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The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals

December 2017 cinematech.today

Why technology will only ever have a supporting role in great cinema

A reality check string-fellows cracking films! Are cinema and VR made for each other or two competing formats?

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A technical duet: BFI’s marriage of classic films with live orchestration

Vol 30, No4, December 2017 Produced in partnership with:

Aardman Animation’s Dave Sproxton on the stop-frame phenomenon

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visit www.cinematech today FOR ALL YOUR NEWS & INDUSTRY ANALYSIS

INSIDE THIS ISSUE December 2017 • Vol 30 • No 4 NEWS 008 011 015

A new US facility for Harkness Screens and Sony’s first foray into lasers MPS ties up with Labo in Los Angeles, plus industry movers and shakers Veritek Global pioneers the installation of direct view displays into cinemas

COLUMNS 061 084 089

The European Digital Cinema Forum was busy at IBC. Here’s the rundown Grant Lobban’s history of cinema hits premium large formats, old and new The ECA has been at the heart of the event cinema conversation this year

Features

Features continued

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on the cover: Technology is all well and good, but stories are at the heart of our business, insists Harry Mathias

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The Connaught in Worthing — proof that you don’t need a huge budget to triumph

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Cracking films, Gromit… In conversation with Aardman’s Dave Sproxton

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The Film Distributors’ Association put on an exhibition aimed at drawing in the younger crowd to the cinema world

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Virtual reality: companion or successor to cinema? Industry experts have their say on a critical format’s development

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CTC in action: The CTC brought experts together across the Atlantic to tackle the challenges of VR and AR in cinemas

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The next chapter for 3D: where is the stereoscopic world going against a backdrop of HFR and direct view displays?

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Does the direct view LED display spell the end for projection technology? Industry sages predict a brighter future

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on the cover: The BFI has made an art of marrying live orchestra and classic film, but would Stanley Kubrick approve?

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The annual Widescreen Weekend grows bigger, better and more diverse. Mark Trompeteler on a big screen bonanza

High-contrast images, wide colour gamuts and laser and xenon compared — at IBC the discussions focus on tech

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Analysing the audience — how data can help cinemas track their customers

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There’s more to the Isle of Man than kippers, bikers and offshore finance. It has a thriving cinema scene, too

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The Regal, in Fordingbridge, is a real gift to a small Hampshire community

0

Around the cinema world overlooked, the Latin American 023 Often cinema market is booming. David Hancock examines the landscape

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Small private cinemas are gaining traction in China, and they’re on the 0 up. Patrick von Sychowski reports

the the is

Events in focus: IBC Big screen annual media technology show 033 The in Amsterdam puts cinema under the spotlight. CT reports on the event

And one last Thing… sky’s falling on our heads… Or our 094 The industry needs to stop talking itself down

The IMIS (International Moving Image Society) powered by the BKSTS aims to inspire, educate, train and connect all members of media industry, whether at entry or professional level, around the world. The Society works to maintain standards and to encourage pursuit of excellence in all aspects of moving image and associated technologies, in the UK and throughout the world. The Society independent of all governments and commercial organisations.

The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the following companies and organisations: ARRI • British Film Institute • Boxer Systems • Christie • Harkness Screens • LB Group • London Film Museum • Marshall Electronics • Molinare • MPC • Pinewood Studios • Snell Advanced Media • Sohonet • StreamVuTV • Tradefair For membership inquiries, write to: Roland Brown, President, IMIS, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH, UK; or email: membership@societyinmotion.com www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

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DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Digital cinema MPS delivers

Looking for the digital cinema experts? That’s us.

To find out why MPS is one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain visit www.1000companies.com

For DCPs and KDMs For exhibitor and distributor For live events and technical support www.motionpicturesolutions.com

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from the editor December 2017 • Volume 30 • No.4

Cinema is booming — even the press agrees! How quickly opinions change. Our industry must be doing something right when, back in August, The Sunday Times under the headline ‘Hooray for Hollywood’, reported that, far from being wiped out by Netflix, cinema is booming, thanks to adult fare being provided in luxurious surroundings. After years of reports of the imminent demise of cinema, the paper gave space to an interview with Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, and concluded that, despite everything you read before, cinema is far from failing — it is, in fact, booming. In a well-balanced piece, Phil talked about how admissions, which sank to an all-time low of 54m in 1984, had grown to 168.3 million in 2016, with further growth expected this year. He said we are in a period of considerable success, there are no facts to show that cinema is in decline, and the supposed premise that TV has overtaken cinema is based on wilful misreading of facts and lazy journalism. The UKCA has successfully lobbied the film distributors for an even spread of new releases throughout the year, and this has improved overall attendances. Having the certainty of strong films over the next five years provides confidence for investment,

and 100 new cinemas are expected to open in the UK during that time. The article, by Jonathan Dean, included a look at the newly opened Castle Cinema in Clapton, comments from Tim Richards, CEO of Vue about their refurbished cinemas, and an explanation of the advantages of seeing National Theatre Live and other arts events in your local cinema. After years of ‘cinema is dead’ stories, it was refreshing to read that cinemas now provide films for grown ups, whereas TV is offering Love Island. The author ended with the memorable words: ‘Is this actually the end of TV?’

SHowmanship: the heart of the business It’s always a pleasure to watch a performance where you think ‘Wow, there’s something special here’. I was privileged to watch the ‘full-fat’ 70mm IMAX film version of Dunkirk at the BFI London IMAX, and this turned out to be a show to remember. The word ‘showmanship’ kept coming to mind as the huge 1.43:1 aspect ratio images shot on 15 perf 70mm film made the most of the wonderful panoramic shots of the beaches of northern France and gave a sense of scale to stimulate the imagination. About three-quarters of the movie was shown this way, with the other 25% projected in standard 70mm format, 2.20:1, so the top and bottom of the IMAX screen showed black bands. But this change of aspect ratio was, surprisingly, used to good artistic intent, with the smaller picture serving to focus in on restricted areas such as the interior of the hull of a ship. A performance which the BFI IMAX projection team can be proud of.

Moving Forward Nothing stays the same, and I regret that, after more than 20 years in the role, this will be the last issue of Cinema Technology to feature my name as Managing Editor. New arrangements mean CT will commission far more articles from a wider range of writers, and readers and advertisers can be sure that CT’s coverage of all aspects of the cinema exhibition industry around the world will continue to be unrivalled.

Jim Slater, Managing Editor jim.slater@slaterelectronics.com

Writing in this issue… 1

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DAVID HANCOCK

RICHARD MITCHELL

PATRICK von Sychowski

David is research director for film and cinema at IHS Markit. In this issue, he explores the flourishing state of the oft-overlooked Latin American market, p23.

Vice-president of global marketing at Harkness Screens, Richard is also president of the CTC. Read his view on the renewal our industry should undertake, p94.

Based in Singapore, Patrick is the editor of online industry site, Celluloid Junkie. On p27, he settles into the comfy sofa that is China’s private cinema revolution.

December 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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NEWS CT’s round-up of the latest industry news and events

Arts Alliance provide their TMS equipment to the world’s largest exhibitor, AMC

NEW US FACTORY FOR HARKNESS SCREENS

Virginia

Harkness Screens has opened a new manufacturing facility in the USA. The facility in Roanoke, Virginia will replace the existing plant, nearby in Fredericksburg, although Harkness retains a presence in Fredericksburg with the opening of a new commercial and administration office. At close to 100,000 square feet, the Roanoke facility increases capacity fivefold. Harkness’ high-performance coated 2D

and 3D screens can now be made bigger, up to 60 feet in height and over 140 feet in width. The new factory is equipped with the proprietary Harkness Digital Perforation process for superior 4K and laser image quality and enhanced audio transmission. The factory has been shaped to meet increasing demand and to deploy new coating technologies in development that optimize screens for 2D and 3D presentation, as well as emerging technologies.

VISIT WWW.HARKNESS-SCREENS.COM

Arts Alliance Media (AAM) has been selected by AMC Theatres, the largest movie exhibition company in the world, to provide its Screenwriter Theatre Management System (TMS) to manage some 2,600 digital cinema screens in the USA. Screenwriter will provide the foundation for AMC to achieve greater automation of its operations. Mark Latimer, vice president of sight and sound at AMC, said that AAM and AMC share a similar vision for the future of cinema, so could deliver what AMC needed — a solution that undertakes the core tasks of a TMS but which also offers additional value and the foundations for innovation.

Growing demand: Harkness has opened a new Roanoke facility in Virginia with a firm eye on the future

Dolby Cinema opens in France

PARIS

Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé, the largest cinema chain operator in France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, opened a new Dolby Cinema at Pathé Massy, south of Paris, on 20 October. The private launch event included an exclusive screening of La promesse de l’aube, ahead of the film’s general release in France. This opening marks the first Dolby Cinema in France, with Pathé Vaise in Lyon and Pathé Docks 76 in Rouen due to open later this year.

VISIT WWW.DOLBY.COM

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www.cinematech.today

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INDUSTRY NEWS

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CHRISTIE PROJECTION FOR LFF POP-UP CINEMA

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At the London Film Festival the BFI once again presented the 820seat Embankment Garden Cinema — a full-scale, temporary venue constructed to the highest technical specifications including Christie 4K projection and a 16-metre wide screen. Almost 30,000 visitors came to the LFF in just 10 days. The Embankment Garden Cinema was a rigid-bodied structure complete with tiered cinema seating, black box lined with serge, plus a full box office area and bar. Christie supplied two Solaria CP4230 DLP projectors which were installed on a 6m high platform at the rear of the auditorium. The projectors used the very bright 6KSP lamps, and as there were no 3D screenings, the matt white screen ensured enhanced 2D image quality.

A full-scale temporary venue: the LFF’s 820-seat Embankment Gardens cinema is a favourite with festival-goers

VISIT WWW.CHRISTIEDIGITAL.COM

Suited to a range of screens, the R800 series is the first foray into laser projection for the manufacturer

FIRST SONY LASER CINEMA PROJECTORS ON SALE After a preview at CinemaCon in the spring, Sony Digital Cinema has now brought its first 4K phosphor laser cinema projectors to market. The SRX-R800 Series is described as ‘complementing our acclaimed HPM lamp-based projector family’, and claims to set new picture quality standards with ultra-clear speckle free images in true 4K, with a 10,000:1 average contrast ratio, enabled by the latest advances in Sony’s SXRD optical panel technology. This makes all SRX-R800 models highly suited to HDR delivery with no extra equipment or licenses required. It is claimed that the laser light source maintains consistent brightness levels over a 35,000 hour operating period based on a room temperature of 25 degrees, with effectively no maintenance, saving on frequent lamp changes. There’s a choice of 4K laser solutions for different sizes of cinema; the SRX-R815P offers 15,000 lumens brightness for smaller and medium screens. In Europe this will be offered alongside the dual-projector SRX-R815DS solution, providing up to 30,000 lumens, ideal for presentation in 2D and 3D on PLF screens. The dual projection systems make big-screen 3D presentations easy, with no need for lens swaps.

VISIT WWW.SONY.CO.UK www.cinematech.today

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DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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INDUSTRY NEWS

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INDUSTRY MOVES ADAM MACDONALD CTC member Adam MacDonald has joined Oliver Pasch’s team at Sony Digital Cinema 4K in Europe as regional sales head with responsibility for operations and sales in the UK and Ireland and the Nordics. Adam has more than 12 years of experience in the cinema industry, with DTS, MI3D and RealD. Oliver told CT: “It’s a great pleasure to welcome Adam to the team at Sony Digital Cinema. With his experience in the industry and passion to deliver the best cinema experience to audiences through our dealer partners and direct customers, Adam is a perfect match for everything that Sony 4K stands for.”

TIM POTTER

MPS IN NEW US PARTNERSHIP

los angeles

Motion Picture Solutions has established a new joint venture in LA with Labo, a major post-production, digital and film processing entity in the Americas. Launched last month at the American Film Market in LA, the MPSLabo joint venture, sees both companies investing 50:50 in the facility. It is already delivering for customers, with services spanning post-production and content distribution. Based in Burbank, California, this strategic partnership brings together two well-known and dynamic companies to service the US film industry and the International market. As trusted service providers, the two firms count major studios, independent distributors and production companies worldwide as customers. Labo has a focus on distribution and post-production services, film archiving and restoration, while MPS is a leader in KDM management, content localisation, mastering and distribution. Distilling these strengths into one facility in LA allows both to expand the services they offer at every stage of the supply chain.

VISIT WWW.MPSLABO.COM

IMAX APPROVAL FOR USHIO’S NEW DXL65BA3

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JOHN DOWSLAND John Dowsland has joined Dolby Laboratories as content relations manager focusing on the company’s Vision and Atmos technologies. He has previously worked for DTS, CineServe, Arts Alliance Media, and, most recently, Motion Picture Solutions.

