Vol 21 • No 1 • March 2008
B•K•S•T•S The Moving Image Society
Training for Projectionists BKSTS projection certification initiative
New CEA Chief Executive Phil Clapp interviewed
BE AWARE ... at The Odeon, Guildford on Tuesday April 22nd Details page 29
Projection Team of the Year and Frank Littlejohns award winners
Digital projection supplement Digital 3D special feature
The leading specialist publication for cinema industry professionals
BKSTS THE MOVING IMAGE SOCIETY The Society exists to encourage, sustain, educate, train and provide a focus for all those who are creatively or technologically involved in the business of providing moving images and associated sound in any form and through any media. The BKSTS works to maintain standards and to encourage the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of moving image and associated sound technology, in the UK and throughout the world.
contents Volume 21 • Number 1
The Society is independent of all governments and commercial organisations.
SPONSOR MEMBERS PLATINUM
Am I a good projectionist? BKSTS certification scheme
A new CE for the CEA - interview with Phil Clapp
The Ronald Grant archive and cinema museum
Projectionists’ Christmas party - story and pictures
Team of the Year Award - the Apollo Redditch team
Michael Wienert wins Frank Littlejohns Award
Christmas quiz answers
Autodesk• Kodak Limited • Pinewood Group
SILVER Avid Technology Europe • Deluxe London • Digital Theater Systems Dolby Laboratories • Filmlight • Hyperactive • Lee Filters • Lee Lighting Shooting Partners Ltd • Slater Electronic Services Soho Images • Technicolor • Vantis
BRONZE Aardman Animations • Arri (GB) Ltd • Barco plc • Desisti Lighting UK Ltd Electrosonic Ltd • Film Distributors Association • Film & Photo Ltd Framestore CFC • Harkness Screens • Moving Picture Company Panasonic Broadcast Europe • Quantel Ltd • RTI (UK) Ltd • UGC Cinemas
SOCIETY SUPPORTERS Association of Motion Picture Sound • British Film Institute British Society of Cinematographers • British Universities Film & Video Council Cinema Exhibitors Association • Cooke Optics • CST • Focal International • ITN SMPTE • Skillset • Society of Television Lighting Directors • UK Film Council The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the above Companies and Organisations. Enquiries regarding Sponsor Membership of the BKSTS should be addressed to: Roland brown, President BKSTS - Moving Image Society, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH, UK e: email@example.com www.bksts.com
CINEMA TECHNOLOGY Cinema Technology - ISSN 0995-2251 - is published quarterly by Jim Slater - Slater Electronic Services on behalf of the BKSTS - The Moving Image Society. It is mailed to all members of the BKSTS and is also distributed to the major cinema chains and independents to reach virtually every cinema in the UK and many in Europe and worldwide. It has a circulation of about 4000, in 55 countries around the world, achieving an estimated readership of 13,000. Views expressed in this journal are not necessarily the views of the Society. © BKSTS - The Moving Image Society
BKSTS Digital Cinema Awareness day for projectionists 29 Victor Nicelli retires - profile of Cinemeccanica’s MD
New Osram XBO lamps - new warranty
DIGITAL PROJECTION SUPPLEMENT Digital newsreel
Lamps for digital cinema
Digital cinema - accelerating the european transition
Digital 3D cinema
XDC talks about 3D cinema
3D content making gets easier with Quantel
The Dolby solution to digital 3D
The future of digital cinema - developing 3D technology 47 Meet the Chief
Movie engineer’s diary - Dawn patrol 1928
Fun with Varamorph - unusual projection lens adaptors 54
Home cinema - comparisons and compromises
17 Winterslow Road, Porton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK T: +44 (0) 1980 610544 F: +44 (0) 1980 590611 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Book review - Basingstoke entertained
Obituary - Edward P Hobson
Jim Slater, Managing Editor
Advertising / Design / Production Bob Cavanagh
Caixa Postal 2011, Vale da Telha, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal T: 00351 282 997 050 M: 00351 962 415 172 e: email@example.com
Subscriptions Cinema Technology is mailed free of charge to all BKSTS Members. Please contact the BKSTS for subscription payment details or further information. cinema technology - march 2008
On the cover: The Ronald Grant Museum - Anything and everything to do with the history of cinema . See article on page 18 page 3
‘CHIEF OF CHIEFS’ NIGEL WOLLAND AWARDED MBE IN NEW YEARS HONOURS LIST As always, I quickly scanned the ‘New Year Honours’ lists in the December 29th issue of The Times, with the usual twinge of disappointment after examining the ‘S’ section, even though I knew full well that if a certain editor’s name was going to appear he would have been told about it in confidence months earlier! Joy was soon to follow, however, as, tucked away near the bottom of the listings I spotted Nigel Wolland’s name. Rarely can such an announcement have been greeted so warmly within our industry - within minutes, and continuing for days afterwards emails came in from all over, congratulating him and wishing him well. Alongside are extracts from some of those I saw, some reflecting the usual projectionists’ sense of humour, but all showing great love and affection for one of our industry’s best-known characters. Nigel’s presentation was to take place on 19th February at Buckingham Palace, with a celebratory meeting of the Cinema Technology Committee taking place later that day. I hope for a photograph for the next issue. Jim Slater To which messages he replied, modestly as ever: Thanks Everyone, It was a great New Year surprise!!! which I am sure some of you had something to do with. Many, many thanks
M.B.E. To be Ordinary Member of the Civil Division of the said Most Excellent Order of the British Empire: Nigel Leonard Robert Wolland, Chief Engineer, Odeon Leicester Square. For services to the Film Industry.
Nigel is presented to the Queen at the 1990 Royal Film Performance
and I wish you all “A Very Happy New Year” and look forward to having a “quick half “ to celebrate very soon. Very Best Wishes Nigel And just to remind us of a previous honours award to an industry stalwart J. Barry writes: Dear Sir, just to let you know that Ronald Curry, Doncaster projectionist was awarded the MBE in June 1997 for services to film. So Nigel Wolland is not the first projectionist to be awarded this honour. Mr Curry was also awarded a Blue Plaque in 1996 by the British Film Institute, the 100th Year of cinema. Mr Curry served on the Rank sub committee with Mr Wolland, fighting for better conditions and pay for cinema workers. Hope you find this of interest and Congrats to Nigel. Regards J Barry.
BE AWARE ...
at The Odeon, Guildford on Tuesday April 22nd Details page 29
‘Congratulations Nigel. That is absolutely great, and thoroughly deserved. I hope the Queen recognises you from her many visits to OLS for Royal Film nights’. Congratulations from all the projection teams and engineers at Vue cinemas. ‘Very well deserved Nigel you thoroughly deserve this MBE’. ‘Hi Sir Nigel! On behalf of everyone at Odeon Sound and Projection, many congratulations on your deserved MBE. You richly deserve it Nigel, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer chap’. ‘On behalf of the Technical team at the Odeon Leicester Square, Congratulations on this wonderful achievement. Very well deserved, and a long time coming!!’ ‘What a great honour to end the year with - Absolutely delighted to hear this news, really well deserved and I think everyone will agree, well and truly earned. You are a credit to this crazy business we all survive in. Have a really good and prosperous 2008 and beyond’. ‘Well done Nigel! After all those years slaving over a rewinder you can now say that you have well and truly, finally, arrived. I’m not quite sure how you should be addressed from now on but I will dust off my copy of Debrett’s Correct Form, that should tell us. It will also inform us of the correct dress to wear at the Investiture, a white coat (ironed) would probably do. Don’t worry, the 21s were removed some time ago, the Duke won’t be grabbing you on the way out to run something for him’. ‘Over the decades, projectionists from all over the world have visited you at the OLS. You always managed to make time to talk to them and to make them feel special’. ‘Your name and reputation is known throughout the cinema world. Remember at the Embassy cinema in Malta, I started to introduce you to the Chief Projectionist, but before I could finish the introduction The Chief said ‘I know who you are.’ ‘You are a fantastic ambassador for our Industry and most of all you are a great friend’. ‘From all of us here at Disney (and Disney Friends) we send you our warmest congratulations’. ‘Congratulations Sir CHIEF of CHIEFS, What fantastic news Nigel, so well deserved. I look forward to seeing you in the New Year’. From everyone at BAFTA.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR ALL ODEON/UCI BKSTS MEMBERS
Odeon / UCI Cinemas provide their Technical Managers with a group membership of the BKSTS. As the Society is now relying on members to keep their page 4
membership details up to date, we would ask that all Odeon members log in to the Society website (www.bksts.com) and check their details. They can do this by clicking on My Account on the left hand menu, and entering their membership number (which now begins with 2008) and their pass-
word. If this is the first time of logging in, it is possible to use the temporary password “bksts2008” - after log in they will be asked to enter a new password of their own choosing. Once logged in, they will be able to view “My Details” to check if all their information is accurate and up to date. If anything needs
changing, click on “Change Details”. One important point - the Society is increasingly relying on the use of email to communicate with members, saving lots of money on postage. So please check the email address we have is correct!
cinema technology - march 2008
Bell Theatre Services THE UK’s Leading Supplier and Installer of Digital And Film Projection Equipment.
Recent Digital Premieres:
U2 3D Sweeney Todd Pirates of the Caribbean
Cineworld High Wycombe Showcase Derby De Lux The Empire Leicester Square Sound System Vue @ The O2 Greenwich
Our Equipment Includes: Barco DP90 and DP100 NEC iS-8/Nc800 NEC NC2500 NEC1600
Digital Installations Include: Cineworld Dublin (2 screens) Odeon Southampton Odeon Blackpool Odeon Braehead Vue@The O2 Greenwich (3 Screens) Framestore CFC Empire High Wycombe (All Digital) Odeon Hatfield (All Digital) Odeon Leicester Square Columbia Pictures Preview Theatre 20th Century Fox Preview Theatre
Dailies Equipment Rental: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Inkheart ; Sweeny Todd 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.
9 B Chester Road, Borehamwood, Herts. WD6 1LT T: 020-8238-6000 F: 020-8238-6060 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.bell-theatre.com
ROLAND BROWN JOINS QUANTEL BOARD
BKSTS Sponsor company Quantel has announced the appointment of BKSTS President Roland Brown as a Non-Executive Director to the company. Recently Director of Engineering at The Moving Picture Company, he is expected to utilise his industry experience to help
Quantel identify and harness the emerging technologies that hold the potential to change the face of content creation and delivery over the next handful of years. “We are at another tipping point for the industry, one where tools will become natural to the user and the technology will fade into the background where it belongs,” says Brown. “We used to have to all be engineers to make film and television, but it’s the craft skills and empowering those skills - that will dominate the next phase of development in the industry.” “I’ve tracked the progress of Quantel from the beginning, which is over three decades now, and was
an early adopter of its technology myself in the late 1970s,” he continues. “I’ve always admired its approach and the emphasis on giving artists ergonomic tools that help them fully exploit their talents. And with the talent I see in Quantel’s R&D department and my breadth of experience, I hope we can further accelerate evolution in that field.” Roland Brown has an impressive CV, with four decade’s worth of experience working at the cutting edge of broadcast and post production technology for companies such as Intertel VTR Services (Europe’s first facility company), Lion Television, Video RSA South
Africa and then MPC. Along the way he’s been involved in many milestones including the first satellite transmission from the UK, worked on Queen’s seminal music video for Bohemian Rhapsody, and took MPC into HD production and a data-centric future. Quantel CEO, Ray Cross welcomed Roland to the board saying “As a company we always try to work with the best people in their fields, and they simply don’t come with more experience or more knowledge than Roland. I look forward to seeing the first results of what I’m sure will be a long and fruitful partnership.”
BE QUICK - BOOK FOR THE WIDESCREEN WEEKEND
By the time most BKSTS Members receive this issue, scheduled to be distributed on 1st March, time will be getting short to book for the 2008 Widescreen Weekend, running from Friday 7 - Monday 10 March. Don’t let that put you off, however, you can still book by email to: jennifer.hall@natio nalmediamuseum.org.uk or by telephone 0870 70 10 200. The Widescreen Weekend, just part of the Bradford Film Festival which runs from February 29 - March 15th, represents wonderful value with a pass to all events, including more 70mm screenings and related events than any nor-
mal human could possibly attend, costing just £70 full price and £45 for concessions. This is the 13th year of the Bradford Widescreen Weekend, and visitors will see Cinerama and 70mm in all its splendour, including “Windjammer”, “This is Cinerama”, “Star!”, “The Sand Pebbles”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Blade Runner”, “Hamlet” and “Honeymoon”. There will be the usual mix of lectures, screen talks, format demonstrations, 3-strip Cinerama, 3-strip Kinopanorama, Panavision Super 70, Super Panavision 70, Panavision, Todd-AO, Technirama
and Digital 2K on curved and flat screens in all size and shapes. Not forgetting the sound - this year a multitude of soundtracks will be coming out of the speakers everywhere. They will all be there: 70mm Dolby Stereo SR, 70mm Dolby Stereo Todd-AO layout, Dolby Digital, DTS Special Venue and old fashioned analogue mono. Here is the latest information on the films to be shown, and some of the presentations, thanks to Bill Lawrence, Thomas Hauerslev and the team: Friday 7 10.00 This is Cinerama 1.30 The Great Escape 6.30 Cinematic Sound Formats: Dion Hanson 7.30 2001: A Space Odyssey Saturday 8 10.00 Windjammer 1.30 The Bigger Picture - Tony Sloman 2.45 The Sand Pebbles 6.00 The Making of How the West Was Won 7.30 Star!
Sunday 9 10:00 Cineramacana 1.00 Screentalk: Kenneth Branagh + Hamlet 70mm 6.00 Honeymoon 8.30 Blade Runner Monday 10 10.30 Edward Scissorhands (70mm) and Brainstorm (70mm). As well as visits from Kenneth Branagh, the organisers are also expecting Jan Harlan to talk about Stanley Kubrick on Friday night (by coincidence the anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s death); and Dave Strohmaier will bring more from his vaults. For last minute information see www.nationalmediamuseum.org. uk/biff/2008/widescreen.asp and Thomas Hauerslev’s site www.in70mm.com BKSTS Member Mark Trompeteler will be reporting on the Widescreen Weekend in the June issue of Cinema Technology.
cinema technology - march 2008
One Ingenious Digital Cinema Solution Dolby Digital Cinema provides hardware and software systems that are highly intuitive to the user. Delivering exceptional reliability, superb quality, technical performance and flexibility, they meet the operational needs of all cinemas, from a multi-screen complex to a single screen theatre.
Content Dolby Show Library
Dolby Digital Cinema System
Dolby Digital Cinema System
BELIEVE YOUR EYES www.dolby.com/professional/motion_picture/ Dolby and the double-D symbol are registered trademarks of Dolby Laboratories. ÂŠ 2008 Dolby Laboratories, Inc. All rights reserved. W08_19336
Dolby Digital Cinema System
TECHNICOLOR RELOCATE UK BASE TO PINEWOOD STUDIOS
Technicolor Ltd are relocating their UK headquarters and operations to Pinewood, with a purpose-built 42,000 sq ft office already under construction, and due for completion by the autumn 2008. Technicolor Ltd, a subsidiary of Thomson S.A., is one of the world’s leading providers of creative and processing services to
the worldwide film industry.There are also rumours that DeLuxe are looking to move to Pinewood from their existing Denham facilities, if they can get the necessary planning permissions. Pinewood really seems to be thriving, and is well on the way to becoming a one-stop-shop for the UK film industry. We reported in Jan/Feb 2008 Image Technology on Pinewood Group’s exciting and forward-looking plans for ‘Project Pinewood’, which, if planning permission is granted, will create a new development on land adjacent to the existing site which will become a purpose-built Film and Television ‘Live-Work’ community bringing together much of the UK’s creative talent in one place.
VUE WINS RAAM CINEMA CIRCUIT OF THE YEAR AWARD ... AGAIN Vue won the Cinema Circuit of the Year Award at the 2008 RAAM Awards for the UK and Irish Film Distribution and Cinema Exhibition categories. For the second year running Vue has received the best circuit award which was among thirty awards presented in front of a full house on Wednesday 6 February at the 5 star Millennium Hotel, Grosvenor Square, London. The awards dinner was dedicated to raise funds for The Cinema & Television Benevolent Fund.
BE AWARE ... at The Odeon, Guildford on Tuesday April 22nd Details page 29
Commenting on the award, Tim Richards, Vue CEO said: “It’s a terrific achievement to win and be recognised as the best in our field. We pride ourselves on giving the best cinema experience and the best service so this award is testament to the people and culture here at Vue.” Vue Dublin was also shortlisted for the Best Cinema (Ireland) award.
The Odeon Cinema on Kensington High Street, which gets another mention elsewhere in this issue, was the venue in January for two meetings of EMI employees when they gathered to learn how their new private equity owner, Terra Firma, plans to re-
duce costs by £200 million and to cut up to 2000 jobs. They were given Powerpoint presentations by the well known Guy Hands, Chief Executive of Terra Firma, and Lord Birt, former BBC Director General, was also present. Terra Firma are of course also the owners of Odeon/UCI Cinemas. Developers bought the Odeon Cinema in High Street Kensington, for £24 million in 2005. A resolution to grant planning permission was given in December 2007 for about 100,000 sq ft of private residential accommodation, with a basement car park and cinema. The cinema will be operated by Odeon Cinemas who have agreed a new 25 year lease.
THOMSON DIGITAL HUB FOR SINGAPORE Thomson, through its Technicolor Digital Cinema business, and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore have announced a partnership to establish a digital cinema hub and network operations centre (NOC) in Singapore. “Thomson recognises Singapore’s commitment to the digital media and entertainment industry and believes there will be tremendous value in utilising their robust infrastructure to expand our digital cinema service offerings into the Asia-Pacific region”, said Curt Behlmer, vice president and COO of Technicolor Digital Cinema. “Digital cinema is growing at a very rapid pace, and we look forward to supporting studio and exhibitor customers as they begin to roll out digital cinema in Singapore and Asia-Pacific”. Thomson, with the support of the IDA, plans to construct an efficient, secure digital cinema hub and NOC in Singapore to
offer digital cinema service and related management capabilities to the motion picture industry for Singapore and other Asia-Pacific nations. “IDA is delighted to support Thomson–Technicolor’s first digital cinema hub in Asia to cater to the digital media and entertainment industry”, said Tham Ai Chyn, assistant chief executive for industry and cluster development at IDA. Thomson’s Singapore facility is expected to have the capability to support the following digital cinema services: physical and electronic forms of content delivery; Thomson’s key distribution and management systems; equipment monitoring; and 24/7/365 multilingual call-centre support, fully integrated with its operations in the United States. The build-out of the new digital cinema hub and NOC in Singapore is planned to begin in mid-2008.
cinema technology - march 2008
�������������������� �������������� ���������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ����������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������ ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������������� ����������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ���������������������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������ ���������������������������� ������������������� ������������� ������������������ �������� �� ��������������������� ���������������������
��������������������������� ������������� ���������������� ������ ���������������������� ����������������������
�������������������������� ���������� �������������������������� ����������� ����� ��������������������� ���������������������
Am I a good projectionist? Well ... are you? Alan McCann of the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee, one of the driving forces behind the Society’s new projection certication scheme, poses the difficult questions and explains how you, the projectionist, can ‘take the test’ and nd out just how good you are
How do you tell if you are as good as you think you are? If you are lucky, you may work for a major company that invests in a proper training course for projectionists. In that case, you will be taken through a planned sequence that introduces you to the skills of projection, with gradual assessments of your progress. Finally, you will be classed as a projectionist. You could, however, be working with a Chief Projectionist, with many years of experience. The training that you receive may not be as structured as that from a major company, but it will still be comprehensive, and probably as good. Moreover, the unstructured element of your training may well be replaced with a genuine feel for projecting films. After a period of time, depending on your ability to assimilate knowledge, you too will be considered a competent projectionist You may not be quite so lucky. You may have shown how to lace up a projector, and how to start the machine. You may have had the basics of the job explained to you, but does this make you a projectionist? What if you are working for an independent operator? How can you ensure that you are receiving a good working knowledge of the art of film projection? How can you say, with confidence, I am a projectionist? The Cinema Technology Committee of the BKSTS has been considering the qualifications for projectionists for a long time. Working with representatives from many of the major exhibitors, under the auspices of the BKSTS and the CEA, they have developed a set of criteria with the title of THE BKSTS/CEA PROJECTION CERTIFICATION SCHEME. WHAT DOES THIS SCHEME ENTAIL? 1. First of all, it is not a training course. It is THE BKSTS/CEA ALL INDUSTRY CERTIFICATION OF BASIC PROJECTION STANDARDS. This means that it is a set of minimum standards that each of the participating companies have agreed to apply to their own training courses. These standards can be used by any company, or individual cinema, or even an individual working for an Independent cinema or for himself or herself. Any person can be trained by whatever method chosen. BUT! they will all use the same criteria. Following previous attempts to create a national training scheme for projectionists, it was swiftly found that the ability to get all the exhibitor companies to agree was impossible. The difference here is that each company, page 10
or individual, can devise any training course that they wish, but they all agree to meet the standards set out. 2. Included within the scheme is a separate set of ASSESSORS NOTES. These notes repeat the standards already listed, but with additional detail - and questions - for the assessor when carrying out the assessment. Part of the ASSESSORS NOTES includes a separate PERSONAL RECORD SHEET, for every person who is assessed. 3. Finally, there is the PROJECTIONISTS INTRODUCTION. It lists again exactly the same standards as before, but it explains to the projectionist what is expected of him, and what the Assessor will be looking for. The only requirement under this assessment is that all the
standards are met. These are the only documents needed for operating the scheme, and they have been kept as simple as possible while meeting all the necessary requirements. We are however aware that many companies are using the BKSTS/CEA MOTION PICTURE MANUAL as a basis for their training courses, and that although these were issued to every cinema at the time of issue, there are many locations where there isn’t a copy. The Cinema Technology Committee is preparing a version of this manual that relates to the first stages of learning the Projectionist’s trade. It will be reduced in size, content, and in price compared to the original version, probably around £15. Check out “Cinema Technology” magazine cinema technology - march 2008
projectionist training Foundation, (who, incidentally, assist the BKSTS in subsidising the many and varied Projectionists Training Courses). Therefore, the only cost is for the registration, and the issue of the Certificate, which will cost five pounds, (£5). However, for those who are not part of a major company, or who cannot arrange for their own approved Assessor, there is a possibility for them to contact the scheme administrator who will attempt to arrange an outside Assessor. There are a number of voluntary Assessors prepared to assist; however there will be charges for their time and/or travel. WHAT IS IT FOR? A qualified projectionist has a major responsibility. He, or she, has been entrusted to present a film that may have cost many thousands of pounds to produce. The success of this film can be marred by poor focus, sound too loud, or too quiet! If it is scratched or dirty, this can spoil the illusion that the Director and the actors have worked so hard to produce. Once upon a time projectionists were highly respected. They were given control of complicated machinery. They were expected to carry out many aspects of maintenance, and to have the ability to assemble features, trailers, adverts into a coherent programme. They were capable and competent people who, very often were not paid well, or even accepted as the skilled people that they were.
