Vol 20 • No 2 • June 2007
B•K•S•T•S The Moving Image Society
And the award goes to Dolby Advancement of Cinema Technology award winners
Taipei’s Red House cinema
Tracing the Toa projector
Digital Awareness day
BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee’s training day
Digital projection supplement Digital training : Digital 3D : Sony’s 4K
The leading specialist publication for cinema industry professionals
Bell Theatre Services THE UK’s Leading Supplier and Installer of Digital And Film Projection Equipment.
Berlin Alexanderplatz (Berlin Film Festival) Blood Diamond Happy Feet Deja Vu
Cineworld Didcot The Empire Leicester Square Sound System The Soho Screening Room
Recent Digital Premieres:
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Inkheart; Sweeny Todd
Dailies Equipment Rental: Music And Lyrics Flushed Away Pirates of the Caribbean
Our Equipment Includes: Barco DP90 and DP100 NEC iS-8/Nc800 NEC NC2500 Christie CP2000
Digital Installations Include: Empire High Wycombe (All Digital) Odeon Hatfield (All Digital) Odeon Leicester Square Odeon Bath Columbia Pictures Preview Theatre Soho Images 20th Century Fox Preview Theatre
Golden Compass; Bourne Ultimatum Blood Diamond 10,000BC and Casino Royale
The UK’s largest stocks of Spare Parts, Consumables and Xenon Lamps All major manufacturers represented and supported,with same day despatch.
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training for digital projection cinema technology
BKSTSBKSTS THE MOVING SOCIETY THE MOVING IMAGEIMAGE SOCIETY
Society exists to encourage, sustain,train educate, The SocietyThe exists to encourage, sustain, educate, and train and provide a focus for all those who are creatively or provide a focus for all those who are creatively or technologically technologically involved in the business of providing involved in the business of providing moving images and moving images and associated sound in any form and associatedthrough sound inany anymedia. form and any media. Thethrough BKSTS works to maintain The BKSTS standards works to maintain standardsthe andpursuit to encourage and to encourage of excellence the pursuitinofallexcellence all aspects moving image and aspects ofinmoving imageofand associated sound in the UK andUK throughout the world. associatedtechnology, sound technology, in the and throughout the world. Society is independent of all governments and The SocietyThe is independent of all governments and commercial commercial organisations. organisations.
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SPONSOR MEMBERS SPONSOR MEMBERS DIAMOND DIAMOND Odeon Cinemas Odeon Cinemas
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Contents contents Issue24 Volume 20 • Number
March 2007 June 2007
Digital newsreel Newsreel
Digital Cinema Compression: The evolution of the Kinoton E-drive series JPEG 2000 Rate Control for Digital Half a century forCinema Proyecson
Digital Cinema Compression: And the award goes to ...Dolby Advantages of Variable Bit RateServices JPEG Encoding Bell Theatre twenty years on
Everything you always wanted to know about digital cinema players 12 Real time audio analysers
Jim Slater visits Arts Alliance Media’s Byfleet operations centreSECTION 14 DIGITAL PROJECTION SUPPLEMENT - CENTRE Protecting moviesDigital againstnewsreel piracy
Sony 4K for cinemas at last
Training - BKSTS digital awareness day
Europe’s largest digital cinema trial concludes
Digital 3D - taking a practical approach
Cinema Expo International 2007
2007 Landor cinema industry conference
Leeds’ Hyde Park Picture House
There’s still life in The Red House
Meet the chief - Wirral museum’s Edward Peak
Book review - the biography of Birt Acres
Obituary - Albert Critoph
Obituaries - Barry Took / Alec Budden
Kelsall, Potterne Road, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 5DD, UK Bob Cavanagh, Advertising Manager T/F: +44 (0) 1380 724 357 M: 07854 235280 e: email@example.com Kelsall, Potterne Road, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 5DD, UK
Design / T/F: Production +44 (0) 1380 724 357 M: 07854 235280 e: firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Cavanagh, Design / Production Visionplus,Bob Kelsall, Potterne Road, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 5DD, UK Cavanagh, T/F: +44 (0) 1380 724Kelsall, 357 e:Potterne email@example.com Visionplus, Road, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10 5DD, UK T/F: +44 (0) 1380 724 357 e: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions
Subscriptions Cinema Technology is mailed free of charge to all BKSTS Members. Cinema Technology is mailed free of charge to all BKSTS Members. Please contact the BKSTS for subscription payment details or further information. Please contact the BKSTS for subscription payment details or further information. page 2 cinema technology - june 2007
cover: OnOn thethe cover: Translator / model Candice Wang with the historic Japanese The old35mm (film)film andprojector the new (digital) projection equipment in Toa at the Red House theatre in Taipei. Photo by Merrily Wang. the new Sala Grande at the Venice Film Festival. See story page 53 Photo by Dion Hanson - Cineman
Training for Digital Projection - March 2007 page 3
PROJECTING ON ICE - QUITE A CHALLENGE The challenge was to project a giant perfectly edge blended video image 100 feet x 50 feet from a height of 12 metres onto an icerink surface. To put this into perspective, the area is about six times the size of the screen in the Odeon Leicester Square. Dancing on Ice ITV’s most watched, award winning, live entertainment series returned to the George Lucas Stage at Elstree Studios in January, and Anna Valley was chosen by ITV to supply projection and flat screen displays. Working closely with Lighting Director Dave Davey, technicians from ANNA VALLEY DISPLAYS deployed 8 Christie Roadstar Projectors configured as 4 stacked pairs, edge blended, both horizontally and vertically, to produce the huge image on the ice. Each projector was fitted with an HD lens, delivering a significantly brighter image. The entire set and ice rink was transformed during each element of the show by Dave Davey’s lighting, to complement the mood of the Celebrities’ performances, as they carved their way across the 5,000 square feet of projected image on ice. Dave’s team supplied the patterns and artwork to the 8 projectors via a Hippotyser. The 8 DLP projectors were used to complement the costumes and
change the mood of the 12 routines in each show, even painting a red carpet onto the ice for the competitors to skate along. Up to 10 million watched Dancing on Ice, enjoying many innovative designs and the use of projection on ice. Details: www.annavalley.co.uk
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY WELCOMES ICTA MEMBERS Thanks to the efforts of BKSTS Fellow Ioan Allen, and Bob Sunshine, Executive Director of ICTA, the International Cinema Technology Association, arrangements have now been made for each issue of Cinema Technology to be distributed to all members of ICTA. This organisation, which some readers will remember as the former ITEA, has member companies in the USA, Canada, France, Japan, Singapore and the UK etc., representing more than 180 manufacturers and cinema-related businesses around the world. Cinema Technology will be sent in bulk to the ICTA secretariat, who have kindly agreed to distribute copies to their individual members. The June 2007 issue will be the first to benefit from the new arrangements, and, thanks to some help from Dolby UK, will be distributed at the ICTA meeting which is taking place at Cine Expo International in Amsterdam. We welcome ICTA readers to Cinema Technology, and look forward to receiving feedback in due course.
ROXY NO MORE! In Cinema Technology December 2005 we reported on the sad closure of the Roxy cinema, Hollinwood, on the boundaries of Oldham and Manchester, which many readers remembered as one of those proud independent cinemas that had always had something very special about it. On a recent trip north I noticed that all traces of the Roxy have now been eliminated, as part of the local council’s plans to de-
velop the area for ‘industrial’ use. The Roxy is very much missed by the local audience, which continued to support the cinema right up until its closure - they now have to get in their cars and drive along the motorway to the multiplex at Ashton under Lyne. A long-planned new cinema for Oldham town centre which was to form part of the council’s ‘Masterplan Vision’ hasn’t yet materialised.
The site now - and inset the Roxy that was!
cinema technology - june 2007
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2006 UK BOX OFFICE FIGURES DOWN UK Film Council statistics reveal that 2006 UK box office revenue was £762 million - down 1% on the previous year, with admissions totalling 157 million - down 5%. Factors such as the hot weather and the world cup are believed to have influenced attendances. Revenue from the top 20 grossing films totalled £151million - with Casino Royale becoming the highest earning Bond film to date, surpassing Die Another Day’s £36 million gross in just three weeks on its way to achieving just over £55 million. Notably Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest also joined the elite group of £50million plus earners - only eight other films have done this - achieving just over £52million. Other films among the top twenty were; The DaVinci Code, The Queen and Flushed Away. More details: ukfilmcouncil.org.uk
COMING SOON... Forthcoming events for your diary - registration and event details are available online: ABTT, London 13-14 June www.abtt.co.uk InfoComm, California, USA 19-21 June www.infocommshow.org Cinema Expo Intl., Amsterdam 25-28 June www.cinemaexpo.com IBC, Amsterdam 7 -11 September www.ibc.org ShowEast, Florida, USA 15-18 October www.showeast.com CineAsia, Macau 4-6 December www.cineasia.com
KINOTON TAKES ON DISTRIBUTION OF CARLSSON FILM HANDLING SYSTEMS Swedish manufacturer Carlsson Equipment has appointed German cinema equipment technology manufacturer Kinoton as its distributor for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Carlsson produces sophisticated systems which make handling, transportation and storing of films in the cinema more easy, effective and safe. The Carlsson Equipment system provides a tremendous increase in efficiency, safety and security in every projection room: The robust though light-weight film cassettes prevent film damage while facilitating film transportation. The agile rack cart supersedes the exhausting carrying of the heavy films, and the film lift puts an end to heavy lifting which can otherwise cause severe back troubles. A film cabinet and film racks for secure film storage and various accessories are available as well. Details: www.kinoton.com Booth 306 Cinema Expo Intl www.carlssonequipment.com Booth 167 Cinema Expo Intl
BARCO AND USHIO COOPERATION AGREEMENT Digital Cinema pioneer Barco has entered into a cooperation agreement with Xenon lamp manufacturer, Ushio, enabling exhibitors to use Ushio’s worldwide distribution network for their lamp supply for both analogue as well as digital cinema projectors. www.barco.com Suite F CEI www.ushio.nl Booth 191 CEI
DTS END TO END DIGITAL SOLUTION DTS Digital Cinema offers a flexible end-to-end solution designed to more closely connect content creators with their audiences. With a global footprint of 28,000 screens in over 100 countries, DTS is uniquely positioned to provide customdesigned systems for every digital cinema environment. Secure Media Delivery - reliable and secure movement of digital media across the value chain, DTS’ own Network Operating Centers (NOCs), third party NOC, or the back of a delivery truck. DTS has been in the business of delivering secure data all over the world for 14 years – and for over 8,800 films - and has a proven track record in delivering digital film and media to customers, including digital surround sound, access technologies, and digital pre-show. Image Processing & Workflow - DTS is a trusted service provider for content owners, having worked on more than 200 movies and programs, including some of the world’s most valuable motion
picture assets. The company offers world-class image processing with the ability to edit, process, enhance, encode, encrypt and package digital content. Integration of Media Management Systems – Leveraging our innovation and expertise in the projection booth, along with our existing competencies in hardware, software and IT systems design, DTS offer integrated product and service solutions for media management - from ingest to playout, from film to digital. DTS Digital Cinema is unique in its depth of experience across the entire digital cinema chain, from content preparation through digital fulfillment to media management being able to guide and support customers in the transition to digital cinema with a broad range of premier-quality products and services, delivered with the agility and scalability the new digital era demands. For more information: Visit Booth 317 at Cinema Expo International or www.dts.com/digitalcinema
TO BE PART OF CINEMA TECHNOLOGY CONTACT BOB CAVANAGH email@example.com +44 (0) 1380 724357 M: +44 (0) 7854 235280 NEXT ISSUE : SEPTEMBER Advertising deadline: Friday 10th August Editorial deadline: Friday 27th July CINEMA EXPO INTERNATIONAL BOOTH 110
cinema technology - june 2007
The evolution of the Kinoton E-drive series Lutz Schmidt of Kinoton discusses the development of the newest Kinoton E-Drive system The history of the Kinoton E-Drive began… in 1989 with the presentation of a film projector especially engineered for studio use. Kinoton presented the model FP 30 EC to the market as the world’s first true high speed dubbing projector. This film projector met all key requirements and allowed very fast operation with outstanding picture steadiness. Adopting a unique approach, the Kinoton engineering department designed the concept of an electrical direct drive pulldown that for the first time fulfilled all of the high demands made on film projectors: • Excellent picture steadiness • Sufficiently fast intermittent pulldown movement • Long-term stability without the need for frequent re-alignments The base: Kinoton´s design capabilities In the eighties the concept of using a direct drive system for the pulldown became a reality and economic. The idea was to design a studio projector which is completely dedicated to sound mixing purposes but also offers perfect picture steadiness. Kinoton’s E-Drive electronic intermittent turned out to be the ideal solution:
• The picture quality met the highest standards for theatrical projection on large screens. Maximum error was only 0.12% vertical and 0.15% horizontal. The FP 30 EC allows xenon lamps up to 7000 watts and is also well suited as a screening room projector. • Kinoton’s gate design (photo below right) in combination with skate lifting and roller lifting in the sound head treats the film very carefully. • The two-format projector version FP 38 EC can be converted from 35mm to 16mm and vice- versa in an instant. • It has features especially serviceable for postproduction work, such as: - Extremely high shuttle speed of 300fps forward/reverse for 35mm and 400fps for 16mm - Projection speed (with picture) up to 40fps - A user interface with large illuminated pushbuttons and a display for relevant information such as SMPTE time code read out - The user interface can be operated remotely from other places, e.g. from the mixing desk. - Still frame projection with reduced brightness assists the mixing engineer when the machine is stationary.
Views of Kinoton’s new E-Drive mechanism
cinema technology - june 2007
FP 30 EC ll
• The projector was relatively easy to install, with compact dimensions similar to the standard Kinoton column-base cinema projectors and operates at a low noise level that creates a good operating environment without annoying projector sounds penetrating the porthole windows.
Well accepted by the market The EC projector series proved to be a market success. The first FP 30 EC was delivered to a studio in Paris. Just one year later, another EC was installed in Hollywood at the Warner studios in Burbank. After this, the number of installations kept increasing constantly.
Individual motors drive the reel shafts
Kinoton’s gate design
projection centre stage, especially when digital intermediates are transferred back to film. These applications call for split screen projection, which requires better synchronisation than the standard biphase synchronisation, so Kinoton added an option for SONY 9-pin operation. The projector synchronises on a user-selected video clock signal and follows a set of commands appropriate for a film projector (but there is no ‘record’ command, of course). In cases where no edit controller or the like is used, Kinoton can supply their own PC based user interface. In 1998, Kinoton launched the FP 30 E-S (35mm) and FP 38 E-S (35 mm and 16mm) screening room projectors offering various useful studio functions. These projectors are available with a turret and can be fully automated. Another feature of these projectors is the Variodrive shutter. As a separate motor drives the shutter, this offers several interesting features: • At low projection speeds, the shutter keeps turning at higher speeds, giving a flickerless picture which is ideal for silent film projection. Loss of light, a typical problem of mechanical 3-blade shutters, is eliminated with the Variodrive shutter. • If three-blade mode is desired at 24fps, as it is common in US postproduction facilities, the 2-wing shutter is switched to a 1.5 times higher speed, having the same effect as a 3-blade shutter.
FP30 EC ll Reference drive electronics
In late 1999 the follow-up models FP 30 EC II and FP 38 EC II were brought to the market. There were no significant changes in the overall projector concept but a new, even more precise intermittent drive replaced the original system and several new functions were added. The new system offers a doubled positioning resolution and it allows for compensation of small mechanical errors by electronically applying the same error in the opposite direction, thus cancelling the error. page 8
The EC II projectors quickly became an industry reference for a projected 35mm (and 16mm) motion picture film. For example, a world-leading manufacturer of raw film stock uses this Kinoton projection technology to project not images but perforation holes for quality checking. Since the introduction of the EC projector the studios’ demands have changed. Formerly the main focus had been on dubbing; now reference projection for colour timing, grading and checking takes
The E-S projectors became very popular for screenings rooms, for print checking, and in situations with limited budgets, but also for high-class cinema applications requiring special functions. The American Film Institute AFI and the new Museum of Modern Arts in New York City, for example, both acquired FP 38 E-S film projectors, a two-format version of the FP 30 E-S suitable for 35mm and 16mm films. It offers the same studio functions listed above, such as shuttle operation and variable speed. Later additions to the studio line were the FP30 E-Q and FP38 E-Q film projectors designed for postproduction facilities and laboratories, offering still frame projection and optional Sony 9-pin interfacing for e.g. side-by-side projection film/digital.
The E-Drive’s way to the cinemas Since 1997 the E-Drive has been available for ‘normal’ cinema projection as well. The FP 30 E or FP 50 E film projectors offer an image steadiness outperforming even the premium Kinoton Geneva intermittents. Suitable for multi-format projection The E-Drive offers the technical base for 70mm and 16mm projection as well, as it supports different pulldown movements. Whilst the intermittent sprocket rotates 90 degrees for each 35mm image, 16mm film only requires a 45 degree rotation. The E-Drive can perform both angles. For Special Venue or Large Format applications, other different pulldown modes have been developed. E-Drive Evolution This year Kinoton have launched their advanced E-Drive generation. The new generation E-Drive offers significant improvements to its predecessors: • A faster film pulldown offers a light output increase of 20% and more. • The improved positioning accuracy reduces picture jump to a virtually non-measurable value. • An extremely smooth film transport eliminates any minor vibration effects and ensures very gentle film handling. With these improvements, a full resolution of 80 line pairs can be reached with a very good lens and film images with a suitable high image quality. If we compare this resolution in D-Cinema terms, it is an equivalent image resolution of about 3.4K, with still higher resolution produced at a lower image modulation. In addition, the high light efficiency will often allow a smaller xenon bulb to be used, reducing heat emission and saving energy costs. The new drive system was made available as an earlier version for a number of studio installations as the FP 30 EC II REFERENCE. By now, all Kinoton studio film projectors are delivered with the new “REFERENCE” E-Drive. And all E-type cinema film projectors like the FP 30 E or FP 50 E are equipped with the new drive system as “PREMIERE” versions. cinema technology - june 2007
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proyecson fifty up
Celebrating their half century this year, Proyecson have for the past fty years been manufacturing a wide variety of products for the cinema industry - complementing, or replacing redundant equipment - both under their own name and as ‘own brand’ suppliers.
Proyecson®...for 50 years made in Valencia, made in Spain
Paella, sangrias, oranges, Fallas and siesta… apart from these typical stereotypes or “clichés”, Valencia Proyecson’s home - is a centre for technology, the birthplace of the architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava and the venue for the 32nd America’s Cup in 2007.
1957 - The story begins On the 16th February 1957 Francisco Lafuente Salvador and his partner Juan Bronchal, registered Proyecson as a brand. A mechanics and electronics student with a passion for 35mm projectors, Francisco spent many weekends and holidays working as a projectionist. The late 50s were the years of cinema expansion and projector demand in Spain was high. Europe was growing industrially and culturally and televisions were few in Spain. The only ‘windows’ on the world were radio and the cinema, and even cinema was censored until democracy came in 1979. Proyecson, which had a history of technological development and obtaining patents, spotted a gap in the Spanish cinema equipment market and began to develop a range of relevant equipment. During 1964 improvements to 35mm manufacturing were patented and three years later Proyecson began manufacturing the first Xenon power supplies in Spain.
It was Proyecson who, from the outset, ensured that all the igniters and power supplies manufactured in Valencia complied with Xenon lamp manufacturers’ specifications, installing pi filters to reduce the ripple below the limits required. Proyecson Xenon power supplies are also used on aeronautical and naval industries. By 1968 production had increased to such a level that larger premises were needed and the company relocated to its present 1,000m2 production site in Valencia’s Av. del Puerto. The growth continued and during the 70s Proyecson began manufacturing ‘own brand’ components for some of Spain’s, and the world’s, major installation companies. Products such as spools, spool towers, rectifiers, and lamphouses became increasingly popular and the company grew as a manufacturer of specialised third party cinematographic products. The move into cinema installation In 1984 the Lafuente family acquired Juan Bronchal’s shares and Proyecson became totally owned by them. A new cinema technology - june 2007
proyecson fifty up
strategy, as installers, was formulated, and international relationships were established with manufacturers. Companies such as Dolby, DTS, JBL, Schneider and Sony, along with others, appointed Proyecson as their distributors in Spain. At this time the evolution in manufacturing was led by the development of automation systems and Proyecson developed projectors controlled by PLCs [Programmable Logic Controllers] which replaced the old-fashioned cylindrical perforated drums used during the 90s by other manufacturers. During the late 80s Proyecson completed installations in several multiplex cinemas across Spain and undertook the development of the Abaco Cine (Grupo Abaco) chain of cinemas. Currently Abaco Cine are one of the leading exhibitors in Spain with nearly 100 screens - all equipped by Proyecson. During the same period a number of commercial relationships were forged with the main projector manufacturing companies which enabled Proyecson to incorporate the latest techhnologies in their cinema installations. Kinoton appointed them as exclusive distributors throughout Spain and this relationship was later to allow Proyecson to lead the integration of the UGC chain in Spain, which now has more than 100 screens.
CVC is an automated computer control unit with IP addressing, and it controls the programming of trailers, adverts and films. The project was developed in collaboration with Digital Theatre Systems - DTS - and, when launched at MIPCOM in Cannes, received a resounding thumbs up. The continuing demand for its products in the international market prompted Proyecson to exhibit at Cinema Expo International in Amsterdam (below right) - and the company now promotes its products internationally by attending exhibitions including Russia’s Kino Expo and the USA’s ShowEast and ShoWest.