LES BROCK

No compromise on initial brightness: Ushio’s DXL65BA3

The latest product from the specialist manufacturer Ushio has been met with IMAX approval for use in their cinemas. The DXL65BA3 features longer than average life-time, a warranty of 700 hours, and an improved lumen maintenance with no compromise on initial brightness. The obvious advantage for cinemas is an extended maintenance cycle and more lumens on the screen over the lifetime of the lamp. Separately, Ushio Europe is heavily investing into the future of speciality lighting – with a new factory opened in Poland. Ushio Poland officially opened the doors recently to its new factory in Pass, just outside of Warsaw. The building has a production area of 5,000 square meters and dwarfs its predecessor which housed its production lines in just 2,000 square meters of space. It is home to two production lines primarily manufacturing metal halide (MH) and hgh-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps.

VISIT WWW.USHIO.COM

Tim Potter has been appointed regional sales manager at CinemaNext, part of the Ymagis Group. Previously with Sony, Tim is well-known within the cinema market having been working with exhibitors for the past seven years, helping major exhibitors and industry partners through the transition from 35mm to Digital Cinema. He told CT that he looks forward to continuing to work alongside friends and colleagues in exhibition, with the goal of helping deliver the best experience.

Les Brock has joined the Sound Associates team, with a focus on the latest developments in projection and sound systems. He is building on considerable experience from his years at Granada Cinemas, Rank Film Laboratories and then Sony. Les said “I am very happy to be back in the industry and working with faces old and new at SA.”

PASCAL MOGAVERO Pascal Mogavero has been announced as senior vice president, of Eclair, part of the Ymagis Group. He replaces Christophe Lacroix, who is heading up management of new innovating activities developed by the group. Pascal has extensive experience in technological project management, digital strategy and business transformation, having worked at Canal+ and, latterly Hiscox Europe Direct where he headed the operations department. DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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INDUSTRY NEWS

TWO LEGS GOOD IN BRIGHTON IMIS CINEMA TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE Richard Mitchell (Chairman), Mike Bradbury, Roland Brown, Bryan Cook, Michael Denner, Kiril Enikov, Richard Huhndorf, Denis Kelly, Peter Knight, Graham Lodge, Adam MacDonald, André Mort, Mark Nice, Dave Norris, Ngozi Okali, Kevin Phelan, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Stephen Rance, Jim Slater, Russell Smith, Simon Tandy, Chris Tostevin, Paul Wilmott, Demir Yavuz.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY ISSN 0955-2251 - is published quarterly by Motion Picture Solutions Limited on behalf of the IMIS.

The print edition is mailed to members of the IMIS and is distributed to virtually every cinema in the UK and many more in Europe and worldwide. Printed in the UK by The Magazine Printing Company using only paper from FSC/PEFC suppliers. www.magprint.co.uk Cinema Technology Magazine online is an interactive version of the print edition allowing free access and updated news links to the latest in the cinema industry. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com Views expressed in Cinema Technology are not necessarily the views of the Society.

EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: JIM SLATER 17 Winterslow Road, Porton,

It’s in the can-can… The newer set of stripy legs to grace Brighton’s streets

brighton

At the recent London and South East UKCA Branch meeting at the ‘Dukes at Komedia’ Cinema in Brighton I was reminded of the story about the set of legs that graces the canopy. The first cinema to sport such a set of can-can legs was the ‘Not the Moulin Rouge’ cinema in Headington, Oxford. Built as The New Cinema in 1923, it became the Headington Cinema in 1929, and the 1960s saw a refurbishment and a change of name to Cine Moulin Rouge. In the 1970s it became known as a ‘sex cinema’ and eventually closed in 1980 before being taken over by Bill Heine, a radio journalist who owned the nearby Penultimate

Picture Palace. He re-opened the site as ‘Not the Moulin Rouge’ and commissioned sculptor John Buckley to create 20ft can-can legs, erected despite fierce battles with planners. The cinema was demolished in 1991, after which the legs were installed at the Duke of York in Brighton, one of the oldest cinemas in Britain. Initially installed on the front balcony, later moved to the roof, they still wave about today. When the new “Dukes at Komedia” two-screen cinema was built in the North Laine area of Brighton in 2012, it was effectively a sister cinema to the Duke of York, so a new set of legs (pictured), was mounted on the canopy outside. Jim Slater

Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK T: +44 (0) 1980 610544

GDC’s latest technology automates the cinema workflow

E: Jim.Slater@SlaterElectronics.com ADVERTISING AND PRODUCTION: BOB CAVANAGH Caixa Postal 2011, Vale da Telha, 8670-156 Aljezur, Portugal T: +351 282 997 050 M: +351 962 415 172 E: bobcavanagh@sapo.pt COMMISSIONING EDITOR: PETER KNIGHT E: peter.knight@madcornishprojectionist.co.uk ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID W: www.spacehopperdesign.co.uk E: dean@spacehopperdesign.co.uk

SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed free to IMIS Members. For subscription details — www.cinematechnologymagazine.com or e-mail ct@motionpicturesolutions.com

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | DECEMBER 2017

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GDC Cinema Automation 2.0 is claimed by the company to be the first-ever centralised solution to manage automatically content storage and playback, show scheduling, power supply and screening quality. The system features the SCL-1000 Centralised Storage Playback Solution, designed to streamline content management. It is claimed to·reduce content ingestion time up to 90%. Ingested content can be shared to as many as 10 auditoriums for efficient and stable playback. With collosal 48TB central storage — equivalent to approximately 400 films — GDC’s SCL-1000 offers up to 12x more content than a traditional 4TB storage device.

VISIT WWW.GDC-TECH.COM

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Cinema Server

Seating

Masking / Curtains

Projector

HVAC

Cinema Sound System

Cinema Core 510c

COMING SOON

Digital 1-sheets

Concession Signage

Meetings

Lighting

THINK PLATFORM, NOT PRODUCTS

Q-SYS is more than a product. Q-SYS is an ever-expanding family of technologies that are used as a base upon TM

which many operations and functions of the cinema complex can be combined, centrally controlled, and monitored – from virtually anywhere. Since it’s software-based, it can be easily updated as technology moves forward, which means your investment is always protected. If it can be controlled, it can be controlled by Q-SYS.

qsc.com QSC and the QSC logo are registered trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries.#16C

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INDUSTRY NEWS

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CHRISTIE PROJECTORS FOR CINEWORLD

BERKSHIRE

Bracknell’s redeveloped town centre has a new 12 screen Cineworld at its heart. The multiplex is equipped with eight Christie CP2220 and four Christie CP2230 projectors. The CP2220 delivers 22,000 lumens using a 3kW Xenon lamp and is costeffective and compact, while the CP2230 is claimed to be the brightest digital cinema projector available on the market, with 33,000 lumens. Cineworld Bracknell opened with Stephen King’s IT in their 4DX screen which comes complete with moving seats and special effects — including wind, fog, lightning, bubbles, water, rain and scents.

The CP2220 was chosen for Bracknell

Veritek installing direct view displays for Sony Pan-European, independent cinema support brand Veritek says it is likely to be the first cinema support brand in the world to install direct view displays. Working on behalf of Sony, Veritek engineers recently installed Sony’s C-LED technology at the IBC show in Amsterdam (see page 33) and the recent FNCF Congress in Deauville, France. James Salamon, Veritek’s head of business development commented: “While we believe the commercial viability of direct view displays within cinemas is still some years away, we are excited to be working with Sony and this technology. The recent installations Veritek: pioneers in direct view display installation

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required great planning and execution, and the engineers had to ensure the panels were aligned with pixel perfection. The displays caused quite a stir at both events and it was hugely satisfying to watch people stop in their footsteps and take pictures of the displays!”

VISIT WWW.VERITEKGLOBAL.COM

DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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REDUCE ENERGY COST FOR YOUR

THEATER

USHIO offers VEMS®, a unique and innovative IT system designed to save energy and money for your theater without any additional investment expenditures. Our Virtual Energy Management System can help: • Save energy and money without spending money up front • Lower your monthly utility bills • Lower your maintenance costs • Reduce energy consumption by 25% over time • Reduce CO2 emissions • Provide all BMS in one place with Virtual Operator®

www.ushio.com | 800.838.7446

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HARRY MATHIAS

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technology is important CT had a rare chance to talk with Harry Mathias — a doyen of cinema technology whose experience in all aspects of cinema, from cinematography, to directing, to the science of digital projection make his candid opinions on the latest technical developments well worth listening to...

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he Cinema Technology archive holds two memorable papers by Professor Harry Mathias from the late 1980s: “Image Quality From A Non-Engineering Viewpoint”, a topic still at the heart of work the Cinema Technology Committee (CTC) does today, and “Gamma and Dynamic Range Needs for an HDTV Electronic Cinematography System” which led discussions that resulted in development of international standards for electronic imaging at a time when much of the industry was conflicted as to what part HDTV would play in the future. Here is a man with his finger on the industry pulse. Professor Mathias had agreed to be interviewed on the latest developments in our industry, so Cinema Technology caught up with him on a trip he made to London earlier this year while undertaking a series of master-classes at several universities, as well as to promoting his latest book, which has the somewhat apocalyptic title The Death and Rebirth of Cinema. So, is the cinema industry due for a resurrection?

but story-telling is the future... www.cinematech.today

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18 HARRY MATHIAS

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS Most reports introduce Harry as a ‘veteran cinematographer’, although he has long moved on from this to use his talents in other areas of the business as well, and it was fascinating to read the fully justified title ‘The Renaissance Man of technical issues‘ that I came across in one technical review. The essence of ‘Renaissance man’ is one whose breadth of knowledge and expertise spans a range of different subjects, and Harry’s career certainly satisfies that criterion, providing the important advantage that his work in many different fields of cinema has overlapped so that he has been able to use the expertise in one area to enhance his work in others. His many publications, books, articles and lectures have served to spread a knowledge of digital cinema worldwide, and the importance of image quality has been a constant theme. Somehow he has managed to combine all this with an extended academic and teaching career. As a director of photography he has covered most things —

CT: As one who has been in digital cinema since its earliest days, what state do you think the industry is in now, and what will the cinema experience look like in 2047? HM: The industry is in an appalling state. We have forgotten we are in the storytelling business. Much technology is used purely for the sake of introducing new technology rather than for improving the quality of films and the cinema-going experience. Many cinematographers, often pushed by directors and producers to use the ‘next big thing’, have stopped using film and jumped straight to digital, often losing the benefit of carefully honed craft skills developed over years. As an example, nobody use lightmeters any more, which as a cinematographer I always considered essential. Correct exposure is critical to achieving full tonality and colour saturation, but good lighting is more than just correct exposure; properly ‘shaped’ light, incident light readings, reflected light readings and spot readings all have their place, together with

feature films, TV dramas, documentaries, commercials, and music videos, and was nominated for an Academy Award. Harry learned his trade in Hollywood, working with some of the greatest names in the industry, and developed an unrivalled expertise in cinematography and lighting, and has used this knowledge to ensure that digital cinema has developed so that it maintains the highest Hollywood standards. Harry was early into digital cinema technology. His work with NEC, Barco, Schneider Optic and Panavision makes his CV unmatchable. He was a founding member of the SMPTE DC28 and 21DC Digital Cinema standards groups, and was honoured by being made a SMPTE Life Fellow for his digital cinema standards work. By coincidence our discussions took place on the 30th anniversary of Cinema Technology, so it was good to use the ‘30th’ theme to ask Harry about developments in the past 30 years, and for his thoughts on where it is heading. Jim Slater

may eventually catch up — let us hope so! Wider colour gamuts present an interesting challenge and have some potential advantages, but I am not sure that current colour gamuts are a real issue — just because the technology allows us to use WCG, it doesn’t mean our cinematography will benefit. What we must do is to consider and work on colour gamuts in relation to different types of lighting, trying to optimise the cinematographic results we can get from LED lighting, for example — there is much work to be done and much to be learned. Higher frame rates also seem to be a solution looking for a problem. It will be fine in instances where you can see there is a real improvement, but that is far from the norm. I am a believer in the adage that ‘film sees things the way we do’ — some blur is a fact of life, our eyes and brains are used to it. Higher dynamic range is currently being regarded as the next big thing, but cinema has always managed to provide magnificent images without it. I regard HDR as just another improvement, something that we

and we must take care not to lose the skills and experience that have served us well over generations. As for what things will be like in a further 30 years time I can only agree with your CTC members’ own predictions that people will still be enjoying going out to cinemas to share magnificent images and sound with each other, but there is little point in speculating as to the technologies that will be in use — things move so quickly these days. But, always remember: cinematography is about making visual art, it is not about mastering new technology, but sometimes mastering daunting technology is what you have to do to make art. Just keep the art foremost in your mind, not the technology.

