Cinema Technology Magazine - September 2015

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The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals

September 2015


the Immersive experience

w lo ok

The technical innovations that really draw the audiences in

cineeurope 2015 digital horizons future-shock? Full report on the news, the people and the latest products in Barcelona

As film viewing habits change, how cinema is reaching new heights

Has film lost its cultural cachet? Sir Christopher Frayling tackles the issue

Vol 28, No3 produced in partnership with

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE September 2015 • Vol 28 • No 3 NEWS 008 011 012


The Editor’s pick of the latest industry happenings New technology in development and in implementation Industry moves and awards, plus Bradford goes widescreen

EVENT SPECIAL: CineEurope 044 053 056

CineEurope was a triumph in Barcelona — Jim Slater on a knockout show More than a trade show: the manufacturers’ CCIB showcase The event cinema phenomenon: a seminar looking to the future


FEATURES 015 025 031 062 074





039 041 042

Thomas Rüttgers on ICTA’s 20th anniversary CineEurope seminar Melissa Cogavin on eventful months ahead for the Event Cinema Association A new name, but no less busy: the UK Cinema Association The European Digital Cinema Forum at next month’s IBC conference

All shapes and sizes: exploring the origins of 3D in Grant Lobban’s history Billy Bell on the lengths to which one must go to to switch a capacitor

086 088 089

After 20 years in the role, Cinema Technology’s Editor looks to the future Cinema on the march: how digitisation is altering our industry’s market position Why Coca-Cola’s CineEurope stand is a true masterclass in digital signage Mark Trompeteler interviews Christopher Frayling on the modern relevance of film Peter J. Knight on a plan to put the magic back into the cinema space Cineworld’s latest spectacle: a new multiplex in Broughton Projectionist Jo Osborne on the modern interpretation of his cinema role The BKSTS industry day at the BFI: a success for newcomers in our world Saving cinema’s soul: David A. Ellis on the need for atmosphere in auditoria Derrick Trimble reports on a plan to safeguard the BKSTS’s future

090 091

Cutting the ribbon on the PPT’s new storage facility in Halifax Just film, no digital: the Todd/AO festival in Karlsruhe, Germany

TECH DEVELOPMENTS 019 059 066 070 078

Immersive audio: Barry Fox on the new systems shaking up the sound arena How Screenfast offers a new concept in the world of digital delivery to cinemas Strong MDI: the secrets behind, manufacturing the best screens Peter J. Knight enjoys the glow of the Philips’ LightVibes system at a Rolling Stones premiere in Germany The future of xenon: with laserilluminated projection the talk of the town, what of the lowly xenon lamp?

And one more Thing… 098

Unique Digital’s Mark Stephen argues that it’s time to learn from the ads, when it comes to showcasing upcoming films

BKSTS: The BKSTS (British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society) exists to encourage, sustain, educate, train and provide a focus for all those who are creatively or technologically involved in the business of providing moving images and associated sound in any form and through any media. The society works to maintain standards and to encourage the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of moving image and associated sound technology, in the UK and throughout the world. The Society is independent of all governments and commercial organisations.

The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals

September 2015

the Immersive experience

w lo ok

Universities Film & Video Council Cinema Exhibitors Association • Cooke Optics • CST • Focal International • SMPTE Skillset • Society of Television Lighting Directors • UK Film Council. The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the above Companies and Organisations. BKSTS membership enquiries should be addressed to: Roland Brown, President, BKSTS - Moving Image Society, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH, UK. Email:

LightVibes at Kinowelt Ruhr Park, Germany


SOCIETY SUPPORTERS: Association of Motion Picture Sound • British Film Institute • British Society of Cinematographers • British

On the cover: Philips’

The technical innovations that really draw the audiences in

cineeurope 2015 digital horizons future-shock? Full report on the news, the people and the latest products in Barcelona

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As film viewing habits change, how cinema is reaching new heights

Vol 28, No3 produced in partnership with

Has film lost its cultural cachet? Sir Christopher Frayling tackles the issue

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FROM THE EDITOR September 2015 • Volume 28 • No.3

It’s great to be part of an industry where so much happens so quickly. Laser technologies, regarded as ‘experimental’ a year ago, are forging ahead, and it is interesting to hear experts express the view that it is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ laser light projection goes mainstream. Premium Large Formats with immersive sound and higher dynamic range pictures are pushing ahead, numbers still relatively small, but undoubtedly growing, and for many in the business the key reason for adopting such technologies is that they will ensure a visit to the cinema remains something really special — an experience that can’t be replicated by any amount of ‘home cinema’ equipment. CineEurope, which we report on in-depth in this issue (see pages 44-57), was bigger and better than ever, and provided us with the chance to meet old friends, not just from Europe and the US, but

also those from the UK who we never seem to catch up with at home! In Barcelona, it was heartening to hear industry leaders appreciate that young people need to be encouraged to build a regular cinema-going habit — if that means learning to live with their smartphones, then cinemas must find solutions to keep both their young and their more traditional audiences contented. It can be done. You will hopefully notice that Cinema Technology magazine has a completely new look, helping us to maintain our reputation as the leading specialist publication for industry professionals. With new regular contributors, the content of the magazine continues to reflect the best in technical journalism, bringing news and opinion pieces as well as in-depth technical articles on which the magazine’s reputation has been established. There is a reminder elsewehere in these pages that I have been privileged to serve as Managing Editor of Cinema Technology for the past 20 years (see pages 15-16) and although I intend to carry on for a while yet, the BKSTS and the Cinema Technology Committee have, for some months, been working on plans to secure the magazine’s future in the longer term. As a result, Motion Picture Solutions — which has hosted the magazine in its online form for some time already — has agreed to invest to produce the magazine, expand its reach worldwide, and increase Cinema Technology’s online presence. I hope you enjoy the ‘new look’ Cinema Technology and I look forward to a new era in which the magazine builds on its past and makes the best of the new technologies to create a product that we can continue to be proud of in the decades ahead. Jim Slater, Managing Editor

Contributors in detail 1






David is the research director leading the film and cinema team for IHS Technology. With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, in this issue he explores how digitisation is altering cinema’s market position, see page 25.

Barry writes on technical matters, notably relating to consumer and entertainment electronics, for a wide range of titles, including the New Scientist. In this issue, he examines the latest immersive audio formats, see page 19.

Mark has written for CT for a number of years — in this issue, he continues his fascinating series on contemporary cinema with an interview with cultural commentator, Sir Christopher Frayling, see page 62.


NEWS CT’s roundup of the latest industry news and events



At the annual International Cinema Technology Association’s (ICTA) summer Business Retreat in Texas, QSC Cinema received the “Teddy Award” as ICTA Manufacturer of the

ICTA’s Mike Archer presents the 2014 “Teddy” Award to Barry Ferrell, and Danny Pickett, of QSC

UK Cinema Association promotes the big screen The UK Cinema Association – the newly rebranded Cinema Exhibitors’ Association – recently published its Annual Report for 2014, entitled ‘Promoting the big screen’. The report and is packed with facts and figures about the cinema industry. It forms a useful and interesting reference guide, with sections on topics including digital cinema, film theft, release windows, disability and access, and music rights. The aim of the association’s rebrand was to present a more modern and progressive image for the organisation and the sector it represents, and its report explains its work in the areas of legislation and lobbying, its public advocacy of the importance of the cinema business, as well as its work on promotion and advertising.



Year, the second time the company has won this honour. The award is presented annually by the active dealer membership of the ICTA to the ICTA manufacturer “who most closely exemplifies the progressive principles of product development and provides dealers with service and up-to-date technical and sales information, while supporting the status of their product without qualification.” It is considered especially meaningful because it is voted for by other cinema dealers. ICTA president Mike Archer presented the award to Barry Ferrell, QSC senior vice president and chief strategy officer, and Danny Pickett, QSC director of global cinema sales. Barry Ferrell said that receiving the award was testament to the quality, delivery and service which has always been the winning combination for QSC. At the same event, Barry Ferrell was honoured as outgoing member of the Board of Directors and Mark Mayfield, well-known to Cinema Technology readers, became a member of the ICTA Board for a three-year term. For more, visit

THE FUTURE OF CINEMA VIEWING? Galalite, known to Cinema Technology readers as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cinema screens, has recently created a lot of buzz across the social media universe. It already makes good use of its Linkedin page to tell the world about the latest innovations, but recent postings have gone further – suggesting that Galalite is about to announce a new technology cinema screen “that is going to revolutionise the movie-viewing experience across the world.” Social media rumours suggest that Galalite is about to unveil “new screens utilising a whole new world of technology”. In spite of trying to probe further, Cinema Technology wasn’t able to find out whether the screens will be white, pearl or silver, or whether they will be tailored for laser and other technologically advanced digital content. A technical expert from Galalite was able to share with CT that “these new screens will make way for

the fourth generation of revolutionary technology in cinema screens. They’ll deliver excellent light uniformity and a surface finish like no other.” He also mentioned that, even though Galalite isn’t the first to introduce these types of screens in the market, they are confident that once these screens are launched, “they will be the best in cinema screens.” Such social media techniques are the essence of a successful marketing campaign — one other piece of information uncovered suggests the name of the new product may be ‘Mirage’, but we will have to wait until October to discover whether Galalite’s latest screen lives up to its claim to “change the face of cinema viewing experiences for once and for ever.”





3D cinema specialist Volfoni and Russian cinema integrator Merlin have announced three more cinema exhibitors that have chosen the SmartCrystal™ Diamond as their passive 3D system of choice, joining a growing number of users in Russia, including the joint showroom of Disney and Sony in Moscow. Anatoly Chernikov, commercial director from Merlin, said the decision to choose the SmartCrystal Diamond for KinoMost (Samara), Tripingvina (Cheboksary) and Aerohall (Tolyatti) was simple: “If you want to be the best cinema, you need to have the brightest 3D. And our customers also wanted to get rid of heavy active glasses. So the Diamond was the perfect solution.” Volfoni’s managing director Alain Chamaillard commented that his company values the co-operation with its partners and their continuous feedback to make even better 3D systems. With more than 500 units sold, he said that the SmartCrystal™ Diamond is today the most successful triple-beam system in the cinema industry, providing high brightness with nearly 30% LEF, improving the 3D experience and reducing the operating costs of 3D. For more, visit

NEC DISPLAY SOLUTIONS TO INCREASE GLOBAL SALES FOCUS NEC Display Solutions Europe has appointed Simon Jackson to lead a newly created Strategic and Global Sales Division, reinforcing NEC’s global sales infrastructure. The division reflects NEC’s strength in highvalue, complex display projects. The new division reinforces NEC’s focus on strategic customer solutions, bringing together industry expertise and excellent quality products. Simon, with NEC since 1998, will be based in its European Headquarters in Munich. Bernd Eberhardt, president and CEO of NEC Display Solutions Europe commented: “Simon has demonstrated excellent leadership and expertise in implementing NEC’s vertical sales approach and we are looking forward to bringing that dedication and leadership to this newly created global sales division.”

Another win for Veritek Veritek, a leading pan-European technical service, support and maintenance provider to many of the world’s top hi-tech OEM brands, has announced that it now works with another of the global digital cinema projector manufacturers, Christie. Starting this summer, Veritek will provide bench repair services for Christie’s European centre, based in the UK. James Salamon, head of business development at Veritek (pictured) said: “Veritek has developed a reputation for delivering reliable, skilled and

efficient service to a number of the world’s leading digital cinema projector manufacturers. We are delighted to be working with Christie — a key leader in projection and display technology. Many of the manufacturers we work for find that there are huge efficiencies to be achieved by outsourcing elements of their post-sales support to us.” Christie’s Ian Tyler commented: “Veritek comes to us with a great reputation in service and delivery. We look forward to a close working partnership.”




Cineplexx opens Dolby loCations in austria, DevelopeD by Christie Earlier this summer, Cineplexx and Dolby announced six Dolby Cinema™ locations in Austria which will use Dolby Vision laser projection and Dolby Atmos sound. The Dolby Vision laser projection system was developed with Christie, using special optics and image processing to provide high dynamic range, an enhanced colour gamut, and a high contrast ratio. Cineplexx will open two Dolby Cinema sites later this year, with the first in Linz (pictured). Further launches are planned at major Cineplexx locations across Austria. Christian Langhammer, CEO Cineplexx Austria, said that Cineplexx will be the first chain in the German-speaking region to offer Dolby Cinema, which will boost the moviegoing experience and provide the best cinema ever.

filmies: a ‘tinder’ app for film fans


A new film app called Filmies, created by Neil McCure, aims to provide a kind of Tinder service for cinemagoers, so that they can quickly find films they’ll love. Neil is based in Manchester, England, and is at the startup stage, but he’s taking part in The Pitch (, the UK’s biggest small business competition, in the hope of securing further mentoring and investment to get off the ground. The Pitch helps start-ups by shining a light on entrepreneurial talent, and over the years has helped grow many small businesses.The Filmies App is intended to give users inspiration when they can’t choose which film to watch. Users click on tags to describe what they feel like watching and instantly receive personalised film recommendations.

news in brief Ymagis/dcinex install atmos for cineplexx Ymagis and Austrian exhibitor Cineplexx will equip up to nine additional Cineplexx auditoriums with Dolby Atmos immersive sound technology. Three Dolby Atmos screens were successfully installed in July at Cineplexx cinemas in Linz, Amstetten and Wiener Neustadt by Ymagis Group’s Vienna-based dcinex GmbH.

cine sound lab launcHes new sYstem site


The German engineering team behind the Cine Sound Lab sound system, geared to cinema operators, has launched a mobile-optimised website, www.cinesoundlab. com to showcase its technical and acoustic nature. Amptown System Company (ASC) recently presented Cine Sound Lab’s speakers at KINO BadenBaden and CineEurope.

for more, see

Cinimie rolls out into 71 irish sites


Cinime, previously introduced to Cinema Technology readers as an experimental app that connects people to the cinema through their mobile, has launched an interactive experience for smartphone users on 479 cinema screens throughout Ireland. The company has started to rollout its app at 71 cinemas across Ireland, the aim being to reach an average audience of 1.2 million people every month. The app, free on the App store and Google Play, and its associated technological platform allow users to interact with the big screen, letting them play games on it before and after the film and providing personalised interactive content after listening to what’s being played on screen. For more, visit

Historic eclair group acquired


A French commercial court has allowed Ymagis, specialist in digital technologies, to acquire the 108-year old film lab Eclair Group, which had been under bankruptcy protection. Ymagis will take over the businesses in France, Germany and Morocco and. it is understood that it will create two subsidiaries, one for content distribution and localisation services, and another for post-production. and restoration. SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



New Strategy for eCCo

BKSTS CINEMA TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE Richard Huhndorf (Chairman), Max Bell, Laurence Claydon, Michael Denner, Keith Fawcett, Fred Fullerton, Graham Hughes, Denis Kelly, Peter Knight, Andre Mort, Rachael Eldrett, 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.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY ISSN 0955-2251 - is published quarterly by Motion Picture Solutions Limited on behalf of the BKSTS. The print edition is mailed to members of the BKSTS and is also distributed to major cinema chains, independents and key industry figures. Printed in the UK by The Magazine Printing Company using only paper from FSC/PEFC suppliers. Cinema Technology Magazine online is an interactive version of the print edition allowing free access to everyone and providing a continuously updated news link of all the latest cinema industry happenings Views expressed in Cinema Technology Magazine are not necessarily the views of the Society.

Cinema expert Thomas Rüttgers has launched ECCO Cine Supply and Service GmbH, repositioning the company so that his team of experts becomes a single source for exhibitors and more involved in the integration of technology innovations and products. ECCO is focusing on distribution of selected high-quality products. Among its portfolio are brands such as D-Box, Euroseating,

2015 wideSCreeN weekeNd iN Bradford The 19th annual Widescreen Weekend will take place on 15 to 18 October, at the National Media Museum, Bradford, UK. Duncan McGregor, the Widescreen Weekend curator, explained what is in store: “We continue to celebrate and enjoy some of the most remarkable cinematic experiences ever filmed.

Peter wilSoN graNted SMPte fellowShiP

EDITORIAL JIM SLATER, MANAGING EDITOR 17 Winterslow Road, Porton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK T: +44 (0) 1980 610544 F: +44 (0) 1980 590611 e: ADVERTISING • PRODUCTION BOB CAVANAGH Caixa Postal 2011, Vale da Telha, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal T: +351 282 997 050 M: +351 962 415 172 e:

SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed free of charge to BKSTS Members. Please contact the editor for subscription payment details or further information — or e-mail


DepthQ and SimplyX. Projector manufacturer Christie is a partner and ECCO will become exclusive distributor of the Christie Vive Audio product line in the DACH (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) region. Other companies involved are Kelonic, Dolby, Harkness and Osram. Veritek will be a strong service partner with a national network of engineers. For details call +49 (0) 2115228750 or email

BKSTS Fellow Peter Wilson, Founder and Managing Director at High Definition & Digital Cinema Ltd. (HDDC) has been honoured with a Fellowship from the SMPTE. Peter began his career at 15 with an electronic and mechanical apprenticeship and subsequently worked in TV studio engineering before joining Sony Broadcast. He is a founding director of the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF) and during his time at Snell & Wilcox, he earned a Technical Emmy for work on HD up-conversion. Through HDDC, he now provides training in HDTV, UHDTV, and digital cinema.

The weekend mixes cast-iron classics, modern-day widescreen films, and a few lesser-known but no less interesting titles.” The deadline for buying passes is 30 September 2015. Individual tickets are also on sale. For details, visit

New sales managers at Ushio USHIO has announced two new sales manager roles in Europe — Luca Lombardi (left) is 34 years old, from Lucca, Tuscany, and started his new role at USHIO Europe B.V. in June. With a background of more than 10 years as a sales manager for one of Italy’s leading industrial firms, his aim is to strengthen the relationships and produce business growth. Meanwhile, Witali Heinle (right) is the new sales manager for Northern Germany, Eastern Europe & CIS. Aged 33, before he joined USHIO, he gained five years’ experience as area sales manager responsible for the CIS in a different company. He started with USHIO in April.

ChriStie’S eMea BuSiNeSS BooSted Christie’s EMEA business has been boosted with a series of appointments. Adil Zerouali, regional director for Eastern Europe becomes cinema sales director, Europe, and Richard Nye, cinema sales director EMEA, becomes regional director in Christie’s South African office. The EMEA Cinema business will split into two regions. Europe and North Africa will be headed by Adil while the rest of Africa and Middle East will be overseen by Richard.


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Ymagis Group is the leading pan-European provider of fully-integrated and best in class solutions for exhibitors. We aim to help cinemas ensure maximum equipment reliability through: Consulting, design and project management • Equipment sales and financing • Installation, commissioning, routine and reactive maintenance • Support (NOC - Network Operations Center) • Online equipment monitoring •

Jerry Murdoch Sales Manager +44 0 20 3695 8481 YMAGIS UK The Observatory 10 Argyll Street, Soho W1F 7TQ London

Products supported include: Projection equipment • Sound systems • 3D Solutions & glasses •

TMS Melody • Digital signage • Screens & seating •


Content delivery • Consumables • Consulting • | | | #ymagis

© August 2015 – Ymagis SA. All Rights Reserved. Photo Credit © Cineplexx Austria. All Rights Reserved Dolby and Dolby Atmos™ are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories, Inc.

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WE’VE COME A LONG WAY IN 20 YEARS... ...and the future looks even better With no fewer than 20 years at the helm, Jim Slater reflects on where Cinema Technology magazine came from and, significantly, where it is headed, as a key element of the cinema industry’s digital future.


ife is but a walking shadow is the inscription on many a sundial, a philosophical musing on the fleeting nature of life and man’s role in it. The quotation came to mind as I noticed that this issue marks 20 years of my editorship of Cinema Technology, surely a good excuse to look back at ‘our’ magazine, as many in the cinema exhibition industry regard it. Cinema Technology holds a unique place in a special niche of the cinema business — serving those entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the vision of the film director (that often costs hundreds of millions to execute) is delivered to the public in a form that recreates the magic that only cinema can provide. This isn’t just a magazine that cinema people read, it is one they are

keen to contribute to, and a continual strength over the years has been that key industry figures and decision makers have regularly written to explain the latest technologies and ideas on ensuring the success of the cinema as a business.

Volume 1, No 1

The first issue of Cinema Technology, an eight-page supplement to the BKSTS journal Image Technology published in October 1987 said in its introduction that “Cinema Technology is for cinema, about cinema, and we will welcome your involvement.” News items included the remodelling of Empire Leicester Square, and the opening of a Cannon eight-screen at Salford and a CIC six-screen multiplex at High Wycombe — two cinema names that have long since disappeared. Training has always been important and

one constant is that there were ads for a series of Cinema Technology Committee seminars for theatre managers, operators 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 film-going from the other side of the projector....’ One amusing outcome of the first issue was that sharp-eyed projectionists inevitably noticed a stylised graphic on the cover. It showed film being laced and the film had been allowed to touch the floor (almost a criminal offence, it seems). It was soon adjusted so that the lapse didn’t occur in later issues!

new editor, new technologies

When I took over as Editor from John Gainsborough, who had served the SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY




Entering a world in transition: 20 years ago, digital projection was still a decade off

BKSTS for many years, Cinema Technology had become a separate 16-page magazine with colour only on the cover. It seems incredible now, but until then every word was typed and sent to the printer for re-typing and every picture covered with translucent paper with the crop marks shown in pencil. We employed Karen GrevilleSmith who assembled all the parts and worked with the printers to bring each issue to fruition. Computer technologies were developing rapidly, and it didn’t take me long to discover the various electronic publishing packages, undertaking the on-going learning process that enables us to create today’s issues completely electronically. We moved to colour gradually, a few pages at a time, but print costs changed and it became possible to make the glossy, full-colour magazine we have become used to. And page numbers increased, reflecting increasing demand for content — we hit the magic 100 on a few occasions.

Contents: plus ça change

Looking back at my first issue, Vol. 9 No.1 October 1995, in my somewhat pompous ‘First Thoughts’ (“So what has changed?”, I hear you say…), I was telling projectionists it was no longer enough to know about film, even though it had taken many a working lifetime to develop their skills, but that they would need to master new technologies as they came along. It is sobering to reflect that it would be a further decade before CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

digital projection reared its head! Topics included a review of the new Warner Bros multiplex at Leicester and a face-to-face interview with WB president Millard Ochs, both the sort of thing we still do regularly. I was interested to see that there were facts and figures from Screen Digest — in our current issue we are fortunate to have such information from David Hancock of IHS, Screen Digest’s successor. High-profile industry figures have always been good enough to contribute, including stalwarts such as Alan McCann, Dion Hanson, and Jim Schultz, and we are fortunate that today’s experts are always ready to pass on their latest knowledge through the pages of Cinema Technology. Over the past decade, we have played a major part in moving our readers into the digital cinema age. As the change to digital cinema began, we produced special educational supplements which were well-regarded, and we continue to present articles on the latest topics such as laser projection, high dynamic range and immersive audio.

the authorities in the wings

The BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee consists of people active at the cutting edge of our industry as it develops, and, as well as contributing written articles, they provide invaluable guidance and unattributable backroom information that gives many CT articles the in-depth qualities for which they have become renowned. There is a sort of ‘mentoring’ relationship with the Editor, which has allowed the magazine to develop hand-in-hand with the exhibition business as it has entered the digital era. This will continue as the industry progresses further into the unknown realms of the 21st Century entertainment business. Those familiar with the quotation with which I began this piece may also remember that it goes on to include “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’. I shall be doing my utmost to ensure that our magazine remains as far as possible from any such sentiments, and I look forward to continuing to be proud of Cinema Technology magazine and what it has achieved, for decades to come.

INTO THE FUTURE… I intend to continue as Managing Editor of Cinema Technology for the next few years, and have been working with the Cinema Technology Committee (CTC) and the BKSTS to secure the magazine’s longer-term future. Having explored various options, we have chosen to work with Motion Picture Solutions, one of the cinema industry’s most forwardlooking companies. MPS will provide the investment required to expand the reach of the magazine around the world and the editorial staff needed. They will expand the digital footprint of the magazine and increase the use of social media that will play an evermore important role in the cinema industry of the future. Just six advertisers graced my first issue — Omnex, Lenco Lighting, Westar, Sony SDDS, Dolby and Harkness. It is good to report that the last two still regularly advertise. A typical issue these days might contain upwards of 30 ads and I am always conscious that support of our advertisers enables the magazine to grow. In exchange, we try to work with them to create balanced technical articles, carefully staying unbiased, not afraid to criticise where justified, and avoiding ‘advertorial’ whenever possible. Our advertisers appreciate that the numbers worldwide reading Cinema Technology online, where it is available free of charge, far exceeds the number receiving printed copies, and we are working with advertisers to provide the extra benefits that electronic distribution can provide. Maintaining the hard-won reputation for unbiased integrity that Cinema Technology has achieved has been a key concern of all parties involved in the magazine’s future, and the CTC and I will ensure it remains independent of all commercial organisations, something that has always been and will continue to be part of the overall BKSTS remit.

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immersive audio: slow burn or damp squib? Barry Fox, honorary fellow of the BKSTS and a long-time campaigner about ‘format wars’ in technology, talked with Wilfried Van Baelen, at Galaxy Studios and Brett Crockett, senior director of sound technology research at Dolby, to compare their views on immersive audio systems

HERE IS no surer way to cripple — or kill — a new idea than to confuse the market with a format war between superficially similar options. And there is no escaping the fact that the three different and incompatible immersive audio systems (Dolby Atmos, DTS:X/MDA and Auro) are in a format war. A long-awaited announcement from DTS made few wow waves outside the industry’s inner

circles. Promised updates on the DTS consumer version have not materialised. Dolby Atmos was first out of the immersive starting blocks, but is hardly setting the world on fire. I don’t see prominent Atmos logos on UK cinema billboards and I am still waiting for the demo of consumer Atmos, with reflecting speakers, which Dolby UK promised nearly a year ago. A demo of Atmos at the Digital Television Group’s

annual summit in London turned out to be a tablet computer playing what sounded like dummy head binaural through a pair of stereo headphones. Promotional ‘White Paper’ descriptions of Auro made heavy reading in December 2011 and, although the system’s backers have not been backward in their criticism of the competition, Auro still cannot point to a theatre installation in the UK. SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



Finding the facts...

