Cinema Technology Magazine - March 2007

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Vol 20 • No 1 • March 2007

B•K•S•T•S The Moving Image Society

Projection team of the year

The Cineworld Cardiff team

Behind the scenes at Kinoton A tour of the Kaufbeuren factory

Lift launch at Odeon Aylesbury

Floor to ceiling safely in ten minutes with new Movielift

European cinema

Visiting cinemas in Berlin and Krakow

The leading specialist publication for cinema industry professionals

Bell Theatre Services THE UK’s Leading Supplier and Installer of Digital And Film Projection Equipment.



Recent Presentations:

Recent Installations:

Berlin Alexanderplatz (Berlin Film Festival) Blood Diamond Happy Feet Deja Vu

Cineworld Didcot The Empire Leicester Square Sound System 20th Century Fox Preview Theatre

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 Grand Central Studios

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


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 the business providing involved intechnologically the business ofinvolved providinginmoving imagesofand and and associated in any form and associatedmoving sound inimages any form throughsound any media. through any media. The 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 associatedtechnology, sound technology, in the and throughout the world. in the UK andUK throughout the world. The SocietyThe is independent of all governments and commercial Society is independent of all governments and organisations. commercial organisations.

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Contents contents Issue14 Volume 20 • Number


Digital newsreel Newsreel


Odeon Cinemas Odeon Cinemas


Kodak• Panavision Limited • Panavision Europe • ITN Autodesk• Autodesk• Kodak Limited Europe • ITN

JPEG 2000 Rate Control Digital the Cinema Kinotonfor- behind scenes - factory tour


Avid Technology Europe Television • Carlton Television Deluxe LondonTheater • DigitalSystems Theater Systems Avid Technology Europe • Carlton Deluxe London • Digital Dolby Laboratories • FilmLtd& •Photo Ltd • IMP Electronics • Lee Filters • Numerica Dolby Laboratories • Film & Photo IMP Electronics • Lee Filters • Numerica Pinewood-Shepperton Studios •Partners ShootingLtd Partners • Slater Electronic Pinewood-Shepperton Studios • Shooting • SlaterLtdElectronic Services Services Soho Images • Sony Broadcast & Professional • Technicolor Soho Images • Sony Broadcast & Professional • Technicolor

Advantages of Variable Bit Rate Encoding Projection teamJPEG award - and Christmas party

Aardman Animations • AGFALtdGevaert Ltd •Ltd Arri•(GB) Ltdplc• •Barco • Cooke Aardman Animations • AGFA Gevaert • Arri (GB) Barco CookeplcOptics Ltd Optics DesistiUKLighting UK LtdFilm • Digital at the Moving PictureElectrosonic Company • Electrosonic Desisti Lighting Ltd • Digital at theFilm Moving Picture Company Ltd Ltd • Film Distributors & Photo Ltd CFCLtd• Harkness Film Distributors Association FilmAssociation & Photo Ltd• •Film Framestore CFC•• Framestore Harkness Hall Hall•Ltd The Joint Ltd(UK) • JVC Professional (UK) •Broadcast PanasonicEurope Broadcast Europe The Joint Ltd JVC• Professional • Optex • Panasonic Polargraphics LtdLtd • RTI (UK)&Ltd • Snell & Wilcox •• UGC Textronix • UGC Polargraphics Ltd QuantelLtdLtd• Quantel • RTI (UK) • Snell Wilcox • Textronix Cinemas Cinemas • VMI Broadcast VMI Broadcast


Bob Cavanagh, Advertising Bob Cavanagh, Advertising Manager Manager

Kelsall,Road, Potterne Road,Wiltshire, Devizes, Wiltshire, Kelsall, Potterne Devizes, SN10 5DD,SN10 UK 5DD, UK T/F: +44724 (0)357 1380 724 357 235280 M: 07854 e: 235280 e: T/F: +44 (0) 1380 M: 07854

/ Production Design / Design Production Bob Cavanagh, Bob Cavanagh,

Kelsall,Road, Potterne Road,Wiltshire, Devizes, Wiltshire, Visionplus,Visionplus, Kelsall, Potterne Devizes, SN10 5DD,SN10 UK 5DD, UK T/F: +44724 (0)357 1380 724 357 e: T/F: +44 (0) 1380 e:

Subscriptions Subscriptions

Cinema Technology is mailed free to of charge to Members. all BKSTS Members. Cinema Technology is mailed free of charge all BKSTS 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 - march 2007


Everything you always wanted to know about digital players 12 Chinese cinema - opportunities andcinema problems


Jim Slater visits Arts Media’s Odeon Byfleet-operations centre A liftAlliance at Aylesbury’s Movielift launch



Protecting moviesBerlin againstcitypiracy of cinemas




B•K•S•T•S The Moving Image Society


Berlin cinemas - yesterday and today


Polish multiplex marvel - Krakow’s five screen gem


Is there a future without perforations?


Widescreen weekend - Bradford schedule


CinemaScope installation engineers


Frank Littlejohns award for Jim Schultz


Getting technical at the NFT


Notes from a movie engineer’s diary


The Regent Centre Christchurch revived


More from the Empire






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Editorial Slater, Managing Editor Jim Slater, Managing Jim Editor Advertising Advertising




17 Winterslow Road,Salisbury, Porton, Wiltshire, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK 17 Winterslow Road, Porton, SP4 0LW, UK +44610544 (0) 1980 610544 F: 1980 +44 (0) 1980 590611 e: T: +44 (0) T: 1980 F: +44 (0) 590611 e:



of Motion Picture Sound Films BHP incFilm • British Film AssociationAssociation of Motion Picture Sound • Axis Films• Axis BAFTA BHPBAFTA inc • British Institute Institute • British Society of Cinematographers • British Universities British Society of Cinematographers • British Universities Film & Video Council Film & Video Council •Association Cinema Exhibitors • CST •Cameramen Guild of Television Cameramen Cinema Exhibitors • CST • Association Guild of Television • Mel Worsfold Ltd • Ltd • Philip Rigbyof&Television Sons Ltd SMPTE Society of Television Lighting Philip RigbyMel & Worsfold Sons Ltd SMPTE • Society Lighting• Directors • Women in Film & Television Women in Directors Film & Television The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the above Companies and The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the above Companies and Organisations. Organisations. Enquiries regarding Sponsor Membership of the BKSTS should be addressed to: Enquiries regarding Sponsor Membership of the BKSTS should be addressed to: Wendy Laybourn, Director, BKSTS - Moving Image Society, Wendy - Moving Image G Block, Suite 104,Laybourn, PinewoodDirector, Studios, BKSTS Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 Society, 0NH, UK G Block, Suite 104, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH, UK T: +44 (0)1753 656656 F: +44 (0)1753 657016 e: T: +44 (0)1753 656656 F: +44 (0)1753 657016 e:

Studios, Heath, SL0 0NH, UK Pinewood Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath,Iver Bucks SL0 Bucks 0NH, UK T: +44656656 (0)1753 F: 656656 F: +44657016 (0)1753 e: 657016 e: T: +44 (0)1753 +44 (0)1753 Editorial

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Digital Cinema Compression: TLS screen brightness meter reviewed


Publisher Publisher BKSTSSociety - The Moving Image Society BKSTS - The Moving Image


Digital Cinema Compression: Puttin’ on the Ritz (II) - Belper cinema update


Cinema Technology - ISSN 0995-2251 - is published quarterly by the BKSTS - The Moving Cinema Technology - ISSN 0995-2251 - is published quarterly by the BKSTS - The Image Society. It isImage mailed to all Itmembers and of is also distributed the Moving Society. is mailedoftotheallBKSTS members the BKSTS and istoalso major cinema chains and independents to reach virtually every cinema in the UK and distributed to the major cinema chains and independents to reach virtually every many in Europe It has in a circulation about 4000, in 55a countries cinemaand in worldwide. the UK and many Europe andofworldwide. It has circulationaround of about the world,4000, achieving estimated readership of 13,000. in 55an countries around the world, achieving an estimated readership of Views expressed 13, this journal are not necessarily the views of the Society. expressed this journal are not necessarily the views of the Society. © BKSTS - Views The Moving ImageinSociety © BKSTS - The Moving Image Society

March 2007 March 2007


A supplement to Cinema Technology The leading specialist publication for cinema industry professionals

SUPPLEMENT TDP - Training for Digital Projection Part 4

cover: OnOn thethe cover: The attractive entrance to The Odeon, Aylesbury , a The old (film) and the new multiplex (digital) projection equipment six-screen ex-ABC at which the latest ininlift equipmentthe was demonstrated managers from all new Sala Grandeto at technical the Venice Film Festival. the main UK cinema chains. Photo by Dion Hanson - Cineman See story page 20 Training for Digital Projection - March 2007 page 3



The Ambassador Theatre Group’s (ATG) entertainment complex in Woking has chosen Saturn Communications’ Cinemavision system to drive concession sales and for information screens throughout The Ambassadors six screen cinema. The Ambassadors Cinemas is part of ATG’s flagship venue - The Ambassadors, which also includes the New Victoria Theatre and Rhoda McGaw Theatre. Cinemavision is used for multimedia messaging on plasma and LCD screens in the Box Office for booking information and advertising of forthcoming cinema releases and theatre productions, and throughout the cinema for concession advertising, film trailers, and to display film and auditorium show times for each auditorium. The aim is to maximise the bookings for the cinema and the theatres as well as concession sales opportunities for our customers. Cinemavision provides the flexibility to communicate in a variety of ways as customers move through the complex. At the box office, dot matrix displays above each of the eight Box Office sales positions have been replaced with 15” LCD screens showing film times and seating

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availability. A further five LCD screens between the Box Office positions are used to show film and theatre advertising trailers. Within the concessions area there are four 42” plasma screens: two screens are showing forthcoming film trailers and theatre shows, while the other two screens advertise concessions and prices. In addition there is a 42” screen in the pick ’n’ mix area showing prices and advertising for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Concessions sales innovation The Ambassadors has revamped its concessions area, replacing the clear counter frontage normally showing confectionary with a further four 19” LCD screens displaying prices, meal deals and advertisements for productions at the New Victoria Theatre. At the entrance to each of the six screens there is also a 19” LCD The Ambassadors Acting General Manager David Holder with Sue Morley, Chief Executive The New Victoria

screen showing the screen number, time, film being shown and certification. Cinemavision will be integrated with The Ambassadors Box Office system, which will automatically update all film information and screen times. In addition, the screens also display current seating availability as and when the seats are sold. The team are using Cinemavision’s zoning and scheduling functions to target audiences with advertising, film and theatre trailers, as well as concessions and meal deals. The staff have found it very easy to use and information can be given immediately for customers to view.

SHOWEST SET TO BE THE BIGGEST YET! Time is running out to register for ShoWest 2007 - the longest running and most prestigious event for the cinema exhibition industry. Now in its 33rd year ShoWest features a jam packed trade show, film screenings and new release product reel presentations, educational seminars to inform and enlight and a programme of special events. Further information about the show - the world’s biggest - held at Paris and Ballys Hotels, Las Vegas March 12 - 15 can be found at

PROJECTIONISTS’ TRAINING The BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee is currently planning projectionist training courses for the coming season. Recent courses have covered a wide range of topics but the CTC would be interested to hear from projectionists exactly which topics they would find most useful for forthcoming courses to concentrate on. Please send your ideas to: Dion Hanson - e-mail: The next BKSTS / CTC Training event will be a

DIGITAL CINEMA AWARENESS DAY at CINEWORLD, BIRMINGHAM on 17th APRIL Please see the advertisement on page 28 for more information.

cinema technology - march 2007

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MANAGEMENT CHANGES FOR NEW REDDITCH APOLLO Gary Stevens, General Manager of the Leamington Apollo, is moving to the company’s newest cinema at Redditch, after 14 years at the Leamington site. David Williams, who has moved from the Apollo at Fareham after five years, has become the new General Manager at Leamington. Gary, whose publicity shots have often graced the pages of Cinema Technology, has seen many changes during his time at Leamington, and has had to cope with floods, fires and even suspected ghosts. He is looking forward to the challenge of running a brand new multiplex in Redditch town centre. The new £4.5 million pound seven screen cinema is located in the Upper mall area of the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, and the complex includes a spacious lobby with fast track ticketing, concessions, online ticketing, and many other new amenities, including ‘film bunch’ movies offering special price cinema screenings for families at the weekend. Redditch has no other Cinema in the town and residents have previously had

to travel eight miles to view the latest film releases. The Apollo Cinema has good access for cars and pedestrians, and is well equipped to handle the anticipated 350,000 annual admissions. Apollo want to create a real Hollywood theatrical feel for the cinema. Each air-conditioned auditorium has stadium seating giving unrestricted views of the large screens. All the seats are extra-soft with high-backs, and leather executive premier class seats are available in all screens. All seven auditoria feature Wall to Wall Screens showing superb images from state-of-the-art projection equipment, and with magnificent DTS™ surround sound from massive subwoofers, multiple stage speakers, and surround speakers. Although all 1200 seats had been fitted in the seven screens at the time of writing, there is still some more work to be done, and the new cinema is due to open on 22nd March. We hope to carry a full article about the Apollo Redditch, and ‘Meet the Chief’ in the next issue of Cinema Technology.


Joshua A. Berger, who has worked with the company for 17 years, has been promoted to President & Managing Director, Warner Bros. Entertainment United Kingdom and Ireland. He will continue to oversee all aspects of Warner Bros. Entertainment’s businesses in the U.K., working directly with the heads of Warner Bros. Entertainment’s various units. In addition, Berger is charged with identifying and maximizing in-territory and cross-company opportunities among the various businesses, as well as exploring and exploiting new business opportunities. He works closely with Time Warner to ensure that WBEUK and its parent studio are appropriately represented in matters regarding public policy in Europe. During his tenure at the helm of

Warner Bros. in the U.K., the company has enjoyed strong theatrical and DVD performances; widened distribution of its television product across broadcast, cable and satellite networks; was the first studio to put movies online in the U.K.; strengthened its consumer products business (in particular with the Scooby Doo franchise) and significantly increased revenues. Berger has also been instrumental in leading industry efforts on the revised tax legislation for U.K. film production and in ongoing antipiracy initiatives. Berger paid tribute to his ‘truly amazing’ team in London, saying that together they have enjoyed real success and have exciting and innovative plans for the future. With the business ever-changing and ever more challenging he looks forward to continuing and expanding his role in the company. Berger, who is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese, is a member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), a member of the British Screen Advisory Council (BSAC), and an associate to the International Council of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

ANNIVERSARY MEMORIES Mike Taylor of the PPT reminds us that 2007 marks a couple of important anniversaries in various areas of cinema history. The top picture celebrates the 60th anniversary of the GK21 projector, the first post-war model from GB Kalee, after the company was integrated into the Rank organisation. Known by many projectionists as the ‘Elephant’s Foot’ model, it was installed in all the leading cinemas of the Rank organisation, particularly Gaumonts, but later Odeon as well. Many independents (the rich ones!) installed the GK21 as a replacement for older machines. The GK21 picture head appeared

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later in a number of different configurations with different bases, soundheads, and arc lamps, but the one in our picture was the ‘Rolls-Royce’ of projectors, British throughout, and built to last. The photo shows newly installed GK21s in the projection room of The Empire, Widnes, in 1947, and is from the PPT North West Collection. The lower photograph is to remind us that the most famous rollercoaster of all time, ‘The Atom Smasher’ at Rockaways Playland in New York City, met its demise 20 years ago, on 24 April 1987. This rollercoaster was the opening attraction for the first presentation of ‘This is Cinerama’ at

The Broadway Theatre, New York, on 30 September 1952. Cinerama came to London in 1954 at The Casino Theatre in Old Compton Street, and it was later presented by several other cinemas across the country. This one ‘rollercoaster’ sequence remains in many viewers minds, and those who have seen it will understand that when people saw the system for the first time they really felt catapulted out of their seats. Fifty years on one can still see ‘The Atom Smasher’ - but you will need to go to Pictureville in Bradford for one of their marvellous Cinerama presentations.

cinema technology - march 2007

independent cinema

Puttin’ on The Ritz (II) Bill Chew, MBKS, describes Belper’s stylish new independent cinema In the September issue of Cinema Technology I wrote about the emergence of the independent sector and the noticeable improvement in cinema design, hitherto the domain of the multiplexes due to their greater resources. Several recent cinema openings have proved that in terms of design quality independent cinema can be every bit as good, if not better in some respects, than the multiplexes. The Ritz Cinema which opened in the Derbyshire town of Belper on 3 November is a case in point. This article aims to explore the ideas of the two founding partners Neil Roberts and Amanda Mundin and describes the special features of the cinema. The Ritz took shape from the simple idea of Neil and Amanda in wanting to show films once a month from rented premises. The nearest cinema facilities to Belper are the Odeon in Derby (10 screens) - former UCI cinema - in one direction and Cineworld, Chesterfield (11 screens) in the opposite direction. The cinemas are approximately 10 miles and 20 miles away respectively from Belper, so there was always a business opportunity for a cinema to be sited in Belper as there is no cinema within Amber Valley despite having a population catchment of around 120,000. A disused 2 screen ‘Star’ cinema from the 70s located in the circle area above the existing bingo in the old public hall building (dating from 1882) seemed a suitable site for this new cinema venture. However there cinema technology - march 2007

sequence, The Ritz Cinema together with other local applicants were the major benefactors. The Ritz received a Town Heritage Initiative grant of £140,000 from the Council without which the overall £250,000 refurbishment costs would have proved an insurmountable hurdle to overcome. The remaining funding came from private sources as well as funding from Triodos Bank (the ethical bank) through the Small Firms Loan Credit Guarantee scheme.