“HDR IS SEEN AS THE NEXT BIG THING, BUT CINEMA HAS ALWAYS MANAGED TO PROVIDE MAGNIFICENT IMAGES WITHOUT IT” precise camera settings. With digital cinematography much of this has been forgotten, with cinematographers often content to take what appears on the monitor. Properly done, digital cinema images do not render correctly on HDTV (REC 709) monitors and using an on-set monitor is the worst way to judge image quality. Proper lighting sets the mood and involves the viewer with the storytelling. To be more charitable, I suppose it is possible that modern cinematographers are ‘behind the curve’ with use of new technologies and CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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must learn to use to best advantage. What I don’t like is the current tendency to use HDR as another selling point; spectacularly high-contrast images may have their place in cinema, but certainly not everywhere. So you asked me what I thought about developments in the past 30 years. My conclusion is that we are in danger of using technologies for their own sake rather than to provide improvements in the cinema experience. There is a grave danger from the currently fashionable attitude that ‘if it is new it must be great’. That really isn’t true

Capturing virtual reality footage is no doubt a ground-breaking technology, but is it cinema? www.cinematech.today

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HARRY MATHIAS

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Measuring light levels… a critical element of film-making that some seem to think is passé

look now at what VR will bring to the business, and it may help, but it will certainly not overcome such content-related problems. As far as I am concerned, in spite of the huge number of start-up companies and the billions being invested, VR to date just isn’t film-making. It is much closer to competitive computer gaming. And I speak with some knowledge — I have shot a VR game, and it was a painfully tedious experience, a million miles from the creative joy of working with a director to create a work of art that a good movie can be. So what makes me say that, and why don’t I like VR for film-making? Where do I start the diatribe? I can see problems in all areas of cinema: shooting; storytelling; editing; displays; can it be a shared cinema experience?; will the audience feel sick, dizzy or uncomfortable? And that is before we consider a multitude of related technical factors like resolution, frame rate, colours.

The VR Shooting experience

Projection technologies

CT: Recently alternatives to xenon projection have appeared in the form of laser projectors, and these are already being challenged by ‘active displays’. What are your thoughts? HM: Current xenon projection technologies have served us well for years and survived the changeover from film to digital. Those who are smart enough to ignore the ‘if it is new it must be better’ messages understand that we still have much to learn about new projection technologies. There are real problems with the narrower colour spectra used by different forms of laser projection — some cinematographers and industry scientists claim that the images shown are not the ones that they so carefully crafted. The danger with the use of the narrowband primaries in laser-illuminated projectors, is that every audience member will see a different colour image based on the peculiar colour sensitivities of their own eyesight. This means everyone sees a different colour rendition of the film, and not the one that the cinematographer intended them to see. So we still have much to learn about this area and much research and development is continuing. As far as LED ‘active screens’ are concerned, these are brand new to cinema, and it will be interesting to see how they develop, but it is too early to speculate.

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Active screen technologies will continue to improve. There are, of course, other considerations relating to their use, such as the power consumption and ways in which sound can be made to appear to come directly from the screen — some experts in cinema sound are convinced that this will be a major problem.

Entering the Virtual world

CT: On to Virtual Reality. What are have your thoughts on VR and where you see it fitting into the exhibition industry? HM: Where to begin? So many factors, so many potential problems, but it does seem that VR won’t be going away. The wider interest in artificial intelligence is pushing virtual reality forward, but I am more concerned at the underlying suggestions that we need VR because there is something fundamentally wrong with cinema (there isn’t!) and that the more technology we have the better cinema will be. If there are things wrong with cinema it is not because of a lack of technology, but far more because we need better content. Although sequels have traditionally done well (they are safer) there are now signs that this is coming to an end, and occasional commercial flops such as Tomorrowland and The Lone Ranger show that the industry still doesn’t fully understand what will make a commercially successful movie. We can

VR isn’t shot like movie cinematography. In order to keep humans out of the 360 degree sight-lines, the images are shot with large numbers of relatively low-quality cameras mounted on a rig, and no human camera crews can operate the equipment, without being in the movie. The clever images that result are a world away from cinematography, where people make movies, and use their skills to tell the emotionally moving stories that keep audiences coming back. Movie-making is a people business, and all those people around the set are there to contribute their own individual skills to create the movie and to ensure that the all-important storytelling isn’t forgotten.

VR at the other end of the chain Moving to the far end of the cinema chain, much of the joy of watching a movie comes from sharing the social experience in the auditorium. How can this possibly happen when the members of a VR audience are shielded from their neighbours by allenclosing headsets? VR doesn’t contribute to the storytelling, it merely provides you with different surroundings, and whatever the audience is experiencing, VR isn’t contributing to the social group experience, and I do think that this matters.

VR: It’s all about the editing It is in the editing phase that a film’s story takes shape. The great films of history were well-paced and moving because of their carefully crafted images that were combined by skilled editing. Cutting within scenes is needed to tell an engrossing story DECEMBER 2017

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20 HARRY MATHIAS

on film. But I have found by experience that when an audience is watching in a VR environment, editing is practically impossible. Switching between virtual image sequences is disorienting, even to the point of causing audience disorientation and nausea, and cutting from one 360 degree landscape to another is painful to watch. Without the sophisticated editing we have become used to in our film-making, complex storytelling just won’t work in VR productions. It is important to remember that any film is a dramatic or comedic interpretation of reality, not a substitute for it, so VR isn’t likely to help create the mood. If there is to be a market for VR films they will have to be shot as totally different versions from the films we see in cinemas. And I am not over-emphasising the problems of nausea or ‘VR sickness’ — they are uncomfortably real. As far back as 1995, Nintendo’s ‘VR Gameboy’ console was withdrawn due to complaints of customer nausea. NASA and the USAF have also extensively studied ‘VR sickness’ in pilots which occurs after training on VR flight simulators. It was found that some pilots weren’t in a fit state to drive their cars home after a long VR working session. A study by Dr Michael Korpi of Baylor University called: How Far to “Perfect”?, concluded that we are at least 15 years from visually correct (unflawed) VR, and listed the many psychophysical issues of the imperfect VR systems that are available today.

Augmented Reality

CT: What about your views on augmented reality — are they the same? Augmented reality is perhaps even more difficult to define, because its possibilities are so wide: adding graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world around us. As with VR, video games are driving much of the development of augmented reality, but there is obviously far more to it than that, with extra information popping up in our line of vision or in our ear whether we are at an art gallery, riding a bike in town or along a country lane, automatically seeing more information about a product that we are looking at in a shop window, etc. Can you foresee ways in which AR could enhance the cinema-going experience, both in the auditorium and beyond?. HM: I don’t have a problem with cinema and augmented reality — just so long as AR is used genuinely to enhance the cinema-going experience. In many ways you could consider that the special effects that are so much a part of our regular cinema productions are forms of AR. But, there is a lot of time, expertise, and equipment poured into film FX. The idea that this money and expertise would be unnecessary in the “brave new world of AR” is naive. Expensive CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Come and join in a shared communal experience… by putting a headset on. Is this the cinema of the future?

AR already exists in film production, the cheap AR of the future is a fantasy. The idea of overlaying information on your view of the real world is familiar to everyone, and many movies, particularly those in the sci-fi genre, have given us all a pretty good idea of how useful AR techniques could be, so I consider AR to be a valuable adjunct to movie-making, so long as it never interferes with the storytelling. I feel much the same about systems such as 4DX — they add something extra to some movies, but must be used carefully so as not to detract from experiences the director wanted to convey.

HDR and HFR: are they relevant to VR?

CT: Do HDR, HFR and WCG have any relevance to VR, and if so, how? Do these factors affect your views of where VR will fit (or not!) into the cinema? HM: Let’s concentrate on the relevance of HDR and HFR to film-making in general. Both are useful tools, but I really don’t believe that they are going to change the future of cinema. As a cinematographer I have shot lots of movies in all different kinds of lighting environments, and I well understand the importance of using contrast and dynamic range to achieve the particular ‘look’ that the director wants. Some of the classic movies by the world’s most respected directors would, by today’s imaging standards, be considered ‘low dynamic range’, shot on black and white film with only 10 stops of contrast latitude, and yet it would be a brave movie critic who dared to say that these needed more contrast. But we can’t stop progress, and we are now in a situation where film and digital cameras can provide a least 14 stops of dynamic range. Film-makers are currently making good use of these capabilities, but whether we need even more dynamic range

is debatable. It is important to remember that the real world is far more contrasty than any film or digital camera can reproduce — film lighting units don’t try to emulate nature’s excessive contrast, they are used to create a mood and to produce powerful and memorable film images. HDR must be appropriate for the mood of the story, and not a gimmick merely used to attract bigger audiences. The examples of two of Rembrandt’s paintings shown on the opposite page make the key point that HDR only sometimes improves the image. HDR can be a good thing, only if it is controllable and consistently reproducible, and from what I see today this is not yet the case. We are even being told that HDR could save money by solving the ‘problem’ of a cinematographer needing ‘expensive’ lighting on a film — something that we should never allow to happen. Projecting images with HDR on a cinema screen has different issues from using it for cinematography. In this case there is a limit to the amount of light that can be projected on the screen in the bright areas without destroying the contrast of the rest of the screen image, so higher-contrast HDR projection could represent an improvement, but again only if it is controllable and consistent. I would caution against the use of HDR as a ‘sales gimmick’. We really don’t want to end up with all films providing spectacularly high-contrast images. It is important to ask if HDR will bring more people into our cinemas. I believe it will, if it is used artfully, but not if it just provides brighter, more contrasty screen images. Higher frame rates can raise even more contentious issues. In film we have traditionally used a high-resolution 35mm medium at a ‘slow’ 24 frames per second. Higher frame rates can change the complete ‘look’ of a film, since they result in less www.cinematech.today

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motion blur in the image. At 24 fps (with a standard 180 degree shutter) the shutter speed is 1/48th of a second, while at 48 fps it is 1/100th of a second, resulting in virtually no motion blur. The Hobbit, at a frame rate of 48 frames per second gave rise to mixed reviews. In general, film critics and cinematography experts were not impressed by 48 frames per second, but many others thought the ‘sharper, clearer’ results were great. Many have seen Douglas Trumbull’s even higher frame rate experiments, that can provide some stunning images, but I have to say that as far as cinema films are concerned, motion blur is a good thing, which contributes to a realistic portrayal of motion. Whatever the HFR enthusiasts tell you, motion blur exists in the real world and any moving object leaves an impression of its path in our visual system — a smear, if you like. In modern animation, the motion blur rule of thumb is that if an object moves more than half its size between any two frames, motion blur must be added. So I have to tell you that removing motion blur, with HFR, is a bug, not a feature!

Wider and wider Colour Gamuts The key question is whether moving to a wider colour gamut is a major breakthrough in the audience viewing experience or simply another over-hyped technology? It is undoubtedly true that there are colours that exist in nature that even the latest digital cinema projectors can’t display, and the long-promised CIE/ITU Rec.2020 standard could provide many of these colours. But although I agree that this development

could offer a breakthrough in colour rendering, we need to consider the creative implications of such a change from a storytelling point of view. When seeing side-by-side comparisons you can readily discern that moving from Rec 709 (HDTV colour) to P3 (DCI cinema colour) to CIE 2020 colour provides colours that are missing from the previous versions. In reality, we simply aren’t aware of what we are missing when we view a cinema picture. Our human visual system can see far more colours than even CIE 2020 provides, so since neither 2020 nor any future colour standard will be likely to allow cinema screens truly to display the entire range of colours the human eye can perceive in nature, any change to a wider colour gamut would be unlikely to make a huge difference in terms of creative storytelling. Everyone sees ultra-wide colour gamut with their eyes every time they go for a walk. Now, think of all of the great films that you have seen in your lifetime. Did you ever think to yourself while watching them: “I am concerned about all of the colours that aren’t visible!?”. At the end of the day, it is an interesting point to ponder. I’m not arguing that wider color gamut isn’t a good thing, just as I’m not arguing increased dynamic range isn’t good. I’m trying to put it in perspective from a creative point of view. These are tools to be used carefully — the mere act of expanding the range, whether it is colour or dynamic range, does not necessarily do anything to make it a better movie or bring in a larger audience. That depends entirely on the story and its visual representation.

“REMBRANDT’S ‘THE MILL’ MIGHT BE WELL-SERVED BY AN HDR RENDERING, BUT HIS ‘SELF-PORTRAIT’ CLEARLY WOULD NOT”

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FINAL THOUGHTS CT: So, what have we forgotten? HM: Long term storage and archiving is an important topic that is too complex to discuss here, but it is disturbing that with the massive quantities of data we are producing, there is still no long-term storage mechanism that guarantees we will be able to retrieve this digital material in 100 years’ time. It is sobering that black and white film is the only medium we know will last for a century or more. Cinema is about storytelling, and the various technologies are a means to that end. New advances come and go, some leaving a legacy, others disappear. Many young people mistakenly believe the solution to every problem is technical. I remind them that the London Symphony Orchestra doesn’t buy new instruments to improve its concert performances — the members just practice more! It is a concern that changes in education and training regimes mean many former specialisms are dying out in favour of ‘everybody being able to do everything reasonably well’ so that many practitioners never get to be as good as they could be in any particular role. To ensure the future of the cinema industry we must engage people in the creative arts as well as in the technologies that accompany them, and we practitioners must continue to spread the knowledge and experience that we have acquired over our lifetimes.

visit www.cinematech today FOR ALL YOUR NEWS & INDUSTRY ANALYSIS

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LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA

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Mexico provides two of the world’s largest cinema circuits, in Cinepolis and Cinemex. Cinemex focuses on Mexico alone but still has over 2,500 cinema screens. This underlines the size that the Mexican market has grown to in the past decade, dominating the overall region and now accounting for over 6,500 screens as a domestic market. In the other countries, there is often one larger historical exhibitor, when the market structure was different. For example, Cine Colombia dominates the Colombian market, with 280 screens in 42 sites across 12 cities.