for details. There are also some copies of the original version of the PROJECTIONIST’S MANUAL still available from the BKSTS for £40. Visit www.bksts.com for further details). HOW DOES IT WORK? In a major company, say Odeon for example, the person designated as the Assessor will determine whether the applicant is ready for an assessment. There is no timescale set for this; only the readiness to prove their competency. An individual who is being trained without a formal training course, or is doing their own training, can decide whether they meet the criteria, as they will have the PROJECTIONISTS NOTES to hand. They can then arrange for an Assessment, by using a work colleague, or another Assessor; the only requirement being that the Assessor is approved by the administrators of the scheme. They will be taken through their assessment, and the results marked on their Personal Record Sheet. If there are elements where they are not considered competent, these will be noted on the sheet, which will be handed to them. Only when all the criteria are met will this sheet then be sent on to the BKSTS. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Once the Personal Record Sheet is completed with all the criteria deemed successful, it is sent to the scheme administrator. cinema technology - march 2008
Each applicant will be entered into a register, so that in the event that a certificate is mislaid a copy can always be obtained. When all the details are entered, an individually numbered certificate, printed on cream, parchment-finished card, will be sent out to the successful applicant. Some certificates will have the name of the applicant’s company included, but a generic version with just the BKSTS and CEA logos will also be available. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? The scheme has been developed by the Cinema Technology Committee, and Technical Managers from some of the major cinema companies, such as Cineworld Cinemas, Empire Cinemas, Odeon, Vue, and previously, UGC and UCI. All of the individuals and their companies gave their time, and provided meeting rooms for the two plus years that it took to produce this scheme. Therefore, the development costs were nil. All the documentation can be sent via the internet for free, or can be posted for the cost of the postage. The administration of the scheme will be undertaken by a member of the Cinema Technology Committee. All of the set-up costs have been covered by a very generous donation from the David Lean
With the onset of Multiplex cinemas, and the loss of so many skilled projectionists, through redundancies and retirement, newcomers to the job have received only the very basic training to enable a film to be shown. Projectionists now deal with projection and sound equipment costing tens of thousands of pounds. They are working with high voltage, and high-pressure lamps, and in close proximity to moving machinery. The Cinema Technology Committee believe that these skills require a formal means of proving a projectionist’s capabilities, that, in the event of possible future legislation on working practices, a Certificate proving that they meet Industry standards will be essential, and will go toward any possible claims under Health and Safety. If it also brings the standards of film presentation back to what was an accepted high standard of years past, where the screen image was all important, well - that would be an excellent bonus. For further details on any of the above, how you can get downloads, or for anything relating to the BKSTS/CEA Projectionists Certification scheme, please contact Alan McCann, the scheme administrator; e-mail: email@example.com Telephone 01422 378281 Or write to: The Paddock, Broad Carr, Holywell Green, Halifax. HX4 9BS] page 11
A new broom for the CEA Jim Slater spoke with Phil Clapp, new Chief Executive of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association A new Chief for the CEA As we reported in September 2007 Cinema Technology, a major change has taken place at the Cinema Exhibitors Association, where John Wilkinson, who had been in the CE’s seat for some 17 years, retired, and has been replaced by Phil Clapp, who came from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Phil joined the DCMS in 2001 and in 2003 was promoted to Deputy Director, Arts Division, working on two spending reviews for the arts, and leading sponsorship of the Arts Council England through two challenging Spending Reviews. He also led on developing the cultural elements of the London 2012 Olympic Games bid, and took up the post of Deputy Director, DCMS, Creative Industries Division in 2006. Phil was kind enough to give Cinema Technology the following interview after his first few months in the job. Jim Slater: Phil, I know something of your work in your previous roles at DCMS, and hopefully we can talk about that later, but tell us something of your background before that. Where did you grow up? What did you do at school and university, and did you have other jobs before joining the Civil Service? Phil Clapp: I grew up and went to school in Bristol, and subsequently went to Imperial College, London, where I studied Chemistry, gaining a degree then a Ph.D, before spending a couple of years doing post-doctoral research at University of York. Having managed essentially to specialize myself out of the jobs market, I decided on a career change, joining the Department of the Environment in 1994. My first job there was helping to tackle ‘neighbour noise’ and a range of other local environmental issues. I found that I enjoyed working on social, people-related policy issues, an interest I followed when I moved in 1998 to a job with the Social Exclusion Unit in the Cabinet Office looking at a range of social issues. I learned a great deal there, in particular, page 12
the importance of being able to provide evidence to support arguments and decisions that need to be made, lessons that I hope I carry with me to this day. I joined the DCMS in 2001, then Tessa Jowell’s department, first of all covering the social aspects of DCMS sectors, then moving to lead on the Arts and finally becoming Deputy Director, Creative Industries division in 2006. JS: Was there anything in your background to suggest that you might day become involved with the cinema industry? Were you a cinema enthusiast at all? How does today’s experience of going to the cinema compare with when you were young? PC: I have always been interested in going to the cinema, but would never have described myself as a cinema buff nor was I particularly someone who wondered what was going on in the projection box. So no, there was probably nothing in my background to suggest an eventual career in the cinema business. JS: You have had your feet under the table here for just a few months now, since October, and I am sure that you are relishing the challenge of the new job, but just how much of a challenge have you found it so far? What sort of state did you find the CEA in when you joined – were things how you expected? PC: Well, nothing I have seen in my first three months here has made me think that I didn’t make a good move! I already had some knowledge of the organisation, having come across the CEA in my previous life at the DCMS Creative Industries Division in meetings with Ministers. So I knew some of the people and something of the CEA’s work. My take on things was that the basic foundations were sound – certainly there was no need for sudden revolution – but that a number of aspects needed modernising or to be made more proactive. In terms of those foundations, I have found that there is an enormous amount of faith in the CEA as a trusted advisor, and that people in our
business feel that they can bring forward their concerns, confident that these will be considered confidentially. It is quite a responsibility, and a fitting legacy to the commitment John Wilkinson brought to this job. Anything I do with the organisation must build on that. But the real challenge is to spread that impact wider. We need to get people to understand the CEA and what it is for. We need to get other people and organisations in the film sector, from the Film Council to the BBFC, to become more familiar with what the CEA position is on all the various topics affecting the film industry. And why. I want to approach some of these challenges by what I call refreshing the cinema ‘offer’, that is telling the world what our sector of the industry does and why it is important, and why government and others should care. We need to explain and promote all of the reasons why people should want to go to the cinema and continue to remind government of the important part that going to the cinema plays in the social and cultural life of the nation. JS: Although the CEA has been in existence since 1912, through bad times and good in the industry, your predecessor had very much made the job his own, moulding it to suit his views as to what the CEA should do. As we move into a new era do you see any immediate changes to the organisation that you want to make? PC: So far the key changes I’ve made have been about modernizing the way we communicate with our members, not least with an expectation that wherever appropriate we’ll use email rather than sending everything by post. And we are currently working on a CEA website which will also help administratively as well as making the work of the CEA better known. Apart from the increased use of modern communications, I think it is important that we refresh and update the image of the CEA, showing the industry that our work is continuously evolving to match the changing needs of the cinema technology - march 2008
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: info@powellLED.com
• • • • • • • • •
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
www.powellLED.com Your Imagination , Our Products and Services
cea chief cinema exhibitors. A very minor - and admittedly cosmetic - example of that has been the changes we’ve made to the logo, not a massive change, but just enough to ‘refresh’ it and make us look more up to date. One important change that I want to introduce is to strengthen our policy research, and we have just advertised for a new staff member to bring together both existing and new evidence and statistics to support our thinking and advocacy. There are lots of statistics available out there, and we need to draw these together to build a database of facts and figures on which we can base the evidence that we shall be providing to government and others about how our industry is performing. JS: From your talks with those in the exhibition industry so far have you identified any urgent problems that the CEA can help the industry to overcome? PC: The key problem facing the entire film industry is piracy. There is a complete lack of understanding amongst the public that copying movies really matters and could threaten the future of the industry. And to some extent that is reflected in the attitudes of the public authorities. So for example it seems incredible that - in contrast to almost any other modern country - camcording of a film in a UK cinema isn’t a criminal offence. As a result we have nonsense situations such as that when the Police were recently called in to a cinema where staff had caught someone ‘red handed’ with the opening sequences of a movie on his camcorder, but there was no subsequent prosecution because of his claim that he was making the recording purely for his own use. It is a nonsense that people are allowed to get away with it, and the CEA is determined to keep this in the focus of the government ministers involved. But this is just one issue facing the industry, and I am keen that we should develop a narrative as to why government should care about the cinema exhibition industry. Cinema is of economic, social and cultural importance to the nation, and government needs to recognise this. Those in the film production part of the business have got their act together and were able, through persuading government to recognize the importance of their sector, to secure very useful tax concessions to help them. I am not for a moment arguing for tax breaks for exhibition of course, but the point is that by organizing themselves and constructing a persuasive case, they were able to secure their goals. One other area where the CEA must help its members is with the many aspects of the ongoing conversion to digital cinema. The scenario is totally different from that affecting the television industry, in that we have just a few thousand screens that will presumably need to be converted over the next few years, but we still don’t have a viable business model. At the very least we must help members to improve their understanding of the current commercial models, whether based on page 14
Virtual Print Fees (VPFs) or otherwise, and ensure members are aware of how digital cinema is developing around the world. JS: I know that the CEA is about promoting and protecting the interests of its members the cinema exhibitors, but tell me something about the practical side. What is a typical day for you? Are you out of the office a lot? PC: There isn’t a typical one, though I am currently in the office most days. I do have a number of meetings outside the office, of course, but I’m making a point at the moment of trying to get out to meet members to see their cinemas and talk to them about what is important to them. So I have had trips to Melton Mowbray, Humberside and the Midlands in recent days. In that way I hope I am getting to understand what issues are of most concern to cinemas big and small, and, equally importantly, to get to know the people involved. Personal relationships matter in this business as much as any other. JS: I know that your office is seen by the industry as a place that they can go to for advice on all manner of cinema-related issues, especially legal and legislative ones. How have you coped with the steep learning curve that this must have entailed? Who are you able to turn to for advice? PC: I’ve made a conscious effort to try to get up to speed with as much of the detail as possible, but it’s true that there are occasions when an individual enquiry by a member serves to focus the mind….. One key additional source of education and information has been and is the Board of the CEA. One of the key advantages of the CEA Board is that it has representatives from cinema groups large and small. Board members have been very gracious in sharing their knowledge with me and supporting me. JS: Is CEA membership staying strong? Do you get the impression that the members are satisfied with what the CEA does for them? Are there demands for you to provide other services? PC: Membership continues to be strong, but one of my early aims is to target those exhibitors who are not currently members, to ask them why not and find out what the CEA could do in order to encourage them to join. I am already clear that there is more that we could do to raise the profile of the CEA, and to provide the exhibition industry with a stronger voice. There are other services that I want us to provide, and other issues that I want us to be involved with. I would like CEA to play its full part in key discussions with government. The government is about to issue a strategy document on the ‘Creative Economy’, and I want to see the exhibition industry fully involved; the CEA needs to ensure that our industry is seen as an integral part of the wider creative economy. JS: I always think of CEA being involved with three ongoing important issues – release windows, piracy and digital cinema. Does this accurately reflect your current work or is there much more that I don’t know about?
CEA Chairman Barry Jenkins OBE
PC: Those are certainly three of the most important issues that are facing us, but I have already indicated that we also need to get involved in other issues and discussions which aren’t at first sight of direct relevance to our members. We need to make the CEA’s presence felt at a higher level, with other partners, to influence, to provide evidence and to convince government about the importance of the film industry. JS: What is your day to day relationship with CEA Chairman Barry Jenkins? (pictured above) How does this work practically? Does he come to you with tasks to be done, or do you just report to him and the board periodically on progress? PC: It is I think a good one, thankfully, relaxed and informal, and Barry has been a key source of support and advice as I’ve found my feet. As well as our monthly Board meetings, I guess that at the moment we are in contact by telephone or email about every other day. Partly this perhaps reflects my ‘new boy’ status, but it certainly isn’t a ‘tasks to be done’ relationship – those things are already sorted out at the Board meetings. In most of our conversations I find that I am using Barry as a sounding board for my ideas, and making the most of his considerable industry experience over many years. I frequently ‘take a steer’ from his views as to how members are likely to react to my ideas and proposals. JS: In your DCMS roles you were in at least nominal charge of huge budgets - £12 million for the Cultural Leadership Fund was just one of them. I am fascinated to know how you will cope with an organisation that has a very much more modest budget – the exhibition industry is not exactly overflowing with cash and all the members are very conscious of the subs that they pay to CEA. You must have noticed significant differences so far – how does it affect your work not to have access to what most of us think of as the bottomless pit of government funding? PC: I think I’d probably challenge the notion that there is a bottomless pit, but your use of the word ‘nominal’ is more accurate than you think. Yes, the financial pot over which I now preside is much smaller, but I have much stronger actual control of this pot than I ever did of the government money, which is always subject to multiple constraints and the views of many, many people. But there are similarities, in that in both cases I am aware that it is someone else’s money that I am spending, so it is vital for me to ask continuously ‘Am I getting the best value for my members?’ I shall continue to ask cinema technology - march 2008
camstage SUPPLIERS AND INSTALLERS OF:
• All types of cinema screen frames including lace in, wrap / floating and flying frames • Front and rear projection screen surfaces for standard and digital projection • Multi-stop and multi-plane masking systems • Roller screens of all sizes • Horizontal and vertical draw curtain systems • Black and coloured flame retardant and acoustically transparent masking cloths Acoustic Stretch Wall Systems to BS fire regulations, with a wide range of covering materials and colours Pleated Wall Drapes in a range of materials and sizes fitted on site to your individual needs We offer a tailored curtain and Masking System Service programme to allow the show to go on We are able to offer a Screen Cleaning Service that removes the majority of soft drink and sauce spills Contact us now for more information
Camstage, 31 Hedley Road, St. Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 5JL, UK t: +44 (0) 1727 830151 cinema technology - march 2008
f: +44 (0) 1727 855993
w: www.camstage.com page 15
cea chief questions about how CEA money is spent and will make sure that we stay within budget. JS: Ignoring the sparkling Leicester Square premieres, the cinema exhibition business in the UK is very much a down-to-earth business, with the big operators, generally controlled by venture capital groups, and the surprisingly large number of small independents all knowing that they must focus sharply on getting bums on seats if they are to succeed. In your previous role the cultural ethos seemed to be far more ‘airy-fairy’, with
DCMS aiming ‘to improve the quality of life for all through cultural activities, to support the pursuit of excellence and to champion the creative and leisure industries.’ You yourself have talked about ‘social responsibility’ and ‘aiming to raise people’s interest in and understanding of the arts’. Can you bring any of this over to the cinema exhibition industry? Is it at all relevant to us? PC: I think you’d struggle to find anyone who knows me who’d describe me as ‘airy-fairy’. I think I was seen in my previous roles as a pragmatic and down to earth operator, something I hope to bring to this role. I defend strongly the idea that cinema exhibition, whilst first and foremost a business, has its part to play in social responsibility, a part many exhibitors are already playing through their links with the local community. JS: You have also been personally identified with notions such as ‘The Right to Art’, ‘cultural entitlement’, and ‘the intrinsic value of culture’. I am a regular theatregoer, which I guess I think of as ‘culture’, but I rarely think of going to the cinema in the same way. Is there any way that you could help us to raise awareness that the cinema business is an important part of ‘culture’? Would it be a good thing for the business?
PC: I really don’t think people make such divisions in their minds – cinema is certainly ‘culture’, and the adjective ‘popular’ needn’t be at all derogatory, just as ‘art house’ needn’t always mean ‘worthy’ films. I think that we can learn things from the theatre world, but cinema is a different form of culture, and we are in competition. I am interested in finding out what is currently stopping people from coming to the cinema, and then working with members in trying to address those issues. Some of that is about reminding people of the improvements there have been in the cinemagoing experience over the last twenty years, not least in picture and sound quality – this is progress which I think is now taken for granted. And part of it is about tackling misconceptions. To take one example, there’s no doubt that more can be done to tackle poor behaviour in cinemas – people using mobile phones, talking loudly etc. But while that’s the case, when I talk to many of my members, they tell me that standards of audience behaviour now are light years ahead of those thirty years ago. It may be an extreme case, but I can introduce you to cinema managers who literally used to dread Saturday nights, knowing that audience members would routinely rip the seats and generally create mayhem. Ticket prices are another issue where the sector has allowed itself to take too many ‘free hits’ from the media. We need to continue to remind people as to what a good deal a trip to the cinema is – cinema seats are considerably cheaper than those at almost any other form of entertainment, and when you compare a West End cinema seat at £12 with a ticket for £30 at a football match, then cinema’s excellent value becomes obvious. The CEA needs to be on the front foot in reminding the public of these facts. JS: You obviously know your way around government and the way it works, including the ways in which funding is decided upon and distributed. Although large amounts of public money are spent on the ‘creative’ side of our business, ‘film-making’, which obviously benefits us all, since it is the content of movies that ultimately determines whether people go to the cinema, there is little or no public subsidy for cinema exhibition. Should there be? Would it help to keep cinema alive in rural areas where it currently struggles? PC: Absolutely not – our cinemas are businesses that can and should thrive without government subsidies. The one area where I think we might explore whether there is a case for that public funding is around the changeover to digital projection. There may be a small number of cinemas, maybe single screens in very sparely populated areas, where the economics of digital just won’t work, but where the continued existence of a cinema has a social value. Maybe that’s an area where public money has a role. JS: In your previous life you were a great supporter of ‘creative partnerships’ and ‘creative clusters’. Are there any lessons to be learned for our industry from those experiences? You also showed a lot of
cinema technology - march 2008
cea chief interest in getting young people to participate in ‘culture’ and to have their say. Do you think that something similar for the cinema exhibition might be beneficial? Our industry is already benefitting from the growing number of 30 and 40 year olds who are continuing to visit the cinema after getting the habit in their teens – is there anything the CEA could do to encourage young people to think of going to the cinema as ‘cool’? PC: I am keen to do more to find out what young people think they need from the cinemagoing experience at a time when competing leisure attractions have never been as numerous. We really do need to listen to young people and make efforts to discover what we in the industry must do to get more young people to make going to the cinema a regular habit, and maybe there are other groups that we could partner with for this work. JS: At one stage you were involved with proposals to bring in cinema-style age-ratings for websites, but I don’t think that these ever got off the ground. With more and more movies becoming available over the web do you think that such a scheme should be implemented, or should we accept that movies in the home need less regulation than those in the cinema? PC: My view – and it is a personal view – is that with the ever increasing range of movies now becoming available over the web, there is a strong case for some form of classification. Maybe this will have to be advisory rather than statutory. I am under no illusions as to how difficult it might be to implement such a scheme, however, but it is certainly not impossible. JS: Do you get involved with the ‘social’ side of the cinema industry - do you attend lots of premieres, for example? Is this an important part of your role? PC: I don’t get invited to premieres as often as you might think, but there’s no denying that they do represent occasions to network and influence – so when I do go to such events it is as the CEA representative. JS: Digital cinema is obviously the key development to hit our industry, and I have written elsewhere that I believe that 2008 will turn out to be the year when digital cinema will really take off in the UK in a big way. In your previous role you considered the economic benefits of the ‘digital switchover’ for terrestrial television. There obviously aren’t the prospects of selling off the spectrum for the cinema industry to benefit from, but you presumably see other economic benefits to the exhibition industry if we do manage a complete switchover from film to digital. What advantages do you see for our industry, and is the CEA in a position to help? How might this be done? PC: There is still a great deal for our industry to learn about the impact of digital cinema. It’s an irrefutable truth that the bulk of the benefits of digitisation accrue to distribution, but the potential benefits to exhibition are becoming more apparent, both in terms of new business cinema technology - march 2008
possibilities for alternative content and the increasing interest in 3D movies. It is only when we get more practical experience of digital that we will be in a position to really understand the long term pros and cons – that’s where the Digital Screen Network has been particularly important. As a practical example, it quickly led cinemas to learn that it was important to have digital projectors in more than one screen, since those with only one digital projector found that they had to go back to the distributors after the first couple of weeks and ask for a 35mm copy, so that the movie could continue to be shown in other screens. This negated one of the key advantages of digital distribution. JS: In DCMS days you put your name to many published papers and reports – will you be doing something similar for CEA? PC: ‘Less is more’ will be my watchword when producing reports or papers for the CEA. People don’t have time to read long documents, so my aim will be to make communications short and punchy. JS: I recently came across an old copy of Cinematograph Times ‘The Official Organ of the Cinematograph Exhibitors Association of Great Britain and Ireland’. Issue number 120 in 1931 made fascinating reading, with exhibitors complaining that distributors were charging too much for their films, and that 50% of takings for City Lights was an outrageous demand. Nothing much has changed, there, of course! I presume that you won’t be resurrecting the CEA magazine (I couldn’t stand any more competition for CT!) but have you considered making the CEA’s work more widely known by means of a website? PC: There’s certainly no intention of our publishing a magazine, but as I mentioned earlier we are busy working on a new CEA website that will be an important vehicle for getting the CEA’s message across as well as helping with some of the administrative tasks. JS: BKSTS and CEA have together done much to encourage projectionist training, and the newly launched projectionist certification scheme marks a big step forward for training and assessing competence in our industry. Do you see the need for training becoming even greater as projection enters the digital age? Would there be advantages in projectionist training on a European scale? Would it be good if projectionists could gain a recognised certificate that would demonstrate that they were competent to operate anywhere in Europe? PC: Training will continue to be important in our industry, and the idea of a ‘portable’ qualification that the BKSTS/CEA Certification scheme is creating may have some interesting effects. Projectionists already find work at different cinemas, and the Certification scheme seems likely to encourage mobility, but I don’t know whether this would extend to working in other European countries, although I don’t see why not. JS: I see that you have started work as the
CEA representative to UNIC, the Europe-wide organisation which serves to protect the position of cinema exhibitors and liaises with and makes representations to bodies such as the European Union, the Council of Europe and UNESCO. At a time when there is much discussion over how perhaps different business cases for digital cinema can be made in the US, the UK, and the rest of Europe, do you think that UNIC will be able to come up with digital cinema business solutions that will work for both the UK and other European countries? PC: I have already been to one UNIC meeting in Paris, where it was interesting to meet colleagues from cinema businesses across Europe. I found that there is a clear recognition of the many shared issues that affect all of us and a common will to work together. Interestingly, though, working with our European colleagues actually highlights the fact that in some ways the UK cinema industry is closer to the US than to Europe. It would be nice to feel that the CEA might be able to strengthen our links with North American counterparts, not least in helping to influence the US studios. JS: How is the Artsline disability access information service, which CEA did so much to get off the ground, being received? I see reference to the accessibility features of cinemas on virtually every cinema booking website that I use, but do you have evidence that the customers are making use of the information before making bookings? Have the numbers of people with disabilities visiting the cinema increased since the scheme began? There were plans to link the various cinema databases and to have this combined resource available well before the 2012 Olympics. Is this part of the Olympic planning going to schedule? PC: We can judge some of the continuing success of the CEA Card scheme from the growing number of ‘hits’ on the website, and the evidence is that the scheme has been very much welcomed by the disabled community and is very popular. I am conscious that the website results contain a treasure trove of information about the habits of disabled cinemagoers that we haven’t yet had time to investigate and learn from. JS: You have joined the CEA with what appears to be a mandate for a completely fresh start, if you want one. Can you yet tell us what changes you envisage, and what you would like to see the CEA doing in the future? Where do you see the organisation in five years time? PC: I want to see the CEA gain even more recognition for the work of the cinema exhibition business – not only within the industry, but also in government. Within my first year I aim to get far more of those with influence, and the opinion formers, to understand what the CEA does and what it stands for. I want to see the CEA recognised as a respected partner in facing the challenges not only of the cinema business itself, but in playing a major part in the cultural and social life of the nation. Many thanks to Phil Clapp for giving his time for this interview page 17
Jim Slater and Nigel Wolland paid a nostalgic visit to Ronald Grant’s fascinating Cinema Museum in Kennington, and were treated to a guided tour of all things cinema by the enthusiastic proprietor. But the museum and its contents have to move out of the building within weeks, and a new home is needed urgently.