So, on the principle that there is no substitute for a few hard facts, I took a trip on a train to Belgium to hear Auro in action and talk with its inventor, Wilfried Van Baelen, at his Galaxy studios. To pre-empt the kind of snide suggestions that are all too common in any format war, let me be clear that Galaxy did not pay a penny towards my visit. I also offered Dolby the opportunity to comment on some of the claims levelled at Atmos by the Auro camp. Auro 3D is the brainchild of musician/ engineer Wilfried Van Baelen, who — with his brother Guy — started the Galaxy recording studio complex at Mol, deep in Belgian farmland a couple of hours drive from Brussels (see www. Van Baelen started out as a musician playing Hammond organ in the mid-1970s, and built a recording studio in his chicken shed.

Truly professional audio

But Galaxy/Auro is very definitely not some country bumpkin operation. In the mid-1980s, after working for German organ manufacturer Wersi, Van Baelen

went into full-time music production and recording, with performances on the side. Major expansion of the Mol facility followed with the aim of several studios and control rooms, all visually interconnected and with windows for daylight, but each acoustically isolated by at least 90dB and with room resonance under 3Hz. UK design company Eastlake Audio, Eric Desart of the Gerber Group and Professor Gerrit Vermeir at the University of Leuven concluded that the only way to get the required isolation and resonance was to make each room a concrete bunker supported on springs, and with windows of glass 11cm thick, weighing a tonne. “When we tried to order the glass,” Van Baelen recalls, “they asked what weapon we were up against. It was after a spate of bank robberies — so we were lucky they had already done some development work. Until then the maximum glass panel weight had been 700 or 800kg. “For the first studio we needed 85 springs, each carrying 3.1-tonnes. The springs had to be shot with bullets to prevent fatigue. After continued expansion, a new complex of concrete bunker rooms was built, mounted on springs, and windowed with 11cm glass, housing 14 interconnecting studios and control rooms. The new hall studio weighs 1,600-tonnes. Isolation is 100.7dB and resonant frequency 2.8Hz.” A movie of a studio opening ceremony in 1992 shows guests applauding when a pistol was fired in one room with nothing heard through the window. Galaxy now employs 100 people and Van Baelen has mixed more than 20 platinum albums there. Galaxy started 5.1 movie sound recording and mixing in 1996 and was producing SACD recordings in 2002. “Mixing for 5.1 surround and also for stereo was a complete nightmare,” Van Baelen remembers. “For instance the human ear is more sensitive to volume in the non-visual field — the rear sides. It’s because of our ancestry and survival and sensing danger, just as peripheral vision is more sensitive to movement at the rear sides. So when you pan sound to the rear it can be too loud. “There was only one budget for two mixes. We used to mix for stereo, then mix again for 5.1; then we tried mixing for 5.1 and then stereo. But it still took too long. Using an EMS Neve digital mixing Founder of the Galaxy Studios, Wilfried Van Baelen (top), and technical writer and BKSTS honorary fellow Barry Fox (bottom)


The birthplace of no fewer than 20 platinumselling albums: Wilfried Van Baelen at his Galaxy studios, in Mol, Belgium

desk, I found it was possible to toggle in real time between 5.1 and stereo, and mix both at the same time, all the time checking how it sounds. That way you can deliver 5.1 and stereo at the same time. We did many recordings that way, for instance Jose Carreras’ Energia. “It all taught me that backwards compatibility is the key to progress. The world doesn’t have the money for more formats. In 2005, German record producer Tom Hapke suggested adding two extra-height speakers at the front, for 2+2+2. I thought it sounded un-natural and tried adding two at the rear for height. It was a magical changing moment in my life. The sound was more emotional and more relaxing. I felt it was adding the final and missing dimension. “The vertical sound field is very different from the horizontal because you can’t hear vertical phantom images — unless you turn your head on the side. Front speakers need horizontal spacing of around 60 degrees, but vertical speakers need around 30 degrees. “For an immersive experience you need two




“VAN BAELEN STARTED OUT AS A MUSICIAN, AND BUILT A STUDIO IN HIS CHICKEN SHED” layers of speakers, or three layers with ‘voice of god’ speakers overhead, all spaced at 30 degrees.” Auro’s coding technology, described in patents dating back to 2004/5, lets a backwards-compatible 5.1 mix carry the extra height channels. Auro-3D is the umbrella name for the format. The speaker layouts are numerical, for example: Auro 9.1 (backwards compatible with conventional 5.1, with one added height layer), Auro 10.1 (5.1 with two height layers) or Auro 13.1 (7.1 with two height layers). “We were looking for one crossmarket solution, immersive content for music, films or games,” Van Baelen explains. “And we wanted it to be backwards-compatible with 5.1 surround and scalable. We conceived Auro in 2005, demonstrated Auro 9.1 and Auro 10.1 during the “Surround Sound with Height’ workshops at the

AES Conventions in 2006 at Paris and San Francisco, and developed a cinema system in 2008, when the world was still limited to eight channels. We showed an 11.1 immersive sound format at the AES Conference on Spatial Audio, in Tokyo in 2010, and then signed an agreement with Barco, who have a 50% share of the projector market worldwide. “We demonstrated a 9.1 system at the 2011 CinemaCon in Las Vegas and showed it to Skywalker Sound. In November that year, George Lucas said he would use Auro 11.1 to make Red Tails, the first Hollywood movie in immersive sound. The first commercial cinema installation was in Chengdu, China in 2011, followed by Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami in the USA. After that, and the deals with Barco and George Lucas, Dolby was awake,” notes Van Baelen. Auro currently claims more than 300 installations worldwide, with more than

Unlike old matrix surround systems, which worked in analogue, Auro works in the PCM digital domain. Horizontal and height signals are combined in the bit stream, with coded instructions for the decoder to un-combine them. The ‘enhanced 5.1’ or Native Auro-3D plays normally on a standard 5.1 system, to give a balanced mix of horizontal 5.1 and height channels, but it decodes with an Auro decoder to give separate Hi-Res horizontal and height channels. Processing latency is one PCM sample per channel, totalling under 1ms, so there is no loss of lip sync. Auro Technologies claims it is possible to mix up to four Hi-Res channels into one channel and recover all four in Hi-Res. To show this, Van Baelen mixed two different Hi-Res mono song tracks into one Auro PCM track. Played on a typical 5.1 system, the two songs play together in Hi-Res; but an Auro-3D decoder recognises instructions buried in the PCM to un-mix and play the two tracks completely separately. This trick is possible because 24-bit coding is needed for production, such as editing, but not final playback. The 4 Least Significant Bits (LSB) are so deep in the noise floor that they are lost to consumer equipment. “If the full dynamic range from 24-bits were reproduced we would only experience it once because our hearing would be permanently damaged,” says Van Baelen, “Blood would come out of our ears, so we can use the LSBs to carry the instructions for re-construction. It’s all done in software — you can render channel-based or object-based audio in the same way. “Object-based audio is not new, it was in an early MPEG standard,” Van Baelen explains, “With channel-based audio you’re rendering at the production stage. For object-based audio you are rendering at playback. Object-basing makes sense only with amplifiers that have 20-plus channels. Auro currently uses channel-based audio, with up to 15 channels. We built on existing 5.1, but we have prepared a path to object-based audio. I think it is a pity that Dolby has tried to link object-based audio to immersive surround. Promoting object-based audio and immersive is too much in one go. I think Dolby needed something to beat Auro.”



To illustrate the effect of Auro 3D, height and bass speakers illuminate in operation

500 commitments. Most are in the US, Asia, India and Europe — but none in the UK. Equipped studios include Sony Pictures, Warner, Dreamworks and the Universal Hitchcock theatre. Auro claims 125 movies confirmed for release in Auro 3D, and over 75 released, including Elysium, I, Frankenstein and Spiderman 2. Auro’s business model is a one-off licence sold by Barco for a theatre decoder upgrade. The first home systems, for the high-end from Auriga, Denon, Marantz, McIntosh and Trinnov, were rolled out through 2014. Owners pay €160 to upgrade Denon and Marantz decoders with the Auro engine. “This decodes Auro 3D and upmixes anything, 5.1, 7.1. stereo or mono to Auro 3D,” says Van Baelen.

Dolby’s side of the story...

Meanwhile Brett Crockett, senior director of sound technology research at Dolby, claims “More than 900 Dolby Atmos screens have been installed or committed to in more than 40 countries; more than 230 films from 17 different countries have been or are scheduled to be released with Dolby Atmos sound since the first film debuted in June 2012. “For the home, more than 18 regional and international titles have been released or announced including Unbroken, Gravity, Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1, Transformers: Age of Extinction and Expendables 3.” There is clearly a strong rivalry between Auro and Atmos. Van Baelen showed me a detailed 171-page presentation prepared for the trade. This compares the position of Auro speakers with Atmos speakers and argues that Dolby Atmos is “not based on the 5.1 standard”. One slide notes: “Auro-3D wants to keep the existing 5.1 experience exactly the same… which is not the case with Dolby Atmos… The main difference between Dolby Atmos and Auro… is the speaker layout”. Brett Crockett, at Dolby, rebuts this criticism of Atmos. “Objectbased audio is appropriate for any number of speaker outputs” says Crockett, “including down to stereo configurations. Dolby Atmos can scale from a huge movie theatre to a mobile device playing for one person wearing headphones.” Auro’s Powerpoint also claims that the cost of upgrading from 5.1 to Auro CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

11.1 is much less than the cost of upgrading to Atmos, because the existing speakers remain unchanged, fewer new speakers are required and less extra amplification. Atmos, Auro says, puts the existing lower surrounds much higher, and adds more speakers in the single horizontal layer. Brett Crocket counters: “Placing surround loudspeakers somewhat above the audience is the standard for 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos… if the loudspeakers are too low, the loudspeakers will be very close to the listeners on the sides of the listening area and therefore too loud for those listeners. “Dolby says Atmos supports 5.1 and 7.1 channel-based surround,” says Van Baelen. “[I agree that] Atmos can use existing screen channels, but not existing surround channels. These have to be changed, which is why I say Atmos is not truly compatible with 5.1. But Auro uses the same speakers as 5.1. We just add height layers.” Again Crockett rebuts: “The recommended layout of speakers remains compatible with existing cinema systems… Every Dolby Atmos object-based soundtrack is rendered uniquely for the playback configuration. “Dolby Atmos theatres specify that surround speakers be capable for fullrange reproduction of audio (with bass management). If the existing surround speakers meet these criteria they do not need to be changed. Upgrading an existing cinema to Dolby Atmos requires at a minimum height speakers and amplification. Every Dolby Atmos soundtrack can be rendered to a 5.1 or 7.1 configured cinema. The same is true for Dolby Atmos Home systems. If the existing surround speakers meet Atmos criteria (full-range reproduction of audio, with bass management) they do not need to be changed.”

HEARING AURO 3D FOR MYSELF... I heard a series of demonstrations of the cinema system in Galaxy’s main theatre, and of a home system in a livingroom environment. The consumer home system demo used a conventional 5.1 system based on Genelec speakers, with four extra speakers high on the walls to make a cube layout. In the cinema, the surround, height and bass speakers are illuminated when in use, to help demonstrate the effect of adding layers of full bandwidth height to horizontal surround. Recordings made in Amsterdam city centre and country woodland subtly blended the sound of birds in the trees and bells in a church tower with people and vehicles on the ground. A church organ and an orchestral concert sounded musically spacious. Footage from an airport with planes overhead, and a show-reel of Hollywood clips, proved that Auro with voice of God ceiling speakers can provide the allenveloping and very loud audio that some sectors of the industry now think cinema-goers want. Whether cinema-goers really do want their ears assaulted — not just from around but from above too — is a moot point. Watching the new Mad Max at my local London Odeon left me with a headache — and it wasn’t immersive with voice of God (thank God).

September 2015 | CINemA teCHNOLOGY


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cinema on the march As film-viewing changes radically, cinema is reaching new highs. David Hancock examines how digitisation is altering the industry’s market position


inema is changing around us, not just due to the digital transition, but also to the emergence of new countries as important players in the sector. In 2012, North America was still the main box office generating region in the world (just). Asia now holds that position, with 35.4% of global box office, predicted to be 42.8% by 2019. North America will account for only 24.1% of box office at that point, down from 39.5% in 2004. The heart of this growth is China, though not exclusively. The mature

cinema markets began refreshing their screen bases with the introduction of multiplexes in the 1980s and 1990s, but this was not a universal change and regions such as Eastern Europe, Middle East, Latin America and parts of Asia have embraced this modernisation far more recently, injecting new momentum into the cinema world and altering the dynamics of the global market structure. In the past decade, UAE and Malaysia have grown by five times in box office terms, Russia has quadrupled, Indonesia, Turkey, Argentina and Brazil have tripled, South Korea and Singapore have

doubled, Mexico has almost doubled — and so it goes on. Some have real potential to be major cinema markets, especially Indonesia, the eighth most populous country in the world, but nowhere close to this in global rankings for metrics such as admissions, box office, and screens. The driving force behind global growth and the reason why the growth curve spikes upwards from 2015, however, is the phenomenal growth in the Chinese theatrical sector. From a highly regulated, old-fashioned market a decade and a half ago, it has become a semi-liberalised screen machine, with SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



PREMIUM MOVES According to IHS Technology research, there were just over 1,600 PLF screens in the world at end 2014, spread amongst IMAX and 81 exhibitor-branded screens. This includes new technologies such as Dolby Cinema and Barco Escape. In their infancy, both aim to transform the visual aspect of cinema. The aural part of the overall cinema equation is not being neglected, with immersive audio a very live issue amongst exhibitors. There are now three options: Dolby Atmos, Barco Auro and, more recently, DTS:X, all offering cinema sound systems with differing price levels and elements. It is fair to say that Dolby Atmos is the most successful of the three to date (DTS:X is very new), with 1,000 screens installed or committed worldwide (and nearly 300 titles mixed in Atmos), whereas Barco Auro is closer to 550 screens but still moving forward.

new screens opening at a rate of around 13 a day, backed by targeted government incentives and private investment. Asian countries traditionally have relatively low screens-per-head ratios, the highest being South Korea (44.8 screens per mn head) whilst Japan is down at 26. China sits at 13.3, while the US is at the other end of the spectrum at 124.3 (Iceland is highest at 144.3). If China had the same screen density as Japan, it would have 41,000 screens, the same as South Korea would be 58,000 screens — the same as the US would result in China having 161,000 screens. Currently, there are slightly more than 140,000 cinema screens in the world. China is on track to exceed US box office by 2019, which will mark the completion of this shift in the centre of gravity of the global film business.

“all you can eat” content

While global box office has been growing steadily and cinema is refreshing its offer and market position, other film viewing formats are undergoing profound changes. The home entertainment sector has suffered a significant decline in its fortunes. Built on transactions of physical units since its inception in the 1970s — the shift to digital distribution has had an effect on the business models being used to consume feature film, and the revenues available to the content owners. In common with the music industry, which struggled with the shift to digital, the changes in business model also come at a price of lower value for content owners, and more for your money for consumers. The high-value transactional model is being replaced with a lower ‘all you can CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

eat’ model, with low entry prices for a wide range of content. This is a model with Netflix at its vanguard, though it is far from alone — it is proving successful. Cinema sits at the head of the transactional value chain — as such, its position as value creator is all the more entrenched. Within three years in Europe, cinema will provide two-thirds of the transactional value of film consumption, even if pay TV still provides a major chunk of the overall revenues back to rights holders. This point about the value chain, and cinema remaining the value creator of the film business, frames the debate about release windows. The idea of day-anddate or flexible releasing is commonly mooted, but there is little evidence to show if it works. Films chosen for such experiments are often small — if they do show positive results, it could be argued the publicity coming from the novelty of a new release strategy boosts the film artificially. If every film is released like that, the advantage disappears. Between 2008 and 2014, the top 100 films in the North American market accounted for an average 90.2% of the overall box office revenues generated. This means that the further 598 titles are fighting for just 9.8% of the box office. In terms of revenues per titles, this means that the average revenues earned by the Top 100 films is $95.8m, whereas the films between 101 and 698 in box office terms earned an average $1.4m at the box office. What seems to be happening is that a duality is forming in the theatrical sector, based around protecting the window for the leading films as much as

Global Cinema Box Office Takings by Region, in $Mn possible, and managing any flexibility in the length of the window (viz the recent Paramount/AMC-Cineplex deal) and at the same time offering less resistance for flexibility on the films outside the top 100 given the low box office grosses they are displaying.

The digital beach-head

Now that full digitisation of cinemas is very close, digital projection is running smoothly and the VPF model is very often paying back the costs more quickly than expected, the digital backbone of cinemas is being seen as a beach-head for further technologies, aimed at either enhancing the cinema experience or streamlining exhibitor operations. Exhibitors are looking to drive revenues upwards, especially in mature markets, and especially where investments in expensive new technology need to be justified. This is driving the move





budget for IT and technology themselves. With caveats about cost assumptions, regulatory approval and workable technology, there seems no reason why all projectors should not be laser-illuminated within the next 15 years (assuming that projectors themselves still exist!).




new technology solutions



0 2004







towards Premium Cinema. The starting point for defining Premium is a premium on the ticket price, as was introduced and accepted (broadly) for 3D. This principle is also being applied to new screens, in particular Premium Large Format screens and to 4D. Given the heavy investment into converting to digital that has taken the best part of a decade, adoption of new technology could be seen as surprising and a further unwanted financial burden. These new technologies need a compelling business case behind them, either in generating revenue or saving money. Perhaps the most obvious example is laser-illuminated projection. The high cost of current high-end laser solutions is due to the nascent nature of the technology, as concerns cinemas. This will come down and the technology evolve from today’s first generation. The interest for exhibitors comes in the light










output — upping the brightness for 3D to match that of 2D (14fl for 3D viewing) — but probably more important is the extended lifetime a laser light source has. It could bring total cost of ownership down reducing the need to buy lamps, a key saving for all digital projectors. There are savings in other areas which add up, too. Assuming costs come down, laser illumination seems to offer a credible business case for buying projection equipment in a future where virtual print fees no longer exist and exhibitors need to

The major projector manufacturers are all working on laser illumination, either new machines at the high end, retrofit machines at middle- to upper-screen size levels or smaller machines for smaller screens. Barco has around 30 units in the market, and is making sales in most parts of the world as exhibitors try out the technology in suitable sites, often anchor screens in a large multiplex. Barco is also active through its partnership with IMAX, which is currently targeting its largest screens that were unsuitable for regular digital conversion. Christie is working at the high-end, most notably with a strategic partnership with Dolby to make laser-illuminated projectors for the Dolby Cinema HDR solution. Christie’s parent, Ushio, acquired a 49% stake in laser manufacturer Necsel in 2009, in readiness for this phase of development. Sony is actively developing a solution




it has shared with some larger clients and others (including this writer), but is not, at this moment, making it public. There is a laser machine already making headway in the market: at the lower end, NEC offers two laser phosphor hybrid machines at near-equivalent prices to a xenon projector. Aimed at smaller screens, they are gaining some traction in China for new builds and elsewhere. A further area that is developing is 4D, or motion seating. There were a total of 530 screens operating under the broader 4D cinema umbrella as at Q1 2015, according to IHS research, roughly double the total of 260 4D screens some 18 months earlier. The market can be split broadly between regular 4D motion seating (70%) and enhanced 4DX (30%), the latter including additional special effects and environmental stimuli. Event Cinema is an area that also charges a premium, in the sense that average ticket prices for this type of content are often double or more the average for cinema screenings. Given that it fills screens in off-peak times, it serves a useful function for many exhibitors. Several have stated that their business model would be very difficult without it. The event cinema market was worth nearly $300m in 2014 and is expected to grow now that digitisation enables all exhibitors to show it.

EU10 Box-Office v Physical Home Entertainment & VOD, in $mn Source: IHS EU10: Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK





0 2006






make such development worthwhile, the market has to grow far bigger than this. So, is Premium simply something that justifies a higher ticket price, or is it wider than that: small, intimate, boutique screens, in-dining cinema, high-quality seats and so on: a premium experience, driven by a range of elements but not

All this activity and interest in Premium from technology manufacturers, raises an interesting question about what Premium is. The PLF screen base is just 1.1% of total screens, hardly a big enough market to warrant all the R&D effort. To

indonesia egypt china south africa chile japan singapore south korea mexico finland denmark sweden new zealand u.s.a. iceland

Screens per mn Head of Pop’n











But What, exactly, is premium?









always demanding a superior price. What is clear is the developing segmentation of the exhibition sector, with multiple levels of experience on offer in the same site. Customers will make decisions about the type of experience they want for certain types of films. Cinema is entering a new phase of its existence. The medium has seen several incarnations, from novelty through to entertainment venue, propaganda machine through to its present role as launch pad for the feature film value chain and as a social leisure activity. The next phase of its development is to build on the experiential side, offering physical as well as emotional experiences, gastronomic as well as educational, premium comfort as well as leisure. The trigger for this is the way people lead their lives, focusing on a work/life balance, seeking and willing to pay for experiences above and beyond the norm. As an industry, we can look ahead with confidence that cinemas offer that and remain relevant in an increasingly personalised film-viewing world. David Hancock is the director of film and cinema at the global information company IHS technology, whose data appears here.

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putting the fizz into coca-cola The technologies behind its magnificent displays make the Coca-Cola stand one of the biggest ‘cinema shows’ at CineEurope. Jim Slater explores the components that bring the concessions area to life


very year, CineEurope’s Trade Show floor is dominated by the CocaCola lounge. It takes up the same space as some 16 normal-sized booths. And every year the designers manage to come up with something visually exciting. It makes you go “Wow!” whilst, at the same time, showcasing everything new in cinema concession sales and marketing — and provides a huge area

where show visitors can freely sample drinks and snacks that form such an integral part of cinema exhibition. In recent years, embracing the trend for cinemas to replace traditional posters with electronic displays, the Coca-Cola Lounge has used increasing numbers of huge displays, and NEC, which Cinema Technology readers probably know best for its top-class projectors, has worked closely with the stand’s designers to provide state-of-the art examples of how different types of visual display can be used to enhance the cinema-going experience and to increase concession and ticket sales. In previous years, I had wondered how all this happened, so was delighted this June to be invited by Lou Carulli, Marketing Manager of YCD Multimedia, to take a ‘backstage’ look at the various areas of the stand and to talk




THE STAND The different areas of the Coca-Cola stand and the messages that they are designed to give include:

Entrance archway

Screen column with “dancing” Audience Interaction bottles

Fun Experience Digital signage offers cinema owners a marketing medium — as well as an ad site

about the technologies involved. Lou explained how YCD — and its partners Littlebit Technology, NEC Display Solutions and Intel — work with Coca-Cola to provide a magnificent stand presence that uses solutions tailored to the needs of cinema operators worldwide. They are committed to educating the cinema industry on the proper incorporation of digital signage into the movie-going experience, making the cinema a destination for social gathering and entertainment that can be quite separate from the movie itself. It was fascinating to hear how consortium partners are working on using signage and communications’ technologies to create an ‘immersive experience’ for cinemagoers. This ties in closely with current aims of cinema owners — ‘Premium Large Format’ and

‘Immersive’ were the ‘buzz words’ at CineEurope. The consortium partners each brings their expertise to create a digital signage experience tailored to the cinema industry, but Lou was keen to stress from the beginning that this isn’t simply a matter of providing good-looking and exciting video walls and concession counters, but is also a solid way of achieving measurable revenue gains.

THE TECHNOLOGIES BEHIND THE COKE STAND Sixty five displays, 21 media players and 13 computers, including six that are specially customised, are networked together to provide an enormously flexible display system. As the chart overleaf shows, displays range from 27in to 80in, with many stacked to provide large posters or even video walls. Hundreds of cables, from Cat 6 LAN to USB to HDMI and mini DP, were cleverly concealed so visitors aren’t aware of their presence. Swiss company Littlebit Technology managed the overall


project, with full support from each of the other partners. YCD Multimedia, a leading global provider of advanced digital signage software solutions, provided its fully scalable platform and customised software. This offers unmatched capabilities in driving

Planning the concept

The team began planning the 2015 stand area soon after CineEurope 2014 finished. The creative minds came up with the concept that it should provide a ‘touring experience’ designed to enhance the journey of each guest to the stand, mirroring what should happen in a typical cinema. All the Coca-Cola staff would be encouraged to guide guests to tour each element of the lounge, and

digital signage networks including highimpact video and mosaic walls in a native, pixel-perfect resolution. YCD operates worldwide with offices in the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel, as well as an international network of partners serving clients globally. Computing kit was supplied and installed by Littlebit Technology AG. It produces its own range of computers under the axxiv brand and




THE ORIGINAL LAYOUT COMPUTER-RENDERED YCD and Littlebit representatives would be on hand to explain each digital signage element. The overall idea was to demonstrate how a 360° approach to digital signage creates a unique guest experience, the lounge being set up to mimic the entire movie-going experience, whilst giving the cinema owner the message that well-planned and thought-out digital signage will increase revenues in all areas.

develops customised solutions for many applications, using Intel-based technologies. In fact, Intel played a major part in the project, with all the player PCs powered by Intel chips. The vast majority of the displays on the Coke stand were NEC monitors of various dimensions. NEC Display Solutions Europe partners many cinema operators, making it clear customers are not just ‘buying a product’, but achieving complete solutions. NEC’s displays are far more than upgraded domestic TVs, being hardy and robust, with inherent quality and reliability. Its team of specialists can tailor a solution precisely to users’ requirements, all backed by a solid warranty and support service.

interactive Film Posters

Two 60-inch screens at the outside front corners display interactive film posters — motion sensors change the display from a poster to a video sequence as a customer passes. These provide excellent examples of how such screens could be used inside and outside cinemas, tailored to the audiences and the time of day. The posters can also be used to generate ad revenue, allowing cinema owners to sell ad space in between film posters. A ‘ribbon’ of 16 screens hanging over the central part of the stand formed a key feature, showing film trailers to encourage people to attend future showings. Practically, this huge ribbon needed to be installed first, before anything else in the booth apart from the floor. The ticketing and concessions areas featured electronic screens as menu boards displaying a combination of menu and sensory up-selling content, and cashier/customer-facing screens for point-of-sale. Sensory screens showing popcorn and Coke content were designed to generate an appetite and sales. The box office menu board displays are intended to increase sales through “teaser” content and “pre-sales” of tickets for upcoming shows, as well as crossselling through ticket & combo deals.