No longer just film
Such projects continue, and in 2000, Movierecord, a leading cinema advertising company, approached Proyecson to develop a control system for cinema trailers. As a result the Cinema Vision Control (CVC) was developed.
Proyecson’s position has changed since its early days, and the development of special and specific products, some completely unrelated to cinema, has seen the growth of an innovative research and development department.
cinema technology - june 2007
50 years later - Worldwide Sales 50 years on from the company’s beginnings in Spain, Proyecson products are sold in some 40 countries throughout all five continents, where specialised dealers, trained at the Valencia factory, are responsible for their installation and maintenance. The Proyecson network is growing steadily as new dealers are appointed. Nowadays Proyecson has a young and energetic workforce, with an average age of under 35 years. Such a team generates fresh thinking and innovative ideas which result in new products developed to suit the changing needs of the marketplace.
Recent international developments have included projects based around sophisticated DLP 2K projectors. In 2002 Proyecson became the first and only projector manufacturer to achieve the coveted ISO 9002 quality certification, with AENOR and IQNET norms (International register). The certification process started two years earlier, with the introduction of stringent quality control systems and practices throughout the manufacturing, installation and after sales service areas. Later, in 2003, certification was enhanced
proyecson fifty up
when the design area was included currently Proyecson holds an ISO 9001 certificate. This specifies a series of tests and certificates which guarantee the fulfilment of strict production and quality standards, allowing the use of the ISO ER0649/2002 and IQNET stamps as well as the CE mark. Present positioning Proyecson is currently positioned in the international market as a component manufacturer, and as a company that is capable of designing and equipping any theatre booth with a whole range of different equipment, whether this involves a complete projection system - a PX35 or Compact - or the installation of a lamphouse to be fitted to a Victoria 5 or Kinoton projector head. Many combinations are possible - a sound reverse scan reader can be adapted to fit an old Bauer, AGA or Ernemann projector - or a Compact spool tower
used as a pedestal for a Strong lantern with a Simplex projector. The company is driven by a young and dynamic team who are working hard to fulfil Proyecson’s commitment to providing ‘more and better’ in respect of quality, warranty and delivery. Product warranties have just been increased to 3 years and delivery lead times are usually just 2 weeks. Proyecson manufactures a wide range of products - 35mm automatic projectors, electronic power supplies, spool towers or compact models such as pedestal bench and column, with or without lantern, that may be adapted to any other manufacturer’s projector. Amongst some of the accessories manufactured are rewinders, igniters and spools. Keeping the customers happy The company has also developed a unique working relationship with its bespoke clients, realising that not only is warranty and delivery important but the fulfilment of customer expectations is paramount. Each manufacturing project and installation is tailored to the customer’s budget and equipment specifications. For its Spanish market Proyecson has developed a different kind of business to meet everyday audio-visual demands through an after sales department, providing support for the different brands (national and international) in the market. The company also has a thriving film
production and rental department, which allows it to support and supply virtually any event any event - film premieres, outdoor installations, audio-visual and cinematographic shows and film festivals amongst them. Plans for the Future - and a unique philosophy Not only is 2007 Proyecson’s 50th anniversary but it is also the year that the company will move to new 4,000m2 state-of-the-art manufacturing facility located at Parque Tecnológico, 15 Km from Valencia city. When the move takes place during September the company will forge new links with local technological institutes co-ordinated by the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Polytechnic University of Valencia), and this will provide more opportunities to accept greater development and manufacturing challenges. There is no doubt that Valencia is a place with a lot of “clichés”. We like living well, as we do, and we love manufacturing products that make people’s lives even better. That is an integral part of our company philosophy. Contact: Francisco Lafuente Serra, General Manager Alain Chamaillard, Export Manager www.proyecson.com e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org cinema technology - june 2007
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The award for the advancement of cinema technology The BKSTS - Moving Image Society Annual Award for the Advancement of Cinema Technology is given each year to a person or a company in recognition of an invention or innovation that has signicantly benetted the Cinema Industry. This year’s winner is Dolby, for the development of optical stereo and the analogue sound track. Many of us grew up to recognise that cinema had a sound of its own, only later understanding that this unique sound was due to the audio signals having been filtered and equalised according to the so-called Academy Curve, which was flat only from 100Hz to 1.6kHz, down 10dB at 5kHz and down a massive 18dB by 8kHz. All this changed when Dolby got involved with cinema sound in the 70s, and they can truly be considered as being responsible for the introduction of the second age of Cinema Sound. The first thing they did was to apply their noise reduction technology, which the music industry had been using for years, and in 1971 Dolby’s A-Type noise reduction was used on “A Clockwork Orange” and demonstrated that better cinema sound was indeed possible and practical. This led to an increased interest in cinema sound, and the realisation that the sound we experience in cinemas is influenced in part by psycho-acoustic effects. International discussions led to the development of the eXtended range “X Curve”, which provided the cinema industry with
a standard that went a long way to ensuring that film sound would be interchangeable between theatres - it would sound reasonably the same wherever a film was played. At the same time Dolby pioneered the concept of a calibrated playback level for mixing facilities and cinemas, enabling cinemas to accurately reproduce the levels chosen by the film makers. In 1977, with the coming of “Star Wars”, Dolby created a practical way to deliver four channel soundtracks optically on film, using noise reduction technology to put two optical channels in the space previously occupied by the Academy Optical Mono track and cleverly ‘folding’ centre and surround channels into these left and right optical tracks. In the cinema this gave three screen channels and one surround channel. Within a very few years nearly every movie featured four-channel Dolby Stereo sound, and current films with digital soundtracks still retain the Dolby Stereo soundtrack as a backup to the digital track and to maintain compatibility with older equipment. In the 70s Dolby got involved in sound for 70mm prints, refining the old six track magnetic-track system and introducing a
subwoofer ‘boom’ track which extended bass headroom without overloading existing speakers. They also managed to use the high-frequency parts of two existing tracks to introduce left-surround and right-surround signals, and many will remember “Apocalypse Now”, the first feature with a Dolby Stereo 70mm soundtrack. Dolby continued to improve optical analogue sound with Dolby Stereo SR (Spectral Recording), introduced in 1987, which brought improved fidelity and extended the dynamic range by 3 dB, providing extra headroom for explosions as well as the quieter and more subtle sounds. Dolby was also a founding supporter of the Dye Track Committee, a group of motion picture executives dedicated to replacing silver-applicated analogue 35 mm soundtracks with pure cyan dye tracks. Converting to a silver-free cyan track offers major benefits to both the motion picture industry and to the environment. Dolby engineers developed the method of reading the analogue sound track with a red light and so helped the industry towards its goal of the silverless analogue sound track. Presentation details: BKSTS/Cinema Technology Booth 210 at Cinema Expo.
DIARY DATES FOR PROJECTIONIST TRAINING Many projectionists have already attended the special training days that are put on by the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee, and which are free of charge to projectionists thanks to funding provided by the David Lean Foundation. As CT goes to press details for 2007 are yet to be finalised, but the following dates and locations have been provisionally agreed. Do put these dates in your diary - further information will be in the September issue of CT and on the website. Nearer to the dates, you can contact Dion Hanson for more information and to book, at email@example.com Monday 24th September............Glasgow Wednesday 26th September.......Newcastle-upon -Tyne. Monday 1st October...................Birmingham Wednesday 3rd October.............Swindon page 14
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BE PART OF IT! BOOTH 110
Cinema Expo International
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY BKSTS / THE MOVING IMAGE SOCIETY The BKSTS is for all those who are creatively or technologically involved in providing moving images and associated sound. We are the international technical society for all areas of media, including: Cinema Exhibition, Film, Sound, Television and Multimedia. The Societyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mission is to encourage, sustain, educate, train and provide a focus for its members. We work to maintain standards and encourage the pursuit of excellence. To find out more and apply for membership please call by Booth 110 at Cinema Expo International or visit
www.bksts.com e: firstname.lastname@example.org
cinema technology - june 2007
Tel: +44 (0) 1753 656656
bell theatre services
Twenty years on for Max and Bell Theatre Services Jim Slater visits a company that is succeeding in combining traditional lm technology with the best that the new Digital Cinema age can provide It is coming up to twenty years since cinema sound engineer Max Bell set up the Bell Theatre Services company, which has since become well-known as one of the leading players in the technology of the cinema exhibition business, so it seemed an appropriate time to talk with Max and his team about the past, the present and the future plans of the company. Managing Director Max and General Manager Sean Downey (pictured left) welcomed me to the spacious 16,000 sq.ft. Borehamwood premises that they moved into in 2001 - Cinema Technology last visited BTS in 2004, so it was interesting to see how the building has been refurbished considerably from what Max described as its fairly ‘tatty’ state when they moved in, and how a new state of the art screening room has now been completed. The firstfloor meeting room that we used (picture bottom left) was light and spacious, and notable for the numerous loudspeakers around the place - there is also a pull-down screen so that it can be used for impromptu and informal ‘screenings’, as well as for the various training courses that the company mounts from time to time. I knew that Max had been involved in the cinema business for far more than the 20 page 16
years of BTS, so began by asking about his previous life. Max had a background in film sound production, gaining a lot of knowledge of film sound-recording camera equipment, a field that BTS were later to get involved with, and he went on to spend some years with Dolby at its then Headquarters in Clapham Road and did a great deal of work in the USA on film sound recording systems. After an initial attempt at a business venture with a partner, Max decided to go it alone, and he set up BTS in 1988, since when the company has gone from strength to strength. There is always a ‘secret’ as to why a company grows and develops, but apart from employing the universal recipe of dedication and hard work that he and his staff continue with to this day, Max began with a practical working knowledge of what was happening in the film business in the USA and a conviction that the market for multiplex cinemas, then restricted only to the US, would soon develop throughout the world. His US contacts in the business helped to provide the ‘know-how’ required, and BTS got involved with equipping what was only the UK’s second multiplex, the then revolutionary Wycombe Six, built by CIC, and taken over a year later by UCI. cinema technology - june 2007
bell theatre services This theatre installed THX sound at a time when high quality sound was something of a rarity, and we shall see later that Max’s ‘obsession’ with the highest quality sound continues today. Since that time the installation of sound and projection equipment in multiplexes around the UK has become big business for BTS, who installed equipment for Showcase Cinemas and are the main equipment supplier and installer to CineUK who own and operate the Cineworld chain, with around 400 screens. In total BTS has equipped well over 700 cinema screens in both multiplexes and independent cinemas around the UK, which is about a quarter of all cinema installations, a remarkable feat for such a small company, and the number continues to grow. General Manager Sean, who came from CIC and joined BTS some 18 years ago, not long after it began, told me that the company currently has 13 people work-
ing for it, all of whom are real enthusiasts, with a keen interest in film. I guess that I was surprised at how few this number was, since I am constantly meeting BTS people at all manner of special events where they have usually just finished installing some new piece of temporary equipment, either film or digital projection kit, and are then supervising the show. I can confirm that they always appear to be bubbling with enthusiasm and thoroughly enjoying what they are doing, radiating that air of professionalism that makes it plain that they know what they are doing and are determined to see that everything is ‘just right’. For projection types the opportunity to mount a special show and to ensure that the performance is the very best that it could be must be a far more interesting role than the day to day grind of keeping twelve screens fed with film at your typical multiplex. The guys I know work very hard, though, often doing early morning maintenance and service work at cinemas before putting on their evening ‘shows’. Sean said that whilst ‘recruiting’ might not be the most appropriate term, the growing business means that BTS is currently on the look out for more skilled and experienced staff, so if you fit that description and can also provide the required enthusiasm, it might be worth giving him a call! There is more to BTS than mutiplexes Although the equipping of multiplexes is the major ‘bread and butter’ work of the company, and it was good to hear that BTS has contracts to install another half a dozen multiplexes for three different companies over the next 18 months, there have been a few ‘lean’ periods without much multiplex building work, and the company survives and grows by being involved in a wide range of different business areas, although all are related to cinema. The coming of digital cinema brought new opportunities for BTS to seize, and the company has sold 2K equipment to companies including Cinesite, Arri Media, Midnight Transfer, MPC, Capital FX, The National Film Theatre, Mr Young’s Preview Theatre, Universal Pictures International, Grand Central Studios, Jim Allison Editing, and Disney. Information Technology is vital The arrival of the all-digital multiplex, and the need to ensure that all installations comply with the DCI specifications, has presented BTS with IT requirements that mirror the challenges found in the largest of banks and telecommunications companies. All the BTS engineers are finding that their computer technology skillset is growing as fast as their skills in installing and operating motion picture equipment. The involvement of specialist IT consul-
cinema technology - june 2007
tancy services has allowed BTS to install permanent private network links directly into a number of their clients’ projection suites, over which the performance of their digital projection and sound equipment can be continually monitored, and any faults highlighted. Remote assistance and training for new equipment features can be given to projectionists via the networks; they can now be personally shown how to perform a particular show programming operation, rather than just talked through it over the phone or handed a tedious manual. BTS is also able to extend access to its network to their suppliers, for instance to enable NEC’s engineers in Japan to directly assist with any faults or queries that might occur in the UK venues where their equipment is installed. Being able to involve distant manufacturers so closely and easily in working UK multiplexes in this way also means that the multiplex operators’ actual experiences and wishlists can be fed through BTS directly to the equipment designers in real time, and they are then able to include this feedback in their future product designs. Very Special Events We have already mentioned the ‘special events’ side of the business , where BTS does the technical project planning, installation of the equipment and operational work for film premieres and other events at venues ranging from the Royal Albert Hall, where projection equipment was installed for a fantastic Bond movie premier, to the Royal Opera House where they showed a restored 35mm print of the 1925 Universal film ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ accompanied by Carl Davis conducting the full ROH orchestra, to Somerset House, where, as CT reported last year, BTS provided all the projection services required for the unique Film Four summer season - the nearest we get in the UK to the outdoor atmosphere of the ‘drive-in’ movie theatre. The Professional Market BTS also specialise in providing and installing professional equipment for film studios, preview theatres and laboratories, supplying high-speed projectors, digital projectors and stereo optical recording equipment as required. Over 40 studios have been supplied with state of the art projection and sound equipment. I knew that Theatre Seven at Pinewood, well known to many BKSTS members, had been equipped with projection and sound equipment supplied by BTS, but I didn’t realise that BTS still owns the digital projection kit, a Christie CP2000 projector and accessories, and effectively rents it out to users of the preview theatre. At the current time the company
Max Bell’s team provide projection facilities for a wide range of special events. In 2006 Projectionists Barry Wright and Steffan Laugharne (shown in a pre-fabricated projection box with twin 35mm film projectors), presented the shows at the Royal Opera House and at Film 4’s Summer Screenings in the grounds of Somerset House page 17
bell theatre services has a useful business installing digital projectors in various venues for premieres, for example, and sometimes these are left in place for a while afterwards, ready to be hired again if required. BTS work closely with film production and post-production supervisors to supply the facilities that they may require, and are well used to doing such jobs, often at very short notice and always ready to meet the demanding needs of their customers. They work with distributors on previews and premieres, offering a full technical service from making sure that the light and sound levels are right and that the projection equipment is optimally aligned to taking complete charge of all the technical equipment for a premiere, perhaps providing temporary 35mm or digital projection and surround sound facilities in non-cinema venues. BTS represent most of the major equipment manufacturers and know what is available, and this puts them in a unique position to suggest different or unusual solutions to customers’ problems, allowing them to provide practical technical answers to satisfy the most demanding needs. In the movie production environment, BTS, making good use of Max’s technical origins, have a long history of working with sound recording cameras, and have supplied and installed over twenty-five 35mm stereo optical recording cameras throughout the world. Equipment Rental The rental of both 35mm and 2K digital cinema projection equipment to different parts of the film business has now become a sizeable part of the work of BTS.They are regularly asked to provide projection equipment for films in production, postproduction, and live theatre shows, as well as the special events we described earlier. Since 2001 digital projection has slowly replaced film in some of these applications, and BTS has been involved with several major movie productions where the production teams recognised the advantages of being able to rapidly view ‘digital dailies’, without having to wait for the overnight processing of traditional film ‘rushes’. It soon became apparent that BTS regularly makes large capital investments in the latest equipment, and although it must be a huge advantage that the decision-making team is small and can rapidly decide to invest in a new piece of kit, there can never be any guarantees that all such ‘investments’ will pay off, especially in a rapidly changing field such as digital cinema projection. The company has bought a fair number of 2K digital cinema projectors, which it currently finds a ready rental market for, but it was interesting to learn that one of the page 18
early 1.3K DLP projectors (I remember raving over the excellent picture quality at the Odeon Leicester Square!) now spends most of its time in the extensive warehouse. Let us hope that the same story doesn’t repeat itself when 4K projectors come to market, as they are currently threatening to do see the report on the Sony 4K elsewhere in this issue. I was interested to learn that as well as over a dozen 35mm film projectors, BTS can provide 70mm and VistaVision equipment - truly a company that can cope with anything in cinema. Spares and Service - Keeping in touch I wasn’t too surprised to be told that BTS hold the UK’s largest stock of spare parts from several manufacturers and that they can offer same day dispatch to all UK circuits. Manufacturers represented include Barco, Christie, Ushio, Dolby, JBL, Kinoton, Strong, Kelmar and Cinemeccanica. I was, however, very interested to hear Sean say that the company takes this side of the business extremely seriously - as well as providing BTS with the chance to regularly demonstrate the excellent service that it can provide, the need for spares, consumables and accessories results in customers regularly phoning the office, and this regular contact is a valuable asset, enabling BTS to keep in touch with its customers. It was yet another illustration of the multi-faceted nature of the BTS business - if cinema installations were to drop for some reason, then there will always be the other different sides of the business to rely on, and you can see that this is an eminently sensible business plan. At the time of my visit the huge warehouse contained sound racks to accompany the NEC digital projectors that the company will shortly be installing in a cinema technology - june 2007
bell theatre services
Quite a Preview Theatre The tour of the BTS building definitely left the best until last, as we moved from the inevitable ‘factory’ atmosphere and, crossing a corridor, found something completely different - what looked like the entrance stairs to a proper cinema. The stairs, carpeted and lit with blue LEDs, lead to a beautifully laid out 30 seat state-of the-art evaluation theatre, screening room, dubbing theatre, private cinema, or whatever else you might want to call this terrific facility.
new 11 screen cinema at O2 in Greenwich, the new name for the Millennium Dome. Other NEC projectors were being unpacked, checked and tested in the substantial and very busy-looking preparation area. The BTS building certainly isn’t short of space, and you get the feeling that there is plenty of room for any future expansion that might be envisaged. The Projection Room Serving the superb screening room, which we shall look at in detail later, the projection room is also notable for having plenty of space, with room and porthole space for perhaps four projectors side by side, and it was currently hosting both a sizeable NEC NC2500S 2K digital cinema projector and a 35mm film projector, the new Kinoton FP38ECII Reference, with high-speed capabilities. The projection room is up on the first floor, and since projectors are fairly frequently moved in and out to check their technical capabilities, it was good to see that, unlike in many cinemas, considerable thought had been given to moving heavy equipment in and out. As the photo (above) shows, large doors to the first-floor projection room have been provided, close to the ‘goodsin’ area, and Max boasted that almost any projector can be moved in or out, (using a fork-lift truck, of course!) in a matter of minutes. page 20
Max was intimately involved with every facet of its design, and has used his lifetime experience of the business to build what he considers a ‘perfect’ screening room, and lest I might doubt such a claim it was fascinating to be given a completely unsolicited testimonial from one of Max’s customers, Point 1 Post, who at the time of my visit were using the theatre to dub a new ‘indie’ movie, ‘Dangerous Parking’, directed by Peter Howitt of ‘Sliding-Doors’ fame. The customer said, quite unbidden, ‘this room provides the best pictures and has the most highly-specified sound system of any theatre in the business’. Quite a recommendation! In more mundane terms the room is totally sound-proofed (as well as being good acoustically this provides useful security that people outside the building can’t hear that the latest blockbuster is being mastered there), it has excellent air-conditioning, an eight metre by 3 metre Harkness micro-perf screen, and a superb eight-channel JBL reference monitoring sound system. The design is really practical from a postproduction point of view - there are the expected ‘sofas’ at the front, and the back row of seats is carefully positioned so that you can see over the heads of the sound mixers, so getting a completely unobstructed view of the screen whilst still being able to talk with the sound mixers and communicate with the projectionists in the box if needed.
The photograph shows an impressive 48 fader sound mixer that has been installed specifically for the ‘Dangerous Parking’ job - I gather that this isn’t a normal part of the theatre’s equipment. All in all, then, a fascinating visit, with quite a few surprises. I previously knew Max from our Cinema Technology Committee meetings, where he comes across as a quiet, thoughtful man who radiates a knowledgeable confidence and is never short of an opinion or slow to express it! Max Bell and his team have created their own sizeable ‘niche’ in the cinema industry, doing a bit (sometimes quite a lot!) of everything, from supplying and equipping large numbers of mutiplexes to providing five current movie productions with equipment for their digital dailies. The rental business, the servicing and spares business, the ‘special events’ business all fit together in a surprisingly seamless way to provide a solid business with a great future. BTS really are managing to combine traditional film technology with the best that the new age of digital cinema can provide. Talking to Max you soon find that he hasn’t ever had an overall masterplan for the growth of the business, but has shrewdly used his in depth knowledge of the industry to move forward into new fields as he judged that there was a new opportunity. I got nowhere with pressing him on what the next 20 years will bring for the company, except to discover that he loves what he is doing, loves being a part of the cinema business, and perhaps the only revealing quote of the day was that he said that he intends to continue in the business for as long as he continues to enjoy it! I certainly enjoyed my visit. Jim Slater Contacts: email@example.com Sean Downey: firstname.lastname@example.org Bell Theatre Services, 9B Chester Road, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1LT, UK cinema technology - june 2007
cinema sound Along with many other engineers I was sad to hear of the passing of an old friend and colleague last year. It was not a person but was the much loved ARTA 80 from Abacus Electronics. Phil Plunkett, himself an early Dolby Engineer, left to start his own facility company where he developed various pieces of equipment for engineers and studios working with Dolby Stereo. His early real time analyser (RTA) was quite bulky, by todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s standard, but at an affordable price. Considering that the other popular analyser was the IVIE costing several thousand pounds his range of products soon became popular worldwide. When the ARTA80 came out it was an instant hit. Not only was it portable it contained many functions specifically designed for aligning Dolby processors. As well as measuring the frequency response for the B-chain it could also measure reverberation time and noise criteria. Plus for the A-chain it had left and right inputs so that azimuth etc. could also be set.