The Ronald Grant archive and the cinema museum It is rare that I come away from a visit to a cinema-related venue without a fairly clear idea about what I am going to write, but as I left the Ronald Grant Archive and The Cinema Museum, one man’s very personal and eclectic collection of all things related to the cinema, it was with a complete mixture of emotions - joy and nostalgia at everything I had seen, touched and smelled during the afternoon, and sadness at the knowledge that unless some miracle happens, and quickly, none of this will be here in a few months time, and the accumulated work of a lifetime will be destroyed or scattered around the world. Nigel Wolland had been before, and he guided me through the streets of Kennington until we came across ‘The Master’s House’, an impressive decorative brick building that had once formed part of the old Lambeth Workhouse. The backlot’ outside gave the first clues as to what was to come, as there were stacks of old, rusting film cans, lots of Dexion shelving, and my eye was taken by a huge circular item that completely foxed me, until Nigel told me that it was the circular ring from an old chandelier that at one time graced the Granada Cinema in Welling. I was interested to learn that the building has had film connections since its earliest days -
evidently Charlie Chaplin’s mother fell on hard times and had to resort to the workhouse, and it is known that Charlie Chaplin definitely lived there for some time from 1898 when he came as a nine year old. We entered through the office area serving what is the Ronald Grant Archive, a library of more than a million photographic stills and slides, all related to aspects of film or cinema. The photo library is a separate business from the Cinema Museum, and its sole purpose is to provide financial support for the museum. The library is well-known for its enormous range, and for the expertise of its workers, who have a deep knowledge and understanding of what their archive contains and can often make suggestions that help radio, TV and film researchers to come up with exactly the images they need for any particular programme. The Archive brings in money that is used to support the separate Cinema Museum, which has charitable status and was founded in 1986. Although the Archive and the services it provides are well thought of throughout the business, it is still something of a ‘cottage industry’ with enthusiastic researchers able to use their own knowledge and fairly simple computer filing systems to come up with
suitable historic pictures for any occasion, there is no doubt that the competition from the huge web-based archive systems set up by large organisations like ITN, Getty and Corbis means that many researchers often prefer to use the web route when quickly searching for an image, so the business of the Ronald Grant archive isn’t growing. Ronald Grant, who is now in his seventies and still working twice as hard as many in ‘ordinary’ jobs, told me that he originally came from Banchory, some twenty miles from Aberdeen, and that he has always been obsessed with the cinema. At the age of ten he used to help in the village hall cinema, fetching and carrying, always watching what the projectionist was doing, and even then he would take home scraps of discarded 35mm film and create his own show on the wall at home, using a toy projector. After leaving school he became an apprentice projectionist, and by the time he was 21 he was running cinema shows in several village halls. He subsequently worked for James F. Donald’s Aberdeen Picture Palaces group, and was a projectionist at the Playhouse in Union Street, Aberdeen. He spoke nostalgically of working with both 35mm and 16mm, doing changeovers on B&H 601s and about Kalee7s with ‘pull-through’ soundheads.
Left - rusting film cans ; centre - a small corner of the extensive library, packed with books on every aspect of the cinema ; right- the museum has a number of detailed models of cinemas, including this one from Ted Wheeland
cinema technology - march 2008
museum benefactors to come along urgently. The other key member of the team, who was otherwise engaged on the day of my visit, is Martin Humphries, a close friend and colleague of Ronald. The two have been working together closely since 1979, and whilst Martin shares Ronald’s love of collecting anything and everything to do with cinema, he is also an excellent administrator with a good business brain, and Ronald is glad to rely on these organisational skills, acknowledging how much the business has come to rely on Martin.
Top - the museum is about everything that’s ‘cinema’ : Below Left - Nigel Wolland and Anna Odrich : Centre - Martin Humphries : Right - part of the extensive archive.
As cinemas closed down in the fifties and sixties Ronald started buying up all sorts of cinema equipment and related documentation, originally keeping it at home, and the collection seems to have just grown and grown ever since, although he is occasionally nostalgic for a bit of kit that he used to own but ‘had to let go’. He worked in many cinemas to earn enough to keep a roof over The uniform room
the ever growing collection. Moving to London, he worked for the BFI, but confessed to becoming something of a drop-out in the late 1960s, just doing his own thing, which was always to do with cinema, and he spent a lot of time in markets and auctions buying absolutely anything that took his fancy. The first proper home for the collection was in the council-owned Raleigh Hall at Brixton, and then it was moved to the Old Fire Station in Kennington before finally taking up residence in the Masters House in 1998. Much of the larger equipment, including projectors, was stored in a huge railway arch at Vauxhall, but in recent times all the equipment was moved out from there, with much of it arriving at The Master’s House (not surprising, then, that everything seemed crowded and squeezed in during my visit) whilst the good old Projected Picture Trust took items that were duplicated or for which there was absolutely no space. Life isn’t about to get any easier for the Museum, as the building’s owner, the South London and Maudsley NHS trust, is having to sell the entire building, and so has terminated the museum’s tenancy. At the time of my visit in October 2007 Ronald had lots of potential plans for places to move to, but absolutely nothing concrete, and he and his team were obviously very worried for the future of the Museum and appealing for
Looking around the Museum Before we embarked on the tour proper, whilst Ronald was busy dealing with an urgent practical problem, I was introduced to Anna Odrich, and you will see from the photograph that Nigel and Anna were obviously old friends! Anna, another enthusiast from the same mould as Ronald, with an equally strong desire to see that the work of the museum is shared as widely as possible, and that the collection survives intact, is responsible for organising, cataloguing, and developing the museum, and as well as showing us around her favourite bits of the collection, we saw much of the development work she has done with local schools and colleges, and leaflets that she has prepared and published about the museum in order to publicise its work and help parties who come on visits to the museum. I gathered that she is paid, thanks to the funds raised from the picture Archive, but puts in a vast amount of extra work of all types - it was amazing to hear ‘Anna put those shelves up’ whenever we went to different storage areas, and sounded to me as though every small business needs an Anna! It is impossible to describe the scope and scale of the Cinema Museum, but, hopefully, some of the photographs will help readers to see just how extensive it is. We began our ‘tour’, pushing our way through corridors crammed on each side with fascinating equipment of all sorts from cinemas of yesteryear, including cinema seats, light fittings, clocks, swing doors, cinema carpets, lobby cards, seating indicators, film category boards, crowd control barriers - artefacts that I hadn’t given a thought to for decades, but which, as I saw them, brought back the memories of how cinema was in my youth. There was room after room packed with files, filing cabinets and shelves, and we started in the ‘Cinemas room’, into which had been squeezed files and boxes packed with historical information about everything to do with cinema. There were projector brochures, cinema programmes, minute books from cinema company board meetings in 1912, details of film companies and film studios, share certificates for companies long gone the way of all flesh, stock certificates relating to Edison’s 1895 Kinetoscope and to one of film pioneer Charles Urban’s companies. There was lots of information about cinema design and architecture and legal documents relating to their ownership. I tested the system, and in spite of the initial cinema technology - march 2008
museum issue in 1927 right through to the 1990s. The Library contains books on all aspects of cinema, including a collection of Stanley Holloway’s personal photo albums, and there is also a collection of cinema and film related music. There is a separate room packed with old film posters and paintings relating to films, and Ronald enjoyed telling stories of how he came by some of the more exotic posters as a result of some truly hair-raising adventures! There are beautiful paintings of cinema decoration designs, which were prepared in order to show how cinemas would look after redecoration.
impression of chaos given by the crowded room, was impressed that within seconds Ronald could lay his hands on original documents relating to the purchase and the design of my local cinema in Salisbury. The Magazines Room was, if posible, even more crowded, packed with cinema-related periodicals and trade magazines, including Kinematograph Weekly from 1889 -1981, SMPTE Journals from 1916, and BKSTS Journals from 1933 onwards. There are also British and American fan magazines and the long-defunct theatre newspaper The Era, which contained lots of information about cinema in the early days. I was interested to see the old ABC Film Review as well as Cinema News and Property Gazette, which eventually become part of Screen International, and a complete collection of the Spotlight casting directory, from the first
In the Uniform Room there is a vast range of uniforms, from those for page boys (with a buttoncleaning kit that I had never come across before) to usherettes, and ‘special event’ costumes, plus ice-cream trays, usherettes’ torches, and cutlery and crockery from cinema restaurants. I was interested to see a range of beautifully crafted models of various cinemas, and - I told you this museum visit affected all my senses - allowed to smell ‘Nuroma 2’, not, as I had at first thought, one of the smells from the Odorama film special effects that Grant Lobban loves to tell us about, but one of the perfumes that was added to the ‘disinfectant sprays’ that were used in the auditoria to assure patrons that the air was fresh and clean! Not surprisingly, though, Ronald also has a whole box of original Odorama scratch cards.
A Plethora of Projectors Although the films, the books, the magazines and the paperwork were fascinating, I knew that Cinema Technology readers would be especially keen to see into some of the fantastic ‘Aladdin’s caves’ packed with projection equipment. The ‘bulb collection’ contained a huge selection of lamps and valves, and I came across a rack of ‘limelight’ equipment, complete with the gauges for the oxygen gas cylinders that were used. There was also a huge collection of glass lantern slides, and a collection of some 300 small gauge projectors, including numbers of ‘toy’ projectors such as the Bingoscope which acted as an introduction to projection for many veteran BKS members in the first half of the twentieth century. A vast range of early projectors (the PPT has more of them and has been extremely helpful in accommodating stuff from the museum) is on show and in store, and it was interesting to see Ronald hand-cranking an ‘old but perfectly formed’ Powers No.6 projector from the 1920s. Looking at an early Kalee projector from the 1920s, now stored in the hallway, (below) you couldn’t help be struck by its sturdy construction, with a still functional chain and shaft-drive mechanism. Note the (later) BTH sound head.
The extensive film vault (the museum has about 17 million feet of film in total), which I was relieved to see is snug and dry, unlike some other parts of the building, is packed with thousands of film cans containing reels of rare prints and negatives, and the large archive of nitrate films is looked after at the BFI’s state of the art nitrate vaults in Gaydon, Warwickshire. Ronald gave examples of some of the rare material that they keep, including restored Mitchell and Kenyon material from Victorian and Edwardian times.
Below Left - The bulb room : Centre - Ronald hand cranks a Powers No. 6 projector
cinema technology - march 2008
RCA amplifier rack : Cinema horns from the Palladium Cinema : Hand cranked Powers projector : Just three of the small gauge projectors : Hepworth Vivaphone records
Film sound isn’t forgotten, of course. There is a large collection of cinema music in the library, and plenty of sound equipment from RCA amplifier racks to cinema horns from the Palladium cinema, Littlehampton. It was also interesting to see a showcase containing discs used for cinema sound from the Hepworth Vivaphone records of the early 1900s through the Vitaphone discs from the 1920s to today’s DTS CDs.
SOS for the Ronald Grant Museum - What can we do to save it? The previous pages have provided just the merest glimpse of the treasures contained within the Cinema Museum collection - if you need to find a piece of equipment or to know something about the history of cinema, the artefact or document is probably there, and, equally importantly, the expertise of the staff can help you find it. The museum has been popular for
years with programme makers wanting to shoot scenes or illustrate ‘packages’ that are ostensibly in old cinemas, and the associated Ronald Grant Archive helps historians and researchers, and generates some revenue by providing copies of pictures from its vast library to newspapers, magazines, and television. After struggling for the last few years to fit all its many treasures into a completely inadequate space, the crunch has finally come as the owner of The Master’s House, the local NHS Trust, is having to sell the building, and has therefore given notice that the museum and all its contents must be gone by the time most of you will be reading this article in print, March 2008, although it is hoped that we can bring the museum’s plight to the attention of a wider audience by carrying this piece on the BKSTS website a couple of months before that. Should any reader be tempted to visit the museum or want to talk with Ronald Grant about its
future, please don’t turn up without an appointment, but make a telephone call beforehand, and Ronald will do his best to help. The Museum, a registered charity, undoubtedly needs money, and lots of it, and Ronald and his staff are, and have been for a long time, chasing up all avenues to gain such funding, and quickly, but what is needed immediately, if the collection is not to be broken up, dispersed and destroyed, is enough space to store and display the vast treasure house of cinema-related equipment, documentation and memorabilia. Over the last few years several detailed plans have been drawn up for moving to other buildings in the Greater London area, but all have fallen through, either through changes in Council policy or lack of finance. If any Cinema Technology reader or company can help by suggesting an empty building which could provide a new home for the Cinema Museum, and physical and transport help with the eventual move, please get in touch with Ronald Grant or Martin Humphries - contact details below. Those of you with political contacts at local government or national level who feel strongly that The Cinema Museum should survive might think of lobbying your local councillors or writing to your MPs to alert them to the potential disaster that is otherwise about to destroy much of the early history of the cinema business. The Masters House, 2 Dugard Way off Renfrew Road, London SE11 4TH Tel: 020 7840 2200 Fax: 020 7840 2299 email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com website: www.cinemamuseum.org.uk There is an excellent YouTube guided video tour of the museum available from the website. Jim Slater
cinema technology - march 2008
����������� ����� ����������� ����� ������� ������������� ������� ������������� ����� ��������� ����� ���������
����� ������� ����� �������
��������������� ��������������� ����������������� �����������������
����� ����� ���� � ����� � ����� ����� ��������������� ���������� ��� ��� ���� ��� ������ ��� ��� �� ��� �� ��� ������������� ����������������
�������� ��������������� ���������� ���� ��� ���� ��� ������� �������� ���� �� �� ���������� ����������� ��� ��� ������� � �� ������� As an���������� authorised����������� distributor��� for���all digital � �� ������ ���������� �� ��� ���� ��� ���� ���
������ ��� ���� ���the cinema���������� projectors�� we��� can���� help you make ���� ������ ��� ���� ������ ���� best������ choice��� for���� your������ cinema.
� �� �� ���������� ����������� ��� ��� �������
�� ���for��� ������� As�� an���������� authorised distributor the leading ������ ������������������ ������� �� ��� ������ ������ ������� ������� ��we ��� ������ cinema playout devices can ensure ��������� ������������� ��� ���� ��� ��������� ������������� ��� equipment compatibility and���� that��� you ������ ��������������� ������ ���� ���� ������ comply with� ������ latest��������������� specifications. �� ����� ������ �� ������� �������
� We ����� offer �a������ number��of������� finance������� options. � �� ���� ������� �������� �������� � �� ����������� �������� ������� We�������� will ������� supply, install,�������� service, ���� � ��
���� ������� ��������� �������� ��� maintain and�������� remotely������� monitor ���� your ������� digital��������� equipment.
����� ������������������� �����
���������� ��� ����� ������ ����������� ������ ������ �� ������ ���� ���� ���� ������ ��� ��� ������������������ ��� ����� ������ ����������� ����� ���� ���� ��� ����� ���� ���� ��� ������ ������ �� ������ ���� ����
���� �������� ������ ��� ��� ��� ����� ���� ���� ��� ����� ���� ����
at Odeon Leicester Square For as long as most of us can remember it has been Dion Hanson and his wife Susan, often accompanied by their daughter Clare, who have organised the annual BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee Christmas Party and brought in and served all the food and drink, so there were some initial concerns when it was agreed earlier in the year that the time had come for Dion and Susan to give up this onerous task and that the CTC would take on the organisation, leaving Dion and Susan to come to the event as members, giving them time to talk with everyone. As in previous years, Max Bell’s generosity in allowing Bell Theatre Services to sponsor the event, paying for the food and drink, meant that the committee could put on a fine spread, and the CTC helpers were delighted to be joined by sound and projection engineers Barry Wright and Steffan Laugharne from BTS, who, together with their partners, did a sterling job in manning the bar throughout the afternoon. More than 100 people attended, from cinemas around the country, and it was great to see how everyone, old and young, enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. In the last decade it has been interesting to see how many more young projectionists, male and female, attend the event than used to do - when I first began with Cinema Technology the average age of the projectionists seemed well over 50, and it must be good for the future of the business to have so many young people working in the projection boxes. The event was also the occasion for the presentations of the BKSTS CTC Projection Team of the Year Award and for the BKSTS Frank Littlejohns Award for outstanding work in the Art and Craft of Cinema Projection, described on the following pages. BKSTS thanks go to all those involved, especially to BTS for their sponsorship of the party, and to Dolby for their sponsorship of the Projection Team of the Year award.
cinema technology - march 2008
team of the year award
The Cinema Technology Committee Christmas Party was once again the venue for the presentation of the BKSTS CTC PROJECTION TEAM OF THE YEAR AWARD. This year, after much debate in the Cinema Technology Committee, it was awarded to the team from The Apollo, Redditch, a cinema that we reviewed extensively in the September 2007 issue. Well over 100 fellow projectionists and friends attended the annual ceremony for the BKSTS CTC Projection Team of the Year Award at the Odeon Leicester Square. This year the award was made, after a good deal of debate and discussion in the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee, to the projection team from The Apollo cinema at Redditch, a newly built seven-screen multiplex in a shopping centre that is a model of modern cinema design. The Projection Team of the Year award is presented to the team that the CTC decides has made the greatest contribution to the professionalism and the maintenance of high technical and presentation standards in the cinema during the year. Alan McCann made the presentation, and in his speech of congratulations said that he had known the Chief, Paul Richards for many years, and recognised him as a projectionist who had always kept up with the latest developments and who never forgot that the real secret of cinema presentation is ‘showmanship’, something that Paul had always excelled at, and that he has passed on this vital message to the rest of his team. The Projection Team of the Year Award is sponsored by Dolby Laboratories, and Paul Richards accepted the first part of the award, a fine clock with an engraved brass plaque (below).
cinema technology - march 2008
Projection Team of the Year 2007 The Apollo Redditch
Graham Edmondson from Dolby (‘only just!’ shouted one wag in the audience, since Graham was leaving the company at the end of the year!) then presented the second part of the award, a cheque (below centre), saying that Dolby are proud to sponsor the Projection Team of the Year award, since they understand how essential it is that high projection and presentation standards in the cinema are maintained, and that the company is committed to doing everything possible to achieve this. By the time this March issue goes to press the Cinema Technology Committee will be on the lookout for a worthy winner for the 2008 Projection Team of the Year award, as they go around the country looking at cinemas. Any CT reader who would like to make a recommendation is welcome to email Chairman Dion Hanson at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Winning Team 2007 (L-R) Projectionist Ben Mart, Alan McCann of the BKSTS CTC, who made the presentation, Paul Richards (Apollo Chief), Luke Parkinson, Projectionist
‘...the team that has made the greatest contribution to the professionalism and maintenance of high technical and presentation standards in the cinema.’
Interestingly, talking later with the other Apollo projection team members Ben Mart and relative newcomer Luke Parkinson, who only joined the team a few
months ago, they were both full of praise for their Chief and for the example he has set them as to how to be fully professional projectionists.
frank littlejohns award
Michael Weinert wins BKSTS Frank Littlejohns Award The BKSTS Frank Littlejohns Award was inaugurated in 2003, following an endowment to the Society in the will of the late Frank Littlejohns FBKS (photo below). Frank began his career at Technicolor in the Control Department and eventually became Managing Director of Technicolor from 1962-1971, before joining Rank Film Laboratories at Denham as a Consultant until he retired in 1991. The Frank Littlejohns Award is given to recognise outstanding work in the Art and craft of Cinema Projection.
The Frank Littlejohns Award recognises outstanding work in the Art and Craft of Cinema Projection... Since the BKSTS Annual Awards Ceremony for 2007 has been deferred, it was agreed that the major projection-related award should this year be presented at the annual projectionists’ party at the Odeon Leicester Square. Paul Schofield, Technical Manager of Odeon/ UCI cinemas made the presentation to Mike Weinert, currently Chief at the Odeon, Kensington, and it was obvious from the general acclamation that all the projectionists present recognised that Michael was a truly worthy winner, a projectionist well respected by all his peers.
This being the annual projectionists party rather than the usual formal BKSTS awards ceremony, however, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised (but I was!) when the proceedings started with Paul announcing that due to the current parlous state of the BKSTS finances this years award plate would be rather different from the usual silver-plated job, and the crowd fell about laughing as he presented Mike with ‘one he had made earlier’ - a paper plate on which was printed a suitable coloured photo and inscription!
I’m delighted to report that this year’s award goes to a person who fills those criteria perfectly. This year we honour a truly deserving professional in the art of film projection and standards, Mike Weinert.
Quickly moving back to the formal agenda, however, Paul Schofield read out the official citation, before handing over the proper engraved silver platter, a framed certificate and written citation on a scroll (prepared by Wendy Laybourn) plus an extra prize - Mike’s very own copy of the BKSTS Projectionists’ Manual - just in case he might need to brush up on some of his techniques! page 26
Frank Littlejohns Award Citation “Frank Littlejohns worked for Technicolor in London and always felt that cinema technical people received little recognition for their work in the projection box. Consequently, it was Frank’s will that, through the auspices of the BKSTS and the Cinema Technology Committee, we would be able to honour a person who has, through their work, raised the standard of film projection, either by conscientiousness or invention.
Mike’s early education took him to study at the Royal College Of Music, and indeed it was this early stage of his career that was to prove most significant. Mike says that it was indeed this love of music, and in particular film music, that eventually led him into our business. And so, in September 1966, Mike started work as a Rewind Boy at the Coronet Cinema in Didcot. The following May he secured a position at the ABC Cinema in Oxford as a Junior Projectionist. And it was here that Mike learnt his trade, including working with carbon arcs, six-track magnetic sound, and 70mm. cinema technology - march 2008
frank littlejohns award there. In November 1968 Mike secured a position at Odeon’s prestigious Marble Arch cinema, run then by the mighty Rank Organisation, and he remained working there for 27 years. And it was in July 1987 that Mike came through the ranks to become Chief Projectionist at the cinema. Mike spent many years involved in a multitude of lavish and prestigious premieres, including the likes of ‘Hello Dolly’, ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and topically, the original version of the film ‘Sleuth’. In London, Mike was always held in very high regard by his peers and earned the trust and respect of the most senior members of the Company. In October 1991 Mike was seconded to Odeon Haymarket for a spell and also worked briefly at Odeon Swiss Cottage. And then in 1996, Mike was offered the post of Chief Technician at Odeon Kensington where he continues to serve Odeon to this day, consistently and conscientiously. Over the years, Mike has presented many films to Royalty, (Kensington was a favourite cinema of the late Princess Diana), to the famous and thousands of discerning moviegoers, who have always known that a visit to Odeon Kensington guarantees a wellpresented film to high standards. We know that those standards have been guaranteed because of the care and diligence of one man and his team.
For two years, one of Mike’s closest colleagues was John Sharp, renowned projectionist and 70mm enthusiast, and it was when John went on to find a job in London that Mike also made a decision to move
Ladies and Gentlemen, it is an honour, privilege and pleasure to be able to say that this year’s Frank Littlejohns Award goes to one of the best Chiefs this business, and London has ever had. Mike Weinert.“ Paul Schofield Mike replied to Paul’s reading of the citation by saying how honoured he was to have been
chosen for the Frank Littlejohns Award. He said that much of his success when putting on premiers and special performances had been because he had always been able to call on a group of brilliant cinema engineers who would invariably be able to sort out any problems. He picked out Dion Hanson and Nigel Shore as always ready to drop everything and come and help if an emergency arose, and said that Max Bell had been enormously helpful over the years. Michael also thanked the distributors with whom he worked, especially thanking Richard Huhndorf for working so closely with him to ensure that the best available prints were always ready for those extra special performances. He ended with a special word of thanks to his long-term partner Doreen Dean, who works tirelessly as the Archive Officer for BAFTA and who has supported him in all aspects of his life for many years.
Forty years on Many Cinema Technology readers may be interested to see this old photograph from about 40 years ago - doesn’t it just encapsulate how things were in the early sixties? Michael Weinert is on the right, with his long term friend John Sharp on the left. John worked as a projectionist at the ABC Shaftesbury Avenue (now the Odeon, Covent Garden) from 1970-1992, and was appointed Chief Projectionist there in 1984. He moved on in 1992 and was Chief of the MGM / Virgin / UGC cinema at the Trocadero. In the centre of the photograph is Michael’s long-term partner Doreen Dean, who has also been in the cinema business since the sixties. From 1964 to 1973 she worked in the BFI Press Office, and played a major part in launching the ground-breaking John Player lecture series, which began in 1968 with Richard Lester providing the first of what was to become an enduring and memorable series. In 1973 Doreen moved to what was then the Society of Television Arts, later to become BAFTA, as Assistant to Paul McGurk, well known to many BKSTS members. She became Assistant Director of BAFTA, was awarded an MBE, and currently works as the Academy Archivist. cinema technology - march 2008
What on Earth...?
Well, did you know? Dion provides the answers to just what were those items once found in the projection room.
2 1. A Premier scraper to remove the emulsion from the film base before making a cement splice.
2. Two types of carbon savers or ‘misers’.
4 4. A set of aperture plate gauges for use before the days of RP40, (also they didn’t wear out.).