Large video walls create a unique experience through ambiance and sensory content, providing a ‘wow’ effect that increases brand awareness.

all this… and a Luxury bar area

A custom-made cocktail in the adultoriented bar area went down well. This part of the stand created a luxury experience with an aura of calm. It was very different to anything I have come across in a cinema before. In a different vein, the teen area was clearly popular, with screens allowing direct interaction with the audience via mobile phones and through social media including Facebook — as Cinema Technology has Application of mobile technology allows cinemagoers to engage more directly




reported previously, this sort of social media engagement could well assist the drive to boost the attendance of young people at cinemas. Playing mobile games in this area enables customers to win ‘discount vouchers’ which can be downloaded on a smartphone — on the Coca-Cola stand this was a genuinely entertaining experience, including the

Area Entrance Screens Box Office Signboards

Experience Wall videowalls

Cash register screens

Display/Player, size & number



Display (P), 46”, 6x


MultiSync X464UN-2

Player, 2x


PC i7 4770 3.4GHz, HD4600/2x8GB/SSD120GB

Webcam, 2x


C920 HD Pro Webcam

Display (L), 32”, 3x


MultiSync V323 (V2)

Player, 1x


NUC i5-3427U 1.80GHz, HD4000 / 2x4GB / SSD64GB

Display (L), 55”, 9x


MultiSync X554UN

Player, 1x


PC with 9 x DVI / i7-4820K 3.7GHz / 3xV4900 / 16GB

Display (L), 46”, 4x


MultiSync X464UN-2

Player, 1x


PC with 4 x Output / i7-4820K 3.7GHz / 2xV4900 / 16GB

Display (L), 14”, 3x

Mobile VideoWall (not NEC)

Player, 2x


NUC i5-3427U 1.80GHz, HD 4000 / 2x4GB / SSD64GB

Display (P), 32”, 3x


MultiSync V323 (V2)

Player, 2x


NUC i5-3427U 1.80GHz, HD 4000 / 2x4GB / SSD64GB

Food Court Cashiers

Display (P), 46”, 2x


MultiSync V463

Player, 2x


NUC i5-3427U 1.80GHz, HD 4000 / 2x4GB / SSD64GB

Film/Promo/ Wayfinding signage

Display (L), 46”, 16x


MultiSync V463

Player, 2x


PC with 9 x DVI / i7-4820K 3.7GHz / 2xV7900 / 16GB

Display (L), 46”, 7x


MultiSync V463

Player, 1x


PC i7 / i7-4820K 3.7GHz / 2x W600 / 4 x 4GB

Film Promo - movie posters

Display (P), 65”, 2x


MultiSync V652

Player, 2x


NUC i5-3427U 1.80GHz, HD 4000 / 2x4GB / SSD64GB

Film Promo - music video screens

Display (L), 46”, 2x


MultiSync X464UN-2

Player, 1x


NUC i5-3427U 1.80GHz, HD 4000 / 2x4GB / SSD64GB

Themed Bar Area Film posters

Display (L), 80”, 1x


MultiSync V801

Player, 1x


NUC i5-3427U 1.80GHz, HD 4000 / 2x4GB / SSD64GB

Display (P), 65”, 1x


MultiSync V652

Display (P), 55”, 1x


MultiSync V552

Display (P), 46”, 1x


MultiSync V463

Display (P), 42”, 1x


MultiSync V423

Display (P), 40”, 1x


MultiSync X401S

Display (P), 32”, 1x


MultiSync V323 (V2)

Display (L), 27”, 1x

NEC-60003489 NEC-60003489

MultiSync PA272W black-black MultiSync PA272W black-black

AXV-AV-AX7910-P6V1 AXV-AV-AX7910-P6V1

PC with 4x Output / i7-4820K PC with 4x Output / i7-4820K 3.7GHz/2xV4900/16GB 3.7GHz/2xV4900/16GB

Popcorn displays

Menu Board

Basement Area screen collage

Player, 1x Player, 1x


opportunity to dance along with a Coke “Just Dance Now” video loop. Equally, the photo booth was a great idea, introducing the concept of taking ‘selfies’ in the cinema, making these available to others via a dedicated website. Such interaction encourages people to join loyalty schemes and allows for collection of customer data for future notifications and promotions. It was good to look behind the scenes of the Coca-Cola lounge, to learn of the planning and technology that goes into providing something that, rightly, the public only sees as a swish modern café offering Coca-Cola and a range of cinema snacks. I learned how much engineering work goes into concealing everything technical except the displays and saw how the consortium works together to ensure cinemas use efficient processes to cope with large numbers of visitors. Cinemas need to provide first class entertainment and a lively atmosphere, and it is apparent that it is essential a visit to the cinema becomes an eventful programme that fills a whole evening. The consortium operates a website www.cinesuccess. com, which is well worth investigating, but, as an engineer primarily interested in the technology, I couldn’t help learning a key lesson from Lou and his colleagues. They told me that investing in sophisticated display solutions for cinemas results in increased ticket sales — and, because visitors remain in the cinema complex for longer, there are increased advertising revenues and increased sales of beverages and food. They have the figures to prove it. Linger, longer: keeping the audience within the cinema for longer increases revenues

Simple.Compact. Extraordinary. Teaming superb 4K picture quality with affordable running costs, the new SRX-R510P brings a true Sony 4K digital cinematic experience to cost-conscious smaller theatres. Give your customers the ultimate entertainment experience. Finance options available.


Creating Extraordinary





A fine forum

Thomas Rüttgers reports on ICTA’s successful 20th CineEurope seminar


attended ICTA’s 20th European Seminar in Barcelona, on the weekend prior to CineEurope, showing that the industry still regards these seminars as one of the most relevant sources of information on technology issues in a cinema environment. More than 150 attendees joined the seminar, which I hosted, for a number of sessions. These brought together key players from all business areas, including distribution, exhibition, integrators and technology vendors. Joe DeMeo, president of ICTA, welcomed delegates and the Saturday session was opened by Jan Runge of UNIC, who gave a general update on the latest developments of the European cinema industry. Rich Philips, CTO at Arts Alliance Media, gave delegates an update on the new SMPTE DCP format and how it differs from “Interop DCPs” widely in use today. He stressed the importance of standards in avoiding interoperability issues, and addressed benefits of this emerging DCP standard format such as support for 3D subtitles. Thierry van der Kaa, MD at CineXpert, explained why IT infrastructure is crucial for an all-digital cinema and what exhibitors must pay attention to when it comes to choosing the right hardware and software for daily operations. This lead into the session “Immersive Audio’s Learning Curve” which included panelists Andrew Poullain (Dolby), Gerriet Doorn (JT Joghems Group), Matthew Jones (Ymagis Group/dcinex), Chris Connett (Christie) and Olaf Stepputat (Barco). Together, they explored the development of immersive audio from different perspectives and highlighted some of the problems early adopters of these technologies had to face. With a superb view over the Barcelona skyline, in the evening guests

thomas rüttgers international vice-president

attended a reception at Mirabé restaurant. There was much networking with industry peers and the chance to talk about the topics of day in a relaxing atmosphere. Two awards were presented: the first to the CINEMApink group, from Turkey, for its creative interior design and the second to the renowned Imperial Cinema, Copenhagen, operated by Nordisk Film Cinemas. Both cinemas offer their patrons a unique atmosphere and, as it would be unfair to compare a newly built cinema with an historical site, ICTA decided to award both cinemas.

Time to relax

Sunday’s session was opened by ICTA regular John F. Allen, founder and president of High Performance Stereo. In his presentation “A Candid Discussion of Immersive Sound”, he highlighted that no fancy immersive audio system is required to give the audience the impression of being “immersed” in a movie if the audio system itself is good enough. In this context, he stressed the function of an array of surround speakers as a uniform sound field that surrounds the audience. A well-known face at ICTA seminars, Oliver Pasch, head of European digital sales at Sony, moderated the first panel of the day, with John B. Hughes (Arri Media), Rolv Gjestland (Film & Kino), Rich Phillips (Arts Alliance Media) and Tomas Naranjo (Suministros Kelonik). Oliver brought the game of Jeopardy to the cinema stage for the session “Daily Cinema Operation in the Digital Age”, when panellists discussed new technical developments. Bill Beck, Barco’s “Laser Guy”, spoke on “LIPA: Laser Update, Regulatory Reform for LIP Systems”, focusing on the requirements to install and operate LIP systems and explained concepts of laser projection and experience with existing installations. “The Future of the Cinema Experience”, moderated by Jim Slater, editor of Cinema Technology, saw a panel including Niels



The team from CINEMApink, from Turkey, who jointly received ICTA’s cinema awardd

Leibbrandt (Philips Lightvibes). Richard Mitchell (Harkness), Michel Paquette (D-Box) and Chris Ward (Lightspeed) discuss emerging technologies, such as virtual reality, motion seats and lighting that some argue could transform cinema. “Event Cinema — The New Revenue Generation” was moderated by Melissa Cogavin, managing director of the Event Cinema Association, together with Isabelle Fauchet (Live Digital Cinema), Graham Spurling (Movies@), Peter Wilson (HDDC), Fabrice Testa (DSAT Cinema) and Oleg Berezin (Nevafilm). Together, they revealed the status quo and the technical and commercial challenges that come with it, closely examining different European markets. The final seminar of ICTA’s weekend discussed DCP delivery to the cinema. Moderator Olivier Hillaire (Manice) and Thierry Delpit (Cinego), Cathy Huis in’t Veld (Gofilex), Manel Nunez (UCI-Cinesa) and Christophe Lacroix (Ymagis) gave an update on the current situation in Europe and discussed the pros and cons of the different distribution methods.

ICTA will host its next technical sessions at ShowEast in October. www.internationalcinema SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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An eventful year Melissa Cogavin, of the Event Cinema Association, on the busy


finish 2015 in much the same frenetic way it began — we have a multitude of activities going on which we can’t wait to share with CT readers. We had such a successful first half of the year, beginning as it did with the launch of our Technical Delivery Handbook, which was received very positively by the 70 attendees made up of our members, the media and the wider industry. We are already looking at a revised edition for 2016 to include 4K and laser projection. We are also looking into hosting the handbook online so that more immediate access can be granted. In April, the ECA hosted a one-day outdoor event at a cabana by the pool at CinemaCon in Las Vegas; supported by our representative to the Americas, Jonathan Ross, we met with a lot of our US and overseas members and made some great new friends too. Our drinks reception at the Philips LightVibes booth was also well attended and the showreel we produced gave members some valuable exposure. At CineEurope this year we did things a little differently — we are determined to keep things fresh for our members and were delighted to host the trade show floor focus session ‘Event Cinema: Taking Stock and Looking Forward’ which was totally oversubscribed, and I’m looking ahead to next year when we can move up to a larger room. I think we’ll need it. Later that week we had our ECA Screen International Drinks Reception which took place in the afternoon sunshine on the roof of the AC Hotel in Barcelona overlooking the ocean. We had lots of our ECA members and their guests attend and our sponsors have been so supportive in making this happen.

Melissa Cogavin managing director

Back home and barely a week later our research partners IHS and Rentrak released the 2nd edition of the fascinating report that was initiated by the ECA in 2013. This one, entitled ‘Event Cinema: A Sector in Full Swing’ has gathered Rentrak box office data from 8 territories including Australia, New Zealand and Brazil for the first time and is available for free download in the Members Area of the ECA website. Nowhere else is there more current data available for the Event Cinema market and we’re delighted to give full credit and thanks to IHS and Rentrak for their hard work.

Shaping the industry

Over the summer, nominees came forward for board member election and this month the results of those elections will be announced. Their two-year tenure will influence and shape both the industry and the ECA itself. I look forward to seeing the direction we’ll take as a result. On 19 October, we are hosting the third annual ECA Conference, at Picturehouse Central in London’s West End. Featuring a morning and afternoon panel session and, due to popular demand, the same format as last year, with six break-out sessions taking place during the day, tackling subjects as diverse as emerging markets, gaming and outdoor cinema. Due to the increase in our membership (well over 100 member companies now), we’re expecting around 300 delegates from 25 territories. It’s the only conference in the world dedicated to the Event Cinema market, so don’t miss out. Places are limited. On the same day, our ECA Awards will also take place, recognising the excellence and effort achieved by members and non-members alike — all in the name of raising the profile of the industry and maintaining high standards. In November, our partners HDDC will be hosting training sessions reflecting the


months ahead


All work: the ECA hosted an unsurprisingly popular drinks reception at CineEurope

teachings in our Technical Delivery Handbook. Initially in London and rolling out to other UK cities, this is the first initiative of its kind, addressing the skills shortage in this growth area and in another way, also raising the profile and maintaining high standards. We have a breather around Christmas and then, in January 2016, our ECA Marketing Handbook will be launching. As part of the series of Best Practice publications, this handbook will address unique marketing techniques applicable to a good Event Cinema release in cinemas, to help demystify and grow this market. So, a productive and exciting year so far, with more to come. We’re grateful to our members plus some very supportive sponsors and media partners in making the ECA the success it is. It’s a collaborative effort: the more we do together, the better Event Cinema will be for all of us.

to find out more about the event cinema association vist www.eventcinema SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



Network now!

The UK Cinema Association’s events help industry members forge stronger ties


the launch and development of an ambitious new cinema ticket promotion and another successful CineEurope, it has been a busy year thus far for the UK Cinema Association. Our rebrand from the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association to the UK Cinema Association has been wellreceived, the only real concern being the need to reassure members and colleagues alike that it’s ‘business as usual’. The Meerkat Movies promotion, currently being run in conjunction with, should demonstrate that it is. Supported by an unprecedented blitz of marketing, including a memorable ad with Arnold Schwarzenegger, it goes from strength to strength, already attracting attention from colleagues in several European territories keen to understand its impact on box office and admissions. With further exciting news planned for coming weeks, it is an area of significant engagement for our organisation.

Keeping up momentum

Maintaining that momentum, in keeping with these buoyant times, the association has several events lined up for coming months, including its regular programme of regional branch meetings. These are open to members as well as colleagues from the wider industry and offer a good opportunity for smaller operator members to strengthen networks and remain abreast of developments in the sector. They are a chance to meet to discuss issues with those providing big screen experiences throughout the UK. Following a morning ‘members only’ session, these days typically


grAinne peat Policy executive

include a networking lunch followed by an open session in which those attending hear a general update on association activities and one or two presentations on matters of general interest from specially invited colleagues. Recent examples of the latter include subjects as diverse as film theft and issues surrounding disability and access in cinemas. The dates for autumn association branch meetings are as follows: Uttoxeter Race Day, 9 September; Devon, Cornwall and West of England, Plaza Dorchester, 15 October; Scotland, Pavilion Galashiels, 28 October; Midlands and North, Savoy Worksop/Nottingham (tbc), 26 November; London, venue (tbc), 7 October. To attend or find out more, please contact Annette Bradford on

Engage, Reward, Grow

Following last year’s event at the O2, the association sought views on key topics for a follow-up event in 2015 — the subject of marketing, and how to grow cinema audiences and revenue, was the most popular suggestion. The 2015 event will take place at Picturehouse Central, London, on 17 November 2015 and will be open both to association members and to wider industry colleagues alike. Those attending will participate in sessions looking at what more operators can do to market the big screen experience, how they can maximise revenue from their audience, and what lessons there are to be learnt not just from within the industry but also from other relevant sectors. Again, learning from last year’s event, there will be an emphasis during the day on practical examples and on interaction with the audience. With presentations from The CocaCola Company and comparethemarket. com already confirmed, it should be an

interesting and inspiring day. Tickets are now on sale at £50 plus VAT for members and £100 plus VAT for others. These can be purchased through the association website, uk, or from Eventbrite, www.eventbrite. For more details or to discuss sponsorship opportunities, please email Finally, the association has announced the date and venue for its Christmas Party, increasingly the ‘must attend party’ of the seasonal industry calendar. This will be held on the evening of 10 December at No 8 Northumberland, Northumberland Avenue in Central London. Again, this is open to members and non-members alike.





The IBC update

John Graham on the upcoming EDCF industry update


of the IBC conference in Amsterdam, the EDCF Global Update session brings the industry up to speed with the latest business, technology and quality developments in cinema around the world. This year’s update will be on Sunday 13 September at 15:45 in the Amsterdam RAI conference centre. Leading practitioners will share their experience and learnings, looking at up-to-the-minute issues, with many salient questions answered in a crowded and fast-moving session. We aim to keep each presentation short and focused. Among the topics to be discussed this year are: workflow in Lightfield Production; the latest news on ACES deployment; automated key-delivery; screen brightness measurement; loudness in cinema — the issues and legislation; the challenges of formats such as 120fps 4K 3D, HDR and 8K 60fps 3D; and a review of progress in the transition to SMPTE DCPs in Europe. Entry to this session and all Big Screen Sessions is free, but you will need to register for the exhibition. David Hancock, from IHS, will lead off the presentations with a digital technology update, a look at premium cinema issues and he will also offer some thoughts on the position of cinema in the value chain (see pages 2528). LIPA’s chairman, Jan Daem will give an update on European legislation surrounding laser illumination. While 2D HFR 3D might not have taken off, as filmmakers and consumers move to 4K, 8K, 120fps Wide Colour Gamut and High Dynamic Range, Rich Welsh, from Sundog, will examine the practical challenges of this proliferation of formats and look at the impact these have on cinema continuing to deliver

at IBC, in Amsterdam

the highest quality up on the big screen. Since Julian Pinn’s Loudness Update at EDCF IBC 2013, the Global Cinema Advertising Association (SAWA) has now concluded its work on the subject. Results of SAWA’s survey and its updated recommendations will be presented, as will any new work emanating from the recent international standards meetings of ISO/TC36 — Cinematography. The loss of film (and the control film’s proprietary audio vendors had that they no longer have with D-Cinema) has created a big problem of conformity for cinemas that now receive content from a wide variety of disparate sources. The issue of accessible measurement and QC conforming will also be addressed.

ACES 1.0: a global standard

The Academy Color Encoding System, finalised in December 2014, is integrated into products from over 20 manufacturers and is being used in motion picture and television productions worldwide. The Academy’s Andy Maltz will describe ACES 1.0, the first production-ready release of the system and how it is being used today to enable reliable digital image interchange, consistent color management and long-term archiving.

SMPTE DCPs, at long last

The long-awaited, long-debated transition to SMPTE DCPs is now becoming an operational reality. Chairman of the EDCF/UNIC project group, Dave Monk, will explain the importance of this move and how it is being managed in Europe. Cinecert’s John Hurst will summarise progress on automated key delivery and other topics on the ISDCF agenda. The workflow in Lightfield Production will be outlined by Fraunofer’s Siegfried Foessel and François Helt from Highland Technologies will offer his thoughts on screen brightness measurement issues.



CT_SEP15_042.indd 42

john graham EDCf general secretary

The Big Screen Experience

The IBC Big Screen Experience 2015 will delve deeply into the topics that are shaping the future of the cinema business. It will investigate High Dynamic Range, its technology, the practical considerations for the cinema sector, the standards work required, and the ramifications of delivering HDR images to both HDRcapable and non-HDR-capable systems. Alongside these, it will look at developments in Immersive Imaging, including some of the recent activities in premium cinema-going experiences that aim to heighten the viewers’ experiences, as well as the emerging and fastdeveloping role that Virtual Reality has to play. Questions will be asked about whether open standards initiatives in Immersive Audio have opened up the market to healthy competition or opened up a dangerous Pandora’s Box instead. Lastly, the Big Screen will interrogate the Business of Cinema. With live events, games and TV shows now on the big screen, with release windows under continued attack and new on- and offscreen business models emerging, what exactly is the definition of cinema in the digital age and in what direction should it head to ensure success?

the EDCF Provides common understanding across all European territories of business and technical matters in digital cinema. for details, visit

17/08/2015 22:50



The IBC update

John Graham on the upcoming EDCF industry update


of the IBC conference in Amsterdam, the EDCF Global Update session brings the industry up to speed with the latest business, technology and quality developments in cinema around the world. This year’s update will be on Sunday 13 September at 15:45 in the Amsterdam RAI conference centre. Leading practitioners will share their experience and learnings, looking at up-to-the-minute issues, with many salient questions answered in a crowded and fast-moving session. We aim to keep each presentation short and focused. Among the topics to be discussed this year are: workflow in Lightfield Production; the latest news on ACES deployment; automated key-delivery; screen brightness measurement; loudness in cinema — the issues and legislation; the challenges of formats such as 120fps 4K 3D, HDR and 8K 60fps 3D; and a review of progress in the transition to SMPTE DCPs in Europe. Entry to this session and all Big Screen Sessions is free, but you will need to register for the exhibition. David Hancock, from IHS, will lead off the presentations with a digital technology update, a look at premium cinema issues and he will also offer some thoughts on the position of cinema in the value chain (see pages 2528). LIPA’s chairman, Jan Daem will give an update on European legislation surrounding laser illumination. While 2D HFR 3D might not have taken off, as filmmakers and consumers move to 4K, 8K, 120fps Wide Colour Gamut and High Dynamic Range, Rich Welsh, from Sundog, will examine the practical challenges of this proliferation of formats and look at the impact these have on cinema continuing to deliver

at IBC, in Amsterdam

the highest quality up on the big screen. Since Julian Pinn’s Loudness Update at EDCF IBC 2013, the Global Cinema Advertising Association (SAWA) has now concluded its work on the subject. Results of SAWA’s survey and its updated recommendations will be presented, as will any new work emanating from the recent international standards meetings of ISO/TC36 — Cinematography. The loss of film (and the control film’s proprietary audio vendors had that they no longer have with D-Cinema) has created a big problem of conformity for cinemas that now receive content from a wide variety of disparate sources. The issue of accessible measurement and QC conforming will also be addressed.

ACES 1.0: a global standard

The Academy Color Encoding System, finalised in December 2014, is integrated into products from over 20 manufacturers and is being used in motion picture and television productions worldwide. The Academy’s Andy Maltz will describe ACES 1.0, the first production-ready release of the system and how it is being used today to enable reliable digital image interchange, consistent color management and long-term archiving.

SMPTE DCPs, at long last

The long-awaited, long-debated transition to SMPTE DCPs is now becoming an operational reality. Chairman of the EDCF/UNIC project group, Dave Monk, will explain the importance of this move and how it is being managed in Europe. Cinecert’s John Hurst will summarise progress on automated key delivery and other topics on the ISDCF agenda. The workflow in Lightfield Production will be outlined by Fraunofer’s Siegfried Foessel and François Helt from Highland Technologies will offer his thoughts on screen brightness measurement issues.



john graham EDCf general secretary

The Big Screen Experience

The IBC Big Screen Experience 2015 will delve deeply into the topics that are shaping the future of the cinema business. It will investigate High Dynamic Range, its technology, the practical considerations for the cinema sector, the standards work required, and the ramifications of delivering HDR images to both HDRcapable and non-HDR-capable systems. Alongside these, it will look at developments in Immersive Imaging, including some of the recent activities in premium cinema-going experiences that aim to heighten the viewers’ experiences, as well as the emerging and fastdeveloping role that Virtual Reality has to play. Questions will be asked about whether open standards initiatives in Immersive Audio have opened up the market to healthy competition or opened up a dangerous Pandora’s Box instead. Lastly, the Big Screen will interrogate the Business of Cinema. With live events, games and TV shows now on the big screen, with release windows under continued attack and new on- and offscreen business models emerging, what exactly is the definition of cinema in the digital age and in what direction should it head to ensure success?

the EDCF Provides common understanding across all European territories of business and technical matters in digital cinema. for details, visit


EVENT SPECIAL Cinema professionals from around the globe gathered recently in Barcelona for CineEurope. Jim Slater’s review kicks off a 10-page special report


n Barcelona for the fourth year running, CineEurope 2015 was the best yet. The conference and exhibition have settled into a regular pattern — delegates know where they are going, what they are doing and what to expect. This year, great care was taken to ensure the fourth and last day, Thursday 25 June, was packed with technical sessions on the Trade Show floor, so people were encouraged to stay through the day, to see screenings and to take part in the exciting awards ceremony and dinner reception that makes a fitting close to the show. The ever-efficient organiser, Bob Sunshine, explained that some 1,350 delegates and 3,500 visitors attended. Put that with nearly 120 trade show stands and you have the makings of a very special event. Following the recently announced long-term partnership between UNIC and PGM (Prometheus Global Media Film Expo Group), who also organise CineAsia and ShowEast, it was good to learn the event will return to Barcelona until at least 2017. As one who has attended shows globally, I know sometimes they can be simply too big to cope with, but somehow CineEurope seems just right. Big enough to attract manufacturers large and small to show their latest technical developments, it is still small enough to enable people


GETTING INTERACTIVE Estmated visitors to CineEurope 2015

1350 Delegates present

Engaging the Audience — Interactive Pre-Show Entertainment was the title of the session moderated on the opening day by Mark de Quervain, MD of Action Marketing Works. Adam Cassels of Audience Entertainment introduced us to their entirely wi-fi based ‘Interactive Dimension’ system, which combines microphone and camera technology in the auditorium, linked to a server near the projection equipment, turning any big screen into an interactive super-theatre. Adam suggested that there is a natural


to get ‘hands-on’ with the kit and discuss its technical intricacies with the experts. CineEurope’s reputation is big enough to bring in the kind of audience that make it worthwhile for 11 different studios, all the big names and several smaller ones, to show off their slate of forthcoming movies for the year ahead proudly, successfully enthusing exhibitors to book their products. I’m not keen on the word ‘networking’, but CineEurope does offer a great chance to meet everybody in the business, not just European and overseas colleagues, but many friends we don’t always manage to see as regularly as we would like at home. The CineEurope conference and exhibition in Barcelona engender a unique ‘family’ feeling among those attending, something I haven’t noticed about any other exhibition — everybody seems to know everybody else, and competitors in all areas of the business come together as friends. Cinema Technology magazine, working as a Media Partner with CineEurope, was the only magazine with its own stand on the tradeshow floor, and this year, as well as the usual posters and magazines, a large screen monitor displayed information about the magazine, matching our bold claim to be the leading magazine for cinema industry professionals. As usual, our advertising manager Bob Cavanagh accompanied me and, between us, we

evolution — 2D, 3D and iD. Although the system, as with others to be discussed, was initially focused on pre-show, already companies are looking at extending the concept to work with certain movies. Joe Evea, CCO of Cinime, which provides a platform for short and independent filmmakers to showcase their work, explained how things on screen can communicate directly with the smartphones of those in the audience and showed how scanning a film poster with a mobile phone can lead directly from that advertisement to a seat booking. He explained how their software development kit makes it easy to create



FEATURED IN THIS SECTION Pages 53-55: The trade’s show

The trade show forms a key element of the CineEurope experience: we present the latest offerings to be seen in the hall.

