from creatives to cinema managements, to advertisers and to engineers, but, having learned from and built on the experience gained from previous conferences, Melissa Cogavin and her Event Cinema Association team delivered a packed programme in early February that really did offer something for everyone. The prestigious QEII Conference Centre in Westminster proved an ideal venue, with plenty of space on two floors that offered superb views over the London skyline, with Parliament and Westminster Abbey in front and the Shard in the distance. The main conference layout, with delegates seated at round tables with a good view of the speakers and the cinema screen, proved ideal — you could talk to those around you and move between tables for ‘networking’, so much less constraining than in a cinema type of auditorium. The sound and images were good — this purist’s only gripe would be that the attractive multicoloured stage-set lighting often spilled over onto the screen.
Interaction made easy
After a welcome and ECA progress report from Melissa, Patrick von Sychowski, who acted as master of ceremonies, gave a witty opening speech (“Will Wanda have taken over another cinema chain by the end of the morning…?”) before introducing the audience to the interactive Sli.Do system that allowed them to send questions and comments (anonymously) on the various presentations in real time.
Pushing the Boundaries
Mike Gubbins of Sampomedia gave an overview of how event cinema is progressing, based on research around the world, www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
MAR17_ECA CONF.indd 41
Setting the agenda: Patrick von Sychowski was a witty and informed compere on the day One of the major reasons to attend, delegates had the opportunity to network throughout the day
discussing different types of event and stressing the importance of finding out what the audience wants even though it doesn’t always know what the options are. He introduced four speakers who gave valuable insights from their own experiences. Cassandra Chadderton from UK Theatre gave details of their research and case studies. Event cinema presentations were found to have minimal impact on attendances at the actual live events, whether arts, pop concerts or touring shows, with no evidence that having an event cinema version available makes any difference to the likelihood of someone attending a performance. People chose to go to a cinema performance because of convenience, especially those in rural areas. Their research had shown that the public doesn’t generally care whether event cinema is ‘live’ or ‘encore’, although some sources disagree. UK Theatre and the Arts Council are keen for event cinema to reach a broader audience. Kymberli Frueh told how Fathom Events is one of the largest producers of events (four $1million events in January alone). She
(NO) TIME FOR LUNCH The organisers had the brilliant idea of offering a series of specialist advice ‘surgeries’ held at the same time as the excellent buffet lunch. Having filled your plate with goodies (which included cocktails, wine and chocolate on offer thanks to the concession stand sponsors), groups of one or two could seek personal advice from experts such as Peter Knight and Peter Wilson who manned the popular technical advice surgery. Other areas covered included legal matters, public relations, recruitment, social media, business, funding and export matters. This element of the day offered conference attendees the opportunity to ask the questions they wanted, giving a one-to-one learning aspect not often found at such events.
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
ECA CON 2017
35 The ECA now represents members in no fewer than 35 countries around the world, with 5 territory representatives.
Lost In London Live event was flmed in one take, and shown simultaneously across 400 US theatres.
introduced producer Vicki Betihavas who told of the hassles, stresses and satisfactions involved in Fathom distributing the Lost In London Live event, which was filmed ‘in one single take’ and broadcast live simultaneously into 400 US theatres. This first live shooting of a movie sent directly to cinemas gives some idea of the exciting things that future event cinema can achieve. Joe Evea of CinEvents noted that event cinema had introduced completely new audiences to cinema, and that it is important to expand the range of audience experiences and to encourage people to come back again. Arts events had clearly proved successful, but we now need new models for gaming, sports, e-sports, pop concerts, education. Paddy Houghton of Bauer Media, a group with a finger in virtually every media pie, with 600 magazines, over 400 digital products and 50 radio and TV stations around the world including a chain of UK commercial radio stations and even Empire magazine, gave some excellent insights into how event cinema could develop by spreading its wings into other areas. He believes that far more of the ‘content’ industry could benefit from getting involved with event cinema and sees this as a great opportunity.
A word from our sponsor
Eyvind Ljungquisl of Unique Digital, gold sponsor of the ECA Conference, gave an interesting presentation about their recently launched ‘RosettaLive’ system, which uses a small broadband-connected hardware box to enable cinemas to stream event cinema material live. The system links in with existing Theatre Management Systems and can be remote controlled by the RosettaNet App. It is designed to work around bandwidth limitations, with an intelligent buffering system, and checks each data package.
The ECA is five years old in 2017, and has grown to represent a membership of more than 170 companies.
Kymberlie Frueh of Fathom Events told how it produced four $1million events in January alone.
Managed Networks gave a brilliant exposition entitled ‘Cybersecurity and Your Business’, which explained a difficult topic by means of many examples, and really provided an in-depth look at the risks of cyber-attacks, the need to be on guard constantly, and the remedies that can be adopted. Many in the cinema business will really have benefited from this talk. Mellissa Cogavin and Isabelle Fauchet of the ECA provided what was effectively a ‘Dummy’s guide to all things event cinema’, which many newer members will have found invaluable, and followed this with a list of the top 10 tips for success with event cinema. There were some interesting observations on making commercial viability assessments and advice to avoid price cutting — charging a premium gives the audience the sense that event cinema is special and worth paying for. Lucie Conrad and Penny Nagle from Flaming Lassie and John Wyver from Illuminations provided a different set of takes on aspects of event cinema in a separate conference room, under the banner of ‘Rules of Engagement’ and further breakout sessions, sometimes with three parallel streams, were held throughout the afternoon, covering best practice, training, finance, recruitment, and making your cinema special. We heard how an independent cinema in Stockholm makes their event cinema customers super welcome, how the British Museum will do a Japanese art exhibition for their their next big screen venture and lots
After a networking break, delegates were offered the choice of separate ‘breakout sessions’ in different rooms. Ben Rapp of CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
MAR17_ECA CONF.indd 42
A driving force at the ECA: Melissa Cogavin
THE ECA AWARDS 2017 BBC One Show reporter Nick Wallis made a splendid job of hosting the 2017 ECA Awards ceremony, mixing humour with knowledge of the industry. The categories were split across 3 regions: Europe, Americas and International. WINNERS: Excellence In Programming – Best Distributor Europe: Picturehouse Entertainment, UK Americas: Fathom Events, USA International: Sharmill Films, Australia Excellence In Programming – Best Content Provider Europe: Royal Opera House, UK Americas: Metropolitan Opera, USA International: MusicScreen Best Exhibitor, Europe - Chain Odeon Group, Europe Best Exhibitor, Europe – Independent Olympic Studios, London Best Exhibitor, Americas – Chain Cineplex, Canada Best Exhibitor , Americas – Independent Silverspot Theatres, USA Best Exhibitor, International– Chain Event Cinemas, Australia/New Zealand Best Exhibitor, International – Independent Bioscope Cinema, South Africa Outstanding Contribution To Event Cinema - Joint Winners: Marc Allenby, Director of Distribution, Picturehouse Entertainment, UK Rickard Gramfors, Event Cinema Manager, Folkets Hus och Parker, Sweden more. There really was something of interest to everyone. Multiple afternoon breakout sessions kept everyone deeply involved, and the day closed with delegates invited to a drinks reception in the nearby Albert Pub. The conference was successful on a wide range of counts — it gave the chance to catch up with what is happening in the different parts of the event cinema sector, exposing us to a wide range of bright new ideas for the future of the business. It also provided the valuable chance to talk with event cinema people from all over Europe, while the range of topics covered was truly exceptional. Jim Slater www.cinematechnologymagzine.com
REFURBISHING EARLY DIGITAL PROJECTORS IT CAN BE WORTHWHILE...
Too costly? A hassle? Is it really worth refurbishing the earliest digital projection kit? It can be, says Jim Slater
ne of the biggest changes to come out of the switch to digital projection related to maintenance. Electromechanical 35mm film projectors proved long-lasting over several decades with minimal servicing. Cleaning and oiling, the occasional replacement of sprockets and drive belts was all that was usually needed. Since xenon lamps needed changing fairly frequently, the mirror and lamphouse got a clean every few months too, and the light output would be restored each time a lamp was changed. All this depended on having a technically competent projectionist to hand. Then digital changed everything. Initial Digital Screen Network projectors brought with them the requirement to sign a maintenance contract, which certainly concentrated minds, and led to a gradual understanding that this equipment was going to need a different form of care. At the same time, the new projectors were to be regarded as sealed boxes not to be interfered with. The economics of the changeover to digital meant their new operators were less technically skilled than their predecessors and were expected to spend only a small fraction of their time checking the projection kit worked. And it hardly need be said that anyone servicing digital projectors needs to be an “Approved Service Provider” to ensure a manufacturer warranty is upheld.
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
A gradual fall-off We have reached the relatively happy situation that when I now ask the staff at the average cinema about their projectors, they usually express their satisfaction that ‘it works’ and that they don’t have to do much with it. Regular basic servicing, mainly filter changes and software updates, has tended to ensure that projectors generally keep going, but over the past few years there has been a recognition that light output from many earlier projectors has fallen off substantially over time. Several integrators and operators have started to investigate why this might be and what can be done. Standard servicing has tended not to include thorough cleaning of all the optical components, these tasks often seen as the preserve of manufacturers’ service personnel, an opinion strengthened by at least one manufacturer’s instructions that “Typically, optical components do not need to be cleaned frequently if they are installed and operated in a location that meets or exceeds the environmental standard recommended”.
Brightening things up Recent work has shown that it is possible to develop procedures for cleaning optical components (including the reflector, light engine prism, UV filter, integrator, projection lens) and that this work can result in significant improvements in light output. Even where such cleaning has been www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
carried out, however, there is no doubt that light output continues to fall off after some years, so a good deal of work has been done to discover the practical effects of changing or renewing some of the optical components. Mike Bradbury, group head of cinema technology for Odeon/UCI/Cinesa told a recent technical conference in Norway of some of the results that his engineers had achieved. This information may be useful to Cinema Technology readers in exhibition who want to get the most from their investment in digital projection equipment. The examples shown below illustrate the significant benefits that can be gained in terms of light output when various parts of a projector optical systems are refurbished or replaced. For a big operator like Odeon, with in-house engineering expertise that could perhaps perform this upgrade work as part of its regular maintenance cycle, this might seem a ‘no-brainer’ — they will benefit from brighter pictures and extend the working life of projectors, therefore maximising the return on their original capital investment. But replacement of the optical components is not cheap, so could it be worthwhile for a smaller operator, who will rely on the expertise of his integrator, to spend money on such a refurbishment?
The broader view Mike Bradbury’s talk took a broader look at the whole subject of maximising screen illumination, pointing out the importance of factoring in the expected drops in light output when originally deciding on the power of the lamp and the type of screen. This reflected the lessons that TLS representatives have been giving to CTC Projection Course students over the past few years — remember that it makes sense always to choose a lamp power that will provide 14fL when the lamp is originally run at just 80% of maximum brightness. This will give some headroom to increase the lamp current as it ages and its light output naturally reduces. The output will
SERIES TWO PROJECTOR WITH 27,000 HOURS USE
SERIES ONE PROJECTOR WITH 34,500 HOURS USE Light output with new lamp installed I ncrease in light output when lens professionally cleaned I ncrease in light output when fold/cold mirror cleaned
Light output with new lamp installed
I ncrease in light output when lens professionally cleaned
I ncrease in light output when fold/cold mirror cleaned
Increase in output when main reflector replaced 4.6fL Increase in output when prism unit replaced
Total light output after above modifications
An overall 80% increase in light output!
Increase in output when main reflector replaced 5.1fL I ncrease in output when prism unit professionally cleaned Total light output after above modifications
2.5 fL 16.4fL
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
typically drop to around 60% after a couple of hundred hours, so if you had specified the lamp to work at 100% from day one, the projector might provide 14fL for only 25% of its lifetime — giving substandard 2D images and very dim 3D ones. Mike suggested that, for example, if you are specifying your projection equipment for a 12 metre screen, rather than just calculating the minimum light output you need to obtain 14fL on screen, it can make good sense, knowing that the output of the xenon lamp will naturally drop after a hundred hours or so, to do your calculations on the basis of illuminating a 15 metre screen. This ensures you have headroom to maintain 14fL on screen throughout lamp’s warranty life.
Comparing costs Many small operators who have been using digital projectors for up to a decade are seeing machinery get ‘tired’, with light outputs much reduced from the original — see Mike’s example of a Series 2 projector where the light output was only 8fL before the optics were refurbished. To replace a main reflector costs around £3,500, and professional cleaning of the prism unit by the manufacturer will be about £3,000. (A replacement prism may be £13k!) So with work on the lens and other optical parts we are probably talking £9,000 or so, for which investment you can expect to double the light output and keep the projector within specification for another few years. For a typical projector (there is no such thing, of course, with each auditorium needing something different) that perhaps cost £55,000 five years ago, this might seem a reasonable investment. But now that a similar or superior specification projector can probably be bought for £35,000 or less, would you better making that choice? Mike summarised by saying that if a new projector costs around £30k and a new phosphor laser around £40-45k, then, if there is nothing wrong with your existing projector other than reduced light output, surely it makes sense to do some old fashioned maintenance, give the projectors
KW 4 3.9 3.8 3.7 3.6 3.5 3.4 3.3 3.2 3 2.9 2.8 2.7 2.6 2.5 2.4 2.3 2.2 2.1 2 1.9 1.8
Amps/ Current fL 124 121 118 115 112 109 106 103 100 97 95 92 89 86 83 80 76 73 71 68 63 59
14.4 13.7 13.0 12.4 11.7 11.1 10.4 9.2 9.1 8.4 7.8 7.1 6.4 5.8 5.1 4.5 3.8 3.1 2.5 1.8 1.2
Factoring the light loss
100 95 90 85 80 75 70 65 60 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0
If installed at maximum current, lamp has no spare current range to increase brightness when performance drops. Light drops with no compensation
Light drops off to 60% quite early Stays at 60% for over 50% of lamp life — too dark. Because it ran on maximum current, the lamp deteriorates quicker
The graph above and corresponding figures to the left show the importance of factoring in light loss. This example of a 12 metre screen illuminated by a 4kW xenon provided 14fL initially, but was in specification for only a quarter of the lamp’s life, and 3D performance was very poor. 0
100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 Hours of operation
software upgrades described recently as the equivalent of oiling a 35mm projector, and just as vital — but it does seem that keeping an existing projector going by upgrading its optics could make financial sense. One engineer pointed out that you don’t need to wait until things are in a sorry state, and you don’t need to spend all at once. A few thousand spent replacing one or more optical components after the first few years of a projector’s life could be an investment in keeping your cinema up to scratch — the quality of the big, bright images on screen
“YOU COULD SPEND ON CLEANING OPTICS, ONLY TO FIND THE PROJECTOR POWER SUPPLY BOARD IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE”
board (for example) has failed and replacements are no longe available. One recent big concern with series one equipment is servers. The demise of Dolby DSS200 and the Doremi 2K4 servers means there are no series one compatible servers available any more. Bear in mind that the server (a computer that might be approaching nine years old…) is more likely to fail before the projector. So you could have a good, clean and light-efficient projector, but no way of showing content on it. That is perhaps a little over the top — there are some things that can be done to overcome the problem, but it is not cheap or easy, and demonstrates how obsolescence affects the cinema industry, not a problem that we often had in 35mm days!