3. A box of wax strips for a film edge waxer.
5 5. A mechanical tachometer for measuring shaft speed.
6. A Westrex intermittent pin extractor.
cinema technology - march 2008
projectionist training...projectionist training...projectionist training...projectionist training
Digital Cinema is coming - be aware! Those who came to Cineworld Birmingham last year for the first ‘Digital Awareness’ training course for projectionists had a great day, which combined showmanship with skills and training with technology, and we reported on the event in the June 2007 issue of Cinema Technology. Paul Schofield from the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee has asked the presentation team from the successful Birmingham event to reprise their presentations. This time he has also included in the programme some ‘real life’ experiences from a Technical Manager who is already operating an all-digital cinema. The course has been arranged for Tuesday April 22nd at the Odeon Cinema, Guildford - which is just a two minute walk from the station and with ample parking in adjacent car parks. Make your booking NOW at the email address shown below, or by phone, and we will keep you up to date with any changes that may be needed before the event.
The aim of the event is to once again present Projection staff with an interesting and enlightening day and provide them with a snapshot of how digital cinema expects to transform their Industry. The day is less about politics than technology, and should focus on the fundamental expectations of projection staff and the skills they are likely to need to understand in the future. The first session of the course will focus on the digital content that people should expect to show in their cinemas, and the second session will concentrate around the equipment, training and ‘real-life’ experiences so far from a Digiplex in operation. The previous event in Birmingham was a resounding success, and we are expecting over 100 attendees from the UK exhibition sector at the Guildford event. The Guildford Odeon has had a lot of experience of digital projection, with different screens being served by 2K and 4K projectors, and it was notable that Spiderman was launched there on 2K, 4K and 35mm all at the same time. Do come along - ask your managers for the time off or come under your own steam - you will have a good day and enjoy talking with other projection people.
TUESDAY APRIL 22nd AT THE ODEON GUILDFORD
BKSTS Digital Cinema Awareness Day for Projectionists Proposed Outline Of The Day 10.30 10.45 10.50 11.10 11.30
Paul Schofield - Odeon Cinemas : Welcome, background and overview of the digital scene Comparisons on screen - 35mm against digital Angela Garton - Carlton Screen Advertising : Advertising in cinemas - progress and likely effect on projection staff Marc John - City Screen Cinemas : Alternative Content - Opening up new revenues for your cinema TEA / COFFEE Break
11.45 12.05 12.25 12.45 1.10
Rod Wheeler - Barco: The Digital Projector - The new technology ‘workhorse’. Steff Laugharne - Bell Theatre Services : Equipping the projection room - other new technology in the ‘box’, including 3D Richard Boyd - BFI : Training tomorrows digital cinema operators Paul Oliver - Odeon Digiplex Hatfield : Operating a digital cinema - Experiences so far in the real world Following the formal presentations, all contributors will take part in a short question and answer session with the audience. END - Approx 2pm We are expecting the speakers to intersperse their presentations with clips allowing people the opportunity to compare digital content with 35mm and to see the exciting prospects offered by 3D.
BOOKINGS: We are grateful that once again Susan Hanson will be coordinating the bookings for this event. Please make your booking preferably by emailing email@example.com or by telephoning Angela at Odeon on 01623 655355.
cinema technology - march 2008
victor retires The relationship between Cinemeccanica and the BKSTS journals has been a longstanding one. Well before my time as Managing Editor, in July 1959 we carried an excellent article on the then revolutionary Cinemeccanica â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Victoria Xâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; projector, written by the then Chief Engineer Giovanni Bozzi, clearly explaining the technology involved and detailing the high quality innovative design that enabled the machine to be simply changed over for use with both 35mm and 70mm film. The Cinemeccanica company had actually begun in 1920 in the R.Bozzi factory (no connection with the later Chief Engineerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s name, though, I am told) that previously produced a whole range of castings and manufactured motor cycle engines, before the factory concentrated solely on cinema equipment from 1924. A few years later in 1926 a new plant devoted to 35mm movie camera manufacture was opened nearby. Over the years the BKSTS journals have covered new Cinemeccanica projection equipment as it came to market, and although our 1931 birth meant that we were too late for the Victoria 1 in 1920, and their first sound projector, the Victoria 2, which came to market in 1929, we have covered many of the subsequent models in detail, the last to date being the remarkable CMC3 D2 digital cinema projector that we examined in 2006. A look through our indexes shows that we have carried many articles about the company and its equipment, and over the last years we have also been pleased to develop close relationships with several of its staff. The story behind this article begins in April 1964 when Cinemeccanica hired a young electronic-engineering graduate named Vittore (Victor) Nicelli, initially to design transistorised sound systems. He loved the business and the company, and eventually rose to become managing director in 1978, a post which he has very capably filled ever since, until making known his decision to retire in 2008. Cinema Technology took the opportunity of his forthcoming retirement to ask Victor for an interview, and he was kind enough to talk with us about his life in the cinema business, to give us his ideas about how he thinks it will develop in the coming years, and about his own plans for the future. page 30
Jim Slater spoke with Victor Nicelli, whose name has become synonymous with Cinemeccanica, about his long career with the company, and about the future.
retires after 44 years but the Cinemeccanica tradition continues cinema technology - march 2008
victor retires very single-minded in what you were determined to do? Victor: I have always made a point of talking with and consulting as many people as possible. The first time we saw platters was at Photokina in 1968, but it took a long time before these were to become standard equipment in cinemas. Initially there was a lot of diffidence and reluctance to make the changes that automation demanded, and as with many developments today, it was generally the necessity to save manpower that eventually forced the customers to adopt automation. Happily, this also generated a lot of sales, since many projectors which were still working well had to be replaced as not suitable for automation. Jim: The mid 1960s saw the birth of the multiplex – did you immediately recognise that this would become the pattern for the future? How did you get Cinemeccanica involved, and what differences did it make to the way the company’s manufacturing business was run?
Jim Slater: You studied engineering at University – What were your main interests at the time? Did you grow up with any particular feeling for the cinema? Were you interested in the cinema, either from an artistic view or from the projection side, or was it merely by chance that you took your first job with Cinemeccanica? Victor: I had always had a keen interest in cinema from an artistic standpoint, and I regularly went to see all the classic pictures of the past. I also had a passion for electronics, and for audio in particular. Jim: Victor, the cinema industry seems to have been in a constant state of change throughout its history. Take us back to your first few years with Cinemeccanica in the mid 1960s, and remind us of some of the many changes that you saw coming at that time. Victor: Soon after my arrival at Cinemeccanica
we developed the first auto turrets, and an automation system, based on rotating programmers. Later we developed the fully automated rock and roll pair of projectors, with their punched card automation, which proved to be extremely reliable and durable. Jim: By the time that you joined the company it had already made a huge mark throughout Europe and beyond with its exports and had entered a ground-breaking agreement to supply all Rank cinemas worldwide as well as other agreements with American companies. Did you see this as a future pattern to be developed further, or were the changes that were starting to affect the exhibition business at that time of great concern? Did you need to come up with a set of totally different solutions for the future of the company? How did you come to these decisions? Did you consult others, or were you
Victor: We actually supplied our V8s to the first ever multiplex that was built: the METRO PLAZA in Kansas City, conceived, designed and built by Stan Durwood in 1966. The multiplexes created a lot of business with their absolute need for automation, and with the growing numbers of auditoria. Jim: You will have recognised at the time that for cinema managements the growth of multiscreen cinemas was synonymous with making economies on projection staff, a process that continues today. How did you decide to get involved with automation systems? Did you have the vision to see that one man might be able to control a dozen screens within a few years? What difference did this make to what had previously been, as you have admitted, primarily a metal-bashing company? Victor: The major difference was that we had to make changes that expanded the company’s capabilities from its electro-mechanical roots into the field of electronics and control systems. It was a major learning process, but vital to our future success. In 1965 we exhibited the first transistorised sound system in Montreal. Jim: Cinemeccanica played a major role in developing and introducing the non-rewind platter to the industry from 1968 – you received the BKSTS Moving Image Society Award for the Advancement of Cinema Technology for this some 38 years later! The invention of the platter and its subsequent development and improvement must have been one of the most significant technical changes in your working lifetime. Tell us something about this. Where did the idea come from? Were you personally involved ? How did you persuade cinemas, notable for their conservative ways, to try out this completely new way of dealing with film? Jim: You didn’t put all your eggs in one basket with the platter as the basis for all automation systems, did you? I remember a so-called
cinema technology - march 2008
victor retires them more suitable for automated manufacture. We have also improved and perfected our supply chain, so that we can be more flexible in meeting customers’ demands. Jim: Wherever I go these days the Vic 5 seems to have found its way into projection rooms. I always consider this as a very reliable, pretty simple machine that is inexpensive to buy and requires little maintenance, but it is unashamedly different from some of its rather more ‘Rolls-Royce’ specified predecessors. Tell us how the company made the decision to go for this ‘Ford Escort’ of the film projector market – were there long and argumentative discussions beforehand, or was it an obvious move in a market where increasing numbers of multiplex screens were going to require large quantities of lower-priced machines?
“rock and roll” system using twin projectors which provided automatic operation without rethreading the film, but I don’t see it about any more. What happened to this idea? Did it have advantages (was it cheaper?) over the platter system? Victor: Both platters and the ‘rock and roll’ systems have advantages for different markets and cinema layouts. The rock and roll system is more expensive, but it is more flexible. It is still widely used in Japan (mainly because they have many six-plexes superimposed on six floors), and in Italy, were we have complexes in the town centres, with projection rooms on many different floors. Jim: Tell us how you were able to bring in enough electronics experts (your own specialist subject, I remember) to provide all the knowledge and expertise you required as the company expanded from its metalworking roots to include the manufacture of a lot of electronic equipment as automation systems and the complex platter electronics became part and parcel of the company’s day to day roots. Victor: We recruited widely and brought in electronic designers as well as experts in the various different fields including industrial electronics, software engineers, audio specialists. Jim: You told us in a previous Cinema Technology article that in the 1960s you had over 260 people working for the company, but that nowadays you have around 100 staff, although it seems to me that you make more equipment now than you have ever done. Is this correct? Did you achieve such productivity savings by the introduction of more modern manufacturing machinery, or were there other factors involved also? Victor: We invested heavily in automated machinery, and currently have 18 CNC [Computer numerical control] machines which can carry out a wide range of engineering tasks. In addition, over the years we carefully redesigned and simplified the products that we make, to make page 32
Victor: I knew that electronic equipment is generally modular in its construction, and we made the decision to bring the modular approach to a mechanical projector. A major strength of the Vic 5 is that it is fully modular and this means that it can be repaired totally in the projection room. In addition, many of its component parts are used more than one time, bringing down the number of different components that need to be stocked as spares. Jim: How is decision-making done in Cinemeccanica? You obviously travel the world to find out what your customers are saying, but when it comes to new products does a ‘benign dictator’ (- you perhaps!) make the big decisions, or do all the board members play an equal part? Victor: It is quite straightforward – all our decisions are market oriented: we try to design and make what the customer wants, and over the years our flexibility has proved to be a great asset to the company.
5 for the digital market! Can you tell us of your thoughts or plans to address this market? I am sure that a company that has proved agile and flexible enough to survive the changing needs of the cinema industry over 88 years must have something special up its sleeve, but maybe you don’t want to give Cinema Technology readers all your secrets? Victor: We made the decision to build digital cinema projectors, but there are still many uncertainties in this market - the roadmap to digital is still to be fully worked out. For example, I believe that a new technology must appear, and that, good as it is, DLP cannot and won’t be the only technology involved in digital cinema projection. The whole digital projection market is affected by the available technologies, and, for example, if the home theatre market gets tired of the rear projection displays that are currently very popular, we may get a dangerous situation developing with a great deal more competition in the digital cinema market. Jim: You have got a great reputation for supplying parts for projectors that are decades old, and your customers, many of whom I talk to, rely on being able to keep their Cinemeccanica projectors going, virtually for ever. The electronics marketplace just isn’t like that, with electronic components often not been available after just a few years and equipment rapidly becoming obsolete. Does such thinking play any part in your decision to move into the very different digital cinema market? How will you adapt and cope? Victor: I recognise the problem, but there cannot be any definite answers yet - Digital cinema is still too new. So far we do not have any realistic idea of the lifetime and spare part needs of
Jim: Talking of decision-making, your decision to move into digital cinema after decades of being proud of dealing only with 35mm and 70mm film must have been a really difficult one, requiring a completely new knowledge base. It would be interesting to know how you decided that you just had to be in this new market. I, like many in this business, was interested to see that you chose a different solution from other digital projector manufacturers in that your projector uses many of the components from your traditional film projectors but with the mechanism replaced by a ‘digital head’ from one of the world’s foremost digital projector companies. It seems a clever decision, especially in the short term, making use of your own solid expertise and that of others, but I wonder if you really see this as the longer term solution? Perhaps a little unkindly, it brings to my mind the early motorcars, which were often horse-drawn vehicle designs powered by internal combustion engines! Future generations of digital cinema projectors promise to be much smaller, lighter, consuming much less power, with the potential for many more of them to be sold – perhaps we need a Vic cinema technology - march 2008
victor retires the digital projection machines, so there is still much to learn in this area. Jim: Has Cinemeccanica ever considered link-ups with US cinema chains and circuits, whereby you might be the exclusive projection equipment suppliers? This certainly hasn’t been the pattern in the UK. Is it not a good idea to have arrangements with big groups to provide all their equipment? Are there any ‘anti-trust’ considerations? Victor: We have been able to sign general supply agreements with a small number of big customers. However this was due to a desire of the customers to optimize their supply chain, offering fidelity in exchange for better price and service. On the other hand I always refused solicitations to own all or part of theatres - we certainly do not want to become competitors of our customers. Jim: You had an American subsidiary which closed in 2004, and you currently have a French subsidiary, but for the rest of the world, including the UK, you use independent distributors and installers, trained by yourselves. Why the different models for the different countries? Is one more successful than the other? Victor: Our use of independent distributors around the globe, all of whom have been trained by us to meet our exacting technical standards, works very well. It was purely accidental that we were offered the opportunity to purchase the assets of our distributor in France, and it was good that this too has worked out very well for the company and its customers. Jim: Moving on to more personal matters, what has been a typical working day for you over the past few years? Do you manage to keep ‘office hours’ ? Do you find time for any leisure activities and hobbies? Victor: My working day was nominally from 8.30 to 18.30, but you will know that I have had to travel all around the world on behalf of Cinemmeccanica, so with all the travel it was perhaps not too surprising that I have ended up with more friends in the cinema business in various parts of the world than I have in my home town. It was sometimes very difficult to find time for a social life in Milan. Jim: What are you planning to do in your retirement? I hear that you have plans for your summer holiday home in Tuscany, but will you spend more time on hobbies? Will you retire completely, or keep a toe in the water of the cinema business? It is often difficult to make a break from the people that you have known for all your working life. Victor: At this time I want to step back and keep a distance. I hope to attend some of the shows again in 2009. Jim: Over the years, Cinemeccanica has seen many changes, but your departure will be one of the biggest changes in recent years. I know that the company has been planning for your succession for quite a time now, and I am sure that cinema technology - march 2008
We had some problems in getting a photograph from Max Riva - is he really so shy?! So Dion sent us this ‘historic’ photo of Max (left) which was taken around 1992 in Melzo at the launch of Dolby Digital. I know that the guy on the right has changed in the subsequent 16 years.......
you will say that ‘you are just one of a team’, but I understand that your replacement is someone who has been the company’s Chief Engineer for some years and, rumour has it, that his father was Chief Engineer before him! Please use this opportunity to introduce your successor.
table’ for a few months before we ask him about his plans for the future of the company in the coming age of digital cinema.
Victor: Massimo Riva, popularly known as Max (photo above), is a great guy and a superb manager, with an incredible grasp both of the details and of the broad strategy. I am sure he’ll be very successful in leading Cinemeccanica into the digital age.
Cinema Technology sends its very best wishes to Victor Nicelli and wishes him a long and happy retirement.
Jim: Well, Victor Nicelli is to retire soon, after what seems an incredible 44 years with the company, but it certainly seems that he is handing on the mantle to an extremely capable and worthy successor, and that we can all be sure that Cinemeccanica will continue to develop as it always has done and will maintain its hard won reputation as a company without equal in the cinema business. I am already making plans for Cinema Technology to talk with Victor’s replacement for future issues, but I think that it is only fair to let him ‘get his feet under the page 33
A trillion discharges per second - an Xtreme life
New OSRAM XBO® lamps - New warranty Since 2000 the UK Cinema market has had to adapt itself due to the increasing use of home cinema systems. This has resulted in cinemas having to ensure they offer a superior viewing experience in order to maintain audience levels at the optimum cost per hour. The use of XBO® Xenon lamps in projectors is a way of ensuring this is guaranteed. The range of XBO® lamps has had to adapt over the years due to changes in projector technology as well as demands from the film industry and cinema goers for a high quality experience. Digital projection has been a growth area in the last 12 months as projectionists can see the benefit of increased lamp light output, consistent lifetime and the simplicity of the overall system. To keep up with market developments OSRAM has segmented its lamps into two main groups: • Xstage® • Architectural and entertainment lighting • XBO® • Digital • 35mm projection With one trillion discharges a second, XBO® Xenon lamps from OSRAM provide high resolution images and greater luminance. In digital projectors this is vitally important as the quality of the image on the screen is paramount. OSRAM has a range of solutions for the latest digital projectors that have been launched over the last 12 months. These include Barco, Sony, Christie and other digital projectors. Peace of mind Each XBO® lamp from OSRAM is supplied with a warranty, which has now been extended for peace of mind. The warranty covers light output over life, material, production and transport failures. page 34
If the lamp’s intensity decreases below 50% of the initial value or the lamp fails to ignite during the lamp listed lifetime OSRAM GmbH warrants a full credit for the product1. The introduction of the Xtreme Life lamps increases the lamp life still further and will be phased in during 2008. An example of the increased lifetime is illustrated on the graph. As you can see, for a 2000W HS the old XBO® lamp warranty was valid for 100% credit up to 1,200 hours life, then the amount of credit declines up to 2,400 hours lifetime. However, the NEW warranty offers a 100%
credit up to 2,400 hours1 on standard 2000W HS XBO® lamps and up to 3,500 hours on the NEW OSRAM 2000W HS Xtreme Life lamp, a more than 40% increase in warranted life. This is a significant step forward in the industry as it offers peace of mind as well as giving buyers a more planned approach to investment. OSRAM sets the standard for offering this warranty in order to give confidence to the cinema industry. OSRAM has developed the Xtreme Life series using improved electrode material within the lamp. As a result of this development OSRAM guarantees the best available lamp to lamp consistency on the market together with increased lamp life and reduced operational cost per hour. Jason Hicklin, OSRAM Ltd Terms and conditions apply, please see Guidelines for control gear and igniters XENON Short Arc Lamps Photo Optics Technology and applications and XBO® theatre lamps, these are available on request from OSRAM at
firstname.lastname@example.org cinema technology - march 2008
B•K•S•T•S The Moving Image Society
A supplement to Cinema Technology The leading specialist publication for cinema industry professionals Digital newsreel...Digital newsreel...Digital newsreel... 2008 - THE REAL START FOR UK DIGITAL CINEMA? The cinema industry has always been a fast-changing and competitive one. Within a few years of the first sound films appearing, the silent movies had died, and different types of sound systems came and went with astonishing rapidity; when TV threatened our industry’s very livelihood the number of widescreen formats burgeoned, although only a couple really survive commercially to this day. When digital sound became a possibility it was rapidly adopted throughout the industry, and strongly competing systems ensure that cinema sound continues to develop and improve. It is perhaps surprising, then, that the development of commercial digital cinema has been so slow, in spite of the rapid developments in digital projection technologies. Incredibly, 2008 marks 8 years since we saw Toy Story 2 on a prototype TI digital projector at Odeon Leicester Square, and in an era when fastmoving new technologies such as computers, the internet, email, pdas and digital television have entered and changed our lives it is sobering, perhaps comforting for some, to report that at the end of 2007 97% of cinemas still used 35mm film. The slow takeoff is even more surprising when you consider that there is general agreement that digital projection digital projection - march 2008
technology is now excellent, providing images to match the best that 35mm film can provide, that digital storage is easy and flexible, making it far easier to transport a movie on a hard-drive rather than on bulky and heavy reels of film, that digital security can be more secure than that for film, and that we can even provide 3D from a single digital projector. The new technologies around the digital cinema business have developed at least as quickly as those in other industries, but have so far failed to drag the commercial people in the business along with them – can it be coincidence that the audiences at cinema conferences always laugh when new technology is defined (cruelly and not entirely accurately) as ‘that stuff that doesn’t work properly yet’? A broad-brush summary of the State of the art in D-Cinema shows that there are around 3500 screens at fewer than 1000 sites worldwide, compared with a total of around 140,000 film-based cinema screens. Only about 2.5% of the world’s cinemas are equipped with high quality digital cinema projection, and the vast majority of these are in the USA, where there are around 2500 installations at fewer than 400 locations – even though the US has around threequarters of the world’s D-cinema screens, only 7% of the 39,000 US cinemas are digital. The UK made a good start in Digital Cinema thanks to the
rapid deployment of the publiclyfinanced Digital Screen Network, which enabled some 240 Screens at 200 venues throughout the UK to be equipped with high quality digital projection equipment, an initiative that was primarily aimed at extending the reach of specialised films, but in spite of many cinema operators dipping their toes in the digital pond, there were still fewer than 300 digital screens in the UK at the end of 2007. All this could be about to change, and many in the industry believe that 2008 will be the real start of the commercial rollout of digital cinema. Three of the biggest exhibitors in the USA will start to deploy digital this year, and several UK exhibitors also seem likely to move to digital in a big way. The delays in adoption so far have generally come down to the difficulties of making a good business case for the transition from a long-established and reasonably profitable industry based on 35mm film and straightforward electromechanical projection equipment which is known to last for decades. Why invest millions in new, unproven technology when the commercial case is less than clear? Some studios have also been reluctant to sign digital distribution deals with all exhibitors, an attitude which could delay further uptake by exhibitors, who won’t be willing to convert until agreements are in place with all the big Hollywood
studios. The so-called ‘virtual print fee’ VPF model now looks to have been agreed in the USA, where film producers, distributors and exhibitors already work closely together to ensure the success of their businesses. The basic idea behind the system is that in an eventual all-digital world the distributor will save money by not having to pay for thousands of prints of each movie, and so it would be reasonable for some of these savings to be channelled back into the business by helping cinemas to equip themselves with new digital projection equipment. Things are nowhere near so simple in today’s real world, of course, where distributors have to continue to provide many film prints as well as their digital equivalents on hard-drives, but the VPF model could be a credible means of financing the conversion of the industry to digital cinema. In its most basic form a third party (although it could be the distributor in some scenarios) pays up front for the projection equipment, and then recoups the cost of the equipment over a period of years, by taking payments from distributors (who usually pay the majority of the cost, since they are assumed to make the major savings) and exhibitors. Typically the producer might pay for the initial master print, as is usual for film, the distributor will pay for the digital prints to be made and page 35
digital newsreel for their distribution and transport, and the exhibitor will make some contribution, possibly but not necessarily related to ticket sales. The cinema would know in advance the extent of its contributions over the lifetime of the agreement, and would not have to bear the large capital costs of re-equipping the projection rooms. Some distributors in UK and in Europe are already adopting a modified VPF arrangement with some cinema chains, and the numbers of distributors getting involved is increasing. Other operators are considering a flexible VPF where the fee could be reduced over time, and there are also exponents of a time-fee model in which the fee reduces as the number of showings rises. Several UK cinema groups have been installing digital equipment in multiplexes over the last couple of years, with little real money changing hands and much of the equipment being provided via special deals with the equipment manufacturers. These arrangements have enabled exhibitors and equipment manufacturers to learn a great deal about the practicalities of operating digital cinema, and it may be that some UK multiplex operators now feel sufficiently confident to self-fund their digital rollouts, having recourse to considerable capital funding from their backers which might mean that they don’t need and can choose not to get involved with VPNs or third party financing arrangements. We have seen a handful of UK multiplexes benefit from the flexibility of having digital projectors to serve each screen, although they have kept their 35mm projectors in-situ. A significant development late last year was the opening of a ten-screen multiplex which has digital projection in all screens and no 35mm facilities. As those reading this will understand, the fact that a cinema company has been brave enough to take this step must have meant that they had reached understandings with distributors that all the movies they need could be made available in digital form, a huge step forward for both the exhibitor page 36
and the distribution industry that supports them. There are no exclusively ‘right’ answers as to how the digital cinema business should be financed, but the diversity of our industry, ranging from one-man businesses in remote villages to multi-national companies operating thousands of screens means that, as throughout the history of the exhibition business, we will be flexible and adaptable, and it really does seem that 2008 will be the year when digital cinema finally makes its major breakthrough. Although it is frustrating to see how incredibly slowly things have moved in the last 8 years, if we move forward by an equivalent period of time I know of nobody in our business who doesn’t believe that by 2016 digital projection will have finally taken over from film. Jim Slater
RECORD YEAR FOR CHRISTIE
Christie Digital has announced record sales of its DLP Cinema® projection systems worldwide for 2007, claiming 80% control of the market, a nearly 20% increase over the previous year. Christie has installed more than 4,400 digital screens across North and South America, Europe, South Africa, Australia and Asia. Working with AccessIT, which launched the world’s first and largest deployment program for Digital Cinema, Christie is presenting digital feature films in 85% of North American installations. In addition, Christie posted record sales of its Digital
Cinema projectors for large-scale 3D deployments across the US, teaming with REAL D on installation agreements with AMC Entertainment, Inc., Cinemark, and Cineplex Entertainment for the opening of Columbia Pictures’ animated feature, “Monster House”.