Pages 56-57: Event cinema

Growing globally, event cinema is on the up. Alastair Balmain reports on a packed CineEurope seminar, Event Cinema: Taking Stock, Looking Forward that explored the sector’s development and its value to the modern cinema audience.

Snoopy and friends were a big part of the show (this page); the main auditorium saw much of the action (facing page, top); key figues discuss ways to engage youth audiences (facing page, bottom)

managed to keep the stand ‘manned’ for much of the time, but more importantly, we were able to talk to many of our advertisers and our readers. We are always interested to know what you think of the magazine! Peter Knight was also with us, and he has contributed to the articles in this issue. The reports that follow cover various areas of our business, but with so many events taking place simultaneously, both at the CCIB conference centre and at local cinemas, inevitably we couldn’t report

on everything — ICTA’s 20th anniversary seminar, which took place the weekend before CineEurope’s opening, for example, is covered elsewhere in the magazine by Thomas Rüttgers (see page 37).

the seminars and the discussions


CineEurope includes a well-balanced combination of business and technical seminars and discussions. The first business session of the week took place in a spacious conference room with several

a link from a film to a mobile phone, saying it is vital for cinemas to educate audiences to know that ‘you can use your mobile phone in our cinema.’ Jon Hussman, president and CEO of Timeplay, used the term ‘hyper-engagement’ to describe what happens when cinemagoers find that the Timeplay system allows them to turn their phones into precise game-controllers. He explained how this form of gaming-led advertising rapidly becomes seen by the audience as part of the entertainment, and that they actually want to take part. Concerns over data collection need to be considered, but with customers


Pages 44-50: Show highlights

Jim Slater reports on the highlights of this year’s CineEurope and presents the key industry topics that were on the agenda at the CCIB centre in Barcelona. Youth participation, social media engagement, technological developments and the opportunity to have fun all played their part in a show that drew attendees from around the globe.

choosing to ‘pull’ this form of advertising rather than having it ‘pushed’ at them this might not be too much of a problem. Jon felt that the biggest barrier at present was cinema owners reluctant to accept that such interactive services are here and available. In the Q&A session afterwards, MusicScreen’s David Pope, which enables high-quality live events via satellite, said that one practical problem they would have with adopting pre-show ads of the type being described is that they are effectively precluded from using them with satellite showings because cinemas are naturally reluctant to touch pre-checked satellite equipment.

Languages avaliable on headphones at the first truly multilingual CineEurope — French, German and Spanish

2017 Barcelona will host the event until at least 2017





The average attention span of the average young cinemagoer according to Yahoo! strategist Phil Taylor

A place to meet friends old and new alike: CineEurope has a true family atmosphere

hundred people present. For the first time at CineEurope, multi-lingual translation was available with French, German and Spanish on the headphones. Only a few seemed to be using these at the early sessions,

but multilingual displays at later events in the auditorium were a great success, allowing speakers to use their native languages while the audience easily read simultaneous translations on screen. UNIC’s CEO, Jan Runge, chaired the first session and welcomed the delegates who were keen to hear discussions on the alliterative opening theme: Connected,


Youth was the focus of one key seminar session entitled ‘Engaging the Youth Audience.’ This audience has traditionally been the cornerstone of the cinema industry and represents an increasing challenge for many European cinema territories. The session looked at changing tastes and what more the sector can do to ensure that cinemagoing remains a key leisure choice among younger audiences. Paul Dergarabedian, from Rentrak, moderated the session, providing a stimulating introduction. Jonny Wooldridge of C Space introduced the idea of ‘sharing’ and told of yet another important demographic, a new generation of hyper-connected consumers: Generation Z, those born after 1995. Children and teenagers, nearly 2 billion of them, they have billions to spend, with growing purchasing power, making up 26 percent of the US population. They could be considered an extreme version of ‘millennials’ (for whom technology is a key part of life), but far more serious, careful consumers than millennials. They want to know that what they’re doing, however small, makes a difference. For brands that understand this, there’s opportunity to connect on a deeper level by showing teens they care about the same issues. Jonny gave an example of a teenage girl who noticed she couldn’t change the male avatar in a computer game to represent herself, so persuaded the company to provide the equality she sought. “This generation is always on but in the cinema the rule is ‘always off’” was a quote that summed up cinema’s current marketing situation perfectly. Cinema marketing has always been based on anticipation and the wait for a new movie to arrive — this generation expects to get it ‘on demand’. Unsurprisingly, the panellists had different viewpoints. Eddy Duquenne, CEO of Kinepolis, embraced the new completely, saying “Don’t make them turn off their mobiles — we need to adapt to their world, they won’t adapt to ours”. Miguel Mier, COO of Cinepolis, said that 18-24 year olds are a significant part of the cinema audience. His company provides wi-fi in its screens and although it is trying to educate customers only to use their devices before and after the movies, experience has shown people won’t wait for the end of the film before using a phone. He said cinema owners must not fight the trend, but embrace it — young people can do five things at once. If you bring the right films, that don’t need total concentration, and involve and engage young people in the marketing campaigns then they will come to the cinema with their friends. The subsequent panel discussions, which included Rodolphe Buet of Studiocanal, and the Q&A made it plain there is much disagreement — some feel it disrepects the work of a director to do anything other than concentrate on the movie. There was much agreement that for immersive cinema to work, you need a dark room with no distractions from phones. This important debate will go and on.


Collaborative & Customer-Centered — Cinema Marketing. Innovative use of social media, mobile services and other digital platforms has become an increasingly powerful way of engaging cinema audiences. Amy Copeland from Google/YouTube, a brilliant speaker, urged us to stop thinking about ‘mobile’ as a device and to re-think it as a ‘behaviour’. She introduced us to ‘micro-moments’ in which people turn to their mobile devices, and revealed that the most popular search term in 2014 was ‘What is Love?’. She challenged the industry to get ready to receive the new generation of customers, saying that 36% use their smartphones when researching a movie or buying cinema tickets, but 52% claim to have had difficulties when trying to book. She noted that even CineEurope’s website was not ‘mobile-optimised’, and said that the cinema exhibition business must learn to identify and make use of these ‘micromoments’ to ensure young people are enabled and encouraged to come to the cinema more often. Ian Shepherd, recently appointed group CCO Odeon & UCI Cinemas, made it plain that this cinema group is taking the issues of social media, audience engagement and interactivity seriously. It ran a pilot scheme before launching two new Odeon/ UCI Innovation Labs, one in London, one in Barcelona. He showed how Odeon/UCI embraces mobile and online solutions, working with a number of companies to find the best ways to use innovative ideas to launch new digital and retail services to attract cinemagoers. ‘Customer-centred’ solutions are the first priority, and to understand the real needs, data analytics and insight are at the heart of the business. Odeon/UCI is constantly testing, measuring, and comparing, trying to find ways of increasing its digital traffic and getting customers to commit to buying tickets in advance. He left the audience with the strong message that the launch of the



The CineEurope €100m Retrospective featured 14 clips from 2014’s top earners

36 Amy Copeland, from Google (above) and Ste Thompson (left) urged cinemas to reach new audiences

Odeon/UCI digital environment is already pointing to success, and that investing in IT is worthwhile. I confess to not previously having heard of Powster, but Ste Thompson, its CEO/ creative director, soon remedied that, with the aid of unnervingly loud videoclips from its website. Powster is an award-winning interactive and motion graphics company that provides bespoke innovative content, concepts and app builds, with a whole range of digital solutions for the cinema


industry, including electronic movie posters that take a smartphone user who shows interest in the poster directly to the ticketbuying site. Ste enthused the audience with much talk of ‘cool content’ and the need to ‘activate deep links’. I think the message was that if the cinema exhibition industry is to reach out to the ‘millennial’ audience (born between 1980 and 2000 according to one definition) then it quickly has to take on board all the new developments in mobile technologies. Fourth speaker in the first session was Philip Taylor, director of strategic solutions, YAHOO! He showed how simple animated gifs can be quite cinematic, talked about the shifting media landscape and how Yahoo movies, built by Tumblr, a microblogging platform and social networking website that allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog, can be used to provide bite-sized pieces of cinema content. Content consumption can be changed seamlessly and it is easy to ‘curate’ (re-purpose) existing material. With the frightening statistic that the average attention span of a young person is eight seconds (was 12 seconds until recently, and 9 seconds is the attention span of a goldfish, evidently...!) the message was clear — target people where they are and at what they are doing, and ensure that everything you do is ‘mobile-optimised’. After being hit by so many messages telling us to get mobile, there were some good questions raised from the audience, including “What has Odeon learned from its experiments — what doesn’t it do any more as a result?” To which the honest


UNIC represents cinema associations across 36 separate European territories, making it a hugely strong trade body

THE OPENING CEREMONY The official opening ceremony in the huge auditorium of the CCIB exhibition centre is always fun, its Hollywood-style ‘hype’ serving as a reminder that we in the humble exhibition part of the business really are an integral and important part of the multi-billion movie industry worldwide. It is also a reminder that it is the movie screenings that are central to the whole CineEurope experience — the studios and distributors pay handsomely to persuade exhibitors that their latest offerings are something that they will want to present to their moviegoing customers during the coming year. A remarkably fit looking Bob Sunshine bounced onto the stage to welcome everyone. He thanked the filmmakers, the equipment suppliers and installers who make CineEurope possible, and predicted that the slate of forthcoming movies will mean that 2015 will hit new box-office records. We were shown CineEurope’s 100 Million Euro Retrospective — clips from the 14 Films of 2014 that had brought in the big money. As well as the blockbusters, it was gratifying to see two French films made the list. Watching the perfect pictures and hearing the impressive Dolby Atmos sound, I thought of the hard work and attention to detail that the engineers who I and many Cinema Technology readers know well had put in during the days and nights prior to the show. It is a tribute to the work of these projection people that most of the audience never gives a thought to how the great experience is achieved.


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Trade Show Floor focus sessions were full to capacity, despite the increase in space made available to them

answer was given: “Make things easier for your customer, don’t let the website get in the customer’s way”. The whole session highlighted the message that the exhibition industry needs to make use of the untapped opportunities that the new mobile technologies offer.

UNIC’s cineeurope focus

Catalonian Government Minister of Culture Jordi Sellas officially welcomed delegates to Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya, a region that produces some 70 films a year. Government help to the cinema sector in Catalunya, in the form of a special fund for the sector, partially funded from a new tax on telecom companies, is aimed at making the sector more competitive. In the same ceremony, Phil Clapp (President of UNIC) gave an industry address in which he explained how UNIC and PGM have agreed that UNIC will be an equal partner in CineEurope, and thanked Bob Sunshine. UNIC represents cinema exhibitors and their national associations across 36 European territories, an immensely strong organisation. Although 2014 had seen cinemas facing uncertain times, and fortunes vary across territories, the industry is strong and resilient and has made a good start in 2015, with the second half of the year promising to be even better due to a strong and diverse slate of films. But great films alone are not enough, especially if we are to attract a youth audience. Cinema owners have never

had to work harder to attract youth to their cinemas. It is a challenge for the exhibition industry to learn lessons and to remind the public that the big screen experience is something unique. Phil said that European Commission policymakers are not doing enough to reflect cinema’s importance. Interfering with market practices and raising VAT in some countries has caused

“GREAT FILMS ALONE ARE NOT ENOUGH, IF WE ARE TO ATTRACT A YOUTH AUDIENCE” difficulties and any strategy that serves to lower the perception of the value of cinema cannot benefit our industry. For the first time at CineEurope, each of the speakers had simultaneous translations of their speeches appear on a large screen — English, French, German, and Spanish as appropriate — this was well-appreciated, and the only minor complaint was from the Russian speakers in the audience - maybe next time? At this ceremony, UNIC’s Award of Achievement was presented to Ricardo Évole from Yelmo Cines. The keynote address was given by



HANDS-ON GAMING During the week, Peter Knight and I attended a TimePlay session in a small auditorium set up in the conference centre. In an ideal world we would have gone in prepared, but once in there we were quickly shown how to download the Timeplay ‘app’ onto our smartphones — his an iPhone, mine a Samsung. It took several minutes to download the ‘app’ — Timeplay had provided wi-fi in the mini-theatre. Peter pointed out that many real cinema auditoriums don’t have mobile-phone reception or wi-fi, which could present problems. We were able to play several onscreen computer games, using our phones as controllers — when taking part in a driving game, for example, you hold the phone as a ‘steering wheel’ and the on-screen car moves as you turn the phone. This nongamer found some of the other game instructions less than straightforward, and I was sometimes left puzzled as to what to do next, but it was remarkable how I really was able to participate fully in some of the games very quickly. Scores for all the games with the competitors ranked in order appeared on the screen for all to see — and as I won one of the driving games, I had to ignore the regretfully true remark from my colleague: ‘not bad for someone who hasn’t a clue what he is doing!’



1in 4

of all Europe’s cinemagoers is from France

This year, CineEurope was as inclusive ever and drew big audiences (above) as well as big stars, such as Jack Black (right)

Richard Patry, President of the French Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, FNCF (La Fédération Nationale des Cinémas Français). After expressing his appreciation for the honour, he spoke of the importance of UNIC as a trade body, and focused on the French industry, with some interesting


The Coca-Cola Seminar ‘Growth In The Experience Economy’ explored how businesses are tackling the challenge of delivering memorable experiences in the ever-more competitive world of the Experience Economy, how the cinema experience in Europe stacks up, and how to connect with visitors to personalise their visit and make it an event. The first of the popular seminars on the Trade Show floor was “Event Cinema: Taking Stock and Looking Forward” . See pages 56 and 57 for a special report. David Hancock, from IHS, chaired a seminar on the current and future positioning of cinemas in the wider ‘Experience Economy’, under the title The Move to Premium, Driven by Innovation. It was explained that ‘experiences’ are what consumers now look for, whether in travel, food or film. Cinema sits firmly in this experience economy, with technology, service and marketing driving what is possible to offer to a public overwhelmed by film choices. The session looked at developments in this field, considered how customers are responding to current offers and where new developments might lead. Andrew Cripps from IMAX®, Bob Mayson from RealD, Helen Moss from Paramount, Christof Papousek of Cineplexx Group and Andreas Spechtler from Dolby came up


statistics. In 2014, nearly a quarter of Europe’s cinemagoers were French. Two-thirds of French people went to the cinema, and there was almost a 50% market-share for French films. He expressed concern at declining audiences and an increase in piracy and called on the European Commission to act against piracy and defend European creativity and culture. He spoke about the importance of getting children into the cinema-going habit,

with different ideas as to where the move to Premium Large Format is likely to lead.


The morning sessions provided a rare chance to hear what is happening in Australia’s cinema business. The seminar Cinema Retail: Tips & Tricks for Revenue Growth had a fascinating presentation from Hoyts Australia in which it shared various retail strategies and successes. The panel debate proved stimulating, with Corinne Thibaut, from Coca-Cola, extracting some controversial views from big names in cinema retailing. ‘ Best Practices from Australia was chaired by Matthew Ezra, general manager of Premium, Hoyts Cinema Australia. He moderated a panel of top executives including Christian Hoffmann of Cineplexx, Duncan Reynolds of Odeon/UCI UK & Ireland, Stefano Salvischiani, Odeon/UCI Italy, Mariusz Spisz of Multikino and Teodor Teodorescu of Pathé Switzerland. Another Trade Show session looked at Data: a New Goldmine? Many cinema companies and distributors now access huge amounts of data on customers, yet shared understanding of key trends is often poor. This session showed how data can better be collected, shared and used to drive revenue streams. Pete Buckingham of Samno Media chaired, with input from Christian Kluge of Smart Pricer, Sarah Lewthwaite from Movio, and Jolyon Spurling, from Showtime Analytics, Ireland.

highlighting a French scheme to charge children just €4, which helped raise the audience share of under-14s. The organisers of CineEurope are certainly to be congratulated on the wide range of seminars, both technical and commercial (see below) a few days at CineEurope really can help to keep you up to date in so many areas that are important to anyone whose business is cinema.

The afternoon seminar Cinema Advertising: New Opportunities in a Digital Age looked at how digitisation of the sector has made the big screen a more attractive advertising option for brands, allowing it to compete with TV and online. Digital guru Patrick von Sychowski of Celluloid Junkie chaired the session, with presentations from Kinga Dolega Lesinka of KinAds, Poland, Zoe Cadman from Pearl & Dean, Jens Kayser from NEC Display Solutions and Julian Pinn from Julian Pinn Ltd.


The last of the CineEurope Focus Sessions on the Trade Show Floor, A Focus on Technology chaired by Thomas Rüttgers of European Cinema Consulting, provided an excellent chance for delegates to catch up on several new technologies that are about to impact the exhibition business. How Lasers Will Change the Industry included talks on the technological benefits of lasers, their impact on the economics of cinema exhibition and the outlook for technology’s shift to lasers. Update on Immersive Motion showed how Immersive Motion is becoming more popular in Europe with views from a vendor and from an exhibitor who uses the systems. The Update on SMPTE DCP RollOut successfully explained and demystified key issues and the session concluded with ideas on innovative use of social media, mobile services and other digital platforms and how they are an increasingly powerful way to engaging cinema audiences.

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More than A TRADE show 1

MI3D’s first floor suite




egulars at CineEurope know that the trade show is more than just a collection of stands with the latest equipment and services — it is a unique opportunity for cinema people to come together and meet. It is a great talking shop where news, views and gossip about everything cinema can be chewed over at length. So often you go to see someone on a stand and find that they are talking animatedly with a mutual acquaintance. Our Cinema Technology stand may have been one of the smaller ones, but there were, nevertheless, streams of people coming to talk with us, not only about the magazine, but to ask what we think about new developments and new products on show. “Have you seen…?” and “What do you think of…?” were the frequent greetings. With a computer-connected large-screen display on our stand, we put across the message that our online readership now multiplies our already considerable print readership by many times, a fact that doesn’t go unnoticed by CT’s advertisers, who are always keen to maximise coverage they get! With around 120 different trade show stands as well as several other separate big company exhibits (the organisers told us it was a sell-out) you could see that the European cinema business in 2015 is in rude health. The photographs provide an idea of the spacious layout, and, as usual, it

With around 120 exhibitors, the trade show at CineEurope is a central element of the event. Jim Slater toured the halls in Barcelona



was fascinating to see the artistic creativity that went into the stands, with many Cinema Technology advertisers coming up with some superb designs. Dolby were back on the trade show floor, having a large exhibition suite, as did Barco (who also had a separate demo area elsewhere) and NEC. Once again the Coca-Cola lounge provided a wall-to-wall showcase for NEC’s massive range of digital signage products (see pages 31-34). Several companies, including Sony, MI3D, Christie, TimePlay and Ymagis continued last year’s trend of hiring suites

away from the show floor, allowing them to have larger custom-fitted rooms on the first floor in which to demonstrate their wares extensively, in greater privacy and comfort, and with less background noise. Ymagis, Sony and Harkness were among the companies that had both trade show stands and first floor suites. MI3D’s first floor suite (1); the Cinesa cinema showcased the latest developments (2); cinema shows its wares: the main hall (3); Ymagis put on an impressive display (4); Barco’s Mini made it to the show! (5) SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY













I enjoyed the first floor ‘demos’, such as the TimePlay gaming auditorium experience and MI3D’s demo of 3D at around 14fl — who would ever want to see a 3D image less bright? It was good to have the chance to get ‘hands-on’ with the Harkness Curolux screen monitoring solutions, with Matt Jahans answering all our questions about the Qalif kit, which was also on display, but not in use, on the Qalif stand. Christie’s suite was busy showing off its new products, and it was good to see their recent recruit and CTC member Chris Connett talk about the Vive Audio system to all who came near!

The latest projection kit

I am deliberately not providing a list of all stands and products — the internet is a more effective way of doing that these days, so I mention just a few of the ‘projection’ things that caught my eye. On the show floor it was good to see the latest projector ranges from different manufacturers, including NEC’s new ‘2nd Philips’ lightbulb moment (below); GDC’s stand (middle); all smiles at JBL (right)


15 generation’ cinema laser projector, the NC1201L. Claimed to be one of the quietest on the market, it is ideal for boothless cinema due to its compact, low-noise design and powerful integrated media server. It can cope with screen widths of up to 12m (at 1.8 gain), has low operating costs and needs almost no maintenance. The new NC3540LS is a 4K RGB laser projector using the REC 2020 colour space, aimed at the largest screens using one single unit, and the new NC3240LS is one of the brightest cinema projectors providing up to 70,000 lumens using two stacked units. Barco evidently drove a red Mini Cooper to Barcelona, carrying its new digital ‘mini’ projector, the DP2K-6E. This was on show in the main entrance hall as well as on the booth. The smallest Barco digital cinema projector is for screens up to 7.5m (24ft) wide, is extremely quiet and fitted with two UHP lamps. It has the usual Barco advantages, include onboard Barco Alchemy processing. Barco now has a comprehensive range of laser projectors for all requirements, from the highest-power 6P RGB models to lower power Blue Phosphor models.

AND IN THE BOOTH, TOO A big advantage of the Barcelona location is that the trade show area is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Cinesa cinema complex, where several manufacturers had taken over auditoria to show off their latest offerings in realistic cinema surroundings. I saw the Cinemeccanica laser lighting unit that they have designed as a ‘plug-in’ replacement for xenon projectors (fig 1) — it works well, and it was interesting to see in the projection room that the modified Cinemeccanica (Barco-based) projectors they were using had a neat optical connector built in, so that the laser light source could simply be plugged in — if only all projectors were made that way the path to laser light conversion would be much simpler! I saw Barco’s high-output 57,000 lumen single laser projection unit in action (fig 2), and was pleased to be allowed in the projection room and to see that the external cooling units have now been built in to the projector support, making a much neater and more practicable arrangement than I had seen previously. One small disappointment, having heard that Barco have developed a laser light unit that fits into the space of their unique interchangeable xenon lamp units on their standard digital cinema projectors,










CineCardz at work (1); the Luis Wassmann stack (2); the Qalif stand (3); QSC in the hall (4); MPS’s creative stand (5); Unique Digital drew the crowds (6); Ushio’s eye-catching stand (7); take a seat at Ferco (8); CT’s stand (9); the DepthQ booth (10); Seating Concepts (11); NEC’s display (12); one of two Jacro stands (13); Dolby had a big presence (14); Barco were in the hall and a separate suite (15); Sony 4K booth (16); and Osram (17)


was that it was nowhere to be seen at CineEurope! Sony had set up their latest dualstack 4K 3D system in one of the Cinesa auditoria (fig 3 and 4), and again it was good not only to see a great demo from Oliver Pasch, but then to be able to see how the equipment had been fitted into a standard projection room. Not having to manually change the lenses when going from 2D to 3D represents a significant improvement in my eyes.


Impressive Dolby Atmos® demonstrations were being given in Cinesa Screen 9, and provided the chance for 2 them to boast that more than 1000 screens worldwide have or are installing Atmos screens, and that more than 275 titles have been announcd to date. Dolby had also equipped the huge CCIB auditorium with Dolby Atmos for the second year running. On the trade show floor, Dolby were showing their Atmos Cinema Processor CP850 product line. A new 3 introduction was the CP850 ‘Base’ model, which comes ready to playback traditional Dolby Surround 7.1 and 5.1 formats, as well as render select Dolby Atmos titles to a Dolby Surround 7.1 configuration. The CP850 Base includes the same advanced equalization and other audio features as the full Dolby Atmos Cinema Processor CP850 and can be upgraded to the full Atmos configuration when required.