Real time audio analysers Dion Hanson (Cineman) looks at the technology of the ARTA 80 from Abacus and its modern equivalent from AcoustX
Fig 1. The USB-Pre
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So why has the ARTA80 come to an end? The answer is quite simply the computer. There are now many real time analyser programs on the market both free and for sale. However, many of these programs are simply for measuring frequency response and are only as good as the sound card in the laptop. They cannot be relied on to be accurate enough for calibrating a stereo system. Other systems that are for sale are for general use and do not have many of the facilities required by the cinema technician. I still use my ARTA80, but last year I nearly killed it by plugging in the wrong power supply. Thanks to Phil at Abacus it pulled through and is now as good as new. However, he did point out that although he can still service and recalibrate them, parts are becoming scarce. It is because of this I began to look around for a computer based one myself realising that the time would come when that is all that would be available. Last year whilst at Cine Expo in Amsterdam I came across an analyser from AcoustX. Which appeared to have all the facilities of the ARTA80 and more, all in one convenient package. After much deliberation (the Yorkshire habit still lingers) I decided to invest in a system. Now after almost a year I am noticing that I am not getting the ARTA80 out as much, particularly as I have to carry my laptop around with me any way to check out the alignment of Dolby Digital. Basically the system uses an external sound device to give accuracy to the readings and
as an interface between the microphone or processor and the laptop. This inputs via the computerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s USB port, where it also gets its power. So at least there is not another PSU to carry around. I bought mine direct from the States and with the dollar at its present level it is worth the hassle of importing it yourself. The system consists of three basic parts. The WinRTA software, the USB-Pre sound device, and the D2 microphone multiplexer with calibrated microphones. Since I already have four microphones and a multiplexer, plus a calibrated microphone I did not purchase this option. However, if I had done it would have all come in a very convenient carry case. Very handy for those engineers that have a boot full of tools and spares who prefer the security of well protected delicate test equipment. The USB-Pre (Fig 1) allows the audio to be digitised so that it can be processed within the laptop. It has various stereo line level inputs that are selectable plus a switchable phantom power for the measuring microphone or multiplexer option. When looking at the responses from film various options are available and just like the Abacus they are designed around the Stereo film processor, be it Dolby or any other. Below are two examples, frequency response from one of the optical pre-amp channels (Fig 2) and cell illumination uniformity as determined by Dolby Cat 566 test film (Fig 3). page 22
One facility that was missing from the ARTA80 was the ability to check crosstalk and azimuth, for which you required an oscilloscope. Now with the technology available via a laptop this is incorporated in the WinRTA software. Above are examples of the scope function measuring the cell cross-talk using the Cat97 (Fig4) and azimuth using Cat69P pink noise (Fig5). As you can see from the above screen shots the display is very easy to clear and easy to understand. Particularly if you want to save the results to use in a report for the customer. To the right hand side of the active window is a retractable side bar (not shown), which allows you to select all the different functions and then save them as a config file. All the above facilities are used to align the analogue A-chain but what of the BChain? Again the facilities closely follow that of the Abacus. They include the ability to use a single calibrated microphone or an optional four mic mutiplexer. Plus it is possible to calculate reverberation time (RT60) and noise criteria (NC). Once again the images are clear and easy to understand and can be scaled to give the engineer a more precise reading. The reverberation display gives a very good readout and allows you to plot the reverberation time over the full audio spectrum and shows the desired limits for the room being tested (Fig 6). With
the noise criteria curve it is possible to change the scale and thus see what the correct rating for the room is. If there is a particular troublesome background noise frequency it is quite readily seen as it is highlighted as above (Fig 7). Last but by no means least is the ISO response for the B-chain X-curve for stereo theatres. Once again a very clear display with the added advantage of being able to superimpose the ISO2969 curve in yellow but also itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s upper and lower limits in red. Fig 8). In the top right is a numerical display of the sound pressure level in the theatre which does have to be calibrated before any readings are taken. Once this is done for your particular microphone and entered into the config file it does not have to be done again. In my mind this is a worthy replacement of the ARTA80 and is well worth the cost. There are many analysers available on the web at present but if you are an engineer then you require a system that can be accurately calibrated, this is the answer. Finally to put the icing on the cake the full D2 system is THX approved. Are there any drawbacks? Yes just one and it is the same for all software-based systems. You cannot pick it up and easily walk round the auditorium like you could with the ARTA80. I shall miss it! Dion Hanson FBKS
cinema technology - june 2007
B•K•S•T•S The Moving Image Society
Sony 4K ready at last The UK launch of Sony’s Cine-Alta 4K SRX-R220
BKSTS digital training Digital awareness training course full report
A practical approach to 3D Dolby’s ‘wavelet triplet’ technique
European digital cinema Norway concludes Europe’s largest trial
A supplement to Cinema Technology The leading specialist publication for cinema industry professionals
Digital newsreel...Digital newsreel...Digital newsreel... EVERYTHING IN DIGITAL AT WYCOMBE EMPIRE Empire Cinemas has broken new ground with recent digital distribution deals, and after its High Wycombe complex became the first of its cinemas to go alldigital, the six screen cinema in Buckinghamshire recently reached a milestone by showing all major films in digital for the first time. Whilst a few distributors are still providing movies only in a traditional 35mm format, the Wycombe Empire was delighted to be able to present all films in all six screens in digital format for a week in April. With more distributors able and willing to provide digital copies, the High Wycombe site is one of the few cinemas in the UK to show the majority of its films in digital. Films such as The Painted Veil, Curse of the Golden Flower and Shooter were presented to High Wycombe film fans in digital format, as was the brilliantly successful Spiderman 3. Future titles such as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Shrek the Third and Oceans 13 as well as many of the other key summer releases are expected to be shown in digital form. Justin Ribbons, CEO of Empire Cinemas, said that with more distributors coming on board with digital technology, Empire can now offer the visual and audio benefits that digital cinema brings to substantially more cinemagoers
in High Wycombe. The audience response to the digital capabilities at Wycombe has been incredibly positive and Empire are delighted to be one of the first cinemas in the UK to offer this technology. Paul Damms, General Manager at Empire Cinemas High Wycombe, said that they had been carrying out exit surveys on their audiences and found that the reaction to the digital projection was really enthusiastic - many noticed the improvement in the picture quality and were impressed that the cinema is one of the first in the UK to go alldigital. The Kodak Digital Cinema set up at the Empire is interesting technically. It can handle 2D or 3D movies and automatically recognises the compression format used - JPEG or MPEG - and employs that for playback. It is designed to be used in network configurations, to take full advantage of the system’s capability, flexibility, efficiency and Kodak’s future Theatre Management System (TMS). TMS is designed to automatically load all content from multiple suppliers via hard drive or satellite in the future and distribute it to targeted screens over the in-cinema network. Decryption keys are also loaded, migrated and managed over the network. Bell Theatre Services coordinated the installation of the Barco projectors and the Kodak equipment. For further information on Empire Cinemas visit www.empirecinemas.co.uk
TOP SECURITY LEVEL IN SIGHT FOR DOLBY Achieving the high levels of Digital Cinema security demanded by the DCI Specifications has proved challenging, and most current equipment manufacturers haven’t yet managed to reach the standard that will finally be required. The Dolby® Digital Cinema server has been recommended for a Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 Level 3 validation certificate. InfoGard Laboratories, an accredited Cryptographic Module Testing Laboratory under Lab Code 100432-0 of the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program, submitted the recommendation for the Dolby Digital Cinema server to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation, as outlined by the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI) specifications. Through this achievement, Dolby Digital Cinema has moved further toward comprehensive DCI compatibility. Tim Partridge, Senior VP and General Manager, Professional Division, Dolby Laboratories said that Dolby have worked very hard to achieve this milestone for DCI compatibility, and that the Dolby Digital Cinema system has been designed to provide the market with reliable security solutions. Dolby are thrilled to be the first company to announce that their digital cinema server is in line for FIPS Level 3 certification, and recognise that it is important that all vendors will have to reach this level of content protection to promote the transition to digital cinema worldwide. Achieving FIPS Level 3 compliance would mean that the Dolby Digital Cinema server meets the highest level of protection required by DCI to prevent thieves and hackers from accessing the “master-quality” motion picture files used in digital cinema systems. FIPS are security standards developed by the NIST and cover detailed specifications for physical and mechanical design, electronic
circuitry, software, interfaces, and algorithms. Tom Caddy, General Manager and Laboratory Director, InfoGard Laboratories. said that InfoGard has completed a very comprehensive and rigorous 140-2 validation test of the Dolby Digital Cinema server, and have submitted the validation test report. They are confident that the Dolby Digital Cinema server will receive a FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validation certificate. The official NIST validation process is expected to take six months.
TECHNICOLOR MASTERING FOR MEET THE ROBINSONS Technicolor Digital Cinema provided the digital cinema mastering and distribution for Meet the Robinsons, a computeranimated film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. Distribution in both 2D and 3D Versions went to a broad range of Digital Cinema providers, representing the widest Digital Cinema release to date. Technicolor digitally mastered and distributed Meet the Robinsons for 892 screens worldwide. In the USA the feature was distributed to 582 screens in Disney Digital 3D (TM) and 138 screens in digital 2D. The feature was distributed internationally to 105 screens in 3D and 67 screens in 2D. In addition, Technicolor created all traditional 35mm film prints for the release. Thomson, who own Technicolor Digital Cinema, participated with Walt Disney Pictures on this important digital cinema release. Technicolor Digital Cinema offers distribution services for all digitally equipped theatres worldwide. As part of its beta test in North America and Europe, Technicolor has installed digital cinema projection systems with several prominent exhibitors including ArcLight Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome, Mann Theatres, National Amusements, Wehrenberg Theatres, Zyacorp’s Cinemagic Stadium Theatres, digital projection - june 2007
digital newsreel and Kinepolis Group in Belgium. Thomson intends to carry out a rollout of complete digital projection systems in up to 5,000 screens over the next three to four years, and has longer term plans to equip at least 15,000 screens in the United States and Canada, through the initial rollout and additional phases, over the next 10 years.
DUAL PROJECTOR DIGITAL 3D BRIGHTENS THE FUTURE FOR CINEMAS Atlab Image & Sound Technology (AI&ST) has supplied and commissioned the first two-projector stereoscopic 3D commercial digital cinema sites in Australia and New Zealand. The sites, in Brisbane, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand were ready for the release of Disney’s feature, “Meet the Robinsons”. Using the newly updated Dolby Digital Cinema System and separate left eye and right
eye projectors that are fitted with fixed circular polarising filters, the sites are able to reproduce 3D images with stunning depth and clarity. Because there are two projectors, this system provides greater light output than active-shuttered single projector set-ups used elsewhere, which means that the system can be used in cinemas with a larger seating capacity. Additionally, no third party license fees are payable - UK cinema operators have told me that substantial licence fees are involved whenever they show some forms of 3D. Both factors positively contribute to greater box office potential. Twin Christie CP2000S projectors are used (based on Texas Instruments DLP Cinema(tm) “dark chip”) to deliver high performance projection for a variety of screen sizes up to 23 metres. The CP2000S user interface, a simple touch panel, ensures that projection personnel are perfectly at ease when using the Digital Cinema Projector. The Dolby® Digital Cinema system is used at these 3D cinema sites, and supports both JPEG
2000 and MPEG-2 file formats. The system offers superb picture quality, simplified operation, and outstanding reliability, plus the highest level of security in the business as well as meeting Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) recommendations and integrating easily with existing cinema automation and sound systems. Details: AI&ST Sales and Marketing tel +61 (0) 7 3265 2415 or email@example.com
THREE SONY 4Ks AT GUILDFORD ODEON I am not sure that some of the excessive PR hype surrounding the announcement of the event should have ever been allowed past the copy-writer’s e-mail filter, but even if, like me, you are put off by hyperbole such as “Media Alert The Future of Digital Cinema Starts Today’ and ‘Those lucky enough to book tickets will become part of cinema History’, it will certainly be of interest to Cinema Technology readers to know that the ODEON Guildford has become the first
venue ‘to commercially screen a movie in true 4K, four times the resolution of High Definition TV’, and even more interesting to learn that three Sony 4K SXRD Digital Projection systems have been installed in screens 1, 4 and 5 at the ODEON Guildford and are now being used regularly as part of Odeon’s on-going process of betatesting digital cinema equipment from different manufacturers. Sony’s more technical guys were happy to provide some practical details of the set up at Guildford, which was installed by Sound Associates and Sony’s own engineering team, who are monitoring the equipment during the trials. The Guildford installation uses three of Sony’s first-generation digital cinema systems based on the SRX-R110C projector, shown overleaf, producing 10,000 ANSI Lumens, and it is interesting to compare this installation with the SRX-R220 installation at Odeon Leicester Square, which is described in a following article. The Guildford projectors work with the Sony LMT-100 Media Block and a third party RAID storage system. The LMT-100 Media Block can decrypt and decode
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4K and 2K movie files (i.e. 4096 x 2160 and 2048 x 1080 images) which have been compressed using JPEG2000 and packaged as DCI compliant Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs). Core functionality of the Media Block includes: • Decryption of the AES encrypted movie image and audio data using the appropriate Key file • JPEG2000 decoding of 4K and 2K files • Subtitle generation and overlay onto the movie images • AES/EBU digital audio output • Addition of Forensic Marking (Fingerprinting) • Fibre channel link to RAID storage system The LMT-100 also includes a slot to accommodate a single, optional input board which allows the projector to be connected to sources of Alternative Content. All the digital cinema equipment is contained within Sony’s Security
Enclosure to provide the necessary physical security, as required by DCI. Content security is a high priority in the DCI specification which requires that projection systems must be physically protected from tampering to avoid unauthorised copying of a movie. Sony has implemented a Security Enclosure which encloses the entire projection system (projector, Media Block and RAID array) and it is designed to meet the tight security criteria required by the DCI which is the FIPS-140-2 standard for physical security. [FIPS – Federal Information Processing Standards] The Security Enclosure system includes the following components; • Physically secure enclosure with anti-tamper switches on all doors • Projectionist’s User Interface Terminal • SMS server hardware for managing projector, Media Block and RAID and monitoring cavity security
• Uninterruptible power supply • Connector panel for DCP ingest and Alternative Content The Guildford installation is controlled by Sony’s LSM-10 Screen Management software. The SMS "Screen Manager" user interface to the projection system supports operations for the projectionist, show manager, administrator and maintenance users. The Screen Manager software is hosted on a PC which can be located in the projection booth or central control room. The SMS system software undertakes several functions: • Communication with the auditorium (or presentation system) devices such as the projector, media block and automation system • Manages ingest, registration and management of content and keys • Show playlist management including scheduling and playback control • Cavity security system to provide physically secure environment within the digital cinema enclosure while allowing authorised access for maintenance • Interfacing with the Theatre Management Systems. The Guildford development coincided with the launch of Spider-Man 3, an excellent example of a movie that was post produced in 4K to give image quality (well, resolution!) four times greater than traditional post production methods. This 4K quality was maintained throughout the movie’s life-cycle by releasing the movie as part of a 4K DCP (Digital Cinema Package) and having it played out on a fully DCI (Digital Cinema Initiative) compliant (the manufacturer’s claim) 4K cinema server and delivered to the screen using the 4K high resolution projectors. As I have seen for myself on several occasions now, the 4K high-resolution images that these projectors deliver really are stunning. Having the ability to run blockbuster movies in multiple screens (Guildford has shown Spiderman
on the three Sony 4Ks, their existing Christie 2Ks, and on 35mm) provides cinemas with enormous flexibility and the potential to maximise initial takings from major movie launches. Trials such as the one at Guildford will enable cinema chains to learn much about the business case for the future rollout of digital cinema nationwide. Jim Slater
CHESNEY JOINS AAM
Arts Alliance Media (AAM) has appointed Paul Chesney as Director of Business Development. He was previously SVP, Sales & Marketing at Deluxe Media Services. At AAM he will focus on strengthening the company’s film distributor relationships and its ability to service and support digital cinema distribution with DCI-compliant digital cinema print packages, including encoding, encryption, mastering, duplication and delivery, as well as security key management. During his 6 years at Deluxe, Chesney’s achievements included developing successful strategic business and marketing plans to ensure company growth, and negotiating key contracts and alliances throughout Europe, Paul spent many years in the music and home entertainment industries, with companies including Technicolor, Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. and his appointment reinforces AAM’s commitment to being the leaders in the European digital cinema market.
digital projection - june 2007
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Sony 4K for cinemas at last Jim Slater reports positively on the UK launch of Sony’s Cine-Alta 4K SRX-R220 high-brightness digital cinema projector During the last couple of years most manufacturers of Digital Cinema projectors have concentrated on getting their 2K equipment into cinemas, and on learning from each installation how to make the often small but important modifications that are required to make this kit fit into the busy everyday working environment of a conventional cinema. They have received valuable feedback from the projection staff in charge of the current 250 or so UK installations, and have learned how to tie in the digital equipment with the different cinema automation systems that were designed for 35mm use. In more recent months they concentrated on making the modifications necessary to bring their equipment into the closest possible compliance with the still-developing DCI technical specifications, invariably involving changes to the server equipment. Those involved with the ‘mastering‘ of digital movies have been working closely with their cinema colleagues to try to achieve interoperability, whereby a single digital cinema package on hard drive could be guaranteed to work on different types of digital cinema equipment. Even more recently we seen successful attempts to reduce the cost of 2K digital projection equipment, as Texas Instruments have brought out a new generation of smaller DLP™ chipsets. The new 0.98 inch DMD (Digital Micro-mirror Device) offers the same pixel resolution (2048x1080) as its larger 1.2 inch counterpart, but its smaller size allows for a smaller, more
compact package, lower power consumption, lower operating costs and longer lamp run-times, and is particular suitable for many cinemas that have only modest screen sizes. Whilst all this has been going on, Sony, which already makes digital video projectors in all shapes and sizes, has remained somewhat apart from the Digital Cinema competition, knowing that it needed to look very carefully at how it could add something extra to the cinema experience. Based on Sony’s heritage in digital movie production, where its camera technology has been used to produce numerous Hollywood movies over several years, and recognising the opportunities offered within the DCI Specification, they decided to become the first supplier to develop a 4K Digital Cinema system. For some years now the company has made it plain that its plans were to introduce 4K (4096 x 2160 pixels) cinema projection equipment based on its very different SXRD™ (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) technology. This allows for a tiny pixel pitch of 8.5 micrometres and an inter-pixel gap of 0.35 micrometres, which should mean that it is virtual impossible to distinguish individual pixels or any patterning due to the regular spacing of pixels and the gaps between them. The narrower pitch and thin gap translate into quicker refresh rates, which should produce smoother moving images. Three SXRD units are used to generate the high-resolution colour images. Sony has been showing off 4K projectors
using its SXRD technology for some time, and at cinema exhibitions around the globe and at IBC in Amsterdam we have been able to watch selected movies, generally with excellent results, although the company kept many details close to its chest, and at IBC, for example, wouldn’t let us see the critical DCI SteM evaluation material, which left some of us wondering, unreasonably perhaps, what it had to hide! My guess at the time was that it was still finalising the colorimetry of the projectors to meet the demanding DCI specs, but other experts from cinema companies said that the images were simply not bright enough to produce the ‘punch’ needed for a modern digital cinema screen. Although Sony has a generally successful history of doing things its own way, some in the cinema exhibition industry wondered if the
digital projection - june 2007
projector profile cinema’, with 4 times the pixels of HD images, but will also lead to cinemas providing a whole new range of Alternative Content which will provide cinemagoers with new experiences and the opportunity to see many events ‘better than live’, as well as providing the cinema industry with new sources of revenue. He explained that much high-end professional image creation and capture work is set to move to a new 4K platform, and that 4K productions from digital cameras such as DALSA and RED are growing, and promised that Sony will soon be bringing out its own 4K Digital Cinema camera which will be targeted at high-quality movie making as well as making the production of 4K Alternative Content easy.
company really would be able to adapt from its TV origins (although it has a long history in the movie making business of course) to satisfy the needs of a very different business. They did consult the industry, made sure that the new projectors would fit into a standard booth space with standard window clearance and would be compatible when running side by side with existing projectors, and they obviously did listen to the earlier complaints of lack of brightness. Some cinema people had earlier been treated to demonstrations of an SXRD projector that used two xenon lamps to achieve the required levels of illumination. These worked well, but it was interesting that talking to cinema operators immediately before this launch they still thought (wrongly as it turned out!) that two lamps were being used and that the extra running costs of twin lamps were likely to prove prohibitive. The UK launch took place at the Odeon Leicester Square, where a CineAlta 4K SRXR220 projector had been installed at one end, side by side with the regular Cinemeccanica film projectors, and with a Barco DP100 2K projector at the other end of the row. The Odeon Leicester Square has certainly seen a good many digital projectors come and go in the last five years or so since the first 1.3K machine was installed!