BE AWARE ... at The Odeon, Guildford on Tuesday April 22nd
Christie Digital is also exclusive provider for Regal Entertainment Group’s Eastvale Gateway Stadium 14 – the first all-digital Regal site in California, for the Cineplex Entertainment SilverCity Oakville Cinemas – the first of its kind and largest Digital Cinema theatre complex in Canada, and has an exclusive agreement to digitise 100% of Circuit George Raymond, France’s largest cinema chain with 400 screens, as part of CGR Cinémas exclusive Virtual Print Fee based agreement with Arts Alliance Media. CGR Cinémas will be the first European exhibitor to convert completely to Digital Cinema exhibition.
Details page 29
It is nearly three years since the introduction of the Christie/AIX funding plan, which many analysts credit with jump-starting the large-scale deployment of Digital Cinema. This innovative Virtual Print Fee (VPF) formula won the backing of the major Hollywood studios and was quickly adopted by others, serving as the prototype for new deployment agreements.
March 2007 Cinema Technology) showing that they have booked five of the Met performances from December 2007 through to April 2008.
ALTERNATIVE CONTENT ... SUCCESS FOR THE REGENT DORSET Cinema Technology has previously carried information on the ‘Alternative Content’ showings of live high definition digital broadcasts from the New York Metropolitan Opera, using Picture House cinemas as its UK distributor. I must admit that I had assumed that most of the UK showings would be in big cities where large audiences could be expected, so it was interesting to come across a leaflet from the cinema at the Regent Centre in Christchurch Dorset, (we reviewed the refurbished cinema in
I was amazed to see the ticket prices for this most ‘out of town’ of venues, these being £25 for Adults and £20 for concessions, much more than normal cinema ticket prices. I gather that the first showing attracted an audience of about 200 people, (the cinema can hold over 400) which must bode well for the future of this sort of entertainment at a wide range of venues. A special ‘New Year’s Day Opera Aficionado’ event included Champagne and canapes with the mayor prior to the performance of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and an exclusive dinner at a nearby hotel afterwards - all for £80 a ticket! For details of future Met concerts at the Regent (Peter Grimes on 15th March and La Bohème on 5th April 2008) go to www.regentcentre.co.uk and for details of performances at other Picturehouse venues and elsewhere look at www.picturehouses.co.uk/ metropolitan_opera digital projection - march 2008
lamps for digital At a time when some cinema companies are trying to reduce costs by using less expensive conventional film projector xenon lamps as replacements in digital cinema projectors, Matt Jahans of Technical Lamp Supplies UK provides some interesting food for thought about one of the most important components of any digital projection system. He explains why lamps for digital projectors must differ from their 35mm counterparts if optimum projection performance is to be achieved, but that it is still possible to save money on the projector manufacturer’s prices. Yes, the article contains something of a ‘sales pitch’, but Matt, who has lectured on many BKSTS projection courses, also presents real technical arguments for the views he puts forward.
Lamps for digital cinema Digital cinema is happening in the UK and it’s certainly happening much quicker than I first anticipated! A few years ago I was still having conversations with industry colleagues such as “will digital ever take off in the UK ?” and “will cinemas be willing to switch from 35mm to digital ?” Well we can all see what is happening. Of course in many quarters 35mm film still has a long life, but we also have to accept that in other areas digital cinema will be the way forward. Digital cinema obviously impacts on cinema exhibitors, which affects cinema suppliers, so we also have to do things differently. Technical Lamp Supplies UK Ltd. has been supplying Xenon lamps to the cinema industry for nearly 25 years. TLS UK Ltd. supply the Xenon lamps to over 70% of the UK’s cinema screens including customers such as Odeon, Vue, Cineworld, Empire, Picturehouse and many independent cinemas.
worlds only fully automated and newly built Xenon lamp manufacturing plant. All OSRAM XBO lamps, not just the digital range, are now built by state of the art automated machines, eliminating the risk of human error and allowing for 24 hour production and an extremely high build quality which is essential for digital Xenon lamps. The new Xtreme Life (XL) lamp range is also born of this technology. So What Are The Differences Between The 35mm Film And Digital With Regards To Xenon Lamps? The optical target between 35mm film and digital is not the same. A Xenon lamp operating in a conventional lamp house has to illuminate an aperture of approxi-
mately 28mm diagonal. In order to achieve an even light distribution the lamp is not truly focused, the light must spill over the edges of the aperture. However in a digital projector everything works in a different way altogether, as shown in the diagram. The light is typically focused into an integrating rod of approximately 15 to 20mm diagonal. Once inside the integrator the light is mixed, resulting in even light at the exit side. The much smaller target area and the focused light require a lamp design which provides maximum brilliance from a small area. This is where the OSRAM XBO series for digital cinema comes in to play.
How Does A Digital Xenon Lamp Achieve Its Maximum Brilliance And System Efficiency? There are four techniques that can be used to maximise arc brilliance and system efficiency: 1. Increase bulb pressure 2. Increase lamp current 3. Reduce bulb diameter 4. Sharpen the cathode tip In reality all four measures can individually increase brilliance but there are drawbacks, so the right compromise is required. A very easy way to achieve maximum light output through a small aperture is with a sharper cathode tip. This concentrates the electrical current into a small area which generates a higher plasma
The challenge for TLS UK Ltd. is to continue to supply quality Xenon lamps to our customers for existing equipment and for the new digital projectors. Being OSRAM’s premier UK distributor allows us to do this and one of its unique advantages is a very close relationship with the factory in Germany. This gives TLS UK Ltd. direct contact with the R&D department, the opportunity to trial and advise on new lamp types, and a very streamlined process for dealing with stock. OSRAM is at the cutting edge of 35mm and digital Xenon lamp technology, proudly running the digital projection - march 2008
lamps for digital 100% warranty throughout the warranty period. Both OSRAM and Christie’s warranty covers optical and mechanical projector parts if damaged through the fault of the lamp. It must also be remembered that lamp house filters have to be bought separately for each Christie lamp while TLS UK Ltd. provide its new Mk.2 model mini pleat filter free of charge (pictured below). As you can see this gives food for thought, check what you are paying, do examine your lamp warranty to see what it really means and look out for hidden costs. density in front of the cathode. The drawback is that cathode burn back increases which leads to lamp flicker and other maintenance issues. OSRAM typically use a blunter tip which may have slightly less light output initially, but will be more stable and suffer from less light drop off over life. This theory is often seen with other lamp manufacturers claiming increased lamp brightness, particularly with 35mm lamps. This of course is only seen at the start of life, with latter results being something very different. Improved lamp brightness should be measured at the end of life and not at the beginning. Osram’s high quality becomes most obvious at the end of life, as this is where lamp performance becomes most crucial and demanding. Reducing the bulb diameter is another way to maximise efficiency, however this must be combined with complementary optics, a purpose built reflector. The theory here is that some of the reflected light rays are reflected very close to the reflector neck but such rays are blocked by the bulb itself. A smaller bulb diameter allows these rays to pass by resulting in an increase in total light. The drawback with this theory is that the lamp is now more susceptible to divitrification (a breakdown of the quartz structure) due to an increase in bulb wall temperature, caused by the close proximity of the arc to the quartz. The system is also rendered more susceptible to cooling or arc misalignment issues. page 38
The most obvious way to generate more light goes without saying, increase the lamp current. This will give more light in the short term but with increased electrode wear leading to flicker and bulb darkening. TLS UK Ltd. teach projection staff to increase current, when or if required, in gradual increments, paying heed to the lamp’s operating current range. Extreme current increases that ignore the current range will only offer very short lived benefits ! The final and best option to increase lamp brilliance and efficiency is to increase the bulb pressure, this is because it has little negative effect on the lamp. However increase in bulb pressure causes the voltage to rise which must be compensated by a reduction in arc gap. This keeps the lamp running at the specified wattage. It must be remembered that a shorter arc gap alone, without an increase in current or pressure will not provide an increase in overall performance. The wattage of a Xenon lamp is defined primarily by three parameters: arc gap, pressure and current. In operation a smaller arc gap would reduce operating voltage and consequently the total arc Mk ll Replacemnt Filter for the Christie CP2000 Projector
power, this must be compensated by increasing current, fill pressure or both. Increasing the bulb pressure can lead to production issues for some manufacturers, while an automated plant allows OSRAM to achieve this without problem. Which Lamp Shall I Use? Digital projection requires the optimum components throughout, and this of course includes the Xenon lamp. A premier brand of lamp will give the performance that digital requires but cinemas must factor the cost in as well. Xenon lamps are expensive to buy and digital lamps cost a bit more, but beware of projector equipment manufacturers or installers inflating the price further on their own brand of lamp. Look not only at the cost of the lamp but also the hidden costs and the warranty. Is the warranty pro-rata or is the lamp covered by 100% warranty ? An example is with lamps for the Christie CP 2000 projector. A digital projector installer will typically sell the Christie CDXL lamp for up to + 30% more per lamp than TLS UK Ltd. would sell the OSRAM equivalent. There is no reason for such high prices other than that cinemas have no choice if they are unaware of proven equivalents. As I said before, digital lamps are more expensive than 35mm lamps but they shouldn’t be ‘that’ expensive ! Christie only offers a 100% warranty during the first half of the warranty period. The final half of the warranty period is pro-rata, compared to OSRAM who offer
Conclusion The Xenon lamp market is rapidly changing and the demands on manufacturers are increasing immensely with digital. Choose carefully what you buy and ensure what you use is up to the job. OSRAM have increased their warranty for no extra cost in the form of the new XL range of lamps (mentioned elsewhere in this edition of Cinema Technology) and have switched to 100% (and not pro rata) warranty across the board. These changes are not paperwork only marketing exercises, but because of the quality and consistency improvements that their fully automated manufacturing plant can now provide. TLS UK Ltd. can supply digital OSRAM XBO lamps for the Barco DP series, Cinemeccanica, Christie CP 2000, NEC digital, Sony SRX series, etc. Feel free to contact me for any technical advice or lamp requirements, I’m always happy to talk! Matt Jahans Account Manager TLS UK Ltd., 108 Windsor Road, Slough, SL1 2JA T. +44 (0)1753 576888 E. email@example.com
BE AWARE ... at The Odeon, Guildford on Tuesday April 22nd Details page 29 digital projection - march 2008
Digital cinema - accelerating the european transition Tony Nowak, MD of DTS Digital Cinema Europe, talks to Cinema Technology about how DTS see the way forward for Digital Cinema in Europe, and provides a road map to help those trying to navigate this tricky course. The transition to digital cinema is underway. As exhibitors and distributors throughout Europe face the challenge of migrating to new digital technology solutions, there is some uncertainty about the speed at which the change to digital content will happen while film print is still available. However, as the transition picks up steam it will become increasingly difficult for those in the industry to resist making the switch. When CTâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s editor asked for an â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;opinion pieceâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; on how DTS see the future of digital cinema I thought it might be useful to discuss some of the many factors that may currently be making the changeover more protracted and why film exhibitors and distributors will eventually have no option but to make the move to digital solutions. In the digital cinema industry, there is currently a great deal of discussion surrounding the transition to digital cinema and how long this is going to take to happen across the European market. While there is no definitive answer, there are already early adopters who have been assessing the technology currently available to try and find the best solution for their needs, but there are still those who are hesitant to make the move believing there will be better solutions available in the near future. The reality is, however, that the technology is available now and is robust enough to be deployed in a commercial environment. As is the case with all technology, there will be developments and improvements in digital cinema solutions as we move downstream, but it is certainly good enough to work today and a worthwhile investment for those who make the transition now. Over the past few years, the fundamental technology of light projection and file playback in
digital projection - march 2008
the theatre has received a lot of attention and solutions in this area have been developed constantly during this time. While this side of the technology for digital cinema is ready and able to be deployed today, key distribution and management has not been addressed as well as it might have been yet, giving room for technological development in this area. As the roll out gains momentum, the sheer scale of managing key delivery messages (KDMs) means that there will be a need for much more advanced technical solutions in this area. In addition, there is the opportunity to bring an increased level of sophistication to the system of content management for distribution. Although the technical solutions for key distribution and management are not perfect, they are good enough to work today and are constantly being developed in order to facilitate a faster rollout throughout Europe. Commercial factors have emerged as the main limiting factor in the European digital cinema evolution, but it is necessary that at some point there is acceptance to go for a complete migration across the sector. For film distributors, making a rapid transition to digital content is in their best interests, otherwise they face handling dual inventory of 35mm and digital content which is going to be potentially more expensive and more complicated for them. The key fact is that there will not be room in the market to sustain both film and digital distribution for a protracted period. As it is inevitable that digital will eventually succeed film as the dominant medium for content in cinemas, the pressure is going to increase on distributors to complete the change to digital sooner rather than later. At the moment, it would be understandable
for the current incumbents of the film print industry to want to retain the market for as long as possible, which will draw out the move to digital cinema. While the incumbent photo labs still own the print film market, print costs will remain low enough to make it difficult for studios to justify moving across to digital solutions. There will come a point, however, where print volumes have declined to a level where the labs can no longer afford to maintain the price point economically. As digital prints increase in volume and film prints decrease in volume, the efficiencies of scale for the film labs will decrease and product cost will increase, putting studios in a position where they will end up paying more for film content than they do today. This is where the transition to digital cinema will gain additional momentum - exhibitors will enter untenable territory where film print is not affordable, and with a plethora of digital content available and affordable it will be necessary to migrate across to digital screening solutions in order to remain operational. When this turning point is reached and a majority of content becomes available digitally, exhibitors are going to need to procure the necessary solutions to support digital cinema. As mentioned previously, digital cinema technology is already available and very capable. This is an area where DTS-DC has extensive expertise and is ready to assist exhibitors make the transition over to digital solutions. With over fourteen years of experience in the industry and technology which reflects this wealth of experience, DTS-DC is able to source and supply digital cinema technology that is available, robust and ready to work today. Of course, there has to be a certain minimum amount of digital
digital transition and a further incentive to make the switch to digital. Lastly, there is much greater protection for content when using digital print as it is possible to release a film simultaneously worldwide without much additional cost, instead of staggering a release which enables pirated copies to reach export markets before the official release of a film. Combined, all these factors make a strong argument for why the future of cinema will be digital.
The DTS FilmStore® Content Management System simplifies and streamlines the exhibitor’s workflow. FilmStore® Central stores feature trailers and advertising, and serves content to each FilmStore® player via a secure high speed network. The FilmStore® Digital Cinema Player can store up to three full–length 4K features, or many 2K features plus trailers, advertising and other content.
content available initially to make it worthwhile investing in digital solutions, but as more and more distributors start turning to digital content, exhibitors will find that by making the migration to digital sooner rather than later, they will avoid a situation where they have to join a long queue for servers and projectors, which could potentially lead to revenue loss. The move to digital cinema has a number of benefits which those within the cinema industry will be able to take advantage of as the rollout takes place. Firstly, as looked at above, distributors will see huge savings in distribution as the cost of releasing content digitally is much
cheaper than film. The cost of duplicating a digital print is so low that it is very easy for distributors to add additional lower-grossing theatres to a release giving content a much wider potential audience and greater profits. Secondly, digital cinema enables exhibitors to show a variety of alternative content meaning that sporting events, music, drama, awards ceremonies and other live special events can be screened allowing exhibitors to tailor the content they show to their local audience to maximise their revenue. Pre-show advertising can also be tailored to suit the audience of a particular screening giving exhibitors another method to increase revenue
The future for European cinema is undoubtedly digital; it is just a question of how long it will be until the migration is complete. As the road map indicates, there are business practices and technical solutions which must bridge the gap to digital cinema and these must be in place to facilitate a complete migration across Europe. While the technical and business factors are already good enough to facilitate a roll out today, there will continue to be developments which will increase the speed at which the transition takes place. While commercial factors are currently the main limiting factor, this issue will become less significant when the film print incumbents can no longer retain economies of scale, and at this point digital print will begin to dominate the market. It is important to educate all those working within the industry, from manufacturers to distributors to exhibitors, to make sure that everyone understands the benefits of moving to digital cinema and the solutions that are already available. Digital cinema is already happening and it is inevitably the way forward for the cinema world, it just remains to be seen how much (or how little) time the migration takes to occur. Tony Nowak
Improved mastering facilities at Dolby
The previous time I visited Dolby’s Wootton Basset labs their first Digital Cinema Mastering unit had been squeezed into their projection room, so I was interested to see that they have now moved the mastering unit into its own dedicated suite, with plenty of room for four operators to work simultaneously as well as a more leisurely seating area for the ‘creatives’ to use. The server area has also grown, with a massive 30 Terabytes of storage locked away in a secure area with the file server. page 40
Dolby are being asked to master an increasing number of movies, and are using their SCC2000 Secure Content Creator software to provide a scalable solution for digital cinema compression, packing, and encryption. Dolby Composer software allows users to simply and quickly put together a DCP composition. Its drag-and-drop interface allows audio, images, subtitles, and package attributes like encryption, content type, and metadata to be easily added together to form the final DCP. Dolby Composer also makes it easy to manage multiple versions based on common assets in a single project, and to add secondary tracks such as narration.The Dolby Packager software creates the distribution DCP, taking the assets for one or many DCPs and creating all associated files required for the distribution media to ensure safe delivery and ingest into the server. Essential checks on data integrity require asset maps and packing lists, and Dolby Packager also makes generating these files quick and easy.
Laura keeps an eye on the server equipment. digital projection - march 2008
digital 3D special feature
3D Cinema is undoubtedly with us - whether it is here to stay, or like so often before in the cinema’s history, a passing fad, still remains to be determined. For this special issue of Cinema Technology the Editor asked companies and experts from all sides of the digital cinema business to write something about 3D Digital Cinema, inviting both technical and business viewpoints. The following pages contain the results. Yes, there is inevitably some duplication, but the bringing together of all these expert views provides Cinema Technology readers with a useful reference guide to the state of the art in Spring 2008. With 2008 being widely regarded by many as the real start of the digital cinema rollout in the UK, as discussed elsewhere in this issue, it has been interesting to see how this has recently become linked with a resurgence of 3D projection. As just one instance, the recent box-office performance of “Beowulf” in 3D has been very encouraging for the industry, with higher attendances and significantly higher revenues being generated from the 3D showings, and it played on a large number of 3D digital screens, though somewhat short of the ambitious target of 1000 screens that was initially set - presumably by the PR people! 3D projection is raising a lot of interest in some overseas territories, and some developments in the middle and far East are opting to include 3D digital right from the start of their digital cinema installations. The initial reason for the renewed interest in 3D was that the coming of digital cinema projectors made it possible to provide good quality 3D without all the complications that 3D film projection had always involved. As a happy coincidence, in the same timescale film production technologies were developed that make the creation of 3D programming achievable without the traditional expensive and difficult process of shooting with two cameras, thus increasing widely the range of potential 3D programme material. As projectionists have always known, to provide 3D images from film requires a lot of skill in the projection box, normally requiring two projectors which must be carefully aligned and adjusted in order to ensure that the two images on screen fit precisely on top of each other. The slightest misalignment can cause discomfort for the audience, and some people can’t bear to watch 3D images for long periods of time. In
digital projection - march 2008
contrast, the introduction of 3D Digital Cinema projectors means that a single digital projector can be rapidly switched to show left-eye and right-eye images in sequence, eliminating projector alignment problems. Most customers are showing that they are currently very happy with the 3D movie presentations that they are being offered. From a technical standpoint there is no doubt that digital 3D, still in its very early stages, of course, still has some problems. These include issues with getting sufficient light output, the need for silver screens for some systems, and the resulting issues of hot-spots and restricted viewing angles when the same screens are used for normal 2D projection. Projector and screen manufacturers are currently undertaking numerous initiatives to reduce or overcome these difficulties. There are also currently difficulties because the regular screen advertising agencies aren’t yet supplying all the commercials in digital form - if the ads are available only on film then many of the advantages of running a digital cinema disappear. Once again though, there is much work going on in the industry to overcome this, and agreed methods of supplying digital ads economically and efficiently, whether on hard-drive or over a network, are likely to be worked out in the coming months.
For better or for worse, many of our leading cinema exhibition businesses are ultimately owned by venture capitalists, whose investment decisions are generally driven by the financial returns they can expect. The bottom line is that we are in a harsh business where technologies have to be judged by the audiences that they bring in. Reports from the US and from around the UK show that 3D versions of recent movies have drawn in twice the audience and up to three times the revenue that the same movies in 2D have achieved. This type of hard financial information has caught the eye of financial analysts in the cinema owning companies, and has led several of them to start thinking that since 3D is proving profitable, and since 3D needs digital projectors, then maybe now is the time to invest in digital projection equipment. This kind of thinking is leading some cinema pundits to believe that 3D may well prove to be the so called “Trojan Horse”, a way for cinema owners to justify expenditure on the conversion of many more cinema screens to digital. 2008 could bring a lot of favourable auspices together. We may end up with a win-win situation where the finances appear to be right, the number of digital cinemas is expanding rapidly, and, equally importantly, the number of digital 3D movies slated is growing, with rumours suggesting many re-releases in 3D of previous blockbusters. If all this really does come to pass then it may not be too surprising that many people believe that 3D cinema really is with us to stay, this time, and that it won’t turn out to be just a short-lived fashion. The one unanswered question for me is whether cinemagoers will accept having to wear glasses regularly, once the novelty has worn off! Jim Slater
digital 3D special feature
XDC talks about Digital 3D Michael Gillesen, Content Operations Manager of XDC Digital Content Lab, talked with Jim Slater about workflow related aspects of 3D digital cinema Jim: Michael, you agreed to talk to Cinema Technology about your company’s involvement with 3D Digital Cinema, but before that, tell us something about XDC and what the company does. Michael: XDC was created in 2004, and is a global provider of digital cinema solutions. The company manages the operations for the deployment of digital cinema systems into theatres, as well as preparing and delivering the digital content that is distributed to the cinemas. XDC is also a manufacturer of advanced digital cinema products, which include servers, theatre management systems, and central library systems. XDC is an Official Partner of the Cannes and Locarno Film Festivals, and a founding and active member of the European Digital Cinema Forum. The company has offices in Belgium, Germany, Spain and France. XDC is a member company of EVS Group which has more than 170 staff worldwide and a market capitalization of 900M. Jim: Give us some examples of the installations that you have been involved with in recent times, and some idea of what percentage involve 3D. Michael: XDC has installed over 300 digital cinema installations in 10 European countries. 10 to 15% of them are 3D digital screens, including both active and passive technologies, as well as double projector systems. Jim: Cinema Technology readers are familiar with the mastering suites of companies like Arts Alliance and Dolby - are these similar to what you call your content lab? Michael: The XDC Digital Content Lab offers filmmakers, producers and distributors bespoke end-to-end services to get content faithfully and securely to screen in conformance with to the highest available interoperable DCI Specifications. The XDC Digital Content Lab is regularly page 42
servicing major and independent distributors all over Europe. We have already processed over 300 movies. Only last year, we produced 1,000 Digital Cinema Packages (DCP) for 100 films. We have also processed numerous 3D movies in order to deliver DCPs to many European screens. These movies include Hondo, Haunted Castle, Encounter the 3rd Dimension, Haunted House, Scar, Kaelou, Le réveil des géants d’Auvergne… Jim: As Content Operations Manager of XDC Digital Content Lab, tell us a bit more about what is different about mastering 3D movies. For instance, is there a specific content workflow related to the preparation of DCP for 3D films? Michael: As Cinema Technology readers will know, the 3D stereoscopic principle is based on the human eye. The info that needs to be provided for left and right eyes is different. This means that the amount of uncompressed data which has to be processed is twice that required for a 2D film. For example, the source files for a long feature film in 2K resolution are typically stored on several hard disks and it can go up to 3 or 4 TeraBytes. Jim: What are the specific operations required?