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event cinema taking stock, looking forward Growing globally, event cinema’s on the up. Alastair Balmain reports on a packed CineEurope seminar that explored the sector’s development


here was standing room only when the industry members gathered at CineEurope to hear an expert panel share their views on the state of event cinema. Nearly 200 cinema professionals attended the CCIB’s trade show floor focus session, Event Cinema: Taking stock, looking forward. Organised by the Event Cinema Association (ECA), the seminar illustrated the enormous enthusiasm for this growing sector. With interest in live content high, the ECA’s Melissa Cogovin introduced the seminar with figures revealed in a new report on the sector from Rentrak. Published the week after CineEurope, it points to event cinema’s box office value of $300million in 2014, and its 35 per cent growth since 2013. By box office value, the UK is the strongest market with

a 3.2 per cent share, followed by the US, Italy and France. As Melissa introduced the moderator, Julien Marcel, CEO of BoxOffice Global Entertainment, and the panel — including John Bullen, VPF and content manager at Sony Digital and Grant Calton, European Business Development manager at Fathom Events — she noted that “event cinema has made enormous leaps in the two years since the ECA was formed”. The ECA itself has grown to a body with more than 100 members spanning 23 territories. The audience was left in no uncertain terms that the sector has matured. Grant Calton’s suggestion that event cinema is no longer a gap filler in the program Monday to Thursday, but a highlight in its own right was echoed by his fellow panelists. Events are now consistently shown live even if it occupies premium slots — the recent Take That O2 concert,

Melissa Cogavin, of the Event Cinema Association, introduces the panellists in CineEurope


for example, shown on a Friday night in June across 520 screens in the UK and Ireland, became the highest grossing one-night only event cinema screening, taking over £1.6million.

Engaging the audience

Central to the success of event cinema is audience engagement and the creation of a distinct experience. Panellist Johnny Carr, content manager for the Vue chain, explained how this is achieved: “We try to recreate the theatre-going experience, so we engage with the audience directly to tell them when intervals will be, we give out a cast sheet and we hand out our in-house magazine with four pages dedicated to event cinema each week.” This special focus was in line with the experience recounted by John Lewis, CEO of Broadway Cinema, a UK independent in Letchworth, Herts. For event cinema screenings, it regularly takes on nine extra staff, and ensures all staff are wearing a different, smarter uniform and “host” the audience. “The idea of hosting is essential to us,” said Mr Lewis, “We make a point of using the word ‘theatre’. People know it is a different event and we give a free glass of wine. This enables us to reach an older profile. We sell tickets, on the night, to future events and regularly see people book six months in advance — we sell out our 400-seat Screen 1 and often have to use one of our other screens as well.” Advances in technology were viewed by the panel as integral to event cinema’s success. At the seminar, Emma Keith, producer at National Theatre Live, announced the first of its events to be broadcast in 4K, in partnership with Vue Entertainment and Sony Digital Cinema


Live music concerts increasingly form a core element of the event cinema offering



Cinema screens across the UK and Ireland screened Take That’s recent O2 gig in a premium slot.

3.2% UK’s share of event cinema’s 2014 $300million box office value.

4K. Next month, audiences will see Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet in Vue cinemas for the world’s first multi-site live 4K transmission. Prior to that, the 18th Century comedy The Beaux Stratagem will be shot in Sony 4K and delivered this month for ‘encore’ screenings across Vue’s 84-site estate. “We want audience to have the best possible experience. This is why we want 4K,” said Emma. “Over the course of five years, we’ve seen the audience grow as technology has improved,” noted Johnny Carr, “We rarely see a dropped feed and that’s built up confidence. We’ve moved from single static cameras to six camera setups and from 2k to 4k high definition.”

Sporting rights and wrongs

The story of event cinema is not one of unmitigated success, however — there are areas that have not seen the same

popularity as theatrical and operatic events. The panel focused, in particular, on sporting events. “Last year, we did work to screen events from the World Cup and before that Wimbledon,” explained Sony’s John Bullen, “But the issue is over rights to screen the events. The money that those rights go for mean we can’t compete with television — our slice of revenue is just not great enough.” Aside from the rights issue, the high-end nature of the event cinema audience was one aspect Broadway Cinema’s John Lewis focused on: “I’m not convinced about the audience for sporting events. We don’t want the association of a football crowd in our cinema,” he said. Music events have proved successful, however, and the panel agreed on one element that they felt helps to cement a concert’s success: the artists interacting with the cinema audience directly. “The



The ECA now has more than 100 members across 23 territories

audience can find it difficult to engage with a live feed,” explained John Lewis, “They enjoy the content but don’t know if they’re allowed to clap — so when a big music star stares straight down the camera and invites them to stand up and dance, it really helps. In our auditorium, the audience now do, which is great.” One final area that illustrates how live events are opening cinemas to different audiences is the screening of video games: “We’ve been at the forefront of eSports screening from the outset,” said Johnny Carr, “Prize money is unbelievable — these gamers can get £100,000 for winning a tournament. We’ve signed up with eSports Live to screen from different venues including the US. The thing with this sector is that its very much in its infancy. We can’t simply expect people to turn up, so we make an event of it and partner with gaming companies to supply incentives.” Innovative approaches, creative partnerships and the mixing of the media ensure that cinemas are able to bring a live theatre space into the cinema. With that thinking, the potential of live event screening looks set to grow further still. SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

Network, Create New Contacts, Meet Old Friends, and Build Relationships at

Hong Kong

8-10 December 2015

Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre Where the Asian Exhibition and Distribution Communities Come Together to do Business Networking Opportunities

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner events, a Happy Hour and CineAsia University on the Trade Show Floor provide the perfect opportunity for social interaction with current and new clients to make connections and build relationships which are vital to doing business.

Who Attends CineAsia? > Cinema Owners & Operators > Concession & Equipment Buyers > Theatre/Cinema Managers > Marketing Executives > Distribution Executives

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• In-Theatre Dining • Janitorial Supplies • Kiosks • Lasers • Lighting • Lobby Displays • Mobile Payment Systems • Movie Merchandise • Real Estate • Seating • Security • Screens • Signage • Sound / Speakers / Amplifiers • Ticketing/Pos Solutions • Uniforms • Walls/Acoustic Panels

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screenfast: thinking beyond the box... with cloud delivery Screenfast is a new take on digital delivery. Jim Slater visited Delta Soho Digital to discover how the system differs from others

of digital cinema


inema Technology has carried many articles in recent times describing the different ways in which digital cinema packages are being delivered to cinemas. We are in a competitive marketplace, and it has been no surprise to find that many cinemas have ended up with racks containing multiple servers, each provided by different companies who enable the films from the different distributors to be downloaded. Small operators have sometimes been bemused by the number of companies willing to install server boxes and the ancillary wiring and software into their equipment racks, but since all this has been done ‘for free’ — effectively paid for by the big distribution companies — there have been few complaints. Things are different for the big cinema chains, however, and at last year’s CEA conference we heard from Vue how managing a huge inventory of different servers could become a real problem. I was therefore interested to learn of a new approach and a different solution which needs no additional hardware and effectively does away with the need for a specialist server box to be installed in a cinema.

innovative solutions

For nearly 25 years, the Delta Group, a specialist communications company, has been providing innovative solutions to entertainment companies, and its dedicated fulfilment division, MPD, is well-known as a major mastering house

with a great reputation for its logistics solutions for the cinema industry. It manages preparation and distribution of films, trailers, and marketing materials, ensuring that DCPs on industry standard CRU-DX115 hard drives are distributed to cinemas, as well as monitoring the whole process to ensure the distributors that their films have been delivered. Soho Digital Cinema (SDC), founded by MD David Margolis, a digital cinema specialist with many years’ post-production experience, began in 2009 with the aim of making digital cinema distribution accessible to all filmmakers, an idea which has taken off and been growing steadily since. SDC partnered with the much larger and well-established Delta Group in 2012, and now services most of the UK independent film distributors and

The Soho Digital team on their stand at CineEurope, with David Margolis (centre)

several big studios. Under the joint venture, Delta Soho Digital, the company took the opportunity at CineEurope to launch Screenfast, its new digital cinema delivery service. I visited its Soho premises a couple of times to meet David Margolis and Jared Hill from The Delta Group. They helped me to understand how the system works and gave me demonstrations of it in action. ‘Sideways’ thinking from Screenfast led to the realisation that most cinemas already have standard office computers which are more than capable of downloading a DCP. Cinemas have been receiving trailers in this way for years, and the much larger amounts of data



the future of delivery

the screenfast difference Using the diagram below, David explained how current ‘best practice’ in electronic distribution of DCPs has a number of disadvantages that make workflows inefficient and the process dearer than it need be. l The lab has to pay for expensive fibre lines and often a private network. l The cinema needs an expensive server box. l Too much content creates a queue. l The cinema has no control or visibility of the process. And perhaps most importantly, it’s expensive. Working on the basic premise that digital distribution needs to be easy, low-cost and faster that existing ‘cans and vans’ solutions, Screenfast analysed the individual problems and came up with solutions. l Cinemas need fast, cost-effective broadband. As telecoms providers roll out ‘Fibre To The Cabinet’ we are already seeing cost-effective solutions, with 73% UK coverage, growing fast. A recent check showed more than 30% of UK cinemas already have it. It will be available to nearly all in the near future, and it’s getting faster, so the need for expensive dedicated links is going away. l Dedicated receiver boxes in cinemas are expensive and give the site little or no control over their download. Distributor

Digital Cinema Lab

Cinema 1 Cinema 2 Cinema 3

inefficient workflow expensive private network expensive leased fibre expensive, power-hungry receiver boxes

“underStanding the content of the dcP allowS ScreenfaSt to check the data conStantly aS it iS downloaded” needed for feature DCPs are well within the capabilities of a modern PC. Having talked to cinemas and explained the system, the Screenfast team found that many cinemas actually prefer the idea of using their own computer for the download because they can understand what is happening and feel that they have control of the process. Cinemas require just a standard computer and a 10Mbps (or above) internet connection to download the DCP. Each download is tracked by Screenfast to ensure cinemas receive the content requested, without any errors. Downloads can be completed overnight on an average broadband line and in between one and two hours at sites where super-fast broadband is available. Any site that is unable to download the content or that chooses not to will be sent a hard drive via the Delta Group’s fulfilment division, MPD. I was interested to watch this process take place — the cinema can follow the progress of the download, as does Screenfast. If the Screenfast system isn’t notified that a successful validated download has taken place within a given timeframe, the download window, Screenfast’s intelligent scheduling system ensures that a hard-drive is sent by courier automatically, without the cinema having to request it or take any action. As a small incentive to cinema users, Screenfast sends out a ‘digital raffle ticket’ with each successful download, and the winners (projection people or cinema managers) receive attractive prizes such as iPads. The MPD team are keen to help cinemas download their movies using their system, and I was fascinated to hear of a recent way in which they helped out a cinema in the Shetlands whose DCP order had gone astray. The cinema itself had only a very low-speed internet connection, but a bit of research by the Screenfast guys showed that the Shetland Telecoms company had a fast fibre link and they were happy to help download the movie and deliver it to the cinema in time to save the show!

heading into “the cloud”

Perhaps the most far-sighted and different of the Screenfast decisions was CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | sEpTEMbEr 2015

to use ‘the cloud’ — internet storage facilities provided by companies like Amazon, Google and Microsoft — to provide its Content Delivery Network. Why set up your own dedicated network when these ‘big boys’ can offer secure services duplicated on servers all over the world with guaranteed service level agreements? David explained that the cost of using such companies to provide the highest possible service levels is kept down because of the number of companies competing to provide such services. Screenfast has developed a simple to use but revolutionary web application, patent pending, which gives film distributors the capability to send content to cinemas using the internet. The system enables distributors to plan every detail of their delivery, with cinemas able to choose whether to download their content or receive a traditional hard drive. With downloading becoming the preferred route for DCP delivery, Screenfast claims to offer a more affordable, sustainable and reliable way for cinemas to receive content. Latency issues are perhaps the biggest potential problem of using a web-based CDN, but Screenfast’s software team has developed solutions to eliminate such difficulties.

Security measures

Mention of using the internet for film distribution led me to ask about potential security problems and whether the distributors would be happy for their product to be made available via the web. Screenfast pointed out that what is being transmitted are the already heavily encrypted DCI standard DCP files using the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 128-bit keys. Screenfast uses added layers of protection, with all portal sites both encrypted and password protected. Content Delivery Network activity is monitored for unusual activity, and the company has full visibility of who is downloading what and when. Special steps are taken to deal with false identity access attempts, with registered email addresses and server credentials being automatically checked. I was interested to learn of potential plans to offer ‘bank-like’ two-factor security using a pin-generating keypad. Screenfast is



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continually working with distributors to eliminate any potential security issues.

Reliability is everything

Throughout our conversations, the reliability of the whole system and the importance of the verification of all data downloads was constantly stressed. Understanding the detailed content of the DCP allows Screenfast to check the data constantly as it is being downloaded. The intelligent system recognises the difference between an OV and a VF file, for example, so doesn’t download any unnecessary data. It knows what the component parts of a DCP consist of and is able to use the checksum in the PKL. There is no question of downloading data blindly, then having to resend the whole package when an error is found. There is a sizeable team working on the Screenfast software solutions, which are constantly being improved and optimised.

Who is using Screenfast?

The system has already been tested and is in regular use by independent theatres in the UK, with PictureHouse and Curzon Cinemas having the system available in most screens. Trials with major UK chain Vue will commence

The Internet

Cinema 1

Cinema 2

Cinema 3

soon, and early discussions are taking place with Odeon and Cineworld. There was international interest at CineEurope from cinema groups in several Eastern-European countries — the fact that no dedicated equipment needs to be purchased is of particular

interest in countries where there is not yet an established digital cinema distribution infrastructure. The patented internet distribution model requires minimal infrastructure, resulting in cost savings for both distributors and exhibitors and the technology is completely scalable across the globe. Screenfast is working on a licensing model that could prove attractive to many users. From what I have seen, and I have also talked with another small cinema operator who uses the system, Screenfast offers an affordable, efficient and highly secure way for cinemas to download film content at their sites. It enables them to decide how they want to receive content according to what is best for them. Screenfast offers a new and different solution to the market and it will be intriguing to see how it competes in the marketplace with other solutions being currently used for the distribution of DCPs. I can’t help feeling the next few years are going to see considerable consolidation in this area.

For more information about Screenfast and the Delta Group, visit the Soho Digital website at SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



SIR CHRISTOPHER Cinema now/Cinema future: Are we watching Titanic on a sinking ship? re movies today as culturally significant as they once were? In the next in his series of articles on the subject, Mark Trompeteler questions the UK’s leading commentator, author, broadcaster, educator and curator on popular culture — Professor Sir Christopher Frayling.


Mark trompeteler: One blogger on recently wrote that movies have lost their cultural caché. They’re no longer the signature moments of pop culture of our time. What do you make of statements like that? Christopher Frayling: I am not sure.

That is right certainly about cult movies. They tend to be discovered, not made. If you set out to make a cult movie and put squillions of dollars behind the ad campaign, people will see it as naff. But if someone discovers a cult movie for themselves — it is usually a film that has not done quite so well as in the Bladerunner phenomenon — they feel, yes, I discovered this film myself and they were not bludgeoning me to see it. So you are not going to get cult movies of that kind from the blockbusters. I am always having to revise my opinion, however. I went to see Life of Pi and I was completely agnostic on 3D — I thought it is a gimmick and it is “a lion

in your lap” all over again. That film, however, is largely set on a little boat in the middle of the ocean, where the vanishing point is the brow of the boat. The 3D was astonishing. You were cooped up on this tiny boat with a tiger and the 3D forced you to watch where the vanishing point was. It completely convinced the audience that they were on that boat. I suddenly understood 3D — it was one of those films that could not have been made flat. I thought perhaps I was too hasty in my opinion of 3D. In the hands of a master like Ang Lee, it is used properly. Against that you get a bad comic book something-or-other, re-processed in 3D, when it wasn’t shot in 3D, just to give it a bit of depth, and that I cannot cope with at all. There was of course Hugo, a little overblown I thought, but a lovely film. What we are talking about is a medium, a tool. In the hands of someone with vision, like Hitchcock making Dial M for Murder in the middle of the first 3D craze, he knew how to use it. Like everything, if it is in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing, you can do something with it. In the hands of someone who doesn’t — a journeyman — you get rather a boring film experience. It is as if they think using the medium is the point of the film. The medium is just a tool. One of the things about the disappearance of


Sir Christopher Frayling firmly believes our young people need to develop visual literacy

the middle ground of movies is that with all the different outlets, not necessarily theatrical, for example satellite, cable, and terrestrial television, you would think you could get the investment for a middle ground film more easily than you used to able to. But it doesn’t seem to happen like that. Instead HBO gives us rather superior American television series with high production values.

MT: And the signature moments of popular culture in our time? CF: What a question! Well, in the past decades, rock concerts — certain



moments in rock concerts. I suppose the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, Isles of Wonder with Danny Boyle as artistic director, people will remember that. It was cinematic in a way and certainly made all kinds of reference to the history of cinema. It’s a difficult question. It is as if the blog you mentioned earlier is suggesting we are now in a world where everything is in quotation. So there is Hitchcock’s Psycho and then there are all those “slasher” movies that came out of it. “Slasher” movies have been big in popular culture, but you have to trace them back — and they are all in quotation marks. You can go back to Citizen Kane for just about everything and there are all kinds of neo-, neo-, neo-, neo-versions of it. It is as if your blogger

is arguing that we no longer see the influential movie that keeps everything going. I am not sure that he is right about that. But it is interesting that we do have to look back at the first impact. It is as if everything has been a riff on Citizen Kane and everything subsequently has been a variation on a theme. It is as if all the big stories were told a long, long time ago. I don’t know though because, again, the odd film pulls you up.

MT: The variants of cinema exhibition are so many and diverse now with: “sing-along” screenings, where fancy dress is encouraged, “pop-up” and open air cinema, magnificent and historic venue cinema, private hotel and roomabove-the-pub cinema, cinema where the luxury of the seat and the hospitality


THE STORY SO FAR… When I started this series of articles, writes Mark Trompeteler, I was attempting to explore some of the recent debates that have taken place about the nature of contemporary cinema, not technologically, but socially and culturally, and in what directions might its future be going. I also had the opportunity to discuss all of this with Sir Christopher Frayling. I have outlined in the previous articles the ways in which: The digitisation of film content and stories has accompanied the digitisation of cinema exhibition and how in the past 10-15 years there has been a real predominance of films that fully exploit the fantasy, magic, action and spectacle that can be created with CGI and visual effects. Sir Christopher Frayling confirms an opinion that the graphic novel, fantasy and science fiction have become the crucible of mainstream Hollywood cinema. There has been an increasing concern amongst many well-known and respected critics, cultural commentators, filmmakers, writers and actors about the way in which the former traditional elements that made up a film, such things as theme, narrative, the development of character, their moral dilemmas, plot development and story have now often been subjugated and overwhelmed in a film by elements of fantasy, spectacle and action. There has been an increasing divergence in cinema between massively expensive “tent pole” movies on the one hand, and very low-budget indie films on the other hand, and the former medium-budget “intelligent” story-driven studio movies seem to be less evident in the mainstream output of studios. Television has taken up the former middle ground of mediumbudget “intelligent” cinema, with many directors, actors, writers and commentators noting that the most interesting work is now within television. Important cinema individuals such as Steven Soderbergh have even come out with statements such as this: “I just don’t think movies matter as much any more, culturally.”




In the right hands, 3D technology can further the story as well as the spectacle

and catering served to your seat seems as important as the film, village hall cinema, and even “roof-top cinema”, where patrons are expected to view a film sitting inside a hot tub drinking sparkling wine! What do you think this all means?

CF: The whole dressing up and

hospitality and catering thing is about trying to bring back a sense of occasion to cinema. It is also about revisiting your favourite box of chocolates, but seeing it in a slightly different way. I guess I could fantasise about what would be the total cinematic cinema experience. It would be seeing The Fall of the House of Usher in a cinema that is slowly sliding into a bog while you were watching it with,

“I HOPE IN THE FUTURE OUR YOUNG PEOPLE WILL BE SUFFICIENTLY DISCRIMINATING TO SAY THEY DON’T WANT TO SEE ROCKY 77” presumably, lifeboats to rescue the patrons at the end. Well, that’s a thought! What about watching Titanic on a sinking ship?

MT: The future of cinema? CF:

The future of cinema? Obviously there is diversity of experience. I also think the rebooting and re-issuing of the back catalogue and presenting it in different contexts is a potentially huge area. It is a thought — thinking about old

THE DOMINANCE OF CGI: IT’S NOT ALL BAD Sir Christopher, with his history of art background, doesn’t wholly subscribe to such a pessimistic view about the dominance of the graphic novel, fantasy, science-fiction and CGI in today’s film catalogue. “Look I come from a background in the history of art,” he says, “Fashion happens, the pendulum swings, one moment realism is in, then next fantasy is in, then expressionism is in, then, after photography, hyper-realism is out, then it is back in — all of these things co-exist as part of the history of the medium. I never buy those philosophies that say there was a golden age and we are in a decline from it. It is all part of the history of the medium.”


movies. In a way, all movies are like ghost stories. For the first time in history, we can watch people who no longer live. Well the future? Obviously diversity of experience, diversity of distribution, increasing “blockbusterisation”, the increasing output of HBO-land, so this missing middle ground begins to re-emerge through bigger budget television productions. I hope also that there are improving signs that film-appreciation in schools is taking off. I hate the way in which media studies or visual studies have become the great pejorative. When everyone wants to criticise the school curriculum, the first things they point to are media and visual studies. It is important that young people develop visual literacy. I hope in the future that we will have young people who are sufficiently discriminating to spot the rubbish and say they do not want to see Rocky 77 or Comics 37. When interest in a film is in its detail — will he be wearing his cape or not? what does the new Batmobile look like? — and you already know the story backwards, then something’s wrong.

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Strong MDI: Setting the Francois Barrette, general manager of Strong MDI, provides a useful primer on cinema screens and shines a light on some of the firm’s own manufacturing secrets

O The ghostly presence: poor signal-to-noise ratios in 3D projection can lead to ghosting (top) in contrast to the correct image (below)

ne of the world’s premier screen manufacturers, Strong MDI has a 47-year history. In 1968 Marcel Desrochers founded Marcel Desrochers Inc. (MDI) in Canada, as a manufacturer of stage equipment. The company began manufacturing PVC rear projection screens in 1980, and, seeing the growing demand from the cinema industry, started manufacturing front projection screens in 1991. In 1995, MDI moved into a modern facility in Joliette, where its continued growth prompted important additions to the buildings in 1998, when the first coating tower was designed and constructed, and in 2003 when a major extension was built. In 2007, MDI became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ballantyne Strong Inc. and the company’s name changed to Strong MDI Screen Systems Inc. Production doubled due to rapid increase in demand for the company’s well-liked 3D screens. In 2009, after adopting

rigorous quality control standards, StrongMDI became ISO9001 certified. Production capability doubled again in 2011 with the addition of 26,000sq ft including a second coating tower. Over the years, Strong MDI has adapted to the demands of a growing and rapidly changing industry. It now boasts a large sophisticated facility, the highest quality standards in the industry and a dynamic research and development team. Strong MDI has some 70 employees, and can make around 100 screens a week. In 2014, it manufactured 3,000 screens and its achievements include making the biggest ever screen for IMAX at 29.7m x 35.7m.


Strong MDI’s reputation for producing the highest grade screens begins in the laboratory. In-house engineering and design facilities are backed by a dynamic research and development department which constantly researches new materials and

coatings — there is a complete lab area devoted to paint formulations and an environmental chamber for aging tests. Much research takes place in our optical lab, and in order to be able to carry out optical analysis under carefully controlled conditions we have a dedicated theatre equipped with a 10ft x 20ft screen. Special test benches allow for the evaluation of the optical properties of screens, and, reflecting the growing interest in

ON THE SCREEN: THE TECHNICAL BASICS In exploring the subject of cinema screens, it might be useful to re-cap some of the basic facts, ideas and terminology relating to cinema screens. Peak Gain: The Ratio of Brightness of a screen relative to a set standard (white). Viewing Angle: A measure of light diffusion across the screen. The greater the viewing angle, the better the brightness uniformity across the screen. Half Viewing Angle (HGA): The angle at which the gain reading drops to 50% of the peak value. 0° is normal (at right angles) to the projection


screen. A person viewing the screen from the half viewing angle will see an image half as bright as the person seated at the centre position. A screen with high gain and a narrow HGA would create a hotspot. This hotspot effect can be reduced by increasing the HGA (by lowering the gain of the screen or developing coatings that increase the angular distribution of light) and also by curving the screen so that more light from the edges is directed towards the audience.



standard for screens

laser light source projection, there is a laser projection and speckle evaluation test area. A radiant imaging camera allows for detailed evaluation of screen images. Efficient manufacturing techniques are vital when producing topquality screens at the most economical prices, so research in these areas is also ongoing. A special R&D paint rig can carry out paint spraying tests and work out process improvements. We

Careful business: (left) screens are painstakingly rolled and packed to ensure no damage in transit; Strong MDI’s perforating machine ensures top quality audio transmission (right)

Signal / Noise Ratio (SCR or SLR): This number directly correlates with how well a screen is able to maintain polarization discrimination. There are two types of S/N ratio, Circular (SCR), calculated for circular polarization systems like REALD 3D, and Linear (SLR), calculated for linear polarization systems like IMAX 3D. The key impact of a poor Signal to Noise Ratio on 3D projection is ghosting — compare the two images, left, to see the typical ghosting effect. It is interesting to see what some typical S/N ratio numbers mean with real life projection screens. For linear polarisation SLR numbers: ■ 0-50 Not worth considering for 3D ■ 50-100 Will work as a 3D screen but on the poor side (bare minimum)

■ 100-150 Most 3D screens occupy

invest in the latest machinery, and our multiple machines for PVC assembly and RF welding allow us to make screens of almost unlimited size with seams that are virtually invisible in use. Ensuring that perforations are perfect is important — state-of-theart perforation machinery enables us to do this in the factory and also allows us to conduct continuous quality inspection during the perforating process. PVC webbing


In order to manufacture the highest quality 3D silver screens and highgain white screens, we have two coating towers with screen size

Viewing Angles of Optical Gains

this category ■ 150-200 Very few 3D screens are at this level ■ 200-250 Excellent 3D screen ■ 250+ Superior 3D screen







Optical gain

Perforations: To allow the audio frequencies from the loudspeakers to reach the audience, a series of holes are perforated in the screens. Strong MDI offers two perforation sizes: Screens with Standard perforation have a hole of diameter 1.25mm, with the holes occupying 4.5% of the total screen area. Micro perforation screens use holes of a 0.8mm diameter, and these occupy 8.5% of the total screen area, giving a slightly better frequency response.

and edge finishing are also critical — we offer a standard edge with plastic grommets every 9in or numerous other edging options including a pipe pocket, grommets at customer desired positions, Velcro and snap fasteners.