was one major snag - there was no access to the first floor, which virtually made the cinema idea unworkable. That is until the hairdressing salon on the ground floor became vacant. When the shop was vacated Neil and Amanda quickly arranged for it to be incorporated within their lease. The idea that a cinema could become a reality began to take shape. At about this time a marketing study had been commissioned from Ron Inglis, the film consultant, who suggested that showing films on a daily basis might be a better proposition than running films once a month. Initially, the idea was for Amanda and Neil to fund the project themselves but it soon became clear that a great deal more financial resources would be required to make the cinema a reality. By a stroke of luck Amber Valley District Council had applied to the E.U. for funding to make possible the regeneration of Belper town centre (essentially to reinstate architectural detail and vacant floor space) and had recently been awarded quite a substantial grant. In con-

In their endeavours to bring a cinema to Belper, Amanda and Neil were also greatly assisted by the freeholder of the property (a private family) who provided them with time and a rent free period during the crucial incubation period of the project. The aim had always been to provide a modern cinema facility (that is a cinema equipped with a large screen with good picture quality, superior sound, good sight lines, comfortable seating with spacious leg room, all housed in an air-conditioned environment) yet creating a cinema which would have a traditional feel to it. Neil and Amanda were keen to replicate the 1930’s cinema experience (which sadly has been all but lost in the age of the modern multiplex with it’s clinical and ‘no frills’ approach to film exhibition). The original 2 screen Star cinema comprised 148 seats and it would have been tempting to have ‘squeezed’ the maximum seating capacity in, say 180 seats. However, the temptation was resisted and instead the cinema was carefully planned to provide a seating capacity of 100 seats consisting of 73 refurbished page 7

independent cinema brickwork and stonework, paving, shop fronts, signage etc. has been renovated, chemically cleaned and improved under a separate grant funded scheme. Floodlighting to the front elevation has also been introduced. Being a single screen with only a hundred seats it was clear that The Ritz was not going to be a first run cinema. The aim was therefore to put on second run films but with a creative programme comprising a diet of mainstream, classic, children’s and cultural films to suit the broad requirements of the local community and populace. What makes The Ritz different from other cinemas/ multiplexes and what lessons can we draw from this project which might be helpful to others thinking of setting up their own cinema? I think the first thing to say is to be bold, different and individualistic - stand out from the cinema exhibitor crowd, as it were!! This is what Amanda and Neil have done. They have done this by bucking the trend - for example, having fewer seats instead of more and creating a single large screen to provide maximum picture impact instead of cramming the space with two postage-stamp sized screens. The cinema has a liquor licence which allows patrons to take drinks into the cinema (one of the few in this country!).

seats, 4 sofas and 19 luxury clubs chairs from the Italian seat manufacturer Destro (the latter have names of famous film stars embroidered on their backs - a nice touch). Having fewer seats meant that back to back seat dimensions are extremely generous, which is a distinctive feature of this cinema. All the luxuriously upholstered seats have specially made ‘trays’ attached to the arm rests, allowing for drinks to be brought into the auditorium. The Cinemascope picture size is approx. 3.8m x 9.1m, reflecting another important early decision made by The Ritz to have as big a picture as possible given the size and shape of the auditorium. The screen has movable masking to cater for 4 standard aspect ratios. The screen end assembly is complemented by stylish crushed velvet curtains which close to the centre. Sight lines in the cinema are excellent, due to carefully positioned built-up steppings over the existing cinema rake. The side walls and rear walls above the dado are acoustically treated with ‘Soundcheck’ wall treatment and fitted with 8 JBL surround speakers. The projection box is equipped with a 35mm Westar 2001 film projector with Westrex 2003e sound head and Westrex 5035 double-sided tower, which came from a cinema in Scunthorpe which closed in 2004. It is believed that the projection head dates back to the 50s, although the sound head is from the 70s. Omnex changed the lens page 8

holder assembly in the projection head, installed a red light reader in the sound head, serviced the entire projector, and installed it in the Ritz. Additionally the box has a 16mm projector (for archive footage, short films, low budget events, independent use and to encourage community events) and an NEC 2k digital projector supplied under the auspices of the Digital Screen Network. The auditorium is equipped with both an infra red system and an induction loop for the hard of hearing. The hairdressing salon has now become a stylish foyer with a café bar and concessions counter, with some easy seating and access to a disabled toilet. There is a further mezzanine foyer providing further easy seating for cinema patrons, with access to 2 stylish male and female toilets. As part of the grant scheme approved by the council and vetted by English Heritage, some traditional elements of the building such as the cast iron staircase balustrading leading up to the mezzanine foyer had to be reinstated to their former glory. This has been achieved and extended into the lower foyer and entrance area adding a touch of the traditional to the modern elements of the cinema. Other elements preserved include the auditorium ceiling and the wood panelling below the dado rail. The external façade of the building comprising

The second point is to strive for quality above quantity - it could pay dividends long term. This point is exemplified by the quality and variety of seating, careful choice of seating fabric selected for The Ritz and the little touches such as the seat ‘trays’. The whole science of cinema seating has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years and it would take a separate article to document these changes in providing comfort and luxury in the auditorium. Finally a cinema is not a cinema without its content - that is, film programming which should be creative, diverse, stimulating and challenging, informative, receptive to local needs, etc. If only there were more independents like The Ritz Belper - long live the independents!!! Bill Chew acted as consultant cinema designer on The Ritz and is a chartered architect and the principal of Bill Chew Associates and Managing Director of Cinestructures Ltd. Suite 15, Intech House, 34-35 Wilbury Way, Hitchin SG4 0TW Tel:01223 847757 or 01462 450589, Mobile:07762 337834, email: THE RITZ BELPER - CREDITS: • Client - Ritz Belper Ltd (t:01773 822224) • Council - Amber Valley District Council • Main Contractor - Best Building Ltd • Structural Engineer - Ken Hoe • Cinema Consultant - Cinestructures International Ltd • Façade Architect - Mansel Architects • Sound & Projection - Omnex Pro-Film • Seating Installation - Renovation Seating Services cinema technology - march 2007

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behind the scenes

Kinoton - behind the scenes Lutz Schmidt, Kinoton’s Manager of International Sales, provides readers with an insight into the Kinoton manufacturing plant at Kaufbeuren Germany The history… Kinoton was originally founded in Munich as a dealer for cinema equipment in 1948 and represented Philips in southern Germany. The new company was so successful that Philips decided after just a few years to hand over the exclusive distribution for the whole of Germany to Kinoton. At that time there existed a well-equipped workshop but there was only limited own manufacturing of equipment such as curtain drive winches. The historical photo below shows the orignal old workshop in Munich, and is notable for the spotlessly clean surroundings and the workers in white coats. The situation started to change during the 1960s, with Kinoton’s own design of the Soloautomatic projector (a massively modified FP20 with an integrated reel tower) and of course the ST200, the first

non rewind platter system. At that time Kinoton was still a dealer with the platter systems labelled as Philips. But now there was a need for extended manufacturing.

This frame design is rather unusual for Kinoton equipment, as we normally use mostly welded sheet steel designs for housings, which give excellent stability.

In the very early 70s Kinoton set up its first dedicated manufacturing plant, and at that time the decision was taken to move manufacturing out of Munich, to a place called Kaufbeuren. Kaufbeuren is is a small town of perhaps 100,000 inhabitants with roots as an old merchant town, dating back to to early medieval times. Since the initial move, the facility has been enlarged several times and has become a very substantial plant. It now comprises approximately 40,000 sq.ft. With the introduction of several new products, Kinoton has recently had to rent even more space, and it is good to be able to report that Kinoton is currently very busy.

Although we still rely on our traditional craftsmanship and skills, CNC (Computer

Let us see how busy Kinoton is: we will take a look at various departments and the manufacturing steps inside the factory. The main picture shows the building complex in Kaufbeuren. How things begin… The pictures right show (top) the cutting of steel profiles, which really does represent the beginning of much of our new equipment and (below) welding the steel frame of an FP30ECII studio projector. page 10

cinema technology - march 2007

behind the scenes 1




Numerical Control) manufacturing is a keyword for Kinoton. Only by using highly automated manufacturing systems can Kinoton’s large product range be produced at reasonable cost. The photo above (1) shows a curved gate being milled on one of the precision controlled machines - Kinoton always produces a large batch of each specific item. These colleagues (above 2) are discussing the programming of a CNC high precision grinding machine. Parts of the geneva intermittent are prepared with this machine but the sound drum also gets its final shape here, as do several other high-precision parts. The all-important workforce… Kinoton also considers it very important to keep happy and well-motivated employees, and we are proud that it is quite common for employees to stay with Kinoton for decades. Subassemblies like the xenon lamp units shown (above 3) are shaped in various places, and it is interesting to know that the youngster sitting at the bench is one of our apprentices. Kinoton traditionally trains a number of apprentices who undertake an official 31⁄2-year-apprenticeship. In Germany, this is a combination of school lessons and factory exercises which is orcinema technology - march 2007




ganized by the chamber of industry and commerce. A mixture of craft and technology… The picture above (4) shows one of our craftsmen bringing a geneva intermittent into being. They are completely CNC made and so consistent in quality that the “classic” fine-tuning by hand is, apart from minor polishing and examining shown being done here in the photograph, obsolete. What remains is of course a final adjustment to zero play between star wheel, cam and pin. The photograph above (5) shows completed Geneva units, ready for an initial test run.


the original 1968 version, although the control system has changed substantially over the years. All current versions employ a microprocessor control system, and in the case of the ST 200E types there is also a payout-unit without a swivel arm but with infrared sensing, which guarantees perfect film handling. In the background of the photo you can just see some ST2000 endless platter systems. The photograph below shows one of our combined 35/16mm projectors being completed, and on the right hand side a Kinoton FP38ECII studio projector (also dual 35/16mm) can be seen.

The subassemblies of the basic gear train are mounted on to the base plate (above (6), and after this step every film projector mechanism goes on a test bench and runs for approximately 48 hours. The photograph above (7) shows a number of Kinoton column-based FP30D film projectors being completed, with wiring, turrets, sound heads and the like being assembled and connected up. The assembly of their FP50 console counterparts is done in the same way. In another department, platter systems are assembled (8). The mechanical design of a modern ST200E is still very much like page 11

behind the scenes 9


projector is being trimmed for optimum scanning results.


And Kinoton is not only cinema… Projectionists may struggle to understand the photograph above. Yes, it is definitely Kinoton, and Yes, it is definitely connected with moving pictures, but No, it has nothing directly to do with cinema projection! What you see above is the assembly of Kinoton Litefast 360° video display systems. Litefast is a unique, innovative circular display for promotion and advertising; and you might well find these display systems in cinema foyers in the near future. And out to the customer…

Into the Digital era After successfully passing the Texas Instruments certification procedure in early Summer 2006, a first batch of Kinoton DCP projectors, based on Barco’s 2K Digital Cinema components, using DLP Cinema® technology from Texas Instruments was produced and shipped. Since then, the quantity of digital projectors which we are making is increasing, and we have made room for a complete new assembly department for D-Cinema equipment, shown above (9). Testing and checking… The final step for each Kinoton projector - whether film or digital - is adjusting and testing of the completed unit. Pictured above (10) the sound head of a film page 12

It is the final step (left 11) and an important one! A solid crate and careful packing are indispensible if you ship precision made equipment to places around the globe. The crates we make are fully accepted by insurance companies and, from what we are regularly told by our customers, the wood from our crates often seems to end up as shelves in homes or garages!

sign resources, since all those designs are made in-house. One recent example of such work is a new video scaler for HighDefinition alternative content, called DMS-HD. This device is an important addition to our DCP digital projectors, and we will tell you more about this in Cinema Technology in the future. The cinema industry is facing interesting times and many challenges. But whatever technology the cinemas will require and whatever engineering tasks will come, no matter whether they demand precision mechanics or power electronics or digital image processing, Kinoton will be ready to offer the optimum solutions for today’s and tomorrow’s cinemas. That is for sure. Lutz Schmidt, Kinoton GmbH For enquiries please contact our local partners or contact us at welcome@kinoton

But there is so much more… We hope that you have enjoyed the journey through the Kinoton factory and a look behind the scenes. This article has focused to a large extent on our machine shop and on projector assembly, but of course there is also much more to see. For example, all our devices are equipped with electronic control systems and often with microprocessor systems - today’s cinema automation systems are totally dependent on such technology. As a result, the design and use of PC boards and general and specialised electrical components forms a substantial part of our decinema technology - march 2007

Cinema Screens and Equipment Specialist LED Lighting Supply • Design • Manufacture • Installation

Unit 8 Leighton Industrial Park Billington Road Leighton Buzzard LU7 4AJ Phone: 01525 383054 Fax: 01525 377010 e-mail:

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Screen surfaces Screen frames Special concept screens Masking and curtain systems Electric / Electronic controls Roller screens of all sizes Equipment servicing LED edge lighting Special LED lighting effects Your Imagination , Our Products and Services

screen brightness

TLS provide lowcost solution to screen brightness measurement Matt Jahans reports

The brightness of a cinema screen is one of those basic parameters that makes all the difference to the cinemagoer. Too dim, annd a picture can lose all its intended impact, too bright and the images are nothing like the DoP intended.

Checking screen brightness has always been relatively straightforward if you use a traditional spot meter, but these are quite complex devices, with built-in ‘telescope’ optics that allow you to examine the screen area over as little as one degree of arc, and so it is not surprising that they typically cost around £1000. This means that they have generally not been readily available to a projectionist, but instead form part of the service engineer’s toolkit. This in turn means that screen brightness may only gets checked a couple of times a year, or when lamps are changed. TLS realised that if a low-cost alternative could be found, it would make it possible for screen brightness to be checked far more frequently, ensuring that cinemagoers see the images that the movie director intended.

They therefore developed the new TLS UK Screen Checker, which is a low cost alternative to a 1° Spot Meter (below). A directional reading of screen illumination is displayed using a line of amber, green and red LEDs. This represents a range between 3 and 30 foot Lamberts, allowing the operator to measure the different illumination levels over the entire screen. Screen Checker will aid projectionists to focus the lamp in the lamp house, optimising the distribution of light on screen and improving the quality of film presentation. It will now be possible to determine if an ideal light reading is being achieved or not. For example - a centre reading of 16 fL and a uniform reading of <10% degradation at the edges. This is ideally used when installing a new Xenon lamp and then periodically to measure illumination degradation of the system. This can determine when the rectifier current must be increased due to dull light, or the need for the lamp to be changed. The low cost of the unit enables a cinema chain to issue a Screen Checker to each location therefore ensuring a consistent standard of film presentation. Using the Screen Checker: 1. Fit the PP3 battery. 2. Press the ‘ON’ button and observe that the battery indicator illuminates green. If this does not happen then Screen Checker does not have sufficient power to take readings.

page 14

3. Screen Checker is now ready for use. To save battery life it will auto power down after approximately one minute. Alternatively the on button can be held on for continuous use. 4. FL (Foot Lamberts) indication is shown using a line of LEDs representing 3 to 30 fL. The LEDs are coloured red, amber and green. Red suggests that light is too bright or too dim, amber suggests that things are not ideal and green suggests that the light is in the region required, with the ‘standard’ 16 fL highlighted with it’s own LED. Before attempting to take readings with Screen Checker certain conditions must be observed: • The first action must be to have all house lights / side wash lights etc. turned off as Screen Checker can detect scatter light from other fittings. • A white light through the lens must be put on the screen for measurement purposes. Do not try measuring while running film. It is recommended that white light be put through the lens for about one minute periods only. Longer periods can seriously damage lenses - close the douser and give the lens a chance to cool between readings. • User positioning is important. As with a 1° spot meter, the recommended user position is centre of auditorium 3⁄4 of the way back from the screen. Not only is this the optimum position to get an all round feel for the auditorium, but always using the same position allows for consistency of results. cinema technology - march 2007

screen brightness • Using its photo diode and expensive optics a 1° Spot Meter can accurately measure a very small area of the cinema screen. Screen Checker works in a similar fashion, but without the expensive optics. This is the fundamental difference and means that it must be used in a slightly different way. Screen Checker takes its measurement over a wider spread of screen rather than a tight 1°. Some have commented that from a projectionist’s point of view this is more usable. Screen Checker therefore averages the light reflected over its spread area. Due to the above mentioned differences, it must be appreciated that the meter is not a replacement for the pinpoint accuracy of a spot meter and may give slightly different results as explained below. Due to Screen Checker averaging, it will pick up what a 1° spot meter sees as high fL readings next to an area of low fL readings and translate as a medium result. Again to some people this is more usable, as not many are interested in the light reading for an area as small as a few centimetres, rather the broader readings such as the ‘top’, ‘centre’ or ‘bottom’.

where one is aiming the meter would be questionable. To get around this problem a ‘viewfinder’ was fitted, comprising of a small lens, a mirror and a viewing screen. In a dark auditorium with Screen Checker pointed at the screen, an image of the illuminated (white light only) screen can be seen in the viewer. Shown below (1), the aiming circle can clearly be seen in the centre of the illuminated screen. Screen Checker can then be panned up / down, left / right and where the Screen Checker is measuring. For example the image below (2) shows Screen Checker measuring the centre / bottom of the screen. The one thing to be aware of is that ‘left’ and ‘right’ movements are shown on the viewfinder as reversed. This is due to the mirror arrangement, a concept that you will be familiar with using projectors. The example below (3) shows a right / centre reading. It must also be remembered that Screen Checker averages a spread when it is aimed.

information can be attained such as the following: • On Xenon lamp installation: When the lamp is first ignited and focused a Screen Checker reading should be taken. Ideally a reading of 16fL should be attempted for in the centre, with <10% degradation around the edges. Should this reading not be attained Screen Checker can assist with either refocusing or current adjustment. Initial hot spots or unevenness will be highlighted and can be corrected. • Routine intervals: At pre-determined times, decided by the cinema, the Screen Checker should be used again to see if the picture has degraded or focused unevenly. Over the natural course of a lamp’s life the light output will reduce. Consequently a lamp, which correctly began life at the lower end of its current range, can have its rectifier current increased (observing the upper limits of the current range). This will increase its brightness and Screen Checker will allow the projectionist to aim for 16fL again. Focusing can also be adjusted to even up the screen again. In the event of nothing having changed, the rectifier and focusing can be left alone. Unnecessary current increase will reduce lamp life.