Michael: The images must be processed to modify the initial frame rate from 24 fps to 48 fps, while having successively one image for left eye and one image for right eye. In addition, for some 3D systems, it is necessary to incorporate a de-ghosting operation, because there can be interference (cross-talk) linked to the information aimed for the left eye, but which is in fact captured by the right eye, and inversely. Jim: Are there also some particularities in terms of logistics and getting the 3D movies to the cinemas? Michael: Yes … It is often necessary to produce specific DCPs (like de-ghosted ones) for some 3D systems and different packages for other 3D systems. We must ensure that each cinema receives the digital copy that it is appropriate for its installed 3D digital cinema system. In spite of this we have managed to simplify the logistical operations thanks to customized tools that we have developed in-house. The CineStore® Data is a huge database application supporting the content operations as well as the XDC Network Operations Centre. This is really a must when hundreds of digital copies have to be managed including 2D and 3D versions, with tight delivery schedules all around Europe.
XDC and its Digital Content Lab provides the full range of service that customers have come to expect of a digital mastering house, including: • Encoding & Encryption • Versioning and Subtitling • DCP Duplication • Delivery and Logistical Services • Key Management • Archiving • Network Operation Centre Services www.xdcinema.com
digital projection - march 2008
digital 3D special feature
3D content making gets easier with Quantel Ultimately the long-term success of Stereoscopic 3D in exhibition will depend on having a large and ever-expanding library of programmes to show, and moviemakers are already playing their part with companies like In-Three converting 2D movies to 3D by a computer process known as Dimensionalization, and IMAX® DMR® re-mastering technology making it possible to convert 35mm movies into images that produce massive pictures in IMAX theatres. Quantel, who have long served the postproduction industry for both film and television, with nearly 1000 movies under their belt already, have realised that computerised 3D post-production systems have come of age and that right now there is an incredible opportunity for companies to expand their business by harnessing this powerful and exciting new medium. Quantel post production technology has dramatically cut time in post and has simplified the whole process of making great 3D. After its ground-breaking demonstrations at IBC last year, when it showed a 3D post production system that integrated two cineo3+ 1080 projectors from projectiondesign (Cinema Technology visited their factory in the December 2007 issue) with Quantel’s Pablo 4K digital intermediate system to show a real-time, interactive workflow with simultaneous full-quality stereo streams, the company has been holding similar events worldwide, including at Shepperton (where Axis Films, Digital Praxis and Inition were involved) and at The BroadcastLive VideoForum exhibition. The real breakthrough with the stereoscopic 3D option for Quantel’s Pablo 4K when used digital projection - march 2008
for post-production work is that it allows operators and their clients to view motion pictures in 3D context as they are actually working on it. Previously, operators have had to rely on inaccurate preview modes or employ play-out services to see the results of their work, which often led to finding imaging problems late and incurring production delays. Quantel’s Stereoscopic 3D solution can play out and process two streams of synchronous high resolution media simultaneously without rendering. This not only makes editing 3D as straightforward as 2D, it also enables stereo strength and convergence to be adjusted on the fly, allowing the creative artists to experiment interactively to achieve just the required stereo depth and impact on every shot. Colorimetry, sync, editorial and imaging errors are all instantly visible and easily fixed. The system can also operate in comparison mode, with views including 50/50 mix, left/right eye and difference map. The various demonstrations have obviously started to pay off, with a number of recent sales of Pablo with the 3D option. Axis Post has become the first European post facility to add Stereoscopic 3D software to its Pablo iQ system, and in a new alliance, the kit has been installed at Concrete Post Production in Dean Street, Soho. Across the Atlantic, Stereoscopic 3D films are becoming a hot trend in Hollywood, as studios seek ways to boost theatre-going by delivering experiences that cannot be replicated at home, and many people expect stereoscopic 3D filmmaking to grow quickly. FotoKem, one of the most respected names in feature film post
The Axis Films team prepare for the 3D Workshop and Demo at Shepperton Studios
production, has become the first DI facility in Hollywood to acquire a Quantel Pablo 4K with the new Stereoscopic 3D option. Anticipating a spike in the production of stereoscopic 3D films, FotoKem decided to act proactively by implementing technology necessary to service such projects efficiently, accurately and with maximum creative flexibility. The facility intends to use the new technology to perform DI color grading, editorial and compositing for stereoscopic 3D special venue and giant screen films, and for the increasing number of studio features being produced in 3D. FotoKem says that The Quantel technology will provide immediate feedback in terms of color grading and how well the 3D effect is achieved, and will enable them to see right away if the convergence adjustments are correct or if further adjustments are needed. Jim Slater www.quantel.com www.projectiondesign.com www.axisfilms.co.uk page 43
digital 3D special feature
Jim Slater visited Dolby’s Wootton Bassett facility and was not only allowed to see an impressive demo of the Dolby 3D system, but was able to have a poke around the ‘innards’ of an NEC digital projector to see just what is involved in converting a standard digital projector to the Dolby 3D system.
The Dolby solution to Digital 3D The Dolby 3D digital cinema system has been demonstrated at several of the big cinema exhibitions over the past year or so, and we have carried a good deal of information about it in Cinema Technology, but this was the first time I had been able to get up close, and I watched a series of clips and trailers in Dolby’s Wootton Bassett screening room. Nightmare before Christmas, Beowulf, Star Wars Episode 2, Chicken Little and Bugs 3D all allowed me to experience the effects of a wide range of different cinematic production values, and the selection provided everything from magnificent scenic images with huge depth of field to carefully controlled reverse zooms moving out from big close-ups to encompass impressive landscapes. There were the occasional ‘poke you in the eye’ 3D gimmicks that you would expect, but by and large I get the impression that directors of 3D movies have moved on from such things, and are learning to use 3D as just another tool to provide the best images to get the message of their movies across to the audiences. The clip from the U2 3D ‘pop’ concert was, however, quite a different experience - for some reason the 3D added a whole new dimension (yes, I know that is the whole idea!) and produced images of a pop concert that were very different from anything that I had seen before, and really did give a very different and exciting feel to the whole production. Moving on from all this ‘arty’ stuff to what CT readers expect, let’s remind ourselves about how the Dolby 3D system works, and that it uses passive glasses with any ordinary cinema screen, with no requirement for the installation of a special ‘silver screen’, since the system doesn’t depend on the use of polarised light, but instead uses a technique based on the wavelength of light. Dolby long ago realised that for digital 3D to be page 44
adopted widely, it will need to fit seamlessly into daily cinema operations, with operators wanting to open a 3D movie on the big screen, then move it around, just like they do with 2D releases. This means that it will be important that the system will work on screens of different sizes, and is practical and cost effective enough to support in several screens in a multiplex. It’s also important that screens can easily be switched from 2D to 3D playback to preserve scheduling flexibility, and that the quality of regular 2D presentation is not compromised in a 3D-equipped screen, so it was a ‘sine qua non’ that the system must work using exhibitors’ existing white screens. Dolby also considered it essential that the glasses be ‘passive’, to avoid any need to recharge units or to deal with customers complaining of glasses that don’t work, and to avoid the extra work of collecting and cleaning glasses after each show. Dolby 3D uses a “wavelength triplet” technique originally developed by the German company Infitec, specialists in 3D visualisation for computer-aided design. In this technique, the red, green and blue primary colours used to construct the image in the digital cinema projector are each split into two slightly different shades. One set of primaries is then used to construct the left eye image, and one for the right. Very advanced wavelength filters are used in the glasses to ensure that each eye only sees the appropriate image. As each eye sees a full set of red, green and blue primary colours, the 3D
image is recreated authentically with full and accurate colours using a regular white cinema screen. I can confirm that the technique yields very realistic and comfortable 3D reproduction. The lightweight glasses were of wrap-around construction, and although I twisted and turned my head and moved the glasses about, I wasn’t able to find any of the problems with ‘edge effects’ that earlier versions of the specs had been reported as being prone to. In fact I understand that the only remaining problem with these glasses is their price - in an ideal world passive glasses should be cheap enough to be disposable, but the complex plastic optical filters used in the Dolby specs are expensive to make, with current prices around 40 dollars. The glasses utilise very precise wavelength filters that ensure that each eye sees only the appropriate image, and are constructed using 50 carefullyapplied layers of coating to fine tune the exact response required. Looking at them carefully, however, I was left thinking ‘it’s only plastic!’ and I would guess that if this system were to really take off the benefits of mass production might one day lead to them becoming really low cost. I wasn’t able to find anyone at Dolby who agreed with that view, though! It was interesting to discover that the company has given a lot of careful consideration to the benefits of re-usable glasses, and there was an interesting suggestion that regular cinemagoers in a 3D world might choose to buy their own 3D specs and carry them with them for all cinema visits, rather like we have our own tennis rackets or swimming goggles. Aside from the cost benefits of reusing glasses, an increasingly important consideration might prove to be the environmental impact of disposables – I was told that showing just four 3D movies on 500 screens results in 690 tonnes of disposable glasses heading ultimately for landfill. There is lots to think about here. In the Dolby 3D system, digital projection - march 2008
digital 3D special feature
the primary colours are split by a relatively simple filter wheel accessory (pic above) fitted inside the digital cinema projector. This is inserted into the light path between the lamp and the DLP imaging chips, before the actual image is created. This will provide better quality images than the alternative approach of mounting a filter in the image path somewhere after the lens of the projector. The filter wheel can also be moved in and out of place electronically, enabling automated switching between 3D and 2D playback. Passing the light through the filter wheel will obviously have some effect on the original colours, no matter how small this might be, and I wondered if this might mean that slightly different digital cinema masters might be needed for 3D and 2D versions, as with some of the existing polarisation based 3D systems. The Dolby 3D system has been designed so that a standard ‘unprocessed’ 3D movie file can be used, with any additional processing required for the 3D version being applied in real time in the Dolby Digital Cinema server during playback. Effectively, a process of compensation digital projection - march 2008
for any effects of the filtering on left and right eye images is performed in the server, and an additional 1U high control rack is used to synchronise the operation of the filter with the projector and server. As I saw, the resulting 3D images are sharp and stable, as the single projector is used to display the left and right eye images in sequence at a very high frame rate – typically 144 frames per second (72 for each eye). The images I saw came from the NEC 2500, which we have examined in previous issues of Cinema Technology. This was all well and good, and I had taken on board the idea and the advantages of ‘simply’ installing an extra colour wheel in a digital projector, which provides different colour correction for each eye, but somehow the engineer in me couldn’t help wondering whether the conversion of a digital projector was quite so simple as had been made out. I asked how you go about modifying a projector for the Dolby 3D system, and was soon taken to the projection room where the side panels were taken off the NEC and I was able to take photographs of the mechanism and to see how
it worked in practice. The rotating colour wheel and its drive mechanism takes the form of a beautifully engineered electromechanical assembly, controlled from the projector’s in-built Dolby Digital Cinema server, with synchronisation taking place via the 1U interface mentioned before, which can be seen here tidily fitted into the NEC’s base unit - only a couple of wires are involved. It struck me as extremely fortunate that the NEC actually has room inside to take this extra colour wheel assembly, but, as can be seen from the photographs, everything fits in well. I was told that it takes an engineer about a couple of hours to install the 3D assembly and its control electronics, and it was stressed that the colour wheel assembly and its control box are completely stand-alone, so don’t affect the normal workings or warranty of the projector, and can be used on different makes of projector. After the mechanical assembly has been fitted the colour wheel is synchronised with the projector by running a test program from a page 45
digital 3D special feature 1
Photographs: 1. Side view of the NEC projector - the extra 3D colour wheel can be seen top left 2. Side view of the NEC 2500 digital projector and its stand, showing the 3D Control unit 3. The Dolby Digital 3D colour wheel assembly fits snugly into the NEC 2500 4. Closer view of the NEC projector - the 3D colour wheel can be seen top left
file, which allows the correct signals to be fed for each eye, and allows for cross-talk to be minimised. I asked how they ensure that all the necessary DCI colour parameters are complied with, knowing how stringently DCI applies its ‘standards’, and was told that there are agreed reference ‘look up’ tables which are used to ensure compliance. Having seen the way in which the 3D equipment was fitted to the NEC projector (it is obviously only so straightforward and simple because a great deal of thought has been given to the engineering of the assembly and to how it will be fitted) I asked about how it might be fitted to other makes of digital projector. I gather that work is ongoing in partnership with other digital cinema projector manufacturers to finalise the design of filter assemblies for use with their particular projectors - a kit for converting Barco projectors to Dolby 3D is nearing completion. Dolby envisage a modestly priced adaptor kit being made available for each make of projector.
The results on the screen are excellent, the idea of being able to watch 3D with passive glasses on standard white cinema screens will appeal to many cinema managements, and the overall solution looks to have been well thought out. It will be interesting to see how the Dolby Digital Cinema 3D system competes in the evergrowing 3D cinema marketplace. Jim Slater With thanks to Jason Power and many others at Dolby for their help in preparing this article. page 46
digital projection - march 2008
digital 3D special feature
The future of digital cinema
Developing 3D technology Tony Nowak, Managing Director of DTS Digital Cinema Europe Ltd., discusses current 3D technology, the factors limiting its progress in supplanting 2D presentations, and developments that must take place before a widespread rollout of 3D digital content will occur. Recent industry research has indicated that by 2020, the media experience available to cinema-goers will be much richer and more varied than today and 3D technology will have developed to be a significant factor. Recently demonstrations of 3D have been particularly effective and there has been a lot of focus on the technological development of 3D solutions on the production side of the industry. Although 3D is currently effective mainly for animated productions, the production cost creates a barrier for many drama and live events. 3D cinema has been commercially available to consumers since the 1920s, but it has recently become the subject of intensified interest with the emergence of digital technology in the cinema. Today’s 3D technology for cinemas potentially offers a much richer and more enhanced experience for a wide variety of content. In the digital cinema domain, 3D has been able to develop as a viable commercial proposition over the last couple of years thanks to the parallel evolution of 2D projection and server technology which has been developed to support the playout of 3D digital content. Today, there are three leading companies offering systems to the market: RealD, Xpand/ NuVision and Dolby which have produced remarkable results on animated and filmed productions. As developments in the technology continue, it is likely that it will also be viable for screening drama and other live event productions. With the technology improving and commercial evidence to suggest consumers are willing to pay a premium to view good 3D digital presentations, it seems evident that 3D digital content will play a major part in the future of cinema. The 3D image is created by fooling the brain into thinking that it perceives a real 3D object. Our visual system creates depth by analysing two flat images from the right and left eye respectively which are slightly offset from each other. This offset allows the brain to work out distance information, and the brain can then assemble an image with all the elements in the correct focal plane. This explains why computer animation is generally a better target for automatic conversion to 3D. The designers and programmers digital projection - march 2008
Digital 3D projection. For RealD and most other digital 3D projection systems only a single projector is needed. The ZScreen modulator switches the characteristics of polarised light at field rate. The ZScreen has a linear polariser and 2 pi-cells in optical series. The pi-cells switch on and off to create left and right-hand circularly polarised light in sync with left and right eye images
know exactly where each object should be in the scene and know the characteristics of the visually obscured elements. It is therefore perfectly feasible for a computer to render an image from a different viewing point because it has all the metadata it needs to create this view. Effective stereoscopic images can therefore be created automatically. Cameraoriginated 3D material has to be originated and produced stereoscopically and cannot be easily or automatically rendered from a singlecamera image. Within the cinema, the three leading systems in the market today all project digital 3D images using a system in which the stereoscopic images are alternately projected for the left eye and right eye. The systems differ in the technology they use to project and re-combine the left and right eye images, and each of these processes requires the viewer to wear some form of specialized glasses. Given the need to deliver a different image to the left and right eyes, it is easier to understand the requirements and capabilities provided in current 3D projection systems. The standard rate for the projection of film images is 24 frames/second, and this image is delivered simultaneously to both eyes. In 3D projection, the left eye image is projected at 24 frames/second and the right eye image is projected at 24 frames/second alternately.
Therefore, the server must have a larger source file (two sets of images - one for the left and one for the right eye), and must transmit at 48 frames per second. The projector must be capable of this frame rate also. In practice, to improve the perception of the image, it can be exposed twice on the same frame (double flash) or three times (triple flash). These requirements may affect the choice of server and projector systems for 3D. All the current leading systems suffer from the fact that there are significant losses in the optical path as a result of the technology used to separate the images into left and right eye images. These losses can easily amount to more than 50% of the light output being lost in the optical path from the projector to the eye. Typically, this occurs because some form of optical separator is placed at the projector and there is an optical separator on the receiver on the viewer’s nose – a pair of lossy glasses. Although all the systems use alternating images for left and right eye when projecting stereoscopic images, the differentiation between them becomes more readily apparent when looking at the type of glasses used. The RealD system places an active circular polariser in front of the projector lens and requires a silver screen to maintain the polarization of the light reflected from it. This system’s page 47
digital 3D special feature
chief advantage is that it utilises very low cost polarised glasses which are cheap enough to give away. To equip a second screen with this system, a second licence and second silver screen is required. The Xpand/NuVision system uses a standard screen and employs more advanced shutter glasses which are switched (between left and right eye) by an infrared transmitter in the theatre. The glasses are active, employing circuitry requiring battery power. Due to their cost, they are considered to be non-disposable and require cleaning after each use. The system is portable, as the device which derives sync information to switch the shutter glasses between left and right eye can be easily moved from one projector to another, assuming that the exhibitor has already installed an infrared emitter in each screen they wish to use for 3D productions. Dolby offers a system that uses a complementary interference filter for each eye installed inside the projector and requires a standard screen. It utilises passive glasses which are intended to be non-disposable and require washing after each use. To move a 3D movie to a different screen requires that the projector at that screen also be equipped with a complementary interference filter. All three systems have proven their viability through the success of the 3D digital productions they have supported. Any exhibitor considering installing a 3D system would be well advised to evaluate all three systems in order to fully understand the advantages of each and make an informed choice. Although each system is different, there is a fundamental problem they are all currently facing related to issues of light transmission. At the moment, each system suffers from the fact that passing light through the left and right eye separation systems causes loss of around 50% or more of the light. Any cinema that wants to run 3D digital content must be able to run the projector bright enough to obtain adequate luminance off the screen. It is fair to say that currently light output is one of the main concerns and challenges for 3D projection, a fact which has led to many early adopters claiming better results for 3D systems when deployed on medium or smaller sized screens. page 48
Although current production methods have proven successful for animation, production costs must decrease and processes made more efficient to enable broader availability and commercial viability of 3D drama and live events. To enable 3D digital content to encompass a range of genres, the development of more efficient and affordable 3D camera systems could bring down production costs and perhaps go a long way towards addressing live production issues. Although there is only limited 3D digital content available at the moment, consumers are still prepared to pay a premium to view these presentations which is driving the current content value chain. Studios and creatives see this as added value driving the box office and are therefore willing to invest in developing more 3D productions and additional technology which will eventually enable drama and live action content to be cost effectively produced. Many of the major studios are behind this 3D movement and DreamWorks has announced that by 2009 it plans to release all its movies in 3D.1 The support of the major studios means that over the next couple of years there is going to be a substantial increase in the number of 3D digital films being released. This rapid deployment is going to cause an increased need for 3D screens meaning that exhibitors are going to have to invest a certain amount of capital in order to be able to exhibit 3D digital movies, but 3D seems to support its own commercial business model to justify the investment by the theatres. While not every screen will be 3D capable, the screens which are made 3D compatible look set to be a worthwhile investment. The experience so far has shown that exhibitors can charge a premium for 3D films and the attendance rates are high; so the prospect of generating enough revenue to pay for the screen seems a realistic prospect. The European Union is also taking the development of 3D content seriously and has supported the creation of the 2020 3D Media Consortium. This is an EU project awarded grant funding under Framework 7 to address 3D media production, management and distribution. Recognising the value of 3D, DTS Digital Cinema (DDC) is involved with this
project and its role is to look at and develop tools and workflows for the handling of 3D content. To further support the 3D movement, DDC will facilitate 3D on its products such as the FilmStore® Content Management System and is also looking to improve efficiencies of content distribution, encoding and general content preparation to support the larger file sizes that 3D imagery create. DDC will continue to work closely with other 3D technology providers to ensure that our products and services will continue to support the evolving 3D content chain as an integral part of the future of the cinema business. Driven by consumer interest, 3D digital cinema is going to expand in the future as studios invest in providing an increased amount of content in this format. While the novelty factor will bring in fresh consumers, this technology is purported by many to finally be ready to outlast the novelty factor and become a mainstream technology due to the enhanced visual experience it offers. As long as the 3D experience continues to justify the additional cost of viewing a film, this technology will remain competitive in the cinema market. Although some believe that cinema attendance is waning, a recent study carried out by Screen Digest shows that European cinema attendance rose by almost 15,000 from 1,046,886 in 2006 to 1,061,821 in 2007. This number is projected to rise by just over 98,000 by 2010 taking European cinema attendance up to 1,159,919.2 When added to the evidence that consumers will pay more for 3D presentations, this demonstrates that there is a market for 3D digital content to grow into and there is great potential for 3D to become a dominant driver both for increased revenues and attendance in the future. With content, technology and consumer desire all aligning, the future seems to be bright enough for 3D and DDC will continue to actively support the drive to bring the 3D experience to cinemas. “DreamWorks going 3-D in 2009”. www.variety.com. 12th March 2007.
“Cinema Admissions”. Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence. 18th Jan. 2008.
digital projection - march 2008
4K NATIVE DISPLAY & PLAYBACK SOLUTION
DIGITAL CINEMA PLAYER DCP 2000 12
D S V -J 2 - 5 6 P years of experience in the playback servers !
SERVEUR CINÉMA NUMÉRIQUE
DCP 2000 4500 units in operation (dec 07)
• DCI JPEG2000 & MPEG-2 MXF • FIPS 140.2 Level 3 certified (NIST octo 07) • 2D & 3D in standard ratesservice for alternative of all HD frame en • Support 3600 unités (sept 07) content DCI JPEG2000 & MPEG-2 MXFfor projectionnist •• Intuitive touchscreen with SMS • 2D et 3D en standard •• 3Recommandé years base warranty, optional pour "FIPS level 3"6 years Ecranworld tactilebase avecd-cinema logiciel Projectionniste with more than(SMS) 90% of • N°1 Garantie de screens base 3 ans, options 5, 7, 10 ans • commercial N°1 mondial (> 90% des écrans JPEG2000) •• Roll-out by AccessIT, Technicolor, Arts Allliance, Déployé par AccessIT, Technicolor, Arts • XDC, Odeon, CGR, DCL, Nordic.. Alliance, XDC, DCL, Nordic, Odeon...