Peru’s annual cinema admissions per head has risen from 0.6 in 2007 to 1.6 in 2017 per year. Only Mexico has a higher average in Latin America. Chile’s rise is impressive too, going from 0.7 to 1.5 in the past 10 years.

rica e m A Latin

a m e n i C kets r a m he t n o up y a w ock c n a H David es a box r explo region office on the up that’s merica A Latin

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In Argentina local films accounted for nearly half of all releases in 2016, from a quarter in 2017 and only 15% in 1999. However, these films only captured a 14.4% market share in 2016, similar to the figure in Brazil, where local films made up 28.5% of all releases

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LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA

T

he Latin American region does not always get the coverage it merits when it comes to cinema, with the focus often on Asian economies. However, over the past decade, Central and Latin American cinema markets have grown strongly driven by new screens and more wealthy consumers. Admissions in the main Central and Latin American countries rose by 88% between 2007 and 2016, to stand at 674m. The box office in local currencies is also rising strongly, although dollar fluctuations mean that box office actually fell in 2015 and 2016 in dollar (ie comparable) terms. The box office stood at $2.2bn in 2016, down from a peak of $2.6bn in 2013 but with the same caveat about admissions rising. There are a number of countries in this region where consistent data is difficult to get, so this research focuses on the major cinema markets: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Colombia has led the way in growth, trebling in size since 2007, from 22.8m admissions in 2007 to 61.4m in 2016. Of the large markets, Brazil doubled in size in the same period ending at 184.3m admissions in 2016. This is roughly equivalent to the larger European markets of UK and France, and underlines the potential of Brazil to keep growing when we consider that the population is 208m people, three times more than either the UK or France. The accompanying graph underlines the importance of Mexico and Brazil in the region’s fortunes: these two countries accounted for 74% of all admissions in 2016, and Mexico’s contribution was 50%. Mexican box office was worth $816.1m in 2016, while Brazil was worth $744.4m In the period 2007-2016, global screen growth was 38.4%, driven mainly by the Asian markets with 119.8% growth. However, Central and Latin American screen growth also outpaced the world rate with 41.3%. Whilst Argentinean screens actually fell in this period, the number of screens in Colombia grew by 104.1%, in Mexico by 52.6% and in Brazil by 46.7%. Colombia is now a larger market by screens and admissions than Argentina, although they are of a similar order of size in screens, admissions and population unlike Mexico and Brazil which are both on a larger scale. Cinema exhibition contains some of the world’s most innovative and diverse operators, some keen to expand their methods and expertise to other parts of the world. The largest regional exhibitor is Cinepolis, which has nearly 5,000 screens across several countries, and is the fourth largest exhibitor in the world (Mexico, VIP screens in the USA, screens in India and a further 10 countries). It is an innovative chain, building jungle playgrounds in its CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Latin American Box Office admissions is s Adm

io n s

per h

ead

1.6

600k

1.2

400k

0.8

venezuela Colombia Peru Chile brazil

200k

0.4

argentina mexico

0 2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

With 184.3m admissions in 2016, Brazil’s market is growing to such an extent, it’s almost in line with the UK and French markets, underlining the nation’s huge potential

kids screening rooms for example and it also recently installed Mexico’s first all-laser site in Mexico City. Cinemark, the US operator with extensive interests in the south of the continent, is another leading multi-territory exhibitor. They are the most geographically diverse circuit in Latin America with 194 theatres and 1,395 screens in 15 countries; the leading territory by screens is Brazil.

Mexico dominates the region Mexico provides two of the world’s largest cinema circuits, in Cinepolis and Cinemex. Cinemex focuses on Mexico alone, but still has over 2,500 cinema screens. This underlines the size that the Mexican market has grown to in the past decade, dominating the overall region and now accounting for over 6,500 screens as a domestic market. In the other countries, there is often one larger historical exhibitor, when the market structure was different, but newer players are challenging them. For example, Cine Colombia dominates the Colombian market, with 280 screens in 42 sites across 12 cities but in the past four years Royal Films has doubled in size to 230 screens plus. Central and Latin America came relatively late to digitisation of cinema, partly because of local politics, partly down to the lack of a negotiated VPF deal and partly due to currency issues that hampered efforts to find a viable financial solution. This process is now largely done, as with the

2013

2014

2015

2016

Cine Colombia dominates the Colombian market, with 280 screens in 42 sites across 12 cities — but in the past four years Royal Films has doubled in size to 230 screens

rest of the world. Newer technology is making its way into the continent though. Starting with 3D, Mexico is the least equipped, with only 39% of screens equipped. This compares to above 45% for all other countries and 50% for Colombia. These are lower numbers than another fast-growing region, Central and Eastern Europe. There, 3D is in an average of 63% of all screens, with a country like Hungary approaching an 80% penetration. In the area of Premium Large Format cinema, Central and Latin America (the seven countries profiled) represent 9.1% of the world’s total screens, with 247 PLF screens. The region accounts for 8% of the global screen count, so it is punching slightly above its weight in the premium world. Over half of these PLF screens are in Brazil, with Mexico also a significant number. Argentina has 8, the same as Chile and Peru 9, but Colombia has 22 even though it has broadly the same number of screens as Argentina. The PLF screens are mainly of the exhibitor-branded variety (207 out of the 247), which suggests that the global-branded type have growth potential in the region. However, one area where the region is lagging is in laser adoption. I mentioned above that Mexico’s Cinepolis had recently installed the country’s first all-laser multiplex. This is building on a very low base: at the end of 2016, there were only 5 RGB laser projectors in the seven www.cinematech.today

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Number of Cinema Screens Across Selected Latin American Nations peru

venezuela

colombia

chile

brazil

argentina

mexico

6500

6000

The total feature film production in the region has been steadily rising over the last 10 years. in 2016, 570 were produced in Latin America, accounting for just under 10% of the global total.

5000

4500

4000

3500 3000

2500

The number of cinema screens worldwide in 2016 was 147,891

2000

1500

1000

500

Source: IHS

“FILM PRODUCTION IS BEHIND SOME OF THE LOCAL ENTHUSIASM FOR CINEMA”

2007

countries profiled here, compared to 88 in Europe. In contrast, the region seems to have embraced 4D and immersive motion seating, with 72 4D screens compared to 31 in Europe. The immersive seating company D-Box is implanted throughout the region. Film production is behind some of the local enthusiasm for cinema. While Mexico and Brazil may be the big beasts in terms of box office, Argentina leads the way in production volume, although not investment, with 181 features produced in 2017 compared to 162 for Mexico. In 2007, the seven countries in the region produced just over 300 feature films. By 2016, Mexico and Argentina produced more than this between them. The seven countries combined now exceed well over 500 features. This has fed through into the theatrical distribution sector, with the number of local releases rising in many countries. This is in line with the experience www.cinematech.today

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2008

2009

2010

2011

of most countries in the world. As screen space grows, the number of films released theatrically also rises, even if the market is usually dominated by a smaller number of films at the top of the market. So, in Argentina local films accounted for nearly half of all releases in 2016, from a quarter in 2017 and only 15% in 1999. However, these films only captured a 14.4% market share in 2016, similar to the figure in Brazil, where local films made up 28.5% of all releases. In Brazil, where local film is helped by a screen quota system, longestablished research group Filme B found the most successful genre of local films in the past 20 years was comedy, with 14 of the top 20 domestic films being comedies. Given the rise in production, this has not necessarily translated to box office success, more of an industrial strategy regarding production. In Mexico, domestic films made up 22.5% of all releases, also well up on a

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

decade ago, for an 8.9% market share. So, it seems that even though production is higher, and this has led to more local films being released, the market is driven by US films with a relatively low number of local hits. This isn’t to say that there is no success for local films, just that success is relative.

a younger, affluent audience All in all, the film and cinema markets in this region are definitely on the rise, keeping pace with other parts of the world and modernising the screen base. This is being driven by younger, more affluent audiences, technology and modernisation, as well as growing screen numbers and more local films. While their global contribution can be affected by currency instability, the overall picture of the region is a positive one for the future of cinema going. David Hancock is Research Director, Film and Cinema at IHSMarkit and President of EDCF DECEMBER 2017

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c h i n a’ s other cinematic revolution After single-screens and multiplexes, will private theatres be China’s ‘third cinema revolution’? Patrick von Sychowski checks out the comfy-sofa micro-cinema.

C

hina made news late last year when it overtook the US in the number of cinema screens. The growth of multiplexes, IMAX and Dolby Cinema screens by operators like Wanda and Dadi has led to China having some of the most high-tech cinemas anywhere in the world. But there is a second cinema revolution underway in China that attracted little attention in the outside world. Private cinema, also known as micro-theatres or on-demand cinemas, are public establishments with high-end home cinema-type rooms seating two to 10 people. You can rent a two- or three-hour slot of time in one of these as a couple, family or group of friends. There is access to a jukebox like server of hundreds of films and

6,000 It is estimated there are over 6,000 private cinema’s in China today

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other streamed content. Typically you can order drinks, snacks and food. Similar to Asian karaoke parlours, with their booth-like rooms, they are sometimes called karaoke theatres (or K theatres). It is estimated that there are more than 6,000 such venues across China today. Assuming that each has 8-10 rooms, it would mean the number of private cinema screens outstrips that of regular cinema screens in China, which stood at around 41,000 at the start of 2017. It also far outstrips the 12,000 virtual reality (VR) experience centres found across China, that get written about much more. Private cinemas began as shady and shadowy businesses, but are now smarting up their act and attracting investment and interest from major companies.

15 MAY A sign that the sector is driving towards legitimacy, the first private cinema industry conference was held on 15 May in Sanya.

Regulation Spawns Legitimacy The watershed for private cinema was the introduction of a new media law on 21 April this year by China’s media regulator SAPPRFT. Under the new law, earnings from private cinemas would be counted towards the country’s total cinema box office. Despite the continued growth in cinema screens, China’s box office bull-run came to a screeching halt last year. By including the emerging private cinema market it would ensure the China BO in 2017 shows an increase on 2016. (To this end, ticketing fees were also now included as part of the BO count). But what was seen as an attempt to bolster China’s box office artificially, also bestowed legitimacy on the formerly shadowy private cinema sector.

80% It is estimated that, until recently, 80% of private theatres were showing pirated content

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FULLY AUTOMATED? The first automated 24-hour private cinema opened this summer in Chengdu. Customers book films on their smartphones and scan a code to open the door to one of the 11 screening rooms, each one with its own decoration theme. Projection and lights are automated. The company has ambitious plans of investing in the construction of 1,000 automated cinemas starting next year. Yet robots have not taken over completely — cleaning is done by humans and there is an F&B manager on-site. But as labour costs become an issue in China, automation is common. Given their higher prices, private theatres offer a VIP experience that goes beyond what’s on offer in even high-end multiplexes. In addition to the technology, there are leather recliners, plush sofas, beanbag pillows and side tables. Each room has its own look with themes of everything from spring blossoms and sea pirates to prison style inspired by the TV series Prison Break. There are rooms with more of a play focus for families. The most sophisticated look like they belong to a famous Hollywood director’s private home in Beverly Hills. In addition the entrance to the complex, box office and waiting area often includes a café and loungers for people to pass time in.

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With anything between 2-10 seats, China’s increasingly prevalent private cinemas offer a cornucopia of themes and styles to their patrons

The first private cinemas at the turn of the decade were small operations located away from city areas where you would find regular cinemas, some even located in private houses. Adherence to building codes, fire safety regulation, food hygiene standards and above all copyright was random at best. Some played first-run films at the same time as cinemas, or Hollywood films and TV series never released officially in China. Officials would tolerate this, particularly with a helping of bribes, when there were only a few such micro-cinemas. But as they mushroomed they became impossible for the authorities to ignore. The most significant sign that private cinema was becoming a legitimate market came in February 2016 when the first of 400 ‘industry leaders’ attended the inaugural ‘2016 China Micro Cinema /K Theatre Industry Summit’ event in Changsa. The keynote was by Zhao Jian of online streaming service 1905.com Entertainment Group, who outlined the potential for private theatres to complement regular cinemas, particularly in smaller towns and villages. Even so, it was estimated at this time that 80% of private theatres were showing pirated content with equally poor adherence to building codes, fire, safety and hygiene standards. But as established players moved in this changed. The authorities’ aim was to weed out shady operators and this was welcomed by serious players. “We have waited more than six years for the 21st of April document” from SAPPRFT, said Zhao Jinhai, director

of Amy 1895 Movie Street, proclaiming that “From single screen cinemas to multiplexes, private cinemas are the third revolution in the history of Chinese films.” Amy 1895 Movie Street (IVIMovie) had more than 100 venues across China in the first half of this year. Meanwhile the largest operator, Poly Space (The Meeting Place), already has more than 300 venues and is growing fast. This summit was followed by the first trade show for the private cinema industry on 15 May this year in Sanya. Attended by 75 companies and 118 delegates, it also marked the launch of the Chinese Private Cinema Union (CPCU). The event saw several streaming content companies positioning themselves as legit providers of films and TV shows — many are partnering the building, ownership and operation of the new generation of private cinemas. Examples of operators that approach the market with a multiplex-like mindset range from small to big. Vision Time is rolling out highly professional mini-plexes of four to five screening rooms seating two to 20 people each, with high-end AV and staffed by two attendants. The company had 10 cinemas deployed this summer, with 12 more in the pipeline, including nine on a franchise model. BesTV and Wei have signed a partnership to launch 200 private cinemas before the end of the year. ‘BesTV Art Theater Program’ will focus on niche arthouse content, with the aim of growing the circuit to 400 venues and 2,000 auditoriums. Ding Junshan has ambitious plans of partnering Beijing Beiguang group to use the hotel group’s 5,000 venues to bui ld 25,000 “new generation of intelligent live broadcast theaters” within three years. www.cinematech.today

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“INCREASINGLY, PRIVATE CINEMAS ARE SWITCHING FROM LOCAL STORAGE TO NETFLIX-LIKE LEGITIMATE STREAMING PORTALS” What’s On Show, How is it played out?