In practice, tests undertaken in comparison with Minolta and Spectra spot meters have given very like-for-like readings, which is encouraging.

Therefore to measure an edge of screen, ensure that the aiming circle is only on the illuminated screen edge and not overlapping into the blackness off screen. This prevents the blackness being measured and bringing down the average result. An example is shown below (4).

As explained, Screen Checker does not have the optics of a spot meter, so

Once you are familiar with how to read results from Screen Checker, useful

TLS UK, 108 Windsor Road, Slough, SL1 2JA. T: 01753 576888 E: Web site:

1. The aiming circle can clearly be seen in the centre of the illuminated screen.

2. Screen Checker shown measuring the centre / bottom of the screen

3. Movements shown on the viewfinder are reversed - the reading shows right / centre.

4. Screen Checker averages the spread when it is aimed - ensure that the aimimg circle is only on the illuminated edge (below left) and not overlapping into the blackness of the screen (below right).

cinema technology - march 2007

page 15

winning team

The winning team - (L-R) Tony Boosey, Senior Projectionist, Glen Swanson, Alan Stephens (Chief), Graham Morgon, John Thomas.

Cineworld Cardiff win projection team of team of the year award Growing up in the north of England it was always said that if you wanted to meet somebody who you hadn’t come across for ages you could guarantee that you would meet them on a walk up Scafell Pike on a Bank Holiday Monday. These days I think that Scafell Pike has been replaced by the Retiring Room at The Odeon Leicester Square on the occasion of the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee Projectionists’ Party. Certainly the numbers attending seem to grow year by year, and if you want to meet anyone in the cinema exhibition business you would be very unucky if you didn’t see them there. I have been attending for a number of years now, and although all the usual ‘characters’ from the business were there telling tales of yesteryear, it was also noticeable that there are far more young projectionists in evidence these days, something that has to bode well for the future of our business. page 16

The format has become well established a room packed shoulder-to-shoulder with projectionists, with plenty of food and drink, thanks to Max Bell of Bell Theatre Services, who sponsors the event, and to Susan Hanson who somehow manages to provide an unending supply of goodies from noon right through to ‘chucking out time’ at about four o’clock. Dion stands behind the bar dispensing good cheer, and the conversation flows thick and fast as old friends take the opportunity to catch up on what has been happening since they last met.

and presentation standards in the cinema exhibition industry during the year.

After an hour or so, Patron of the Society Sir Sydney Samuelson called for order, and concentrated minds on what was ostensibly the main purpose of the event - the presentation of the Projection Team of the Year award. This goes to the team that the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee has decided, after much deliberation, has made the greatest contribution to the professionalism and the maintenance of high technical

The Projection Team of the Year award is sponsored by Dolby Laboratories, and Sir Sydney presented the first part of the award, a handsome carriage clock, to the Cardiff Chief Alan Stephens. Alan introduced the other four members of his team (‘Were there no films being shown in Cardiff that afternoon?’ speculated one comic in the audience!) and gave a short speech of thanks on behalf of the team.

Sir Sydney always seems to be able to tell a tale linking his earliest days in the projection business with his pride that technical standards in the business are being maintained today, in spite of growing commercial pressures, and this year was no exception. There was also a little bit of fun poked at the fact that once again the award has gone ‘abroad’ - well, over the Severn bridge, at least, to Wales, following last year’s award to the Edinburgh Film House.

cinema technology - march 2007

winning team

Left - Dolby’s Peter Seagger who sponsor the award, and Sir Sydney Samuelson making the presentation to Alan Stephens, chief of the winning Cardiff Cineworld team.

The 15-screen Cardiff Cineworld cinema opened in July 2001, and is on five levels, including three projection boxes and two bars. Each screen has a Kinoton FP30 projector and Kinoton ST200E Non-Rewind system. The sound systems are all built around CP650s. There is central automation control situated at level two, and TACC/ ASK2 automation controls the projectors’ on board PLCs. The cinema is about to get two new Christie CP2000 Digital projectors.

equipment installation. Before that he was Chief at Newport. Cineworld Cardiff hosts the annual Cardiff Film Festival, during which the team shows a great variety of new films from all over the world. Peter Seagger, Vice President International Sales Dolby Laboratories, said how pleased the company was to be involved as Sponsor of the award, and handed over a cheque to the Cardiff team.

Alan has been involved with the site from the beginning and assisted with the original Cineworld Cardiff and one of the splendid auditoria

Certainly the numbers of partygoers attending seem to be growing year after year - and if you want to meet anyone in the cinema exhibition business you would be extremely unlucky if you don’t meet them there. Who can you recognize? cinema technology - march 2007

page 17

chinese cinema

As a market of over 1.3 billion people and one of the world’s fastest growing economies, China has the potential to become the world’s largest cinema and home entertainment market, but there are currently a number of obstacles to realising this potential.

New Screen Digest Report highlights opportunities and problems in Chinese cinema research firm Nielsen NRG underlines how today’s Chinese cinema-goer consumes film, and highlights some positive signs for the industry overall. It not only suggests that there is a demand for a variety of films, but highlights the opportunities presented by having new multiplexes expand across the country. Screen Digest worked with Nielsen NRG who carried out primary research with urban Chinese cinema-goers for this report. The results showed some interesting differences from Western audiences. The Chinese film industry has experienced a period of rapid growth since the government began relaxing its regulations in 2001, with box office revenues tripling to $336m in 2006 as more and more people go to the cinema. Screen Digest forecast that by 2010 these revenues will exceed $720m. The number of modern screens will increase in line with the revenue growth – almost doubling from 2,940 in 2005 to 5000 in 2010. The first major obstacle mentioned in the report is that the Chinese government has only partially liberalised the market to allow foreign investment; a full relaxation of restrictions is going to be a crucial part of realising the potential of the market. Warner Bros International Cinemas invested heavily in China when it entered in 2003, only to pull out three years later having conceded the battle against the challenges of government control and investment regulations. However, on the flip side, the relaxation of restrictions has allowed the Chinese film production industry to experience a boom, and China is now the third-largest film producer in the world, after India and the USA. Piracy at 95% The second key obstacle for film producers and distributors in China is piracy. Estimates put Chinese video piracy rates at 95% at the end of 2005, a major challenge for any company trying to make a profit from film. Major Western film releases are often available to the home movie fan a month before they’ve been released, at far less than the relatively high cost of going to the cinema. page 18

China’s “Cinema Class” A third obstacle is that the majority of Chinese never visit a cinema, or even have access to one. The report has identified a “Cinema Class” of urban, middle class consumers who can afford the high ticket prices of 30 to 80 Yuan for a standard seat and 120 Yuan for a VIP seat (approx $3.50$10 and $15), some of whom go to see a film at one of China’s new modern cinemas on average seven times a year. This group is currently estimated to represent only 19% of the population, yet the appetite for films across the entire Chinese population is potentially huge. If the average number of cinema visits per person in China was increased from 0.14 times a year where it currently stands, to one per year, China would be the third largest market for cinema in the world, after USA and Japan. The report says that to reach anything like a mass market, China is going to need more cinemas across the country, not just in the major urban centres, and significantly lower ticket prices. The opportunities Screen Digest points to the efforts that are being made to increase cinema visits in China. The introduction of digital cinemas will reduce costs, taking ticket prices down with them, and this will encourage more people to choose to visit the movies. Secondly, in the light of the boom in Chinese film production, the government is supporting a strategy to bring cinema to both the rural Chinese and also even more urban areas to help the industry expand. Thirdly, original consumer research carried out by

• Half of the survey respondents spend at least 36 Yuan ($4.60) a month at the cinema in a country where the average hourly rate of pay is $2.40 • Unlike in the West, where seeing a film is often a last-minute decision, 42% of Chinese plan their trip a week in advance. Younger people, aged 16-20 were the most spontaneous in their decision making and were more influenced by in-cinema marketing • It is the desire to see a specific film that motivates almost half (46%) of all cinema visits, followed by 21% who want to experience the big Western-style multiplex screens. Very few film fans see visiting the cinema as a social event, with only 20% going with friends or on a date • Comedy is the most popular genre, especially romantic and action comedies • The majority of respondents (42%) had no preference for either a Western or Chinese film • 30% said they preferred Western films because they have better production values, better special effects and are more creative • 18% said they preferred Chinese films. This was mainly young men who base their preference on their local humour and storylines. The report underlines the potential of China, but says that investment in this market needs to be seen as a long term strategy, given the possible pitfalls along the way. To purchase the report, contact: Tel: +44 (0) 20 7424 2820. cinema technology - march 2007

getting a lift

Jim Slater reports on the launch of a new access system for cinemas....

Getting a lift at Aylesbury’s Odeon John P. Cavill (left) has been well known in the cinema business for many years. In 1996 he purchased Cinema Restoration Services from Stan Rix, who had worked for Harkness Hall before starting his own business, installing and servicing cinema screens in the UK. For those readers who perhaps haven’t kept up with developments, a major change took place in 2005 when the business and its goodwill was purchased by Jason Slee and Julie Roberts, and the name was changed from Cinema Services to Cinema Screens. John is now Managing Director of European Screen Cleaning Ltd., and still works with Julie running that company. It was therefore something of a surprise to receive an invitation from John to attend a demonstration of a totally different type of equipment from that with which I normally associate him, and an equal surprise to find that the UK launch of the new kit was to take place at the Odeon, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, not a cinema that I had visited before.

page 20

A Modern Multiplex

The Projection Area

My initial impression, after easily finding the place in the centre of the town, was surprise at seeing what was obviously a fairly modern multiplex (six screens as it turned out) that looked to have been built in the style of a traditional Odeon, with a tower. It didn’t take long once I arrived for me to find out that I had been completely wrong in this supposition - the building had actually been purpose-built for ABC, and the ‘ABC Aylesbury Superplex’, which had a reputation for being the most expensive cinema around, had only become an Odeon in September 2000 as a result of the continuing takeover activity that affects our business.

I couldn’t visit a cinema without taking the chance to have a look around the projection box, and although Chief Vernon Weaver was busy chasing around doing all those tasks that just have to be done, projectionist Sean Coles (bottom left) was kind enough to show me the technical areas. There is just one huge, single-level projection suite which serves all six multiplexes, and I was struck by the fact that every surface and floor area was immaculately clean - any ‘old-school’ Chief would have been delighted. Philips FP20s fed from platters provide first class images on each of the six screens.

It turned out that Cinema Services had been responsible for the initial installation of all six of the screens in this cinema, including the very large ‘floating’ screen in Screen 6 (below) which was to be used for the day’s demonstrations. Screen 6 is approached via a fairly plush bar area, and used to be known as the Hollywood Suite, fitted with a number of huge leather armchairs, before the new owners decided that it made better business sense to pack in a larger number of more conventional seats. I have to say, however, that the seating (180 seats including some ‘premier’ ones) is still very comfortable and the rows are well-spaced, the relevance of which will become clear as this article progresses.

Having had a brief look at the Odeon, Aylesbury, let us move on to the main reason for the visit - to see a demonstration of the Movielift - PHC 1000 S, which claims, with some justification, to be the easiest and simplest way of reaching the ceiling of a cinema in just 10 minutes. The purpose of the Movielift is to make changing lamps, smoke detectors or other items on the cinema ceiling as easy and safe as possible. Existing solutions for lamp changing range from a suction cup on the end of a wobbly and difficult to manoevre long pole to the erection of scaffold towers, and there is also the well-known Genie personnel lift, the smallest of which can fit into

The Movielift PHC 1000S

cinema technology - march 2007

getting a lift

gaps about 56 cm (22”) wide. It hasn’t been absolutely unknown for a projectionist to use a carefully placed ladder to reach a light, but these days such antics are forbidden under health and safety regulations, and even the construction of a scaffold tower is subject, quite rightly, to a number of safety rules, and can take quite a time. The Demonstrations John Cavill had managed to persuade a wide range of technical people from all over the cinema industry, including the technical managers of all the main cinema chains and a number of health and safety training experts to come along to the UK launch of this new lift equipment, and he thanked Paul Schofield, Technical Manager of Odeon, for making Screen 6 available on that day. Companies who sent technical representatives to attend the demonstrations included Vue Cinemas, National Amusements, Direct Access Supplies Ltd., Cineworld, Empire Cinemas Ltd., NATCO Electrical, Strategic Team Group, Cinema Screens Ltd, Odeon Cinemas, Powells Ltd., and Apollo Cinemas. John introduced Bob Williamson (inset right), who made the presentation, with the help of two German engineers who had come over especially for the launch. The Movielift comes as four separate wheeled units, each carefully thought out to make transporting and erecting the kit as simple as possible. Firstly, we were all impressed by the electric ‘stairlift’ trolley, and watched as the two men used this to carry the Movielift up the stairs of the cinema until it was level with the row of seats above which the ceiling lamp was to be replaced. One of the technical managers cinema technology - march 2007

commented that the stair climber unit on its own could be useful for overcoming a range of heavy lifting projects, including the moving of heavy rectifier units about some cinemas. Once the unit was opposite the appropriate seat row, there was a bit of fiddling necessary as the two operators had to turn the stairclimber through ninety degrees and remove the lift from the trolley. There was plenty of room between the seats in Screen 6, but the manufacturers claim that the Movielift can fit into seat rows that are only 40cm apart. The next task, having pushed the lift along the seat row until it was under the lamp to be changed, was to insert two long aluminium box-section outriggers, and Bob pointed out that these arms are fitted with sensors which don’t allow the lift to operate unless they are properly and precisely in place. Bob used his language skills to translate instructions and questions and answers to and from the German operators. Thanks to the high aluminium content, the Movielift is of very rigid construction, but is also extremely light and easy to use. Two people are sufficient to transport the Movielift and erect it between rows of seats. I timed the demonstration, and it took just under a quarter of an hour to get the lift erected and in place, with nobody rushing, and some questions from the audience being asked along the way. The manufacturers make the very reasonable claim that the Movielift can be erected and ready for use in just 10 minutes. The special outrigger arms, fitted with 25Kg ballast weights for stability, can be used in many different ways and make it possible for page 21

getting a lift

How many Odeon technicians does it take to change a light bulb? Sean demonstrates it takes just one with the Movielift. Far right - the Movielift’s operating motor.

the Movielift to be erected even in difficult situations, such as where the floor slopes (on a rake, as is common in several multiplexes) or close to a wall, and after the first demonstration the team moved the lift close to a wall to illustrate how effectively it could be used in this position. The ‘cage’ appeared to be very safe and stable, with only a little ‘rocking’ when fully extended, and a couple of brave souls had a trial run in the lift, but it was projectionist Sean Coles who was ‘chosen’ to do an actual bulb replacement. The picture sequence alongside shows how rapidly he learned to use the controls and successfully replaced the bulb in a couple of minutes. The Movielift works from a standard 230V mains socket, which drives an electric motor operating a hydraulic pump. The motor and pump are on a self-contained trolley, with hydraulic hoses connecting to the lift mechanism. This seemed fairly complex to me, so I asked why there couldn’t be a completely electrical, non-hydraulic model, which would just require an electrical cable to the lift. It was explained that the hydraulic system is safer, allowing the operator to bring down the cage in a controlled manner if the electrical supply should fail. Audience Reaction The audience were obviously impressed with the excellent demonstrations of the equip-

page 22

ment, which is CE certified, and claims to meet all the rlevant standards for such equipment. There was a general opinion that the Movielift is ‘a good piece of kit’. Many of the questions asked related to health and safety and to training matters. Safety training and maintenance of the Movielift kit will be dealt with in the UK and Ireland by Rod Fox of Direct Access Supplies. There was some concern that since such kit won’t be used every day, and its erection is fairly complicated, with the need to handle 25Kg ballast weights, there may be ‘refresher’ training implications. It was pointed out that those erecting mobile scaffold towers need to attend refresher courses every three years, and there was some discussion as to whether more frequent refreshers might or might not be necessary for the Movielift. It is obviously a well-built, solid yet easily handleable piece of equipment, which could make lamp changing much easier and safer for many cinema people, and could also be used for changing speakers, smoke alarms, and filters. Pricing The main potential problem over its acceptance as a regular piece of cinema equipment seems likely to be its cost. The price for the full set of kit that we saw is around 18,000 Euros, say £12,500, but the basic Movielift can be purchased without any of the transporters for

12,900 Euros, about £8,700. All these prices are from Germany. There was much discussion about the pricing. The Movielift is obviously too expensive to have one for each screen, and there are much cheaper ways of lamp-changing, but such a sum is fairly trivial when compared with the capital cost of a new multiplex, so maybe could be justified for new-builds. Others felt that this was a piece of kit more suited to maintenance contractors who would use it on a regular basis, taking the equipment around many different cinemas. Although everyone admired the ‘Mercedes’ quality of the German-built Movielift, some compared its price with the significantly cheaper Genie lift, asking how it differed - the ability to fit into spaces as narrow as 40cm seemed to be a major advantage for some users. The Future? It was interesting to see such a good demonstration of what is a beautifully-engineered piece of equipment, and many of those present expressed their appreciation to John Cavill and the team from Movielift. It was also notable that some of the technical managers from the different cinema chains enjoyed the rare chance to talk with their opposite numbers in competing chains Aylesbury is obviously a good central venue. The Movielift demonstrations have certainly provided a good deal of food for thought, and it will be interesting to hear in the coming months and years just how much impact the company manages to make on the UK cinema market. Jim Slater John Cavill can be contacted at Tel. & Fax 01296 747447

cinema technology - march 2007

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The Cine Star IMAX

Open air screen by the Kulturforum

Berlin - city of cinemas Jim Slater reports on a recent visit to Berlin On a recent visit to Berlin, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are large numbers of many different types of cinemas, I counted almost 50, and that there seems a genuine enthusiasm for the cinema amongst a large proportion of the population. On a ‘political’ tour of Berlin it was interesting to hear from the guide that ‘cinema hadn’t begun in Hollywood, as most people thought’, but at the Babelsberg Studios, near Potsdam, just a few miles South West of Berlin, where I was later also to find the architectural wonder of the Potsdam Film Museum (below).