all the ancillary equipment including lamphouse, server and media block, and since you obviously don’t need a platter, it doesn’t actually take up much more space than a standard 35mm rig. I was interested to learn that Sound Associates had worked with the Sony engineers on the installation of the new projector. Eric Siereveld, Director of Digital Cinema for Sony, welcomed the sizeable audience of cinema people and journalists to the plush auditorium, and gave an interesting introduction with the warning ‘watch the guys in the east, they are moving faster than you!’ He explained that Sony are starting behind the other suppliers of 2K digital projectors, but that they deliberately decided to wait until 4K technology was right before they entered the market. He said that 2K projection is little different from the HDTV pictures that people can have in their homes, and that it is vital that cinema can and does offer more than you can get in the home. Sony’s 4K Digital Cinema projectors will not only provide pictures and sound orders of magnitude better than you can get by installing an HD ‘home
Mark Clowes, Marketing Manager, explained that the production of programme material for 4K projection is now becoming easier - companies like Filmlight can scan film at 6K, making for a straightforward conversion to 4K. Sony’s 4K Digital Cinema projection system has now received public support from a number of Hollywood studios, including Warner, 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and Sony, and others were already happy to provide programme material although they had not made public announcements. The time is therefore right to introduce 4K Digital Cinema projection worldwide - the technology is with us and the programming is available. Following its US launch in March, and the subsequent news that it is to be installed in dozens of screens in the Muvico Entertainment cinema network, The CineAlta 4K SRXR220 will begin shipping to UK customers in July 2007, and has been specifically designed for digital projection in commercial cinemas. Fitted with a 4.2kW lamp, the SRX-R220 can provide 18,000 ANSI Lumens, which, as many Cinema Technology readers will know, is equivalent to being able to put an image of 14 foot-Lamberts onto a 20 metre wide screen if we assume a standard screen gain of 1.8. The projector also has a smaller brother, the SRX-R210 which can produce up to 10,000 ANSI lumens, with a choice of 3kW
As the photographs show, the SRX-R220 is a sizeable beast, but its cabinet contains Eric Siereveld, Sony Director of Digital Cinema (left) and Marketing Manager Mark Clowes
digital projection - june 2007
projector profile A full range of automated zoom and focus lenses is offered, and it was explained how these are used, with memorised positions, to ensure that Cinemascope images are displayed at full 4K horizontal resolution. As the diagram bottom of page illustrates, the imaging panels of both 2K and 4K systems have to be letterboxed for screening Cinemascope, and this reduces the vertical resolution from the native imaging chip resolution of 2048 x 1080 or 4096 x 2160 pixels. When a 4K image is letterboxed the vertical resolution is still well above that of HDTV, thus ensuring that cinema images remain well ahead of home entertainment systems. It is straightforward to provide the best screen-fill for other common formats, and image masking is built-in, with enough range to cope with a 10 degree projector tilt. How about the pictures? or 2kW lamps, and these are seen as ideal for producing 14fL on smaller screens of up to 17 metres and 14 metres respectively. Lamp life is expected to be around 500 hours, and lamp brightness can be adjusted in 10 watt increments. As well as displaying immaculate 4K images, the projector can take standard 2K Digital Cinema files and automatically up-res them to show images at 4K - although without the extra detail that true 4K can provide, of course. Switching between 2K and 4K is seamless - none of the ‘re-boot the server when you change mode’ problems that some earlier projector designs suffered from. The projector was designed to conform to the requirements of the Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) Specification as published, and although no manufacturer can honestly claim to be “DCI Compliant” at the moment, since the test systems are not yet in place, Sony are aware of the continuing work of DCI in defining additional areas of the Digital Cinema process and intend that their products will
continue to fulfil the requirements of the DCI as its work continues and additional amendments are published. Digital security has been given significant attention. The projection unit includes a full security enclosure, with screwless key-locked panels that must be secured before projection can take place and anti-tampering sensors. The projector housing is designed to meet FIPS 140/2 [Federal Information Processing Standards] anti-tamper security requirements. The enclosure also features built-in rack space for Sony’s LMT-100 4K Media Block and an attached Redundant Array of Independent Disk storage unit, or for a compatible server from another manufacturer. Sony’s Screen Management System can easily control the entire system, and the company will be supporting its digital cinema systems with flexible maintenance service plans, including the Sony’s CineWatch™ remote monitoring and diagnostics service to offer comprehensive customer support and maximize operational efficiency.
So, having looked at the technology, what were the pictures like? I have to say, as one who has a lot of experience of looking at digital pictures, Sony had put on an excellent demonstration, using a wide range of programme material from a variety of different sources and sometimes doing those difficult split-screen demos which are always useful when trying to make comparisons. We saw scenes from Mystic India and from Baraka that had originally been shot on 65mm film and subsequently scanned at 4K. The images were magnificent, to my mind as good as the 65mm clips of the same movies that I have seen previously, so I would have to say that the 4K system is effectively ‘transparent’ to 65mm quality pictures, although I would have to see them side by side to be absolutely sure, of course! It is this type of demonstration material that could convince anyone of the advantages of going 4K for the ‘cinema experience’. A 2K Sony Bravia commercial was noticeably less sharp than the 4K material, and also lacked a certain ‘umph’, after the unfair comparison with what it followed. 2K originated material from Curse of the Were-Rabbit looked fine when ‘up-resed’ to 4K, as you would expect from such material, but to my mind the other 2K film material didn’t look any different from what I would expect from a 2K projector, although Sony claim that the images are better for being passed through the 4K projector. The split screen demo from Stormbreaker used a 2K DI image and a 35mm film answer print equivalent side by side. Both images were very good (2K standard to my eyes!) but the material contained lots of fast moving material that didn’t really give you time to make detailed comparisons - I would have chosen something different! When the split screen images fell right you could detect very slight differences in brightness and colorimetry in the whites, but the two really did match well and those making the demo were to be congratulated. In the fast moving scenes
digital projection - june 2007
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CAN YOU SEE THE PIXELS? A nice picture showing the audience on stage at The Odeon Leicester Square taking the opportunity for an ‘up close and personal’ look at the superb images provided by the Sony CineAlta 4K SRX-R220 Digital Cinema projector - and No, you couldn’t see any pixels, but the perforations are obtrusive at a viewing distance of one metre!
in Stormbreaker and Hot Fuzz I would have liked to be able to say that the parts containing lots of movement were noticeably sharper (smoother movement, the Sony information said) but in all honesty I would need to see much more comparison material before reaching such a judgement. The truth is that ‘standard’ JPEG 2000 compressed 2K cinema images actually cope with fast movement very well, unlike my overcompressed digital TV images, but that is another story! I was absolutely delighted that the demo included a run through of the DCI 4K StEM Standard Evaluation Material, which I had never before seen at 4K. Not only were the pictures excellent, as one would have hoped, but the voiceover from Howard Lukk and the DoP who had made the test film really gave some useful detail, showing you what to look for in the different scenes and different lighting set-ups. The test material uses 4096 x 2160 images in the form of 16 bit Tiff Files, X’, Y’, Z’ Colour Corrected, and judging from the way it displayed this material, the Sony 4K projection system passes with flying colours! We shan’t really be able to make professional judgements of this type, of course, until the Fraunhofer Institute completes its work on the DCI process to test specification compliancy in order to gain certification of digital cinema equipment, and this applies to all the other makes of Digital Cinema equipment as well. We were also treated to a 4K clip from Spiderman 3, which was excellent, with lots of detail in the blacks and superb fast moving images. The World Premier of Spiderman 3 had earlier been screened in Japan using the CineAlta 4K SRX-R220, the first time that a World Premier had been shown in 4K. The digital movie was being shown at the Odeon Leicester Square, and a previous inaccurate rumour had told me that its UK premier too was to be on the 4K projector, but for reasons unknown that wasn’t true - the 35mm film copy had actually been used instead. We were invited, in separate groups, to visit the projection room, which became a little crowded, but it was great that the complete page 32
sequence of demo clips was run again so that those waiting in the auditorium could have a closer look. As the photograph above shows, many people took this idea literally, and went right up to the screen to see if they could see the pixels. I can report that, of course, you couldn’t see them, no matter how close you got, but screen perforations become a nuisance at such close range! Mark Clowes told me that the only way to see the pixels is the time-honoured method of holding a piece of paper up to the screen whilst displaying a clear test signal, and that they had used the projector’s internally generated green cross hatch on a black background to focus the projector by sharpening up the green pixels making up the cross hatch. In the projection room we were able to take a close look at the projector, opened up in all its glory, and it was good to be able to get answers to all our questions, without the ‘I am sorry I can’t tell you that...’ responses that often go with new equipment launches. They were even happy to give an indication of the price of the kit (although you will do much better if you buy hundreds, you understand....!). At about 75,000 Euros for the complete kit, the 4K equipment seems to be around 20% more expensive than 2K kit, which doesn’t sound too outrageous, although 2K prices are falling as production and sales increase, and I can’t see that running costs need be very different, although a lot depends upon the eventual cost of those all important xenon lamps. One item not mentioned during the day was 3D projection. We have all seen how the DLP systems can provide 3D from a single projector, by switching very quickly between frames at rates of up to 120fps. At this year’s NAB, dual-stacked Sony SXRD projectors were used to show the NBA All-Star game in 3D, and all the reports said that the fast-moving images were spectacular. I have commented in the past on the lack of light from some single-projector 3D systems, in spite of their use of brighter than normal xenons, so it was interesting to hear that Sony currently use two
projectors, and I note too that a number of other manufacturers are also deciding to use this solution for the ultimate in 3D displays (see ‘Dual projector brightens future for 3D cinema’ in Digital News). It was a very good day - nice to see a piece of equipment launched together with lots of information and the chance to see plenty of demonstration material and to ask all those difficult questions, which the Sony team did their very best to answer. I look forward in the months to come to seeing some real movies on Sony’s magnificent CineAlta 4K machines. Jim Slater SRX-R220 - Brief Specs SXRD (Silicon X-tal Reflective Display) 1.55 inch diagonal Resolution (H x V) 4096 x 2160 pixels Light output 14 ft-L on a 20-metre wide screen Contrast More than 2000:1 Intra-frame contrast More than 100:1 Projector Dimensions 740 (W) x 1550 (H) x 1395 (D) mm (29 5/32 x 61 1/32 x 54 32/31 inches) 3-SXRD Panel Optical Prism Block System Power requirements For Lamp: 180-230 VAC/3-phase, 50 Hz/60 Hz or 342-456 VAC) 3-phase For Electric Circuit: 100-240 VAC/Singlephase, Power consumption 3-phase: 5.0 kW for lamp (when using 4.0 kW lamp bulb) Single-phase: 1.2 kW for electric circuit Electric current 3-phase: 25 A (max.) Single-phase: 12 A (max.) Operating temperature +5 °C to +35 °C (+41 °F to +95 °F) Storage temperature -20 °C to +60 °C (-4 °F to +140 °F) Operating humidity 35% to 85% (without condensation) Sony, SXRD and CineAlta 4K are trademarks of Sony. digital projection - june 2007
digital cinema training
Putting on a very different (digital) show! Jim Slater reports on the recent BKSTS David Lean Foundation sponsored Digital Awareness Training course for projectionists which combined showmanship with skills. and training with technology. From the moment the lights went down in Screen 12 of the Cineworld Birmingham, it became obvious that this was going to be a BKSTS ‘training course’ with a difference. No words were needed, and none were said as, in a dramatic opening to the session, we were treated to a superb clip from Star Wars, with immaculate images from the Christie CP2000 digital projector and wonderful, all-enveloping sound. I had seated myself on the front row, so as to be able to take photographs of the speakers, and with the pictures on the huge screen filling my field of vision, rapidly began to understand what an ‘immersive experience’ watching cinema under these conditions can be. Even sitting ‘too close’ I couldn’t spot any flaws or blemishes, and was able to marvel at the fine detail of the computer generated imagery which has made the Star Wars pictures so popular. Around 100 people had booked for the day (pictured above in the Cineworld reception area), which provided a significant early
indication of how digital cinema is becoming relevant in projectionists’ minds, and starting to impact on their working lives. You could feel the ‘buzz’ in the audience of projectionists, many of whom, it turned out later, were experiencing digital cinema for the very first time, as the film was faded out and the spotlight fell on Paul Schofield (right), who had, with other members of the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee, arranged the day, and was to act as Chairman, introducing the various speakers. Paul may now be Technical Manager of Odeon UCI Cinemas, but those who know him realise that he started his career as a trainee projectionist at the Odeon Nottingham, and that his long experience has led him to realise that being a projectionist involves far more than just showing films - it is actually ‘putting on a show’. Paul’s ‘showman’ tendencies were well demonstrated at the Digital Awareness Day, as he had, after weeks of careful planning and negotiation, arranged that each of the speakers was preceded with appropriate, carefully ‘choreographed’ film or digital clips, each helping to get over the main message of the day, that Digital Cinema is coming, and we had better be ready for it. Paul welcomed everyone, thanked the David Lean Foundation for the grant that had made it possible to put on the Digital Awareness Day without having to charge projectionists for the privilege, Cineworld for providing the excellent venue, and Bell Theatre Services for sponsoring the refreshments. He expressed his pleasure that so many had taken the trouble
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to come, some from as far away as South Wales and Bournemouth. It was also good to see that several Cinema Technology Committee members had come to support the event, some travelling long distances at their own expense. Paul said that it was somewhat ironic that at time when digital cinema is making the headlines the actual film industry has never been busier. There are growing numbers of new cinemas, new screens and the demand for 35mm prints has never been higher. He gave the background to the development of D-Cinema in recent years, and said that there will be around 280 D-Cinema screens in the UK by the end of 2007, most of them down to the efforts of the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network. Even though this is still a page 33
digital cinema training small proportion of the UK’s 3500 screens, the digital growth rate is fantastic and can be expected to increase further in the next few years. Equally importantly, the major film distributors have said that 95% of their movies will be available to cinemas in digital form. He spoke about the need for a new generation of projectionists who would need to have IT (Information Technology) skills as well as their knowledge of film projection. There then followed a superb demonstration, where clips from the films Shooter and Disturbia were shown. In each case we were first shown a few minutes from a good quality 35mm film print, and then there was a rapid switchover to the digital projector showing the same material. The images from the 35mm projector were excellent, with no scratches or image judder and very few blemishes visible, even from my close viewing position (much better quality than I frequently see in cinemas, I have to say!) but even so it was perfectly clear when the changeover to digital took place - the images suddenly became sharper, clearer and crisper, perhaps just a shade brighter too. It was one of the best comparisons of film and digital projection that I have seen, and was much appreciated by those who hadn’t had the opportunity to see both together before. Rod Wheeler (below) from Barco then spoke about the design and construction of a Digital Cinema projector. He encouraged the audience to think about what makes a perfect moving image and showed by means of the well known ‘optical illusion’ that contrast plays a major part in obtaining a good-looking image. The small squares within the larger ones are all exactly the same colour grey, but the lightness of the background affects the way in
Mick Corfield in the spacious projection box at Cineworld Birmingham (Broad Street), where he and his team worked hard to provide the ‘Digital Awareness’ trainees in Screen 12 with an ever-changing mix of 35mm film material from the Kinoton FP40 and digital output from the Christie CP2000 projector (left), one of two at the site which were installed as part of the UK Film Council Digital Screen Network initiative. Powerpoint slides used by the speakers were projected from a small video projector at the back of the auditorium, and the ever-flexible projection crew also arranged spotlighting and microphones for the speakers. Mick said that all went well during the ‘show’ but that he and his team had had to sort out plenty of potential ‘hassles’ beforehand!
which we perceive the lightness of the small squares: the leftmost small square seems darker than the rightmost one. Rod gave a detailed look at the components that make up a digital projector, including the light source and the light modulator, and, using a handheld mirror he described the operation of the Texas Instruments DLP™ digital micromirror device and the clever way in which greyscales are obtained by rapidly oscillating the individual mirrors. He stressed the importance of keeping dust and dirt from the units, and ex-
plained how the Barco projector uses a sealed light-processing system to keep out any dirt. He introduced the projectionists to the concept of a colour gamut, using not only the usual IEC colour diagrams but also a wonderful ‘Rubik’s Cube’ that he had had specially constructed, showing the principles of how many different colours can be obtained from a digital projector. Rod explained how the streams of data making up a digital movie are decrypted and unpackaged in the projection room, stressing that the business is still in a learning phase, and he explained that for the D-Cinema projector to provide images from interlaced (video) signals is it is necessary to use a rescaler/switcher box like the ACS2048. In the last part of his talk Rod explained how the D-Cinema projector can be adjusted, both by electronically’ trimming the pixels’ and by using the motorised zoom lens, to achieve the various common aspect ratios used in the cinema. He finished with the observation that ‘A good digital picture is the sum of its parts!’ We were then treated to some delightful digital footage from the recently released Warner Bros. movie ‘300’ , and I was interested to see that although this was digitally projected it had still managed to retain ‘the film look’, with a carefully controlled ‘graininess’ on much of the imagery. Steffan Laugharne of Bell Theatre Services explained how in the last couple of years he had had to come to terms with understanding a whole new language of Digital Cinema jargon and terminology. Rather than just provide a boring list of terms and definitions,
digital projection - june 2007
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digital cinema training
Steffan Laugharne of Bell Theatre Services (left) and Rex Beckett.
he took the audience carefully through the digital cinema process from post production, through mastering, to packaging, and then into the projection room where unpacking and decryption comes into play. At each stage he described the operation and gave the correct terms, their abbreviations and acronyms, helping us to understand the processes and their terminology. Thanks to Dolby, those attending were given a printed copy of their ‘Digital Cinema Glossary’ to help keep some of the new terms in mind. [For Cinema technology Readers this Glossary was published in parts 1 and 2 of Training for Digital Projection, June and September 2006.] Steff provided lots of interesting facts and figures - a two-hour movie might take up 6 Terabytes uncompressed, which explains why we definitely need compression, but after JPEG 2000 encoding this comes down to perhaps 200 Gbytes, easily stored on a hard drive. He also A frame from the original 1933 version of King Kong that was digitally restored (left section) using Hewlett Packard Labs automatic software tools for dust removal and grain reduction.
spoke of the need to delay audio to match the two-frame processing delay that is typical in Digital Cinema, and I loved the way in which he gave an analogy whereby the digital KDM (Key Delivery Message) was equivalent to the padlock on a platter locking bar in normal cinema usage! Paul had somehow managed to persuade his friends at Warner Bros. to let us use a clip from their digitally restored and remastered King Kong, and it was great to see just how good some of the restored black and white archive footage could be when projected digitally - scarier than when new, I thought, but then I never saw the 1933 original! Rex Beckett, working for the National Film Theatre, then gave us an fascinating technical run-through of all that video stuff that many projectionists hate, purely because they don’t understand it properly, and how could they? Rex described how there are so many different formats to be coped with, and it is usually the poor projectionist who is presented with a bag containing an unknown tape format with the request that it be on screen in five minutes! Whereas anyone could take hold of a piece of 35mm film and work out what to do with it fairly quickly, there is little chance that you will be able to cope with a video format that you haven’t seen before. Surprise, surprise - Rex was there to ‘sell’ a new training course for projectionists that he is participating in during the next few months, a course that is specifically designed to show projectionists how to use a multimedia adaptor box (rescaler/switcher) to cope with all forms of Alternative Content. The course includes theory
sessions and practical workshops plus tutorial and ‘surgery’ sessions for those that need them. There is no doubt that such a course is vital if projectionists are to be confident of coping with whatever ‘Alternative Content’ or ‘Other Digital Stuff’ that is likely to be thrown at them, and Rex finished by showing a piece of video that had been fed directly into a projector, where any panning movement gave rise to blurry and strangely jerky images, then contrasting this with the same material that had been played out via a multimedia box, where all became good again. Katy Swarbrick from NFT was selling the course in the foyer outside, but if any projectionist wants to attend such a course (we were told that it is cheap, but I guess that most of you will still want the company to pay!) you can contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org Rex’s closing message was that Alternative Content is rarely as easy as it looks, and that the BFI course could help you to survive. We then saw some more clips from digital restoration projects, Casablanca in glorious, noise-free black and white, and the Warner Bros restoration of the original Technicolor ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’. Superb! Marc John (below) who works for City Screen and Doremi servers then provided a really upbeat assessment of the future for all sorts of exciting forms of Alternative Content. We saw (from 35mm film because it was easier that way for Marc to show his wares in a wide range of cinemas) clips from the famous O2 Bowie Concert, from a Tori Amos concert, from a ‘live’ Robbie Williams concert (above right) and from the Magic Flute opera from the Metropolitan Opera House, New York.
digital projection - june 2007
digital cinema training tant aspect of any cinema’s revenue stream, and she explained the role that CSA plays as a cinema contractor, effectively a ‘middle man’ between the advertisers and the cinema exhibitors, which needs to keep everybody involved happy. CSA is a full service agency selling the ‘space’ on cinema screens, producing ads, scheduling their showings, and then distributing and despatching them to cinemas. CSA handles about 90% of all cinema advertising, and thousands of reels are manually assembled and despatched each week.