What Does It Cost? While a regular ticket can cost CNY ¥20 to ¥40 ($3-$6), with more for 3D and IMAX shows, a private cinema room can cost CNY ¥200-¥300 ($30-$45) per session. Split between several people and over a longer a period of time than just the duration of one film, it becomes a stronger out-of-home entertainment proposition. Families can book out a private cinema and let their kids play as they watch without bothering other patrons. It is a good date destination that offers more privacy than a cinema (though intimate behaviour is strictly discouraged), or a fun group outing for friends. Add to this a wide variety of food and drinks on offer, some including hot meals and alcohol that standard cinemas don’t serve, and it becomes a leisurely way to spend a morning, afternoon or evening.

Private cinemas initially stored or streamed a vast library of foreign and domestic films, TV shows, animation and even games, mostly without reimbursing the IP right owner. Add to this films not officially released or older titles not available — the original Star Wars films were not released in China (only Hong Kong), so when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in China, private cinemas reported a surge in demand for the original trilogies. Because China lacks arthouse and independent cinemas, private cinemas also become the only way to watch Sundance or Cannes Film Festival films that have a difficulty making the restricted quota of imported films in China. Private cinemas are cubicles kitted out with high-end video displays and audio, coupled with a server or portal for content, as well as controllers. Typically, this is a home cinema projector, rather than a large LCD television, as well as a 5.1 or 7.1 audio setup. Because private cinemas don’t use DCI-compliant equipment, they cannot (legally) show first-run films, but tap into recently released films in HD. Increasingly they are switching from local storage video ‘jukeboxes’ to streaming from BestTV, 1905. com, Storm and other Netflix-like legitimate portals. Some private cinemas even offer 4K, Dolby Atmos audio and motion seating.

And What’s the Outlook According to Chinese Video Network editor Chen Xiaoxiao it was estimated that the potential market for private theatres is between CNY ¥8 to ¥10 billion (USD $1.2-1.5 billion). While this is only a quarter to a sixth of what the regular market is, it

could be a significant addition to the box office of the world’s second largest cinema market. However, all is not bright in these small theatres. Government regulation will raise the standard, but it will also push out a lot of operators while cutting into margins for those not in compliance with new rules. “As a provider of screening equipment to over 600 private cinemas, I’m worried,” admitted Dodge Information Technology Company CEO Guo Hongliang. “We have not yet been given a notice of what the specific national standards will be, so in the current situation I’m afraid it’s not looking good.” Guo estimates 90-95% of existing private cinemas will not be able to meet fire safety, copyright and/or equipment standards and there is a question of whether thousands of private cinemas could be certified before the deadline in September. Could private theatres succeed outside China? There are an estimated 80,000 karaoke parlours in China, but attempts to launch them in the UK by outfits such as Lucky Voice, founded by Martha Lane-Fox, have resulted in a handful of venues. While there is potential in other Asian markets, it would take a brave entrepreneur in Europe or North America to launch a third entertainment space between home sofas of Netflix convenience and multiplex seats of Hollywood spectacle. Yet as they become legitimate, private cinema looks set to be a big part of China’s cinema growth story.

visit www.cinematech today FOR ALL YOUR NEWS & INDUSTRY ANALYSIS

Under new regulations legitimate private cinema establishments will need to:

Apply for a business licence to screen films, just like regular cinemas; they must source the films from the content owner’s producer, who must have a licence to distribute the films and other content (TV shows, sporting events, etc.) offered, which must also have passed by the state censors

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Under the technical specifications, the private cinemas’ audio-visual equipment must meet certain standards, as does the POS and billing equipment

Comply with fire safety regulations and other building and zoning codes.

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interview

meets...

aardman’s dave sproxton Aardman: Putting magic into the art of stop-motion A special treat for those attending the UKCA West of England Branch meeting at the Everyman Bristol was a Q&A session with Dave Sproxton of Aardman refreshing addition to the agenda of the recent UKCA West of England Branch members’ meeting was a Q&A session with David Sproxton CBE, co-founder, with Peter Lord, of the Aardman Animations studio. After watching clips from Aardman favourites, we were privileged to a sneak preview of Early Man, due for release in January 2018. Set at the dawn of time, when prehistoric creatures and woolly mammoths roamed the earth, Early Man is the story of Dug and sidekick Hognob as they unite his tribe against a mighty enemy Lord Nooth and his Bronze Age city to save their home. The UKCA’s Phil Clapp asked David lots of questions before opening up the session to the floor. It was fascinating to hear just how this Bristol-based company had come into being and found success worldwide.

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existed in real life, opening up all sorts of imaginative possibilities. As a schoolboy prank, we registered the name Aardman Animations, after finding that it cost only a few shillings to register a company name. Perhaps we should have used ‘Lord Sproxton Animations’ instead! When we moved to Bristol after university, we produced our first professional production, creating Morph for the children’s art programme Take Hart. PC: And what about the story-writing? DS: A typical Aardman project tends not to involve a big team, but just one or two, and we go through a story-boarding process (show it, not tell it) before working with others. The process is like building a house — the initial architects bring in designers and builders and plumbers to bring their ideas to fruition. Our ideas and humour tend to be terribly British, reflecting the

“AS a schoolboy prank, we registered the name aardman animations after finding it only cost a few shillings” PHIL CLAPP (PC): Why animation? DAVE SPROXTON (DS): Stop-frame animation is a practical way of making movies — it doesn’t need lots of people, special locations, or complex facilities, and is a do-able project that me and my school friend Peter Lord could carry out in a bedroom. What you finally see on screen from stop-frame is something that never CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | DECEMBER 2017

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time and the place that we grew up in — our influences are The Beano, Spike Milligan and The Goons. The move to Hollywood with DreamWorks necessitated many changes as to how we worked. Chicken Run was a great success, but our next planned Hollywood movie didn’t get finished. Although Dreamworks regarded Aardman as bringing something positive and different

to their films, once Dreamworks became a huge public company, financial considerations made working with such a small partner unviable. Dreamworks wanted to make minor changes to the scripts to adapt them for a US audience — they wanted ‘torch’ to become ‘flashlight’ and ‘marrow’ to become ‘courgette’! PC: Do the hi-tech animation developments at companies like Pixar affect you? DS: We track the developments that the big companies are involved with, but Aardman is different from companies like Pixar and we don’t tread on each other’s toes. The hi-tech companies use vastly more labour than we do — a project that would cost $100m in Hollywood could be done at Aardman for $10m. Sony closed down its Hollywood animation facility because it was too costly. PC: How much work is involved? DS: As an example, Early Man has perhaps 40 sets, some table-top sets, others larger, at the 80,000sq.ft Bristol Aztec West site. The typical output is one shot (3 or 4 seconds) per animator a week, with frames recorded on a digital stills camera, although some films (like Shaun the Sheep) can be quicker. PC: Is there a different way of thinking and working for film and TV? DS: The main difference is in the length of the feature. Writing the story for a longer production is a bigger task, but the actual way of working on the production doesn’t change. Numerous test screenings are www.cinematech.today

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Coming soon, to a cinema near you: the latest in a long line of loveable Aardman characters, the early man, Dug, and his sidekick Hognob

Peter in conversation with the CEO of the UKCA, Phill Clapp

change. Numerous test screenings are carried out in the viewing theatre, but it can be difficult to be sure that you will get an audience laughing and the pacing has to be different between TV and on the cinema screen. Early Man is the first Aardman production to be created using Dolby Atmos sound, which has made the sound mixing process far more exacting — and this is being done locally in Bristol. PC: Is getting talent for your films hard? DS: On the contrary, many top actors like to take part — they like the medium, since we can often fit their voice recordings around their busy schedules, and it adds another string to their bow, often allowing them to take on characters that are totally different from to those they would play in a movie. Hugh Grant was great in The Pirates! Hollywood would never have allowed him to play such a part in a film, it is not what he

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is known for. Because the Aardman work is usually attractive to children, many actors are pleased to play parts that will give their grandchildren a different, softer, more humorous view of the parts they play. PC: Thinking of Creature Comforts, at what stage did you bring in the actors? DS: For Creature Comforts the real and unscripted voices of the British Public were put into the mouths of plasticine animals. The original plan was to go round Bristol Zoo with a hidden microphone, recording visitors’ remarks about the animals, and then edit the tapes and dub the sound over animated models. Many hours were recorded at Bristol Zoo but much of this didn’t work as originally envisaged — the technical quality wasn’t good enough — so special recordings were made, and many pictures were sketched to fit the voices. The jaguar, with its miserable responses to ‘how do you find living in

Britain?’ was particularly memorable, and Creature Comforts was developed further to make a memorable TV advertising campaign for ‘Heat Electric’. PC: How much time does it take for a feature film to go from concept to the screen? ‘DS: The Pirates! took four and a half years — the bulk of the time is in the gestation (2-3 years) with the active production taking around 16 months. PC: What percentage of planned films make it through to the end? DS: Probably one in three. Some have a very long life — Morph is still going strong after all these years, and even has his own YouTube channel. PC: Finally, will the distinctive voice of Wallace remain forever silent now that the actor Peter Sallis has died? DS: No — various potential replacement voiceover artists are being trialled. Though we haven’t yet found one with all the nuances Peter brought to the part, we are confident of finding a replacement.

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16/11/2017 14:28


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Cinema without compromise

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017

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CINEMA IN FOCUS The IBC Big Screen Experience has become an unmissable programme for motion-picture professionals. Jim Slater reports on a critical examination of the future of cinema. ince it was the 50th Anniversary of IBC's founding, this year's event was particularly special — to celebrate the occasion the organisers even produced a beautiful book compiled by Dick Hobbs that traces the growth of the event from its origins in 1967’s ‘summer of love’ when a few hundred people attended The Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, to today when over 55,000 attended the Amsterdam event.

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Event Cinema on Steroids

The Friday programme included a session titled ‘Event Cinema on Steroids’ which looked at shooting and delivering HDR and immersive audio alternative content to the Big Screen. Julian Pinn chaired a session at which www.cinematech.today

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Andy Beale, and Jamie Hindhaugh from BT Sport joined John Bullen of Sony, Johnny Carr, Vue’s alternative content manager and Stuart Bowling from Dolby talked about the technical and logistical planning that went into carrying a major global event, the UEFA Champions League football final held in Cardiff on 3 June. BT Sport achieved the mammoth task to shoot and broadcast this in both HDR and immersive audio live to homes and — for the first time globally — to a cinema screening room equipped with HDR projection and immersive audio sound. The panel examined the complexities of the multi-camera shoot and explained the workflow challenges. They evaluated the wider technological and commercial viability of advancing the experiential envelope of event cinema; and how the boundaries

50,000 visitors attended the Amsterdambased IBC 2017 event

50 years celebrated in Dick Hobbs' book

of theatrical and non-theatrical disciplines are merging. Highlights of the match were shown in Dolby Vision with Atmos sound.

Contrast and HDR

One key discussion centred around wider colour gamuts. Does the film world really need to exceed the P3 colour triangle?

Visualising the Science of High Dynamic Range and Wide Color Gamut was an educational session, with Julian Pinn introducing Pixar’s senior scientist Dominic Glynn and Robert Carroll from Dolby. They concentrated on how HDR images might affect the audience experience, Robert looked at the basics of projector performance, asking ‘how black is black?’ and DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017

pointing out that current projectors don’t come anywhere near matching the limits of the human visual system. Factors affecting the cinema image include the peak luminance of the projector and the dark luminance, but at least as importance is the ‘veiling glare’, the light scattered around the optics of the projector, the porthole glass and reflections from the auditorium onto the screen — you have to consider the complete system, and that will be different in every auditorium. The average picture level will also affect the contrast perceived in the auditorium, so there is a great deal to take into account. Robert compared a Dolby Vision projector (20 stops of on-screen contrast visible) with a standard DCI one and showed that the DCI projector’s contrast ratio is limited by its own veiling glare and not by the room. Robert showed many complex curves in his technical presentation, but the hard work was leavened and clarified by on-screen comparisons of carefully composed images from Mount Rushmore by Candlelight and a clip from The Revenant, with HDR images notable for showing far more detail in the blacks.