Cinemas in Berlin range from the usual multiplexes through art house cinemas to IMAX, with a few familiar (to me) names such as Odeon, UCI and Village, but including far more specialist cinemas than I might have expected. Right in the heart of the city in the newly rebuilt Potsdamer Platz is the Sony Centre, a huge shopping and entertainment complex with a most unusual roof structure - if you look at the building from a distance you can see that the roof has been designed to recall Japan’s famous mount Fuji, with the sloping top of its volcano.

Babelsberg claims to be the oldest largescale film studio in the world, and is still today a highly regarded full-service provider for film and television productions from around the globe. Its 100-acre lot provides ideal conditions for film and television crews and is used by both domestic and international programme makers. It has great facilities for making daily, weekly and telenovela productions, and has established a strong reputation for having high technical standards and great ‘special effects’ capabilities.

Inside the Sony Centre there are several separate cinema units, including the CineStar multiplex which exclusively shows all movies in their original version or with subtitles, and the Cine Star IMAX with full 3D capabilities. Next door is the Filmhaus film museum, which has permanent TV and Film museum sections as well as a changing selection of other special exhibitions. The German Film and Television Academy is based there.

movie theatres, and even in the heart of the city an open air screen is erected by the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz. This exciting city - I hadn’t been for nearly thirty years, when daily trips through Checkpoint Charlie were ‘de rigeur’ - contains so much of interest to any cinema enthusiast, and language needn’t be a barrier. As well as the usual tourist sites you can find a good list of cinemas at Film/film_cinemas/index.htm On my return I discovered that BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee Member Fred Fullerton is a regular visitor to Berlin and knows many of its cinemas in depth, and it didn’t take too much persuasion for him to dig into his photograph collection and prepare the excellent article which follows. Jim Slater

Just across the road is the Cinemaxx multiplex which has an incredible 19 theatres. An unprepossessing building architecturally from the outside, it is impressive inside, with a huge lounge and large staircases. It shows most of the current blockbusters, and you can choose to see the original language or the German versions. As a special event, open to the public, (“die schönste Filmnacht Berlins”) the premiere of a popular movie takes place in the lounge once a month. During the summer months, numerous parks and open spaces become open air

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Berlin cinemas... yesterday and today Fred Fullerton provides a fascinating personal view Berlin has suffered more than most since World War 2. In 1948 its borders were blocked by the communists. All food had to be flown in by the Allies. Then in 1965 Berlin was divided in two by Die Mauer (Wall). We were left with No Mans Land, the area dividing West and East Berlin. Cinemas in the East had support from the



GDR. Today we find some rather unusual, small, and very distinct cinemas still operating in the former Eastern sector. Let’s start with a look at the Acud Cinema in East Berlin. This single screen Kino is on the top floor of a derelict looking building. This cinema, like most single screen cinemas in East Berlin, is run by one person. He/she will 6

2 7


3 8

sell you your ticket and confectionary, lace up and run the movie and then clean the 60 seat theatre after the show in readiness for the next performance. The photographs 1 and 2 show the box, and the projectors must be at least 60 years old. The staircase to the top floor where the cinema is located is very narrow. Other floors had clubs and art rooms. When I visited this cinema there were people just gathered on the staircase for reasons I didn’t understand, and I had to push my way through. On the Box floor was this bust of Lenin (3)..... In the West Berlin Zoologisher Garten was the Centre of town. Here were located many super palaces. Located centrally is the Zoo Palast Kino (picture above left). It has now been converted into a multi unit, however it’s main screen has a huge curved scope screen. UCI now own this cinema. They bought this site just before the wall came down. However after the wall fell and Potsdamer Platz was re-born, the Zoo kino lost its status and some business. Within a minute’s walk from the Zoo Palast was the Royal Palast (picture above). This was another Super Cinema. You gained access via escalators to the foyer level. Again this cinema had been carved up. Its main screen had a giant 70mm curved screen. There was also a second 70mm house in this theatre. Sadly a year ago the building after being closed for a year was demolished.

Pictures left: 1, 2 and 3. The Acud Cinema. 4. The High End 54 5. The Film Palast 6, 7 and 8

A short walk away we find Kurfürstendamm, The Cinema which is famous for posh shopping. Here we Paris cinema technology - march 2007

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9. The High End 54 - Meo projector. 10. The High End 54 auditorium.



can still find the wonderful Film Palast (5), another 70mm house. This theatre is often used for press shows. Sadly there is rumour that its closure may be sooner than later

Just a minute’s walk from the Film Palast we have the Cinema Paris (6, 7 and 8). This normally shows French Language films. It is financed by the French Institute in Berlin. 12. The Sputnik The projection room is quite small with 2 Kino Kinoton projectors and a 16mm projector. 13. The Cinemaxx Kino Further up from Cinema Paris, was a cinema 14. The 7 called Hollywood, which is now closed. On screen Cinestar the auditorium walls were logos of the major 15 Hollywood studios. 11. The High End 54 - lounge bar.

The The Imax® incorporated in the Cinestar

Berlin is packed with the most interesting of cinemas. Let’s take High End 54 (4). This 16. The Arsenal is a twin kino in the old East Berlin sector. twin Kino The building looks derelict. You walk up to the 4th floor thru graffiti ridden walls fearing the worst. The entrance door to the kino is no better. But once inside the foyer, you are in a wonderful art house kino with lots of charm and character, including a lounge and a bar with only one person running everything. These theatres are small, but with excellent seating. You can buy “Ein großes Bier", a pint to you and me, and take it in the auditorium. The projectors are Meos from the Czech Republic (GDR days). Just down the road is the Nickelodeon Kino, again a one person operation unit. I once saw Casablanca there.

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I have to mention the Sputnik Kino (12). This is a twin screen kino on the top floor of another derelict looking building in the East. Screen two has an uneven wall painted white for the screen. The seats are set on top of bricks. It’s a great experience watching movies in places like these. There are still a lot of 2 projector operations doing change overs in Berlin. The Manhattan, Neues Off, Acud, Sputnik, Odeon to name but a few. Some kinos have the old Bauer left hand/ Right hand lace up projectors. If you stand between Projector 1 and 2, you turn left and lace up projector 1. Stay in the same spot and turn right, you can lace up Projector 2. These Bauer projectors have a device on the feed sprockets, where, if you lost your loop, you are able to adjust the sprocket whilst the projector is running and increase the loop(s) again. Moving onto Potsdamer Platz which has been built since the Wall came down on “No Mans land”, close to where Hitler’s Bunker was located. This is now the new centre of Berlin. In Pottsdamer Platz there is a huge shopping centre, a 19plex Cinemaxx Kino (showing current releases with are dubbed into German), A huge Theatre, and a Casino. There is also a 7 screen Cinestar kino which shows current releases with OV soundtracks. The staff at the Cinestar are all very young, and speak wonderful English. They know

their movies and are very smart, helpful and polite and will talk movies or help you in anyway they can. The theatres are below street level. They have giant screens all with good sound and excellent seating. It is a wonderful place to view a movie. There is also an IMAX 3D theatre incorporated into this multiplex. I have to say than I am not a fan of IMAX. Just around the corner from the Cinestar we find the Berlin cinema museum and in the same building at a lower level are the Arsenal twin Kino. You could say that this is the NFT/BFI kino of Berlin. There are two screenings per screen nightly. Screen 1 has 70mm facilities with 2 x Kinoton DP 75 electronic projectors. Once again the staff here are very friendly and helpful. Screen 2 has 2 old Bauer machines. Both theatres are equipped with 16mm. I recently saw Citizen Kane in screen 1 in 16mm projected from a Kinoton professional 16mm projector. The picture was fine, and shown in the correct ratio of 1.37. Most importantly, so was the mono sound. I have also seen a silent movie here with a piano accompaniment, and with my tiny knowledge of the German language I was able follow the movie. Both theatres are very smart, clean and are great auditoria to watch movies in. I rate them far higher than our own BFI screens on the South Bank, but that is another story. Until recently there was a second Imax/

cinema technology - march 2007



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17. The Arsenal Kino projection box. 18 and 19. The Delphi. 20. 70mm projector in the Delphi 21. Queue at The Cinemaxx Kino


Omnimax theatre called the Discovery Imax. This was 2 minutes walk away from the Cinestar Imax, but sadly, this wonderful theatre closed in the summer of 2006. Having 2 Imax theatres so close to each other, it was obvious something had to give one day. Berlin is a cultural city. People like their movies. They like main stream as well as art house movies. I have only covered the surface in this article. In Berlin there are over 90 cinema buildings. There is a cinema called Bali. This was an old American air-force Kino. I think it still has the original screen which is faded and loosely fitted, but people don’t seem to mind. You have to walk outside to the back of the building to gain access to the Box which has two very old projectors operating on change-overs.



If you want to go to the toilet you have to ask at the pay box/concession stand for the key, and then you have to go outside and walk around to the back of the building to find the toilet. You then lock it up after use and return the key.

There is something for every one in Berlin. A city that never sleeps, full of tradition and steeped in modern History. Fred J Fullerton 21

There is a cinema called Odeon which has no connection with the UK. This cinema shows OV versions only. Back at Zoo we have an 800 seater art house screen called Delphi. This is a beautiful Kino and can show 70mm and often does on a Sunday afternoon. On one of my trips I saw GOYA in 70mm. This was a GDR movie. In the GDR days a lot of East German films were made in 70mm. The Chief at the Delphi is very passionate about 70mm and organises these shows.


EARLY WARNING! BKSTS DIGITAL CINEMA AWARENESS DAY The BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee is currently arranging a digital cinema seminar specifically targeted at projectionists. The aim will be to raise ‘digital awareness’, to provide ‘real’ information to balance some of the rumour with which our industry is rife, and to provide an opportunity for those projectionists who haven’t yet done so to see for themselves just how good Digital Cinema pictures and sound can be. The venue will be: Cineworld, Birmingham Broad Street (Formerly UGC), 181 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1DA The date will be: April 17th 2007 Registration/coffee 10.00am • Start 10.30am • Finish approx 1.30pm Top speakers currently working to drive the rollout of the Digital Cinema business will make presentations and take part in question and answer and discussion sessions. The provisional programme includes: • Welcome - Introduction - The reality of what’s happening now. Paul Schofield, Technical Manager of Odeon UCI Cinemas will explain what Digital Cinema means to the Industry and projectionists in particular. • Demonstration of JPEG2000 Digital Cinema content (10 mins). • Digital Projector Technology. A projector manufacturer will explain how the new technologies work. (15mins). We are hoping to arrange a comparative A/B demonstration of 35mm and digital material from the same footage. • Understanding digital jargon and terminology. Steffan Laugharne of Bell Theatre Services, one of the leading companies currently undertaking Digital Cinema installations, will unravel some of the mystic acronyms, and a ‘digital glossary’ handout will be available at the end. • Alternative Content - opening up a cinemas ‘event’ capabilities. Marc John of City Screen/Doremi, one of the pioneers of providing exciting events such as major pop concerts and operas on cinema screens throughout Europe, will explain just what is involved and how such content could provide a whole new income stream for cinemas. He will provide some exciting demonstration material. • Digital Advertising. How the coming of Digital Cinema technology will lead to revolution in the way that ads and pre-show content appear on screen. • Questions & Answers. Panel discussion with speakers and guests (45 mins)

The course will be sponsored by the David Lean Foundation and presented by the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee. The David Lean Foundation sponsorship makes it possible to for the course to be made available free of charge to projectionists and cinema technologists. Our grateful thanks to Cineworld for providing the venue and Bell Theatre Services the refreshments. To confirm details and to make a booking contact :

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Tel: 01753 656656

cinema technology - march 2007

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Polish multiplex marvel...

where ‘atmosphere’ is the most important thing On holiday in Poland, Mark Trompeteler had some fascinating discussions with the staff of the ARS Krakow Central Cinema, a very different 5-screen multiplex. It was the second week of a family holiday in Poland, and we were in Krakow. We had visited so many beautiful places, museums and churches, and so when very heavy showers arrived one weekday afternoon, we felt as though we needed a change in rainy weather recreation. We remembered an unusual looking cinema a few streets away and quickly made our way back. On entering the foyer, we noticed that ironically, amidst all the torrents of water in the street outside, Poseidon was due to start in 15 minutes. I went to the box office, the young woman there spoke English, and this is how the conversation went:Mark: Please may I have three seats together, to see the next showing of Poseidon? Lady in Box Office: There is a slight problem, I do not have three seats together in the back row. Mark: Why is that a problem? Lady in Box Office: It is in the back row that you get the best view of the screen. But I can give you three seats together in the middle row. Mark: Will we be able to see the screen OK in the middle row? Lady in Box Office: Yes, but you will just have to look up a little more, but it will be OK. Mark: I will have the three seats together in the middle row – thank you. Could you also please tell me how many rows are there? Lady in Box Office: There are three rows. cinema technology - march 2007

Mark: How many seats are there in a row? Lady in Box Office: Six. Mark: How many tickets have you sold now for the next show of Poseidon? Lady in Box Office: Nine. Mark: So the film will be shown on video? Lady in Box Office: Of course not – all our five screens have dedicated 35mm. projection. Mark: Thank you for your help. So for me, what started was a most amazing , enjoyable and satisfying cinema experience. It was the first of what was to become three visits to what must be one of the slightly more challenging film projection operations in Europe. The ARS Krakow Central Cinema Multiplex is just off the hugely impressive market square in central Krakow. Situated in an old building, on the corner of Jana and Tomasza streets, it is a five screen multiplex of unique design and character. It has five separate projection areas, each servicing their own screen, spread across a minilabyrinth of two floors.

None of the boxes are large enough to take “platters“ – so four of the screens operate on traditional reel changes, and one screen splices the feature into two halves and has to have an intermission mid feature. To make life even a little more interesting for the projection team, prints of a feature film are sometimes shared with a smaller “sister” cinema situated on the other side of the very large market square. Shared prints are transported across the market square, between screenings, on a sack trolley. It is totally and refreshingly opposite to our usual ideas of multiplex operation. Each of the five auditoria have incredibly different characters and are all given a different name. One consists of 18 modern armchairs and is lit by domestic living room side lamps and a tall standard lamp. One has a very strict smoking and drinking policy, the look, layout and feel of a café, with the projector immediately behind the bar. Another utilises a very grand room formerly used for chamber music recitals in the nineteenth century. This cinema is not the kind of cinema you associate with the word multiplex. page 29

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Top three pics: Reduta auditorium and Prexor AP 62 projectors. Three below: Projection and seating of the Aneks.

The Krakow ARS Multiplex is part of the Europa Cinemas distribution chain which is also part funded by the European Community’s Media programme. Not unsurprisingly, the cinema has a mission of screening a significant proportion of European language and European produced films alongside American ones. As well as its changing weekly programme, the cinema also hosts regular film seasons, film retrospectives, local and national premieres and celebrity appearances. These events have included German, Austrian, Russian, Hungarian, Dutch film seasons, photography exhibitions and a recent premiere of the film Jan Pawell II with its star Jon Voight attending. The cinema chain has a media partner in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. The weekly programme changes on Fridays, and just as elsewhere, the same film can be shown on different screens either during a single day or at varying times in the week. The cinema has a policy of screening films at slightly softer volumes than at the more usual major multiplex cinemas. As mentioned before each of the five screens has a distinctive name and uses a distinctive typographic letter symbol in the multiplex literature and décor. To me this is far warmer and better than the conventional and colder method of denoting screen 1,2,3,4 or 5.

acoustic for chamber music has had to be modified for the requirements of feature film surround sound. Large acoustic dampening panels have had to be used in strategic places around the auditorium. Reduta still features a standing room gallery around the top of the auditorium used by lower admission price patrons and latecomers for concerts over a century ago. Sadly this useful feature is not applied to current patrons, mostly because the gallery is in poor repair. Reduta is the main premiere and special events venue of the complex. It is a beautiful space complemented by modern lights produced in an art deco style. The projection equipment (bottom left) again consists of Prexer AP 62 projectors with a Dolby Digital Surround EX CP 500 system. Aneks is the smaller of the more conventional auditoria and seats 50 people. It has the ambience of a small art house cinema. The projection equipment (above) yet again consists of Prexer AP 62 projectors with Dolby Stereo SR CP 65 sound equipment. Kiniarnia is the café / bar style auditorium and it seats only 30 people. In view of its

strict smoking and drinking policy, it has seating arranged around café tables both on the auditorium floor, and reached via a small spiral staircase, also on a small terrace / balcony above the bar. Like in Salon, the screen size is small, and here the single projector behind the bar, and the adjacent beer pump (bottom right), dictates that there has to be an intermission. A single Prexer AP 621 HW projector is installed utilising Dolby Stereo sound. Salon (above right) was definitely my favourite because it was just a small step up from my own living room cinema. It seats just 18 people in modern armchairs and is lit with side lamps and a domestic standard lamp, which the projectionist just switches off and on from the tiny projection box at the rear. It has the feel of an art deco living room with a screen on a rig high above the door that is used to enter the salon. Two Prexer AP 621 HW projectors are situated in the box with Dolby Stereo sound being used. I wonder if this is the smallest commercial cinema auditorium, open to the general public, with a dedicated 35mm projection box, in Europe, or the World?