As Marc said, ‘Seeing is believing’, and some of the imagery was really memorable and explained clearly why cinema customers will want Alternative Content. Marc said that the events had actually made money, and he shared with the audience some of his experiences in getting the content and putting on such shows, and said that he was absolutely convinced that live performances have a ‘wow’ factor which will ensure that they have a great future in cinemas. He praised Picturehouse, with their 47 screens (“small but not tiny”) for having faith in the concept of Alternative Content and for their ground-breaking work in putting on these events. He discussed the expected problems of getting the Alternative Content and the rights to show it, but raised a problem that I hadn’t expected when he said that the conventional film distributors (bookers) often make it difficult for cinemas to clear a screen for an AC performance - they insist that their contract stipulates that a cinema must put on their movie for every night of an agreed run. Marc said that he is working to overcome such business issues. He says that AC will be complementary and supplementary to the showing of movies, but could prove a useful source of extra income. Picturehouse cinemas, thanks to a deal with transmission company Arqiva, now has access to a UK-wide private satellite network to screen live entertainment and sports events in both standard and high definition. The network kicked off with the revived Amnesty International Secret Policeman’s Ball, which was screened across all 17 cinemas. Arqiva will maintain the permanent satellite infrastructure at the Picturehouse cinemas. The satellite receivers are connected to the cinemas’ digital projectors, equipping the cinemas to screen live events in Standard or High Definition. Although the HD pictures are naturally superb, Marc said that even Standard Definition pictures are excellent when passed through the company’s up-scaling equipment. Arqiva also provide what are effectively Outside digital projection - june 2007
Broadcasts when live events are to be shown. The live feeds are collected on location and distributed nationwide via satellites. Marc said that Picturehouse is committed to providing a diverse and innovative range of material, including lectures, music and sporting events, which will help drive new revenues while broadening the range of screenings. We saw some clips from AC of the World Cup 2006, from the Last Night of the Proms, and from a somewhat unusual ‘Big Screen Meditation’ event where the audience all seemed to be waving glow-sticks. Marc explained that after their first success with The Magic Flute from the Metropolitan Opera House New York, where £15 tickets had sold out at all their cinema sites, arrangements are now underway with the Met to present eight shows next year, as part of an ongoing cinema series which looks set to continue for the next ten years. He expected that the revenue raised from just a couple of these events would be enough to pay for the costs of installing all the equipment.
She explained the current methods of producing ads, and I was surprised to learn that most cinema ads are currently based on the ads made for TV. The TV originated tapes are transferred from formats such as DigiBeta and HDCam to 35mm film for showing in cinemas. For the future, to fit in with the needs of digital cinema operators, the ads will need to be prepared in the same format as the movies, using JPEG 2000 compressed material at 24 frames per second (not the 25fps which the TV ads will have used). CSA are already busy working on the transition to digital, but bear in mind that they still have to make the ads on 35mm film for the much larger numbers of conventional film screens, so there are no short-term cost savings for CSA in a move to digital. Angela explained that the ads would make the most of the superb digital sound available as part of the digital cinema system, and showed how instead of providing the sound from optical negs they will be delivering highquality broadcast .wav sound files to make up the digital cinema package. She explained the process of certification, approval and distribution of cinema ads, and foresaw a time when ads will be distributed via a digital network. The current system involves a good deal of paperwork, with ‘calendars’ indicating
Further ideas for AC included live ‘Q&A’ sessions with film directors , and Marc instanced Danny Boyle promoting ‘Sunshine’, saying that after seeing many new films audiences might appreciate being able to discuss them live with the directors. Marc summed up by saying that ‘we have the technology’, and that Alternative Content really can work technically and commercially, with the potential to address a wider demographic than current cinema audiences, but cinema chains wishing to get involved will need to be prepared to take some risks. Angela Garton (right) from Carlton Screen Advertising introduced her presentation with an amusing VW Golf advertisement on 35mm film, featuring a recreation of the famous ‘Singing in the Rain’ street scene - the dancing and singing stop when the Gene Kelly character comes across the astonishing new Golf! Angela said that advertising is a very imporpage 37
digital cinema training when the ads are to be shown and in which screens, and these need to be signed and returned to CSA as a guarantee that the ads were actually shown as scheduled. A change to digital distribution will allow for major savings here - the paperwork can disappear, with scheduling information being sent automatically and the cinema management system can send direct confirmation that any particular ad has been screened. Angela said that the current business model works pretty well, so asked the question ‘why change it?’ She saw digital ads as giving many benefits, including consistent quality, with no wear and tear, no need to rewind before reuse. She pointed out the importance of providing a good quality grade, with a different colour space from that used on TV, and again stressed the importance of providing the ads in exactly the same digital format as the features. In the longer term CSA should eventually find that production costs become lower as the need for film prints disappears. Typically CSA distributes 3500 reels each week around the cinema network, requiring an awful lot of ‘vans and cans’. The current cost of at least £10,000 to get national coverage of an ad puts off many potential advertisers, so if these costs could be reduced many more companies might decide to use cinema advertising, which has to be good for the business. Another benefit of going digital would be reduced deadlines - it can currently take from four working weeks to get an ad on screen, and a digital system could reduce this to a matter of days. This could also provide a new market for ‘last minute’ ads, providing yet another new revenue stream. Electronic versions of the calendars will eliminate the need for certificates of exhibition, and a digital network will provide enhanced communication between CSA and cinemas, removing the need for ‘what film are you showing now?’ telephone calls. Overnight reporting of what was played the previous evening would allow advertisers to receive detailed feedback on the effectiveness of their ads far more quickly, and a digital system would also allow for the rapid deletion of ads in an emergency - it can currently take a
fortnight to ensure that an ad is ‘pulled’ from all screens. Angela spoke of the exciting possibilities that games on the big screen could bring for advertisers, and foresaw that digital cinema would bring major benefits to CSA, to Advertisers, and to cinemas. She didn’t, however, anticipate any changes to the format of weekly advertising schedules in the near future. She finished her presentation by showing two ads, one for Coke and, displaying a deep understanding of the susceptibilities of her mostly male audience, the Lynx ‘Spray More Get More’ commercial which just happens to feature hundreds of bikini-clad girls attracted to the man wielding a Lynx spray! Paul Schofield then introduced the last piece of digital footage of the day, the Casino scene from Singin’ in the Rain, digitally refurbished by Warner Bros, and the immaculate images accompanying the Broadway Melody sequence certainly put a smile on faces throughout the audience as we shared the unspoken thought that this sort of showmanship is, and always has been, what cinema is all about. The speakers then gathered together for a panel Q&A session, and were subject to a barrage of interesting questions, from ‘How can the cinema cope with competition from high quality home-cinema systems,?’ to the
practicalities of using cinemas for Alternative Content, where cinemas might only be used by a relatively few people for any particular performance. Panel members felt that high quality digital projection (with 4K perhaps eventually taking the top-end place that 70mm once had in cinema) would help to ensure that the ‘going to the cinema’ experience remained unique, and Marc John felt that cinemas would eventually change from being places where you just go to watch a movie into multi-faceted entertainment centres. There were questions about possible problems for projectionists with missing KDMs, and Steffan stressed the need for good communication between cinemas and distribution managers. In answer to a question about ad distribution, Angela explained that digital ads might be distributed on USB drives along with the movie hard drives, and foresaw that satellite distribution would eventually prove cost-effective for ads. The questions and answers carried on long after the session supposedly finished, with many projectionists taking the chance to talk personally with the panel members - it was great to see from the amount of genuine two-way participation that all those attending considered that the Digital Awareness day really had been worthwhile. The Cinema Technology Committee will now be considering where next to hold a similar session. Thanks to the David Lean Foundation for funding the training course expenses, to Bell Theatre Services for sponsoring the refreshments, to Cineworld for providing the venue, to Warner Bros and other distributors for providing the film clips, and to Paul Schofield and for organising the day. Thanks to Susan and Dion Hanson for making it all happen, assisted by Angela Cook from Paul’s office, and Wendy Laybourn in the BKSTS office. Especial thanks to the technical team - Chief, Mick Corfield, ably assisted by Sean Newson and Matthew Kite, and to Cineworld Engineer Paul Davies. They really did work hard in the projection box to make the technical side of the day a real success.
digital projection - june 2007
digital cinema trial
Norway concludes Europe’s largest digital cinema trial Digital cinema consultant Patrick von Sychowski examines how the small Scandinavian country is preparing for a future without lm. There are many countries in the world vying for the title of becoming the first to switch over all of its cinemas to digital. Digital Cinema Ireland (formerly Avica Technology) has been promising for years to make ‘filum’ a thing of the past in all of the Emerald Isle’s 515 screens, though with only a handful of installations to date to its name. Singapore Media Development Authority (MDA) outlined a plan in 2003 to make the city-state a regional digital hub, with digitisation of cinemas heralding “a new era for the cinema industry”, though again only a few of its cinemas have digital capability today. Belgium looked set to have at least 50 per cent of its cinemas switch to digital when the country’s largest exhibitor Kinepolis announced a deal with Technicolor/ Thomson in June 2006, though protracted wranglings with studios about payment of so-called virtual print fees (VPFs) to offset the cost of the digital equipment have delayed the roll-out. In this situation of frustrated digital ambitions and stalled implementations, a recently concluded trial in Norway points the way for what could be the clearest path yet for a country to embrace digital for all of its cinemas. Add to this the fact that Norway has digital projection - june 2007
already achieved a similar first when it abandoned 35mm film for cinema advertising and switched to satellite-distributed digital files for all its cinemas in January 2002. Given the fact also that the Norwegian government has openly pledged to support a future digitisation with a significant cash contribution, and the case for the land of fjords being the land of digital cinema starts to look compelling. The NORDIC project (Norway’s Digital Interoperability in Cinemas) launched on 1 May 2006 and concluded on 30 April this year, having brought together the country’s leading cinemas chains and industry experts. The aim was to test as many different types of digital cinema equipment that meet or aspire to meet Hollywood’s DCI specifications as possible, with a variety of films and other forms of content.
the cinema industry face the digital future.” As well as screening both Hollywood and domestic films in the JPEG-2000 format, the project has also pioneered alternative uses for cinemas. In one such instance, shown in our photographs, laparoscopic images taken by a miniature camera inside a patient’s body at a university hospital were transmitted live to a cinema full of surgeons. Dave Spilde (left) and Prof. Perkis pictured in frot of Telenor’s office on a very Norwegian winter day
“We have had a tremendous amount of problems,” the project’s spearhead Professor Andrew Perkis, of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, revealed at the projects wrap-up presentation at the Kosmorama Film Festival, “and that is precisely what we expected and wanted. By having tackled these problems head-on we have learned a great deal that will help page 39
digital cinema trial multiplex to allow a digital title to migrate over time, as well as installing digital cinema equipment in smaller towns near big villages to measure what impact day-and-date distribution of first run digital features will have on cinema going in various locations.
“We are not doing this to get a plaque saying ‘First Country to go Digital,’” said Dave Spilde, director of technology at Unique Digital, a partner in the project and also responsible for digitising all of Norway, as well as Sweden and Finland for cinema advertising. “We feel that there are clear benefits to going digital early and we want to understand all the complexities surrounding the switch.” The public body Film&Kino, which put up the initial funding for the trial, has been suitably impressed by the results to want to expand and extend the trial for a further 18 months, i.e. until the big digital switch is underway. An extension of the NORDIC trial would see several screens be digitised within the same
As well as having more so-called 2K digital cinema installations than all of its Scandinavian neighbours combined – 12 for the NORDIC project in addition to 10 other Norwegian installations, compared to just 4 each in Denmark and Sweden – Norway has also pioneered the installation of Sony’s 4K SXRD projector, with Sony recently admitting that “Norway is leading the world in the development of 4K digital cinema,” with its four 4K installations in three cinemas, putting it ahead of both the US and Japan. NORDIC has also been conducting extensive tests of satellite transmission of digital films through its partner Telenor Satellite Broadcasting. The project is making the findings from this and all of its research open for anyone to access on the project’s website www.nordicproject.org and in English too, no less. It seems that unlike in music, Norway is determined for its cinemas not to score ‘null points’ in the digital future.
Equipment used in the NORDIC trials:Projectors: Barco DP100 Barco DP90 Christie CP 2000S Christie CP2000X NEC NC 1500C Cinemeccanica CMC3-D2 Sony SRX-RC110CE Servers: QuVis Cinema Player Doremi DCP2000 Dolby NC 1500 C Sony media block (Kodak and Qube servers are expected to be included in the next phase)
Patrick von Sychowski runs Electronovision Consulting (email@example.com) and keeps a blog on http://MyDigitalCinema.blogspot.com
MULTIMEDIA BOX TRAINING FOR PROJECTIONISTS Following the launch of the UK Film Council’s Digital Screen Network (DSN) the BFI identified a skills gap that would need to be addressed if cinemas wished to use the multimedia box which comes as part of the DSN equipment package. The multimedia box allows cinemas to exhibit a variety of formats outside the remit of the DSN, enabling them to screen alternative content for live shows, education events, film festivals, corporate hires and revenue generating activities. For many cinemas, the ability to use the digital projector and multimedia box effectively will be crucial to their programming requirements, and it may be vital to their continued success in a competitive industry. The BFI Southbank Technical Department are delighted to announce a new initiative to provide digital projection and multimedia box training to approximately 400 projectionists across the UK. This training initiative follows on from the work of the Digital Test Bed (DTB), which has been testing digital cinema technology through a public program at the National Film Theatre for the past three years. This has been the most extensive and far-
reaching public program of digital content in terms of variety of formats, in the UK to date. Arts Alliance Media, the organisation charged with the roll out of the DSN, has fully covered the basic operational needs for the projector and server, however there is a need for further training in other significant areas of operation. In the words of the NFT lead digital trainer Rex Beckett, “There are dozens of mistakes that can be made when projecting a film but thousands of ways to get it wrong with video projection.” This course will be of interest not just to DSN cinemas and those currently with digital projection but to all cinemas that are likely to consider digital projection. This is the only public funded course of its kind to run in Europe. The training has been subsidised by a substantial grant from Skillset, with sessions costing just £50, with the heavy subsidy making it affordable for projectionists to attend. The course is to run over two days so accommodation needs to be arranged for one night (there is much availability for accommodation in Central London prices ranging from £35 pppn.)
The training will be separated into two staggered groups; the first group will be a whole day running from 10am - 6pm breaking at 2pm for lunch. The following day will run 10am - 2pm. The second group will run from 2pm on the second day then the whole of the third day running from 10am - 6pm breaking at 2pm for lunch. Venue:
NFT3, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XT Dates:
12-13 & 13-14 June Places available 17-18 & 18-19 July Places available Please RSVP via email to:
firstname.lastname@example.org should you want to book a place. If you have any further questions you can contact:
Katy Swarbrick on 020 7815 1354.
digital projection - june 2007
Digital 3D - taking a practical aproach Jason Power from Dolby explains how the company is working on a ‘wavelet triplet’ technique that promises to make the long-predicted adoption of 3D a reality at last. Digital cinema offers the potential to bring realistic, captivating 3D to a broader range of cinema screens than ever before. Recent releases such as Chicken Little and Meet The Robinsons have highlighted the attraction of digital 3D presentation, with numerous reports of box office grosses at least two times those of 2D screens. At Dolby, we also believe digital 3D can play an important part in reinforcing the cinema as the most unique, special place to enjoy a movie. But in addition to offering a thrilling experience that audiences love, a 3D presentation technology also needs to be practical for cinemas to adopt and use on a routine basis. Recognising this, Dolby has announced the forthcoming Dolby 3D Digital Cinema system, a new way of displaying fantastic 3D images in cinemas using a standard digital cinema projector and standard white screen. We recently offered a first sneak preview of the system to delegates at ShoWest in Las Vegas. 3D Fundamentals During production, 3D movies and other programmes are created as a separate set of images for the left and right eyes, either by shooting using two cameras mounted close together or by simulating this during computer animation or post production. During playback, all 3D systems work using the same fundamental principle – the left eye images are displayed to the audience’s left eyes, and the right eye images to the right, in sequence. The brain then reconstructs the 3D image, with differences between the left and right eye images giving the impression of depth. Various different techniques are used to make sure each eye sees only the appropriate images. Back in the 1920s, so-called anaglyph film systems used glasses with red and green lenses to separate the content intended for each eye. These systems work best with monochrome content and offer limited quality. In the Fifties, 3D briefly became popular again, this time using different polarisation - orientations of light’s electrical field – for left and right eyes, together with linear polarised filters in the glasses. These offered improved quality but required a silver screen, because polarisation discrimination is lost when light is reflected from a standard white screen. Today, two main techniques are in use with digital projection to reconstruct the 3D effect. Shutter glasses (right) can be used to alternately blank off each eye, synchronised with the movie playback by an infrared pulse. This requires electronic "active" glasses, like the ones shown right (not those to be used for the dolby 3D system). Alternatively, a circular polarisation technique can be used, which requires only "passive" (non-electronic) glasses like those below right (again, not those to be digital projection - june 2007
used by the Dolby 3D system) but needs a special silver screen to preserve polarisation. The Dolby 3D system, however, utilises a third alternative technique based on the wavelength of light. Getting Practical For digital 3D to be adopted widely, it will need to fit seamlessly into daily cinema operations. Operators will want to open a 3D movie on the big screen, then move it around, just like they do with 2D releases. This means that it will be important that the system will work on screens of different sizes, and is practical and cost effective enough to support in several screens in a multiplex. It’s also important that screens can easily be switched from 2D to 3D playback to preserve scheduling flexibility, and that the quality of regular 2D presentation is not compromised in a 3D-equipped screen. In order to achieve this, Dolby researched technologies that would enable stunning 3D
presentations using exhibitors’ existing white screens. We also considered it essential that the glasses be ‘passive’, to avoid any need to recharge units or to deal with customers complaining of glasses that don’t work. For Dolby 3D, we ultimately adopted a "wavelength triplet" technique originally developed by the German company Infitec, specialists in 3D visualisation for computeraided design. In this technique, the red, green and blue primary colours used to construct the image in the digital cinema projector are each split into two slightly different shades. One set of primaries is then used to construct the left eye image, and one for the right. Very advanced wavelength filters are used in the glasses to ensure that each eye only sees the appropriate image. As each eye sees a full set of red, green and blue primary colours, the 3D image is recreated authentically with full and accurate colours using a regular white cinema screen. The technique yields very realistic and comfortable 3D reproduction. In the Dolby 3D system, the primaries are split by a simple filter wheel accessory fitted inside the digital cinema projector. This is inserted into the light path between the lamp and the DLP (or similar) imaging chips, before the image is even created. We believe this preserves quality better than the approach of mounting a filter in the image path somewhere after the lens of the projector. The filter wheel can also be moved in and out of place electronically, enabling automated switching between 3D and 2D playback. To ensure complete accuracy, compensation processing for the left and right eye images is performed in real time during playback inside the Dolby Digital Cinema server. An external 1U control box is used to synchronise the operation of page 41
Above - The filter is inserted in the light path, not the image path, for maximum quality.
the filter with the projector and server. The resulting 3D image is very realistic and stable, as a single projector can be used to display the left and right eye images in sequence at a very high frame rate – typically 144 frames per second (72 for each eye). As with Dolby’s existing audio and digital cinema products, the Dolby 3D hardware will be available for purchase with no ongoing license fees. The glasses utilise very precise wavelength filters that ensure that each eye sees only the appropriate image. They are constructed using 50 carefully-applied layers of coating to fine tune the exact response required. The initial version is designed to be reusable in order to bring the cost per admission well below that of current glass models, but disposable options are also being investigated for the future. Aside from the cost benefits of reusing glasses, an increasingly important consideration might prove to be the environmental impact of disposables – showing just four 3D movies on 500 screens results in 690 tonnes of disposable glasses heading ultimately for landfill. Simplifying Distribution Existing polarisation-based 3D systems require additional post production processes to be performed on the finished 3D movie before it is distributed in order to compensate for limitations of the filters. Dolby 3D uses an alternative approach – a standard ‘unprocessed’ 3D movie file is distributed, and any additional processing is applied in real time in the server during playback. In addition to saving time and money for distributors, this approach delivers an extremely sharp and clear image, and means that they only have to master and distribute a single digital file for playback in both 3D and 2D sites. Getting On Screen Delegates at ShoWest in March got the first public glimpse of a prototype Dolby 3D system in a special preview. Following the extremely positive reaction to the prototype demonstrations, a trial has been started in a commercial cinema in order to prove performance in a real world environment. Amongst other aims, this will ensure that glasses can be used at least 100 times without degradation of the 3D presentation. page 42
At Dolby, final development work is continuing in readiness for a broader rollout late this year. The main design work is focussed on developing the glasses in order to get the best possible performance within the cost criteria, and to ensure quality and comfort for a wide range of cinema-goers. Work is also ongoing in partnership with digital cinema projector manufacturers to finalise the design of filter accessories for their projectors. With a
fantastic line up of 3D titles ahead and studios like Dreamworks committing to significant numbers of releases, it seems it’s not just the audience that’s being convinced by digital 3D. Jason Power is Director, Market Development at Dolby, based at their European Headquarters near Swindon, UK. www.dolby.com Booth 181 Cinema Expo Intl. digital projection - june 2007
fibre optic illumination
Mundocolor Group ten years on The Barcelona, Spain manufacturer celebrates its 10th anniversary since the launch of the patented Fiberled® / Fiberlines® range for aisle safety lighting. The Mundocolor Group has been a pioneer in offering for the last 10 years a combination of fibre optics with LEDs for corridors and steps, illumination products for cinemas, auditoriums and theatres. Mundocolor’s first installation was the then largest cinema complex in the world, the twenty five screen Kinepolis in Madrid with 10,500 seats. There, for the first time, 2,620 FiberLED model 102 step profiles were installed, which are still working today with hardly any maintenance needed. FiberLED and LEDline products are exported to more than 85 countries - the most important being Latin America, Eastern Eu-
cinema technology - june 2007
ropean countries and Russia - and are used in some of the world’s most prestigious cinemas. These products are constructed using black or silver anodised aluminium profiles and are assembled to specific customer requirements in the company’s 50002m Barcelona factory. In the past few years Mundocolor has also included a wide range of light fittings for exterior and interior use which feature in a four hundred page catalogue. Additionally, the company’s illumination department can produce detailed specifications for customers from it’s computer software which guarantee compliance with all regulations for atmospheric and decorative illumination.