0 0










viewing angle




“ONCE THE PAINTING AND CURING IS COMPLETE, VISUAL INSPECTION TAKES PLACE ON 100% OF SCREENS” capability up to 19.5m x 32m, and our paint rigs are totally automated, equipped with the latest control technology. These processes are carried out in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. Once the painting and curing operation is complete, careful visual inspection takes place on 100% of screens. To ensure we surpass SMPTE requirements, each screen is closely examined under 20 foot-Lamberts of luminance, using a DLP projector that can provide 12,000 Lumens. Gain and luminance measurements are carried out on every screen using an LS-100 luminance meter to SMPTE measurement standards. These inspection procedures result in an exceptionally low screen return rate. We meet ISO9001 V2013 certification standards for the continuous improvement program on our processes, ensuring quality, consistency and traceability of our products, and there is continuous QC during perforation and screen assembly. It is vital that carefully manufactured screens arrive at the cinema undamaged, so great care is taken with the rolling process and a special protective foam is used. Standard packing uses a cardboard core, a cardboard tube

and a wooden skid, with other options available for special orders, while matt screens are shipped in a cardboard box. Strong MDI can manage all the delivery logistics to the cinema.


As a leader in screen development, with years of experience and recognition in the industry, known too for our speed of production and quick turnaround time, we have thousands of installations around the world. If I had to pick out just one that I am particularly proud of,

The coating tower can handle the biggest screens (above), Strong MDI’s test screen in Joliette (left, top), packed to go (left, bottom), and an installation of an IMAX screen in Guzzo, Canada, (below)

it has to be the largest IMAX silver screen in the world, the 97ft x 117ft Stereoview 3D screen at Darling Harbour, in Sydney, Australia. But to remind me that our company can’t ever rest on its laurels, this record-holding screen will soon be surpassed by an even larger screen planned for the end of 2015. We pride ourselves in saying that the largest screens in the world are manufactured by Strong MDI!

FIT FOR ALL APPLICATIONS Strong MDI is well known for its high-tech coatings which enhance the quality of the image and play a significant role in reducing operating costs by reducing the demand on projector light. The company has a complete range of cinema screens for all purposes and budgets. These include: Matte screens: Northview 1.0 & 1.0+ Gain screens (white coat): NorthView 1.5/1.8/2.2/2.5 Standard 3D (silver coating): Stereoview 2.2/2.5/2.8 Premium 3D: HighWhite with REALD Precision White technology (1.4 and 2.0) Premium HGA (1.9 and 2.9)




Can you feel


he tagline that the Philips LightVibes system now carries is “True Immersive Cinema” and I, for one, am an enthusiast of the concept — so I was excited to be offered the opportunity to visit an installation at the company’s invitation, in Bochum, Germany, to see what the effect is of the system in a multiplex auditorium, rather than the traditional sub-divided one that I have previously seen, such as in the Genesis Cinema, London. The screening in July was the world premiere of Sweet Summer Sun — Hyde Park Live, an iconic live concert film by The Rolling Stones, which was screened on 15 July at Odeon & UCI

Cinemas Group’s Kinowelt Ruhr Park cinema in Bochum, near Düsseldorf. Built in 1991, the UCI Kinowelt Ruhr Park is one of the oldest multiplexes in Germany. It has been refurbished, with the number of screens reduced from 18 to 14 and the addition of raked seating. One screen is dedicated to iSens — a Premium Large Format brand. It is also the first cinema in Germany equipped with Philips LightVibes. LightVibes featured in Cinema Technology in September 2014 but, for those unfamiliar with the system, it aims to create an immersive experience for the audience by adding subtle, meaningful lighting effects to their peripheral field of vision during a film to enhance the presentation.

Lighting at the theatre is used on stage, as part of the performance, to draw the audience in CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

Lighting up the industry

A set of short presentations aimed at cinema professionals about the importance of Event Cinema, from Melissa Cogavin at the Event Cinema Association, gave some background to the association as well as some statistics from the research they have recently undertaken with IHS. Peter Worsley, managing director of Digital, Theatrical and Entertainment from Eagle Rock (Universal Music) who produced the concert, elaborated on some of the challenges involved and Jens Heinze, MD, Germany & Austria, UCI Kinowelt, presented an overview of the Odeon UCI group across Europe, together with some of the company’s key milestones in Germany since 1990, when the first multiplex was built in continental Europe — the UCI Kinowelt Hürth Park, on the outskirts of Cologne. Scott Kachelek, Philips’ head of global business development expanded on the use of lighting in architecture and other areas of entertainment, specifically around opera or theatre, demonstrating




Philips aims to optimise audience experiences with its LightVibes system. So how good is it? Peter J. Knight basks in the glow at the World Premiere of the Rolling Stones’ Sweet Summer Sun

LightVibes® Typical Theatre installaton 1

examples of both. He gave examples of some of the current different types of cinema experiences (conventional cinema, drive-in, roof-top, dinner, lounge, and even hot tub and bed cinema). His purpose was to demonstrate how these other venues, including the opera or the theatre, start to create the feeling that the audience is part of the experience from the moment you see the building. He explained how lighting is used on stage as part of the performance to draw audience’s in. Scott went on to talk about Philips’ involvement in various aspects of lighting, especially stage lighting, before moving on to the elements that constitute the Lightvibes product. Significantly, during his presentation, subtle use of the LightVibes panels enhanced what was being said. Currently, Philips use Luminous Textile for the 1.2m wide by 6.48m high soft illumination wall panels. These are covered in standard acoustic fabric and above the panels are two sets of lights — a Philips Showline SL PAR 155 Zoom with a 3,200 lumen output and a Philips

2 4


key 1 2 3

LED Wall panels right LED Moving head spots LED Wall panels left

5 4 5

LED Ceiling spots LED Backlights

Showline SL Beam 100 1,500 lumen output moving head. At the back of the auditorium is installed a Philips Color Kinetics iColor Cove MX Powercore with 1,269 lumen output per metre. Philips is confident that installation of LightVibes can generate new revenue by boosting event cinema, advertising, pre-shows and seminars, typically either through an increase in either the ticket price or the fee for the advertising. This confidence was backed up by statistics from CineEurope 2014 and CinemaCon 2014, and views from other industry experts. Interestingly, Scott explained that, according to Philips’ own studies, advertising with LightVibes doubled

the audience’s recall of a feature’s advertising. It is certainly true to say that even a week later I could still name the majority of the advertisements that presented before the show. From other research conducted by Philips, there was some evidence to suggest that auditoria installed with LightVibes would see a 6x audience increase in attendance at event cinema concerts and operas. The typical installation of LightVibes in the auditorium was demonstrated to us, followed by the actual technical architecture of the system. A LightVibes play-out server is added to the digital cinema chain so that it can get data from the server in the form of the automation SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



" cinematic Visual Acuity at various angles & Visual Acuity of <5%

Visual Acuity of <20%

Visual Acuity of <100%

" & Visual Acuity of <20% Visual Acuity of <5%

with Max 35 degree Eye movement (20/20 Vision) (Reduced colour perception)

(Reduced colour perception)



cues and also from the sound processor. This provides the necessary sync data to control the equipment in the auditorium. Additionally the workflows for how LightVibes shows are put together was explained, and how one of the shows would look with the application. LightVibes makes use of software which is already on the market, but has an additional plugin. Only one show needs to be created for each event and then every installation of LightVibes will then be able to play it back. It can also work independently of the rest of the content production process, if necessary.

The bottom line

The question everyone wanted to know was what is the price for an installation, and what is the return on the investment? Philips conservatively believes it is a 2.5 year return, based on an additional €2 per ticket for an event (or selling more tickets eventually), additional ad revenue and additional revenue for corporate lets. The price tag is usually in the €65,000-€100,000 range for a complete system, depending on the size of the auditorium and before the cost of installation, shipping and a license fee. The presentation finished by looking at “the competition”, namely Barco Escape, IMAX, 4DX, Screen X and Dolby Cinema — but the conclusion was that LightVibes is a different entity, and in fact can still work alongside any of them. This demonstration was an improvement on previous ones I have seen, though, for me, some refinements could still be made. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

I felt that some of the lights being used did not add much value to the experience, but it was good to hear that plans are already in place to use the sort of lights I would anticipate seeing — that should really enhance the experience. To have such an honest walk-through presentation of the system and the costs associated was great. Personally, I think it is a bit of a shame Philips took the licence fee route with this product as that might put some off. I also think the initial cost may dissuade some cinemas, even if there is a potential return in just 2.5 years — I’d like to be proven wrong. The two installations I have seen have demonstrated to me — and to the Philips team — that choice of auditorium is really important. Dimensions make a big difference as to whether the effect works as intended. If the auditorium is too wide and as an audience you can’t see both walls, then it is not going to work. It also showed that there is still some learning to be done around programming of the lighting design — but this is the same as any new tool. It will take time to understand the correct way to help the story-telling process. I am still a big believer in the product and what it aims to achieve. It is hard to explain something so visual in words, and images don’t do the experience justice. If you do get the chance to see a demo, go along! For more information on the LightVibes, visit This video also provides an idea of the experience:

Rocking on: the audience reaction The bulk of the audience at the premiere were Rolling Stones fans who had each won a ticket in a raffle held using social media. It was interesting to gauge their reactions to the film — while no-one actually leapt out of their seats, several were bobbing along to the music. The actual screening reflected a typically well-produced concert. Shot over two evenings with 25 cameras, it allowed for really intimate shots. Strangely, the sound was not as loud or as punchy as you might expect from a Rolling Stones concert, but we learnt later that the auditorium next door was showing an opera at the same time and the management were being cautious with regard to noise bleed. An audience survey filled in at the end of the screening showed that, for the most part, there was a positive reaction, with many saying they would actively seek out a Lightvibes auditorium — and happily pay extra for tickets.


Unit 2 Windsor Grove, London SE27 9NT (44) 020 87667100 .




putting magic back in the cinema space With US box-office attendance in decline, moviegoers need something thrilling to get them off the couch. Chris Ratner, CEO of ReelXperience Entertainment tells Peter J. Knight of his company’s plans for a new concept



n April, there was a buzz around a press release from a firm called ReelXperience at CinemaCon. The company was promising to provide a new type of cinemagoing experience — interactive rather than immersive, one which promised to ‘save cinema’. A bold claim indeed and, having studied the company’s goals, the idea of putting the thrill back into cinema-going is certainly exciting and intriguing. Chris Ratner, CEO of ReelXperience, was happy to elaborate on the company’s plans. With an interest in consumer entertainment and roots as a technologist, Chris has spent the past few years researching the sector, including 18 months working full-time on developing this project.



Let’s start with the basics for anyone who has not heard of ReelXperience. With over a year of development completed, and additional investment and partner opportunities available for a planned launch in 2017, ReelXperience Entertainment integrates aspects of feature films into live interactive performances and sets inspired by the motion pictures. The result is claimed to be the ultimate interactive experience, bringing the magic of movies to life, delivering a compelling reason to get people back to the movies. The company plans to build its own stand-alone cinema theatre complexes with a large cinema theatre together with smaller screens — micro cinemas. The large spaces, while black boxes, are black boxes in the sense that they are actual theatres. They aim to offer a fully interactive movie-going experience which can last from two to six hours. The approximate cost would be around $60 a ticket. These screenings are events — people might only go three or four times a year, as you might a theme park. And there are elements of the theme park — the positives, however, not the gimmicky film experience which we all know from certain theme parks. The second element — the microcinemas — are smaller auditoria which allow flexible screenings, perhaps not just film but other content too, including live events. These will be used both for first-run movies and classic films as well. Event cinema, as we know it, hasn’t quite arrived in the US to the degree it

has in the UK. The idea with these is that they are cost-effective cinema spaces which people can hire for their own private events and select the content that they may want to watch. These are the spaces which are aimed at bringing in the repeat audiences week-by-week, rather than just once a quarter.

from the ground up

As there is nothing currently available that suits their needs, ReelXperience’s cinemas are to be built from scratch. Designing from the ground up means the company is pushing its integrators to help achieve their ambitions. There is still a lot of imagining to be done, but the centrepiece of the complexes will be grand lobbies — big spaces from which customers will disperse to smaller areas such as the bar, restaurant, games area or, of course, the different cinema spaces. At first glance, the UK’s Secret Cinema events appear to share similarities with the ReelXperience concept, but Chris is adamant that, having attended several Secret Cinema events, they are not the same. They target different markets — ReelXperience is more exclusive and targeted at a different, wider age group. Chris wants his concept to be the thing that brings the audience back to cinema and sees no problem in including theme park elements. In many ways, he sees ReelXperience as complimentary to both the Secret Cinema model and more traditional multiplexes. If the idea is to get people to visit the cinema again, isn’t one of the reasons



Chris is a big film fan. He goes to the cinema once a week and loves watching the interaction of the audience. He believes audiences are dropping because cinema has lost its sparkle — young people are losing interest. Chris cites Jurassic Park’s release in 3D a few years ago. He wanted to take his children, but at first they were not interested. They’d seen it before, but when they eventually were persuaded to watch in 3D, they became converts. And this is the nub of ReelXperience — it aims to bring back the excitement of the big screen. There are a variety of elements to the ‘package’ — people might go just for the interactive experience, dinner and a film, or perhaps it’s the whole movie premiere experience.

they stay away the price of the ticket? The plan is to charge a premium $60 ticket. Chris’s response, of course, is that there is a sliding scale of quality vs price. This is about having a good experience, but maybe not every week. The ethos behind ReelXperience is that the customer receives an amazing experience and the best possible service. In fact, I would even suggest that Chris wishes to provide something which is even better than the best. ReelXperience aims to engage with the ‘sharing’ generation — those who want to have an experience and are happy to share it with others via their GoPro cameras. They are used to interacting all the time.

Understanding the possibilities

Currently, one of ReelXperience’s major tasks is to get people to understand what they are trying to achieve. Once people are tuned in to it, they will be able to start to see all the possibilities which would be open to them. In the case of




THE BUSINESS PLAN With US openings planned for 2017, there are still a number of questions being worked on which are either as yet unknown, being worked out, evolving or are simply too commercially sensitive to be discussed, but they will form the next chapter of the story. Many may be cynical of all this and feel that the plans will distract from the film, but the aim is to make cinema exciting again, a reason to be there, and if ReelXperience can help achieve that, it has to be a good thing. One extract from the company’s website summarises its goal neatly and explains why the cinema community should be excited: “ReelXperience is based upon and dedicated to the ideals of amazing cinematic experiences, preserving the cinema of the past while moving forward to the cinema of the future. It will be a spectacle, an exhibition, a theatre, a playground, a community centre and a museum.”

content creators, it is the opportunity to generate another revenue stream and a way of creating excitement about their brand or franchises. A practical example Chris gave was Universal’s Jurassic World — the ReelXperience site itself could be readily setup as though it was a real theme park. While Chris acknowledges digital makes life easier, he loves 35mm too, and nothing is ruled out of these productions. And when it comes to projectionists and their role in the ReelXperience setup, there is similarly an acknowledgement that the whole concept is staff intensive, but that technology has a role to play both in automation and in cost reduction. Each ReelXperience production will need evaluation to determine likely staffing requirements and whether a technical person will be necessary, or whether their responsibilities cross into other areas as well.

Roll-out plans

Having listened to Chris’s enthusiasm for this project and hearing what he wanted to achieve, I jokingly asked when he was opening his UK version. The reality is that there is a roadmap which ideally includes international experience, but that is a number of years away yet. There is a lot of work to be done beforehand. Chris references figures such as Walt Disney and his

ReelXperience plans to build new, bespoke cinema spaces to realise its concept

achievements as the inspirations for him on this project — he really wants to take cinema away from the norm. Since the buzz at CinemaCon around the announcement, there has been a lot of traction. People are starting to see the opportunities, together with companies and manufacturers who are interested in the project. Clearly, this is going to be a ‘team project’ in which all the companies and people involved are going to have to collaborate and share the same passion in order for it to be realised.

not immersive, interactive

In its marketing material, ReelXperience use the word “interactive” rather than “immersive” for good reason. Chris is adamant that “immersive” is now over-used. It not longer stands out, but ReelXperience’s events are also deliberately meant to be a more interactive experience. You are meant to interact with the people and elements around you. There are meant to be surprises, and delight in these experiences. Chris had enjoyed the recent film Tomorrowland, and described how, at the end of the movie, he really wanted to go off and find his own pin to

be allowed into Tomorrowland himself — or, in another example, to experience what it was like to follow the yellow brick road to Oz.

Avoiding the gimmicks

But how do you make this a sustainable experience, and not let it go the way of Smell-O-Vision or any of the myriad experiments tried in cinemas over the years to entice audiences out of their homes? When there is so much content on demand in so many different formats, what will make audiences visit multiple times a year? Chris acknowledged that 3D, SmellO-Vision and so on are features that try to elevate the projected film format, but ReelXperience is about creating something which involves live entertainment and interactivity, and fuses the two. You cannot reproduce live entertainment in the home or on a phone screen. And, above all, Chris wants to make that magic accessible to all, so that you don’t have to head to a theme park, but can get it as part of a cinema trip. As the company states on its website: “It will be filled with the treasures and imagination that could only be created in Hollywood. It will make our hearts race, our pulses quicken and our spines tingle It will usher in a new era of social experiential entertainment that is limited only by our imagination.” SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

what’s the future for xenon lamps in cinema? Laser projectors are the talk of the town, but what of advances in xenon technology, asks Jim Slater


ll the ‘hot’ news in projector circles at the recent CineEurope event was of laserilluminated projectors, with some newly introduced projectors also using UHP lamps, so it made sense to talk with xenon-lamp manufacturers and sales people about how they see the future. Their views were remarkably consistent. For a start, although laser illumination has perhaps crept up on our industry more quickly than might have been imagined just a year ago, the


numbers installed are still tiny, and the theoretical financial cost/benefit advantages still need to be proven over a number of years before laser technology becomes a ‘no brainer’. Most of the informed people I talked to thought that the cinema xenon business has up to about seven years before the real decline starts, and although I tried to suggest that they could do great harm to the growth of laser illumination if they would/could simply bring down the prices of xenon lamps substantially, nobody would buy my argument. They preferred to point out that the

operational cost per hour of a xenon projector is only pence, so that bringing the price down would make only a marginal difference to a cinema’s operating costs. I understand that argument, but when you see that non-guaranteed xenons of questionable quality are available via the web for a fraction of the price of the respected cinema lamps, it suggests that the basic manufacturing costs can be very low, with the real costs being incurred in the precision quality control techniques that allow the top manufacturers to guarantee reliable operation in cinemas over hundreds or thousands of hours. Surely, having amortised the cost of these manufacturing techniques over decades past, it wouldn’t be impossible to bring down prices hard whilst maintaining the quality, if the reward was to keep cinema xenons in use for another decade? The major lamp manufacturers told me that they have active programmes to increase their


Osram lamps in production (left) and in quality control (right). Xenon technology is still relevant, affordable and widely used

warranty hours, which has the effect of reducing cost per hour without a lamp price reduction. This may well be the final frontier of xenon technology, with price reductions only the very last resort. The impact of the new technologies will be small at first, but all admit that we will eventually reach a ‘peak xenon’ year, after which sales numbers will fall, but they are keeping their predictions on when this will be very close to their chests!

could the LED cut it in cinemas?

It is interesting, however, to consider that all the major cinema xenon companies are ‘big beasts’ with large research facilities behind them, and long experience of a wide range of other lighting solutions. I remember visiting one manufacturer of projectors who was using laser-phosphor technology years before it became usable for cinema projectors — it took a long time to make the projector provide P3 digital cinema colours whilst still providing a reasonable light output. Although the accepted current wisdom is that LED projection can never achieve the powers required for cinema use, there are some fascinating developments in the ‘office projector’ category that might one day transfer to cinema use. Two manufacturers have been showing HLD (High Lumen Density) LED projectors which offer far brighter images than anything seen from LEDs before. At InfoComm 2015, Hitachi was showing a crystal-based HLD engine providing more than 3,000 lumens at a claimed contrast ratio of 20,000:1 and promising that they see this as the way forward for solid-state projectors up to around 5,000 lumens. They expect 20,000 hours’ operation. The technique uses blue LEDs that illuminate a crystal rod, where the blue light is changed to green and discharged from the rod. This light source operates in tandem with a high-brightness red LED and a highbrightness blue LED in a high-efficiency optical system. Hitachi say that because of the purity and intensity of the green light from the crystal rod, the RGB colour space is significantly larger than normal, especially in the blue and green regions, resulting in far more accurate and life-like colour reproduction. There are no claims made that this could be suitable for cinema use, but who knows what further developments might bring? Philips has also been doing parallel www.cinematechnologymagaΩ

“THE IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGIES WILL BE SMALL AT FIRST, BUT ALL ADMIT THAT WE WILL REACH A ‘PEAK’ XENON YEAR” work on its ColorSpark HLD LED technology, and claims that it will enable 3000 ANSI Lumen LED projectors with best-in-class colorimetry. ColorSpark converts the output from blue LEDs to green light with very high lumens/mm². A limitation on the brightness of LEDs is due to the fact that the light they emit is not suited to the small imaging devices at the heart of modern projection systems, so Philips has concentrated on focusing that light more intently — using a High Lumen Density rod, it can put more light into a smaller area, producing a brighter image and stronger colour clarity. The process (as illustrated in the graphic, below right) is as follows: 1. Blue LED light is collected in the rod. 2. Inside the rod it is converted to green, forming a new light source. 3. The light exits through the end of the rod, where the area and exit angle determine the light source étendue (4.).

UHP lamps can provide far more brightness than HLD at the moment, and development of UHP will go on. Continuing research into a myriad of display technologies means the future of cinema displays is by no means certain. Although laser illumination is currently the favourite amongst forecasters, and I still have a feeling that one or more of the currently far too expensive active screen technologies might triumph in the end, it would take a brave man to forecast what the state-of-the-art in cinema displays will be in 10 years’ time. And, against all the odds, I reckon that it would be worth a small wager that there will still be tens of thousands of xenon-powered projectors in use at that time. Philips’ ColorSpark HLD LED converts the output from blue LEDs to green light

A complimentary solution

At the time of InfoComm in June 2015, the ColorSpark engine was achieving 2722 Lumens, but Philips’ development roadmap suggests 5,000 lumens by 2018. The projector used a single DLP 0.65” WXGA imager. Considering the different technologies, it was interesting that at the Display Summit in June, Philips emphasized that ColorSpark is intended to compliment the UHP lamp line for projection applications, not replace it. SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



a digital spectacle!

Cineworld’s new 11 screen cinema at Broughton BROUGHTON IN NORTH WALES, birthplace of aviation classics such as De Havilland’s Comet and now Airbus A380 wing assemblies, has a new name on its skyline — Cineworld. Peter Davies reports on the opening of the 11 screen complex at Broughton Shopping Park, one of the busiest retail parks in the UK’s North West — and home to the first IMAX screen in Flintshire. Living only a few minutes from this new cinema, I took great interest in its 15-month construction. I was eager to cover the opening event of this fine development, which also embraces five restaurants to the left and right of the entrance. The cinema takes prime position as you enter the park. Clever planners have used this position to full advantage, having an extremely high entrance, glazed from ceiling to floor. From a distance as you approach, the huge, dazzling foyer screens can be clearly seen. The excitement begins even before you leave your car. Ross Lewis, an experienced cinema technician and former colleague of mine, accompanied me on the opening night. We anticipated that we would see a true CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

new Cineworld development, but we were in for an experience that could only be described as a digital spectacular. Once you open the doors, you are met with an amazing, vibrant foyer. Describing the atmosphere as having the “wow factor” doesn’t do it justice. Here we have a large, digitally futuristic, tasteful, well-arranged entrance foyer. Artful use of black quartz mirrorflecked floor tiles creates a reflected version of all the stunning static and moving imagery that wraps around you. A huge, illuminated Cineworld star is suspended, dominating high overhead. Additional LED strips run up the height of the walls and ceiling, and are linked into the colour changes that take place on the main giant screen sited above the

ticket check area. All the retail points of sale, serving tickets, drinks and confectionery have diffused lighting fascias which change smoothly through a wide colour spectrum. Surprisingly for me, I was in no hurry to move through to projection as I stood watching how well the layout coped with a busy intake of cinema-goers. All were mesmerised by the foyer’s impact. The customers’ intense interest was evident at the large foyer’s screens, showing trailers and retail adverts. Moving through to the inner foyers, here too no expense had been spared — deep pile carpet, subtly lit ceiling features and illuminated low level floor feature lighting together with well-signed colour-changing screen entrances enhanced these plush areas.

meeting the team

The general manager, Michelle McClean, who had been GM at the nearby Cineworld Chester, is a firm believer in keeping customer loyalty alive. She was pleased with the huge amount of new interest her team has managed to create and acquire through on and off-site publicity and social media interaction. One element that stood apart was her sheer determination to welcome past customers from the now-demolished Chester Cineworld site only a couple of




BROUGHTON CINEWORLD No of SCREENS: 11 (5 projection rooms) PRojectors: BARCO DP2K19b/DP2K23b Servers: doremi ims1000 sound processors: dolby cp750 Seating: Lino sonego

Making an entrance: the imposing foyer makes a statement that’s hard to ignore

miles away, particularly as there has been a considerable dormant period between that site closing in October 2013, and the new opening. Kiril Enikov, Cineworld’s head of technical UK, took us into the projection suite. These were tidy and uncluttered, with plenty of room for engineers to service, and — significantly — a far less daunting environment for new team members to learn the technical side of things. The Cineworld engineer looking after this site, alongside 16 other sites with 174 screens, is Jon Vaughan. At the Broughton site, five projection rooms serve 11 screens. Two rooms accommodate four projectors in each, the remaining three having one projector. Projection operation is now in the local management’s domain and clearly designed around the fact that there is now little need to have one main projection gallery. I noticed how well set all the projectors were in relation to the lens and centre of the screens. Kiril pointed out that the company is particular regarding sight lines. There’s little need for child booster seats here

thanks to raked stadium seating that gives everyone an uninterrupted view of the screen. The fact that Cineworld engineers carried out the installation impressed me — a high standard of fit had been achieved. All the screens are of generous wall-to-wall proportions which don’t overwhelm the size of each auditorium; there are curved frames in several screens and Barco DP2K19b and DP2K23b 1.2 DLP chip projectors had been selected. We saw high resolution and bright, even illumination, no matter what screen we glanced at. Sitting in the comfortable seats in several of the auditoria led me to ask about the seating itself — it is supplied by Lino Sonego, an Italian company that specialises in cinema and stadium solutions.