Sztuka with its 237 seats is the largest auditorium. Of the five screens, it is the one that most resembles the interior of a modern multiplex. The projection equipment consists of two Prexer AP 62 projectors and sound is delivered by Dolby Digital Surround EX CP 500 equipment. The Kiniarnia café / bar style auditorium page 30

Reduta was a hall used for piano and chamber music recitals in the nineteenth century and seats 171 people. Its superb cinema technology - march 2007

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I asked the cinema’s manager, Andrzej Kucharczyk, about the ARS multiplex. Mark: The ARS is an unusual multiplex in an old building. When did the building start to be used as a cinema and how did it develop into its current five screen form? Andrzej: It has been 90 years since Kino Sztuka (Art in English) started to operate as a regular cinema. At the moment we are preparing official celebrations of the anniversary. After World War II, the cinema, as most of the buildings in our country, was nationalized. It was run by a state owned company which had many name changes, many times, like almost everything else in a country trying to be a paradise for all the working people. Sztuka was lucky because as it was a cinema of only an average standard it was not forced to show as many Soviet movies as other, bigger and more modern cinemas in Krakow were obliged to show. It was supposed to present movies for people looking for something more than pure action and fun. During the 60s and 70s it was considered as one of the most ambitious screen complexes in Poland. After the 1956 riots in Poznan many interesting titles started to become available to cinemas. It was called a golden era for Polish film clubs. You could easily see the movies of Fellini, Visconti, Bergman, Bunuel, Truffaut, Kurosawa and other acclaimed masters. As the political situation started to change again, it became worse and worse, with the supply of foreign titles beginning to disappear. From 1981 we had a period when marshal law was imposed on the country, and western, especially American, films were almost banned in Poland. Then 1989 brought us freedom and the kind of normal film distribution you were used to in the western world. Private owners managed to regain control of the cinema buildings. Mark: How old is the building? Is it of historic interest? What constraints or limitations did that impose on it being developing as a cinema? Andrzej: The building started to serve as a hotel in the 1830s. At that time Krakow was under Austrian occupation. Part of the building was established as a Cinema in 1916 with the Sztuka being the first cinema technology - march 2007

auditorium. It was when the cinema was run by the state owned cinema company that the idea of a Krakow multi – screen Cinema Centre occurred. Mark: You are a part of Europa Cinemas? Is that just a national Polish distribution chain or does the chain also operate in other European countries as well? Andrzej: It is a chain of over 1000 cinemas across the whole of Europe. Mark: I saw Poseidon in Salon and The Da Vinci Code in Sztuka on weekdays – the audience for both films was very small. Is the cinema profitable? If it operates on a subsidy – where does this money come from? Andrzej: The cinema is a 100% private initiative. We managed to create it on our own without any public money or sponsors. If you visited multiplexes in Poland (and in any other places all over the world I think) during the weekdays you would see the same situation. We have been a member of Europa Cinemas for two years and we get some money from that organization, supported by the EU programme MEDIA. Mark: Many of our readers are film projectionists - I would like to ask you some questions about this particular aspect of ARS. With all five projection boxes in very different locations across two floors working on reel changes, and you sometimes sharing prints with another nearby cinema – the programming of films must be extremely complex to achieve, monitor and keep on time. Could you explain to us a little how this is done? Andrzej: It takes a lot of time to prepare a programme for each week. We are trying to fight for the prints. That’s why we strictly collaborate with the other cinema situated on the main square in Krakow and we share the prints. It’s another problem but on the other hand it is the only way to supply prints for 5 screens. We also emphasize the importance of internet activity in our publicity and operation. We have our own box office computer system (working in conjunction with another 50 cinemas in the country as well). Our internet booking system is very convenient and

simple for users.

Two left pics:

Mark: With so many reel changes going The Salon on all at the same time, how many projec- Right tionists would work in a box for one show? Foyer How many projectionists would work on an average day? How many full-time and part-time projectionists does the cinema employ? Andrzej: There are always four projectionists working in the cinema at the same time. Only Aneks and Kiniarnia share one projectionist, the projector in Kiniarnia is very close to the projection box of Aneks. We have over 20 screenings per day. These old historic interiors which weren’t built originally as a cinema are protected by Polish law and we have to operate under some restrictions designed to protect old historic buildings – we cannot create a new projection box to serve more than one screen – so this does not help us to keep our operating costs low. We have to employ more people than a typical multiplex. Mark: Do you have different grades of projectionist? Do you have a chief projectionist ? What are the duties of the different grades? Andrzej: There used to be three distinct grades of projectionist in Poland. Nowadays nobody knows what regulations or grades are still active, if at all. We have got an experienced senior or chief projectionist here. In case of staffing or other problems we call in additional help from retired ex senior projectionists. Mark: How do film projectionists get their training and career development in Poland? Andrzej: It is not easy to find a training course for a young person. Most training for young people is ‘on the job’, working alongside experienced older senior projectionists. Mark: What arrangements are made for the servicing of your projectors and sound equipment? Andrzej: For sound equipment we call Dolby service for help. For projectors we rely on our chief projectionist. We often ask for help in sourcing spare projector parts from retired workers of the former page 31

european cinema There used to be a church here in medieval times. In the nineteenth century it was a concert hall with Liszt, Brahms, and Paderewski performing here. Immediately after World War II, a theatre company for kids operated here, with a young Roman Polanski on stage. This building has atmosphere – it is not like a normal multiplex.

John Voight at the premier of John Paul II

Mark: Finally how would you describe the aims or mission of your cinema and to what audiences are you trying to appeal?

specialised state service company that existed in previous years. Mark: You screen films at lower sound volumes than other multiplexes. Could you explain how this policy came about? Do you consider this policy to be successful? Andrzej: Our audience is a little bit different from that of the usual multiplexes. They do not like us to provide them with high volume. They look for a slightly different cinema experience. Atmosphere is the key word for us. Our guests both from Poland and abroad appreciate the spirit of Krakow and our cinema. Just to mention the best known celebrities: Morgan Freeman, Jon Voight (shown below at the premier of John Paul II), and Kevin Reynolds.

Andrzej: I like my job. I am trying to make it as interesting as possible. Also I’m trying to provide our customers with maximum satisfaction. Our audience is mostly students, as Krakow is a students’ city. But we also pay a lot of attention to senior citizens who do not like multiplexes very much because of the noise, popcorn and the loud behaviour of a younger public. Mark: Thank you Andrzej to you and your staff for making my brief visit to your cinema so enjoyable. As a point of current interest I understand that almost half a million Polish people have arrived in the UK over the past couple of years. I suspect that the projection of Polish language films may be something that may be becoming more common in the UK. The ARS Krakow multiplex is really worth a visit. The sheer variety of the five

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Mark Trompeteler Related Websites

The BKSTS is for all those who are creatively or technologically involved in providing moving images and associated sound.

JOIN THE BKSTS THE MOVING IMAGE SOCIETY We are the international technical society for all areas of media, including: • Cinema Exhibition • Film • Sound • Television • Multimedia The Society’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 visit e:

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screens to me is the outstanding feature of this multiplex and this together with the paradoxical cohesion of the total experience of making a visit, makes it a remarkable place. Even if its standards of presentation, at times, do not meet the very high standards of other more corporate modern multiplexes, it is a multiplex that just oozes with character, atmosphere and a total commitment to a pure love of cinema.

Tel: +44 (0) 1753 656656

cinema technology - march 2007

widescreen weekend

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cinema screens

Is there a future without perforations?

Regular tea drinkers who have been subject to the blandishments of the advertisers for years will be familiar with the claim that ‘It’s those little perforations that make all the difference’, and real experts may know that the best tea bags can have up to 2000 perforations. The situation isn’t totally different in our own industry, where it has been the accepted wisdom for decades that the only way to enjoy proper cinema sound from the centre of the action is via speakers mounted behind the screen, necessitating perforated screens to allow the sound through. Numerous articles in Cinema Technology over the years have explained the need to balance the size and distribution density of the perforations to provide the best sound together with the minimum light loss - the greater the area of the perforations, the less light will be reflected from the screen. When particularly high-powered audio sources are used behind the screen, there can also be problems with the air movement from the speakers causing areas of the screen to distort by small amounts, but sufficient to noticeably affect the images on huge screens. page 34

In recent years the ability of sound specialists to achieve wonderful ‘surround sound’ effects, and to fool our senses by apparently moving sound sources around an auditorium and even over our heads has led several people to query the accepted wisdom that cinema sound needs to actually come through the screen surface, and to ask whether it wouldn’t be possible to use surround sound techniques to make the cinema sound appear to come from the centre of the screen by cunning electro-acoustic techniques. Virtually every one of the experienced cinema sound people that I have spoken to (and a good many people in the projection business too) have told me that history has shown that it just isn’t possible to get good dialogue and sound from the centre of the picture without a perforated screen, and many attempts have been made to have speakers mounted above and around the screen, all without achieving results as good as those from speakers mounted behind a perforated screen. In recent years demonstrations of the relatively new concept of actually making a non-perforated screen into a membrane from which the sound is emitted over the whole surface area have tended to support this contention, since the results have invariably been of much lower audio fidelity than any modern cinema provides, although perhaps acceptable in some home cinema and boardroom presentation situations.

Could this situation be about to change? At recent European trade shows, including IBC and CineExpo, and in comparative tests at one of the major postproduction houses in Burbank, a company called Showmax Cinema has been giving some interesting demonstrations to back up their claims that they now have a new technology that allows the use of a non-perforated PVC screen, and that they can meet existing cinema sound standards. Showmax Cinema have patented their system, and it is currently installed in over 20 venues, including screening rooms, editing and mixing studios, and movie theatres, including one in Sweden. Showmax Cinema accept that previous non-perforated screen sound systems have not been of top quality, particularly those using textile screens - they say that the reflected images cannot be as good on these screens as on their smooth PVC ones, and that medium and high frequency sounds have to pass through the textile screen material, leading to lack of directivity and softening of high frequencies. The new system uses three to five audio transducers, according to the number of channels required, mounted behind the PVC screen, on the screen frame or on the wall behind the screen. The transducers, which have soft, flexible edges, are adjusted so that they just touch the screen, without deforming it, and effectively ‘stick’ to the screen by ‘viscostatic adhesion’ - c.f. with two sheets of glass on top of each other. Each transducer is 66cm high x 17cm wide x 30cm deep, providing 60 degree x 40 degree horizontal and vertical directivity. It will be seen that the sound is emitted only from a relatively small part of the screen area. This can enable the all-important ‘centre sound’ to be carefully managed, also making it easier to manage the centre-left and centre-right channels. As the tranducers are used only for midrange and high frequencies the vibration of the screen in contact with the transducer is less than .003 inches, which is much lower than the natural vibrations induced by the bass and sub-woofers on the screen. Showmax Cinema are using the marketing ploy that the coming of digital cinema presents an excellent opportunity to change the way in which cinema sound is presented, and I thought that it might be interesting for Cinema Technology readers to learn something about their system. The following material was provided by Showmax Cinema, and they are keen to invite potential users to attend demonstrations of their system. I invite any readers who may take the trouble to attend such demonstrations in the coming months to tell us about their experiences and their conclusions. cinema technology - march 2007

cinema screens SHOWMAX CINEMA

The screen at Cinéma Max Poissy which is fitted with the Showmax Cinema solid pvc screen and transducers

If studios and exhibitors are going to skip to digital projection soon, there are two remaining issues which may prevent them from transforming this investment into a clearly perceived improvement in the value that the moviegoer experiences. The first issue is that digital projection so far applies only to improvements in the image. The sound and image experience are intimately tied together, and if you improve one point then the global experience is tied to the weakest one. Ideally, digital projection should improve both sound and image. The second issue is that the image improvement is not as clearly perceived as it might be by the moviegoer because of the perforated screens that are universally used. What prevails is not what comes from the projection box but what comes from the screen after reflection, and the perforations reduce the image quality coming from the projector. Perforated screens can cause loss of contrast range, loss of texture, colour discrepancies and moiré effects - all are induced by the perforations, even with micro perforated screens. We have developed a new, patented technology, Showmax Cinema, which uses a classical PVC cinema screen, but without perforations, to provide excellent images and to improve the sound experience. The gain of the screen is 1.0, with 160 degree directivity, and the absence of perforations (which can take up between 4 and 7% of the surface area as well as leading to a loss of contrast) can result in a 15-20% improvement in perceived brightness levels for a given xenon lamp power. Perforations are usually necessary in order to let the medium and high audio frequencies pass through the screen. Our technology works in a completely different way. It consists in applying a set of specific transducers just behind the non perforated screen, so that the screen itself effectively becomes the set of speakers for medium and high audio frequencies. Our work has shown that the system is fully compliant with the cinema industry standards on Sound (ISO 2969 Xcurve). This technology was launched nearly six years ago, and has been proved to be flawless since that time. We have customers in France and Sweden including studios (included colour grading rooms and mixing auditoriums) and cinema theatres, including premier screening rooms and a movie theatre with a 200 square metre screen How does Showmax answer the 1st issue? As the medium and high frequency sounds come directly from the screen and not through the holes of the screen, there are fewer disturbances and drift effects, and the medium and high frequency sounds cinema technology - march 2007

are reproduced more accurately and with a wider dynamic range. Recognized sound designers are already using our technology, they also appreciate the precision of the sound spatialization and the clearness of the sound which appears to be coming from the image, as in the real life.

lution in sound and image and it naturally induces adoption hurdles, but from his experience with the existing preview theatres and installations he is convinced that those who are ‘early adopters’ of new technologies in the cinema business will soon be ready to give Showmax a try.

How does Showmax answer the 2nd issue?

Jean Goudier, a well known award-winning sound director in France, who works with people including Roman Polanski on Oliver Twist, Oliver Stone, Patrice Leconte, Jean Paul Rappeneau and many other French Directors, is an eager convert to the new technology, and provided an interesting interview about the Showmax system.

A/B testing was completed recently in Burbank-California by applying our non perforated screen over half of a micro perforated one. By comparing the results they noticed that: • The contrast and the colours were much more real on our Showmax Cinema piece of screen •The further away from the centre of the screen the more the ray is oblique to the screen and the more the micro perforations could be seen to alter the contrast and colour fidelity. Conclusion: Showmax provides a new sort of “Digital Sound Screen” which enables the investment in digital cinema to be easily perceived as a real value improvement by moviegoers .

Q: How did you discover Showmax? J.G.: A couple of years ago, I was working on Dogora with Patrice Leconte, for which I had to travel to Cambodia, taping high quality sound in double MS stereo four tracks. This had to be done with the greatest care, since the whole movie is a musical without dialogue. The challenge was to blend sounds within a rather gripping opera peace. This implied a great precision in the recording of the sounds as well as the editing and design.

A/B testing in Burbank, California - Showmax non-perforated screen applied over half of a microI therefore prepared a rough cut, before perforated one

Another Showmax advantage is that the screen is washable. Since in many cases the move to digital projection will require the purchase of a new white screen, this could be an ideal opportunity for investing in a Showmax screen. Having expressed my reservations and those of several colleagues about the perception of non-perforated screens in the cinema business to Maximilien Brabec, Business Development Manager of Showmax, he readily accepted that he still has a major task to convince the cinema industry. He says that the technology is a sort of revopage 35

cinema screens

Jean Goudier’s ‘Salle de Montage’ in Boulogne, which uses the Showmax Cinema system

moving to the Club-De-l’Etoile-Theater, which is equipped with the Showmax System, and was absolutely amazed at the quality and precision of all I had added in the music that was recorded in 5.1. It was extremely rich and dynamic. The relation between dynamics was magnified and extremely correct, so much so that the speakers seemed to have disappeared and the sound felt like it was coming out of the screen itself, as a whole part of the project, not as a separate entity such as sound on one side and the image on the other. This was a true revelation, not mystical but professional. I equipped my studio with the Showmax system, as soon as I could and my work has benefited greatly since then. I can work left, centre, right in a very precise way. It is very important to have efficient equipment to work with that you can trust. All the work that you do gets faithfully translated at the end. Q: And since then, what are the benefits you enjoyed the most with Showmax ?

page 36

J.G.:I have since then worked on many movies and I always have total faith in the work tool that is Showmax. I know for sure that I get all my work back on the final project. All the fine tuning and tweaking, previously unthinkable to me, I now do without hesitation, because I know that the balance is correct and that the highs and meds are correct and the spatialization is perfectly exact. No more bad surprises, only the guarantee that all works fine. What I do in the editing room matches the director’s vision, he can now come and listen to the rough cuts before the mixing and get to hear exactly what will be heard in the final mix. Q: You believe that the system is easier on the ear ? J.G. : Indeed it is less tiring to the ear to listen to a Showmax version, probably because the balance is more correct and one doesn’t have to create the lows, usually the case with more traditional system. I have to say that the precision of spatialization of Showmax system is absolutely divine. One doesn’t feel like he is working in a

lab and the precision of the bass, mediums and trebles is simply marvellous. This is an irreplaceable tool for me and I couldn’t work with any other system. Showmax is the most reliable and user friendly tool I ever had. Q: In a general way, what can Showmax bring to the movie industry ? J.G.: With the arrival of digital technology, we need to find a way to give even better performance than with conventional projection. The Showmax system is great, since it allows for a better experience in the projection room, compared to a standard one with perforated screen and all the implied aberrations between the screen and the speakers. Details: Maximilien Brabek Showmax Business Development Tel. : + 33 6 22 34 84 68 Pierre Vincent Showmax Technical development Tel. + 33 6 61 64 77 21

cinema technology - march 2007

widescreen weekend

Widescreen weekend The 13th Bradford International Film Festival, operated and hosted by the £60 million National Media Museum, will run from March 9-24 2007. In keeping with its history the Festival will once again present an array of new and classic titles, while celebrating the talents of the people who help make cinema great. Within the Bradford Film Festival, and of particular interest to many BKSTS enthusiasts, the Widescreen Weekend will take place from 16-19 March 2007. Guests include art activist film makers Godfrey Reggio (Naqoyqatsi, Anima Mundi) and Patrick Keiller (Robinson in Space) while veteran producer Euan Lloyd (Shalako, The