Notable installations have been the Palais du Festival de Cannes (pictured above) where the project at the world famous film festival venue included some six hundred Fiberled 102 steps in the auditorium. Most recently Mundocolor completed a project in Hanoi, Vietnam for the Megastar Company (below) where their first multiplex installed Fiberled 102 steps and over 800 metres
of Mundoledneon a ‘luminous hose’, being a superior, low energy consuming, longer life replacement for Neon. The Mundocolor Group’s dedicated cinema and theatre section, headed by Wolfgang Mahrenbach and Frank Esser will be at Cinema Expo International Booth 153. www.grupo-mci.com
cinema expo international
Cinema Expo International Convention and trade show
Amsterdam RAI June 25 - 27 As Europe’s must-do show for cinema industry professionals this year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever - with a host of exciting and informative seminars, screenings and industry happenings. This year all the major companies are scheduled to screen at least one film along with extensive product reels which will provide an invaluable guide for cinema exhibitors looking to plan their programming over the next year. Titles confirmed so far include the following – others are to be added to the list depending on their post-production schedules 20th Century Fox’s “Live Free or Die Hard”, Directed by Len Wiseman Starring: Bruce Willis John McClane (Willis) takes on an Internetbased terrorist organization who is systematically shutting down the United States. Warner Bros. Pictures’ “No reservations” Directed by Scott Hicks Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin The life of a top chef (Zeta-Jones) changes when she becomes the guardian of her young niece. Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix”, Directed by David Yates. Will be screened at the Pathé IMAX® Theatre. Starring: usual cast + Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort) and Michael Gambon (Dumbledore). Buena Vista Intl / Pixar Animation’s “Ratatouille” Directed by Brad Bird A young rat living within the walls of a famous Paris bistro wishes to become a chef, but is hindered by his family’s skepticism and the rat-despising staff and patrons. Screenings from Sony, Paramount and Universal Pictures International await final confirmation. Cinema Expo is proud to announce an page 44
impressive line up of World Class Filmmaking talent including DreamWorks cofounder Jeffrey Katzenberg who will make a Dreamworks animation presentation. A full seminar programme promises to deliver something for everyone, particularly highlighting future development opportunities associated with the growth in digital technology. “New Cinema Experiences – how to increase revenues through new digital services” will be introduced as a new topic for one of this year’s seminars. It is about value added content and services, and new consumer experiences in the cinema, brought about by the arrival of digital. This in turn will offer cinema owners new revenue stream opportunities. The seminar will be handled by Peacefulfish - a consultancy in financing the content industry. Another seminar - “Focus on Europe”– will provide territory overviews of some of Europe’s key markets – Germany, UK, Spain, Italy and Russia. Presentations will cover aspects such as box office forecasts, digital roll-out actuals and expected, number of screens and multiplex development. “Developing the European Business model for Digital Cinema” - promises to provide a fascinating insight into the future of digital cinema when delegates will be offerered the opportunity to question the panel about key issues including feasibility of the VPF (Virtual Print Fee) model. Barry Jones of the Coca-Cola Company who are corporate sponsors of CEI, will also present a business development seminar. The CEI trade show brings together over 100 companies in 250 booths offering the
latest products, technologies and services that ensure cinema remains the best place to experience the magic of the movies. CEI also provides a unique opportunity to mingle with industry peers from Europe and beyond to learn the ideas that have worked in other markets and those which may be best avoided. The fun and celebratory atmosphere of CEI’s lunches, dinners and parties provide an ideal chance to network, meet new people in the industry and renew old acquaintances. All the major companies will host either a dinner/ evening event or a lunch and there will be studio sponsored events on each night of Cinema Expo. Cinema Expo has honoured a prestigious group of exhibitors and distributors who have made outstanding contributions to the European Cinema Business. This year CEI has chosen Philippe Taeschler, Managing Director of Kitag Kino Theater Zurich as International Exhibitor of the Year. CEI will also honour Christian Grass who as Executive Vice President Europe, Middle East and Africa for 20th Century Fox spearheaded their outstanding year with unprecedented internatioanal box office success. These awards, and the Nielsen EDI International Gold Reel Awards will be presented during Cinema Expo’s final night banquet. The message from Cinema Expo is that there is real optimism that long term growth trends will continue. With the right mix of product, technology and careful attention to each revenue stream cinema has vibrant future and Cinema Expo is the place to stay up to date with all the latest developments’ More information is available on the Cinema Expo website www.cinemaexpo.com. cinema technology - june 2007
Signposting the future The Landor 2007 Cinema Industry Conference Part 1 - The morning session Jim Slater reports
For the tenth year running cinema consultant Anthony Williams had gathered together a very interesting group of speakers in the Princess Anne Theatre at BAFTA for the annual Landor UK Cinema Industry Conference. The format of the conference is well established after all these years, and it is important for those who attend year after year to be offered different speakers and different points of view, and Anthony had certainly succeeded this time. The speakers consisted of a mixture of wellknown industry faces and others who could enlighten the audience on other related topics, sometimes peripheral to the business, but always with a sharp focus on cinema. The audience of over 100 people also covered the whole gamut of the cinema industry, from senior executives of the big cinema chains to owners of smaller groups, right down to single cinema operators. There were representatives from all the main equipment suppliers, from advertising companies, and from industry organisations such as the Cinema Exhibitors Association, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, and All Industry Marketing. Film Distributors were well represented, and there were a surprising number of ‘print media’ people too. Anthony welcomed the audience and speakers and outlined the business of the day, with the morning sessions concentrating on the business environment and understanding the filmgoing public’s changing needs, and the afternoon session looking in depth at the many issues relating to the coming of Digital Cinema. The keynote speaker was Hugo Swire MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and he began by outlining his ‘film’ credentials, which, rather surprisingly, seemed to rely heavily on having cinemas at Sidmouth and Exmouth in his East Devon constituency. I guess politicians just can’t resist playing to the audience! His speech was serious, though, highlighting the importance of the creative industries and saying that the two million people employed here contribute twice as much to the economy as does the pharmaceutical industry. He highlighted the need for stricter laws against film piracy and suggested that there should be gaol sentences for those breaking Intellectual Property laws. cinema technology - june 2007
He criticised the present government, saying that it merely pays lip-service to the need for protection, and gave a commitment, which he said was backed by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne, that a new Conservative government would develop an IPR system for the 21st century. He also criticised Shaun Woodward MP, Minister for the Creative Industries, for ‘lazy thinking’ in supporting the reduction of the protective window between theatrical release and the release of films on DVD, a topic which touched a chord with many in the audience, and which was to be raised repeatedly throughout the conference. In answer to a question from Eddy Leviten of FACT, Mr Swire said that it is incredible that there is no legislation in place to tackle camcorder piracy, but he felt that we need to do far more at a basic level, explaining to children at secondary school just why piracy is wrong, the negative effects that it has on the industry, and that piracy is definitely not a victimless crime. Peter Hoare of Scott Cinemas asked whether an incoming Conservative government would roll back the ever increasing tide of licensing paperwork, and gave examples of the huge stack of files he has to maintain for his small chain of just six cinemas, and of a recent risk assessment he had had to do before allowing someone to work on a cinema roof with hot materials. The MP carefully avoided making any commitment, of course, but did sympathise and agree that many local Health and Safety officers are effectively out of control.
but a totally apt speaker for the topic being discussed - Cinemas and the leisure market - an investment banker’s view. David Clasen is a Director in the Corporate Finance (Consumer team) of JP Morgan Cazenove, and works for clients in the media sector. He began by poking fun at Investment Bankers, pointing out that they are in general London-centric, old (although that surely didn’t apply to him?!), subject to greed and fear, have short time horizons, and size matters to them! He was also honest enough to point out that one of the main questions that investment bankers consider is ‘where is the next fee coming from?’ David provided lots of interesting facts and figures, backed up with many powerpoint slides, and it was just a pity that many of them were so packed with data that they were virtually unreadable on the big screen. He showed how the core cinema audience of 15-34 year olds is expected to
Below (clockwise from left): Anthony Williams, Hugo Swire, John Woodward, David Clasen
John Woodward, Chief Executive of the UK Film Council acted as Chairman for the first session, entitled The Business Environment. He introduced the first speaker, an investment banker, not at first sight perhaps an obvious choice for a cinema conference, page 45
conference [Initial Public Offerings] for National Cinemedia in the US and Cinema City in Poland had been very successful, highlighting the similarities between National Cinemedia and Carlton Screen Advertising.
develop until 2020, with a key point being that the older part of this group, the 25-34 year olds, is expected to keep on growing strongly throughout this period, which suggests that these people will continue to visit cinemas regularly as they grow older. He discussed trends in spending in the various leisure categories, from which I was interested to see that spending on the cinema remains fairly flat from year to year, and that spending on going to the cinema is small compared with many other activities - only bingo and museums fare worse. He made some interesting comparisons with health clubs, casinos, pubs and coffee shops, introduced us to the jargon of EBITDA [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization] and appeared fairly positive about the prospects for those with investments in cinemas, showing that compared with pub groups and restaurant groups cinemas have significant property value. He commented that the coming ban on smoking in public places might benefit cinemas, whereas Bingo is likely to suffer. Comparisons with other countries indicated that there is plenty of room for growth in the number of cinema visits per year in the UK. He considered that mergers amongst the top three UK cinema operators were unlikely, due to regulatory difficulties, but suggested that acquisitions seem a more likely scenario, and that refinancing schemes are also possible.
Below: Kim Pedersen (left) and Karsten-Peter Grummitt
An interesting slide (above) showed the remarkably consistent valuations of cinema chains that had been subject to various takeovers in recent years. Secondary buyouts or flotations might be possible, and he pointed out that IPOs
Perhaps surprisingly, he didn’t dwell much on the impact of Digital Cinema, but described it in investment terms somewhat enigmatically as ‘the dog that did not bark’! We Sherlock Holmes fans know, however, that in the end this mongrel’s silence turned out to be the key to the whole case, so maybe the same will one day be true for Digital Cinema. David’s talk was extremely ‘bullish’ and he certainly indicated a positive future for the UK cinema industry, and presumably for those who provide the investment finance for it. It was also a very enjoyable talk, and the audience were treated to all the ‘buzz words’ with which we must become familiar - ‘Zeitgeist’, ‘New Paradigm’, ‘Isochrones’, and, possibly the most important, ‘crystallising the money principle’! Kim Pedersen is President of the Danish Cinema Association, and he provided a witty and deliberately controversial presentation entitled ‘European Cinemas - Unite or Die’, accompanied by some cleverly crafted slides. He provided some interesting comparisons between the Danish and UK exhibition industries (380 and 3358 screens respectively) but his main message was that the window between theatrical presentation and DVD release must be maintained, and he complained that some distributors won’t even tell the exhibitors what the window for any particular film might be, saying that this is ‘no way to treat a friend!’ He said that the various parts of the European cinema industry must work together, or else the European industry could break up, due to the greed of US studios. A key requirement to uphold the cinema culture of Europe is that a proper theatrical window must be established and maintained. Kim described the current state of the Digital Cinema business as ‘a mess’, and said that to uphold cultural diversity and cinema culture in Europe, some form of overall funding for digital cinema is essential. On a practical level Kim said that it is important for the industry to get the DCI specifications finalised and cleared, and, even more importantly, for the studios and distributors to decide what they are prepared to pay in order to make sure that the digital rollout occurs throughout Europe, a very different market from that in the USA. He emphasised that to achieve these aims the European industry must unite and lobby for these important messages to be adopted.
Kim’s polemic will certainly help to kick-start the process. Karsten-Peter Grummitt is well known as the founder of Dodona Research, which specialises in research and consulting services for the cinema industry. He provided lots of graphs, but unfortunately many of them were so complex and detailed that they were virtually unreadable by the audience. The numbers of admissions per cinema screen in the UK had declined gently from 60,000 to 50,000 over the past decade, which might suggest that the market is saturated. Karsten-Peter pointed out that the market is hugely volatile from year to year, due mainly to the varying popularity of film product, and that if changes in the Gross Domestic Product of the country and the effects of inflation are taken into account then a slow upward trend can actually be detected. If the perhaps rather strange concept of ‘box office growth minus GDP’ figures is used to compare different countries, box office is generally growing more slowly than the economy as a whole, but often still growing, and he quoted the US as having the world’s most successful film industry, with some 40,000 screens and asked where further growth might come from. He maintained that the cinema market worldwide is far from saturated, and that new cinemas are generating new audiences, with the UK being amongst the top five countries where the growth in the cinema market is faster than that of the economy as a whole, and its box office has grown 2.6% a year faster than GDP. He put the question as to whether seat prices have an effect on growth, pointing out that prices are rising in real terms, and reminding the audience that the perception of cinema as being expensive often relates to the cost of the refreshments rather than the seat price. Karsten-Peter said that a major advantage of the theatrical window in marketing terms is that it effectively says ‘this is a scarce and valuable product, which you can only access in the privileged environment of the cinema’. He said that it is important for exhibitors to keep on ensuring that the cinema experience is a good one, and to think about new formats - the mix of age groups at the multiplex may not always be a happy one. Perhaps exhibitors could focus some of their efforts on different ages and classes of audience, tailoring their offerings to the needs of a more sophisticated and more demanding older audience. Cinema is all about showmanship and excitement, and if it is ever allowed to become boring, will fail. The subsequent panel session was mainly concerned with the issue of the theatrical window, and there were several questions and comments from the audience. There was a suggestion that cinemas should be cinema technology - june 2007
conference given better payment terms in exchange for a shorter window, but Kim Pederson disagreed strongly, saying that this would be ‘the slippery slope’. Karsten-Peter Grummitt agreed, saying that if you mess with the window, the cinema will face longterm decline. A small exhibitor commented that 10 years ago distributors were charging exhibitors 50%, so with today’s much higher figures the window should probably have been extended to 12 months! Chairman John Woodward summarised the various views, unsuccessfully inviting distributors to have their say, and he concluded that it seemed that most of the exhibition industry expected growth and felt optimistic about the future. Roger Harris is Chief Operating Officer (UK) of Odeon and UCI Cinemas, and acted as Chairman for the second session, entitled Understanding our customers’ changing needs. All Industry Marketing (AIM) is a PR and marketing agency for the whole exhibition sector, tasked with the development of strategic communications to grow and diversify the audience for cinema, with particular emphasis on building per capita frequency and broadening the diversity of the mainstream audience through national, generic, industry wide promotions. Members of the AIM coalition represent every aspect of the UK film/cinema industry; industry associations the Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) (from Hollywood studio distributors to European and local independents) and the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA) (from multiplex operators to your local art house); the UK Film Council, BAFTA and the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) encompassing Carlton Screen and Pearl and Dean. Grace Carley the new MD of AIM, gave the background to the work of the organisation and an overview of a new strategic framework that is being developed to ‘drive incrementality’ - which translates as getting people to go to the cinema who don’t normally go or who only see blockbusters, and to incentivise people who have stopped going to the cinema to start going again. She spoke about ‘mobilising social networks’ and ‘promoting and protecting the cinema experience’, and explained that the top 20 titles take 50% of the box office revenue, so it is important to ensure that more people go and see the other 450 releases each year - an empty cinema seat represents a real cost to the business.
and information campaigns. It was interesting to hear the findings from a research survey carried out by OTX (Online Testing eXchange), a consumer research firm that specializes in analysing the marketing, entertainment and advertising communities. A six-month survey of film consumption during 2006 had recorded 19,000 individual film experiences from 700 respondents. Just a few of the findings were: • Of every pound spent on watching films, 50p is spent on the cinema experience • 90% choose the movie before going to the cinema • 87% buy the ticket on the day - the majority at the cinema • 74% say the cinema is the best environment to see movies. But 50% of the respondents think that cinema does not represent good value for money, the reason for this being that they tend to compare the cost of going to the cinema with the cost of home viewing, rather than with going out for some other form of entertainment. It was also interesting to learn that 11% of the new films seen by the respondents had been pirate copies, and that 75% reported that they had enjoyed the movies, and that poor quality had not been an issue. None of the pirated films had subsequently been watched in the cinema. Grace explained the next steps in the strategic plan, saying that various packages are being developed, and that there will be a major advertising spotlight on cinema in the second part of 2007, with the public being encouraged to ‘See it in the Cinema!’
Other interesting observations from Tamar’s talk included: • Agelessless means that we are all less likely to ‘act our age’. • Youth culture has developed, matured and fragmented, and 18-24 year olds are very different from the 25 - 34s.
Above (clockwise L - R): The panel session, Grace Carley and Roger Harris
• Young people may express points of view through online blogs and chatrooms or through the clothes they wear. They are comfortable with mixing and matching different values and behaviours, and are happy to support causes through branded crusades.
Tamar Kasriel of The Henley Centre HeadlightVision gave a brilliant presentation highlighting the needs and aspirations of the 18-35 generation, with lots of fascinating insights into what is important for the very different groups of people that this demographic covers. It wasn’t particularly cinema-related, but served to remind the audience that younger people have a vast range of leisure choices, and that cinema may have to change its offerings in order to attract them. I was amused to learn that the 2529s are the real ‘knackered’ ones, the most stressed and the most time-pressured. Poor things!
AIM has come up with lots of ideas, such as promoting social gatherings at cinemas for particular groups, and matching films to people’s interests, perhaps getting similar minded groups of people to see films together. As methods of promoting and protecting the cinema experience, AIM is planning a ‘See it in the Cinema’ campaign and a ‘Value for Money’ campaign, and is giving its support to anti-piracy education cinema technology - june 2007
Above: Ian Douthwaite (left) and Robert Ray
• Young consumers are at the helm of a new understanding of community, and technology has brought unprecedented opportunities for that community. • Young people expect to interact with rather than passively receive media. Tamar gave examples of such involvement, including the Perplex City game, the use of personalised avatars (picture above), the melding of virtual and physical worlds, and entertainments that lead to total immersion in the virtual world. Haptic (touch - sensitive) interfaces allow users to interact with a computer by receiving tactile feed back, and such devices are likely to prove extremely popular and to be pushed by the sex industries. (Shades of Woody Allen’s Orgasmatron in ‘Sleeper’!) She concluded that 18-35 year olds are connected in new ways, and often act on word of mouth recommendations. They are willing to care, they are engaging and engaged, but are time pressured and price - focused, perhaps less willing to spend money to save time than some other groups. The audience was left with much food for thought in relating Tamar’s facts about young people to how we might persuade them that the cinema should form a regular part of their leisure lifestyle. The next speaker took us into the fascinating lifestyles (perhaps sub-cultures would be a better description!) of an even younger group - the ‘O’ generation, those between 11 and 18 years old. Ian Douthwaite is Managing Director of Dubit Ltd., a youth research and communications business which keeps young people at the centre of all its work, and claims a network of some half a million participants, making the organisation one of the best respected organisations in the youth marketing sector. For most of the ‘oldies’ in the audience this talk was a revelation, introducing a whole new meaning to the term market segmentation, not only dividing the overall group into the 11-14s and the 15-18s, but also providing us with a whole new vocabulary with words like ‘minted’ and ‘slack’ thrown in as though we were supposed to understand them, and others relating to the many different, previously unrecognised sub-sectors, including ‘moshers’, ‘urbos’, ‘cool geeks’, ‘chavs’ and ‘sporties’. Ian impressed questioners after his speech with the succinct definitions he had for all of these!