Dominic Glynn gave an overview of Pixar’s recent research into wide colour gamuts, and his presentation was given from his iPhone on the Big Cinema screen. He did mention that the projection team had been wary of this idea, but everything worked well. He began with a clip from Pixar’s Inside Out which used a highly saturated colour pallete to achieve ‘emotional’ colours and an effect like using UV light on a black felt background, producing colours that hadn’t before been seen on a cinema screen. Explaining the effects that exposure levels have on the detail in the dark areas, he showed a clip from Brave at normal exposure level and then increased it by seven stops — it was remarkable how much more detail was revealed in the blacks. The Pixar researchers had asked how wide the colour gamut needs to be — does it really need to be much greater than P3? He highlighted the colours that cannot currently be achieved in a DCI projector, and then concentrated specifically on the colour capabilities of RGB laser projectors, showing that wider gamuts can readily be achieved and that these could be

FUTURE TECHNOLOGIES Julian Pinn introduced a session which must qualify for an award for the longest title: “Future Camera and Display Technologies and Applications Leading to AR/VR, Immersive Media, and Holography”. The session lived up to its billing, bringing the audience up to date with an encyclopaedic range of topics. David Stump ASC appeared on the Big Screen via Skype, and provided a masterclass on aspects of modern and future cinema. He works as director of photography, as visual effects director and as visual effects supervisor on numerous top movies, and is known for his interest and expertise in new technologies. He took

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Every year, the global media and tech community descends on Amsterdam — and the show keeps growing in strength

Can't decide if the Kivik or the Tidafors is the sofa for you? Ikea Place puts it in your virtual living room so you can check before you buy

us through technical developments from when Panavision film cameras were state of the art to today's 8K digital cameras. He tempted us with tales of research work going on in the Media Lab of MIT on FemtoPhotography, visualising photons in motion at a trillion frames per second. David talked about High Frame Rate photography, referencing Ang Lee’s work, and explained how RealD Truemotion works as a flexible tool to allow integration of different frame rates. He talked on use of high brightness images, saying they come at a price, and that we will need to revisit frame rates and shutter angles if such images become the norm. He also explained new technologies in image sensor design, introducing us to ‘black silicon’ which is 500 times more sensitive to light than existing

tailored to differentiate one cinema’s offering from another’s. Pixar already uses WCG to create different image experiences — and to increase the sense of immersion. Dominic talked about some of the WCG production processes at Pixar, explaining that they initially use virtual cameras to capture as broad a gamut as possible, allowing them to adjust things as part of the creative process, only ‘baking in’ the final colour decisions at a later stage. Questions from the fascinated audience ranged widely. Dominic said that RGB lasers will enable us to produce colours outside the P3 colour triangle, and that there is currently interest in producing a version of a movie with an extended colour gamut that could only be shown in specially equipped venues. Pixar deals with consumer metamerism (where two people sitting together could experience different hues) by involving DoPs fully with each release, allowing them to see what laser images look

sensors, opening up new areas of imaging, and paving the way for development of 1-bit binary sensors. Curved image sensors are also being developed which will require simpler lenses and less complex optics. David explained how a move to REC 2020 colour will need different workflow patters, and discussed the work that ACES are doing to cope with this and higher bit depths, recommending people to find out more about the range of AMPAS test materials that are being developed for the new technology areas. He finished with a whirlwind look at computational camera technology. The possibilities are fascinating, combining depth information with RGB, gathering 2D and 3D data through the same lens, getting 3D images from a single camera. David left us all a great deal wiser!

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017

like in different circumstances and letting them judge how best to achieve their desired ‘look’. Pixar understands the importance of involving cinematographers in the grading process, and it is important not to regard ‘graded for xenon’ as some sort of voodoo that prevents us moving forward. It is not only the light source that must be considered when grading images. In answer to ‘do I need a completely black theatre?’, the earlier response that ‘if your projector is capable of a wider colour gamut and a wider dynamic range, the theatre ambience is less important’ was re-iterated.

Displays that are different...

At last year’s IBC, Jon Karafin received rave reviews for his enthusiastic explanations of what Litro light-field cameras are capable of when applied to cinema, providing unparalleled creative freedom and flexibility on-set and in post-production. Jon has moved on to become CEO and founder of Light Field Lab, a technology startup comprised of scientists, engineers, content creation specialists and light field technology visionaries coming together to design what they call ‘the world’s most innovative holographic ecosystem’. The company is developing next-generation light field display technologies that can take information light field camera systems provide and recreate ‘full parallax holographic displays’ — high-resolution holograms without a need for glasses. There wasn’t a display to see, of course — a prototype is expected in 2018 with a development kit in 2019 — but we were told that their displays will enable photo-real objects to appear as if they float in space, and that powerful integrated processing and imaging solutions being developed will allow these immersive visuals to be delivered over commercial networks at realistic speeds and bandwidths. Future releases of the technology will allow users to interact with holographic objects. Glasses-free viewing of such a display is achieved through emitting light from each photosite (pixel) such that the viewer only sees it when certain conditions, such as ray angle or wavelength, are met. This can be achieved with lasers, optics, or other emerging beam-steering methodologies. The light field display they are designing should provide an experience, just like watching a play in a theatre, where everyone sees the same narrative, but views it from his www.cinematech.today

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A thing of the past already? Could virtual reality headsets be obsolete once the projection of holograms has been perfected?

or her own place in the audience. Such a display will provide a group social experience, rather than one where the audience sees a single identical view, isolated from each other by headsets. The light field can be creatively changed so everyone sees the same thing — or completely different things. Light Field Lab will first focus on perfecting its holographic display, but in the future they want integration of all the senses into a fully immersive format, and are working towards technologies that allow the viewer to interact with and feel holograms. Questions to Jon came thick and fast, on topics including motion artefacts, frame rates (72 fps to start, but maybe 200fps later), and whether we are moving away from cinematography to data-ography. Jon reiterated that there is much work to be done in many technical areas, and David Stump camp back via Skype excited at being able to put something before an audience that they have never seen before, summing things up nicely with the rather enigmatic statement that cinematographers will be able to imagine the future, rather than regretting the past!

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VR/AR and mixed reality too…

Wanting to discover as much as possible about current thinking on AR and VR, I switched over to the main conference in the Forum for an afternoon Technology Forward Keynote session which looked at the status and road ahead for VR over a wider market than the cinema industry. It was interesting to learn about the variety of consumer devices that are emerging as well as hearing about successful VR experiences across different platforms that highlight the opportunity ahead for VR from entertainment to sports. In the chair was John Cassy from London-based immersive content studio Factory 42, whose current projects include an advanced interactive and holographic VR production with Sir David Attenborough for Sky. He was also in conversation with Rikard Steiber from Viveport at HTC Vive, an app store for virtual reality experiences. We were introduced to Ikea Place,

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DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017 The range of VRrelated technologies in development currently is vast. Want to act out your Luke Skywalker or Han Solo fantasies in a virtual Star Wars world? Disney would be only too glad to help you out!

Enlightening thoughts from IBC Although those of us in exhibition are always concerned about achieving bright 14fL pictures, most movies have low average luminance and many scenes are deliberately very dark.

There is currently no single contrast metric that correlates well with what we perceive

an augmented reality app that allows you to take any item from the Ikea catalogue and place it, appropriately scaled, into an image of your own room, so that you can try before you buy and get a good idea of how it would look in situ. This can be on your tablet, or for a more immersive experience, a full VR headset can be used. We were told that Lenovo and Disney have made an augmented reality headset and associated lightsaber where you can fight Darth Vader and participate in a number of VR games — just the thing for Christmas. The speakers talked of the aim for ‘true presence’, software apps that convince your brain you are actually in a virtual world. Soon to appear will be haptics applications, using touch sensation and control to interact with apps — if you are shot by a virtual arrow, you will feel the hit! Much research is going into brain/computer interfaces and eye-tracking will soon enable you just to look at an object to ‘click’ on it, rather than using a mouse. Viveport has introduced the first Cloud VR system which streams the VR experience. Using Netflix for VR, subscribers can pay $6.99 a month to CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | DECEMBER 2017

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access up to 2,000 VR titles, and there are also 700 VR experiences available for arcade operators. As well as games, VR apps are used in education and to provide social experiences — useful for training — and Facebook friends will be able to hang-out together in VR. You can discover the world in VR using Google Earth VR — look at g.co/earthvr when you are wearing a VR headset. VR is still at the learning stage, and there seems to be great co-operation between competing suppliers, so it was good to see that Mindshow on the Steam platform allows VR headset owners to create, share, and experience shows in VR. You can make animated movies in VR with your own body and voice, become 3D cartoon characters and act out a show. As with all media, content is key, and new storytellers will be needed to create ‘never before seen’ experiences. Hollywood is beginning to embrace VR, and Rikard said that they are looking forward to Ready Player One, the forthcoming Spielberg movie set in 2045, where everyone lives in a VR world, since this is likely to make it understandable to everyone and to draw attention to its possibilities.

$6.99 Using Netflix for VR, subscribers can pay £6.99 a month for over 2000 VR titles

VR Apps are useful from everything from gaming to education

Little light on screen means that there is little reflected back to the room — low ambient light and low reflection enable stunning visual experiences, if the projector is capable

Rikard said that according to Superdata research, who specialise in stats for gaming and interactive media, the VR/AR market is currently worth $1.8 Billion and is predicted to grow to $37.7Bn by 2020. Existing commercial brands are likely to adopt VR to augment their branding and add value. Prices for equipment are likely to fall considerably, and they are aware of the problem that headsets are still a nuisance — rather like putting on a diving mask was one description. Work is ongoing to design more comfortable and user-friendly VR kit. One idea is to have a ‘see through’ button which would allow a headset user to take hold of a glass of wine when offered it from a real waiter outside the virtual world — already there are numerous lightweight designs for AR glasses. VR is a transformative platform, a growing opportunity for programme makers and a new way to interact with content for audiences, both in and out of the cinema business. Jim Slater www.cinematech.today

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017

CINEMA: THE CREATIVE'S VOICE After the IBC Big Screen Experience screening of ‘Baby Driver’ in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, delegates were out in force for two special Big Cinema sessions. ichael Bradbury, head of cinema technology at Odeon Cinemas opened the first, explaining that after receiving feedback from various directors of photography to the effect that the pictures being screened at some cinemas didn’t accurately reflect the pictures that they had signed off after the final grading process, he had undertaken a number of investigations to find out why this might be the case. Extraneous illumination from exit lights and safety lighting had turned out to be one explanation, but side by side tests of images from xenon and laser projectors had also shown up differences. Mike had assembled a panel of experts in all the areas that might be relevant, and asked each of them to make a short presentation before joining a discussion — which turned out to be one of the liveliest and sometimes most contentious at IBC. Brian Claypool from Christie talked about the Christie range of laser projectors then used their new CP4325 direct-coupled RGB laser projector with its wide colour gamut and capabilities for high dynamic range and high frame rates to show a familiar clip from Pixar’s Inside Out at 14fL, illustrating its highly saturated colour palette. Mark Clowes from Sony gave some good explanations as to how their SRX-R500 series projectors work with EclairColor to provide high contrast images. He introduced their new SRX-R500 laser-phosphor projector pointing out that this has a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, DCI P3 colour space, and similar brightness to lamp-based projectors. Sony are still working to produce an RGB laser for cinema use, and are seeking to use a true green

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laser in their design. They are also currently working on a dual-engine RGB laser which has six chips on a single optical substrate, which could produce simultaneous L-R 3D images with none of the disadvantages of ‘flashing’ 3D systems. Mark Kendall from NEC discussed the three types of laser projector in the manufacturer's current range, laserphospor, R-B laser phosphor, and RGB laser. He explained the advantages of each type of projector, providing solutions for all cinemas from low-cost to highest performance.

A brief history of lasers in time

Goran Stojmenovik from Barco gave a brief history of laser-projection from 2012, explaining why laser projectors can provide a cure for existing disadvantages of xenon systems, and higher quality images. He said that Barco’s market research had shown clearly that cinema audiences gave higher marks for picture quality when they watched laser projection, and that this was particularly true for their flagship 6P RGB laser projectors. Nic Knowland, cinematographer, said that speaking from a lectern effectively put him ‘on the wrong side of the camera’! He stressed the importance of the cinema environment to ensuring that the all-important storytelling experience is undisturbed, saying that there should be no distractions from things like extraneous lighting, which could spoil the experience that the director wanted the audience to have. DoPs are involved in the final grade of a picture, which is usually done in a darkened preview theatre with a white screen and a skilled projectionist, after which the movie is ‘signed off’. But some cinematographers are later surprised

Clips of ‘Murder on The Orient Express’ were shown to illustrate a range of different lighting situations. Laser images showed a slight magenta bias in the whites compared to a slight green bias in the whites of the xenon images.

10,000:1

Sony's latest SRX-R500 laserphosphor projector has a 10,000:1 contrast ratio

14FL Screening clips from Inside Out, Christie illustrated that at 14fL its CP4325 RGB laser is very capable of HFR, HDR and WCG projection

to see how different their work looks when projected in a standard cinema. Silver screens can produce hot spots and the images are significantly less bright at the edges than in the centre. Extraneous lighting is a real pain, and he said that it is not a legal requirement to keep exit lights on during a performance — Odeon has established this with some local councils and will be incorporating a system where exit lights only come on when required in some of their new cinema upgrades.