Wild Geese) will talk about a career spanning 40 years working with some of the biggest names in cinema (such as Yul Brynner, David Niven, Richard Widmark, Richard Burton, Sean Connery). Dave Strohmaier, Director of Cinerama Adventure, which will be shown during the weekend, will also be present. The Wide Screen Weekend will make the most of the National Media Museum’s projection capabilities, with the unique 3-strip Cinerama set up as well as many glorious 70mm presentations, while over the fortnight some 200 movies and masterclasses, classics, previews, premiers and shorts will be shown. For those readers who haven’t

kept up with the news, the name of the venue has changed, after 23 years as the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, to become the National Media Museum. The name has been changed ‘because the world is changing and we need to keep pace and remain relevant.’....... The museum is still free and offers visitors a great experience. The online version of the museum provides information about the collections and the programme of exhibitions and festivals. Box Office: 0870 70 10 200

If you need urgent information on the Film Festival e-mail: Thursday 15 March 19:30 “Casino Royale” with David Arnold (he is the film’s composer) on the flat screen in Panavision Super 35 with 6-track digital stereo Friday 16 March 10:00 – 11:55 “This is Cinerama” (1:55) + intermission. On the curve in 3-strip Cinerama with 7-track magnetic stereo 12:45 – 16:48 “Cleopatra” (4:03) + intermission. On the curved screen in a new Todd-AO 70mm DTS print 17:00 Reception for weekend delegates 18:00 Digital presentation 20:00 – 22:07 “Indiana Jones Last Crusade” (2:07) On the flat screen in 70mm with 6-track Dolby stereo Saturday 17 March 10:00 – 11:43 “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” (1:43). On the flat screen in 70mm ( a 1.85:1 blow-up) with 6-track Dolby stereo 12:30 “Larger than Life” (1:00) Making of “Cinerama Adventure” 13:30 – 14:17 “Cinerama Adventure” (1:37) A new 35mm 1,85:1 Dolby Digital print 15:15 Lecture: Richard Gray from the Cinema Theatres Association (about 45 min). 16:15 - 18:52 “How the West Was Won” (2:42) + intermission. On the curve in 3-strip Cinerama with 7-track magnetic stereo 19:30 – 22:44 “Titanic” (3:14) on the flat screen in a Panavision 70mm DTS 70mm print

cinema technology - march 2007

Sunday 18 March 10:00 – 12:30 Cineramacana including the odd surprise. Academy of the Widescreen Weekend and audience on stage. 13:00 Lecture Grant Lobban on “blow ups” 14:00 – 15:53 “Shalako” (1:53) On the flat screen in Panavision 70mm with 6-track magnetic stereo 16:00 Screen Talk: Q/A Euan Lloyd – producer “Shalako” 17:30 - 19:32 “Black Tights” (2:09) 20:00 – 22:18 “Those Magnificent men in Their Flying Machines, or how I flew From London to Paris in 25 hours and 11 Minutes“ (2:18) + Intermission. On the curved screen in a new Todd-AO 70mm DTS print Monday 19 March 10:30 – 12:50 “Mayerling” (2.20). On the flat screen in Panavision 70mm with 6-track magnetic stereo. BKSTS Member Thomas Hauerslev is acting as Film Programmer for the Widescreen Weekend, coming up with the ideas for films etc, but organizing the weekend is naturally done in very close corporation with the professional staff of the museum, especially Duncan McGregor, Ben Eagle and Bill Lawrence. Left to right: Richard Gray, Grant Lobban, Euan Lloyd, Thomas Hauerslev. page 37


The ‘Projector Man’ looks at some of the pioneers in Widescreen

CinemaScope installation engineers After Twentieth Century Fox demonstrated CinemaScope at the Odeon Tottenham Court Road in 1953 a number of projector and sound engineers were sent to the Rank Taylor Hobson Factory in Leicester for a course on the technical details and installation procedures for the system. Using the Odeon Leicester for talks and demonstrations, the engineers would at least familiarise themselves with the GK21 modications, one of the two main projection systems of Rank Theatre Division at that time. 20th Century Fox trained one of their own men to serve as a technical consultant on the process and on being nicknamed CinemaScope Smith by the other engineers, he provided much useful advice and assistance with the first installations. As helpful as all this was, without the benefit of previous experience, the first CinemaScope installations were often found to be not

page 38

without snags and involved the engineers in time consuming study of circuit drawings, wiring layouts and projector modification instructions, etc. Discussions with electricians and screen erectors on site were also considered necessary in order to avoid minor misunderstandings such as the left and right stage speakers being reverse wired due to confusion between actors left/right and the audiences. Working night and day and often truck driving long distances with overhanging screen frames, screen erector’s problems could include difficulty of access for the large screen frame sections and insufficient stage space for the assembly which occasionally required repositioning stage curtains etc. Often tired, it can be imagined why one crew were not best pleased when in the middle of the night at the Scala Cinema, Leeds, the assembled 40 feet screen frame collapsed into the front stalls, flattening a number of seats and causing much consternation and the loss of two days’ admissions.

Modifications to the projectors included mounting of the so called penthouse sound heads, securing of the anamorphic lens holding brackets and new backing lens holders and finally, the fitting of the narrow toothed “foxhole” sprockets. Occasionally, extra space needed to accommodate the protruding anamorphic lens required the projectors to be slid back a few inches but this could not always be done until the pedestal connecting cables were disconnected, cut and lengthened, preferably by engineers from the service company responsible for the sound maintenance. After optical alignment the screen masking would be set to limits on the target film and the aperture plates then tediously and laboriously filed to fit the screen, a job that was soon found to be one that could not be done in haste and there were definitely no short cuts. Cutting aperture plates, even with new Swiss files, was at first considered by GB Kalee engineers to be impractical without jigs or some means cinema technology - march 2007

widescreen of guaranteeing accuracy, and one idea was the use of photographic paper glued over the aperture plate which, with the projector set up as a camera could have the paper exposed by flooding the screen with light from the other machine. This would leave an accurate image of the screen shape that was thought would serve as an infallible guide when filing, but the paper with handling began to tatter and become ragged at the filed edges, finally ending up being no better that the little by little nibbling method. One dodge was to use a deliberately blunted file for the last few cuts and a penknife stroke into the corners to avoid a rounded corner look. After the finishing strokes, edge aberration could be minimised by carefully back chamfering the aperture edges. Once all systems were up and ready, the last operation before running any magnetic film was to degauss all film paths, rewinders, splicers and even the projectionist’s tools in order to avoid magnetic damage and contamination of any of the four stereophonic sound tracks. Despite the tracks not being as vulnerable as was first expected, testing for magnetism would become part of the engineer’s monthly service duties and was usually done with low cost direction compasses purchased from local sports shops and carried in the engineers’ tool kits. As impressive as some of the first installations in large city super cinemas were, they were soon followed by exhibitor objections to CinemaScope mainly because of the high cost of the non-optical stereophonic sound component of the package and the cost of installation. There were often also more than a few protests about the letterbox shape of 2.55:1. Initially the only concession made by 20th Century Fox was that the fourth channel for auditorium sound effects was optional and not a compulsory requirement, but while it was minimally used, many exhibitors thought it to be a useful showmanship novelty worth keeping and in the end most installations

ended up with four channels. Amongst trade publicity at the time was the claim that not only could you see it without glasses but that the 2.55:1 aspect ratio was influenced by Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “The Last Supper” and suggested that the ideal picture size should be about twice the width of the former screen for any particular cinema but made no suggestions as to how to fit it into proscenium arches designed many years previously for 4 x 3 pictures. A few former silent picture cinemas, built in the early 1920s, had to resort to constructing a new proscenium arch in front of the original, losing more than a few seats in the process. (photos below) Following ongoing nationwide first run theatre installations more protests began to be heard over the so called Miracle Mirror screen, an expensive part of the system which, being imported from the U.S, was paid for in hard currency, almost as if they were of national importance and something so special that they could not be made in the U.K. The complaints concerned the annoyingly visible seamed panels from which the screen was assembled and were so glaringly conspicuous that even 20th Century Fox finally conceded that they were not acceptable and, in the end, allowed the use of other screens including the lower priced but superior British Perlux screen. After mounting protests, and partly because of the nationwide Warner Brothers demonstrations of optical sound CinemaScope on standard film, 20th Century Fox finally relented and the industry adopted the 2.35:1 format that would over the next few years be installed in every cinema in the UK. A steady flow of optical CinemaScope films then followed from renters other than 20th Century Fox and caused all the four track equipped theatres to purchase another set of aperture plates for the 2.35: 1 aspect ratio. To avoid the expense of extra prints, 20th Century Fox would later

introduce a combined magnetic and optical sound print which would obsolete the 2.55:1 aspect ratio and could be shown in any theatre, mono or stereo, provided that the projection equipment was fitted with foxhole sprockets. Where there were US made machines, this usually required the services of an engineer with the special reamers etc needed to change the pinned on intermittent sprocket. Ongoing rumours at the time however, reported that there were still more wide screen processes in the pipeline but little

Left Proscenium arch before widening and right afterwards. cinema technology - march 2007

page 39

widescreen optical only process in every one of their second run cinemas, one typically being the Princess, a small hall just outside the centre of Barnsley where the CinemaScope picture ended up the same width as their normal 1.66:1 picture but only a little over half the height and area.

information as to whether they would be compatible with CinemaScope or not. Uncertainties weren’t helped by remembering the gathering obsolescence of 3D, but were, in the end, largely dispelled by GB Kalee introducing an anamorphic lens with a variable stretch ratio, the Varamorph.

be projected in any aspect ratio up to the advised shape of 2:1, a format that would require yet another pair of aperture plates and, to fully exploit the high definition of the new prints, a new range of superior spherical lenses designed and made by the Rank Organisation became available.

After ceasing production of both their cylindrical and Type P anamorphic lenses, the company concentrated on the Varamorph and orders came in such numbers as to compel the factory to work a night shift with the field engineers frequently having to work seven days a week installing them.

One reason for this was possibly the Organisation’s preference for VistaVision and they therefore ordered six horizontal, eight perforation per frame projectors to be prototyped by the factory, an investment which backfired and in the end lead to the closure of the plant and the last British made Kalee projectors.

The less wide 2.35:1 format would only slightly ease the problem of fitting big wide pictures into small proscenium arches but not sufficiently enough to allow sizes with height that would impress the patrons. A few exhibitors accepted that they had no other option than to widen the proscenium arch or erect the screen frame in front of the existing one and lose a few seats in the process. As if to confirm rumours coming from the US, and confuse exhibitors still more, RKO introduced Superscope, a process with anamorphic prints with the same squeeze ratio as CinemaScope but with a different aspect ratio of 2:1. This was achieved by using a frame made square by wasting film information area with black emulsion edge masking. Few exhibitors took the process all that seriously anyway and because it could be projected through the CinemaScope aperture plates not many bothered with extra plates and instead simply closed in the side screen masking slightly.

(At about the same time the Organisation were intent on diversification and the projector factory began manufacture of the first tea machines producing fresh tea. Named the Teamatic, amongst the machinery was a roll filter system which at first glance looked like part of a GK21 projector!)

By the time VistaVision reduction prints became available most cinemas had already modified their former 1.33:1 screen to one or the other of the recommended wide picture formats of 1.66:1, 1.75:1 or 1.85:1. It was said that VistaVision could page 40

Without the expensive sound part of the CinemaScope package most smaller independent exhibitors could now afford the screens and lenses to project what many thought was the major presentation part of the process anyway, the wide bright picture. More than a few however, still had normal or cropped wide pictures which were already as wide as their proscenium opening would allow and with no additional width and even less height it was unlikely that the patrons would think that the CinemaScope picture was even as good as the normal pictures. Because of film booking problems, however, many owners of such theatres would, in the end, only install the process as an expedient to obtain at least some of the many quality films now being made only in CinemaScope. Early examples of seriously compromised CinemaScope appeared when the Rank Organisation placed blanket orders for the

Similar examples were evident throughout the country and could be seen at its worse in long, corridor like halls such as the Ritz Cinema, Crossgates, Leeds where it was decided that CinemaScope would be so bad it could only be made acceptable if the height was increased by side cropping the picture to the same format as the normal, seriously top and bottom cropped 2: 1 wide picture. The first film booked and opening on installation day was “Sitting Bull” and by sod’s law was with full width credits that was projected as”itting Bul”. With such an abnormally long throw and small picture, the Ritz required backing lenses of 91⁄2 inches focal length for CinemaScope, a size well outside normal stock sizes and, being expensive, they could only be supplied to order. This long lens, when combined with the large anamorphic lens, protruded forwards from the projector by 21 inches and could not be fitted until the machines were slid back about 15 inches, a procedure which in turn could only be done after the cables were lengthened. Before these cables were reconnected the projectors were so far back that it was possible to walk between the machines and the front wall. In later installations it became the practice with such long focus lens requirements to half the focal length, mount the anamorphic lens back to front and then rotate it 90 degrees such that the image was compressed vertically instead of stretched horizontally. Any slight loss of light was compensated for by improved definition due to the projector squeeze being 90 degrees to the camera squeeze, the aberrations no longer then being additive. Another out of town cinema, the Palladium, Ravensthorpe, also in Yorkshire, could only fit their long lens assembly by sliding the machines backward but were prevented by floor obstacles and instead the front wall had to be cut away to make a cavity for the lens system to operate and stow in, the port glass being mounted as a blister on the auditorium side. During a rush of installations in 1954/55, engineers encountered almost all types and makes of projector then current in the UK and with the exception of the Gaumont Eclipse, every machine in general use had cinema technology - march 2007


a CinemaScope kit designed especially for it. Manufactured since shortly after WW1, Eclipse mechanisms were considered by 1955 to be well and truly obsolete but while more than few were still lingering on they were said, because of their framing system, to be unsuitable for CinemaScope conversion. The owner/manager of the Picturehouse, Idle, decided however that if framing was considered to be an unnecessary function they could be modified and duly ordered components for the purpose. This meant that should a miss-frame appear during a film, it could only be taken off by stopping the projector and rethreading the film. After the work was completed however, it was found that because of the large entrance pupil of the anamorphic lens, framing adjustment to one perforation was actually still possible and all that was needed was a stronger spring in the system to counter weight the heavy lenses. Ross GC1,2 and 3 projectors would easily modify but following a number of main frames being cracked, engineers approached them with greater care. All Kalee and BTH mechanisms readily modified with the GK21 and derivatives being easiest of all. The American made Simplex projector (bottom right) required an entire front main frame casting to carry the new lens bracket and the US designed, British made cinema technology - march 2007

Westar needed laborious filing to enlarge the backing lens orifice. Keystone distortion on curved screens was a common cause for complaint and in steep rake situations was sometimes described as the ships going uphill effect. Side Keystone distortion was rarely so bad as to be noticeable and amongst the few that were the Picturehouse, Askern where the projection room was so severely off centre that the right edge of the screen was over five feet further away from number 1 projector than the left edge and within a throw of only just over 60 feet. In trimming the aperture plate, the engineer filed out one side and with solder filled in the other. Actors walking from left to right appeared to grow taller. Added to this was the inability of the CinemaScope image to focus clearly across the full screen width. This could only be improved by fitting light losing stops within the lens tubes. It soon became clear that the ideal layout for the process was where the screen was vertical to the seating area, the projectors level to the centre of the screen and the auditorium and proscenium arch big enough to accommodate the new wider CinemaScope format. Amongst a few such cinemas was the Grand/Gaumont, Gainsborough that with good sight lines had an impressive CinemaScope picture. In the same county of Lincolnshire was the Regent Cinema, Wainfleet with a 17

feet wide CinemaScope screen that was reported in the trade press to be the smallest in the UK and said by the screen erector to be the only one for which he had used a chair instead of a ladder. The Projector Man. page 41

student cinema

Loughborough Students Cinema milestone

FLIX reaches 60 The weekend of 3rd to 5th November 2006 saw Flix, Loughborough Students Cinema, celebrate it’s 60th anniversary year Peter Knight MBKS writes about the student cinema where his passion for the cinema really started. Events to celebrate started with a champagne reception on the Friday evening followed by the first of six films (each a classic) - Alien. Saturday’s films were The Shawshank Redemption and Amelie followed by a celebratory meal, with current and former committee members, dating back to the early nineties. Sunday saw the films Ice Age 2, The Italian Job and The Meaning of Life along with the cutting of a birthday cake, decorated with a picture of the projector. Flix dates back to November 1946 and is not only one of the oldest societies on the campus, indeed it is older than the Student Union and the University, which is celebrating 40 years this year. Flix is a relatively new name for the society, which took over from the previous title of LSU Film Society or FilmSoc on the 29th September 1989. Now the full title is: Flix - Loughborough Students Cinema. FLIX reception area with members waiting for the first show of the day The cake! A group of projectionists from over the years

The society has had a number of homes in its history, including the EHB and T001, two lecture theatres on the campus. It moved to the Students’ Union building when it opened in the seventies and then moved to its current home in 2005. While films are only screened on a Sunday, prior to 1987 there were films shown on Saturday nights. In 1978/1979 film showing nights were on Wednesday, Friday, Sunday and Tuesday evenings, in 1979/1980 the nights changed to Friday, Sunday and Tuesday.