The basic message was that there are 8.4 million 11-18s in the UK, with £20 Billion of disposable income - that is an average of £52 per week per young person, 87% of which is spent weekly and often ‘on impulse’. Ian explained that many young people have formed social networks, via chatrooms and social gaming networks and that many stay at home, 93 % going on-line every week, 56% for more than 15 hours a week, creating content that matches their identities. Youth magazines are folding, TV is less influential than it was, and even computer gaming is becoming less popular. Cinema rates fairly high on their list of enjoyable activities, but the industry must find ways of combating internet ‘laziness’ and persuading people to get out to the cinema. In attracting people to the cinema it is vital that we don’t treat the youth market as one group, and that we segment the audience to improve targeting. Ian gave some wonderful breakdowns of ‘cinemagoing by tribe’ and showed that completely different types of film appeal to the Mosher/ Cool Geeks, who are ‘driven by difference’ and the Socialite/ Chavs who are ‘driven by uniformity’. All fascinating stuff, and our industry obviously needs to find new ways of presenting the cinema as relevant to the youth audience, but I was left wondering just how the average cinema owner is supposed to plan his movie schedule when there are so many variables to be considered. Ian finished his talk with a brief recommendation to take a look at ‘Joost’ on the web if you want to see the future - it turns your PC into an on-demand interactive TV with full screen high quality digital pictures. The last speaker of the morning was Robert Ray, Marketing Director of The Newspaper Society, which represents Britain’s regional and local press. He emphasised that cin-
emagoing is primarily a local experience, with most people travelling less than seven miles to the cinema, and said that local and regional papers are the number one choice of those reading cinema reviews and therefore the best place for cinemas to advertise. Well over 80% of cinemagoers read their local papers and these papers are read by people of all ages, income levels, and social grades. Robert gave an example of how the use of a suitable small advertisement in a local paper in the weeks after the launch of a movie led to the audiences being better sustained in weeks three and four when compared with a neighbouring town where no advertising had taken place. His message to cinema operators was that advertising in local papers works, so use it! The questions and answers for the panel session concentrated on audience segmentation and how cinemas can deal with it, but Steve Knibbs of Vue Entertainment said that he didn’t see young people getting their information about films from local newspapers, which gave Robert Ray a chance to argue back. Another questioner suggested that many films are too long to attract a young audience, but the panel felt that this wasn’t necessarily the case, and that longer films often increase people’s engagement with the movie. After an excellent lunch - this is one of the few conferences where delegates can actually sit around tables to talk as they eat, rather than struggling to balance plates and drinks, the afternoon session began, looking at Digital Cinema issues.... To be continued in the September issue of Cinema Technology Jim Slater
cinema technology - june 2007
The Hyde Park Picture House By Dion Hanson, Cineman
Built in 1914, The Hyde Park Picture House, Brudenell Road, Leeds, is a beautiful example of Edwardian architecture and one of the only surviving picture palaces in the UK. As a grade 2 listed building, The Hyde Park still boasts many original features including gas lighting and a decorated Edwardian balcony. Few alterations have been made over the years; consequently cinemagoers can still enjoy today, as in 1914, ‘the cosiest picture house in Leeds’. The three-storey red-brick terraces of Brudenell Road were built in stages between the late 1880s and the early 1900s, forming part of an extensive new suburb to house the growing numbers of middle-class Leeds. By 1914 Brudenell Road was home to managers, merchants, commercial travellers, solicitors and physicians. Others were employed in the more traditional industries of West Yorkshire, such as the manufacture of woollens and cloth finishing, whilst one W. Coldwell
Peel of 65 Brudenell Road boasted the obscure profession of ‘artificial teeth maker’. The string of shops opposite the cinema on Brudenell Road were built in 1901, and by 1914 served the community with tobacconist, chemist, butcher, boot-maker, fruiterer, hairdresser and confectioner. Further terrace ends along Brudenell Road had also been developed for retail purposes, and provided: newsagent, ironmonger, milliner, draper, grocer and baker. Mrs. Blanche Robson also ran
a ‘fancy wool repository’ along with the ‘Post and Money Order Office’. Entertainment, however, was a tram ride away. The first cinema in Leeds had opened in 1905 in the refurbished premises of the Coliseum Theatre on Cookridge Street, and the first purpose-built cinema, the Rialto, was opened in 1911. By 1914 the number of dnemas in Leeds had risen to 42. One of the nearest to the Brudenells was the Burley Road Picture House, in later days known as the ‘Burley bug hutch’, a constant dousing of disinfectant being required throughout the show. However, this basic cinema with its wooden tip-up seats would probably not have appealed to the solicitors and physicians of Brudenell Road. Cinemas on Kirkstall Road and Cottage Road (opened as the Headingley Picture House in 1912) and the Lyceum on Cardigan Road offered alternatives, but a tram running up Victoria Road could provide equally good access to the city centre theatres or picture palaces. The vacant plot at 73 Brudenell Road had been used to build a Social & Recreational club, which opened in 1908. But it was the redevelopment of the site and opening of a new cinema that proved the most welcome addition to the facilities of the Edwardian suburb.
cinema technology - june 2007
cinema history grafted onto the basic rectangle making full use of the remaining corner site to house entrance hall, offices, fireproof ‘lantern’ (projection) area, and toilets. The exterior was designed in red-brick in sympathy with the existing terraces, but with decorative features carried out in white Mamo faience, a type of false stone originating in Burmantofts. The walls of the theatre block, of necessity windowless, gave little opportunity for architectural expression, but on the Brudenell Road face are blind panels with additional relief created by blocked windows. A flat hood over an exit door to the far right remains, with its scrolled cast iron ties. Probably a later addition was a glass canopy, hung along a wall to shelter queuing customers. Today, only the brackets from which it was hung remain.
The two projectors are around 40 years old and right, Jim Shultz who used to service the projection equipment.
Despite the outbreak of war in August 1914, the Hyde Park Picture House was completed, and it opened on 7 November 1914. The pages of the Yorkshire Evening News were almost entirely devoted to news of the war, but a small advert announced the opening of the new picture house.
Like its contemporaries, the Hyde Park made maximum use of the available plot of land to seat as many patrons as possible. Here, the restricted site led to two distinctive features. Firstly, using a balcony increased the capacity of a standard rectangular theatre. Prior to the Great War, balconies were uncommon, particularly in the small suburban cinemas. The architectural influence of the theatre was beginning to be felt, however, and the circle at the Hyde Park allowed an astounding 587 people to be crammed in. It was not until the 1980s that the seats were spaced out for comfort and the capacity reduced to 350. The second feature is the unusual triangular plan of the three-storey service area, which was
The show was “Their Only Son”, billed as a ‘patriotic drama’, and was followed the next week by ‘the famous invasion’ drama “An Englishman’s House”. It was 1958 before the Hyde Park faced a threat of closure. After 44 years in the hands of the Childs: first Henry Child, then his son Harry, and finally the grandson Arthur, what was billed as the cinema’s ‘last show’ was screened on II January 1958. The manager, Mr Frank Taylor, blamed the closure on a fall in business caused by the growing popularity of television, coupled to a crippling entertainment tax that made it impossible for small cinemas to compete with their large city centre counterparts. This combination was to see the demise of many small picture houses in Leeds, and throughout the country. In spite of many further crises over the
next forty years, the Hyde Park was closed for only two months. Leslie Shann, who in 1957 had re-opened the Western Cinema in Armley, bought the cinema and the doors were open once more on 10 March 1958. This time, it was only four years before the cinema had to be rescued again, and in 1962 it passed into the hands of Len Thompson, former manager of the Gaumont on Cookridge Street and the Crown in Tong Road. Len’s nephew, Geoff, was holding down a part-time job as a cashier at Morrisons when closure threatened once more in 1977. For Geoff, an attendant at the Gaumont at the age of nine and a projectionist at the Crown by sixteen, the decision to take over the Hyde Park was not a difficult one to make. His dedication and hard work kept the cinema alive for the next twelve years, until it was bought early in 1989 by Leeds City Council, and he remained as manager until 1993. With its classic facade and atmosphere, The Hyde Park Picture House has been through many changes in its long history. The Hyde Park, due largely to its size, survived the trend of ‘twinning’ or ‘tripling’ that destroyed the interiors of many of the larger city centre cinemas in the 1970s and 1980s. Division of cinemas into two or three smaller auditoria required the reorganisation of internal spaces, and the relocation of projectors often caused the destruction of the original operating rooms. Those at the Hyde Park, however, are original. The reinforced concrete lantern, winding and dynamo rooms remain, complete with iron fire-shutters operated from the foyer, and self-closing iron safety doors. Whilst not original, the two projectors are around 40 years old, and the changeover system, requiring a change from one projector to another during the film, is still operated. Also relating to the fire regulations of the 1909 Act is an original fire hose at the foot of the stairs.
The divided staircase and the gas lighting - a gas wall light (centre) and the remarkable gas street lamp which also belongs to the cinema. page 50
cinema technology - june 2007
Reel images On Wednesday 2nd May Worcester Lighting sponsored a training day for projectionists working for Reel Cinemas who are based in Loughborough. followed by a look at the various pieces of equipment in the projection room powered by both AC and DC supplies. Next was a section on xenon bulbs and rectifiers and how best to achieve the optimum light output from a lamp house. Lamp replacement along with the strict safety aspects, which must be followed, was particularly highlighted to the delegates.
Held at Reel Cinemas Quinton, Birmingham cinema, the training concentrated on image quality. The day began with a look at electrical power, including transformers, rectifiers and electrical supply. Particular attention was paid to health and safety when dealing with anything electrical. This was
Following lunch, which was served in the the cinema foyer, the afternoon session looked at picture quality and aspect ratios. With examples of poor quality lenses and the effect they have on picture resolution in addition to the pitfalls of projecting the film in the wrong widescreen aspect ratio. After a short question and answer session the course finished at around 3.30. A similar course is to be held at a later date in one of Reel Cinemas other cinemas, for their projectionists based further south. Worcester Lighting’s Paul Young commented, “We recognise how just supplying products simply isnt enough. In this day and age, you can never have enough knowledge and we want
Jim Shultz who used to service the projection equipment recalls the first equipment he used to service there was a Western Electric Universal Base with Simplex Regular projector heads. No doubt installed around 1930 with the advent of ‘talkies’. When Len Thompson took over he discarded this set in favour of a pair of displaced BTH ‘SUPAS’ from the Savoy Lupset. If any projector could be called inflexible, the SUPA was it, and it was probably the last installation of SUPAs in the country. After conversion to xenon and the unavailability of spares the machines became very unreliable, with trouble calls averaging one a month, it was decided to change them for Kalee 21s. Again these machines were already discontinued but did offer more reliability until their replacement by the Cinemeccanica Victoria 8s from the now closed Lounge Cinema, Headingley. The Vic8s had originally been installed in the Odeon Grimsby and removed on its closure. Other original features at the Hyde Park include the divided staircase opposite the pay cinema technology - june 2007
desk, with its square balusters and wooden panelling, and the colourful mosaic floor of the external entrance lobby. Double doors leading into the cinema and the auditorium are also original, those leading to the circle having red glazed panels with engraved stars, whilst that leading to the basement and gents toilet has an ornate glass panel. The feature for which the Hyde Park is perhaps best known, however, is its gas ‘modesty’ lighting. The earlier “penny gaffs” held something of a disreputable image, not helped by the complete darkness in which the pictures were shown. Gas lighting was thus introduced to the newer, more up-market picture houses, and could be dimmed from the projection booth to a level that would preserve decency during the show. The gas jets are still lit every night at the Hyde Park, and flicker discreetly during the film.
to provide our clients with as much as possible. Also, health and safety can never be taken for granted and simple days like today help to keep staff aware of the potential hazards in the projection booth. It is pleasing that quality organisations like Reel Cinemas are actively encouraging training as, ultimately, it all leads to quality product.” Dion Hanson FBKS
Pictured above L to R Paul Young, Reel Cinemas chief Steve Laird and Dion Hanson.
The cinema today is managed by Wendy Cook and is now home to a diverse mix of art house and mainstream films, backed up by screenings of classics, providing the most unique cinematic experience the city has to offer. It can also often be seen as a star in its own right as a period setting in many films and TV series. The latest being an episode in Emmerdale. Dion Hanson, Cineman
The gas street lamp to the fore of the building also belongs to the cinema, with its elaborate scrolled iron arms. page 51
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There’s still life in the Red House by Martyn Green Despite it’s name, and the Chinese “characters” all around (!), The Red Theatre is not, as it might seem, to be found in China. (Although, inevitably, there must be plenty with names like “Red STAR Theatre” on the mainland....) No, this Red Theatre is actually in Taipei, Taiwan - or was. The building variously known as The Red Theatre, The Red House, Red Pavilion, or Red Playhouse was located in Taipei’s Hsimenting cinema and entertainment district. Here, projectors of the type shown on the cover, and overleaf, provided entertainment to the capital’s cinema-goers. These were Japanese-made Toa machines, manufactured in Kobe, with a carbon-rod arc light
inside the “Super Magna” lamphouse. On one side of the lens (no longer there) the film path mechanism remained open and exposed, and there were various hazardous rotating parts on the other side! The Red Theatre was a going concern up until sometime in the 1980s, although nowadays it has taken on a new existence. The simple red-brick building originally housed the first model public market, while there was a 120 “ping” upper floor cinema. (Despite it’s modern day allusions to a highpitched sound used as an Internet protocol, a “ping” is a traditional Chinese unit of area, equal to two straw tatami mats - as used in Japan for a floor covering - meaning that the cinema was about 396 sq m, or 4,270 sq ft.)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Shortly before Martyn Green sent me his story on Taipei’s historical Red Theatre, which has recently been refurbished, he sent me an email about it. As it details the difficulties faced with researching stories of this nature in a “foreign” environment, reconciling the inevitable discrepancies from various sources, I thought it might be of interest to our readers.... Jim, it has been incredibly difficult tracking down the real facts for the Red Theatre story - I have been cross-checking various sources, and of course, the vast majority of the (very limited) material available is in Chinese. But even when I got some of it translated, sometimes one set of “facts” was at odds with other sources. In fact, it seemed the more sources I checked, the more discrepancies I found.... So what this represents in some cases is the “best guess”, the most rational explanation, etc. Because, frankly, it seems nowadays nobody seems to remember very clearly. After all, we are talking about events that happened, in some cases, almost 50 years or more ago. It hasn’t helped that, not being able to read many Chinese characters, websites that might have had useful information, were almost impossible to even navigate. One, cinema technology - june 2007
While the actual projection box has longsince been demolished (though the position of the outside staircase up to it can be seen in an old photo below) the auditorium has now become a restaurant-cum-nightclub where, in the evenings, cultural performances are given and sometimes movies are shown. The ground floor now houses a showroom for cultural products from Taiwan’s 21/9/99 earthquake zone. Adjacent to the showroom, and divided only by
Below - The Red Theatre with the market on the left and bottom the red Theatre in ‘Olden days’.
with supposedly a page in English, didn’t lead anywhere, while another page on the same website actually tried to download a Trojan onto my computer! Then, when I tried to track down the source of the Toa projector, there was actual DENIAL that the company had ever made projectors (see BOXED FEATURE - Lost In The Mists of Time / On The Track of Toa). The present occupiers of the Red Theatre, the Paperwindmill Foundation, which operates a coffee shop there, have a slogan on the wall, “Anything Can Happen Here”. With all the difficulties in sorting out the facts, I ended up feeling it could just as well be, “Anything May Have Happened Here....” Well, perhaps not quite that bad. But if memories are dim, I guess nobody can really say I got it wrong..... And if I did, my apologies to history! page 53
red house 1908, although the heyday of the actual cinema it came to house was in the 70s and 80s. It was then a major attraction in Taipei’s Hsimenting (“She Men Ding”) district - an area which is still home to a number of firstrun cinemas today. With the pleasant sound of a Chinese orchestra coming from a CD, Sherry Lin, the Venue Chief of the property, provides some background to the place. “In 1908 when Taiwan was under Japanese control, a Japanese architect designed an octagonal building, or ‘ba gua’, an eightsided building,” she explains. This fitted in well with Chinese cultural values - or superstitions - of “repelling evil”, although it is in a European Renaissance style. “Supported with steel columns, it was originally intended as a market for the Japanese,” adds Sherry. “The ground floor was for stalls selling clothes and dry goods, etc., while the first floor was for shops selling antiques and imported items.”
The Toa projector with a close up of the mechanism
The Red House coffee shop and a drawing of the original Red House site
tropical fish tanks, is the smart, up-market Paperwindmill Cafe, serving coffee, tea and food. At weekends, with its unique design and artistic atmosphere, along with the nostalgic environment of an old time teahouse, the place is often packed. Perhaps harkening back to its long history, or its days as a cinema venue, a sign on the wall of the Wi-Fi enabled coffee shop proclaims “Anything Can Happen Here”. The octagonal building that was to house the Red Theatre was built as long ago as
Sherry notes that a sign in the present-day coffee shop explains, “Six big stores and businesses were on the ground floor, including Yu Fa Rice Merchant, Zhongxing Costume store, Young Fa Coal Merchant, and Changmai Department store. These traditional stores carried daily necessities and were of long origin. After the Red Playhouse was listed as a heritage site, some of the stores closed while others moved to continue doing business nearby.” Back in 1896, Sherry explains, the Western Gate Red Building, or Red Theatre, was originally a construction made of wood. In 1908, a replacement building made of brick was started on the site. The plan also included the old Taiwan University Hospital, and the #1 Boys’ High School. In 1935, the Red Theatre site housed one of the exhibitions for the Taiwan Expo. In 1951, a Shanghai businessman took over the place, intending it to be a venue for Chinese cultural performances. He set up a kind of literary club, renting the building initially for public book readings. This marked the first time that the building was used for entertainment. In 1956 The Red Theatre started performances of Chinese or Vietnamese opera. This was the start of the so-called “golden age” of the venue. By the 1960s the Hsimenting shopping area was becoming very busy, with lots of shops, cafes, dance halls, and new theatres springing up. To compete, the Red Theatre even had shows with girls in swimsuits, along with “leggy” dancing girls. With seating for around 230 people, the upper floor became a cinema sometime in the 60s - nobody now seems to remember the exact year. Some sources even put it as early as the late 50s. Whatever date it started, it was a very popular spot for some time, but as cinema technology moved on, the venue began to be used only for
second-run movies. By the late 70s, the fortunes of the Red Theatre had started to decline, as the venue was too old and too small in comparison with other theatres. It became more and more down-market, and eventually the cinema became something of a gathering spot for gays. By the 1980s, with better shopping areas growing up elsewhere in the capital, the Red Theatre began to be forgotten. The last show may have been sometime in 1985, after which it was left empty for several years. However, in 1997, it was seen as being of cultural interest, and proclaimed a heritage area, subject to preservation. Taipei’s mayor at the time, Mr Chen Shui-bian, wanted it restored to become a movie museum, where “art-house” type movies would be shown. But when he lost the mayoral election in 1998 (two years before becoming the President of Taiwan), the idea was shelved. Mr Huang Yong-chang, who has a small florist shop in the market surrounding the Red Theatre, is a local resident and, being in his mid-fifties, is something of a historian about the Red House. “I was born and brought up in this area, so I know the place quite well,” he explains. “I knew Mr Yang, the manager of the Red Theatre at the time. Since the owner was from mainland China, most of the films shown were Chinese movies - kung-fu, and musical productions. I do remember some Western movies being shown here though.” Mr Huang says he well recalls William Wyler’s 3 hour 32 minute long Ben Hur (1959, winner of 11 Oscars) being shown in the Red Theatre, for instance. One of only a few productions filmed in MGM’s Camera 65 (see article in a future issue), it would have appeared spectacular to the Taiwan audience, even if presented in the heavily scaled-down 2.35:1 aspect ratio of 35mm Cinemascope. Pointing out that Ben Hur was given its initial release in nearby Hong Kong in December 1960, Mr Huang says, “So of course by the time the Red Theatre ran it, it had probably been out for a number of years.” He says Red Theatre patrons even witnessed Cecil B. De Mille’s 3 hour 39 minute production of The Ten Commandments (1956) which used the VistaVision process and Perspecta Stereo sound system. There was also another film by William Wyler - the Oscarwinning romantic-comedy, Roman Holiday (1953, 118 mins), with Audrey Hepburn as the princess who disguises herself as a commoner. “These were all second and thirdrun shows of course,” Mr Huang says, “But they were still very popular.” Towards the end of the 70s, The Red Theatre had become so down-market it was decidedly sleazy. As a second-run theatre, unlike the other cinemas around cinema technology - june 2007
The upstairs restaurant today - still has something of a ‘cinema look’.
there, it had continuous performances. So, as it tickets were cheap and they did not clear people out after every show, it tended to become a gathering place for people with time on their hands. In those days, Taipei’s New Park had been a meeting point for gays, but in the winter it was too cold, so some of them used to meet up in The Red Theatre. By the start of the 80s, apparently due to copyright restrictions, the cinema couldn’t show second-run movies any more, so they started showing X-rated movies porno films. “Mind you,” says Mr Huang, “this was Taiwan in the early eighties, so, with the censorship, I don’t imagine they showed very much....” (Times have obviously moved on: interestingly, today there is a sex-shop at the back of the building originally housing the Red Cinema....) By the mid-eighties, along with the cheap films, and aging projectors, the quality of the clientele was suffering, too. So perhaps not surprisingly, “Around that time,” Mr Huang recalls, “the newspapers reported several cases of people being molested inside the cinema - because, with no clear-out after a film finished, people would often go there to sleep!” Being an old venue, with increasing competition from newer, smarter theatres, there was little money to invest in new equipment or upgrading the facilities. With the place steadily moving down-market, there was less and less money coming in, and thus available to make improvements. Also, being hexagonal, about 60 feet across, it could only hold about 200+ cinema-goers.