And another thing..... a bit of TLC, and pocket the difference? I spoke with integrators who would always be delighted to sell you a new projector, but I received the general advice that it can pay to refurbish a projector and keep it bringing in customers for another few years. There is no way cinema operators will escape the need for constant drip of re-investment in computerised equipment that now forms part of the world — I heard CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
persuades your customers to come to the cinema rather than watch the TV at home!
Ah, but There are some caveats A potential problem with maintenance of older equipment that is sometimes given little thought is the risk of being unable to source parts — you could spend on cleaning optics and replacing reflectors only to discover that the projector power supply
And to show that there can be no definitive answers, one of our integrators pointed out a much simpler way of gaining an extra 2-3fL on screen is to renew the screen. At a few thousand pounds this could be another cost-effective way to improve your pictures, but that is an altogether different story! With thanks to Mike Bradbury, Graham Lodge, and others for their valuable views. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
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CINEMA OF THE FUTURE
30 years hence LOOKING BACK
at 30 years of Cinema Technology, it is great to see how many people in the exhibition industry regard it as occupying a special niche of the business. Effectively, it serves those who are entrusted with the responsibility for ensuring that the director’s vision — which may have cost hundreds of millions to execute — is delivered to the public in a form that recreates the magic only cinema can provide. This isn’t just a magazine that cinema people read, it is one they are keen to contribute to and here several of the Cinema Technology Committee’s leading figures reflect on the nature of the cinema business that they expect to exist in 30 years’ time.
he first issue of Cinema Technology was a simple eight-page supplement to the BKSTS Journal Image Technology in October 1987. Its introduction said that “Cinema Technology is for cinema, about cinema, and we will welcome your involvement.” New cinema developments featured highly in the issue including the remodelling of the Empire Leicester Square (now, of course, CineWorld at the Empire), the new C.I.C. six-screen multiplex at High Wycombe and the new Cannon eightscreen at Salford Quays. The magazine reported on Cinema Technology Committee seminars for theatre managers and projectionists under the title ‘It’s Your Image’, ‘designed to put film handlers and theatre managers in theatre seats, in the customer’s place, asking
them to approach filmgoing from the other side of the projector…’ Ten years down the line, in 1997, the magazine was now in colour and technological developments had moved on apace. Erneman projectors and laser audio soundheads made an appearance, as did the revolutionary Edwards 21 Cinema Complex in LA. Harkness Screens by Eddie Daniels, automation control from Jack Roe and IMAX 3D all made their debut in these pages, as did Barco’s new LCD projector for the Metro West End. Come 2007 and the digital revolution was firmly upon the industry. The magazine naturally reflected this, featuring supplements specifically on digital projection and the opportunities it presented. Similarly, Sony 4K projection at Odeon Leicester Square pointed the way ahead to the future, but the magazine still kept one eye on the past, reporting on 50
WHERE WILL WE BE IN THIRTY YEARS’ TIME? Cinema Technology Committee members (some happy to be quoted, others preferring anonymity, and a good many unable to resist their innate cynicism) came up with some interesting predictions for 30 years’ time, but it is sobering or perhaps comforting to find a general consensus that most expect people to be going out to the cinema, just as we do today… I wonder? Here’s one of the unnattributed suggestions: 35mm returns! Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino boycott film-making
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
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altogether, exasperated by digital cinema’s quality, leading to outrage from film fans. Cinema admissions are in freefall, jobs are being lost everywhere and the industry doesn’t know where to turn. In a last bid attempt to save cinema going altogether, the big studios (which now consists of Disney — they bought all the others) agrees to bring back 35mm in half the screens across the world if the dynamic duo return. They agree.The art of projection returns, labs reopen admissions shoot up and the industry is saved. Kill Bill 3 and The Dark Knight: Last Laugh are the biggest films of all time!
1987 the 1st issue years of xenon projection technology. Which brings us to today — Cinema Technology has long been available online as well as in print. With the industry consolidating, an increasing number of articles are about ‘systems’ available to smooth the cinema’s operation — whether for cinema management, programme distribution, ticketing or digital automation.But Cinema Technology continues to offer its readers a wide mix of news and information about the latest technological happenings, all leavened with features about cinema history and, most importantly, cinema’s people.
ADAM MCDONALD 30 years ago, cinema was essentially a group of people sitting in front of a large screen, watching movies. It was the same 30 years before that and 30 years before that. In 2047 it will remain, fundamentally, the same. The seats will change, the screen will change and the content will be more varied, but I believe the essence of what ‘cinema’ is will be the same. LAURENCE CLAYDON aged 43 and 3/4. (presumably mentioning this to infer that he still expects to be here…): In 2047, instead of going to the cinema people will go to the theatre, read a book, go on long walks in the countryside, or simply have some friends round for tea.
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Th in e t to dus ick mo tr et rr y o ing ow f
Laser tomatoes The future, now
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?
A peek at the theatres of the future to celebrate 30 years of Cinema Technology
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“CT CONTINUES TO OFFER ITS READERS A WIDE MIX OF NEWS AND INFORMATION, ALL LEAVENED WITH FEATURES ABOUT CINEMA HISTORY AND, IMPORTANTLY, ABOUT THE CINEMA’S PEOPLE”
DAVID POPE PREDICTS 1. Projectors will be replaced by active screens. 2. PLF will be the norm. 3. Immersive sound will be the norm. 4. 3D will return but without the need for glasses. 5. Further automation will make site technicians totally redundant. I am planning to be around to see it… hopefully. I should be 92 years old ;-) PETER KNIGHT Cinemas will be owned by international multi-national entertainment and retail companies with holographic, virtual, augmented-reality projection systems and overly priced popcorn. But still telling stories with an audience in a variety of different locations and styles will be key. And probably run and managed by robots.
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2047 — a Prescient view from the director james cameron? James Cameron was quoted in the Smithsonian, back in 2010, saying “there will be movie theaters in 1,000 years. People want the group experience, the sense of going out and participating in a film together. People have been predicting the demise of movie theaters since I started in the business. For 3D we have to wait until the technology is available in every home. I think it will be standard in 4 years, not 40. We will have a glasses-free technology in five years at home and three years for laptops. [ED— He got that wrong, didn’t he?] The limiting factor is going to be content.” And in response to the question of whether Hollywood would still be the filmmaking capital of the world, Cameron replied: “It will always be a filmmaking center. Filmmakers from China and Japan and Germany come to Hollywood to have meetings with studio executives and to get money for their movies. It is a central switching station for global entertainment. Hollywood is also the place for filmmakers who want to make movies for a global market.”
DENIS KELLY I expect the elimination of the conventional light source projecting an image from a distant position, which has been the methodology from the first days of film projection and has effectively been adopted by current digital cinema projection systems. The screen will be an ultra-high resolution electronic display technology — “super-duper LED”, and thus cinemas will no longer have projection booths. Programming in all major chains will be centrally scheduled and controlled, with cinema staffing reduced to a handful of front-of-house personnel. Immersive sound and supportive immersive experiences will be more the norm than the exception. In some instances, content will be provided
that allows patrons to select alternative scenarios, especially endings, through some elective, interactive system. NGOZI OKALI I believe the dominant cinematic experience in 30 years will be the standard 2D projection we have now. The current view of the future of cinema is to make it more immersive — so we have 3D, wraparound screens etc. In my view, immersiveness is easier to achieve through sound and not the picture. I don’t believe one can successfully make the picture realistically immersive and so the prevalent preference will be for the story itself and not the fancy presentation. I feel I may be alone in this view.
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
THE FUTURE OF AUDIO
Immersive Audio and Beyond The inspiring 2016 Bernard Happé annual lecture gave a taste of audio’s future. Mark Trompeteler reports
HAPPÉ’S LEGACY The annual BKSTS Bernard Happé Memorial Lecture was inaugurated in 1991, after the death of this major figure in the technology of the film industry and the life of the BKSTS. Bernard Happé was technical manager at Technicolor, and was responsible for many ground-breaking developments in motion picture processing technology, prior to his retirement in 1974. He authored many books on film technology, including Your Film and the Lab, and was co-editor of the Focal Encyclopaedia of Film and Television Technology. Technical editor of Screen Digest and Video and Film, and he regularly contributed papers to international conferences. Bernard was elected Fellow of the BKSTS in 1961, and Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1962. A hard-working member of the BKSTS Council from 1969, he became vicepresident of the society from 1970 until 1972. In 1976 he received the Kalmus Gold Medal, the SMPTE award for outstanding contributions to colour film technology. Bernard was President of the BKSTS from 1985 to 1986. Members of his family continue to attend the lecture each year.
he choice of subject for the BKSTS 2016 Bernard Happé Annual Lecture was inspired. The first of these lectures under the Society’s new branding of The International Moving Image Society focused on cutting-edge audio techniques. A lecture on “Immersive Audio and Beyond: New Experiences in Broadcasting” promised a lot and delivered just that. Held in November 2016, when the BBC was celebrating the 80th anniversary of the birth of the world’s first regular domestic television service, the fact that the lecture was being delivered by a team from the BBC was particularly apt. Delivering the lecture were Simon Tuff, one of the BBC’s principal technologists, specialising in audio; Chris Baume, a senior research engineer at BBC R&D in London; and Chris Pike, a senior scientist in the audio research team at BBC research and development. Chris leads BBC R&D’s work on spatial audio for broadcasting and virtual reality. An audience of some 70 assembled at the
Pioneers of audio
HereEast, the lecture venue in the Olympic Park CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
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lecture theatre in the London campus of Loughborough University. Situated on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, adjacent to the BT Sports TV Production Centre, the whole building complex is the former 2012 London Olympics Media Centre, now part of a university, media, technology, and business innovation hub in this area of London, called HereEast. The lecture that Simon and the two Chrisses delivered was extremely practical and well-presented. It was informative, entertaining, and full of demonstrations using headphones distributed to the audience. The lecture started by pointing out how we have the ability to assimilate lots of different images presented to us, the fact that images are bordered and framed helps us do this. However, this contrasts with how we find it difficult to assimilate and process lots of different sound sources being presented to us simultaneously. The choreographed instruments of an orchestra are a rare exception. It was also pointed out how sound can create an emotional response in us in a way that is often far more effective than what can be achieved with mute images. The audience enjoyed a whistlestop tour of some of Simon’s audio heroes: Clement Arder, the inventor of stereo; Alain Blumlein, who went on to perfect stereo; Michael Gerzon, who developed Ambisonic concepts that have helped us create the immersive and object based sound ideas that are being worked on today. We were introduced to “Ed the Head”, a www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
THE FUTURE OF AUDIO
Simon Tuff, Chris Baume and Chris Pike demonstrate concepts they are working on in audio research
life-size artificial head with a microphone array embedded within, in key positions. Ed the Head plays a critical role combining the morphology of the human head and acoustics to give a life-like binaural recording of sound. Vivid, amusing demonstrations were played into the audience’s headphones and we were informed that Andrew Sachs’s 1978 radio play The Revenge was amongst the first radio broadcasts to use such a microphone array. The presenting team led us to the idea that audio broadcasting was working towards bringing spatial audio/objectbased techniques to the immediate future of broadcasting. In part, this is reminiscent of the important uses of metadata and encoding that has been developing in the use of DCPs in cinema exhibition.
Today’s linear approach Currently a radio programme is made using traditional techniques and turned into a piece of linear media. It is broadcast and content is played in the same way on all devices that receive it; e.g. portable radios, Hi-Fi systems, possibly with surround capability, mobile phones, headphones, computers and so on. Compromises have to be made on some of the receiving devices. Cinema Technology readers are familiar with immersive sound systems such as Dolby Atmos which rely on object-based audio to enable sounds to be placed precisely in an auditorium, so it was no surprise to learn that BBC researchers are developing techniques that produce programmes as a collection of media objects. This will be transmitted with metadata to describe how it should be assembled. The collection is broadcast and the device in the listener’s home, or on their person, will re-assemble the objects according to metadata. The team concluded by giving a glimpse of the BBC Salford-based 34 speaker experimental radio studio lab and production facility where such techniques are being developed — they played some fascinating prototype materials.
Orpheus: a new world of audio Lastly, we were introduced to Orpheus — a European research project involving 10 collaborative partners including programme producers and equipment manufacturers as well as researchers — which points to the future. The project is attempting to develop a production, transmission and reception chain for this exciting new world of broadcast audio in which audience expectations and media usage patterns are changing. Users want content on demand, with immersive and interactive elements that adapt to them.
A wider audience Bryan Cook, Chief Operating Officer of IMIS, is to be congratulated for arranging an excellent live stream of the event. This allowed additional audience members in eight different countries to watch the Bernard Happé Lecture live — and a video recording of the event is on the Society’s website, www.societyinmotion.com.
Object-based broadcasting 1
The programme is made in the traditional way
The programme is turned into a collection of media objects with some metadata to describe how it should be assembled. All of the data is broadcast to everyone
The device inside the viewer’s home re-assembles the media objects according to the metdata
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4 The objects can be assembled differently (based on the original metadata), optimising the experience depending on local factors relating to the device, environment and viewer.
TUNED FOR DIFFERENT DEVICES Utilisation of metadata means that sound objects can be assembled differently to optimise the experience depending on the device and its component parts, the listening environment and the listener’s preferences. Such advances in broadcasting will make the audio: More accessible: some listeners might prefer an alternative balance between dialogue and effects/music, More personalised: a listener may choose their preference for dynamic range and compression, More responsive: depending on the time the listener has available, she or he may be able to alter the length of the programme to suit their availability — a précised programme will still make some sense, More interactive: as a viewer may choose their location in a stadium or event venue and then zoom in on specific areas of personal interest, so the audio perspective will match the visual perspective, More immersive: while surround and immersive audio tries to give the feeling that you are actually there, (though, if you were actually “there”, the real audio might not always be that good), the use of objectbased/immersive and spatial sound techniques can create the illusion of a kind of hyper-audio reality, giving the impression they might be “there.”