Some of the interesting highlights from the last 60 years have included: • 1987 saw a NO SMOKING policy introduced into the auditorium during film showings, a policy which now also requires people to turn their mobile phones off. • An interesting request was presented to Flix in November in 1988. A gentleman wrote wanting to know whether Flix was able to get hold of a poster for the ‘Empire of the Sun’ film, to give to his wife-to-be as a wedding gift. • October 1999 saw a long tradition in Flix broken when we finally got committee T-shirts, which had been planned since at least 1985, if not before. Looking through old minutes of committee meetings, they seemed to be a matter which was raised every year, but never got any further. • 1999 saw a small film festival organized in association with Flix. • On 8th February 2006, several of the Flix committee towed a car around the Rigg-Rut fountain using 35mm cinema film in order to raise money for RAG. This challenge all started from a supposed rumour that film could be used to tow a car and so Flix committee set about proving that film did indeed have pulling power. After 15 laps of the Rigg-Rut lawn in 1hr 30 mins, Flix raised £58.58 for RAG charities. A society as old as Flix has had a number of bad times, when it has had conflict from all sorts of people. At times this has been so bad that the society has been in danger of closing. But there is something about Flix and the dedication of various members of committee which have made sure that it has kept going. Folklore has it that at one stage there was a committee of only five, practically all of which were graduates of the university. However, currently Flix is on a high. The committee is more dedicated than ever before, membership is up on previous years and things are going well. Currently Flix exhibits weekly Sunday screenings at Loughborough University’s Cope

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Auditorium. The venue was extensively modified in spring 2005 with the installation of a 30 foot screen, top of the range digital surround sound system and the society’s own 35mm projector. These improvements provide a fully immersive cinematic experience. The society used to organise and hold annual balls and quiz nights alongside regular film showings. Flix was an integral part of the Student Union building from its construction in February 1979 until the move to the Cope Auditorium in 2005. Since its formation the society has reinvented itself on numerous occasions, continuing to reflect the changing face of cinema and evolution of student culture It is interesting to note that when Flix started: • Television and the Curzon were only ten years old • Video, CD and DVD had not been invented • The closest thing to a computer that existed was the Enigma machine • Charlie Chaplin was still making films and BAFTA hadn’t yet been created. • Films had only recently stopped being silent and black and white still the norm. • Loughborough University still had another twenty years to go before it was formed. and Tony Blair wasn’t even born yet. If any Cinema Technology reader has any further information or interesting stories about the society, it would be great to hear from you. cinema technology - march 2007

projection award

Frank Littlejohns award for Jim Schultz Outstanding work in the art of craft of cinema projection Back in October 2006 at the BKSTS 75th Anniversary Awards Ceremony in Pinewood Studios it was announced that The BKSTS Frank Littlejohns Award, which recognises outstanding work in the art and craft of Cinema Projection, had been awarded to Jim Schultz, described as the ‘Doyen and Elder Statesman of the Projection Business’.

CITATION FOR JIM SCHULTZ on winning the Frank Liitlejohns Award: Jim Schultz has been described as the doyen and elder Statesman of the projection business, and he completed almost 60 years in the cinema industry. He started with evening jobs in the cinemas during WW2, when the regular projectionists were away in the Services, and then worked as a regular projectionist for ENSA. He became a trainee engineer at BTH’s Repair works in Rugby, before the call of National Service took him away to work on Radar installations. After this he joined British Acoustic Film, who owned GB Kalee, and went on to undertake installation work for them. In 1972 he became AV Technician at Leeds University, until his nominal retirement, after which he carried out projection installation in the Middle and Near East, and Africa, for Rank AV, until his eventual retirement, at age 72. This has not been the end of his cinematic activity, however, as he has been considerably involved with the Leeds Industrial Museum, The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, in Bradford, and the Northern branch of the Projected Picture Trust - aside from which, he has been a useful contributor to our own “Cinema Technology” magazine.

Jim wasn’t able to be present at the Pinewood ceremony, so Dion Hanson and members of the Cinema Technology Committee gathered together a group of projectionist friends and colleagues who assembled at the Hyde Park Picture House cinema in Leeds, one of England’s few remaining unaltered suburban cinemas, on 10th February 2007. Our thanks to Manager Wendy Cook for allowing us to use this fascinating venue.

years, handed over the framed certificate. (Picture top right.)

Carl Chesworth, last year’s winner of the award, came over from Manchester and presented the plate and Brian Megson, an old friend of Jim and a well known cinema owner in and around Yorkshire for many

It turned out to be quite a party, with over twenty people attending, many of whom hadn’t seen each other for twenty years, and everyone had a really good day. Susan Hanson (a BKSTS Honorary Member who

just seems to keep on working for the good of the Society, year after year) had somehow once more been enveigled into providing refreshments for all those who attended! Dion is promising to write an article for Cinema Technology about the fascinating Hyde Park Picture House.

Brian Megson, Ray Lambert (ex Studio Coleford), Jack Lambert no relation, (ex. Odeon Merrion Centre Leeds and later zone engineer), Tony Cutts (ex Majestic Leeds and Odeon Bradford), Nigel Wolland. Further back is Allan Foster (Hyde Park), Alan McCann (gets everywhere), Carl Chesworth (Ex Odeon Manchester), Charles Morris (Cottage Road Cinema Leeds). Neil Kelly (Ex Lounge Cinema Leeds) and Tony Ingram (Ex Empire Normanton) and of course Dion (Ex Crescent Pontefract). In fact we are all has beens reading that list, says Dion!!!

cinema technology - march 2007

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Getting technical... at the National Film Theatre Mark Trompeteler reports Last year’s long hot summer days and nights in London all seem a distant memory. It was on one of those evenings in late July (25th.) that the projection team and management of the National Film Theatre hosted a Forum on technical issues for NFT members. “Getting Technical at the NFT” focused on the challenges, developments and satisfactions of projecting films at one of the world’s premier film culture centres. Introduced by Justin Johnson, Head of Operations at the NFT, and then hosted by Brian Robinson, Communications Manager for the British Film Institute, the evening took the form of a presentation of the projection challenges at the NFT followed by a question and answer session. The presentation followed a brief history of the cinema as the structure on which to base its content and to sequence its excellent use of film clips and slides. As an example of just how good film projection can look and sound the team opened with a 70 mm print clip of the spaceship ballet / Blue Danube sequence from “2001 - A Space Odyssey “. Brian explained how challenging an environment for projectionists the NFT was – with over 2000 different films being screened in a year, with as many as 5, 6 or 7 different films being screened to widely different and discerning audiences across three different projection boxes in a day, that can be from any period in film history, and involving a myriad of different formats, aspect ratios, sound systems, print types and incredibly tight turnaround times – the projection team of 12 are never short of daily and hourly challenges. NFT programmers often source 2 or 3 prints of a particular film in order to try and assess which is the best. Films arrive into a vault at

the NFT and are initially checked to see if they have the right language version, that all the reels have arrived etc. and a “Steenbeck” is often used at this stage to assist with this task. On arrival in the box, projectionists check every foot of film by hand, before projection, to check for tears, damage and poor joins. The silent cinema presents basic challenges. The variable speed of some of the projectors was demonstrated, to compensate for the varying frame rates of hand cranked silent film cameras and the need to present movement at a natural looking speed. The NFT is one of a very few cinemas in the world which is licensed to show nitrate prints to the general public – thanks to its adapted projectors, boxes and safety measures – see below. An excerpt from a nitrate print of the colour film “The Harvey Girls” was shown. This fully demonstrated the characteristic beautiful golden warm mellow tones of a nitrate colour print. Screen masking and projector aperture plates were mentioned as the presentation highlighted the development of different aspect ratios with the advent of sound. Incorrect use of aperture gates and masking was demonstrated by showing us all the scaffolding photographed “in shot” used to suspend the Mount Rushmore backdrop in “North by North West”. The advent of Cinemascope and the huge improvement in sound facilitated by the introduction of magnetic stripe sound was demonstrated by the screening of a 4 mag track clip from “Carousel”. Developing the theme of sound issues, Brian talked about how good the sound in NFT1 can be, with a seven speaker array behind the screen, four speakers on each side and ten at the rear. The introduction of red LED readers has meant that soundtracks from some earlier film prints cannot be reproduced satisfactorily – but the NFT has projectors that can comfortably switch between white and red exciters. The problem was demonstrated by screening a clip from “Genevieve” using the two different type of exciter. The significant number of foreign language films screened has meant that translation has always been a big issue. If a print has English language sub-titles printed onto it - that’s fine. In the past many prints that did not have subtitles, or had subtitles in another language, had to be augmented by a live English language translation that the

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audience listened to via “bakelite” headsets stored in the arm of each seat. However, the NFT had gone on to develop a “soft-titling” system where subtitles could be prepared in advance of the screening and projected live, dialogue line by dialogue line, via a video projector onto the lower part of the projected film image. Mark Wagner, one of the NFT team that had developed their soft titling system, very ably and amusingly demonstrated the system using an excerpt from Visconti’s “White Nights “. Inevitably the presentation ended with a brief mention of digital projection. The projection power and quality of the Christie DLP projector was very well demonstrated by showing the audience an advance teaser trailer for Disney’s computer animated feature “Ratatouille” – not due for release until Summer 2007. The sound and picture, in my opinion, were breathtaking. There was mention of the digital test bed based in NFT 3 and the Skillset funded course in digital projection for projectionists that the NFT will be running. The presentation closed with the screening of an excerpt from the digitally restored “Casablanca” – again the quality of image of the screen, given the age of the film, was stunning. Brian also concluded with the statement that as we all enter the digital age, the NFT will maintain its firm commitment to the projection of film. The question and answer session was chaired by Justin Johnson, who together with Richard Boyd, Head of Technical Services, and Simon Allen, Chief Projectionist, answered questions from the audience. Clearly the audience included many discerning film viewers and part of the audience had concerns regarding aspect ratio and masking issues during some screenings at the NFT. The team were going to review some of these highlighted issues but as previously mentioned, the challenges that this team face daily are not inconsiderable. In the box that night screening the clips were Steve Gray, John Hoskins, Chloe Stewart, Ed Mauger and Pete Bell. A feature presentation, with the audience already beginning to arrive outside, was due to follow almost immediately.

Mark Trompeteler Recommended Related Websites: cinema technology - march 2007


Tips for projecting nitrate prints at the London’s NFT Mark Trompeteler came across these interesting safety procedures on his recent NFT visit, and reminds us that compliance with all the Health and Safety instructions is vitally important whenever you are showing nitrate lm. Far left: Nitrate adapted projector

than nitrate and above that is a piece of “cat gut“ which is connected to a micro switch. As you start the show you need to switch on the nitrate switch on the projector.

Left: Gun cotton pad at top of the gate

• In the event of a fire in the gate and loop compartment – the gun cotton burns, this melts the “cat gut” which trips the switch. Gates close which will isolate both reels of nitrate above and below the projector and isolating just the two feet of film “in” the projector. You must immediately push down both the plungers on the carbon dioxide cylinders so that carbon dioxide will be drawn very rapidly to the gate and loop compartment.

• Inform the cinema usher and duty house manager that a nitrate print will be in the projectors. • Make important adaptations to your Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 projectors. • Transport nitrate prints to and from the box in heavy duty thick metal rectangular boxes as opposed to traditional cans. • Ensure that once you have laced up the film you shut the “doors” on the full and take up reels thus enclosing both reels. • Remember that there are two cylinders of carbon dioxide under pressure connected by hose to the gate and loop compartment of the projector. Make the two plungers on the carbon dioxide cylinders operable by the withdrawing the securing pins at the top of both cylinders.

• The usher, either from the rear of the auditorium, or your fellow projectionist, if he or she is still there, will operate a lever that moves metal doors that will come down and cover all of the projection ports of the box. This will reassure you that the audience is now much safer. Stand back from the projector and wait for the carbon dioxide to do its work. You can now relax and be safe in the knowledge that the box has a very good explosion vent and that these days digital restoration of old prints is a truly wonderful thing. Seriously though – as we should all know, cellulose nitrate is extremely dangerous and anyone having to handle this material must

read the health and safety executive’s basic safety information first – web address given below. (With thanks to BFI / NFT management and the projection team for allowing me into the box. ) Mark Trompeteler cellulose.pdf#search

• Also remember that above the gate (photo right) is a piece of gun cotton that burns faster Far left: Reel compartment Centre: Withdrawing pins activating CO2 plungers Left: Nitrate reels in heavy metal boxes at top cinema technology - march 2007

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BTH the prequel

N   vi ngnr’s iry By Billy Bell, formerly with BTH and Westrex Co. I have previously written about the early days of BTH, and, with the current fashion for ‘prequels’, offer the following notes as a prequel to the article on the BTH SUPA which appeared in Cinema Technology September 2006. British Thomson-Houston Co. Cinema Division..... During the time I spent with the British Thomson-Houston Co., I collected anecdotal and other material which helps to explain the circumstances which, I believe, brought this large industrial concern into the cinema industry. The decision by the BTH management, to form a Cinema Division was taken when they realised that talking pictures were developing into a commercial proposition. The very first installation of BTH sound equipment took place in December 1929 at the Globe Cinema, Coventry

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and established this new BTH enterprise as a worthy alternative to their American counterparts. This first installation created a momentum which continued unabated until the outbreak of WW2 when all cinema activity ceased as the BTH Co. converted their vast manufacturing capability to assisting the war effort. With the end of hostilities a fresh start was made with the introduction of a new range of projection equipment. The BTH Cinema Division was finally hived off to the Westrex Co in June 1963 “For reasons of uncertain sustained viability.” The Early Days The British Thomson-Houston Co. was one of the first large industrial concerns to appreciate the value of radio communication. The time was 1912 when radio was in its infancy, and ten years before the start of any commercial broadcasting activity in Great Britain. The firm’s interest was first aroused when a member of the staff at Rugby built a crystal receiver capable of receiving the Morse time signals which, at that time, were being experimentally radiated daily by a transmitter on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. By this means it was possible to check the clocks in the Rugby Works and synchronize them with the international time signal. A short time later a second more advanced receiver was built containing two early BTH valves and, having greater amplification, it replaced the original crystal receiver for the Work’s clock time checks. Electronics had made its debut as an aid to industry! It is not generally known that in 1922, BTH was one of the originators of The British Broadcasting Company, whose members consisted entirely of British manufacturers of radio apparatus. The British Broadcasting Company was later taken over by the Government and became The British Broadcasting Corporation. The establishment of a broadcast service immediately introduced a nationwide demand for radio set components and in 1924 BTH published their “Radio Apparatus” sales pamphlet which showed a variety of crystal sets and headphones. Also advertised were single valve amplifiers which could be plugged together with other single valve amplifiers to give even greater amplification. Some vertically mounted loudspeaker horns were even made to

look like lampshades - for the fashion conscious. During this early period the progress in loudspeaker design did, in fact, claim the attention of engineers, probably to a greater extent than any other component during the middle twenties. Valve design and circuits had progressed to a point where amplification of the signal no longer presented any difficulty; loudspeakers had, quite naturally, followed in the steps of the existing telephone, the earliest designs consisting of a sound-amplifying horn attached to the telephone earpiece. But effective reproduction of low-frequency signals remained elusive, until in 1925 when the Rice-Kellogg moving coil loudspeaker was introduced into this country by BTH in a special demonstration at the Piccadilly Hotel in London. The improvement in reproduction was startling and created a sensation in radio circles. For the first time not only was the treble end of the scale reproduced but also the rich bass notes which had not been heard before. This great breakthrough in loudspeaker design also enabled BTH to produce the first “electric gramophone” at Coventry Works for the British Brunswick Co. These early instruments were known by the curious name of “Panatrope” which also contained an improved type BTH silent motor and turntable. In much the same way that the introduction of flexible photographic film in the 1880s is regarded as a nascent moment in the history of the cinema, then equal prominence must surely be given to the introduction of the moving coil loudspeaker, which was instrumental in starting us on the road to high fidelity and led to the great success in October 1927 of the part-talking picture “The Jazz Singer” with the Western Electric “Vitaphone” sound-on-disc system. This was also the defining moment and the catalyst which convinced The British Thomson-Houston Co. that the time had come to create its own Cinema Division. To BTH this seemed a natural progression, since they were already heavily engaged in the manufacture of gramophone and radio apparatus. With the principles of talking pictures now well established and the “talkies” now developing into a commercial proposition, BTH Co. began

cinema technology - march 2007

diary Left - The projection box at the Globe, Coventry in 1929

the task of providing the equipment which was necessary for converting existing early projectors for sound-on-disc reproduction. However, with the rapid advance of soundon-film technology the “Vitaphone” soundon-disc system was quickly becoming unpopular and this was hastened by the disastrous results when the synchronization of sound and picture “slipped”, so, instead of the cowboy talking to his horse, the horse was talking to the cowboy! During this period of transition it soon became clear that the newly formed BTH Cinema Division was being out-paced by soundon-film technology and that they were in danger of losing business to their American counterparts. It was at this point that a mutually beneficial deal was struck with the Radio Corporation of America, thus allowing BTH to begin manufacturing

an exact copy of the RCA pull-through soundhead for the reproduction of soundon film. With all the problems now solved, BTH were able to forge ahead and on 8th December 1929 the Globe Cinema Coventry gave the first commercial showing of 35mm films using BTH sound equipment. The existing Ross projectors were equipped for both sound-on-disc and sound-on-film reproduction. The amplifier was all-mains operated and rated at 40 Watts output. The loudspeakers were eight, type RK moving coil speakers on baffle boards, with four on each side of the screen. The success of this installation was immediate and many other cinemas were soon equipped with similar equipment. The BTH Coventry works soon turned their attention to producing their own 35mm projection equipment, which owed more to imitation than innovation. The vast number of already well established projector mechanisms provided the design engineers with many useful features from which to cherry-pick. What eventually emerged would suggest that they took much of their inspiration from the “Ernemann Five” projector mechanism. Perhaps they liked the large diameter top and bottom feed sprockets and the German ruggedness? It is interesting to note that in the 1929 Walturdaw catalogue, the Ernemann Five is hailed as “A worthy successor to the old champion”. But, mysteriously, the old champion was regarded as the Ernemann No 1? However, this new BTH part-cloned mechanism, designated “type A”, underwent many changes during the years to WW2. These modifications included lowering the optical height, for better synchronization of sound with picture, and several other changes were made

cinema technology - march 2007

to improve flicker-shutter efficiency. Fire fighting equipment was also added to the projector by using the flammability of one frame of cellulose nitrate film, which was placed strategically above the picture gate. This one frame of film held together two Bowden cables which, when released, activated guillotines in the firetraps of the top and bottom spoolboxes. This was regarded as more effective fire fighting equipment than the Pyrene CO2 bottle alternative. A new “Rotary Magnetic” soundhead soon followed , which was based on the eddy-current principle of a copper disc, coupled to the sound drum and driven by rotating magnets . This was the BTH design engineer’s electrical equivalent of the RCA fluid- flywheel. It is a well established fact that BTH supported the impresario, Oscar Deutsch in the fledgling days of Odeon Theatres, which effectively gave them a share of the equity and exclusive rights to install projection equipment in all his new theatres and acquisitions. With the outbreak of WW2, all the above cinema activities ceased as BTH Co. converted their vast manufacturing capability to assisting the war effort. Six years later, with the end of hostilities, BTH Cinema Division made a fresh start with the launch of a new range of projection equipment. During the development of this new projector, with the acronym SUPA, (Single Unit Projection Assembly), they would consult with lens makers Taylor, Taylor & Hobson, carry out a survey of 200 cinemas throughout the country, and share ideas with Philips of Eindhoven. But that’s another story…