Too soon for lasers?

Speaking with Kiril was enlightening — he explained that, in his view, it is too early to talk about the mass roll-out of laser projection. There are still many years left in existing machines, which are covered by warranty (some are covered until 2022) and it would not make sense to start the transition early. For future new builds, of course, CineWorld will be looking into the

options, but it is early days and cost of the kit is a major factor. Until the price drops to a level comparable with xenon lamp usage, Cineworld is unlikely to be installing laser projectors throughout its chain. Kiril suggested that in a couple of years they will start seeing bigger auditoria equipped with laser projectors, but, again, due to cost it probably will be only in the PLF (premium large format) screens. Well-versed in both efficiency and budget control, he explained that the expectation is of a 3,000 hour working life from each lamp. This is achieved through the installation of lamps best suited to each model of projector. At Broughton, a range of lamps, varying between 2K, 3K, and 4K are used, with 6.5K in each of the Imax projectors.

Servers and sound to satisfy

Doremi IMS1000 servers are installed for each projector, a wise decision as they are renowned for their reliability. The sound processors are Dolby CP750, another solid choice not only for reliability, but also for the compatibility of control and monitoring with other equipment. QSC ISA750 & ISA 1350 amplifiers are favoured in all screens together with QSC speakers, making a perfect match. Kiril is more than SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

82 CINEWORLD BROUGHTON Best seat in the house: Cineworld specified seating from Italian specialists, Lino Sonego

satisfied with the sound installation, particularly the higher frequency performance that has been achieved. I had the impression that he has trialled different combinations of sound equipment in the past, and clearly believes that this system will satisfy even the most discerning customer’s ear. I was impressed with the detailed technical information Kiril has — the scale of new site openings this year and next, and the immense amount of forward planning to get all the technical detail so perfectly together at each new development is a credit to him and his department. For Event Cinema presentations via satellite, Cineworld has LANsat on Intelsat 10-02 and can use Astra at Broughton. Internally, it can distribute feeds to each enabled screen via IPTV which allows different content to be shown on each screen.

And imax too…

The IMAX suite, complete with a metal floor, is set up to avoid any movement to its finely aligned dual projectors. These have 13kW of lamp power between them, projecting the image with unbelievable accuracy onto the massive screen. Nevertheless, a continuous automatic checking system ensures that even the slightest drift is adjusted. All looked impressive, but I was set to watch a feature in this auditorium later. Moving along to a separate control room, to the heart of the projection operation, here the Theatre Management System (TMS) is sited. The Screenwriter system has a huge library bank with plenty of scope for additional storage. The remote Network Operations Centre at present is managed and monitored by Arts Alliance Media. All necessary additional switching equipment and ancillaries, are contained within the same large racks. Kiril talked us through the basics of the system, which could be quickly absorbed — the system is certainly user friendly. Broughton uses Screenwriter to good effect. With hard-wired stations elsewhere in the building, Kiril explained that the TMS system started as a tool to move content and create playlists to each screen from one central location. Now, a few years later, it has evolved into a more complex system which generates hundreds of individual playlists a week, automatically unlocks features, assigns adverts and trailers and monitors the status of the equipment CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

“EVERYTHING HAS TO BE ATTRACTIVE – FOYERS, RETAIL SERVICE, CINEMAS WITH COMFORTABLE SEATS THROUGHOUT” in the booth. There are also tools to control lighting, masking, servers and projectors and to pull logs for auditing purposes. Cineworld no longer has to assign adverts and build individual playlists — the TMS does everything automatically in minutes. This allows the staff to customise each individual show and also to manipulate the playlists from one central location by adding, removing or replacing content remotely. This is done without affecting the cinema’s day-to-day running or adding extra stress to the staff.

Going remote

Kiril explained that the next stage will be to make all this available on mobile devices so that staff can be freed up on site even further to spend more time dealing with customers directly. When Cineworld converted to digital a few years ago, it didn’t simply replace 35mm projectors with digital equipment, but a system was created that allowed for the automation of the process of scheduling and showing films. It also enabled staff on site to access this system from any PC in the building. When the conversion to digital was completed three years ago, Kiril started looking at how to improve the system

further to enable every staff member to be able to operate, control and monitor equipment remotely, direct from the floor. With the introduction of smartphones and tablets, this is now easily achieved. In the next 12 months, Cineworld plans to start working towards enabling the staff to interact from the floor with kit upstairs, allowing for far quicker resolution of problems, even from inside the auditorium.

Modern marketing

Before the opening ceremony, Ross and I had an opportunity to speak with Cineworld’s vice president of marketing, Justin Skinner. His enthusiastic approach to all aspects of customer service reflects the fact that cinemagoers now engage across all social media. Michelle’s team has clearly embraced this, constantly updating the progress of the development on Facebook and Twitter, encouraging discussion with the potential audience. Justin recognises that competition now comes from many forms of entertainment — Cineworld is capturing a large share of the market through fine cinemas such as that in Broughton. Everything has to be attractive: foyers, retail service, cinemas with


comfortable seats throughout, wall-towall screens, and plenty of free parking. The offering has to include satellite event cinema, 3D in appropriate screens, and, of course, big screen entertainment with the best equipment available throughout, as reflected in the fact that Broughton’s is the first IMAX screen in Flintshire. This allows showing of blockbusters meant for IMAX, like Gravity and Interstellar. Justin smiled as he stated Cineworld’s confidence for the future. Its commitment is self-evident, with a tremendous surge in opening new sites and refurbishments.

cutting the ribbon

Taking our seats in the luxurious IMAX screen, we listened to the brief speeches

A solid partnership: (l -r) Justin Skinner and Michelle McClean with IMAX’s David King

by among others, Cineworld’s head of operations, Shaun Jones, who comes from the area and has previously managed cinemas in North Wales, as well as Clywd Theatre Cymru which is local to this area. Very much on home territory, he thanked members of the invited audience who helped secure the planning for the cinema, and assisted with his promise to deliver a cinema of this quality to the local authority. IMAX’s David King then spoke of his close association with Cineworld, stating that this is now the 16th of their screens that has been installed for Cineworld, incredibly all within a three-year period. Finally, Justin Skinner, assisted by the general manager, Michelle McClean, cut the symbolic film ribbon. The show began with a range of IMAX introductory images, then the feature Tomorrowland. Deliberately, I chose a seat two rows from the front on the extreme left. I wanted to put to the test the light and focus fall off on such a big screen. I was not disappointed. It is important that a film is watched through to determine any problems, not just with some well-produced and tested tags. I could not fault what I saw, which for those who know me, is quite an achievement.The sound was set exactly right, and brought in the effects at what I would determine as the correct levels. As I walked away from this superb cinema, after a thoroughly enjoyable evening, I thought back to a conversation I had with my late father in 1961, when he was determined to sway me from working in cinema exhibition. “There is absolutely no future in cinemas,” he had sighed. Oh dear, how wrong did my Dad get it! With thanks and best wishes to Michelle McClean and her team for a bright future.


BEHIND THE SCREENS While the customer experience at Broughton is a dramatic one, in the projector rooms, the atmosphere is one of calm, clinical efficiency.

1 Kiril Enikov talks through Broughton’s TMS solution with Ross Lewis — Doremi units serve the projectors

2 A model of clean efficiency — the five projector rooms are uncluttered and undaunting for new staff to navigate


Four Barco projectors operate in each of the projector rooms — equipped with a range of 2K, 3K and 4K lamps


The IMAX screen at Broughton is the 16th such installation the company has done for Cineworld in three years

5 Ready for the off — the screens undergo last-minute checks as the wrappers come off the seating




The projectionist’s promising future The projectionist’s modern role may no longer be about lacing-up film, but it’s no less creative. Jo Osborne, 28-year-old chief projectionist at the Movieland cinema in Newtonards, Northern Ireland, gives his view


hirty-five millimetre was still the order of the day when I became chief projectionist at the Movieland cinema. For us, the change to digital was a smooth transition, but moving from tangible prints where you felt so involved, to the more clinical and precise aspects of digital has been an experience. Digital has, however, brought more possibilities and for me, as a projectionist, it allows me to utilise my full skill set as a film lover. The Movieland cinema is a six-screen independent and I am responsible for the four projection and technical staff, the department and all in-house content for our screens. I started working as a 35mm projectionist here seven years ago. Whilst I took my degree in Music Production at the University of Brighton, I worked as a projectionist in the Dome Cinema in Worthing. Luck was on my side when I arrived for an interview with the general manager — the projectionist was unable to make it in that day, so I laced up and started all the shows. I was hired on the spot. It was a fantastic place to work in — all the staff were passionate about film. As chief projectionist, my role is to achieve the best show presentation and staff training — and to get longevity out


of our equipment. In spite of such a rapid shift in the industry, it is still as important as ever that presentation of each show is at its highest standard. Knowledgeable staff need to be on site to rectify and anticipate errors. Essentially, the role of chief projectionist is the same as when using film — day-to-day duties have changed more to management of the technical aspects of the cinema, but we still have someone on site and shows are played by a trained projectionist.

unleashing digital creativity

The move to digital has given us the opportunity to enhance the cinema experience. I started to look into the DCI spec early on in our conversion as I wanted to learn how to make our own DCPs. Now we are able to speak directly to our customers sitting in our seats, we have their full attention and can

communicate with them in the highest quality public medium available. I can’t think of anything better than that. So with these skills, my job as a projectionist has become even more important. Our conversion from 35mm to digital took about three years. We had temporary projectors and, during our change-over, there were always new issues arising. I enjoy a fair bit of freedom in my role, so I started to investigate how we could use our own DCPs to improve our shows. I started to create a basic technical ident which allowed a smoother transition into shows as it worked with the curtain-up and gave back basic sound and picture information. I lived in South Africa until the age of 14 and remember well the Ster-Kinekor advert before every show — it was so exciting as you knew the film was about to start. I wanted to recreate that anticipation for Movieland, something that links this excitement directly with the Movieland logo. I began with a basic animation and created a sonic identity with sound design and music. I built on this every year and made themed idents for Christmas and Halloween. I’ve been asked to make content for other cinemas in Belfast — this led to my making them for cinemas in England and Germany too.


With such an interest in film, my main focus is to make content customers enjoy, content which I hope connects them with the cinema a bit more. My most recent video is a one-minute piece showing everything about our cinema. It shows the staff, our town and our customers enjoying the cinema. It was focused around our Compton organ and was really a way to show customers what we are about as a cinema. It helps build a better relationship. I spent a lot of time making it visually appealing and wrote an piece of music for it which features the organ mixed in 5.1 surround sound. Making the content and seeing it on the big screen is hugely rewarding. To receive positive feedback from customers is fantastic. I do video filming, editing, motion graphics, sound design, music composition and make the DCPs — these skills have made me a more valuable staff member. Having researched DCP creation, the next thing to learn was video animation. This has been a fun process. It took a long time in the beginning, but I am a very visual person and know exactly how I want content to look.

the Movieland centrepiece

The centrepiece of the Movieland foyer is our Compton organ. Originally installed at the Ambassador, in Hounslow, West London, it is the last fully functioning organ of its kind in Ireland and is played on Saturdays, by Ivan Coey, between the main and late shows. The cinema itself is owned by Ernie Watson who spends every daylight hour there ensuring things run smoothly — which can be stressful for the staff! With an eye for detail, he spends a lot of time on upkeep. We have six digital projectors, two are 3D, and have also retained two 35mm projectors and we show live event cinema content through satellite. The move to digital has allowed more flexibility in shows. We are not limited to the amount of 35mm trailers that are delivered to us.

“MAKING MY CONTENT AND SEEING IT ON THE BIG SCREEN IS HUGELY REWARDING” I create content that can be placed before and after trailers, telling customers when a specific film is out and what time it is on — during a slot in every pre-show, we place this “Showing next week in Movieland” piece followed by the film trailer. I started to experiment with filmed content to combine with motion graphics, making adverts for drinks and popcorn, as well as offers like gift vouchers. For the release of Superman, I made a staff trailer in which I filmed the staff acting out made-up scenes. I filmed during work hours, so customers started to get involved as well. It got great feedback — our customers loved seeing themselves on screen before the film!

projects in the pipeline

As I enjoy making content for the screens, I am currently planning to create further adverts. There is plenty of scope for the content we can be making, especially as an independent cinema where we can get such direct feedback. My most recent piece is a new advert: “Movieland. Local, independent cinema”. I filmed a short five-minute documentary of our Compton organ and placed it on YouTube. Ernie then asked me if I could make something similar for our screens. We decided on something that would show customers the Movieland ethos and why they should visit. I wrote up a script and, for the next eight months, filmed everything about the cinema — our staff, our equipment, the customers and the town. I wrote the piece as a journey starting at Scrabo Tower which is right outside the cinema, directing people here. Then, walking

through the experience of the cinema — from buying tickets right through to the film’s opening credits. As my equipment is limited (I use a Canon 650D DSLR), I spend time setting up shots and getting lighting right. All inside shots are either multiple shots stitched together or hyper-lapses with small camera movements that are then motion-tracked and aligned in post. I take a care to make sure everything is perfect.

An industry that shares

Like most technically minded people, I love understanding how things work. This has allowed me to learn every aspect of making content for the cinema… and my skills are always improving.My strengths definitely lie in sound mixing and music composition. Those drove me to begin making content — I wanted to mix in surround sound. When I was at the Dome, I received a call from Stuart Hillier, sound mixer for on the Harry Potter films. The Dome was his local cinema and he wanted info on sound settings we used. I got chatting about my interest and he invited me to Boom Post, in London. There I got to sit in with Paul Hamblin (the rerecording mixer for The King’s Speech) and learn some sound editing from Graham Headicar (supervising sound editor for Chicken Run). Those were inspirational meetings. The change to digital has proved positive in many ways for the cinema and for me — I am able to combine a job I enjoy with the chance to develop my own technical and artistic interests. What more could a projectionist want?

The foyer and organ at the Movieland (left)

FURTHER LINKS Cinema Website: My personal website: Free album download:




Hot topics at nft3 Students and industry experts put on quite a show at the BFI Southbank recently — Jim Slater reports

Attendees enjoyed the students’ films (top), Mark Trompeteler introduces the day (below)


he BKSTS Education and Training Group took over NFT3 at BFI Southbank, London, on 9 July for an afternoon entitled ‘Hot Topics and Work in Progress’. The eighth such event provided an interesting combination of talks from leading industry experts, screenings of films made by students from colleges at Farnham, Brighton, Bournemouth, Staffordshire and Sheffield Hallam, and some fascinating discussions on topics of particular relevance to film and media courses. Mark Trompeteler brought it all together — only those who’ve organised such an event can know the behind-the-


scenes heartache involved in getting all the material together and ready for projection. The BFI technical team did a great job in assembling films from DCPs, HDPro files and even Blu-Ray discs, as well as making arrangements for the different presentations and sorting out radio mikes. It came together seamlessly when required — the mark of true professionals. The afternoon consisted of screenings of work from the students, introduced by their tutors, who were encouraged to highlight ‘hot topics’ that affect their courses, interspersed with technical talks. BKSTS CTC member Chris Connett, from Christie, outlined the latest happenings in exhibition — a side of the industry that film students



BKSTS AGM AT MEDICINEMA The colourful and comfortable ambience of the ICAP MediCinema at Guy’s Hospital, London (right), made for a superb venue for this year’s BKSTS Annual General Meeting. It took place on Monday, 15 June 2015, and, after a welcome to around 25 members from BKSTS patron Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE, the audience was first treated to an interesting short film Promised Bread by students from Farnham Film School — a ‘documentary’ that turned out to be very different. The short was a telling indication of some of the young talent that is ready to join our industry. BKSTS President Roland Brown (pictured, right) conducted the AGM formalities efficiently. Before the accounts were approved, several members asked questions of the treasurer, seeking detail of administration expenses incurred during the year and the cost of auditing and accounting services, all of which were explained. Roland provided a list of Council members for the year ahead.

A stimulating presentation about options for the future of the Society given by Derrick Trimble led to wideranging discussions among the assembled members — it continued long after the meeting had finished. The Futures Group has a mandate to submit recommendations for change to the council this month (September), and BKSTS Members are encouraged to get involved and share their thoughts. Have a look at the new BKSTS Futures Group website on and let them know your thoughts and opinions. A copy of the Draft Annual Report and the 2014 Accounts can be downloaded from the BKSTS website

“MARTIN UREN OPENED QUITE A FEW EYES TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF VIRTUAL REALITY” 3D possibilities: Martin Uren (left) gave attendees an insight into different 3D “rigs”

often don’t consider for a potential career. During the day, Mark Trompeteler pointed out several times the various potential careers in film apart from the production side. Chris introduced the Premium Large Format cinemas that are ‘on trend’, explaining immersive sound systems and the potential for better images that higher dynamic range and higher frame rates make possible.

big picture, spectacular images

Arri’s Milan Krsljanin gave an in-depth presentation, “Big Pictures: Spectacular quality images”, in which he ranged widely on higher resolution, higher dynamic range and higher frame rate images, telling the students that there is

more to amazing images than numbers of pixels — we also need the better pixels that new technologies make possible. Without any commercial ‘push’ he explained the capabilities of Arri’s latest range of cameras, including the Alexa 65 and its smaller siblings, and left us in no doubt that the new generations of large sensor cameras will easily cope with increasing demands for better pictures. Martin Uren, chair of the BKSTS Education and Training Group, has long practical experience of 3D production at the lower-cost end of the market. This has earned him a deserved reputation as a ‘guru’ in this field, and he took attendees through the basics of 3D production and showed examples of

different types of 3D cameras and ‘rigs’. It was fascinating to see some experimental work he and his students have produced, including a piece where dancers filmed against a green-screen were superimposed on 3D material shot in a forest. The results were less than perfect at times, as he admitted, but the message that came over was that it is possible for students to experiment with 3D production, and that they will learn much from doing so. Virtual reality is another area in which Martin and his students have been investigating. He opened quite a few eyes to the amazing possibilities VR can enable. Key to the day was the chance for students to talk with experienced members of the industry — a reception in the BFI atrium at the end of the afternoon saw enthusiastic conversations between students and practitioners from different business areas.

Thanks to Christie for their generous sponsorship of the event, and to the superb BFI technical team for making it all possible. SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



Saving cinema’s “soul” Do modern cinemas lack the atmosphere of old? David A. Ellis ponders the loss of cinema’s heart


t one of the UK’s latest 11-screen cinema recently — in Broughton, (see pages 80-83) — I watched a film screened in 3D digital IMAX. The picture quality was superb but, to me, there was a large element of the cinema experience of old missing. So often today, cinemagoers walk in to the auditorium to find a large screen without tabs. There’s no screen lighting and no decorative features as in old art deco theatres. There’s no music to entertain us before the show. In other words, there is no atmosphere. For today’s cinemagoers, it can feel like waiting for a television to be switched on. Cinemas of old provided a better experience. We had two features — continuous performances — meaning


you could go in anytime you liked. Of course, it could be irritating if the usherette shined her torch along the row to show another patron to their seat, but cinemas of old had balconies and circles and character. Now we only have one feature, no matter what length, together with ads and trailers thrown in. In days past, people didn’t have to travel to a retail park to see a film. What happened to cinemas at the heart of our town centres?

It’s all about the bass…

Today’s cinemas offer pristine pictures, but on my visit to this new installation I found the sound level a bit over the top — not good for the ears I’m sure. Picture houses of old had sensible levels, lowering the volume if there weren’t many in the audience, turning it up when the house filled. Today we are blasted by bass. Though the 3D IMAX experience is good, I didn’t find it as impressive as I’d

been led to expect. The three-strip Cinerama experience, though not 3D, was far more impressive due to the huge curved screen. The IMAX screen I saw wasn’t curved and, to my view, wasn’t any bigger than the big scope screens in old traditional cinemas; a bit deeper perhaps, but no wider. Because you are in a small hall compared with the 1930s’ supers, the screen appears large. Seating in modern multiplexes may be superior to tip-up seats of old and the pictures scratch-free, but a flair for presentation doesn’t exist. Admittance to IMAX screens can cost twice as much as “regular” screens — why? Combining modern technology with old presentation techniques should give us the ideal. Why not have tabs, screen lighting and non-sync music? Give us the wonderful cinematic experience that audiences of old enjoyed. One more thing —whatever happened to the ice cream lady?



10 steps forward Derrick Trimble reports on a group established to drive the BKSTS into the digital age


from around the globe. One called the film “a surefire crowd-pleaser and a magnificent piece of filmmaking”. With 161 award wins and 152 nominations, the ambitious production used “old technology to dazzling effect to illustrate the insistent conquest of a new technology.” That film was 2011 silent film The Artist. Before the British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society (BKSTS) formed as the British Kinematograph Society in 1931, the members were a body of professionals seeking to improve the quality of their craft. Images of The Artist are reflections of the Society’s past. Poised for a new era of moving image technologies, professionals and enthusiasts demand meaningful engagement to nurture their creative processes and hone critical qualitative skills. Addressing that mandate, the BKSTS commissioned a committee to recommend solutions to advance a culture of development and exploration — the Futures Group. The Futures Group comprises eight BKSTS members, chaired by a nonmember consultant. Tasked to produce definitive objectives and solutions, the Futures Group aims to achieve its goals by 28 September’s council meeting. For its recommendations, open dialogue, exploration, discovery, and financial responsibility are the primary considerations. Rather than become consumed by point-by-point concerns, the group is focusing on 10 overarching issues. These are: .

1. Organisational Structure

We are looking at three areas related to the organisational structure of the Society: Governance (how we operate), Relationships (with whom and how we partner), and Membership (empowering membership, improving the value of their experience).

2. Organisational Culture

To become a 21st century organisation, the BKSTS needs to adopt contemporary


derrick trimble MBA

7. Branding

To create a vibrancy that demonstrates our will to contribute to varied industries, we start with the basics: What is our identity as a society? How do we communicate that identity? How do we sustain relevancy with our brand?

8. Online Presence

approaches of engagement. We will recommend solutions that foster industry diversity, inclusivity and relevance.

3. Financial Responsibility

Solvency for the Society means more than meeting long-term financial obligations. As a member-based organisation, solvency ensures a financial model that services the membership. To advance, the Society depends on foundations and trusts, revenue, and efficient management of our operating costs.

4. Education and Training

The history of our reputation is etched on the minds of students trained to our high standards of quality. Expanding that reputation needs a visionary approach to accreditations, support infrastructure, and geographic scope.

5. Events

Interest in film production is widespread. Attracting an array of enthusiastic people hinges on quality events. We’re developing proposals that consist of hosted, co-hosted, and expanded event offerings to a wider geographic audience.

6. Products

Revenue from product sales can offset membership costs, provide resources for expansion, and perhaps contribute to research and development. We are investigating possibilities for intellectual product development and digital material to meet growing consumer demands.

Quality is a core value of the BKSTS. Second to that is innovation. Our online presence should reflect those values in demonstration and administration. We are looking to solve those challenges with existing assets, a holistic methodology, and a framework for expansion.

9. Data Management

Our member and archive data must be easily managed. Every aspect of data management from conversion, proposed solutions and resource allocation are under advisement.