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
Bringing it all Together Unique Digital’s Mark Stephen explains the brave new world of Autonomous Cinema
nyone else feel the familiar sense of déjà vu when you read articles that start with an overview of what we have done as an industry over the past decade? It’s ‘VPF reflection syndrome’, as its becoming known. We’ve heard it all before. Yes, it was important, but it’s time to move the conversation forward… Everyone on board? Run with me — you might even agree with some of what I say. The industry has converted (we know) and some of us have ‘almost’ paid for it (this we live with). What’s next? Digital Cinema 2.0, Conversion 2.0, the ‘Next Gen’, innovation this, revolution that. Really? Why create these false dawns, these re-inventions? The big bang happened, It’s done, and almost dusted. We have an armful of tech at our disposal, some great, some disused, some baffling. But we all have it and have to live with it; well most of it. Wouldn’t it be great to try and pull it all together — to make some singular sense of it all. I’m not suggesting Matrix-type software control, not yet… But we do all now live in a software-driven world. Cinema is no different. Software is the key to making it all work and making it work together. How clever can cinema be? How good a job can your software do for you now? How good a job do you want it to do for you now? Our industry’s development is ongoing and unstoppable. We are not working toward an end point – it’s a stream of evolution, deployment and use. We aren’t going to plateau technically. After the next ‘great idea’ comes another ‘next great idea’. Lead or follow, adopt early, late or not at all — it’s your decision. How much you want to embrace it is up to you?
Using digital cinema effectively We have created something great in digital cinema — never has so much varied content been available to so many varied customers in so many varied formats at such enduring quality. Now, how can we begin to use this ‘stuff’ properly, efficiently and correctly? Let’s clear one thing up; there’s a lot of software out there; hence there are a lot of
different qualities of software available. As in all markets, you have a choice. It is rare that the software sector offers up a straightforward option. There is always some complexity, dependency, options, add-ons, or some hideous mismatch that for unfathomable reasons cannot work as you thought it would. Sometimes we find ourselves wasting time on chasing minimal gains the software is promising to provide. Slaves to the machine? The challenge is to work out what is core, what will make the show better, easier to deliver and less of a pain to manage. Get that right and we can spend all the effort we want on extracting ‘minimal gains’ in any way available to us. I want to concentrate on the core business, the show and how that show can now be presented with the minimum of fuss, the maximum efficiency and with the least amount of active management and interference possible.
man & the linear automated process To set the scene, a study from Harvard — a linear automated process was replicated in two near-identical environments, one with a human input, one without. The process was of a ‘countdown to action’ and that action was ‘rewarded’ once enacted. To cut a long story short, the process with the human element failed many times more than the process without.Why? Simply because the human element interfered, tried to circumvent the linear process, and began to try and apply its logic to the controlled environment. As such it took the process away from its expected linear. The human, actively seeking control and reward, looked to shortcut; to force the process. Adventure, greed, tedium; whatever the trigger for interference might be, the study showed, in repetitive task management, the ‘minimising of the human’ in that chain leads to an increased compliance and application result. Can we apply that to our world? Here’s how we see it happening, not in the future but “coming to a cinema near you now”. Norway is a leading light, blazing the trail for what we call ‘Autonomous Cinema’, not a revolution, but an evolution — pulling it all together, with software. ‘Autonomous Cinema’, implies self-sufficiency, an ability to self-govern. To an extent that’s what it is — a simplification of your ‘back of house’ process, controlled from ‘front of house’. A reduction in how and how much you interact with your cinema network systems. As with any good recipe, you need the
correct ingredients — for the taste of autonomy we will need to combine a point of sales system, an intelligent TMS and a pre-show API for active third-party content providers. Mixing those in with a dynamic electronic content delivery network gives you the needed starting point. You build your schedule once in your POS and that’s it. If you need to make a change, then make the change in your POS. That’s it — a single point of interaction and point of instruction Behind the scenes, it’s all happening. The TMS remains at the heart of the operation, an online brain bringing it all together, and taking its instruction from POS decisions. There is still a lot to do, but there’s no reason to become involved now, logic takes over. Automatically applying and updating playlist information to show type templates in the TMS creates a digital framework onto which the show can be built. In the autonomous world, the feature DCP has been delivered to the onsite content library server, CPL mapping allows the playlist to select the correct DCP content and apply it to the show framework. A Smart CPL function optimises the DCP type to the screen type, ensuring best use every time. Should your playlist contain a DCP requirement that is not ‘onsite’ then an auto request can be sent to Distribution to deliver the required content. A quick email acknowledgement of the order, and the process continues behind the scenes. The pre-show is created for each showing, automatically. By removing the need for pre-show management, the thirdparty advertising content provider is able to auto-deliver advertising dynamically into each show; targeting on-screen content to the in-auditorium audience. An agreed pre-show structure is populated with required content for every show. Placing of your trailers, house advertisements, partner ads, and rating tags should be no more complicated, just as automated and equally dynamic. Managed by feature title, directly into the show, automatically. Autonomous Cinema is a fully formed workflow available now. We are on the cusp of widespread adoption of single workflow exhibition from a single input. Be that at a site level or circuit level, it is clear the coming phase of our development is a) software driven b) supposed to make our lives easier. Here’s hoping! Autonomous Cinema is currently rolling out to the innovative in Norway, based on Unique Digital’s RosettaBridge TMS platform.
Realising the potential of digital cinema distribution, QubeWire makes good on the
select your dcp
HOW IT WORKS Production companies, studios, distributors and festivals can register at www.qubewire.com, where they’ll be given a unique digital certificate. This certificate will be linked with anything they do and governs how Distribution Key Digital Messages (DKDMs) are created, allowing the distribution of the movies to be managed. Digital files are uploaded and encrypted via the Qube Wire desktop app (or via the dropbox@qubewire. com email), where they can be tracked and organised. The app uses dragand-drop to view, upload and organise compositions and movies. The production company can select the composition and which distribution companies or theatres receive it using a filtered search system. DKDMs can be downloaded at any time or can be sent direct to theatres. The system chooses the most efficient DCP delivery method based on the delivery dates specified. Distributors can sign up as service partners too. This involves a short registration, and different delivery options and timespans. These options take speed and cost into account.
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
select your theatrical partners via the qube wire interface
he move to digital cinema distribution hasn’t always lived up to its promise, however recent product advancements are set to deliver an entirely digital product. Cinema Technology sat down with international manufacturer, Qube Cinema, to find out how Qube Wire — its web-based service — promises to do just that. In late 2016, Qube Cinema announced the launch of Qube Wire, their digital distribution service for cinemas. This product delivers every aspect of the film digitally, eliminating the need for anything to be physically transported to theatres. Following successful trials and an initial launch in 2016, the commercial launch takes place early this year. This is an enormous move forward for international film, as it allows for quicker, cheaper, more controlled distribution. For decades, film reels were duplicated and physically sent to cinemas via local distribution networks. While this was mostly secure and reliable, it was costly in terms of time and money. It required storage, transportation and security. And the more a film was played, the harder it was to keep in good condition. These are just some of the reasons that so many studios and distributors were enthusiastic about the move to digital film distribution. Digital Cinema Packages (DCP) dealt with a
upload your dcp to the qube wire cloud lot of these issues by eliminating most of the physical side of the product. However, the large size of the files almost always required movies to be delivered as physical hard drives with encrypted files. To increase security against piracy, distributors are separately sent digital keys or KDMs which decrypt the files, which are then supplied to theatres. While this approach made the process more secure, it hasn’t really been the step forward that it appeared to be. It hasn’t reduced as much physical distribution as would have been desirable and multiple elements need to be delivered separately. As Qube Cinemas co-founder Senthil Kumar explained, the biggest disadvantage was “the time taken for drive duplication and physical delivery and the consequent lack of scalability as well as the cost and complexity of generating KDMs”. Qube Wire provides a solution that allows distributors to send movies to cinemas quickly and safely. They can also generate digital distribution keys within its ecosystem and issue them only to territories with the rights to show them. This can either be shared with local distributors so they can pick the actual theatres to show them, or it can be shared directly with theatres and film festivals. The Qube product line is already in place on an international basis, as it has been set up across 7,000 systems in 48 countries so far (with more being added) for other digital www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
promise to remove physical delivery from the workflow. Jim Slater finds out more.
securely duplicate your dcp cinema products like DCP creation and integrated media blocks (IMBs). As well as conventional cinema screens, Qube also provides services for giant-screen theatres, 4K and 3D screens and includes support for Dolby Atmos and Barco Auro immersive sound. Qube Wire was tested in 2016 with the worldwide release of the major Indian film Kabali, starring one of India’s most successful actors, Rajinikanth. More than 18,000 digital keys were generated across the world for several thousand theatres. Kalaipuli S. Thaanu, the producer of the movie, said he was “amazed at the ease of
distribute globally to your partners to your release schedule annually in the US alone. An entirely self-contained system has clear benefits. Qube is not new to security – it has been building cinema servers for years to Federal Information Processing Standard. By creating an end-to-end system, it means encrypted private keys are never decrypted outside of a secure boundary. It allows for a high level of control when handling files or dealing with any level of distribution or encryption. Learning from industry experience, Qube Wire’s security features are only possible because of the global database of screens it has built over the past
“WHEN FILMS ARE PIRATED, IT CAN MAKE REAL DENTS IN THEIR BOX OFFICE, HARMING STUDIOS, DISTRIBUTORS AND THEATRES” use of Qube Wire and how well it has handled the scale of this movie’s release”. He also described it as “revolutionary”.
Security matters When films are pirated, it can make real dents in their box office, which harms studios, distributors and theatres. It has been estimated that movies that leak online before release tend to result in a 19% decrease in how much they make. The Movie Picture Association of America estimated piracy costs around $20.5 billion www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
two years. New screens are being added as more take up the product line. Qube Wire’s security design received a silver award for Best Deployment and Case Study in the InfoSecurity Products Guide Global Excellence Awards at the 2015 RSA Conference. One of the key features of this security is that film companies will be able to specify what level of approval is needed. They can approve at distributor level, giving them the freedom to make local bookings, or can specify approval for every booking a distributor makes. If the distribution
company passes a digital key to another company, it remains in the Qube ecosystem, so the same levels of accountability applies. Film companies can even distribute directly to cinemas themselves. If a film company wants to take a less detailed approach, they can still monitor what the distributor does through an audit. Because it’s all in the same system, every theatrical booking is trackable, so full audits are easy, making the entire process accountable, no matter how many screens the film is shown at. The system makes agreements easier to enforce as both the film company and the distributor can easily see where films are showing. Films are only screened in regions where it’s been agreed the distributor has the rights to show them.
Good for independents too Qube Wire has benefits for smaller, independent film makers as well as larger organisations. It can be used on a screen-byscreen basis, making it easier and safer for independent film companies to screen films at festivals around the world. If both the festival and the company are registered, the movie can be uploaded, encrypted and tracked via the Qube Wire website www. qubewire.com. The festival will then be able to use digital keys to show the film on the appropriate screens. It also means that the film will only be available for the festival during the time agreed. MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
Digital cinema MPS delivers
Looking for the digital cinema experts? Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s us.
For DCPs and KDMs For exhibitor and producer For live events and technical support www.motionpicturesolutions.com
MPS MAR17 056.indd 1
Bring your own
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MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
Selected AD, HI and
DOWNLOADING THE MOVIE READING APP If you enter ‘MovieReading’ into the search field of your app store, it should be the only app that is shown. You will need to install or update to the latest software on your smartphone to enable the app to work effectively. There is no need to undertake a compatibility test if you have the latest software installed, but a compatibility test procedure is available. It requires your smartphone and a PC with both speakers and an internet connection. When test video appears on the PC screen, the phone detects the accompanying audio. In a few seconds subtitles on the phone synchronise with the pictures. In my case the audio with the demo video was in Spanish, but the subtitles English, in perfect sync — the possibilities are amazing!
Download the MovieReading app from your app store onto an iOS or Android smartphone
Audio Description should be the simplest to implement — signals from the DCP file are fed to infra-red or RF transmitting boxes within the auditorium, and users hear the information via special wireless headphones. No special version of the DCP is required, and other audience members are not affected in any way. In theory, therefore, a situation already exists where any cinemagoer can make use of AD on nearly any movie screening merely by asking for a loan of a headset at the cinema. Generally this works well, but customers sometimes experience problems when cinema staff haven’t been trained to understand what is necessary to help the user make the best use of the headphones (selecting a channel, adjusting the volume, etc.). Cinemas must provide and maintain equipment (costs can be relatively high for a small number of users) and cope with breakages. The equipment is funded by the cinemas, though grants are available. Keeping headsets cleaned, charged and monitored and coping with breakages, CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
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DOWNLOADING AN AUDIO DESCRIPTION TRACK IN MOVIEREADING Go to the ‘Market’ section of the app. (This is a film reel icon at the bottom.) Select the movie you wish to view. In the contents section, download the Audio Description: English track. Once downloaded, the track moves to the ‘My Movies’ section of the app. It is important that your microphone is enabled to access the MovieReading app — this is so that it will sync with the audio from the film. If you have an Android smartphone, it should have automatically done this for you. Those with an iPhone, will have to check within the general settings on their phone, select the MovieReading app and check that the microphone is enabled. Following the trial the UK Cinema Association is meeting with the MovieReading developers to get a clearer understanding of the business model and ascertain what the costs might be and who will incur them. The findings will of course be shared with the industry.
Download the Audio Description (AD) track for the film you will be viewing
Bring your own set of headphones to listen to the AD track on your smartphone.
battery changes and repairs is all extra work. The organisations Your Local Cinema, the BFI, the UKCA, the Film Distributors’ Association, Deluxe Media and others play a major part in marketing and publicising availability of audiodescribed and subtitled screenings. Subtitling has proved far more contentious. The technology works well, with the relevant DCP tracks providing on-screen subtitles via the standard digital projection equipment, but, especially in the UK, audiences who don’t need the subtitles on screen can find them an irritation, reducing enjoyment of a movie. For this reason, subtitled showings are not the norm. Hearing-impaired viewers who want to be sure of attending a subtitled screening have to find out which screenings will be subtitled, either by phoning the cinema, not always the most rewarding experience, or by using the industry-funded site www.accessiblescreeningsuk.co.uk Various solutions to enable cinemagoers to read subtitles on small screens or special
There are numerous existing methods of providing Audio Description, Hearing Impaired and Subtitling access services to cinemagoers, all requiring specialised equipment
glasses without impacting other patrons have been developed over the years, but these have all proved expensive, and a lack of one standardised system has led to such systems not being widely adopted.