The venue eventually closed in the mid-80s, the projectors sold to another local cinema, and the building left empty for years. About five years was spent renovating the place in the late 90s, with the original red bricks deliberately left exposed on the upper floor, below the new wooden roof. Now owned by the Taipei city government, the building was eventually re-opened to the public in 2002, after Taipei’s Cultural Affairs Bureau asked the Paperwindmill Cultural Foundation to look after the venue. Paperwindmill, a non-profit drama group, have a five year contract to manage the facility, which comes up for renewal in 2007. It currently employs 12 people at the venue, and on Sunday afternoons, the upstairs Sunday Teahouse provides an unusual cultural experience. For just NT$100, or around US$3/£2, one can not only enjoy typical Chinese tea culture but also various kind of traditional plays and classic movies - albeit on a rather smaller screen than in the venue’s heyday. The upstairs theatre is also available for rent - for such things as press conferences, business presentations, formal dinner parties, wedding banquets and TV commercials. Indeed, cultural events like The National Culture & Arts Awards are often held at the Red Theatre, making the ancient venue a vibrant, useful place in modern times. So how does Mr Huang feel about the conversion - the change from being a cinema with a history, to a brightly-lit Internet coffee shop and cultural venue? Says he, “It is certainly welcome, since this historic monument had been empty for so long. I like it. You can meet your friends over
Lost in the mists of time.... ON THE TRACK OF TOA: When author Martyn Green wrote to what appeared to be the manufacturer of the projector shown on the cover, he received an email from Toa Inc. in Kobe, Japan, denying the company had ever made any projectors - they make, they said, loudspeakers. “So,” said Green in an email to Cinema Technology, “I sent them shots of the projector and film transport assembly, on which the TOA name is clearly visible. Pointing out that, as they claim to be over 70 years old, it is very likely nobody there now remembers clearly, or maybe even knows just like some of my sources in Taiwan.” He went on, “It is very frustrating. Researching across both decades and national borders, I feel a bit like an cinema technology - june 2007
coffee downstairs, and in the evening watch an old movie upstairs in the restaurant. After the sad downward spiral into disuse and decay, it’s good that the Red Theatre has come back to life again.” I would like to express my thanks to Candice Wang, Sherry Lin, and Mr Huang Yongchang, for their help in the preparation of this article. However, any errors are of course my responsibility. Martyn Green. © Martyn Green, 2007. Copyright strictly reserved. The rights of the author to be identified with this work are asserted in accordance with the U.K.’s Copyright, Design & Patents Act, 1988.
archaeologist, or a police detective, trying to track down the evidence/culprit of a crime. It’s not much different, believe me! The only difference is that people have no reason to lie. But people DO forget. Or they never actually knew - and just relate what they believe. But if they got it from someone else, and THEY had it wrong - you get wrong information disguised as the real ‘facts’. Although Toa claim they only make loudspeakers, I am pretty darn sure this must be the same company that made at least the film transport mechanism, if not the whole projector - because the lamphouse itself says ‘Magna’. Who put them both together to make the 35mm movie projector seen on the cover is now almost certainly lost in the mists of time.....” UPDATE: “I had my research assistant go back and check the ‘Toa’ projector, Model 58-7, Serial
Top interviewee/ historical source Mr Huang YongChan with the projector and outside the Red House Martyn Green (second from right) between Mr and Mrs Huang and with translator Candice Wang (third from left)
number 997, and she discovered it was made in 1954, by Toa ELECTRIC Company. I plugged THAT company name into Google, and finally came up with the following: ‘Toa Electric Co Ltd 1949-1972 - The Toa Electric Group of Companies is now the TOA Corporation Co Ltd 2002.’ On another website it detailed all the products made - mostly professional sound equipment for ‘theatres and halls’ being mentioned. “Okay, it doesn’t mention ‘movie projectors’ anywhere (probably because it was an understandably restricted line), but it is inconceivable that a company with EXACTLY THE SAME NAME, in the same CITY, in the same TIME frame, was not making movie projectors. As I’ve noted, a lot of people are either misinformed, have poor memories - or just don’t know.” page 55
Meet the chief David A Ellis meets Wirral Museum chief Edward Peak
Edward Peak is a former musician who presents films with PPT man Mike Taylor, at the former Town Hall, now the Wirral Museum, Birkenhead. Edward, who is in his second season at the museum, is the chief, and is delighted that he was offered this prestigious position. Before joining Mike Taylor, who is a regular contributor to a number of cinema publications, including BKSTS Cinema Technology, Edward showed films at the Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool. Edward started having piano lessons at the age of five and later took up the classical guitar. He then moved on to the double bass and became a professional musician, playing for the Liverpool Philharmonic.
The Wirral Museum Birkenhead
During his time there he made a couple of recordings at the Philharmonic, known as the Phil, with composer and freelance conductor Carl Davies. Davies composed a great number of compositions to accompany silent classics, some having been released on DVD.
Edward. He would often look behind, when at the cinema and wonder why the beam changed from one window to the next.
Edward played in the orchestra for thirty years, after studying music at The Royal Manchester College of Music, which became The Royal Northern College of Music. During his time there he dabbled with the saxophone, but only played the bass professionally. He tells me that he doesn’t play any more, but conducts and arranges. Edward became interested in film as a child and tells me he was like Toto, from the film ‘Cinema Paradiso’ (photo above - copyright Miramax Films). Like Toto, the cinema and the projection box fascinated
When he was around twelve, after much pestering, he was allowed into the projection room at his local cinema, the Moreton Picture House, Moreton, in Wirral. There he learnt the black art of projection and cinema presentation, and at school he became the projectionist that showed end of term films. Decades later the wonderful staff at the Aldeburgh Cinema put the final polish on his techniques. Cinema at the Phil While at the Philharmonic, he would occasionally go up to the projection room to have a look at their equipment, which by then was disconnected - films having ceased years before. There were two Walturdaw Five projectors with carbon arcs. The Walturdaw Five was of Ernemann design but built in Britain by Ernest F. Moy
cinema technology - june 2007
Walturdaw equipment like that installed at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in 1939. Left: The ‘Incomparable Five’ projector which used water cooling, had a removable gate, removable intermittent movement, and a metal drum shutter. Centre: The Walturdaw De-Luxe sound system showing double turntable, front wall amplifier and fader, stage loudspeakers, and main amplifier rack. Right: The novel front-wall duplicate amplifier and fader showing how it could be easily accessed for service and readily changed over. Far right: The seven and a half ton screen came ‘out of the stage’.
and distributed by Walturdaw - it might have been seen as less than patriotic to buy German equipment in 1939. Sound equipment was the Walturdaw De-Luxe sound system, and included two 78rpm turntables. Edward would tinker with the equipment, which also included a mercury arc rectifier. Later, the Phil decided they wanted to screen the epic ‘Ben Hur’. A portable projector was hired from the BFI and all went well. So well in fact, that they wanted to start screening films again. Edward volunteered to help regarding new equipment. A Kalee 21 with a tower was installed and it was up and running again. The Phil then closed for a year for a complete makeover, and the new state of the art projection equipment came to over £65,000. A Century projector was installed with a tower system. The lamp house is a Strong and there is a Dolby CP 65 sound system. Edward said: “The screen is a seven and a half ton gadget, which at the press of a button comes out of the stage, complete with electrically operated curtains and all the speakers. When they have film shows, an organist is invited to play and the screen comes up. It takes two minutes fifty seconds to come to the top and this is part of the show. As it rises to the top the houselights are out and the stage lights are full up. In the photo of the original screen at the Philharmonic hall, the diminutive figure is Edward! “As the screen is a fixed width suited for Academy ratio, the CinemaScope picture cannot be made any wider. Instead they use a reversing anamorphic lens which gives the same width, but a narrower picture when showing ‘Scope.” After thirty years playing in the orchestra Edward decided to go into conducting and arranging. He also left the projection room after training others to do it. For the last fifteen years he has done broadcasting work for BBC radio Merseyside. He is an expert on film music and makes regular broadcasts on the subject. cinema technology - june 2007
On to the Museum The Museum Cinema was the idea of former Curator and Museum Director David Hillhouse, who wanted to have a period style cinema, using equipment similar to that in use in other Wirral cinemas. The Projected Picture Trust provided the projectors, which came from the Civic Hall in Aylesbury. A former caretaker’s flat at the rear of the Town Hall was redesigned by TDL (Theatre Developments Ltd.) of Tring to provide the museum with one of the best projection rooms in the area. Becoming a Chief
Above - View towards the projection box in the Wirral Museum cinema
I asked Edward how he came to work with Mike Taylor at the museum. He tells me he got a call out of the blue from Mike, who he has known for many years. Edward wasn’t sure about doing it until Mike mentioned the magic word ‘changeovers’. Edward said: “ I told Mike I would definitely do it – I would walk over hot coals to do this. Watching a cakestand revolving isn’t my idea of fun. Because we can do it the old way it really appealed. Three of us run the shows. The third member is trainee Darren Rushton. We have great fun doing the job.” Equipment at the museum consists of two Westar 2001/A projectors with Century sound heads on Ross bases. The sound heads have been converted to red readers.
Top - the Barco video projector ‘squeezed in between the Fumeo 16mm and No 2 Westar 35mm.
The cinema, which has been running for fourteen years, is operated as a joint venture between the Wirral Museum Department of the Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council and the Projected Picture Trust (North West) Region. PPT are responsible for all the projection. The main customer at the moment is the Birkenhead Library Cinema Club which gives regular shows on Thursday evenings.
Close up of one of the 50 year old Weststar projectors - still in good working order - and a soundhead with red reader from Bay Area Cinema Products USA
The light source is xenon provided by Converted Peerless carbon arcs. Films are rewound by hand but the make up table is powered.
Living room of the former caretaker’s flat prior to becoming the new projection room
Long before ‘Digital Cinema ‘ came into vogue, the Wirral cinema squeezed in (see picture previous page) a Barco Video High Beam projector, which is used to screen all manner of video formats, from DVDs to power point presentations, making the cinema a truly multi-purpose venue, and improving its viability. Apart from cinema the grand hall is used for concerts, meetings, wedding receptions and tea dances etc. Edward says that visitors to the projection room are welcome - contact the Wirral Museum for details. Tel: 0151 666 4010 www.wirral.gov.uk/ed/wirral_ museum.htm Many thanks go to Edward Peak and Mike Taylor for their time and help with this article.
Top: The Wirral Museum projection room with its Westar projectors, Peerless Xenon arcs, mounted on Ross bases. The machine in the centre is a Fumeo 16mm. Note also the Potts platter. The cinema uses a simple but effective tally board (left) to prevent mix ups over reels - Projectionist Darren can be seen taking the appropriate tally, which should leave no doubt as to which reels are being used!
Projection memories at Christies As Grant Lobban reported in April/May 2007 Image Technology, Christie’s South Kensington held the sale of the Samuelson Brothers Collection of Motion Picture Cameras last November. The Samuelson Brothers Collection was regarded as one of the world’s most important collections of historic movie cameras, and comprised about 70 lots. The collection was assembled by BKSTS Past President David W. Samuelson in the mid-1960s. Along with his brothers, he ran the well-known British firm of Samuelson Film Services (Sammy’s) in Cricklewood, the world’s largest supplier of motion picture cameras for hire, and over the years built an extensive collection of motion picture cameras. These were made available on long-term loan to the British Film Institute and the collection formed a key part of the Museum of the Moving Image on London’s South Bank, from1988 to 1999.
Although most of the publicity for the sale featured movie cameras and lenses, including a Technicolor 3-strip camera and the Bausch and Lomb ‘monobloc’ CinemaScope lenses that had been used for ‘The bridge on the River Kwai’, the Samuelson Brothers collection also included several early 35mm projection mechanisms, as well as equipment made for the amateur movie market, and the only known example of the first British made 16mm projector, the Thornton-Pickard ‘Ruby’. There were also some interesting bits of technical equipment, including a Newman & Sinclair 35mm film perforating machine and an Omnia film gauge for measuring film shrinkage. The proceeds of the Samuelson Brothers Collection will go towards funding a book about prominent producer and director of the silent movie era; “Bertie”: The life and Times of G.B.Samuelson.
16mm Thornton-Pickard ‘Ruby’ projector, built in Altringham, UK. Fitted with electric motor, variable speed control and a Dallmeyer f1.9 2-inch projection lens.
Empire No.2 35mm maltese cross projection mechanism, electric light lamphouse and bulb. Made by W. Butcher & Sons London
The Omnia 35mm film gauge with nickel plated brass plates and gauges for measuring film shrinkage to one-thousandth of an inch over 64 perforations. The box, marked ‘Ernest F. Moy Ltd’ contains a density comparator.
cinema technology - june 2007
Frontiersman to Film-Maker The biography of film pioneer Birt Acres FRPS FRMetS 1854-1918 The name Stephen Herbert (pictured below) may ring bells in the minds of many Image Technology readers who will remember his time with the technical services team at the BFI and his original and creative work on the now sadly defunct Museum of the Moving Image - MoMI. The recent arrival of a booklet and CD ROM from Stephen served to remind me that I hadn’t kept up with developments, and I learned that Stephen has spent most of the last decade as an independent museum consultant and publisher and specialist author whose main subject is the history of audio-visual media. Stephen and Mo Heard are partners in a company called The Projection Box, which produces a fascinating and surprisingly large range of books, CDs and DVDs, many of which relate to the history of the cinema industry.
In recent years John Aldred and the late Bob Allen have provided a wide range of historical pen-portraits of Cinema Pioneers in the BKSTS journals, and anyone who has read these with interest will be fascinated to read this latest publication from The Projection Box, ‘Frontiersman to Film Maker’, an in-depth biography of film pioneer Birt Acres, a contemporary and fierce competitor of Robert Paul (article IT November 2004) who laid claim to being the first British film producer. This book is of particular interest because it is written by Alan Birt Acres, grandson of the film pioneer, who has provided a particularly human slant to the biography, unashamedly taking the side of the family when it comes to discussing the historical arguments about ‘who developed what’ and ‘who did what first’. He does a noble job of defending his grandfather’s reputation, although it does sometimes come cinema technology - june 2007
across as rather defensive - “It is certain that Birt Acres had a prototype camera before he asked Robert Paul to build a more professional unit, as he even supplied Paul with some parts from his prototype such as the lens and film spools.” The author is, though, invariably honest, highlighting the problems that some of his grandfather’s early camera designs were subject to, and happy to acknowledge when he needed help from others, such as Paul. Birt Acres was not only one of the first people to shoot 35mm film, he was probably the first to successfully project such a film for public viewing, which is why this review can appear in Cinema Technology - the technical magazine that concentrates on what is now known as the exhibition side of our industry. He gave many early public cinema showings, often well-publicised, but the book suggests that rather than regarding these as entertainment shows, Acres preferred to see them as public displays of the technology. Reading the ‘book’ - it is actually published on a CD and requires Adobe Acrobat reader to provide excellent displays of both text and pictures on the computer screen - soon makes it apparent that Birt Acres was involved in every aspect of the movie industry - not only did he develop cameras and projectors, but he produced his own film stock and emulsion coating machinery, designed the first film stage and operated the first film studio in the UK and was also, the book claims, the country’s first film Director. Reflecting his interest in the complete ‘camera to screen’ cycle of the cinema business he designed, built and sold the first complete ‘home movie’ system - the BIRTAC. The unit shown on the right could be used first as a camera and then as a projector, using 35mm split down the centre to form 17.5mm film with perforations on one edge. The 122 page ‘book’ is packed with interesting historical photographs of equipment and people - I could have lived with fewer pictures of the family and relations, but the book is plainly a very personal tribute from a grandson to his pioneering forebear, so this is perfectly understandable. The quality of the photographs and reproductions of diagrams is generally very good, and the
CD will make a welcome addition to the cinema history section of my library. At £12.50 plus £1.00 UK postage the CD (works with PC and MAC) is excellent value and would make a convenient present for anyone interested in cinema history. As a bonus to BKSTS members, Stephen will include a printed copy of ‘When the Movies Began’, a 25 page chronology of the world’s film productions and film shows BEFORE (incredibly) May 1896. To purchase ‘Frontiersman to Film-Maker - The Biography of Film Pioneer Birt Acres’ ISBN 1 9030 0013 0 Go to www.stephenherbert.co.uk or, for those determined non web-users who insist on ringing me up to tell me that they don’t have web access, send a cheque for £13.50 including postage to The Projection Box, 12 High Street, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3EY. You will enjoy it! Jim Slater page 59
OBITUARY ALBERT CRITOPH MBKS Jim Slater celebrates the life of Albert Critoph 15 September 1922 - 7 May 2007.
‘Farewell Albert ... we shall all miss you!’
Albert Critoph died on 7th May 2007 after a couple of years of ill health following a lifetime of vigorous activity that benefited the cinema industry and the BKSTS. He joined our Society on 23rd February 1945, and for years at the Annual Awards Dinners proudly told us, in a ‘beat that!’ kind of way, that his BKSTS membership number was 770. Albert was fascinated by cinema from the age of seven, when he experimented with a torch and cardboard box, projecting ‘slides’ onto the wall, and this was later followed by a Christmas present of a Bingoscope, a handcranked 35mm projector. Leaving school at 14, he became a page boy at the Cameo cinema in Charing Cross Road, and soon became rewind-boy and trainee projectionist. He attended night school to learn about the electrical and technical side of being a projectionist, and later worked in the box at The Centre News Cinema, opposite the Windmill Theatre. He became fourth projectionist at the Imperial (Ruby) at Clapham (photo below), and also did relief work at the nearby Globe and Grand. He joined the Classic chain, doing the rounds of their London circuit and worked at the flagship Classic Cinema in Baker Street, near Madame Tussauds and at their News Theatres at Victoria and Waterloo, where shows were kept going throughout the war, in spite of air raids.
successfully. He worked in many capacities, eager to do whatever needed doing. He was always ready to talk about the Society Journals, and I often found it useful to hear how things used to be done, and, more importantly, why.
He worked at the Star Kinema, Wandsworth Bridge Road, and did relief work at the Plaza at Southfields, and the New Victoria in Islington. He spent ten months at the Picture House in Rickmansworth, and then, in a significant career step, went to the huge Metropole in Victoria, where he learned to cope with three projectors showing two big features a night plus the all-important newsreel. It was here that he learned how to put on a proper show, with ‘special effects’ from multiple slide projectors which could be cross-faded.
In his capacity as the Society’s most senior active member, Albert regularly provided a postscript talk at AGMs and Annual Awards Dinners, and established a splendidly anarchic tradition of saying what he wanted to, with no thought for office or Society politics. He was unstoppable in his determination to give public credit to the fine work of the BKSTS Staff and those Members whom he knew had made major contributions to the life of the Society.
In June 1943 (just after this Editor was born!) Albert changed track and moved from the cinema chains to become a studio projectionist at Merton Park Studios, and he looked after the dubbing theatre for many years, occasionally being ‘loaned’ to both Shepperton and Twickenham Studios. It was during this time that he joined the BKS, having been recommended by the then Chief of Sound at the studios. Merton Studios closed in 1967, and Albert then joined the BBC projection team and worked for the BBC for nine years until he, regretfully, was made to retire at the age of 60. The commercial companies weren’t so pedantic about retiring ages, so he worked for ITV for a further five years. Albert actively participated in BKSTS meetings and events for many years, and worked as ‘right hand man’ to the Society’s Secretary Bill Pay, ensuring that the Society’s biennial conferences, which from 1969-1993 were considerably bigger than anything we organise today, ran smoothly and
The last Society event that Albert attended (photo below) was lunch with a small group of friends at Pinewood, where he was given the prestigious President’s Award for his many years of devoted service to the Society. Those of us present felt privileged to be with him as he obviously thoroughly enjoyed the occasion, and it was humbling that after many years of never being short of a word or even a story, he was just able to say a quiet ‘thank you’. Our condolences to Albert’s family and to his great friend and carer Daphne Masterson, who did so much to ensure his happiness and comfort during his later years. We shall all miss Albert - there was no one quite like him, and our Society is thankful for all his contributions to its success over the nearly 65 years of his membership. Jim Slater with thanks to Tony Iles
cinema technology - june 2007
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OBITUARY BARRY TOOK MBKS Nigel Wolland writes about a well known projectionist and friend. BKSTS Member Barry Took died on Boxing Day 2006 at his home in Effingham Surrey. He had been sufferring with Motor Neurone Disease for about a year, but this did not stop him working until just before Christmas at the Ambassador cinema in Woking where he was Chief Projectionist. Barry entered the industry in the 1960s with Granada cinemas working at Harrow, Sutton and Kingston. He then moved on to London Weekend Television on the South Bank working in their dubbing and preview theatres. After leaving LWT he was appointed Chief Projectionist at Rank’s Metropole cinema in Victoria, but this cinema later closed for redevelopment. Barry then moved on to The Ambassadors, Woking, (left) which he opened and saw increase from three to six screens, and he stayed there for the next fifteen years.
- Theatre Historical Society of America. He joined in March 1994 and served on their board as International Director. Barry regularly attended their meetings in Elmhurst, Illinois as well as the annual conclaves in various parts of the United States. The last two of these were in L.A. and San Diego in 2005 (Nigel and Barry pictured on the aircraft carrier Midway) and in Boston last year. I joined him to visit some of the great movie houses and theatres of the past, and the photographs recall some of the happy times we had on these jaunts in recent years. In Boston, although his condition slowed him down and he walked with a cane, he was able to socialise meet and greet his many friends. Barry always took an enormous pride in his work and his cinema presentation was second to none. He was a great friend and colleague and I will miss our trips into the Surrey countryside to enjoy a pub lunch and the odd glass of Merlot. Condolences go to Barry’s wife Jane, his family and his many friends. Nigel Wolland FBKS Below left - The cabot Cinema, Beverley Maine and one of Barry’s favourite theatres - The Ogunquit Playhouse Maine.
A keen BKSTS member he always made his cinema available for training courses. He was also a CTA member and helped to arrange venues for their AGMs. Barry was also a member of the THSA
OBITUARY ALEC BUDDEN
Paul Davies, his collegue / engineer at UGC writes. It is with regret that we announce the death of Alec Budden, Chief Projectionist at Cineworld Chelsea. Alec who was 71 was appointed Chief at the Kings Road Cinema then named Cannon Chelsea in 1983 where he remained until his
death on Sunday 13th May 2007. He died just a few days after announcing his retirement after many years in the business. In addition to his role as Chief Projectionist Alec also served his colleagues with active involvement within BECTU, serving on
TECHNOLOGY both the Cineworld SDC and the BECTU Cineworld negotiating committees. Alec always understated his own importance, often referring to those around him as ‘governor’, yet he was always ready and among the first to support and defend the interests of younger projectionists entering our industry. He freely gave advice, support and encouragement, and his colleagues will undoubtedly remember Alec as a Gentleman. From his colleague/engineer at UGC, Paul Davies. The photograph shows Alec (on the left) at the recent BECTU conference held in Eastbourne. The presence of so many security guards with him only testifies to the esteem in which the man was held.
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