10. Implementation

Our final recommendations addresses who will implement the strategies, how will the strategies be achieved, and when will the strategies be staged with measurable benchmarks and milestones. Over the past 84 years, the BKSTS has survived numerous cycles of change. Industry men and women, technologies, and economic conditions have turned over countless times in that span. The Society now stands at another crossroad of decision-making. Entrusted to provide guidance in its 10 recommendations, the Futures Group vision is to: present a recommended strategy for a society of innovators, practitioners, and aspirants in the fields of media acquisition, production, distribution, and exhibition that the society may be positioned as leaders of industry education, excellence, and promotion. Achieving the aspiration of that vision will be the work of those that believe the future is in their hands. Derrick Trimble is a marketing and organisational consultant who chairs the Futures Group: SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



PPT cuts the ribbon in halifax B

uilt in the 1850s for Crossley Carpets, the PPT’s new home was one of the world’s largest carpet factories — half a mile long with 1,250,000sq ft of floorspace. Closed in 1983, the Grade II-listed site has since been developed for commercial and cultural uses, housing about 150 large and small businesses and arts venues including galleries, a theatre, and a local radio station. Since 2014, thanks to the hard work and determination of a few stalwarts, a large basement area in G Mill has housed the main storage facility for the PPT’s collection, giving it a Northern base, alongside Liverpool and the other North West regional locations. The trust still needs accommodation in other parts of the country, including the south. Although there had been a preliminary open-day in January, Saturday, 11 July 2015 saw the well-attended official opening. The freedom to walk around, look at and touch the superb collection of projectors, films, lenses and every other bit of projectionrelated kit you could imagine was fantastic. There were special events and screenings of ‘cinema history’ films throughout the day, which saw enthusiasts drawn in from as far away as Kent — and several from France. Susan Hanson had laid on a buffet lunch for everyone, as well as refreshments, and there was a great family atmosphere as people reminisced over various bits of kit, with many old-timers happily recounting where particular projectors had been used. PPT President Sir Sydney Samuelson travelled up from London for the occasion, and carried out the opening ceremony, cutting a ‘ribbon’ fashioned from 70mm film. He regaled a fascinated audience with tales of his time as a youthful projectionist, including the oft-repeated story of how projectionists of old would speed up the film in order to be sure to catch the last bus home! Sir Sydney congratulated Dion Hanson, Nigel Wolland and all the team involved on the magnificent job done in bringing this project to fruition, recognising the phenomenally a hard work all the volunteers had put in. He acknowledged all those who had played a part and said that he had really enjoyed the day — and that it had been well worth the long journey north.


Moved from its Bletchley base, the Projected Picture Trust now has extensive storage facilities in a refurbished factory complex at Dean Clough in Halifax, Yorkshire. Jim Slater headed north

Some of the many items of projection kit given a new home

(l-r) Dion Hanson, with Sir Sydney Samuelson and Nigel Wolland The entrance to the factory complex

A large-scale welcome to the G Mill basement area Some of the many films reels now in storage in a suitable new home

The attendees listen to tales of old from the PPT’s president

Sir Sydney cuts the ‘ribbon’ — a length of 70mm film

The Projected Picture Trust, Dean Clough Mills, Halifax HX3 5AX. Contact Dion Hanson for further information:



Todd-AO: just film, no digital The Todd-AO 70mm festival is a must for those with a passion for large format film. Thomas Hauerslev and Herbert Born reveal all


or three days every October, the world of large format film is celebrated by Filmtheater Schauburg, in Karslruhe, Germany, through the screening of a series of films produced on an epic scale in 70mm. This year, the 11th Todd-AO 70mm Festival will be held from 9-11 October at the Schauburg Cinerama. We are proud to present the latest 70mm films and some 70mm classics which all proudly carry the names of large format film, such as Todd-AO 35, DEFA 70, VistaVision, Sovscope 70, Panavision, IMAX and Ultra Panavision 70. And this year, we feel our 2015 program has it all: space adventures, musical, drama, war, religion, music, songs, mystery, cars, chases, adventure, revenge, Nazis and, of course, true love. Bring your family, your children and your grandmother to see these films once again in a big cinema. Among the movies on the bill are classics old and new, including: Inherent Vice, Interstellar, The Great Race, Battle of the Bulge, In den Schuhen des Fischers, Vertigo, Signale: Ein

Weltraumabenteuer, Tschaikowski, Alien 3, Camelot: Am Hofe König Arthurs, and the NOW RECRUITING Rolling Stones’s classic Let’s Spend the TECHNICAL MANAGER AND CINEMA Night Together. Some oare screened in TECHNICIANS TO DEVELOP OUR their original English and some 70mm UK-BASED ENGINEERING TEAM vintage classics are dubbed into German. Due to the age of the prints, many have We would like you to have experience with: lost their colour and are faded, but they • Digital cinema projectors, 3D systems are the original premiere 70mm prints • Cinema servers, TMS from the 1960s and their appearance is • Cinema sound systems in line with the Todd-AO Festival’s • Knowledge of cable infrastructures and mechanical simple policy — no digital! That is our assembly (crimping, soldering, rack wiring) hallmark, as we honour 60 years of the Ideally, we would also like you to have experience in: 70mm projectionist’s tradition, and • Installation and commissioning of cinema equipment present these films as they were meant • Planned and reactive support and maintenance of to be seen, on genuine 70mm film. installed equipment (remote and on-site) • Design and equipment selection The Schauburg is one of very few • Project management original cinemas still equipped with 70mm projectors. Its huge screen is 18m The roles will attract all of the benefits associated wide, curved and covered by a “Cinerama with a leading international company including a red” curtain. It’s the perfect framework great working environment. on which to present 70mm, allied to the For further details and a full job specification please send your CV splendour of six-track magnetic sound. and covering letter to: Ymagis UK- Attn: Jerry Murdoch All of the 70mm films in the festival will The Observatory, 10 Argyll Street, London W1F 7TQ be projected by vintage, historically correct, Philips DP70 and DP75 We are an equal opportunities employer and recruit based on merit and the projectors, with magnetic sound by legitimate needs of the business. We welcome applications regardless of gender, ethnicity, age or religious belief. Dolby Laboratories sound equipment and state of the art Alcon speakers. Screening “in 70mm” is unlike anything you’ve ever seen — a High Ymagis_CTM_JobOpening.indd 1The 18/08/15 Definition experience with extremely sharp images and crystal-clear six-track stereo. The image is very realistic, almost 3D, and it can make everything Bletchley Park, BLETCHLEY. Buckinghamshire MK3 6EB. U.K. you have previously seen pale into To all those who have, or had, insignificance. But don’t take our word some interest in projected moving for it — come and see for yourself. images, past and present.

Projected Picture Trust

For more information on the festival, visit and

On a grand scale: the Schauburg Cinerama’s 18m-wide, curved screen,


Ymagis is the European leader for advanced digital technology services for the cinema industry. We provide innovative solutions to movie exhibitors, film and event cinema distributors, producers, and cinema advertising companies. We have permanent offices in 21 countries and over 600 employees worldwide who all share a passion for quality in everything they do.

Perhaps you’re already connected with today’s cinema, technical or otherwise, but have an interest in vintage equipment, or you have been retired from the business so long, you would wish to revisit “the good old days”. Take heart and consider joining The Projected Picture Trust and help preserve the magic of cinema. Apart from equipment restoration, the Trust provides help and assistance to non-commercial community cinemas and museums exhibiting film related artefacts. The National Museum of Cinema Technology has perhaps, the largest collection of all types of film equipment in the U.K. The Data Archive within the museum holds over 3,000 items including technical manuals, film related documents, press cuttings etc. Membership of the P.P.T. will give you access to these amenities as well as the collections within the Trust’s regions. JOIN US TODAY by contacting either of the following addresses or by post direct to the NMCT above.



all shapes and 1

AT THE END OF THE 1940S, CINEMA was experiencing one of its occasional slumps, with many theatres closing. Cinema-goers were losing the habit of a regular trip and only leaving home for well publicised ‘big’ pictures. Taking its share of the blame, along with other competing leisure activities, was television, which was finally attracting a growing stay-at-home audience. One solution, apart from making better films, was to make the cinema-going experience as different as possible from television. Perhaps it was time to look again at the many ‘new’ innovations and screen processes, which had previously been passed over when times were good and would be difficult to duplicate on the small screen back home. A showcase for possible candidates would be the ‘Telekinema’, the BFI’s futuristic cinema CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

being built for the 1951 Festival of Britain, an event celebrating the best of post-war design and technology. During its planning in 1948, its designers considered all the then-available cinematic enhancements. First in the queue to be chosen were stereoscopic movies, soon gaining the tag ‘3D’. Most of today’s 3D systems are simply more sophisticated and easier to operate versions of the basic methods worked

out, and employed at various times, dating back to well-before the birth of moving pictures. The aim of them all is to produce a left- and right-eye viewpoint of a scene, and then ensure it can only be seen by the appropriate eye of the viewer. Capturing the pair of images is relatively easy. Two cameras can be mounted together with their lenses pointing forward or looking at, or through, an arrangement of mirrors to provide the, required 2½in lateral displacement, the same distance apart as the human eyes. Provision is normally made to reduce the spacing for close-ups and to move further apart to give extra depth to long-shots. An alternative is to use a single camera with two lenses, or an optical attachment, including mirrors and prisms, to place the pair of images, usually reduced in size and orientated in various ways to fit into the space of a normal frame. Either type can be used with both film and digital cameras, but today it’s possible to eliminate them altogether. Digital magic can now turn


sizes 2

any ordinary film, both old and new, into 3D. This uses the additional depth clues found in their ‘flat’ pictures to generate a pair of simulated stereo images. This is not necessarily the easy way, as the process still needs, despite computers, a lot of work from human hands and eyes. So if a 3D version of a new film is planned, it’s often best to shoot in “true” 3D in the first place.

Revealing it all to watching eyes

Much more demanding has been finding the best way to present this added third dimension to the many pairs of eyes in a cinema audience looking at a big screen. One early method was simply to copy the established ‘Stereoscope’, popular in Victorian parlours for viewing 3D still pictures, and show the pair of images side-by-side on the screen, with viewers holding a mirror device to direct them to the appropriate eye. Unfortunately, this didn’t suit a large audience, all at different distances from the screen, and requiring individually adjusted Stereoscopes. The anaglyph system had also already been applied to stereo still photographs and lantern slides. For this, two images


Grant Lobban provides a useful historical background for those concerned with archival projection and the digital transfer and presentation of films, spanning the complete history of motion pictures. Here, in part 16, in the light of television, the cinema looks again at its films in two different lights. 3


THE BIRTH OF THE 3D IMAGE: 1 are superimposed in complementary colours, usually red and blue-green (cyan), and viewed through filters with the same combination of colours. Actually, it is the blue-green image which is given a visible density by the red filter, the red being ‘washed out’, and vice versa. The first anaglyphs, dating back to soon after the birth of photography in the mid-1800s, had to be projected through filters. But by the 1920s, the arrival of early Technicolor and other two-colour processes made it possible to produce the already superimposed coloured images together on a single film. In the world of 3D, anaglyphs are often dismissed as just a cheap and cheerful novelty, but they require no special projection equipment, the audience enjoying the fun through the cellophane filters of their disposable cardboard glasses.

The two different camera systems used to produce the Festival of Britain’s 3D films. The BFI’s (left) with a pair of cameras facing each other through 45 degree mirrors, shooting the ballet film The Black Swan and (right) two Technicolor 3-strip cameras looking ahead with their ‘eyes’ too far apart (9½in), so restricted to distant views taken from a boat moving along the river Thames to produce Royal River, in excellent 3D.


In 1921 the ‘Plastigrams’ anaglyphic shorts received top billing, and were a greater attraction than the main feature.


Friese-Green’s moving (only just, at best 6fps) camera/projector. Its 3¼in lantern slide-sized pair of pictures could have been viewed with the aid of a stereoscope-type viewer.




5 Sight for sore eyes

It was important superimposed images were accurately aligned, particularly vertically, as our separate eyes don’t like to look up and down at the same time. Unfortunately, some viewers can suffer from eye strain and headaches caused by ‘retinal rivalry’ as the two eyes have to look at a different colour for long periods. Although a few full-length features have been presented this way, the anaglyph system is usually reserved for shorts or ‘it’s now time to put on your glasses’ inserts into the occasional fantasy film, or adding an extra dimension to a horror film’s scary moments. Using colour to achieve the separation into each eye was generally thought to restrict anaglyphs to black and white films, but it was later successfully applied to colour films and the odd 3D experiment on television. These ‘polybiochromatic’ shows sometimes used a different combination of colours (e.g. blue and light orange), sacrificing some of their efficiency, with a greater risk of each eye seeing a ‘ghost’ image of the wrong eye breaking through, in exchange for watching a picture in a reasonable range of colours. Whatever the pair of colours chosen to separate the images, there must be a close match between those on the print and in the glasses. Sadly, for 3D archivists, original copies made on the less stable, pre-1980s Eastman Color print film have now faded, leaving only a mostly one-eyed red image Recent advances in filter technology have led to the return of a form of anaglyph using the full colour spectrum. It is now possible to sub-divide it into even narrower bands and share them out CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

between the two images, with each eye of the viewer seeing a slightly different shade of the colours in the scene. Although this trick can provide the required separation, it is not apparent to the viewer, whose brain adds it all back together for a normal colour picture. Unfortunately, this very subtle spectralsplitting can’t be successfully reproduced on colour film, or even on today’s digital projectors, so more costly fine-cut filters have to be employed in both projector(s) and glasses, with the latter now far too valuable to be given away as a memento. Other well-guarded viewing devices use the ‘active-shutter’ principle. Among the few duo-colour anaglyph shows during the early 1920s was ‘Teleview’. This replaced the coloured glasses, the audience now watching through a rotating shutter which exposed each eye in turn to rapidly-alternating left and right images. There were two ways to project them onto the screen. A dual projector method used two prints, one laced a frame behind, with the shutters and intermittents timed to show them in sequence as the other was pulling down. Another way stacked the pair of stereo images on a single film. Smaller than normal, they were not placed directly one above the other, but offset to allow the blades of an additional special shutter,

sweeping across, to again project them in sequence. This now had to be done using a prism attachment to keep them superimposed on the screen. Although small for the time, the motor and other parts of the mechanical viewing device weren’t small enough to wear on the head, so were mounted at eye-level on the seats. They also had to be hard-wired to the projector(s), with all their motors running in step on the same alternating current.

Crystal Gazing

Centuries ago, those studying the nature of light determined that a light beam vibrates in all directions at right angles to its direction of travel. Proof of this was an observation that light passing through a certain kind of crystal emerged vibrating in only one direction, described as being ‘polarised’. The crystal acted like a kind of optical grating and if the nowpolarised light were to be interrupted again by a second crystal set at the same axis, with its own ‘grid’ parallel to the first, it could pass through, but, if turned, the light gradually diminished, until at 90 degrees it was blocked altogether. Looking through the same crystal, it was also discovered that light reflected off the surface of glass or water, at a precise angle (54 degrees) had also become polarised. With the coming of photography, it was suggested that differently polarised light could be used to present stereoscopic lantern slides. In 1891, this was demonstrated using prisms fabricated from large crystals, but these were far too expensive and fragile to be practical at the time. It wasn’t until




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1932, that Edwin Land (of later instantcamera fame) introduced his synthetic ‘Polaroid’ polarising ‘filter. He had found a way to embed millions of microscopic needle-like polarising crystals in plastic (originally celluloid) and the process of extruding it into very thin sheets pulled them all into alignment. This thin film filter material could be used in cheap viewers, or laminated between glass to stand up to the heat of projection. They were also neutral in colour, so the first demonstrations in 1936 could use the newly launched 16mm Kodachrome. The shows had little effect on the cinema industry, even after a stand-out presentation at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. The event also introduced the American public to a future rival attraction, television. The big queues, however, were at a motor industry exhibit where a pair of projectors, fitted with Polaroid filters set at 90 degrees, showed a stop-motion stereoscopic film of a Chrysler apparently building itself without the help of human hands. This feat was seen in greater depth through car-shaped cardboard viewers, with matching oppositely opposed filters. While waiting for 3D to jump out of the screen, most Polaroid viewing would be through sunglasses, helping to reduce the polarising element in its reflected glare.

There is a price to pay

Although not a problem for sunglasses, light loss of polarising filters results in 3D pictures considerably less bright than normal. Less than 50% gets through filters on the projectors, a further 20% is lost by the glasses. The usual matt white screen scatters the light, destroying the polarisation, so must be replaced by a metallised ‘silver’ version able to maintain it. The higher reflectivity of this type of screen helps compensate for the filter’s light loss — but at a cost of being more directional and less suitable for

ordinary films, particularly in auditoria with wider viewing angles. The audience, too, has to co-operate by sitting up straight. Tilting the head can let some of the wrong eye image through. The risk of seeing a double image could be reduced by slanting the polarisation or adding extra diffracting crystals which can twist it into a left or right spiral, the now circular pattern allowing for greater head movement and fewer ghosts.

Crystals on the move

Another way to produce a polarising filter was to suspend the crystals in plastic while still in its fluid state and use an electro-magnetic force to hold them in alignment while it hardens into a solid. If the crystals are kept in a liquid, it is possible to produce an electrically controlled light valve, or a switch to turn it on or off rapidly. For example, if a layer of randomly dispersed crystals is placed between two opposing polarising filters, the light is still blocked, but in response to an electrical signal, the crystals move in a way to rotate the already polarised light from the first filter now to match the direction of the second, allowing the light to pass through. This, together with advances in micro-electronics, made it possible to make lightweight remote-controlled shutter glasses for an updated sequential 3D system. The polarised light effect is only used in the glasses to blind each eye in turn in sync with the alternating frames, which can now be projected onto a normal white screen. Such sophisticated ‘active’ glasses are more expensive than the existing types and require more maintenance and management by the cinema, so have become a less popular option. The next part of Grant’s series examines 3D techniques for digital cinema and looks back at the futuristic Telekinema.


The Mask (1961) included four 3D sequences, shot with dual cameras and converted to single film duo-colour anaglyph. AKA ‘The Eyes of Hell’, these popped out of the screen with the aid of the novelty mask design red and cyan glasses. The side-by-side on-set pictures can be viewed in 3D by those who can superimpose them by crossing their eyes.

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Anaglyphic image for viewing with left-over red and cyan 3D glasses.

The British film industry’s contribution to the Festival of Britain was The Magic Box. A feature film starring Robert Donat as moving picture pioneer William Friese-Green, shown here operating his twin lens camera in 1893. At a time when stereoscopic picture viewers were popular, he thought his first movies should be in 3D too. In the film, the camera, now being used as a projector, only shows one of its pair of images. Although it was shown at the Telekinema, the film’s producers weren’t brave enough to make it in 3D.


Watching Teleview in 1921 through its seat-mounted shutter viewing devices that rotated at 1,500 rpm.


Freddy’s Dead (1991). The last ten minutes of the final nightmare was shot in polybiochromatic 3D.


Hanging on to the first wearable liquid crystal shutter 3D glasses. Modern designs are more lightweight.



A nice day out...

In his Notes from a Movie Engineer’s Diary, Billy Bell, formerly with BTH and Westrex, recounts the lengths one has to go to switch a capacitor


n 1 June 1963, the BTH Cinema Division — by then a fully fledged member of Associated Electrical Industries — was hived off to the Westrex Co, of London, NW2. Lord Chandos, the AEI chairman, had stated earlier that year, at the annual general meeting, that the BTH Cinema Division was no longer a viable enterprise and that the Westrex Co. had agreed to take on the BTH service contracts. This news came as a complete shock to me — as I was working the mixer desk at the time for this particular AGM, being held at the Grosvenor, Park Lane. A further shock kicked in later when I received the terms of my employment from Westrex, offering me a 30 per cent cut in my BTH salary. BTH, to its credit, gave me the choice of remaining with the company and working nine to five at its Willesden Switch Gear factory, on “High Current Vacuum Switching”, but without a company car. I wanted to continue in the job I knew best, but the salary Westrex offered was an insult to my years of experience. I then wondered if Lord Chandos had signed the deal with Westrex knowing that engineer’s salaries would be slashed, so I wrote to him stating the facts. His immediate reply told me my existing salary would be safe and that he had arranged for me to meet Mr Peter Buck, the Westrex managing director. Peter Buck assured me my BTH salary would be maintained and that I would receive other benefits. Although I had spent 17 years with the BTH Cinema Division, I was still apprehensive at the prospect of being

thrown in the deep end with unfamiliar Westrex and also the Rank equipment, which Westrex had taken over previously. During this transition period, I was in the midst of installing the last BTH SUPA Mk1 projection equipment at the National Screen Services (NSS), Perivale. But, because of a botched survey, BTH Coventry Works had sent two pairs of heavy aluminium bases, each differing in height, one pair to be chosen for this last installation. Several days after the completion of this projection equipment, NSS asked for the two surplus unwanted heavy bases to be removed. I rang BTH Coventry Works and they told me that because of

“All three projectionists were on Jersey, on the run from their womenfolk” CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015

transport costs and the Westrex takeover, they didn’t want them back and that I could sell them as scrap.

a major load for a morris minor

On a hot day in mid-June 1963, I went fully prepared to collect this load of scrap metal, which had been gifted to me. The staff at NSS helped me load one heavy base onto the back seat of my car and the other onto the roof rack. I felt apprehensive about the 4 Cwt. load on my Morris Minor, now swaying gently on its springs. My aim was to drive very slowly, especially around corners, to the nearest scrapyard. However, just as I was leaving a member of staff ran out to tell me that I was wanted by my Westrex office. When I answered the phone they told me that I was the nearest engineer to Heathrow and that the Forum Cinema, on Jersey, had lost sound on one machine, and could I get there as soon as possible? I asked about the equipment and they told me that it was Westrex. It was my second week with Westrex and I had not yet


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received any amplifier circuit drawings, Furthermore, my little car was fully laden with scrap and, to make matters worse, I didn’t have the money to buy an air ticket to the Channel Islands. When I rang Heathrow Airport, they told me the next plane to Jersey was an hour late. This gave me just enough time to drive to the nearest scrapyard — the money I received, together with my loose change, was sufficient to buy a return ticket. During the flight, I pondered the thought that I was heading into unknown territory and that I wouldn’t know any of the projectionists. They might recoil with horror when I turned up instead of their usual Westrex service engineer. My worst fear, though, was that I might not find the fault. I arrived at Jersey airport in the sweltering heat of mid-summer and was greeted by the chief projectionist, whom I had met previously in an Odeon cinema in London. He whisked me in his Mini Cooper to the Forum, where I also knew his two assistant projectionists. I later found out all three were on the run from their women-folk and had found a safe haven in the Channel Islands! Whilst waiting for endless reels to be laced and shown on No.1 machine, I removed all the amplifier covers. The

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The Forum Cinema, in Jersey (opposite page) and the BTH Supa Mk1 (this page)

fault on No.2 machine was described as “motor-boating”. When the feature film finally ended, I was able to carry out tests on the No.2 amplifier. I had experienced this particular fault on other systems and on checking the spares cabinet I was lucky to find, among the copious spare parts, a plug-in decoupling capacitor. I plugged this spare capacitor into No.2 amplifier and normal sound was restored immediately. The chief projectionist apologised profusely for dragging me all

the way from the mainland, when he could, just as easily, have plugged in the spare. He asked, as a special favour, for me to change my report to make out that the fault on No.2 machine was more serious. As his contribution, he said he would put back all the amplifier covers. Getting late, with minutes to spare, the chief projectionist rushed me back to Jersey airport to catch the last plane to the mainland. The engines were running as I ran across the tarmac, the last to board. The weather was extremely hot, I hadn’t eaten and was sweating profusely and felt totally exhausted and bedraggled as I joined the other passengers. Next morning, when I turned up at Westrex, some engineers were envious I’d enjoyed “a nice day out” in the Channel Islands. One engineer called me “A jammy bugger.” “An extremely lucky beggar” would have been a better description… Billy Bell died, aged 90, in February 2014, but left a legacy of stories which Cinema Technology magazine will be proud to publish in the coming years. SEPTEMBER 2015 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


Trailer failure…?

It’s time to learn from the ads when it comes to showcasing films, writes Mark Stephen

Mark stephen sales director, unique digital


of it. My background is advertising. Cinema advertising, to be specific. Viewed by some as a necessary evil, by others as overly complex to sell and deliver; and by many as the saviour of exhibition revenues; it’s what I’ve done for most of my career. Whatever view you have on the commercial messages on screen before the feature, it’s an industry sector that has developed hugely in the past 10 years. It has developed considerably in terms of sophistication of the product offering to the marketplace, method of delivery to the screen and flexibility of advertising copy rotation. No doubt, the digital revolution has taken us a long way from rooms of people splicing together 35mm ads. It’s also removed many barriers for media buyers. If “Cinema” is on a buyer’s plan, it is more accessible now than ever. The complexity of the decisions taken to schedule adverts is boggling: which advert to place where, in which order, across which screens or titles? How long is the ad on for, are there any competing products in the ‘reel’, does the advertiser want copy rotation, are the ratings correct, are there too many ads in one show, etc. The decisionmaking process is well-developed and well-rehearsed to those in the sector, but remains largely hidden from the Exhibitor and unknown to the punter. With all this thought and effort placed into shaping the advertising section of the pre-show, I often wonder if the same is true of the ‘trailers’. Is the same level of understanding and science being placed into this pre-show sector? Is it really being optimised? Advanced management systems for handling ads exist, but the trailers — aren’t they being left behind? In simple terms, the trailer section is the most valuable section of the preshow commodity, nestled in front of the main feature as the audience ‘calms down’ and gets ready for the show, all fed and watered. Hollywood and Distribution spend millions on CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2015


their ‘adverts’ for new feature offerings — with various versions in the run-up to release — but is how and where these are placed sufficiently developed or is the trailer product being let down in its application and exhibition?

Opportunities wasted?

If Distribution and Exhibition are not managing this space to receive the full benefit of their screen-time, surely the opportunity exists to refine the process, optimising both the placement and the commercial impact/return. We bounce around the issue of cinema occupancy levels. Where are we? Around 18-20 per cent occupancy — somewhere about there. This is the biggest problem faced by our industry at present. We should do more to use ‘our upcoming film product adverts’ to drive consumers back to the cinema. That statement is a no-brainer, of course we should, but are we currently smart enough?

The necessary data is in existence to make informed decisions — the digital age provides us with this. Accountability can be easily achieved, technically. Playback logs exist and can be used for auditing purposes. The technology is in place. Consequently, all parties could know when and where a trailer is played, in front of which feature (audience), at what time and in which location. Bringing visibility to both parties should minimise or even remove incorrect placement, occurrences of no shows and wrong versions being played out. I wonder if the age-old protectionism surrounding such data prevents it from being fully utilised in the shared goal of getting more ‘bums on seats’. Is linking the placement of a trailer to a film-based genre really the best that our Industry can do? As one well-known advert used to say, perhaps the cinema’s trailer section is now ready for “the appliance of science’.

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