Going mobile Grainne Peat of the UK Cinema Association introduced us to a completely new potential way of achieving our cinema access goals, based on the use of a cinemagoer’s own smartphone, without the need for the cinema to install any special equipment in the projection room or the auditorium. This Italian technical solution called MovieReading was originally developed to allow cinema-goers to listen to Italian dubbing of foreign films in the cinema. The technology is based on audio sampling and comparison, which means that an audio comparison file including a time code is generated by the cinema film’s audio, based on a predetermined algorithm. Using the smartphone’s microphone, the application listens to the film’s sound and synchronises playback of the audio track in the user’s headphones. Before you get to the cinema, MovieReading has stored on the web the necessary files for audio description and subtitles. Users look up their wanted film in the MovieReading catalogue and download the appropriate files to their smartphone. You can choose audio description and subtitles in a range of different languages. Once you are in the cinema, with the app and the wanted tracks downloaded in advance, there is no need for any internet or mobile connection — it is recommended that you put your phone into ‘flight’ mode www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
Subtitling access services available to cinemagoers
SHAZAM To help explain the concept, readers may be familiar with the Shazam app, which uses a phone’s microphone to listen to a few seconds of any music and, in seconds, returns details of the artist, song title, and album. A brief sample of the audio produces an acoustic fingerprint based on a time-frequency spectrogram. This is compared to millions of audio fingerprints in a web database. Details of a match are instantly sent back. Auditorium
entertainment access glasses receiver box caption & audio data (2.4-gH Z RF) audio headphones data transmitter
movie content hi/vhn audio (ase/ebu) closed caption (smpte) digital cinema server digital cinema projector
and dim the screen, so as to ensure that nothing interrupts the movie. As the movie appears on screen, the smartphone listens to the audio track and soon (it took perhaps a minute in the first instance) synchronises the audio description with the gaps in the movie sound — it all worked amazingly well. Until the synchronisation takes place, red warning text appears on the smartphone screen, but once synchronised, the screen goes blank, ensuring that neighbours
watching the movie are not disturbed. The audio description information is listened to using your own headphones, so it doesn’t inconvenience adjacent audience members. It was pointed out that people who are visually impaired generally have a ‘curtain’ on their screen as a security measure to keep what’s on their screen protected, so they are generally permanently off or blank. Whilst reading subtitles from your smartphone screen, these appear as white on a black background so as to minimise
The elephant (or phone!) in the room
The MovieReading system is effective but it reminded me that our industry still has to thrash out the future of phones in cinemas. Is it realistic to invite some members of the audience to sit there using their smartphones, ostensibly for the most worthy of reasons, while forbidding others from using theirs? Surely, if smartphones are permitted there is a higher chance of piracy? The ongoing argument about how to deal with smartphones in cinemas won’t go away soon. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
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One cinema owner I spoke to said: “I’d put their phones under a steamroller, as I have to deal with the patrons’ complaints!’ There is an appreciation that the younger generation are ‘always connected’. Surveys show average users pick up their phone over 1,500 times a week, using it for over 3 hours a day. Many feel lost without their gadgets, so if we are to encourage young people into cinemas it seems unrealistic to ban the use of their gadgets, especially as use of
disturbance to adjacent cinemagoers. For the purposes of the demonstrations at Universal, Grainne sent out a clear set of email instructions, to ensure that people didn’t turn up and have to start resolving phone-related issues, and this worked very well — of the 60 people in the audience only three or four needed assistance on the day. The instructions from UKCA (see panel, left) show what was required before attending the demo, and help to explain how the system works in practice.
social media can form part of the experience. In China some ‘bullet screen’ showings allow audience comments from their phone texts about the movie to scroll over the screen in realtime. More far-sighted web companies see use of phones in cinemas as a key marketing opportunity, developing packages to encourage cinemagoers to interact with the on-screen pre-show entertainment, from game-playing to taking part in surveys and availing themselves of special offers. “Enjoy cinema, enjoy it even more with textfriendly screenings” is one persuasive strapline, and “Watch what happens when you connect the power of the big screen to the magic of the small screen. You’re no longer just at a movie — you’re a part of it” is a powerful message. A few cinema chains are encouraging customers to
download such apps as “the ultimate cinema companion”. In my ideal world users would be asked to “turn off phones, we are going to watch a movie now”, but realistically, that isn’t going to happen. Those who have gone to watch the film as the director intended it will naturally be upset that their viewing is disturbed by little glowing screens popping up around the auditorium. Recent suggestions that the latest iPhones will include a “theatre mode” to encourage phones to be used in cinemas have received less than positive responses. Perhaps the answer is to advertise showings for ‘purists only’. It would be yet another complication for schedulers, but if this provides a way of hanging on to the traditional audience whilst encouraging the new generation to come along, it has to be worth a try? Jim Slater MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
SAVOY CINEMA, EXMOUTH
Devon’s cinema-by-the-sea Jim Slater uncovers a sparkling community cinema in a seaside town with a difference
jewel in the Scott Cinema chain tucked away in a traditional seaside town that, unlike many others, has kept its charm, I knew of the Savoy Exmouth by reputation as several of its staff have previously attended Cinema Technology Committee Presentation Training courses. Only recently, however, have I managed a visit. Owner Peter Hoare explained that much of Exmouth’s current popularity is due to Exeter’s commuters, who have helped doubled the population in the past 25 years. Exeter has the jobs, with good transport links and the M5 nearby. I was welcomed to the cinema by Debbie Williams and Amanda Gardner who manage the Customer Service Team, and was introduced to chief technician Gary Cook, who also rejoices in the title “head of social media”. He was quick to explain how the cinema makes constant use of Facebook and Twitter to engage customers and tell them what is happening. These media also give customers the ability to complain instantly if anything isn’t to their liking, which provides valuable feedback to staff and helps them to sort potential problems before they escalate. This led me to ponder how useful it would be if I could ‘get at’ my local cinema staff via Twitter to persuade them to turn sound levels down, check the focus, or turn the heating up — a good
SCOTT CINEMAS Peter Hoare and Jonathan Hindon are the joint owners of the Scott Cinema Group, which has an eclectic mixture of sites: Barnstaple (4 screens) Bridgwater (2) Bristol (3) East Grinstead (3) Exmouth (3) Lyme Regis (1) Newton Abbott (2) Sidmouth (1)
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
Seating 134, Screen 1 at the Savoy was cleverly refurbished recently to retain its traditional feel
example of how the new generation of cinema staff has to cope with problems that projectionists of old could hide away from in their projection rooms!
The grand tour Gary gave me a comprehensive tour of the cinema, and explained its layout. All three screens are on the ground floor, which is good for accessibility with Screens 1-3 seating 134, 94 and 64 respectively. Dolby 3D is available in Screen 1, which also features Dolby 7.1 sound, the others having 5.1. Screen 1, which used to be a theatre, has a large 27ft screen. It looked like a traditional old-style auditorium, in good condition, yet it was entirely reconstructed just three years ago, with the ceiling lifted by two metres to allow for the stadium seating. Nothing within is over three years old! Screen 1 is fitted “back to front” in the original mid/front stalls area, with the
Chief Technician Gary Cook in the spacious and tidy projection room for Screen 1 at the Savoy
the central hub where incoming DCPs are prepared for ingestion and the playlists for shows made up on the computer screen. There is no theatre management system as such, each DCP is loaded into the Dolby screen server in the appropriate projection room. All lighting, programme start/stop and format changes are automated, but there is always a projection person on hand when operations are required. The cinema employs eight staff, three are
“SCREEN 1 LOOKS LIKE A TRADITIONAL, OLD-STYLE AUDITORIUM, YET IT WAS ENTIRELY RECONSTRUCTED JUST THREE YEARS AGO” projection room, office and stores built in what had been the stage area. Screen 2 was fitted sideways beneath the old circle. Screens 2 and 3 are standard modern ‘shoe boxes’ that do the job well enough. Each screen has its own projection box, each completely refurbished in 2014 and each with just a single NEC digital projector. Consequently, there was a surprising amount of room in the projection boxes, and all are kept really clean and tidy. Projection box one (see image above) acts as
full time and capable of doing everything that might need doing, from ingesting movies to sorting basic projection problems, but Gary lives round the corner from the cinema, so is ‘on-call’ for those occasions when deeper technical skills are needed. Scott Cinemas has a ‘roving technician’, Darren Davies, based in Newton Abbott, who looks after its projection equipment and maintenance at all sites. Ultimate technical decisions on what equipment to buy are made by Dan Harris, general www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
SAVOY CINEMA, EXMOUTH
The 3 screens with their separate projection rooms*
lobby area screen 1 in screen 2 screen 3 i
entrance projection room 1 $m projection room 2 i projection room 3
manager of the Scott Cinemas group, who supervises all the cinemas and has an in-depth understanding of digital cinema technology. Whilst Gary was talking with me there was a small problem with one of the laptops for a UKCA presentation taking place in Screen 3. Gary quickly dashed to the screen and the problem was rapidly sorted. I probed for instances of when things had gone seriously wrong, and he could remember only one major problem with a server that all remote diagnostics failed to cure — and that was sorted efficiently by Bell Theatre Services who delivered and fitted a new server overnight.
In the box The NEC 2K projectors received their usual accolade — “they just keep going” — which is probably the most important feature in any small cinema! More than 50% of all features are still delivered to the cinema on hard drive, although an increasing number are coming in via broadband using MPS’s LANsat and Unique’s MovieTransit system. This had been used for downloading ads and trailers, but the recent Dr Strange had come in via MovieTransit. Gary explained that they hardly ever have problems with KDMs now — the distributors seem to have sorted things out over the past year or so. The screen servers are re-booted once a week ‘just to make sure’.
Event Cinema Event Cinema is popular and profitable at the Savoy, which has a dedicated band of loyal customers for these events. The André Rieu concert feature was a sell-out and the National Theatre Live shows are always best-sellers. The cinema has two satellite receivers. Gary said that they typically use the LANsat, which he finds works well, www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
* Rough display not to scale
with the Icecrypt receiver being used for the second screen if two showings are required. They also use the LANsat’s recording facility for non-live encore showings.
Part of the community The Savoy encourages people of all ages to get the cinema-going habit, with Saturday Morning Kids Club showings for just £2 and ‘Silver Screen’ sessions for the other end of the age range at £3.75, including tea and biscuits. Standard ticket prices here are typically no more than £7, with family tickets available, that could certainly encourage keen moviegoers to move out of London! The enthusiasm of the cinema staff as they went about their tasks and dealt with customers was impressive. Gary told me he has been there for nearly nine years and loves every minute. As people
wandered in from the street it was obvious that they too are enthusiastic about having this great cinema facility within their midst — Scott Cinemas is clearly doing something right down by the seaside.
Under the NEC projector can be seen the Dolby screen server, LANsat, Unique and satellite kit
THE KEY INFORMATION
savoy, Exmouth SCREENS: three Projectors: NEC 2K owner: Scott Cinemas chief technician: gary Cook Website: exmouth.scottcinemas.co.uk
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
EDCF ANNUAL CONVENTION 2016 The inaugural European Digital Cinema Forum’s convention identified key technical issues for cinema’s future
needed — as such an impartial “forum” is more essential than ever.
Successes of 2016
David continued with a look the EDCF’s output in 2016 which included a meeting with ISDCF at Cinemacon, a reception for members with the ECA during CineEurope and detailed reports from Cinemacon, CineEurope and IBC. Julian Pinn was congratulated on a spectacular Big Screen programme at IBC. The other important success of 2016 has been the work of the EDCF/UNIC SMPTE DCP project group. Under the chairmanship of Dave Monk, the group has successfully devised a test plan and a process that has delivered SMPTE releases in several territories and now has plans for rapid expansion of its programme across Europe (see page 33).
Concentrating on the future THE EDCF HELD ITS FIRST ANNUAL Convention at the HFF Film School in Munich last December. The convention aimed to give EDCF members the chance to discuss current technology issues and to define the EDCF agenda for the coming year. On the eve of the convention, delegates visited ARRI Media at Bavariafilmplatz, Munich. The evening started in the mixing suite where head of sound, Daniel Vogl, described the theory of object-ased audio and the benefits of mixing in Atmos. To reinforce his point he screened sequences from two German films to underline the value of audio immersion for the audience. Delegates then moved into the ARRI grading suite where they were treated to a range of HDR images from a variety of sources on the Dolby Vision projector. Those who had not experienced Dolby Vision technology before were suitably impressed by the Dolby demonstration of a white dot on a black background. The images presented from whichever originating format, were
stunning. ARRI’s chief executive, Franz Kraus, made the point that the success of the company over many decades has been built on their understanding of what constitutes a good image and how to achieve it. The third demonstration was Dolby Atmos for the Home using a LG HDR monitor and “bounced” audio to provide a 3rd dimension. Once again members saw super images and heard wonderful audio and wished we could have such an installation at home.
Onto the inaugural convention
EDCF president, David Hancock opened this first annual convention at HFF. After thanking ARRI for the previous evening he reminded delegates that the EDCF was originally created to manage the transition to digital cinema. Now that this transition is, in effect, completed the EDCF board has run a check to verify whether there is still a role for the EDCF. The board concluded that yet more information and education was
“THE EDCF’S ROLE IS TO HELP OTHERS MANAGE THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT TECHNOLOGY OFFERS”
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
CEO, Dave Monk, explained that this convention is a calibration check — we need to establish what is important for the future, to consider what we need to spend time on as we move into this second phase of digital cinema? He emphasised that the EDCF’s role is to help others manage the opportunities that technology offers.
Membership and finance
General secretary John Graham provided a summary of the organisation’s financial position. The main points were: l2 016 expenditure was below budget partially because there was no LA tour in 2016 and Unique Digital generously sponsored the IBC reception. lM embership income is higher than budget because new members have joined recently — NEC, Christie, Eikon and ARRI Media. lM ost important to note is that, as planned, expenditure is higher than revenue. This is possible because significant reserves were built up over the past 12 years. However, this is not sustainable in the long term so we need to find more members and/or other revenue sources to retain the current level of expenditure.
UNIC cinema days
Guillaume Branders, industry relations and research manager at UNIC, reported from the November UNIC cinema days conference held in Brussels. Detailed group www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
discussions on current and future technologies identified a list of issues and actions, which in turn gave rise to the following potential projects for EDCF: 1. Working group on delivery standards 2. Research standardisation process/ increased collaboration between standard bodies and industry associations 3. White papers on benefits/challenges of new technologies 4. Guidelines on equipment maintenance/ quality standards 5. Education — Communication on IT conversion/software 6. Test DCP features David Hancock pointed out that the relationship between UNIC and EDCF has become very strong and provides benefits to both organisations and the industry.
Industry issues analysed
Next on the agenda at the convention were group discussions on the current technology issues to focus on what EDCF’s role should be, moving into this year and beyond. As an introduction, John Graham presented a summary of the results from the March 2016 questionnaire offered to members inviting them to select their top three most important issues. The “winners” were: lH DR 13 votes lL aser illumination 12 lI mmersive audio 11 lD C 2.0 11 lQ uality control 8 lW ider Colour space 8 lH FR 7 lS econd screen 7 lA rchiving 6 lE lectronic distribution 5 Delegates were divided into four groups each with different skills and experiences. Each spent time with an expert moderator concentrating on four topic areas. Siegfried Foessel’s group considered image, including HDR, HFR, Colour Space, 3D brightness, and laser illumination. Dave Monk’s team discussed DCI 2.0, standards, and next generation technologies. Rich Philips’ group tackled electronic distribution, SMPTE DCP, key retrieval and DCP verification, while Julian Pinn’s group focused on immersion including picture, sound and VR. The subsequent plenary session and summaries of the discussions allowed group members to discuss the conclusions.