Laser and xenon compared

Nic and BSC colleagues had put together a number of test charts and clips (in DCP format) allowing visual comparisons to be made on known material between laser projectors and xenon projectors. These included colour charts, grey-scales and speckle tests. He showed a range of clips from Murder on The Orient Express showing a range of different lighting situations, www.cinematech.today

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017

and then a number of comparative test charts, some putting laser and xenon images side by side. It was noticeable that the laser images showed a slight magenta bias in the whites compared to a slight green bias in the whites of the xenon images. He did accept that a viewer soon adapted to the colour bias and subsequently didn’t notice it, and he knew that it was possible to create different grades for different types of projector, but didn’t think this solution would appeal to the industry. Nic then went on to discuss speckle, saying that he and colleagues had looked at their test images on four different types of laser projector, and all had shown unacceptable amounts of speckle when shown on silver screens. He said that the 3P RGB projectors showed noticeable amounts of speckle even when used on a white screen. Such a situation is not acceptable, it is not in keeping with the creative aims of the cinematographers, and cinema www.cinematech.today

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customers should not be expected to put up with or even get used to watching these degraded images. Calling for more work to be done to eliminate speckle in projection systems, he compared the situation unfavourably to what has happened in the cinema camera area, where digital camera manufacturers had

Using clips from Kenneth Branagh's latest film, Nic Knowles showed that varying light levels can be murder in a cinema setting

The laser experts gathered at IBC

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worked hard and taken great care to reduce noise successfully. Speckle in projectors has similarities to noise in cameras, and manufacturers should find ways of eliminating it. Vibrating the cinema screen works, but is hardly a practical solution for most cinemas. Nic said he would prefer all films to be screened on white screens, without hot spots, and concluded by re-iterating that speckle needs to be sorted and auditorium lighting needs attention. Peter Doyle, supervising visual colourist at Technicolor, gave further support to the ‘creative’s’ argument, saying that there is no point in having a great projector or display device if you haven’t defined the screen, and he cited the enormous differences that can occur between images on white and silver screens. He bemoaned the fact that film-makers have to do so many different grades, quoting 2D 14fL, 3D 14fL, 3D 7fL, 3D 4.5fL, Dolby 2D and 3D, IMAX and EclairColor for grades DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017 THE NEED FOR WCG? Dominic Glynn, senior scientist at Pixar, believes that enhancing a premium experience is a major reason to use WCG. Film-makers would like to use more colours than DCI P3 provides, since this will give them more creative freedom, and it stands to reason that we need new projectors to cope with the extra colours — he felt that WCG might become the primary grading system one day. Metamerism, where two people see different colours, remains a problem, and colour scientists are working on new measurement techniques for light sources that will allow us to understand the reasons better and to make appropriate adjustments. In Dominic's view such a premium grade would be hard to market today because of the lack of standardisation. Peter Doyle noted that we need to open up wide gamut discussions between creatives and projector manufacturers so that we can convince the creatives that their intentions can be faithfully recreated on cinema screens.

for one recent movie. At the current time a director knows only what he has graded on a white screen in the preview theatre, whereas there is a real need to know what these images look like in the average cinema. The move towards a wide colour gamut will see the need to create a separate grade to take account of the different colour space — why do we really need this WCG? As the lone exhibitor, Mike Bradbury said that exhibitors are currently being offered a range of technologies by the manufacturers — but what should he buy? Manufacturers themselves seem split on the use of RGB/ phosphor technologies to achieve the best results. Brian Claypool from Christie said that all cinema screens will eventually need to be ‘refreshed’ technically. The new technologies allow exhibitors to choose solutions that they can afford and which will best enable them to present the HDR and WCG images that the creatives will be learning to provide. Mark from NEC said that the variety of projection types that are offered is a good thing , allowing exhibitors to choose the most appropriate solution for each cinema

marketplace. Goran agreed, telling Mike ‘buy what you need’, taking into account total cost of ownership, cost savings, and adequate image quality for some sites, but Barco also offers the choice of paying more to impress your premium customers, so you have the choice. Mark Clowes from Sony reminded us that Sony don’t yet have an RGB laser offering. He said that laser phosphor has a place, but there is still room for increased contrast and so far we are restricted to P3. Different manufacturers are using different laser suppliers, so it is likely that metamerism will continue to result in different colour perceptions. The creative side of the industry will learn how to cope with and get the best from the new technologies. Dominic from Pixar noted that the new technologies provide exciting new tools — no-one would want to go back to a system with more flicker or more grain, for example. Pixar currently prefers the laser projector solution. In further discussions it was agreed that green lasers are currently difficult to manufacture — Brian explained that getting the specific wavelengths required for cinema is a challenge. There was no clear answer to Mike’s question as to whether laser speckle will be fixed — Nic asked whether the laser source could itself be vibrated, in a similar way to which cinema cameras had adopted a half pixel vibration to smooth the images. NEC agreed that speckle still does need fixing, and that its latest RGB lasers were a considerable improvement on earlier models. Brian felt there was progress being made in terms of wavelength diversity and diffusion, and there was general agreement that ‘we are getting there’. But Goran put the situation into practical perspective by saying that Barco had installed over 200 RGB laser projectors and there hadn’t been a single customer complaint. To which Nic replied that customers don’t yet know about the problem — once they see speckle they won’t ignore it. A fascinating session that summed up the state of the industry with regard to laser projection — we are getting where we want to be as far as image quality is concerned, but the whole industry still has much work to do.

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CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | DECEMBER 2017

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017

BUSINESS INSIGHTS An in-depth look at cinema's marketplace he final day of IBC Big Screen started on a business theme, with Patrick von Sychowski chairing three separate sessions focusing on how the industry can better understand its customers and what we must do to persuade them to visit the cinema more frequently — and to keep them coming back. He said that with more cinema screens than ever providing more and more choice of content, it is vital that the industry does everything possible to maximise the use of its cinema investment.

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Who is your Cinema Audience in 2017? Laura Houlgatte, CEO of UNIC began by considering young audiences aged from 12-25 years. She explained how UNIC has brought together young people for discussions with cinema managers to find out what they want from cinemas, and as a start asked them about their favourite out-of-home activities. These turned out to be: 1 hanging about with friends 2 shopping 3 going to the cinema

They found that 12-14 year olds love 3D, and that older members of the group had less interest in watching 3D movies. From the discussions, it emerged that key needs for young people were a need for social bonding and the desire to be offered an extraordinary experience. There are different challenges for each age group, with 12-14 year olds wanting ‘the experience’ 15-17 year olds are more interested in ‘socialising’ 18-25 year olds want a relaxing experience. Content, convenience, experience and engagement were all cited as important, but value and fun were prime requirements. Laura explained how Pathé has recently worked with Youtubers —archetypal millenials — to make a video about expectations of cinema.

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grocery store. Different groups can be shown to visit pizza places and cafés after the show, with many different symbiotic partnerships. Owen stressed the importance of families to the cinema business, saying that although only 5% of titles are in the ‘family’ category, these account for 18% of UK box office sales. Families are frequent cinema visitors, with 5.6 visits per year, and these visits sow the seed to get children to continue to visit the cinema as they grow up and become independent. Understanding customer movement and location and building behavioural profiles allows you to target the audience you want, and he gave an example of ‘dropping’ messages on to cinemagoers' phone lock screens, saying that this achieved a high engagement rate. Knowing the right time and place to reach different groups is the key to cutting through the noise of other competing messages.

Who is watching what?

Proximity marketing

Owen Geddes from Devicescape gave an interesting presentation on how they use location data with a ‘proximity marketing’ solution to build locationtargeted engagement campaigns into promotional activities for film releases across the UK. They are working with the UK arm of Universal Pictures International and harness the rich datasets generated by the Devicescape Engage platform to develop an understanding of the UK cinemagoer experience, allowing Universal to develop more effectively targeted marketing campaigns. Devicescape uses its ‘Curated Virtual Network’ of shared public Wi-Fi to establish consumers’ presence at numerous retail, hospitality, leisure, and transport destinations, and triggers the delivery of location-aware, targeted engagement messages to consumers’ smartphones. The assurance was given that all such data is anonymised. By tracking customer behaviour they find incredibly rich amounts of information about family behaviour — such as that after visiting a cinema more than 50% of families visit a department store and over 80% a

50% According to Devicescape, 50% of families visit a department store and 80% visit a grocery store after a cinema trip

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amounts of average visits per year to the cinema for the typical family according to Devicescape

Sarah Lewthwaite of Movio explained that Movio is the global leader in marketing data analytics and campaign management software for cinema exhibitors, film distributors and studios. Part of the Vista Group, it aims to revolutionise the way the film industry interacts with moviegoers, and its software currently in over 40 cinemas, enables us to know exactly who is watching our movies. Whilst Owen had concentrated on families, Sarah focused on the importance of the 50+ audience, saying that the over 65s are the most frequent moviegoers and that it is important to make films that appeal to them — a compelling story, well told. If you get the over 50s in to the habit of coming to the cinema (many prefer to come before 6pm) they will prove loyal repeat visitors.

Who owns the data?

There wasn’t a convincing answer to the ownership of data or to what effect the European Union General Data Protection Regulation will have, but there were protestations that data is stripped of personal information before use. Owen Geddes said that his company collects data on all sorts of customers and they want to share it with distributors and exhibitors. In answer to a question on cinema ticket pricing Laura from UNIC surprised many by saying that the average price across 36 European territories is €6. Sensing that many in the audience have experience of paying much higher DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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IBC BIG SCREEN 2017 THE NETFLIX BENEFIT? There was much discussion of how Netflix is affecting cinema marketing (not all bad since it encourages more film watching) and the effect that distributor/exhibitors like Curzon are having when some of their movies are made available on other media at the same date as their cinema release. Hoss said that Everyman has sometimes done well at the box office from some of these releases. prices, she ended with the statement that ‘we deliver value for money’!

The digital journey

The second of the business insight sessions looked at The Digital Journey of a Cinemagoer. Ben Johnson of Gruvi explained that the movie industry is subject to technology disruption and needs different business models and marketing practices. We need to understand how to use the data that is being collected to get the solutions we need, and that hyper-local targeting is important. Audiences are fragmented and busy, with 7.56 hours each day being used to consume all forms of media. As an example of the sort of analyses Gruvi are doing, he showed that people decide in principle that they are going to watch a film weeks in advance but they only make the actual cinema booking at the last minute.

The power of customer service

Rosalie Moorman from Vue, Netherlands said that their company had a national approach to the cinema market, with current marketing concentrating on letting customers know that they will get very good hospitality, the best sound and vision technology, and VIP seating. Hoss Ghonouie of Everyman Cinemas said that their approach is all about offering the highest possible quality experience, providing a great night out, with a wide programme offering from arthouse to popular movies. They had recently taken over some existing Odeon sites and improved them. In marketing terms the industry is way behind the ways in which social media is used elsewhere. Patrick suggested that marketing of movies had traditionally been left to the distributors, and Rosalie agreed, but said that exhibitors now work more closely with distributors on this, citing a new ‘Go to Vue’ campaign. She said that as well as advertising the movie CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | DECEMBER 2017

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On several occasions Ben Johnson had mentioned the Gruvi book ‘Winning Your Audiences — Marketing Movies in the Connected World', and he said that Chapter Three “Innovating the movie business model. The challenges and opportunities of the future, from piracy, to VOD, and Blockchain technology” contains answers to many questions raised. It is available to download from https://gruvi.tv/white-papers/moviemarketing-winning-your-audiences

there is the need to provide customers with more targeted information about Vue, and they are doing this. Hoss said that things are changing fast, that amazing awareness of new movies is generated by the downloading of info and trailers generated by distributors and advertisers many months before a movie is released. But we mustn’t forget that attendance decisions are only made a day or two before a cinema visit, representing a quite different scale of awareness, for which e-marketing and social media techniques can be ideal. Ben agreed that new social media technologies can provide enormous benefits in selling tickets, highlighting one cinema that previously kept its customer info on a spreadsheet but had recently begun to use MailChimp marketing automation to connect with its audience, and is now full every night. This type of solution handles the marketing stuff so that cinemas can focus on the rest of their business. It learns what the audiences like and takes the email list and creates targeted campaigns to remind them that a new movie is coming that they would like, and to tell them that a cinema newsletter will be appearing in their email inbox shortly. Hoss said that Everyman now has sufficient data on its customers to provide an insight into the demographics of their tastes and preferences, based on their previous movie-going, and that this is much better than just relying on age-related general statistics. Patrick suggested this technique requires hard work and might be difficult for many cinemas with limited staffing to do. Rosalie agreed, saying that things are now more difficult than when they just used to send the same email to the whole customer database. They now send targeted information to each customer saying things like ‘you

told us you enjoyed this movie, you are going to love this forthcoming one’ — and the results are better than before!