NEW ! ! NOUVEAU Direct gateway to Smartjog secured download
Offre spéciale Doremi de connection au réseau network for pre-show & feature Smartjog de téléchargement films** with preferred rate to Doremi des customers Offre spéciale DCP-2000 avec Projecteur Advanced Doremilongue Theater 2K (4KW) en location durée ! & Library Management (TLMS-2000) TLMS Doremi
• 56’’ / 4K flat panel display color space RGB or X’Y’Z’ by the industry reference ASTRO DESIGN manufacturer
** Nous consulter pour offre détaillée
• Compact solution for color grading for 4K DCI mastering, and any other 4K native display application
monitoring station et stockage solution de supervision • TLMS-2000Central High capacity storage (10TB+) centralisé Gateway from POS ticketing for automatic scheduling • Un stockage central très sécurisé pour l'ensemble du multiplex • Une passerelle avec la billeterie, un reporting BP 298 - 06905 Sophia Antipolis complet des séances
Tél. : +33 492 952 830 ������ www.doremicinema.com
• 4K format playback (JPEG2000 DCI MXF files)
• Available with custom stand foot for screen and player • Direct complement of Doremi DMS-2000 4K mastering suite for DCI
BP 298 - 06905 Sophia Antipolis Tél. : +33 492 952 830 ������ www.doremicinema.com
meet the chief
Looking backwards to a much earlier ‘Meet the chief’ Jim Slater nds that Andy Crawford is still there at the Coronet
Meet the chief Purely by coincidence, trying (only partially successfully) to satisfy a request for a copy of a seven year old Cinema Technology, I found myself talking with Andy Crawford, who, way back in June 2001, had featured in our ‘Meet the Chief’ series, when Philip Turner revealed how Andy had ‘been there, done that, seen it all’ in the cinema business. Without wanting to seem in any way ‘ageist’, the previous article made it quite plain that Andy was then ‘of mature years’, so I must admit to being surprised to find that Andy is still working at the Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill. Over the years he has gone from being Chief to working part-time, and tells me that he really had decided to call it a day recently, but that the other projectionists both found work elsewhere, so he is once again effectively ‘in charge’ of the projection equipment and providing the best possible shows for the Coronet’s two screens. He is obviously as keen and as lively as ever, and doing his best to live up to the quote from his original MTC article: “I’ve
The Coronet in Notting Hill, which originally opened as a Victorian theatre in 1898. Picture on the right shows Box 1 with a Cinemeccanica Victoria 8 fitted with a Kalee lamphouse.
never wanted to leave this business ... its the nearest thing you can get to not having to work!” I was also interested to learn that he also runs a small website www.moviedata.co.uk - is there no end to the man’s talents?
Best wishes to Andy, now 77 years old, for a long and happy time with his projectors, and for a good retirement when it does eventually arrive. Jim Slater
Christmas card looks back to the future Once again my Christmas card from Gerald Hooper was decorated with a couple of cartoons from the pen of the fantastic ‘Clayton’, whose sketches graced the pages of Kine Weekly for so long. The two below are brilliant in the way that they so accurately anticipated how the projectionist of the (then) future would have to deal with the new technologies. How many projectionists struggling to look after twelve screens wouldn’t have been delighted to have the four pairs of hands that the octopus did in the projection room below? The right hand cartoon is even more interesting, perhaps even more futuristic, in that those of us with the current generation of digital cinema projectors know that they haven’t so far become small enough to make our projection rooms feel empty. The calendar on the wall does say ‘2054’, however, and all the current predictions are that digital projectors will get much smaller over time. It is also interesting to see that the most futuristic storage mechanism they could think of was magnetic tape - how could they have known how that fast spinning miniature hard drives would carry the movies of the twenty-first century? Jim Slater
cinema technology - march 2008
Exercise your rights Prepare for Council Elections
Members of the Society have the right, some would say duty, to nominate candidates to stand for election to the Council of the BKSTS. Please think carefully and nominate any full members of the Society that you would like to see standing for election to Council - the Society needs Council Members who will give freely of their time and talents - there is much more to the job than just attending monthly Council meetings, especially at this critical time in the Society’s history. You don’t have to ask their permission to nominate them. Any members who receive the qualifying number of FIVE nominations will then be asked if they are prepared to stand for election. • Voting forms will subsequently be posted to all Members early in April
The results of the election will be announced at the AGM which will take place at
Ascent Media, 1 Stephen Street on Tuesday 27th May 2008 from 7.00pm - 9.00pm
Annual awards - Advance Notice Now is the time to start thinking about any nominations for the Society’s Fellowships and Awards. The criteria for achievement and qualification can be found on page 11 of the current issue of the BKSTS Membership Directory. Nominations must be accompanied by brief notes to justify the nominations.
Oh no it didn’t...! In a Postscript to our piece in the previous issue of Cinema Technology about the closure of the Carlton cinema at Cosham, Portsmouth, I reported (on seemingly good authority from the local paper and from a local projectionist) that the four-screen Odeon in North End, which opened in 1936, closed on Thursday 15th November 2007. Imagine then my surprise to get a call from the Odeon Portsmouth’s General Manager, James Morris telling me that the cinema hadn’t closed, and that as he spoke in midDecember many families were enjoying ‘The Golden Compass’ in Screen One. This called for rapid investigation, and it turned out from sources high up in the Odeon management chain that the cinema had indeed been due to close on the date mentioned, but that at the very last minute, legal issues over the proposed contract to sell the lease of the building had caused the deal to fall through, so the cinema is to continue in normal operation for the foreseeable future. Local residents are delighted, as are the staff. James told me that it was annoying that the local paper carried huge headlines about the cinema technology - march 2008
pending closure, but only a much smaller reference to its reprieve! Cinema Technology is glad to put the record straight. Less encouragingly, I understand that the cinema is still on the market and that negotiations for the leasehold (the potential buyer evidently already owns the freehold of the site) are ongoing. It is understood that there are plans to turn the site into shops and flats.
Oh yes it did...! It is sad to report that the cinema did eventually close a few weeks later on Thursday 10th January. Ben Wales was there and reports that the Odeon, North End in Portsmouth closed on Thursday 10th January with “I am a Legend” shown at 8.30pm in screen one. There were just 25 people for the last screening. Jim Slater
Pics - The Odeon on the last night and the Screen One Projection Room, where Michael, the Senior Technician was just about to carry out the final feature Change for “I am a Legend”. Photos by Ben Wales page 51
diary During the early 1980s I was asked by the Projected Picture Trust to help them with the installation of two sound-on-disc projectors with universal bases, which they had rescued from the vaults of the Palace Cinema, Bridport. Harkness Screens had kindly provided studio space at Borehamwood with seating for 100 and the PPT members planned to put on two shows of the 1928 film “ Dawn Patrol”, with “Vitaphone” 16 inch discs, in six weeks time. I was told that this would mean working Saturdays only and that I would have lots of help from the PPT restoration team members who always turned out on that day. As a self employed engineer I can’t afford to do charitable work, but I was greatly interested in this historic project and agreed to take on the task - and besides, it was Saturdays only and they promised me that I would have lots of help! The first Saturday went well, with eight willing PPT members cleaning and assembling the projectors, but nobody turned up on the following Saturday or subsequent Saturdays. Kalee ‘Indomitable’ projector Model 11, with universal base
Dawn Patrol 1928 N vi ngnr’s iry By Billy Bell, formerly with BTH and Westrex Co. The installation was of mega-proportions on account of the fact that the projectors were powered by a large motor generator set which required a great deal of servicing to commutators, brush gear and 3 phase starter.The poor condition of this MG set was due to the fact that it had been lying idle for at least 30 years. The variable speed DC projector motors also required a major overhaul to the centrifugal weights and springs assembly which controlled the motor speed for sound on disc, or married prints, at 24 fps and silent film at 18 fps. The heavy synchronous turntables had long since been uncoupled from the projector drive gear box and suitable rubber couplings had to be found, that would restore this to 33.3 rpm when the film speed was 24 fps. The rubbers in the moving coil gramophone pick up heads were perished and had to be replaced. The sound system comprised a 20 Watt valve amplifier with changeover switching for two machines. The stage loudspeakers
were field energised at 110V DC. Kalee low intensity arc lamphouses and Hewittic mercury pool rectifiers completed the installation. It is interesting to note that a new steel needle was required for every single sided disc which accompanied each 12-minute reel. A start mark for the pickup was clearly indicated in the centre of the disc; and rapid wear of the needle was compensated for by the fact that the track speed increased as the pickup worked its way to the outside of the disc. Steel needles were sourced from the Gramophone Society. The show was a resounding success and demonstrated how good the Vitaphone system could be when the sound remained in sync with the picture. Altogether I worked a total of 82 hours on this project in order to meet the opening date. I was grateful for the opportunity to experience the work of those pioneering cinema engineers of an earlier age. But most of all, I learned that I must declare engineering immunity when confronted with similar, unpaid projects.
This year sees the 50th anniversary of the CineMiracle production of Windjammer. Produced by Louis De Rochemont III, better known for the March of Time series. To celebrate the anniversary the film is being shown at the Widescreen Weekend as part of the 2008 Bradford Film Festival. The Widescreen Weekend takes place from March 7th to March 10th 2008 at the National Media Museum - Pictureville cinema. Windjammer was premiered in London in 1958 at the Odeon Theatre, Tottenham Court Road, London. The film featured the crew and life on board the Christian Radich windjammer tall sailing ship. The ship has visited England on several occasions as one of the vessels that takes part in the round the world Tall Ships race.
Front page from original opening brochure
cinema technology - march 2008
���������������������������� ��� ������������������
�������������� �������� ���������������� �� ��� ����� ����������������
���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������ ��������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������� �������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������
����������������������������������������������� �� ������������������������������������������������������������������ �� ����������������������������������������������������������������������� � ����������������������������������� �� ����������������������������������������������������������������������� � ����������������������������������������������������������������� �� ����������������������������������������������������������
� ��������������������������������������������� � � ������������������������������������������������� � ��������������������������������������������������� � ��������������������������������������������� � � ����������������������������������������������� � � ���������������������������������������������
�� �������������������������������������������������������������� � �����������������������������������������������������������
�� ������������������������� �� ������������ �� ������������������ �� ����������������������
�� �������������������� �� ��������������������� �� ��������������������
��������������������������������� ����������������������� ����������������������������������������������������������������� ��������������������������������������� ������������������������������������������������ ������������������������ �����������������
Fun with Varamorph Grant Lobban FBKS provides a personal history of some of the more unusual projection lens adaptors Like many of my fellow BKSTS members, I also belong to the Projected Picture Trust, which is dedicated to saving, restoring and preserving examples of lm projectors and other associated equipment from well over 100 years of cinema exhibition. Their HQ and principal collection is at Bletchley Park, former secret code breaking centre during WWII. It is now open to the public who, after looking at the intriguing decoding artefacts, can also visit the Trust’s National Museum of Cinema Technology and see what for many is the equally mysterious cinema machinery normally hidden from them behind the portholes. Many of the PPT members are still actively involved in the industry and are equally knowledgeable about everything to do with the cinema’s own digital switchover, which is rapidly gaining pace in projection rooms around the world. I expect the Trust will soon be looking out for old historic digital cinema projectors, dating way back to the turn of the century, to add to its collection and put on display. However, I must admit that for me the digital projectors are less interesting to look at, most resembling a ling cabinet with a lens poking out, although I’m sure there is much to wonder at inside. Helping to restore and preserve old cinema equipment needs a combination of skills and, in the case of 35mm projectors, I soon learned that foremost of these was an interest in the techniques of weight lifting! Also useful is a knowledge of mechanical engineering, electrics and optics. Hopefully, at some stage during a projector’s repair, the mechanics can be seen working, so are easier to understand. However, except for the basics, electronics have remained a mystery to me, often resulting in the smell of burning, blown fuses and the occasional electric shock. In the past, I consoled myself with the belief that these were good for you and a stimulus to the heart, but I now try not to play around with things best left to the experts. Much safer to deal with are projection lenses, which have become a particular fascination for me, especially the old and unusual ones, like the special wide-angle types for rear projection, ‘Magnascope’ zooms, which were popular in the 1920s and 1930s, to enlarge the image during spectacular scenes, and the various forms of anamorphic attachments which soon became a must-have item for every theatre wishing to join the cinema’s widescreen revolution back in the 1950s. Being smaller and easier to rescue and carry off, I have managed to save a few early examples which were among the first to arrive in British cinemas. The most common of these use cylindrical lens elements arranged to provide an added extra degree of magnification (x2) in the horizontal plane only, to stretch out the squeezed-up image on the film and restore it back to its wider page 54
the projection box.
Early Zeiss attachment with the more usual cylindrical elements
Other optical principles can be used to unsqueeze the image, and another kind of attachment used a pair of curved mirrors to achieve the same effect. In some ways this reflection method was superior to a conventional lens system and was capable of excellent results, being free of the aberrations which can affect refracting lens systems. One unique advantage was that it could be deliberately misaligned to counter-balance the picture distortion resulting from using a steep rake onto a curved screen. There were disadvantages, the exposed frontsilvered mirrors collected dust and the constant cleaning often shortened their useful life. Their periscope-like design also displaced the light beam by about 5 inches, sometimes needing modifications to the portholes. I was lucky to find an example, still with good mirrors, of the most often seen model, the Delrama, designed by Old Delft in Holland. It was distributed by Frank Brockliss and regularly appeared in 1950s ads for Philips projectors, which they also imported. I have since seen a similar device advertised by Cinepanoramic in France and it is worth looking out for.
‘CinemaScope’ proportions on the screen. Although, at the start, Bausch & Lomb supplied large numbers of cylindrical lens attachments in the U.S., most over here seem to have come from Zeiss, sometimes carrying the official ‘CinemaScope’ logo, and Isco. I have an early model called a ‘Vidoscope’, from long before digital projection and all things video invaded
There was yet another form of anamorphic system, this time using a pair of wedge-shaped prisms set at an angle to give the required amount of expansion. They were initially very popular, being cheaper to produce without the need for the more sophisticated lens grinding machines used to make accurate cylindrical elements. Like the elements in cylindrical attachments, each prism was made up of separate
Rank Taylor Hobson fixed x2 prismatic attachment
cinema technology - march 2008
varamorph sections using different types of glass to correct distortion and colour aberrations, including fringing. Prisms alone will only produce a sharp image at infinity, in practice OK for long throws, but most designs included additional spherical lens elements in front to focus them closer. British lens makers, like Ross and TaylorHobson, favoured the prismatic principle with their ‘Expandascope’ and ‘Type P’ respectively, both providing the x2 expansion ratio. My first experience of prismatic anamorphic attachments came when I joined the BBC at Ealing Studios as a trainee projectionist. The 35mm preview theatres were equipped with GB-Kalee 21s, complete with Taylor-Hobson ‘Varamorphs’. As the name suggests, the expansion ratio could be changed by operating a knob on top, connected to pivots which changed the relative angle between the prisms. At the time, in 1963, this seemed to be a superfluous feature, as all the anamorphic prints we showed had the same x2 compression ratio, whatever widescreen process had been used to photograph the film. However, back in 1954, when the Varamorph was first introduced, there was the possibility that prints would be available with a different amount of squeeze to that of CinemaScope’s x2. Another early variable prismatic attachment was the Tushinsky Superscope. It was launched in collaboration with RKO, which also announced its own widescreen process, also called Superscope. This was an optical printing process which converted a masked-off portion of a conventionally shot negative (full-frame or Academy) to produce an anamorphic print with a compression factor of x1.5, half that of CinemaScope‘s x2. The final aspect ratio of the picture on the screen varied, depending on the height of the projector’s aperture, between 1.66:1 and 2:1. Above: Mirror anamorphic attachments - (top) the Delrama mirror anamorphic attachment. For some, this is now worth more for its aluminium scrap value, but for many of us an historic optical device worthy of preservation and display and (bottom) the Cinepanoramic unit.
A Tushinsky Superscope.
Expansion ratio cinema technology - march 2008
Soon, there were other x1.5 squeezed print formats being proposed. The principal release format from Paramount’s VistaVision large-area 35mm 8-perf horizontal negatives was to be 35mm reduction prints with a normal nonanamorphic image which was composed to allow it to be masked down to provide aspect ratios from 1.66:1 to 2:1. In the interest of light conservation, at the maximum 2:1 ratio, it was planned to offer alternative prints with this ratio squeezed (x1.5) within an academy frame. Although MGM had adopted Fox’s CinemaScope, they too had an idea to offer similar non-compatible x1.5 conversions of their CinemaScope films for theatres which couldn’t accommodate the original full-width picture. All this activity was welcomed by other manufacturers of variable prismatic attachments. These included the Hilux-VAL and the Gottschalk Ultra-Panatar. The latter was made by a new company called Panavision who would later become better known to cinema-goers on the other side of the portholes when they entered the photographic side of the industry. Interest-
Above: The Varamorph and its optical layout
Varamorph line up film, anticipating Superscope and VistaVision x1.5 squeezed prints
ingly, the first of their camera anamorphic lenses also included prisms to impart a slight squeeze (x1.25) to the 65mm negatives of MGM’s ‘Camera-65’ process. This format evolved into the Ultra Panavision 70 system, with the lenses changed to cylindrical types which made possible wider fields of view. This was useful to Cinerama, who adopted the process for its first single-lens version. Back to 1954, when, although many exhibitors had chosen to invest in the variable types, many more had fixed cylindrical attachments and with the distributors wishing to avoid adding to the number of different print formats already being circulated, the x1.5 squeezed prints were abandoned. Before any releases, Superscope changed its squeeze factor to x2 to match CinemaScope. It still retained the original maximum 2:1 aspect ratio, leaving unused blank areas down both sides of the frame. In this form, also known as RKO-Scope, it had a fair amount of use. A later version, which extracted the full 2.35:1 area from a full-frame negative and produced prints compatible with CinemaScope, was introduced as Superscope-235 and is still with us today, now called Super-35. MGM only page 55
varamorph made a few of its ‘ScanaScope’ x1.5 versions of its early CinemaScope films, including FORBIDDEN PLANET, and Paramount too, decided not to pursue its VistaVision squeezed print option. The Rank Organisation, having fallen out with Fox over its ‘CinemaScope only with stereo sound’ policy, had adopted VistaVision and used it at Pinewood for a couple of years. In 1957 they considered reviving the VistaVision squeezed x1.5 print idea, with a 1.75:1 image within a normal ‘Scope aperture. At the time, this was considered a practical proposition as almost all of their Odeon cinemas were equipped with Varamorphs, which could be adjusted to show the non-compatible prints. However, after a few trial squeezed copies were made of DOCTOR AT LARGE and DANGEROUS EXILE, (printed at Denham Labs on Eastman Color, instead of the usual Technicolor dye-transfer prints) Rank had settled their differences with Fox and given up VistaVision altogether in favour of CinemaScope.
Above : The Hilux-VAL and the Ultra Panatar below
MGM ‘Camera 65’ 65mm cameras with Panavision x1.25 prismatic anamorphic lenses
70mm frames from Ben-Hur and Mutiny on the Bounty with slightly squeezed (x1.25) images. Note the distorted ship’s wheel. Grant says that he has seen both films without an anamorphic lens and is sure that few people noticed.
Not wishing to lose a valuable selling point, variable anamorphic attachments were then promoted with the possibility of leaving them permanently in position. The projectionist could then show ordinary films, such as the cartoon and newsreel at zero magnification and then, with the turn of a knob, present a CinemaScope film. It was also suggested that the theatre owner could set the control to less than x2 and make the projected picture less wide and so use a smaller ‘less expensive’ screen! For many, the thought of deliberately showing audiences a distorted picture was appalling. In practice, it was found that the eye is quite tolerant to viewing partly squeezed images, remembering that those sitting at the side of the auditorium see a slightly elongated picture anyway. I remember watching a slightly squeezed 70mm Ultra Panavision print of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY at the NFT which was being shown without an anamorphic lens (x1.25). I’m sure, apart from me, few other patrons noticed that the ship always had an oval wheel. This would still seem to be true, judging by the number of viewers happy to watch distorted pictures on their widescreen TVs. However, what was not mentioned, was that leaving the unit in place for standard films served no purpose except to reduce the definition and light output. Light passing through a typical prismatic attachment had to fight its way through a lot of glass, with a loss of around 30%, compared to the 10% of a contemporary cylindrical lens. The Varamorph didn’t provide a zero setting, the minimum mark on its dial being x1.38, to discourage this practice. Although now largely redundant, the control on the Varamorph still fascinated me. While still only a trainee, I did what I was told and left it alone. However, being a born knob-twiddler, I eventually gave in to temptation and gave it a turn and enjoyed seeing the effect of expanding out the picture and back again. Inspired by the
Superscope conversion to squeezed print
old Magnascope process, I invented my own called ‘Stretch-O-Rama’. I would run a normal film at the minimum setting, but would be ready to give a landscape, or any other scene I thought suitable, the full widescreen treatment until people, who seemed to have suddenly put on weight, appeared and I would sneak it back again. I remember showing an episode of Kenneth Clark’s CIVILIZATION, which was particularly effective. I’m sure I played havoc with their classic proportions, but the Greek and Roman architecture looked splendid in their new panoramic dimensions and looked like scenes from THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE. (During the early days of colour TV, the BBC shot many of its prestige documentaries on 35mm colour negative.) Due to all this, the Varamorph became one of my favourite anamorphic devices. The quality of the picture was excellent and more than a match for the Zeiss attachments supplied with the Bauer B14 35mm projectors which were used alongside the Kalees from the mid-1960s. The high light loss wasn’t a problem for us at the BBC. It actually helped to reduce the light on our smaller screens. Like other anamorphic attachments, focusing down for shorter throws needed special measures. The end-stop screw, at the minimum distance, was removed and the front element unscrewed to its last thread, and taped up to stop it falling off. I once had a chance to see inside a Varamorph. While I was working at Lime Grove Studios, one developed a fault. Like other old lenses, I think it had something growing in it! While the side plate was off, I was able to watch the magic prisms moving. The work was done by resident engineer, Bob Dyer, who was one of my early technical heroes. In his office/workshop he kept his collection of books on projection and other associated equipment, which he let me borrow, and helped to spark my interest in the technical history of the cinema. He told me an anecdote about the Varamorph. Before joining the BBC, he was a B.A.F / Kalee engineer and helped install the GB-Kalee equipment used to show the film AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS (1956) at the Astoria, Charing Cross Road. cinema technology - march 2008
varamorph The film was shot in Todd-AO, but as 70mm projectors had yet to arrive in Britain, a presentation system called ‘Cinestage’ was devised to make the best possible use of 35mm film. The multi-channel sound was on separate magnetic film running on reproducers locked in synch with the Kalee 21s using selsyn motors. This left the maximum available space between the print’s Fox-hole perforations for the picture. This was reduced from the 65mm negative using a non-standard X1.56 squeeze, calculated to retain all the picture information and produce a screen aspect ratio of 2.2:1, the same as if an actual Todd-AO 70mm print was being shown. The special anamorphic projection lenses were provided by the American Optical Company, but during the run, doubts were expressed about their performance. Apparently, this was demonstrated to visiting Todd-AO representatives by comparing them with Varamorphs set to give the same squeeze ratio. All agreed that the image looked better and a switch to using the Varamorphs was allowed for the final weeks of the run, providing no publicity was given to the fact. Another piece of related wide screen trivia was the ‘34mm’ ploy. To avoid the then current quota regulations, which would have meant a break in the run, in order to show a British film, one millimetre of the Cinestage print was shaved off the right hand edge. This exempted the film from the quota, which only applied to professional cinemas showing ‘standard’ 35mm film. According to Mr. Harding, the Chief at the time at the Astoria, Customs and Excise, who policed the quota, sent their men to the theatre twice during the run to confirm that the 34mm print was still being used. When 70mm finally arrived, it was also exempt, being over the width of standard 35mm. The regulations continued until 1983 and some 35mm features were blown-up to 70mm just to avoid the quota. One example was A BRIDGE TOO FAR. Even more trivia for wide screen fans. Two 65mm negatives were shot of AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS, one running at 30 fps for the 70mm Todd-AO prints and the other at 24 fps for making the high quality 35mm reduction prints for general release. The special Cinestage prints must have been made from the 24 fps version as Bob said the Kalee 21s used standard motors and gearing. Like ours at the BBC, they were mounted on what he called ‘studio’ bases which included the extra control switches for the selsyn locking system. The last film projection theatre at the BBC was in Centre House, across the road from the TV Centre. When I left in 1993, it still had a pair of Kalee 21s with the less often seen fixed prisms version of the Taylor Hobson anamorphic attachment. When I last paid a visit, just before it closed, they had been replaced with what I call modern gold ones with cylindrical elements. After asking what happened to the originals, they were found languishing in the stores cupboard cinema technology - march 2008
under a pile of camera tape. Needless to say, (with permission) I transferred them to one of my cupboards at home for preservation. They joined a Hilux-VAL that I had saved from the old Bijou preview theatre in Wardour Street. It had ended its working life on a 16mm projector, before ending up on the ‘of no value’ pile when the theatre closed down and the rest of the equipment found new homes. Learning of my interest in early anamorphic lenses, Nigel Wolland, now MBE, then still chief engineer at the Odeon, Leicester Square, found me not only a Varamorph but a Delrama as well. I collected them from the theatre, but I forgot to ask if they were ever used at the theatre and if any famous ‘Scope films received their royal premiere through them? I’m still looking out for examples of a Superscope and Panavision’s Super and Ultra Panatar variable prismatic projection lens attachments. I must find a computer and check if the PPT have any on their collection database. Even harder to find, must be the Taylor Hobson/Kalee anamorphics made for use on their horizontal 35mm 8-perf ‘VistaVision’ projectors, when showing contact prints from Technirama negatives. This was basically the same format as VistaVision but photographed with a x1.5 squeeze (via a reflecting Delrama anamorphic Camera lens) and primarily intended for making high quality ‘Scope reduction prints. The x1.5 projection attachments were unusual in that they were designed to restore the image by compressing it vertically, instead of expanding it horizontally. As, I believe, only six horizontal projectors were commissioned, these attachments must be very rare. I think they were only used to show a Technicolor Technirama demonstration film, THE CURTAIN RISES, ON TECHNIRAMA, at trade shows held at the Odeon Leicester Square and introduced by Jack Cardiff. I include a picture of one taken from Kalee’s ‘Horizontal Equipment’ brochure in case you ever spot one. All of today’s theatres still running ‘real’ film need anamorphic lenses for showing the 2.35: 1 squeezed print format, which remains popular with film makers. However, their continued use in the digital future is less certain. To make the most efficient use of all the pixels on the squarer 4x3 chipsets found in earlier digital cinema projectors, anamorphic lenses were often employed with powers calculated to produce both the 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 screen ratios. Although still an (expensive) option, the wider format chips in the latest models allow for the two formats to be accommodated by small amounts of cropping, so anamorphic projection lenses may eventually become part of cinema history. However, it could be an opportunity to produce an up-dated ‘digital’ version of the old variable anamorphic lenses. This would make it possible to choose any screen aspect ratio and still use all of the chip’s full vertical and horizontal resolution, whatever its own ‘native’ aspect ratio. In the case of 16x9 chips, the lens would
Technirama x1.5 attachment for use on the Kalee horizontal projector
Picture from an ad for Kalee 21 ‘Cinestage’ presentation, subtitled ‘Around the World in 80 days’.