The consumer market is leading HDR but cinema needs HDR to remain attractive to audiences. lE ducation of audience is needed — what HDR means in theatres. lI t is important to get better image quality based on existing standards; if digital cinema 1.0 is not delivered correctly why worry about digital cinema 2.0? l
Achieve constant quality with self-test tools combined with social media assessment. lS creens, projection glass etc. are not part of DCI-spec but are a big influence on quality. l
Immersion is not only about technology but also architecture, masking etc. lT his group questioned if cinemas do enough to maintain standards. Policing existing standards would have a big impact but there are no staff in cinemas to do this. lJ ulian Pinn detected a change in the willingness of exhibition to take this on and to improve picture and audio quality. lI t was agreed there seems to be a disconnect between production and distribution. Do creatives ever think about how their movie will be shown? Better communication is needed between creatives and exhibition. l
Electronic delivery — there is a bias towards broadband; standardisation is needed. Proprietary solutions could grow into a standard and some vendors seem to be interested in this. lD CP issue — multiplicity of versions. Single inventory is not realistic but fewer options should be possible. lT oo many packaging options — recommended practice for content mastering is needed. lE vent cinema — no standardisation; a higher standard could make live events more compelling. lL ive streaming an option for delivery — for every screening, but this sits outside DCI lK DM delivery is more problematic than content delivery. lT DL maintenance is still a manual process. A universal way to identify each cinema would help. Could UNIC create a register? l
Is DCI 2.0 a “don’t care”? Because there are no standards and no commitment to create content, there is no sense of “must have it” except for HDR. lD CI 2.0 is thwarted by the Studios’ fear of raising expectations of VPF Round 2; Next Generation Cinema is a better name lN eed to improve the quality experience from current equipment and we also need better content. lT here is a lack of understanding of laser technology; a document is needed from manufacturers. lA n update of the EDCF Mastering Guide would be valuable, incorporating a SMPTE DCP mastering guide. l
order to provide delegates with a different “angle”. His personal view was that, when looked at from the perspective of DCI 1.0, the issues that had to be considered at the time were security, image quality higher than 35mm and interoperability. There was then a clear objective. Today feels more chaotic — a disruptive form of change. Cinema is now more complex, with hundreds of versions of each film, different brands, premium formats, Dolby vision etc. Testing and education is critical. Any idea that “exhibitors are doing a bad job” is incorrect and not helpful. DCI 1.0 “polished” might be the answer rather than DCI 2.0 which looks too expensive.
Up on the soapbox
Numerous individual points were raised in a series of five-minute soapbox sessions. Peter Buckingham said that at a time when many movies are playing on VOD at the same time as in cinemas, we need to get across the message that going to the cinema is special. Mats Erixon wanted to see the “cinema” space used for other things — theatre, opera, singing — community events in social meeting places. Julian Pinn gave an update on Ang Lee’s 120fps work. By shooting at 120fps with a 360 degree shutter everything is captured. Synthetic structuring can then be used to blend frames to create 24fps etc.
EDCF ACTIONS – the take-away
Facilitate communication between creatives and exhibition lE lectronic delivery — standardisation is needed. lD evelop proprietary systems into a standard; involve interested vendors. lC reate an EDCF/UNIC working group. This group also to produce recommended practice for content mastering. lU pdate Mastering Guide — a SMPTE DCP Mastering Guide. lP roduce a Guide to Laser technology. lT here is a general need for recommended best practice documents. l
EDCF President David Hancock thanked all delegates for their contribution, ARRI for their Wednesday evening hospitality, HFF for their facility and Barco for sponsoring the closing drinks reception. And finally, delegates voted a resounding yes to making this an annual event.
Another point of view
Peter Buckingham was asked to provide a summary of the discussions that he had heard during the previous five hours, in
Information about SMPTE DCP is available on the following website www.edcf.net MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
ICTA: ALWAYS ON TREND
Innovation is the focus of ICTA seminars, and January’s technology seminar was no exception THOMAS RÜTTGERS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE ICTA
“WELL-POSITIONED”, THE MEMBERS of the ICTA technology association stated in their short meeting after the event, when referring to the technology seminar held in the run-up to Filmwoche München, the renowned German industry event in January. According to their statement, planned investments are put forward at the beginning of a new year. Consequently, brand new trends — as presented during the seminar — are certainly helpful in guiding final decisions. In addition to numerous manufacturers, a large number of German-speaking exhibitors came together at Mathäser cinema to gather information on the latest industry news. In his opening speech, Thomas Rüttgers, international vice president of ICTA, noted the rapid rise in technical innovations. He said that offers for immersive sound, immersive seating and laser technology are growing at an enormous pace and that the Asian markets, where each screen has a 3D standard, are the driving force for this development. Jan Runge, from UNIC, picked up the threads and called on the exhibitors to
give up their “resistance to innovation”. He stated that cinemagoing numbers would continue to rise where trends were recognised and innovations invested in.
VR — an individual experience
Whether or not Virtual Reality (VR) will influence the future of German cinemas, was illustrated by Kathleen Schröter (Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz Institute). She made it clear that VR was a special kind of experience that is shaped by every person themself. This makes it an individual, rather than a community, experience. But this, she said, runs counter to every visit to a cinema where people want to share their impressions after watching a film. This does not work with VR. Her message — VR has a right to exist, but cinema should focus on its core competencies. For Martin Schwertführer, on the subsequent “Cinema of the Future” panel, one suitable deployment area for VR would be the B2C field. In the automotive industry, for example, a potential customer could be immersed individually into the object of his desire. According to his statement, ARRI
“VIRTUAL REALITY HAS A RIGHT TO EXIST, BUT CINEMA SHOULD FOCUS ON ITS CORE COMPETENCIES”
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
attaches great importance to this market. The subsequent question (what will characterise the cinema of the future without big financial expenditure?), was unanimously answered by the panelists: personality, cleanliness, comfort — in short, a feel-good atmosphere. After a lunch break, the attendants came together again in Screen 7 to discuss cinema sound. Michael Beckmann of 20th Century Fox Germany had asked Tom Back (Alcons Audio), Stefan Müller (Christie) and Alexandre Bleus (CinemaNext) to join him on the panel. All confirmed that sound is often a matter of taste. Sound, however, is a quality feature in the cinema and its success can be measured. In this context, sound is the subject of the most complaints in cinemas so there is a strong need for renovation of equipment where necessary. Finally, Thomas Schülke (CinemaConsult GmbH) took a detailed look at the various offers in the field of alternative content. He showed how smooth the transition between “event” and “standard cinema” really is. In addition, the trend of e-gaming contests in cinemas with prize money has recently been born in Canada. Within a short time, it has generated a turnover of $2million. In his closing speech, Thomas Rüttgers advertised forthcoming events organised by ICTA‘s European Office this year: the 22nd edition of the ICTA Seminar Series in Barcelona and an ICTA Summer Business Retreat which will take place in Berlin. Members and their (business) friends are welcome here. Further information will soon be available at www.icta.eu.com. 22nd ICTA Seminar Series & CineEurope: 18-22 June, Cinesa Diagonal Mar & CCIB, Barcelona ICTA Summer Business Retreat Berlin (membership required): 23-27 July, Marriott Hotel am Potsdamer Platz, Berlin With 25 years’ experience in the industry, international vice president, Thomas Rüttgers, is the ICTA’s point of contact in Europe in charge of hosting seminars in this territory. THE ICTA IS AN INTERNATIONAL NETWORK OF PROFESSIONALS FROM ALL TECHNOLOGY-RELATED AREAS OF THE INDUSTRY. AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THE ASSOCIATION ARE LEADING INTERNATIONAL MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS AND SERVICE COMPANIES OF EMERGING CINEMA TECHNOLOGIES. WWW.ICTA.EU.COM
At the UKCA, there’s no time to rest on laurels. The year ahead is going to be a busy one Grainne Peat Policy executive, UKCA
AFTER A BUSY 2016, during a year where box office exceeded many expectations, the UK Cinema Association is already in gear for what looks like being a more hectic — and successful — 2017. We’ve attempted below to summarise a number of areas of current activity. Though varied, each ensures the broad range of UK cinema operators — our members — are supported in giving audiences the best possible cinema-going experience. Over recent years, our regional meetings, which take place across the UK in spring and autumn, have built up a strong reputation as key networking occasions. Open to members and industry colleagues alike, in the past 18 months we have added Wales to our programme and, for the first time, are looking to reach out to colleagues in Northern Ireland. We have confirmed all of our dates for 2017: North & Midlands: Electric, Birmingham, 9 March; Light, Sheffield, 12 September Scotland: Grosvenor, Glasgow, 16 March; Cameo, Edinburgh, 3 October Wales: Maxime, Blackwood, 23 March; Chapter, Cardiff, 12 October London & South East: Peckhamplex, 22 March; Komedia, Brighton, 17 October West of England: Regal, Redruth, 20 April; Everyman, Bristol, 5 October N. Ireland: Movie House, Belfast, 16 May.
As any who have been before know, these meetings are attended by exhibitors from the local region, colleagues from across film distribution as well as technology and concessions suppliers, screen advertisers etc. The day is split into a morning ‘closed’ meeting for members and invited guests, followed by a networking lunch and afternoon ‘open’, to which all are invited. Do consider coming along or encouraging colleagues to do so. For information or to register your interest, please do email me at the Association on: email@example.com
Investing in future talent
The Association has continued to have an eye to the future in terms of the talent coming into both the cinema industry, and the wider film sector. In 2016, the UKCA announced it had become a core sponsor of the National Film and Television School (NFTS), in particular looking to support the development of the School’s new MA in Marketing, Distribution, Sales and Exhibition. As part of that support, the Association established two scholarships to support individuals through their courses. In January, the recipients of the first two awards, Briony Tanner and Michael Daramola, were picked from an impressive list of applicants. Briony has worked in
“THE ASSOCIATION HAS AN EYE TO THE FUTURE IN TERMS OF THE TALENT COMING IN TO THE INDUSTRY”
exhibition for over 10 years – predominately as a cinema projectionist – but knows there is still more to learn. Setting out her hopes for developing her career in the industry, Briony said: “I’m hugely thankful to the UKCA for providing the funding for my master’s degree. Doing a master’s was always in my plans, but being able to do it at the National Film and Television School is a dream come true. I’m excited about starting the course and looking forward to the opportunities that it will provide me with.” In a similar vein, the Association has been hard at work enlisting staff to trial the sector’s new Cinema Operative Apprenticeship. With over 100 sign-ups from cinema operators large and small, there is every confidence that attempts to establish, for the first time, a recognised training standard across all of the cinema exhibition sector will be a success.
Get ready for CineEurope
This June sees CineEurope, Europe’s largest cinema convention, held in Barcelona. The 2017 event, from 19-22 June, promises to be better than ever. Though still early in its planning, a number of the key elements — informative panel sessions and seminars, exciting slate presentations and screenings from US and European distributors and an extensive trade show — are already taking shape. Those thinking of attending should already be making plans to register their interest. (We already know that a number of the local hotels are rapidly filling up.) Recognising that combined costs of travel, accommodation and registration could be seen as a barrier by some, the Association has for the past few years negotiated a discount on registration for smaller operator members, resulting in increasing numbers of attendees from that sector. For information on this, or the show generally, members can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Changes at the Association
In January, we said farewell to Annette Bradford after 22 years of service to the sector and UKCA members in particular. We have been busy identifying a new recruit to join our team and look forward to sharing this announcement in the next issue.
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
EVENT CINEMA ASSOCIATION
A CAPITAL EFFORT
Ground-breaking productions such as “Lost in London” really put event cinema on the map
THE EVENT CINEMA INDUSTRY continues to thrive and we’ve seen some excellent content on our screens over the past 12 months. Another steady year of sterling work produced by some of the best brands in the global arts scene and wider creative community have all played their part in racking up another impressive, solid year. It’s been widely acknowledged that we haven’t seen the headline grabbers we have become accustomed to in recent years, and what does that mean for the industry? It means many things but there is no reason for alarm — there are various and complex reasons for this, but chiefly we have seen the effects an unusually strong studio slate can have on our typically robust audience attendance; few years can match the six blockbuster franchises that hit our screens in 2016. We must learn and adapt to this. The ECA may be 10 years old as an industry but in real terms we have only just got going.
Pushing the boundaries
There is an on-going sense about a need for something new, and we are seeing examples of this emerging right now. Edward Snowden’s polarising breaches of security, whether treacherous or heroic depending on your point of view, made for an extraordinary release in cinemas as Fathom Events created a unique Q&A with the Moscow-based exile into US cinemas following the screening of Oliver Stone’s exploration into modern day illegal surveillance activities by the NSA. Fathom also took a big risk in distributing the Lost In London Live event, written, directed, produced by Woody Harrelson, it was filmed ‘in one single take’ and broadcast live simultaneously into 400 US theatres, a first on this scale. While details on the stomach ulcers it caused in the process remain unknown, it’s this kind of attention-grabbing, pioneering creativity that event cinema must strive for. It was a huge hit with audiences and critics alike, so let’s hope this is the beginning of a new wave of daring productions. CinEvents will
Melissa Cogavin managing director
Woody Harrelson pushed the boundaries of the possible with his live film shot in one take
Strength in localism
Our ECA representatives locally continue their excellent work, supporting their members and building awareness in their markets. Jonathan Ross has recently hosted his second event at Arthouse Convergence, while Oleg Berezin is now growing his ECA chapter in Russia. Thomas Schulke is doing the same for Germany, and Antonia Farrugia is in Australia. Our Advisory Committee was a big element of our mission; there are few other trade bodies that can boast membership as broad as ours and it’s necessary to the evolution of event cinema that the ECA brings this talent together in as many capacities as possible. The committee is made up of 15 members of the industry from all over the world, gathering quarterly to discuss issues that affect our sector. be partnering with YouTube and Bauer Media for a release of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust movie, a new kind of model. We’ll all be watching the results with interest.
The ECA’s mission to reflect our diverse membership last year included events at Arthouse Convergence, Utah, a British Council event in Belgrade, Serbia, Cinema 2020 in Amsterdam, CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Kino 2016 in Germany, CineEurope in Barcelona and Stockholm in October, and our own conference took place last month. Since last year, our membership has doubled and we have 170 members from 35 territories worldwide, 12 gained last December alone. It seems clear that despite the uncertain economic forecast on both sides of the Atlantic, the number of start-ups amongst these new members suggests a positive outlook and the mood was ebullient at the recent ECA conference held in Westminster, London, with a lot of talk about new models, new technology, new content genres, and new partnerships emerging everywhere.
An updated handbook for 2017
Our Technical Delivery Handbook will be updated this year with chapters on 4K, 8K, HDR, laser projection and so on, and we are reprising our bi-annual Event Cinema Report in association with our partners at IHS in time for CineEurope this June.