Billy Bell page 47

regent update

The Regent Centre, Christchurch revived... Gerald Hooper provides an update

Back in 1931, the new cinema in the High Street, Christchurch was built in 5 months at a cost of £25,000, by Mr T J Rowley, a local business man. The building incorporated a HOLOPHANE lighting system (the rst in Hampshire - this is in the time before border changes) and a MIHALY sound system. The cinema opened on the afternoon of Boxing Day 1931 to a full house of invited guests including the Mayor of Christchurch Cllr Tucker and his wife, along with council members and the Mayoress of Bournemouth, Mrs Hardy, whose husband was a partner of SEAL and HARDY the cinema architects responsible for the building. Mr Hardy said from the stage “Christchurch was regarded as old fashioned, a view held in a neighbouring town, but that would now be altered with this super new cinema. This caused a ripple of laughter. Bouquets were presented to Mrs Rowley and the Mayoress of Christchurch who both wished the cinema every success. Mr. Rowley then called on the Mayor to perform the opening ceremony. He congratulated the architects on their wonderful design and reflected the greatest credit on all concerned. At 3 pm the film selected for the opening programme was shown. This was “The Taming of the Shrew” with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

The Regent auditorium with the original seats and decoration: the old seats removed: the single pedestals fitted for the new seats: the new seats installed: the entrance foyer and the box office page 48

cinema technology - march 2007

regent update

The Regent auditorium with the new seats, looking towards the projecton box; Council Chief Executive Michael Turvey and Mayor Cllr Josi Spencer with Keith Lansing (right), General manager of The Regent, sampling the comfortable new seats and (bottom) the new studio.

The Regent then continued giving Christchurch film entertainment until July 1973, when it closed with the film “The thief who came to dinner”. There had been several changes of management in the meantime including Portsmouth Town Cinemas, ABC, Shipman and King and finally, EMI. It was not long before the cinema was revamped for Mecca Bingo, but that closed in February 1982. Fortunately, thanks to the far-sighted vision of the Christchurch Council and a lot of restoration work, new life was given to the Regent. On June 11th 1983 Miss Dora Bryan performed the opening ceremony and it has become since then a leading Art and Entertainment centre. A long lead in entrance makes a good exhibition space for local artists and craft people, and a morning coffee. A newly designed and computerised box office and coffee bar is at the end of the runway before entering the art deco auditorium, (above) which is kept in first class condition and has just been reseated throughout. Our pictures show the old seats being dismantled, followed by the new installation (note the single pillar support for each seat), and the magnificent final product - a restoration worthy of the 1931 original. It was interesting to hear that after early complaints from the audience that the new seats were uncomfortable it was discovered that the wrong density seat pads had been used. Once these had been replaced and the seat heights adjusted, all was well again. The reseating and refurbishments result from the hard work of a very good management team and a band of dedicated volunteers. The local council has been very supportive over the years, and our picture shows the Council Chief Executive Michael Turvey and Mayor Cllr Josi Spencer with Keith Lansing cinema technology - march 2007

(right), General manager of The Regent, sampling the comfortable new seats. The cinema puts on a good mix of live shows and films, using Strong projection equipment and Dolby digital sound (and a sub woofer - shaken and stirred!!). A new studio built onto the back of the building in 2000 (picture below) has just had a season as cinema 2 with digital presentation. The Regent Centre offers a warm welcome for everyone in its original art deco building. Long may it continue. Gerald Hooper MBKS

Mihály Sound Gerald’s reference to Mihaly sound sent the Editor back to his books, from which he discovered that as early as June 1916 a Hungarian mechanical engineer called Dénes Mihály managed to produce a successful movie with a sound track, and in April 1918 he applied for a patent for a method called Projectophon for recording sound pictures. His method evidently provided good quality sound tracks using optical recording on 35mm film, and many people consider that he has a claim to be known as the inventor of sound on film. The patent was published in October 1922. Does anyone have any details of how it worked, and how it was different from other ‘sound on film’ systems? Interestingly, Mihály went on to develop a television system as early as 1919, and in 1929 he claimed to be the first in the world to transmit a motion picture using television. Jim Slater page 49


And a little more from the Empire By one of those interesting coincidences, my recent visits to the Empire Leicester Square reminded me of some material from 55 years ago that had been tucked away in a filing box for some time, having originally come from Gerald Hooper’s famous ‘heap’. There is a copy of a fascinating letter from 1949 in which Charles Penley, the then General manager of the Empire Leicester Square, writes to Wilton Royal Carpet Factory (near Salisbury, Wiltshire) to praise the new carpets which were laid at the Empire in time for the visit of Her Majesty the Queen, her daughter Princess Margaret, and the Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of the 1948 Royal Command Film Performance.

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Obviously a man for facts and figures, Mr Penley comments that in the previous carpet’s 13 year lifetime some 47 million patrons had walked on it. The carpet for the foyer alone measured 23ft 4in by 39ft 6in, and was woven in one piece, and the carpet for the stairway landing was 43 ft by 25ft. The photographs show: The Queen in the foyer of the Empire ; the Wilton weavers with the famous carpet; projectionists at the Empire in 1989 - who are they, and where are they now (photo - Gerald Hooper); even in 1989 projectionists at the Empire had a laser show to look after. Jim Slater

cinema technology - march 2007


New kid on the block is getting streetwise Daryl Binning reported on his visit to LTI’s state of the art Los Angeles facility and production of the revolutionary Helios lamps in the March 2006 issue of Cinema Technology - ‘The New Kid on the Block’. Recently we heard from Paul Young, director of LTI’s UK distributor Worcester Lighting, with a progress report on the new lamps. The benefits of the Helios are two fold. Firstly to substitute like for like, a Helios lamp will give up to 30% more light than a standard lamp on screen, and secondly the extra light output will allow the lamp to run at consistently lower power reducing running costs and prolonging life. For the past 12 months, Worcester Lighting have been supplying the rapidly expanding Cinema Circuit - REEL Cinemas who have been using standard and Helios xenon lamps and been able see the Helios benefits first hand. Steve Laird, chief of projection for REEL

explains, “We had an opportunity where we needed more light on a screen at our Loughborough site, currently running a 2000W-HS standard Xenon. We put in its place the 2000W-HEHS Helios, which is dimensionally the same and therefore fits without alteration. We were hoping to get the extra light we required and were not disappointed. In this particular case we are satisfied that the Helios has solved an issue in this screen, without us having to upgrade equipment or use more power.” REEL Cinemas are exanding throughout the UK and with new sites due to open including Swadlingcote, Newark, and Andover, sales and Marketing Manager Paul Martin explains they are commited to keeping them at the forefront of technology behind and in front of the projection booth. He explains “Worcester Lighting have introduced this new product to REEL and we are happy with the benefits it offers. It is one of many ways, including the introduction of the digital age, that we are progressing and staying at the forefront of UK cinema.” There is also the potential use of ‘Helios’ lamps in place of a higher wattage lamp, where for instance, a 4K Helios lamp can be used in place of up to 6000W, or even in some cases 7000W lamps - gaining increased lifespan and considerably reduced power consumption wiyhout light loss. Worcester Lighting, whilst introducing this product and seeing the benefits, recognise that there will always be a place for the standard range of Xenon Lamps. Paul adds, “We do’nt profess that this product is a complete replacement for the Xenon

Lamp. It simply offers a resolution where there was not one before. And with energy conservation paramount in people’s minds these days, the opportunity to offer something that can reduce bills and give you the same or higher quality light, it really is a win win situation for the end user.”

Paul Young with a degassed ‘Helios’ lamp

The Helios lamps primarily look very similar to a standard Xenon. Noticeably the envelope (the glass shell itself) is a slender more elliptical shape than a standard xenon. Paul explains, “This is not a ‘Gap Shortened’ Xenon, as has been available before. The patented design of the Helios range of products does not dramatically alter the internal workings of the Xenon Lamp we know but utilises the light output more efficiently, providing extra light on screen.”

LTI’s President and CEO Ken Luttio (left) and a technician inspect lamps on the production line


Blue Planet live... shown on huge ECT screen Three exciting performances took place in December in arena settings in Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham. when a selection of the most captivating scenes from The Blue Planet programme was projected on an immense custommade ECT projection screen.

easy dismantling and erection.

At 16m x 8m, it was one of the largest screens ever used in the country. ECT designed and manufactured strong very lightweight truss sections in a aluminium finish for the frame. The front projection screen material used a matt brite surface made of ‘superior’ PVC, with a gain of 1.4. The screen wasn’t perforated for this application, and had a webbed black border with eyelets which allowed

The show was conducted by awardwinning composer George Fenton, who has won BAFTA, Emmy and Ivor Novello awards for his score for the original series. He also composed the music to the BBC Planet Earth series.

cinema technology - march 2007

The screen did its job magnificently presenting these breathtaking BBC pictures to over 14,000 people in Arenas in Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham. The Blue Planet Live! Show attracted great reviews in all three cities..

Details: ECT Projection Screens e-mail: page 51

feedback THE LOSS OF THE WOW FACTOR PROJECTIONIST BRIAN WHITE one of the old school, with fond memories of his time working on 70mm, and last mentioned in Cinema Technology back in 2003, wrote about the state of the projection business, lamenting the loss of the wow factor...

won’t touch it. And if DTS was to replace the mag striping, 70mm could once again put cinema back on top. Many films over the past few years would have added ‘The Wow Factor’ if someone had struck a few prints in 70mm - The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Matrix trilogy, Phantom of the Opera, to name but a few.

Dear Jim

Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I learned my trade not only showing 35mm, but over 30 films on 70mm, on changeovers, using carbon arcs, which I feel gave a warmer light than a xenon, but having run 70mm on platters and xenons, this made the experience more special.

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you - you may remember me from the article about Genre Classics that was published in the December 2003 edition of CT. I am writing to thank you for your excellent write-up of Projection Training in December 2006 CT - well written and compelling reading. But I am concerned about the future of our beloved cinema business. Digital is, of course, the way forward, but I am concerned that cinema chains are training up floor staff to run our projection boxes. [Wasn’t there always a tradition in the industry that you could come in as ‘front of house’ staff and, if you were keen enough, work your way into the projection booth and eventually become Chief? -Ed.] They are left to run films after only a few weeks basic training, which could possibly explain why so many prints are being damaged. I feel that our job as Time Served Professionals is being diminished and devalued, and hence so many

projectionists have left a once proud career. Many of the ‘showmen’ have long since gone. And presentation standards have gone along with them, with many shows losing their tabs and the once glorious house lighting. I call it ‘The Wow Factor’. Huge screens are diminishing fast. We are in an age of fast technology and superior equipment - in theory. How can a VIC5 compete with a VIC8 or DP70? We are in an era of cost-cutting. The public are running out to buy HDTVs, blu-ray DVDs, and ‘wowing’ at the few films seen in digital format in a few cinemas. But the cinema is missing out, or rather, the public are, when cinema has been the jewel in the crown since the mid 50s. TV can’t touch it, DVD of any kind can’t or

I will be glad to embrace digital with open arms, but I feel that the writing is on the wall for many projectionists, and that wages will fall. I have been told that one of the big chains will scrap technician grades, i.e. ‘seniors’, leaving just a Chief and trained floor staff, just as some other chains have done already. I have been involved on and off in cinema since 1970, and in that time have done it all, with Granada, ABC and Odeon, as well as preview theatre work with CIC and Universal/Paramount. I have worked shifts at Planet Hollywood and at the Coronet, Notting Hill. I have worked on valve amps, on RCA, Westrex and Philips equipment. I am proud to say that I

have shown more films in manual mode than using automation. I have always loved my career with a passion, and it still burns deeply inside me now. But the industry has thought little of the trained, time-served staff who kept the lamp burning since cinema began - I have never earned more than £12,500 p.a. It wasn’t about money, but the desire to present films to a public that deserves the best, which includes quality sound, sharp focus, frames in-rack, and to sit in comfort, cool in summer and warm in winter - The Cinema Experience. Those who have read the superb publication ‘Film Presentation for the 21st Century’ will know what I already know and will always believe. In November 2003 I presented, with others, Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet in 70mm at The Odeon, Covent Garden. The film did little for me, but the imagequality was breathtaking - absolutely stunning - exactly what the cinema experience is supposed to be. The few 70mm films that Genre Classics presented failed to pay off, due to early morning showings, but they turned the clock back, and for those who attended were a great success. I hope I haven’t bored you [absolutely not -Ed.] - I think that CT is absolutely superb. Kind regards Brian White

Memories of Cinerama Mike Taylor, regional co-ordinator for the Projected Picture Trust (North West) provides some old photos and some memories of Cinerama My projection colleague Des McGreal, retired Chief from the Liverpool Odeon, was one of the few projectionists in the Merseyside area who had the chance to work on Cinerama. Cinerama came to Liverpool in 1964, and was installed at the Abbey cinema in Wavertree, a suburban hall in the south of the city. Des McGreal had seen Cinerama in London at the Casino in 1956, whilst attending a training course as a junior projectionist with the Rank Organisation. It was quite a surprise for me to find on a recent meeting with Des that he had kept the admission ticket from that London screening in 1956. Apart from the ticket and programme details, we have a photograph of the Abbey cinema during its Cinerama run, and a photo of Des in the projection room, together with some fellow Cinerama projectionists.

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The projection team at the Abbey, Liverpool - L to R: Ron Checkley, Jim Wood, Ian Brown and Des McGreal...and ‘THE ticket’.

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feedback MORE ON BILLY BELL’S BTH SUPA ARTICLES BOB NARDUZZO WRITES Dear Jim, I hope you will remember me from “The Wartime Cinema” articles in the December 2002 - March 2003 June 2003 issues.

The photographs show Bob at 80 (I guess he must be 84 this year) and at age 15, when he started his career at the Odeon, Colindale.

I am fortunate in seeing your excellent magazine via a friend and I am writing this regarding an item in the September 2006 issue concerning Billy Bell and the BTH SUPA curved gate. Back in the early ‘60s I was running the preview theatre in the AEI head office in Grosvenor Place London, and naturally, BTH being a part of the AEI group, the theatre was equipped with BTH SUPA mark 2s. From the very outset picture definition was to say the least, poor. Apart from dissatisfaction on my part concerning the resultant screen quality, complaints were coming from various quarters and it was clear that something had to be done. Billy Bell was the service engineer and we had much discussion concerning the merits, and problems concerning the curved gate. Together with a colleague of

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Billy’s, John, I can’t remember his second name, it was decided that there was a pair of straight gates available at the Odeon Brighton which could be fitted to the SUPA. This was agreed and they were subsequently fitted, resulting in what can only be described as lifting a veil from over the screen. The improvement was dramatic! Please give my kindest regards to Billy Bell, He is very good news!

ing thousands of cinemas up and running by now.

Your publication certainly goes from from strength to strength and must be valued hugely by all your readers.

Just to prove a point, I was recently in Madrid to commission Technicolor’s brand new facility there. For a company who depend on film processing for their livelihood they are embracing digital but still investing in film.

Kindest regards Bob Narduzzo TECHNICOLOR MADRID EMBRACING DIGITAL, BUT STILL INVESTING IN FILM DION HANSON WRITES Dear Jim I was a little concerned that from the last magazine readers would get the idea that I was becoming a Digital Man! I know it is coming and I know it is a good thing for the industry and I never stand in the way of progress. All that I am saying and always have said is that I do not think it will happen as quickly as equipment manufacturers would like it to. Look back at the numerous Cine Expo seminars that five years ago were forecast-

Technicolor have closed their original factory which was in the suburbs and moved out to a new facility very close to the mas-

sive Kinepolis multiplex on the outskirts of the city. This has not only enabled them to increase their production facilities but also to build two new preview theatres to replace their old large outdated one. One theatre is for 35mm productions and the other for digital ones. The pictures show the auditoria and projection room. With best wishes Dion Hanson

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