34mm picture showing x1.56 squeeze
Technirama contact print
now need a less than zero (compression) setting for ratios less than 1.78:1, including when showing ‘classic’ academy 1.37:1 films. In the meantime, if a projector has to go to the scrap yard, always remember ‘save the lens’, particularly if it has got knobs on! Grant Lobban page 57
comparisons and compromises Graham Edmondson of Vivid Research introduces ‘home cinema’ in the rst of an ongoing series of articles that we hope will be of interest to those whose lives are primarily involved with ‘real’ cinema outside the home. So what exactly is home cinema anyway? Having a “cinema” in one’s home has for many years been considered the exclusive territory of the super rich, yet we can now all pop out and buy a home-cinema-in-a-box at High Street stores for less than £100. Let’s look at what we are really talking about here: The term home cinema came to mainstream use with two simultaneous developments in technology – the digitising of the picture source (from VHS to DVD), and the introduction of multi-channel sound formats (5.1 channels). Yet strangely, the size or quality of the picture display device barely featured in any home cinema discussions at that time. Ten years on however, it’s certainly now the turn for these display devices to have their consumer makeover. With flat screens and home cinema projectors crashing in price and providing large enough sized pictures to achieve correct viewing angles, it finally is the time that affordable technology gets close to bringing us a cinematic experience in the luxury of our homes. Delving more deeply into the technicalities of what comprises a home cinema, future articles in this series will be examining different elements of the system – picture issues, getting the best sound quality, seamlessly controlling the complete system and ‘future-proofing’ your equipment investments (if indeed that is possible). Trying to make predictions about
”Home cinema is fine, but the phone ringing and the baby alarm going off won’t replace the wonderful escapism of a night out at the cinema....” where the technology will lead us and what formats may or may not succeed is always going to be hard, but there are nevertheless some obvious patterns and trends that we will explore. But for now, and as an introduction to the exciting world of home cinema, let’s look at how it compares to the standards set over the last 100 years in the professional film and cinema world. Having dedicated the last 15 years of my life exclusively to this professional cinema industry, it has been fascinating to now immerse myself in a completely new industry which has primarily evolved from High Street hi-fi retailers. High end two channel hi-fi systems evolved into multi-channel 5.1 systems, the shops added picture display devices onto their shelves, and the industry is now focusing on getting out of the shops and into people’s homes to offer “custom installation” – a bespoke design and installation service for all home entertainment solutions. There is clearly a desire to replicate ‘Hollywood’ cinema standards in this custom installation business, and it has been fascinating to learn which elements have been considered most important. As with most technologies, the “numbers game” is playing a rather over-rated role. Whilst the professional cinema world is busy arguing over whether or not 4K resolution is better than 2K, for many years the home cinema industry manufacturers have been striving to give us higher ansi-lumen brightness numbers and increased contrast ratio figures to sell their projectors and display devices.
These ever expanding numbers are now out of control and a reality check is needed to actually interpret what they mean. Home cinema projectors are actually now far too bright – 50 foot lamberts seems to be a common measurements from a home cinema screen these days (way above the 14-16 we would hope to expect in a multiplex cinema). And the contrast ratio numbers are now relatively meaningless with no-one really being able to standardise on exactly how the contrast ratio is measured in the first place. Some of the more astute projector manufacturers have now realised that actually adding a feature to reduce the lamp power (which is probably too bright in the first place) helps gets the blacks ‘blacker’, the overall brightness down to more suitable levels, as well as often reducing fan noise and improving lamp life as an added bonus. Anamorphic lenses are just starting to creep into the high end home cinema world, rather ironically at a time when the trend in professional digital cinema seems to be to do without. Whilst they have the advantage that the full resolution of the display chip can be utilised for a squeezed image, this is traded against additional lens distortion and the inconvenience of having a large motorised turret bolted onto the front of a relatively small projector. The anamorphic solution certainly provides more light on screen (without half of the projector light being wasted in the black bars above and below the 2:35 image), but as I’ve cinema technology - march 2008
home cinema just described, reducing the light on a home cinema screen may not be such a bad thing anyway. Automatic motorised masking is now of course an absolute ‘must’ for a high end installation. And quite right too. What a shame it’s not the standard in all our multiplex cinemas these days. Alignment and tuning of the picture and sound to match a room’s characteristics and seating positions is something that has been an integral part of professional cinema installations for decades. After a slow start in the home market, the industry is starting to realise that not only does adding this functionality produce better final results, it also adds much needed value to the installation service. Most consumer AV receivers still have little or no correction available (sometimes a crude treble and bass control is all that is on offer), but now audio room correction technologies such as Audyssey are being added into the higher end audio products and also available as stand alone multi-EQ products.
Above: calibration screen for Sim2 projector and below an Audyssey sound equaliser.
It’s the same picture with projectors and flat screens - crude fixed parameter image settings (often randomly labelled as “vivid”, “natural”, “cinema” etc) have traditionally been simply selected ‘to taste’ by the end users. But now high end home cinema projectors such as Sim2 have comprehensive installer menus available that allow all image parameters to be properly calibrated using test equipment set up in the room. What has struck me most about my comparisons between home cinema and the modern multiplex, is that a rather high level of compromise is a necessity to give the home cinema customer what they really want. Multiplexes are built to show films in – they are (mostly) the right shape, have the right acoustics, the right picture size, correct view-
ing angles and no body cares what the speakers actually look like because they’re hidden behind the screen. In contrast, the picture and sound quality aren’t necessarily up at the top of the priority list in the home environment. Home décor is normally considered more important and the AV equipment therefore either needs to look great and fashionable to compliment this, or be totally hidden away in walls and ceiling so as it doesn’t ruin the interior designer’s creative talents. We’ve been removing ceiling surround loudspeakers from professional cinemas for years for very good reasons – they are far too directional to give the required ambient spread of sound to all seating positions. But now ceiling loudspeakers are the stable diet of most home cinema designs. And yes, I’ve even incorporated them into my own designs where there has been simply no alternative for the surround channels or even the front three screen channels. At least manufacturers such as KEF are addressing the problem that flush mounted ceiling speakers (left) create audio issues and their off-axis response is poor. They have come up with a range of custom installation speakers featuring motors that bring the speakers out of the ceiling to angle forwards and give a good
cinema technology - march 2008
on axis response to the seating positions. Picture viewing angles are just one big compromise as well. Depending on whether or not you get figures from Dolby, THX or SMPTE, the recommended cinema viewing angles are somewhere in the range of 30-60°. We should of course try and match these figures to replay cinematic content in the home, but have you ever tried watching TV content (that was shot and edited to be viewed on a small 19” television set) on a large screen? It simply doesn’t work this big and most TV content is just too overpowering to watch (with the possible exception of Formula One, which is simply awesome…). Do all these similarities, differences and compromises mean the end is nigh for traditional public cinema as we know it? I doubt it very much. To me, home cinema and the multiplex perfectly compliment each other. Whilst the lure (for some) of a glass of wine and soft sofa during a night in at the cinema may replace the buckets of popcorn and noisy neighbours in the multiplexes, the phone ringing and baby alarm going off at home certainly don’t replace the wonderful escapism and social experience of a night out at the cinema. Graham Edmondson www.vividresearch.co.uk page 59
I was pleased to receive as an early Christmas present a copy of an interesting book by Mervyn Gould, one of a series published by the Mercia Cinema Society, which was founded in 1980 to promote and publish research into the history of picture houses.
Basingstoke Entertained A History of Cinema in this Hampshire Market Town I was amazed to see that ‘Basingstoke Entertained’ is the Society’s 63rd book, and delighted know that this is Mervyn’s fourth book about the history of cinema and the theatre, and that he has three more in preparation, which are expected to be published this year. Mervyn certainly knows his stuff - he started his career in 1963 in the projection room of a 1937 cinema, and after touring and West End work, became a university technical tutor in stage management and lighting. The book was of special interest to me. Basingstoke was the town that I moved to when I first came ‘down south’ to work in 1970 – it was the only place I could afford a four-bedroom detached house within an hour’s commuting distance of Oxford Circus, and turned out to be a very pleasant town which had recently expanded from its historic market town origins to include a much larger ‘new town’ area which included a surprising number of green spaces as well as the expected range of modern shops and facilities and a large number of traffic roundabouts for which the town became notorious. I have to confess that this book about cinemas
in Basingstoke took me completely by surprise – I kept trying to think ‘where on earth was this cinema?’ as the author rolled out lists of venues that had existed over a period of nearly 100 years, but after a few chapters the truth dawned – by 1970, when I arrived, the only remaining cinema was the ABC / Waldorf on the edge of the then market square, (picture below) all the others having disappeared in the years prior to the town’s redevelopment. The only historic cinema-related building that I actually recognised had by my time become the Haymarket Theatre ( I remember seeing ‘Gaslight’ and ‘The Ghost Train’ there) and I was fascinated to learn from the book that this historic building had once been The Corn Exchange (animated pictures were evidently shown there in 1900) and The Grand Exchange Cinema. Mervyn manages to weave in a fascinating series of small-town tales of local business entrepreneurs and more or less villainous local town councillors, and presents a very interesting picture of how cinema developed in the first half of the twentieth century. He suggests that George Casey, who leased the Corn Exchange in 1913 and converted it into the Grand Exchange Cinema and Vaudeville Theatre, was perhaps the man who had the most impact on Basingstoke entertainment, subsequently converting the old drill hall into the Pavilion dance hall, reconstructing it as the Plaza, and opening the purpose-built Waldorf in 1935. The book tells of three early cinemas, converted from the Corn Exchange, a swimming baths (converted into The Electric Thetare), and the Drill Hall. It records the fire which destroyed the Grand in 1925, the race to show the first talkies in 1929, and the building of a super
cinema on a concrete raft on swampy ground in 1935. It notes the first incursion of a national cinema circuit when Union Cinemas acquired three Basingstoke venues in 1937 and of the muted opening of the Savoy in the first months of the second world war. There are nostalgic mentions of the formation of the ABC Minors’ Club in 1945 and the experiments with 3D and Cinemascope in the 1950s. The struggles of the cinema industry nationally are reflected in the closing of the Savoy in 1966 and the conversion of the ABC to provide two screens in 1977. The book is very up to date, mentioning the current multiplexes in the new Festival Place shopping centre (Vue) and at an out of town leisure site (Odeon), even mentioning that the Odeon has a digital cinema projector, and surprised me with the news that The Anvil, Basingstoke’s 1990s Concert Hall, has film projection facilities for an audience of about 800 on a 10 metre wide screen. The book will obviously be of great interest to anyone with Basingstoke connections, but I am sure that many more Cinema Technology readers will find this a fascinating read. It is only £8.95, and contains lots of interesting old photos of cinema interiors and exteriors, with copies of cinema posters and playbills from the earliest times. You will enjoy it! Jim Slater Basingstoke Entertained, by Mervyn Gould. 98pps, paperback ISBN: 0-946406-62-6 A5 Available post-free by sending a cheque made payable to Mercia Cinema Society to Stuart Smith, Mercia Sales, 100 Wickfield Road, Hackenthorpe, Sheffield, S12 4TT. cinema technology - march 2008
JACK ROE (CS) LTD www.jack-roe.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +44 (0) 1989 567474 Contact: Sandie Caffelle
EXPERIENCED HELPFUL FRIENDLY STAFF GIVE ADVICE ON: • Film Trailers • Own manufactured JACRO film splicing tape • Projection & Sound Equipment • Film Editing Supplies & Equipment • Automation • Front of House items • Film Handling Equipment and more Stock is held of most catalogue items
Roe Computer Systems
TaPoS TICKETING AND POINT OF SALE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY including:
• Automated telephone & Internet booking • Credit Card clearing • Reserved & unreserved ticket selling • Combined ticket/concession station & stock
CCCII N U RR REEESSS INNEEESSSTTTR UC RR U U CT TU U ii nni tnt ee rr n m iiitttee edd d te rnna aatt tii io oon nn a aa lll lll iii m m
www.cinestructures.co.uk www.cinestructures.co.uk www.cinestructures.co.uk www.josper.com www.josper.com www.josper.com
email@example.com Industrias Josper, Industrias Josper,S.L.S.L.ofofSpain Spainare proud toare announce that Cinestructures have Industrias Josper, S.L. of Spain proud proud to announce that are been appointed as their agents in the to Cinestructures announce thathave Cinestructures have been appointed U.K. & Ireland. been appointed as their agents in the as their agents in the U.K. & Ireland. U.K. & Ireland.pricing and friendly service For competitive competitive pricing friendly For competitive pricing andand friendly service forFor supply and installation of: forservice supply and installation of: for supply and installation • New cinema, conference and of: conference theatre seating Newcinema, cinema, conferenceand and ••New theatre seating Home cinema seating • theatre seating cinema seating Auditorium seating •••Home Home cinema seating Auditorium seating Custom designed cinema seating ••• Auditorium seating Seating for schools and universities •• Finance available (subject to status) Customdesigned designedcinema cinemaseating seating • Custom • Contact: Bill Chew +44 (0) 7762 337834 available (subject to status) • Finance Contact: Bill Chew +44 (0) Alan Kay +44 (0) 7762 7810 337834 480126 Chew 7882 909540 Contact: Bill Alan Kay +44 +44 (0) Office +44 (0) 7810 1462 480126 450589 Alan Kay +44 7810 450589 480126 Office +44 (0) 1462
CINESTRUCTURES INTERNATIONAL LTD Suite 15, Intech House, 34-35INTERNATIONAL Wilbury Way, Hitchin SG4LTD 0TW CINESTRUCTURES CINESTRUCTURES LTD 11 Ashfield Road, Elmswell,INTERNATIONAL Bury St Edmunds, IP30 9HG Suite 15, Intech House, 34-35 Wilbury Way, Hitchin SG4 0TW
CINEMA SCREENS LIMITED ������������� ������������ ������ ����������������������������� ����� ������������������������������ ������������������������
Screens and Frame Systems Screen Surfaces Masking Systems Curtains & Wall Drapes Motor Systems Repair and Maintenance Design Consultancy Manufacture Installation ������������� ������������ ������ ����������������������������� ����� ������������������������������ ������������������������
control and more ....
FUTURE PR OJECTIONS FILM - DIGITAL - SOUND - DESIGN DIGITAL CINEMA Supply, installation and Kinoton - BARCO - Panasonic service of Digital and
Film projection and sound systems. 35MM CINEMA Kinoton - Proyecson - Custom design Autorised UK THX representative.
Cyan upgrades for all THX
projectors - V3001 lasers now in.UK supplier Sound-Picture-Alignment-Sole authorised Xenon lamps from Superior Quartz, offering the best rooms-Concert Halls Hotels-Screening rooms-Private warranty, value and backup.
SPECIALIST VENUES SPARE PARTS Theatre design, project
AV - Kinoton - Cyan upgrades - great pricing/service
management and turnkey installation - recent credits XENON LAMPS include the Soho Long life - low costs - FilmHotel, or D cinema Courthouse, Curzon Mayfair.
DESIGN AND INSTALLATION Competitive pricing on Turnkey works - consultancy
LCD / DLP projectors, Kinoton 35mm RENTAL ANDsystems EVENTS and audio equipment Outdoors - indoors - Film - Video - Inflatable screens from the world's best manufacturers.
.com fprojLtd www. Future Projections
U2 The Windsor Centre, Windsor Grove, London SE27 9NT, UK. Tel: (+44) 020 8766 7100, Fax (+44) 020 8766 7090 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Future Projections Ltd U2 The Windsor Centre, Windsor Court London SE27 9NT. Tel (+44) 020 87667100 Fax (+44) 020 8766 7090 email@example.com
cinema technology - march 2008
Edward P. Hobson
1948 - 2008 FBKS FSMPTE
Edward Hobson, Past President of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, a Fellow of the BKSTS, and well known to many BKSTS Members, died of cancer on 28th January 2008 at the age of 59. Ed had for many years been an active member of the engineering community and a SMPTE Fellow, and had been a member or officer of the Society’s board of governors since 1991. He was SMPTE President for the 2005-06 term. “Ed will be remembered as the person who was always positive, friendly and outgoing. He served tirelessly for SMPTE and for the benefit of the industry,” said SMPTE President Robert Kisor, who is VP engineering and technical services at Paramount. BKSTS Past President Lawrie Read expressed his sadness and said “Ed was a great colleague, a very talented individual and someone over the years who became a great personal friend. He was a delight to be with and his enthusiasm for so much in life rubbed off on everyone around him. He was such a gentleman and, through
his natural love of this country and its history, an honorary Brit.” Ed was awarded a BKSTS Fellowship at the BKSTS 75th Anniversary Awards Ceremony in 2006 and was one of the main architects and supporters of the plans for closer collaboration between the two societies. Ed was born on June 2nd, 1948. He graduated from Hamilton High East, Hamilton, and gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. He was a broadcast and production engineer for WTEN-TV, Albany, NY and WRGB, Schenectady. He was also a field service engineer, sales manager, and marketing manager for Grass Valley Group, Grass Valley, CA; in marketing management for Graham-Patten Systems and Sony Broadcast Systems, San Jose. Ed founded Omneon Video Networks, Mountain View, CA, and continued until his death as Vice President of National TeleConsultants Inc. of Glendale, CA. In his private life, Ed, who had been married to his wife Judy for 28 years, was a true all-rounder.
He was an avid cook, gardener and baker. He piloted his own Piper Archer III aeroplane out of Nevada County airport and enjoyed playing Gershwin and other Broadway melodies on his piano. Ed’s Memorial Service was held in Nevada City on February 2nd, and a further memorial service will take place in Hamilton. Ed is survived by his wife and both his parents, and will be sadly missed by his family and by his many friends in the engineering world. Jim Slater With thanks to SMPTE colleagues for their help in preparing this tribute.
feedback PRESENTATION STANDARDS Mike Taylor sounds off, telling us that things aren’t what they used to be! I read with interest the letter from Mr Ben Wales of Southampton in the December edition of “CT” about his experience at the Empire Cinema Leicester Square. Unfortunately this is no isolated case either in this country or overseas. The following extract from an American magazine puts the finger on one of the causes of poor presentation. “The next time you visit your local cinema and you find the picture out of focus, the sound too loud or too soft, and possibly the wrong sound format in use, or the screen image the wrong shape, you might wish that the projectionist would correct everything. Well forget it - there isn’t one. The new breed of cinema owner has decided to dispense with the craft of projection and the professional projectionist altogether. Instead page 62
they multi-train the floor staff to feed the projectors and push a few buttons. If you have the nerve to complain to the management it’s too late anyway. You have already bought your ticket and the highly priced popcorn and iced drink “. Unlike Mr Wales, I can remember the Empire in its heyday for MGM (and the Rialto, Columbia, Pavilion, and original Warner) and the dearly departed Stan Perry the Chief Projectionist - who was President of the Guild of Projectionists. Any presentation like that experienced by Mr Wales would have resulted in the booting out of the projectionists pronto. As regards the ticket price of £13.50p - I would expect a double bill, organ recital, and a three course meal - West End or no West End. Unfortunately, you cannot turn back the clock. The days of showmanship, presentation, and pride in ones work are over, except for a handful of dedicated
cinema owners and their staff. We are slowly reaching the stage where if every cinema closed its doors they would not be missed. Those that may survive are slowly being filled with digital toys and turned into television viewing rooms. Every film to-day is classed as a blockbuster (including the adverts). A total misuse of the description, considering we have not had a genuine blockbuster since the Sound of Music, which ran for over two years in several locations. To-days films have gone within a couple of months. You are no longer a patron at the cinema, but either a customer or indeed a guest. What rubbish. I am not aware of any cinema sending out an invitation and expecting a R.S.V.P. But then your modem cinema is a supermarket trying to sell entertainment that nobody wants at any price. Mr Wales might be interested to learn that complaints about showmanship
are not just relevant to to-days cinema. To close this overview, a quote from May 1954. “A recent visit to my local cinema has set us wondering if the days of showmanship are over. No longer is it ‘The Show’s The Thing’, but ‘The Sales The Thing’. It is the age of the ice cream, chocolate, and drinks. It appears the picture is a very secondary consideration. Is it really necessary to have an elaborate decor, comfortable seating, a background of darkness and music to eat ice cream or drink coloured water? When will the exhibitor realise that the public primarily go to the cinema to see a film? And we do not mean an advert for somebody’s toothpaste or cough cure. Surely a good film well shown with all the trimmings or artistic showmanship is a thing to be desired by the public and dedicated exhibitor alike.” Mike Taylor, former projectionist, Liverpool Hippodrome cinema technology - march 2008
THE WORLD’S NUMBER ONE SCREENS FOR DIGITAL 3D CINEMA
HARKNESS CINEMA SCREENS T h e Seen w o r lin d ’more s m ocinemas s t w i d worldwide e l y u s e dthan c i n any e m aothers! screens Me e t u s a t Ci n e m a E xp o I nt e rn ati on al , A ms te rdam - Bo ot h N o 2 0 5
Meet us at ShoWest Booth no. 1814
www.harkness-screens.com s al es @.ha rk nes s - s creen s .com
�������������������������� ������������������������������������� ������
������������������������������������ ������������������ ���������������� ������������� ��������� �������� � ��������� ��������