Five years: upwards and onwards This year, the ECA turns five years old and we have achieved far more than we ever set out to; but then again, so has the event cinema business. It is not an overstatement to say that the industry is as broad as it is long, and still in a developmental stage. We must all, the Event Cinema Association included, remain agile, responsive, and anticipate trends as much as set them. As an industry, we must think laterally and act locally. It’s all good. Ultimately, we must thank our members and partners who have shown such faith in our endeavours; we will continue to support all their excellent work, and together make 2017 a year of innovation, collaboration and fantastic box office results.
“THE PIONEERING CREATIVITY LOST IN LONDON LIVE ACHIEVED IS WHAT EVENT CINEMA MUST STRIVE FOR” visit www.eventcinemassociation.org www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
Cinema loves an innovator, as Guillaume Branders review of the state of the industry reveals
CINEMA OPERATORS have embraced change to the benefit of their audience and the wider film sector. Last year was a successful one for cinema exhibition across UNIC’s 36 territories, due to a wide-ranging film offer and despite a few big budget flops. Admissions increased in a number of UNIC territories in 2016, including France (+3.6%), Spain (+6.5%) and Poland (+16.5%). The cinema industry remains as resilient as ever at a time when consumers have access to a variety of other leisure offers. Operators are building new audiences by experimenting with a range of engagement initiatives and on-going investments in cinema technology.
UNIC Technology Group update
With the support of Julian Pinn, technology advisor to UNIC, last year the UNIC Technology Group assisted exhibitors further in their endeavour to navigate a new, technologically complex cinema landscape. In November, UNIC welcomed to Brussels 140 of the industry’s senior experts to discuss latest trends and developments in this fast-changing business, away from the distraction of a large convention and among a trusted group of thought-leaders.
Members of the Technology Group, US and European colleagues from distribution and supply and service partners were able to explore key trends, challenges and business opportunities during a dedicated workshop day. We introduced a lab format that let participants brainstorm five key topics: IT technology; projection; sound; delivery; and future cinema technology. Participants were encouraged to develop strategies and projects to tackle the different issues our sector faces, including official statements from UNIC, and establishment of new working groups on major topics or research projects. Among the priorities identified were the need to improve quality assurance and maintenance of equipment inside the screening room, to make delivery of content more efficient and the elaboration of a new set of standards for digital cinema. As part of its plan for 2017, the Technology Group will increase its collaboration with major suppliers, service providers, and international bodies, as well as partners from distribution and the wider creative community. Together, we will engage in discussion and projects surrounding the big challenges and opportunities, including
SMPTE DCP roll-out across Europe — a fundamental operational transition being managed by the EDCF in partnership with UNIC. Most importantly, we must 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.
Innovation and the Big Screen
UNIC has published a report on Innovation and the Big Screen, exploring how European cinema operators have embraced innovation and change to the benefit of their audience and the film sector. The report’s purpose is to show policymakers and industry leaders how cinema-going has evolved into an evermore diverse and immersive experience. The report touches on three main strands of innovation in cinema: creative audience
“UNIC WELCOMED 140 OF THE INDUSTRY’S SENIOR EXPERTS TO DISCUSS THE LATEST TRENDS IN CINEMA”
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
development; the big screen experience; and social innovation. It is now available on our website, unic-cinemas.org.
The report illustrates how exhibitors have adapted to changing consumption habits and audience demographics. Cinema-going has become a more eventful experience, confidently competing with many online entertainment options now available to consumers. Film fans have a wide range of options to choose from when they plan a visit to the cinema. Digital technology has led to massive quality improvements inside the screening room, made cinema operations more efficient and offered flexibility and variety in terms of programming. Exhibitors have seized the opportunity to engage more efficiently with their existing customer base as well as with new audience groups by rethinking marketing strategies. Rather than starting in the cinema lobby, the cinema-going experience begins days or even weeks before, most likely on a phone or a tablet. As the role of social media in activating cinema-going is growing, cinema operators and their business partners increasingly shift marketing investment and innovation efforts online, sometimes in partnership with third-party platforms and brands. Odeon for instance launched a ‘chatbot’ in December last year, allowing cinemagoers to find a cinema and book tickets for a film of their choice using Facebook Messenger. Audience engagement is, of course, not confined to the digital space, as operators are training staff and volunteers to make the cinemagoing journey as enjoyable as possible. Additional examples of how the sector is currently working to transform its relationship with audience are in the report.
Digital technology has also brought a range of new marketing tools, allowing operators to gain better customer insight and provide more personalised cinema offers. Software solutions enable exhibitors to collect data
from different internal and external sources, including the point of sales, metadata about each film title, the date and time of the cinema visit, as well as other external factors including information about local events or the weather. A number of European technology start-ups already provide data analytics services to the wider cinema industry, promising a 10-20% increase in admissions if their programmes are well implemented. The next step will be to cooperate more closely with our partners from distribution to make cinema marketing even more personal and effective.
Immersion and comfort
Maybe most noticeably, we have witnessed impressive progress inside the screening room as cinema operators continue to upgrade their theatres to provide cuttingedge and immersive experiences. Over the past 10 years, cinemas across the UNIC territories — partnering with distributors — have invested more than €1.5 billion in digital cinema. Close to 3,000 immersive sound systems and over 2,000 Premium Large Format screens have already been installed worldwide, as laser illumination, high-dynamic range or even immersive motion are slowly making their way to the big screen. Exhibitors have experimented with new theatre designs and seating arrangements too, adapting their services to the preferences of specific audiences. Highend cinemas have proven notably successful and are predicted to grow in number.
The industry is looking beyond the social experience of cinema-going. Some operators have started to embrace Virtual Reality as an innovative companion experience that can upgrade the customer journey. While arguably in an early stage of development —both technologically and creatively — VR has the potential to propose an interactive, singular and highly immersive experience.
Digitisation gave exhibitors the opportunity
to improve access to theatres, facilitating the use of subtitling and audio description technologies for those with visual or hearing impairments. Cinema technology and the industry can address a variety of social challenges in new ways, including urban regeneration, providing employment, stimulating dialogue and fighting social exclusion. Ensuring that film lovers from a variety of backgrounds and age groups are able to enjoy the big screen experience is paramount to cinema’s continuing appeal.
Attracting younger audiences
The sector also experiments with new ways to attract younger people. Alongside engaging, daring content, including event cinema, video game competitions and ondemand screenings, we offer sophisticated digital engagement that enables teenagers to share experiences instantly. Development of creative partnerships with distributors and outside brands helps in this endeavour. Together with our members and partners, UNIC will publish later this year results of a major research project examining youth audience preferences and expectations regarding cinemagoing across three key territories (UK, Spain and Germany).
As governments and industry leaders consider the future of our industry, we hope that this forthcoming report will ensure that cinema operators remain at the centre of their growth strategies. This particularly applies to the European Commission and the European Parliament, which is, at the moment, reviewing a range of policies that will shape the future of our industry.
We will again explore all these issues at CineEurope during educational seminars and panels on key industry trends and developments. The convention will also serve as a unique opportunity to discover upcoming films from Hollywood studios as well as from independent European film companies. New products will appear at its cutting-edge trade show and there will be great opportunities to network with cinema owners, international film business professionals and major industry suppliers. We are looking forward to seeing you from 19-22 June in Barcelona!
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON UNIC, VISIT WWW.UNIC-CINEMAS.ORG www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
THE 2016 2015 CTC AWARDS
the ctc awards 2016 & christmas party
he Cinema Technology Committee annual awards ceremony and the projectionists’ party took place at Dolby House in Soho Square, London just before Christmas. Thanks go to Dolby and to David Hernández, our Dolby host for the day, who also organised superb short screenings of the ‘Dolby Cinema’ system, including Atmos immersive sound, giving some the chance to experience the high dynamic range pictures for the first time. Food and drink were, once again, kindly provided by Max Bell of BTS, with BTS staff and family members working hard behind the bar to keep glasses full. Society patron Sir Sydney Samuelson and leading film critic and radio presenter Mark Kermode spared time from their busy schedules to present the awards, and once again the event, with Denis Kelly as its genial MC, gave the chance for longstanding friends and colleagues from around the cinema exhibition industry to talk and catch up with what has been happening during the year.
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017 2016
THE THE2016 2015CTC CTCAWARDS AWARDS
projection team of the year For the projection team which has done most to contribute to the professionalism and maintenance of high technical and production standards in the exhibition industry
With thanks to Hugh Marley for the photography
s always, the CTC committee had argued long and hard about the merits of several teams before coming to its decision. The team finally chosen had been on the short-list for several years past, but usually missed out due to a perceived need to encourage smaller, less well-funded cinemas to benefit from the award. The BKSTS CTC Cinema Team of the Year Award 2016 was presented to the longstanding BAFTA projection team, Angus Martin and Stuart Allison. Sir Sydney Samuelson presented the award and Mark Kermode read the following citation: “For the past few years the CTC has been worried that there might not be any true ‘projection teams’ any more, as the industry has moved to a situation where cinema operators have become multi-skilled, able to cope with everything from greeting customers as they enter the cinema to selling tickets and concessions, whilst still being able to load DCPs, make up playlists, and ensure that all the technical equipment is working as it should. Gone are the days when a dedicated projection specialist could hide away in the box away from the rest of the cinema. Reflecting this change, the name of the ‘Projection Team of the Year Award’ was changed to the less specific ‘Cinema Team of the Year’ a couple of years ago. It is fascinating, therefore, that the 2016 award is being presented to two traditional, highly technical, projectionists who supervise a traditional but hi-tech projection room — for this year only we might as well have kept the original name! The award is to be presented to ‘The Technical Team which has shown consistent Skill and Dedication in the Art and Craft of film Projection’. This year’s recipients undoubtedly fulfil all of the requirements.
premiere screening for every show Any presentation at BAFTA, whether for a relatively simple manufacturer’s presentation, a technical or commercial conference, or a special film show to the media, is treated with the same skill and care as if it were a Hollywood film premiere. You always get the big bright images and the superb sound that you expect, but in addition, the overall presentation — lights, music, curtains, tabs — is always just perfect. When microphones are used they www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
Sir Sydney presented the award to Stuart and Angus, BAFTA’s uncompromising projection team
always work (and there is an unobtrusive backup system); when a speaker is at a lectern his notes are always gently lit so that they can be easily read, and the lectern is illuminated so that you can see the speaker’s face whilst ‘barn doors’ are skilfully employed to see that none of the light spills over onto the screen. All these things individually seem trivial, but put together they make for regularly superb presentations. We can’t think of another cinema that gets everything right as often as BAFTA does.
A host of top-line venues We talk of a cinema, but BAFTA of course contains several top-line venues, each special in its own way. The Princess Anne Theatre is a world-class cinema with top of the range screening capabilities. Opened in December 1975 with a screening of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, it has continued to host a dazzling array of premieres, special screenings and conferences. Up to 227 guests can be seated in the plush red velvet armchairs, many endowed by international stars and some of the greatest names in cinema. Its projection room is stacked with all manner of cinema and AV equipment, including two Cinemeccanica 35/70mm projectors, a Barco DP 4K-32B digital cinema projector (with Dolby 3D capability) and Dolby 7.1 Digital Sound. The smaller Run Run Shaw theatre can transform from an intimate screening space for around 50 to an open-plan reception area. Equipped with a Barco digital cinema projector and a full range of AV equipment, with a huge video wall for presentations and small conference events. The Gallery and the Boardroom also contain display equipment, and the responsibility for
keeping all the equipment working at its best falls to the projection team, who are recognised for the superb standards which they maintain. Angus Martin, Chief Projectionist, and Stuart Allison, Senior Projectionist, are honoured for their outstanding work over many years. Angus Martin gained a degree in Physics at Warwick University, where he was Chief Projectionist of their Film Society. In 1985, he became a BBC projectionist for a year, operating 16mm and 35mm projection kit, and also learned how to handle nitrate film. He then moved to Odeon Barnet, seeing the ‘big company’ side of cinema, and in 1988 joined BAFTA as a projectionist. After seven years he was promoted to Chief Projectionist, and has continued in that role for the past 21 years — an incredible 28 years at BAFTA.
loyal to the core They must do something right with their staff retention polices at BAFTA, since Stuart Allison, Senior Projectionist, has been there for over 10 years. Stuart started in the business working at a video shop in York in 1986, when renting a film was considered the next big thing, and film has remained a big part of his life since. In 1996 he sold popcorn for the new Warner Bros. cinemas, and with the popcorn-making machine based in the projection room, his interest in projection grew, and he became a trainee projectionist. From the mid-nineties Stuart helped to set up projection rooms for Warner Village cinemas around the country, and trained projectionists in Portugal, Holland and Germany. He also helped with the installation and re-opening of the new nine-screen Warner West-End working as Senior Projectionist there for two years. He then became the Southern Engineer for the company before moving back to the West-End in November 2002. Stuart joined BAFTA in October 2006. He says his most nerve-wracking event was the 25th anniversary screening of Gandhi that involved changeovers on 70mm, with Lord Attenborough, Sir Ben Kingsley and all the production crew in the audience. For their constant dedication over many years to the highest quality of on screen presentation, Angus Martin and Stuart Allison of BAFTA are awarded the BKSTS CTC Cinema Team of the Year Award 2016. 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY MARCH 2016
THE 2016 2015 CTC AWARDS
The Frank Littlejohns Award For an oustanding contribution to the art of cinema projection
he Cinema Technology Committee has had many distinguished members who have served for many years, but of all the different names only one can claim anything approaching a dynasty, and that name is Mort. Phil Mort was one of the early CTC members, retiring in the 1990s. His son André, who was honoured this year, has continued the tradition. Phil worked for ABC Cinemas, initially as a projectionist, but ended up as a Regional Engineer in the South-West. After the Cannon take-over of ABC, he worked for CIC and other companies but ended up with MGM Cinemas, working with Alan McCann. When Alan went with the new ABC, Phil stayed with Virgin and the ensuing companies. So, it goes without saying that André came from a cinema family. His first projectionist job was at the ABC Frogmore Street, Bristol, some 32 years ago. In 1987, he moved to work for CIC and started at High Wycombe with the title of ‘Technical Projectionist’. Three years later, he moved into engineering with UCI, dealing with repairs, installations and the refurbishment of High Wycombe in 2002. The merger of Odeon and UCI in 2005 and the subsequent sale of some sites led to the formation of Empire Cinemas and prompted a move by André to head up the Technical Department. This is a job he has continued in over the years with various job titles including Head of Technical and
With thanks to Hugh Marley for the photography
An industry giant — André Mort — receives his award from an industry legend — Mark Kermode
Digital Development, one of the first cinema jobs to include the word ‘digital’, leading to his role as Technical Director.
an enthusiasm for revolutionary ideas Empire Cinemas have always taken their technical reputation seriously, especially when it came to their West End Flagship, and over the years, owner Thomas Anderson’s enthusiasm for keeping everything up to date has been matched by that of its Technical Director, whose job it has always been to find ways of putting the often revolutionary ideas for cinema exhibition into practice in a working cinema. In fact, it was André who was the first person with the momentous task of introducing ‘boothless’ cinemas, operated remotely from a network room with the projector in a ‘hole in the wall’, enabling Empire to introduce profitable small auditoria into Leicester Square in spaces others thought impossible. André has gained a reputation for being an early adopter of new technologies. In 2006, he installed the new THX sound system at Empire Leicester Square. In 2008, André was interviewed by Cinema Technology about ‘the first all-digital screens in the West End’. In 2009 it was ‘Dolby 3D at the Empire’ and 2012 saw Atmos installed in the renowned Screen One. In 2014, the premier screen closed for months, to be reopened with a spectacular IMPACT screen and an Imax screen, later
ABOUT THE AWARD...
The BKSTS Frank Littlejohns Award was inaugurated in 2003, following an endowment to the Society in his will. Frank Littlejohns FBKS began his career at Technicolor in the Control Department and eventually became Managing Director of Technicolor from 1962-1971. He joined Rank Film Laboratories at Denham as a consultant and worked for them until he retired in 1991. The award recognises outstanding work in the Art and Craft of Cinema Projection.
one of the first to bring laser projection to the West End. Throughout André’s tenancy at Empire, he has built partnerships with companies offering new technologies, working with them to ensure that the technologies provide the best (and often the most cost-effective) solutions for Empire’s owners and its patrons. His sensible technique is to test things with manufacturers before actually committing to buy. Companies including Harman audio, Harkness Screens, Dolby 3D and MasterImage 3D have worked with him in this way, and many have worked with André to ensure that premieres have been as technically excellent as possible. He has always looked at new technologies, from Cobra-networked sound systems to ground-breaking SDI distribution systems for live events. He is a mine of information on what works and what doesn’t. It is with great pleasure that the CTC presents the Frank Littlejohns award to a giant as well as a backbone of our industry. Postscript. André Mort became Technical Director at CinemaNext at the end of 2016.
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017 2016
THE THE2016 2015CTC CTCAWARDS AWARDS
The Alan McCann Award For Cinema Excellence
he Alan McCann Award for Cinema Excellence was introduced in 2012, with the instruction that it is to be given to an individual or organisation that has shown consistent and passionate dedication to improving the cinemagoing experience. At the CTC awards, Mark Kermode read the following citation: “When told that he would be getting this award, today’s winner said ‘Why me?’, genuinely astonished that he should have even have been considered for an award that has generally gone to someone deeply involved in the cinema business. Twenty one years ago, Jim Slater, an experienced broadcast engineer with BBC and ITV, who had written books on Satellite Broadcasting, HDTV and digital compression, took on Cinema Technology magazine. Although at the time he freely confessed that his main experience of film involved putting reels on to telecine machines and tweaking things until the pictures looked right, he had long been the proud owner of a Bell & Howell 16mm projector and knew how to lace up a machine! The then CTC chairman used to delight in telling him how little he knew about cinema, but he learned fast, often thanks to the patience and support of other CTC members, and when digital cinema came along was able to use his experience of digital TV and compression techniques to take on the new technologies rapidly. He even signed up to a Barco digital installers’ course and was proud to come out with a certificate that put him on a par with others learning about digital projection.
With thanks to Hugh Marley for the photography
A purist in pursuit of perfection Jim Slater has always been a stickler for picture and sound quality, and taking advantage of being able to visit and talk to a wide range of projection teams, has consistently tried to spread the message that on-screen quality really does matter. Jim has taken part in many CTC training courses over the years — he recalls that his first ever experience with BKSTS was being sent by ITV to talk to a BKSTS ‘conversion course’ to tell 16mm news-film cameraman about using video-cameras! Effectively becoming a recognised and respected player in the cinema exhibition industry as Cinema Technology magazine increased its influence over the years, Jim has constantly put over the message that we must make going to the cinema a special www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
Alan McCann (right), presented the eponymous award to Cinema Technology’s managing editor, Jim Slater
event, and hasn’t been reticent in telling people when standards haven’t been good enough. He has always stressed that high presentation standards are vital, to the extent that some might even consider ‘nagging’. He has continually warned cinema managements from top to bottom that it is vital to the success of our business that cinema-going be a special experience.
a firm hand on the editorial tiller Under Jim’s editorship, Cinema Technology has developed into a publication that outshines its rivals, as it covers increasingly wide-ranging topics relevant to all sectors of the exhibition industry. He has gone out of his way to investigate and explain new technologies, with articles either written by invited knowledgeable contributors, or from his own active pursuit of what’s new and relevant in this fast-changing business environment. Cinema Technology plays a significant part in the awareness and understanding of what makes “good cinema” across its international readership. Jim has also been an active supporter of the major design and layout changes seen in the magazine in the past two years, which have
further improved its status as an attractive, professional, and sought after publication. He should be justly proud. For consistent and passionate dedication to improving the cinema-going experience, and as the Managing Editor of the Cinema Technology journal, positioning it as the premier publication for the exhibition community, the 2016 Alan McCann award was presented to Jim Slater.
Satisfaction in a job well done — Jim’s award 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY MARCH 2016
THE 2015 CTC AWARDS
CTC Christmas Party 2016 Celebrating the award winners and a successful year
The CTC’s festive revellers, clockwise from far left: Tom Harris and Sandie Caffelle; Stuart Harrison, Vicky Mansfield and Angus Martin; Reg Larkman, Steve Grimley, Tom Harris; Mavis French, Stephen Field and Peter French; John Hughes, Robert Waghorn, John Sharp and Richard Huhndorf; Peter Knight on sparkling form; David Gammon and Michelle Coupland
training advert_Layout 1 14/02/2017 22:10 Page 1
MAKING THE BEST OF YOUR IMAGE WEDNESDAY 22ND MARCH 2017 ODEON, MILTON KEYNES, MK1
Following the success of previous projection training courses, the IMIS (formerly BKSTS) Cinema Technology Committee proudly presents its one day Cinema Presentation course. Aimed at cinema managers and operators, this course delivered by industry experts aims to provide hints and tips on how to improve the overall experience for cinema goers and ensure that they receive the best possible presentation of a movie. Areas covered include:• • • • • • • • • •
Picture and Sound Perfection Testing and Test Materials Measuring Screen Brightness Understanding Digital Naming Convention Keys and padlocks Understanding KDMs Theatre Management Systems Upcoming change over from Interop to SMPTE DCPs Event Cinema Satellite Reception
Spaces are strictly limited so book early to avoid disappointment. To register online, visit http://tinyurl.com/ctc-training or contact email@example.com or 01980 610 544. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
ERDERS F OFE REA ON L S N CIAAGAZI PER£50 E SPR CT M PERL PRICE FO 0 USUA 2 £ www.cinematechnology.co.uk
discussing ‘Retaining the Vision’ at BSC EXPO 2017 The recent BSC Expo 2017 tackled the thorny issue of cinematic presentation
n recent issues of Cinema Technology we have seen how the British Society of Cinematographers has expressed concerns that changes in projection technology might be leading to a situation where what appears on our cinema screens can be subtly different from the carefully crafted images that the director of photography intended you to see. The BSC Expo 2017 held in Battersea Park, London in February, was the venue for a packed exhibition of all things related to cameras and production equipment. It also saw an expert panel brought together by Nic Knowland, cinematographer and BSC governor (inset) to discuss the challenges of retaining “the look” from shoot through grade to cinema screens, TV, internet platforms and beyond.
the view from the cinema Of particular interest to Cinema Technology readers was CTC Member Mike Bradbury’s contribution. He said that he (Odeon/UCI) is committed to trying to deliver pictures as close as possible to those that the DoP shot to every patron in all seat positions. That’s quite a commitment, and he explained some of the practical difficulties. Although the move to digital cinema led to more consistently good images on screen, newer developments such as HFR, HDR, and the multiplicity of 3D/4D/5D offerings had no established standards. So far, DCI specs haven’t been extended to include these. Wider colour gamuts present challenges to keeping the images as the DoP intended, and cinemas are awake to competition from UHD TV. The TV people are already working on standardisation. Mike showed pictures of cinema auditoria to illustrate some of the problems. Fire exit lights and safety lighting on stairs and walkways distract from the images on screen and reduce the effective contrast. He showed the effects of using different types of screens — ‘flat’ white screens produce the most uniform images whilst ‘silver’ screens for 3D produce brighter images but also severely reflect unwanted auditorium lighting and have hot-spots. Odeon has decided that www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
MAR17_BSC EXPO.indd 75
THE LINE-UP David Monk CEO of the European Digital Cinema Forum (above left) chaired the panel, which had been carefully chosen to represent each stage of the film-making process from camera, through post-production to exhibition. Iain Softley (Director/Producer/UK Directors Board member) Paul Collard (Digital Services Consultant, Friend of the BSC) Greg Fisher (Senior Colourist at CO3) Mike Bradbury (Group Head of Cinema Technology at Odeon/UCI Cinemas). Mike Eley BSC (Cinematographer/BSC Governor Each of the ‘Creatives’ explained the careful work that they do to ensure that the images that they creative and manipulate stay as close as possible to the intentions of the DoP and the Director. There isn’t space here to carry all the discussions, but a key outcome was the agreement that ‘bespoke’ files are needed for the different platforms (TV, Cinema, Internet ) and that there can be no ‘one size fits all’ solution if the original images are to be re-created faithfully on different platforms.
“IT’S NOT STRAIGHTFORWARD ALWAYS FOR CINEMAS TO SHOW FILMS AS A DIRECTOR INTENDS” future silver screens for 3D must be curved, so as to provide a more even brightness in all seat positions. It is possible to get more uniform results from Precision White Screens, but these are far more expensive. Mike’s talk succeeded in explaining to those involved earlier in the film production chain that it isn’t always straightforward for cinemas to show films exactly as the director intended, but he made clear that the
exhibition side of the industry is aware of the problems and constantly trying to tackle them and to improve things. The unspoken message that came over was perhaps even more important to the audience — as exhibitors, we really do care about bringing the images that the DoP intends you to see to every cinema screen. Discussions with audience members led to agreement that all sides of the film industry must continue to work together closely to achieve our aims, and there were calls for cinemas to be ‘Kitemarked’ to ensure consistent quality — something that those of us with longer memories of exhibition history will know has been tried several times before. Jim Slater MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
THE HISTORY OF CINEMA
ALL SHAPES AND SIZES
PRESENTING A BROADER VIEW
A GOOD PICTURE DESERVES TO BE WELL FRAMED. GRANT LOBBAN ON THE 1.85:1 FORMAT
he coming of widescreen to the cinema during the 1950s has left archivists and restorers many different shapes and sizes of film negatives to deal with, but fortunately for cinemas, these would only produce two new kinds of 35mm print. These would be either the squeezed image ‘Scope copies, introduced with CinemaScope’s anamorphic lens process, or ‘widescreen’, which simply reduces the height of the existing Academy 1.37:1 frame to achieve its wider picture.
A format with issues Although the masked-frame method may appear to be the easy way to a wider screen, it has led to much controversy, with both film-makers and the more pictorially aware members of the audience often complaining about its framing and the ‘correct’ aspect ratio. For today’s projectionists, still running film, together with telecine and scanner operators, this method’s variables can present an extra challenge when deciding the best way to show it.
Framing, with an eye for composition Framing is no problem for Academy or ‘scope, as all the picture area is shown on the screen. This doesn’t apply to many widescreen prints, as the displayed area is now much smaller, in terms of height, than the image on the film. This means it can be shown well ‘out of rack’, without a frameline appearing on the screen to draw attention to the error. Although any spoiling of the picture’s composition may only be a temporary annoyance during the showing of a projected print, now with the long-run systems making it last for the whole film, the misframing can become locked into a video copy or digital master, marring all their future viewings. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
This design of widescreen leader helped to place the frame in the gate and, when running, adjusted for minimum light spill
There was help to find the best framing, however. When first released, many films came with specially designed leaders with markings to position the frame in the reduced-height gate. Once running, slight adjustments could be made to allow the actors the correct headroom. It took care to try and judge the intentions of the camera operator, whose viewfinder guidelines are not visible on the print. The final position also depends on the chosen height being shown, which may be different to the original recommended ratio. This too was sometimes
Some leaders stated the ideal ratio for the screen — useful if it is an unmasked print
indicated on the dedicated printed leader, but, unfortunately, for later reprints, the laboratory may have replaced the originals for a more current version without all this additional widescreen information. A film’s aspect ratio was also sometimes given on its can or container, but again at risk of being lost on new ones, with their labels at best stating it being in either ‘scope’ or ‘flat’ (non-anamorphic). After an initial period of chaos, the US would soon settle for cropping the picture to give an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which was
THE HISTORY OF CINEMA
UNVE ILING THE SECRETS BEHIND THE MASK
For previous 4:3 TV, a full-height to widescreen frame could be raised reduce the excessive headroom
on As seen in cinemas, and displayed TV en scre wide :1) (1.78 16:9 a current
extracted from across the centre of a still filled 1.37:1 Academy frame. Over here, the situation would be less certain. Although an early British Standard proposed that all our non-anamorphic films, again with a fully exposed frame, should be composed for projection at 1.75:1, not all producers and cinemas followed the recommendation. Although some, notably the Rank Organisation, who had helped to arrive at the standard, adopted it for its films and cinemas, others would choose other ratios, with 1.66: 1 becoming equally popular. While this lesser ratio had originally only been intended as an interim measure, inflicting less harm to existing 4:3 films awaiting release, many continued to prefer it. The ratio gave a reasonable widescreen effect without sacrificing too much picture quality, wasting less frame area and valuable light during projection. Many cinemas, particularly the larger first-run theatres and those in London’s West End, would have a full range of gate apertures, lenses and variable masking positions to show all the possible aspect ratios, including the ‘old’ 4:3. Although newsreels and shorts would also begin to be framed to allow for cropping, most cinemas kept their 4:3 screen option to show a greater respect to revivals and foreign films. We would be close behind the US on the road to widescreen, but other countries followed at their own pace. For example, Italy, hosting the production of many Hollywood widescreen epics, soon embraced both ‘scope www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
The first masked-down prints were conversions from CinemaScope for cinemas waiting to install the proc ess. They continued as an option for ‘sco pe trailers
Masked and unmasked widescre
A studio 1.85:1 line-up leader corresponding to guidelines in a film camera’s viewfinder and on the vide oassist monitor, now also used to ensu re correct framing during transfer to digital.
en prints: both can be shown on the
and widescreen for its own sword-andsandal adventures and spaghetti westerns. Much slower would be East Europe and Russia, still shooting in 4:3 well into the 1960s. Before being raised up from the bottom of the frame, their subtitles could be a problem. Sometimes, obliged to show them in widescreen, the valiant efforts of the projectionist not to scalp the actors resulted in inadvertently only displaying the first line of the subtitles, making some
the choice of aspect ratio, for many producers, this ‘hard mask’ had the advantage of imposing a minimum ratio with assured framing. A survey in the 1960s found that the most commonly used screen for non-scope films in the UK was between 1.66 and 1. 75:1, with the majority of our features shot using camera apertures masked to around 1.66:1 and the picture increasingly being composed for showing up to 1.85:1.
SOME CONTINENTAL ART-HOUSE FILMS WERE MADE EVEN HARDER TO COMPREHEND continental art-house films even harder to comprehend. When cropping the image was finally widely adopted, most would also be content with 1.66:1, with this ratio often referred to as ‘European widescreen’. Unfortunately, cinemas, both home and abroad, with only 1.66:1 screens, would soon be in danger of seeing frame lines appearing on the screen.
The masked intruders By the end of the 1950s, the consensus to keep the full frame filled was beginning to break down, with a growing number of films also using a reduced-height gate in the camera. Despite concerns from exhibitors about losing their flexibility over
Thinking of the Viewers at home Hard masking, without the full 4:3 frame for 16mm and 8mm reduction prints, didn’t worry the original film-based home cinema enthusiasts, as they too were now toying with widescreen. They would soon have their own squeezed prints and anamorphic lenses, with the British-made models of Bell & Howell 16mm projectors having an adjustable gate aperture to mask down the already small frames. However, with peace declared at the end of the cinema’s war with television (the BKS became the BKSTS), broadcasters didn’t welcome the masked-down prints. At one time, the European Broadcasting Union required all 35mm prints destined for telecine use should conform to Academy 4:3 MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
THE HISTORY OF CINEMA
ACADEMY 1.37:1 From 1953, the 35mm Academy format was joined by two other types of print — ‘scope and widescreen. If needed, one could be converted to the other
For some films, errors in framing and aspect ratio can hide what audiences have come to see. A highlight in the development of widescreen was ‘Nudiscope’, launched with Nudist Paradise. Its memory lingers on at the start of Carry On Camping
MAS KING POSED FOR EQUAL M CO E AG IM T GH FULL-HEI OF 1.85:1 AN AS PECT RATIO TE EA CR TO M TO TOP AND BOT format. This meant that special optically
printed TV versions had to be made. Scope had its notorious pan and scan copies, and widescreen would increase the magnification to push the intruding frame lines out of the picture, losing some of the image at the sides. This procedure was also used to produce some ‘overseas’ copies for territories which might object to a nonstandard print.
Pick your own crop
LIMITS OF POS SIBLE MIS FRAMING
Using a full-height (‘scope) gate in the camera for non-anamorphic widescreen films greatly increased the potential for misframing
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
Later telecines could do all this electronically, after the titles, zooming in to eliminate the framelines. This was sometimes done to unmasked prints to lose the ‘distant’ look and excessive headroom of films composed for widescreen. Many of these now 4:3 versions, both film and video, are still on the shelves of archives and film libraries, and if mistakenly shown in widescreen, can in effect be cropped twice with a severe loss of picture information. Some of the low-budget movie channels, have to show all kinds of available copies. For a 4:3 transmission (not just in the middle of a 16:9 picture) of a full-frame unmasked print, the ‘aspect’ button on a current 16:9 TV’s remote can be used to crop and enlarge the image to see what it looks like in widescreen. Some DVDs and Blu-rays offer a choice of format, full-frame for the ‘if it’s on the film, I want to see it’ viewers, or masked, as seen in the cinema. A recent example is the classic noir Touch of Evil, which looks much better in its intended 1.85:1, with greater intimacy helping to draw you into the film. Back in the cinema, projectionists had to cope with many types of widescreen prints.
Back in the days of the big studio system, each had their own camera departments and could control the aspects of widescreen filming. If the Academy frame was still to be filled, there was always a strict ‘shoot and protect’ policy to ensure that the picture, outside the composed area, was kept free of microphones, lights, dolly tracks and other production paraphernalia, including the unscripted appearances of members of the crew. With the move to the four wall way of working, providing facilities for independent producers, they now rented the cameras. The hire companies, like Samuelson and Panavision, were happy to fit them with all manner of viewfinder ground glass markings and gate sizes. The choice of a masked gate allowed the sound recordist to keep the microphone closer to the actors, and the set designer no longer had to build higher sets, sometimes with a rarely seen ceiling. For some films the
One aid to correct framing was VistaVision’s Framing Index System. This was a pattern of lines which appeared briefly at the start of each 2000 ft reel in the top right-hand corner of the frame, in a similar www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
THE HISTORY OF CINEMA
Hitchcock’s Psycho was released with an Academy frame, but photographed for cropped widescreen. This particular shot in the shower scene had a black bar printed along the bottom, below the 1.85:1 projected area. This was not for reasons of modesty, but to prevent the top of the flesh-coloured moleskin suit worn by Janet Leigh during the filming, from being seen if the complete 4:3 image is being shown. (A nude stand-in also appears in the scene.)
reduced-height gate was only used in the principal studio camera, leaving the footage from the second unit and possible stock shots without the masking, which now comes and goes during the film.
These were available to produce any requested aspect ratio and position relative to the original image. Sadly, later reprints often omitted the masking, sometimes revealing varying camera apertures and unwanted subject matter. A chance for the average viewer to appreciate the pitfalls of this form of widescreen came in the 1980s during one of Barry Norman’s film review programmes. It was prompted by a complaint letter objecting to many of the clips being shown with blank areas at the top and bottom of the then much smaller television 4:3 screen. The reason why was graphically illustrated by showing a masked off scene from Dirty Dancing. It was a dialogue sequence played out between the two principal characters. When the clip was shown again, without the masking, a third character made an unscripted appearance. He was the sound recordist lying on the ground, clutching his microphone. It was pointed out that he would never be seen (hopefully) on the cinema screen, as that part of the picture is not projected. It also gave the game away that they were not seeing extra picture at
A THIRD CHARACTER MADE AN UNSCRIPTED APPEARANCE — THE SOUND RECORDIST Still creating framing problems was the opposite trend to use the maximum height aperture in the camera, originally only intended for the anamorphic format. This ‘universal’ gate was chosen by some cinematographers to keep any dirt or hairs in the gate well away from the final projected area. Unfortunately, this increased the potential for misframing and the risk of seeing the microphone bobbing about for good measure. A compromise was to have the laboratory add the wider framelines.
the sides, but less top and bottom. The programme went on to describe the anamorphic process, which actually does. By then many non-technical viewers must have been left confused, and the distributors were about to complain about using their film to illustrate a perceived production failing. More recently, at a ‘Getting Technical’ event at the NFT, a clip from a new print of Hitchcock’s North by North-West was shown. The action took place in a studio set representing the forest around Mount Rushmoor, this time including the tops of the truncated trees and lighting gallery. This may have been unfair to the camera crew who composed the image knowing that the original Technicolor VistaVision print would blank this off, and not in the future be regarded as sloppy camerawork.
now you see them and now you don’t of manner to changeover cues. One d tione posi was lines l the horizonta to align with the top masking to give the correct framing for each specific aspect ratio. The frame shown, from the classic western Gunfight at the e OK Corrall was printed with the imag :1 1.66 to ked already mas
The occasional sight of unwanted subject matter may just be a mood-destroying distraction, but sometimes more serious ‘forbidden’ images can be exposed. At the BBC, any suspect widescreen films were previewed using a full gate to spot anything inappropriate. At a time, in the 1970s, when actual 35mm prints were transmitted, careful framing by the telecine operator was needed during the showing of an unmasked copy of Don’t Look Now to prevent
MAS KED GATE
Another way to reduce the wasted picture area of the masked frame widescreen method was to use a 3-perf pull-down. Although occasionally used in the camera, it didn’t prove practical for release prints. Saving film, but keeping 4 perf, was the proposed ‘run both ways’ print, with the other direction’s frame and track masked off during projection. For a fuller description of ‘skip frame’, see the December 2016 issue of CT.
a full-frontal shot of Donald Sutherland reaching the eyes of viewers, a treat not even intended for cinema audiences. An ex-cinema projectionist colleague remembers, during widescreen showings of certain full-frame ‘exploitation’ movies, he would keep hold of his racking knob to make sure his valued customers didn’t miss anything. I once tried to find out about the British censor’s viewing arrangements, thinking that the choice of aspect ratio and framing could affect a film’s classification. Sadly, I was told that all the goings on behind the BBFC doors were confidential, including the size of their aperture plates.
Widescreen goes digital The nature of the cinema’s switch to digital, beginning with exhibition, meant it had to accommodate all of film’s aspect ratios, including widescreen. Fortunately, for today’s digital projectionist, presentation decisions have been made and included in the digital file sent to the projector. This should ensure a perfect image every time, without the past problems and issues marring the picture. MARCH 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY
Earthquake! When Sensurround hit the big screen, it shook the foundations. Billy Bell explains
he 70mm, six-track magnetic Earthquake film, in which Los Angeles is destroyed by a major seismic event, came to the Empire Leicester Square in 1974 accompanied by its own special effects called “Sensurround”. This was the brand name for a process developed by the audio manufacturing company CerwinVega and Universal Studios whose engineers Richard J. Stumpf, Robert J. Leonard and Waldon O. Watson were responsible for the design and engineering. The Sensurround system was designed to enhance the audio experience for cinemagoers during film screenings, specifically for this film. Only four other films utilised the system: Midway in 1976, Rollercoaster in 1977, Battlestar Galactica in 1978 and Mission Galactica in 1979. A technician from Universal Studios came over to the Empire to supervise the installation of the extra equipment which was needed to reproduce the deep
rumbling sound of this devastating and destructive natural event. Monster loudspeakers called “transducers” — the mothers of all sub-woofers — were placed around the auditorium. When working high on the Richter Scale, the excursion of these loudspeaker cones could exceed three inches. These transducers were powered by banks of amplifiers, whose inputs were driven by an “Earthquake Generator” — a 30cm square box filled with electronics which produced a random and irregular pattern of stereo sub-frequencies, to simulate earthquake sound patterns. This generator was activated by a switching signal provided by tracks two and four of this epic film. These two magnetic channels had to be diverted from the normal theatre sound system in order to activate the earthquake generator. During testing in the empty theatre at sound levels in excess of 150dB, loose
“During testing in the empty theatre, it took hours for the choking, acrid dust to settle” material, from every nook and cranny in the auditorium, filled the atmosphere to such an extent that it took many hours for this choking acrid dust to settle. The local authority however, imposed a sound level safety limit of 115 dB, which effectively neutered the full potential of this particularly noisy gimmick. The technician from Universal Studios told me that the full Hollywood version of Sensurround, which was considered unsuitable for the Empire Theatre, would have included polystyrene pillars falling across the screen during the earthquake sequence, to be The management assumes no responsibility for loose fillings CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
MAR17_BILLY BELL.indd 80
Ava Gardner, Charlton Heston — what’s not to like? And (above) the Sensurround control box
hauled back each time ready for the next performance. There was also a jigger mechanism to vibrate the screen curtains, plus several lanterns to project disorienting jagged patterns of light onto the walls and ceiling of the auditorium. As testing proceeded, other problems arose, due to the fact that the Empire Theatre sat directly above the Mecca ballroom. The sound insulation between the two had been determined at 80dB. during the reconstruction of the site, in 1962, and was considered adequate for that period. During the running of Earthquake at the Empire Theatre, the sound of deep rumbling from above was definitely not appreciated by the audience in the ballroom below. To summarize, Sensurround was disappointing because officialdom had toned it down. The ballroom management and the cinemagoers with dust allergies were also no doubt very pleased when it proved to be little more than a damp squib. 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. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
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AND ONE LAST THING…
TIME TO CELEBRATE
As exhibitors go all-digital, Oliver Pasch extends a plea for a new generation of projectionists
Oliver Pasch Sony Professional Solutions Europe
OUR INDUSTRY PASSES at least two milestones this year. First, it’s the twelfth anniversary of Version 1.0 of the original DCI specification. And more noteworthy still, it’s also the year Europe’s cinemas officially go 100% digital. So we should all be celebrating the demise of inferior 35mm prints, right? Well, yes… in theory at least. It’s funny how our perceptions about technology have changed over the years, particularly with exhibitors. It’s digital, we all enthusiastically agreed, so that must mean it’s maintenance-free. Well, of course that’s turned out to be a dangerous misunderstanding, especially when many daily operations in a cinema have been de-skilled to the point that the traditional ‘projectionists’ have been largely erased from the planet.
A projectionist, in name at least
Towards the end of 35mm, I’m not going to pretend that everyone who operated cinematic equipment deserved the name projectionist as we meant it back in the good old days. There’s always been a basic expectation of how movies should look and sound in an auditorium, with an image
that’s in focus and with tolerable playback volume levels. But in reality this weighty responsibility has been largely assumed by employees who — with all respect to them — are busy doing lots of other things. It’s increasingly likely that lens focus will only be checked during the annual maintenance visit, and that all faders are set remotely per title from HQ based on reference screens for a whole chain.
Showmanship: in short supply?
Much as technology has improved with digital, the art of ‘showmanship’ is an alltoo rare commodity these days. None of this comes as news to readers of this magazine. But the fact is that right now we aren’t realising the full potential of all of this beautiful equipment that has been installed over the past decade. I, for one, look forward to the arrival of some fresh blood, armed with the technical expertise — and the passion — to present movies the way they’re meant to be seen. All we need now is for cinema operators to acknowledge the need and find the budget. Or better still, perhaps we can even hope for some great new technology that at least partially
“HAVE YOU EVER HEARD AUDIENCES COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT SEEING SUFFICIENT COLOURS ON SCREEN?”
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | MARCH 2017
automates the basics: when will the next generation of projectors finally feature autofocus, I wonder? And while we’re talking technological advances, I would welcome a more enlightened attitude to the potential and the pitfalls of laser projection. Some exhibitors seem to think the magic L-word is the only way ahead. Don’t get me wrong — I, too, am hugely excited about this new light source, so long as it is implemented in a way that makes technical and commercial sense. Laser has much to offer, but let’s temper our enthusiasm with a reality check. RGB laser can take us beyond DCI P3, closer to the holy grail of Rec2020. But honestly, have you ever heard audiences complaining about not seeing sufficient colours on screen?
Long live the lamp
Lamps in their various guises are far from dead. And, ironically, thanks to laser, we will see xenon get cheaper and offer longer warranties — something that’s already happening. Let’s not forget the High Pressure Mercury array in Sony’s R500 projectors that still outperforms any other lamp technology in terms of ownership costs. It gives the added bonus of image quality and HDR-ready contrast — I freely acknowledge my own bias — to beat firstgeneration laser projectors hands down. The future’s going to happen, and I can’t wait to get there. But in our rush to find something ‘better’, let’s take the time truly to appreciate — and make the most of — what we’ve already got. Oliver Pasch is Head of European Digital Cinema Sales at Sony Professional Solutions Europe. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com
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