The value of premium

Questions from the floor asked how important cinema customers regard premium presentation quality and how far the cinemas highlight the new technologies. The panel agreed that higher quality pictures and sound now on offer correlate well with the expectations of demanding customers. Rosalie said there is little point in advertising particular technologies because customers need to experience things like Atmos and HDR before they can appreciate the benefits they bring. Vue holds special screenings with ‘influencers’ — targeting 18-30 year olds and encouraging them to experience the highest quality images and sound — hoping their enthusiasm rubs off on their friends. Other questions asked how cinemas can gauge success of their marketing efforts and if it is possible to predict the success of a movie beforehand. It was agreed that you can correlate box office numbers with the responses to targeted marketing attempts, and

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Doing the business — Patrick von Sychowski chaired several sessions that explored the commercial side of cinema

that a look at the interaction rate with the cinema’s website in the days and weeks before a movie is to be shown can provide a reasonably accurate prediction of how a movie is likely to succeed in your particular cinema. The panel agreed with a questioner who suggested that the customer journey is different for event cinema. Performances such as plays, ballets and operas are often scheduled six months in advance and experience shows that such events can book out months in advance, to the great benefit of the cinema business. André Rieu's concerts are a good example. .

Innovation and the Big Screen

The third of the International Business Insights sessions was entitled Innovation and the Big Screen Experience and featured two cinema operators, Stijn Vanspauwen, from Kinepolis and Stine Påskesen from Nordisk Film Cinemas, together with Michael Zink, from Warner Bros bringing in the Hollywood Studio view. Michael Zink said that lots of innovations are coming in at the same time. Not only are cinemas looking at immersive technologies and screen extensions like Barco Escape, but there are a host of new technologies relating to displays on mobile devices, and WB has to look at them all to figure out what their effect will be on different parts of the business. Many of the solutions need to be scalable and interoperable between different areas, so standards are going to be increasingly important… New ones are essential. Stine Påskesen said that there is such a wide range of digital content available in so many formats which are still to reach maturity. She felt there is the need for more business www.cinematech.today

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40 Movio's software and technology iscurrently in over 40 cinemas, and enables cinema owners to track who is watching what content.

7.56 We average 7.56 hours a day consuming all forms of media according to Gruvi

65+ The older generation of 65+ are the most frequent cinema-goers according to Movio's research

development to open up cinema to wider audiences. So far, cinema has closed in on itself, but innovation must mean we expand our horizons and look at the possibilities of everything from gaming to e-sports, making optimum use of the big screen. Stijn Vanspauwen told the audience that Kinepolis still has its roots in the family business based on the ethos of its founders. They have always been a technical front-runner and are critically aware that cinemas need to look more widely at what they are doing, benefiting from the experiences and developments taking place in other non-cinema entertainment markets. Patrick raised a question that is concerning many in the exhibition business at a time when new developments from immersive sound and vision are coming along, seemingly out of control and certainly outside all the current technical and operational standards. “Now that we have finished the initial change to digital cinema, under well-established DCI rules, how should the industry cope with the numerous proprietary innovative technologies now being offered to it? “ Stine said that customers don’t know what they want, and it is even difficult for cinema operators to understand the potential of some of new ideas, but cinemas have to remain aware of trends outside the industry. She recommended cinema owners attend non-cinema conferences to find out what is happening elsewhere. Michael said that Warner Bros are involved in many forms of entertainment technology, not just cinema, so they are in touch with new developments. They appreciate that customers are now getting a better home entertainment experience than was previously possible and have given a great deal of thought to how this might impact cinema. Cinema exhibition provides a controlled environment in which to experience specially created content, and its strength must remain in providing customers with an experience they can’t get anywhere else. Stijn said their cinemas have a reputation for trying new things and for being the first to introduce new technologies. People are looking for new experiences and Kinepolis try to provide it for them. The chain is trying RGB laser projection — good, but expensive. With any new technology you need to include costs of bringing it to market, to find out what the

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customer thinks of it, and, importantly, if they are prepared to pay extra for it — whether or not they will pay for higher quality. Some products are simply not appreciated by the cinemagoer.

Questions from the floor

Questions from the audience included ‘why do we in Europe have to wait for some releases like La La Land to make their way over from the US?' Stijn replied that even in Europe there are different release dates, highlighting differences between the same film coming out months apart in Kinepolis in Belgium and Holland. To the frustration of many there was no clear answer, apart from the less than helpful answer: “distributors’ strategy”. There were discussions about the need to innovate in cinema marketing as well as in projection and sound technology, and a general agreement that the industry needs to be speedy and agile in its decision making. Technical innovations need the full support of top management, who need to be convinced that any investment will bring in a fair return. Further questions followed on a range of topics, from whether premium cinemas might be physically separate from other screens, to how customers can get cinema to show the (classic?) films that they want to see, and how cinemas can extend marketing outside their current audiences, bringing in people who wouldn’t normally think of going to watch a movie.

It's not just technical...

An unexpected question in this session focused on the experience — why is customer behaviour getting worse, with people eating, putting feet on seats and using phones, spoiling the experience for many, and what are cinema owners going to do about it? The resulting discussions could have gone on all afternoon, with assurances that cinemas are listening to customers, monitoring behaviour, trying to see if ‘mobile friendly’ screenings work, but the sad admission that ‘unfortunately there is a minority who just don’t care about the experience of others’ seemed to sum up the state of the world, and not only in cinema.

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VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual Reality:

Cinema’s Succesor? Just what part will VR play in the exhibition business — is it a killer app or merely a companion experience? At IBC, the industry debated the hot topic

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hat part will VR play in cinema’s future? It’s a burning question and one that six VR practitioners tried to answer in an industry session held at IBC and co-chaired by Julian Pinn, exec producer of the IBC Big Screen Experience and Franziska Knoefel, manager of digital revolution at WerbeWeischer. On-screen examples of how VR might be used with cinema led into Craig Phillips and Travis Graalman of SunnyBoy Entertainment explaining how they worked with Warner Bros. and New Line on the creation of IT: Float - A Cinematic VR Experience, a VR experience to accompany the launch of the horror film, IT. Premiered at 2017 San Diego Comic-Con, a custombuilt “VR School Bus” has travelled the US showcasing the IT VR Experience. They worked with the film director on location to shoot the elements needed, building a custom stereoscopic camera rig, and using VFX scans to recreate locations from the film. The IT Float experience aimed to encourage people to see the film. Their CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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storytellers were helping to support the producer’s vision. We are just at the start with this technology, as Craig summarised: “Sunnyboy is creating tools that one day our children will use in ways we can’t imagine!”

Developing the technology Kathleen Schröter from Fraunhofer research discussed the organisation’s work on VR. They have built a mirror-based multi-camera system — OmniCam — which allows recording of live video in 360 degree panoramic format, with a resolution of up to 10,000 x 2,000 pixels. Realising that such images will need to be processed and transmitted, they have developed compression techniques that allow images to be processed and displayed on tablets and VR glasses in real-time and to be transmitted live. One clever bandwidth reduction technique is to ensure that the image always has its highest resolution in the area your attention is focused, with everything else less sharp. Kathleen also explained the principles of volumetric video, which makes it possible to generate

dynamic 3D models of people, which appear natural, going far beyond conventional virtual characters, with gestures, facial expressions and textures (skin, hair and fabric) recorded in detail. The 3D models of people can be integrated into a virtual scene, and viewers with VR glasses can view these people at close range and from various perspectives — you could appear on stage with your favourite actor or musician for example. She also explained how their VR technologies are used in rehabilitation of hospital patients, but said that for cinema applications storytelling will be uppermost.

A perfect companion Giovanni Dolci from IMAX outlined the extensive work that they have been doing to investigate how VR may best be used. He currently sees VR as a companion to cinema, with IMAX VR experiences and the showing of top-quality films going hand-in-hand. IMAX don’t regard VR as a successor or replacement for cinema, but are finding so many synergies between the two that they see a great future for the two www.cinematech.today

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VIRTUAL REALITY

places than at home — people don’t want to wear a headset at home but may be prepared to do so in a VR cinema location in order to share the experience with friends. As one panel member said — just as watching TV is very different from going to the cinema, VR is different again. In answer to a question as to how far the industry has got with developing a business model, Giovanni noted that IMAX is piloting various ideas, and is working with exhibitors to learn how

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go-karting or paintball enthusiasts, so why VR?] A question about VR’s potential to cause headaches led to the panel’s explanation that content creators are testing camera moves to ensure viewers will be comfortable. It is another constraint film-makers will need to take account of. Better resolution (8K is probably necessary) will help, and controlled cinema conditions may make things better than casual VR headset usage. There may be a need for minimum ages, too.

“IMAX DOESN’T REGARD VR AS A REPLACEMENT FOR CINEMA — BUT THEY ARE FINDING MANY SYNERGIES BETWEEN THE TWO”

together. The company is working on the end-to-end consumer experience and appreciates the importance of developing something customers want to experience repeatedly rather than a ‘try it once’ experience many existing systems provide. A major philosophical problem is that putting on a headset isolates you from the real world — the very opposite of the social, sharing effect we want from cinema. One idea is to use location based apps that bring people together in a social mingling space so that the experience isn’t only restricted to when you have the VR helmet on. IMAX is working with Warner Bros on a VR experience for Justice League. Initially this will involve a free download for your phone allowing you to preview the interactive game, and it is expected that in December the full, Justice League Virtual Reality: The Complete Experience will be available. IMAX believes that VR will be complementary to moviegoing and their aim is to make IMAX VR experiences as social as possible.. Patrick von Sychowski asked if VR might follow the same trajectory as 3D cinema, which had several false starts over decades before finally becoming established, as digital projection took hold. In answer, Giovanni said that he expected VR to be more successful in communal www.cinematech.today

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to monetise this new technology. Options considered include joint ventures or allowing VR centres to develop technology to meet standards to be set by IMAX. Craig from SunnyBoy agreed that a revenue share model would be a good way of getting equipment installed in the early days. The value chain will only work if everyone involved can gain. Julian Pinn asked whether there is a standard or best layout for a VR cinema setup yet. The view was that we are still far from an agreed standard — over time the industry will divide into different segments. One questioner queried whether VR and 360 degree cinema are the same thing — the answer was a resounding no as 360 degree cinema is generally based around having a camera at one fixed point, whereas interactive VR implies having six degrees of freedom, allowing the viewer to move in all directions. A good example is a VR session where you can effectively walk around a room freely, intermingling with the actors in the performance. VR arcades can be regarded as a case of extreme VR, where perhaps eight people sit together, shooting laser guns at each other. Panel members felt that we must stay flexible in our various definitions and uses of VR, and Giovanni said that all the IMAX VR applications include some degree of interactivity. A more prosaic question was raised — ‘Isn’t the fact that previous users have caused headsets to get sweaty and smelly over a half hour period likely to turn off the more fastidious from taking part?’. Various panel members gave different answers on cleaning, the use of disposable sweat-bands and the need to pre-book so that equipment could be cleaned in advance, but this highlighted a real potential problem [Ed: This particular problem doesn’t seem to deter

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Creating a magic time machine When asked to answer the starting question ‘Will VR be cinema’s companion or successor?”, the panel split. Two said ‘companion’, two said ‘both’, and one saying that VR will be a strong competitor to cinema, offering the chance to step into a time machine!

VR CINEMAS ARE ALREADY A REALITY One of the panellists, Jip Samhoud of Samhoud Media said that cinemas need to broaden their audience profiles, and that VR may play a part in this, but only if a suitable business model can be developed. Samhoud is involved in the world’s first VR cinema in Amsterdam which offers a range of VR experiences. The VR Cinema doesn’t have a screen with seats facing it, moviegoers sit in swivel chairs and put on a VR headset and headphones. Swivel chairs encourage and enable viewers to turn at will to experience the movie in 360 degrees. Open every day, the room seats 100 people — two employees help the customers, and encourage everyone to get together and discuss their experiences. The concept is expanding internationally in China, Finland and Romania. Jip said content needs to be of reasonable length (currently around 30 minutes per film) in order to make the most of VR storytelling and to get away from gimmicky demos. Jip believes VR will take off, because it is not concentrating on the technology but on storytelling. VR in cinema has a great future, because the experience is best if shared.

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THE FUTURE OF 3D

a m e n i c

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THE FUTURE OF 3D

“RATHER THAN MAKING 40 3D MOVIES A YEAR, MIGHT THE FILM INDUSTRY PRODUCE FEWER 3D FILMS, BUT HIGHER QUALITY?”

3D silver screen. As early digital projectors age, exhibitors are spending more on lamps than ever to maintain brightness levels. One questioner from Saudi Arabia noted 3D had failed in the marketplace and asked if 3D would be available solely in cinemas in the future, or whether 3D TV would make a comeback. Travis said he had seen no sign of a 3D TV resurgence, but had noted renewed

TIME FOR A TRADE ASSOCIATION? David Hancock brought the discussions to a close by suggesting the time might be right for a trade association to liaise between all the actors, technical, commercial, artistic, within the 3D business. The aim of such a body would be to co-ordinate and discuss the industrial and technical side of the business of 3D, while at the same time providing a communication channel between consumers and these technical companies and distributors. It would be able to ensure that consumer get the message that 3D is now great and can be recommended, but also to feedback less favourable messages to the trade when aspects of 3D are not going to plan and need improvement.

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interest in the US Pay Per View TV sector, where some 3D movies are creeping back, so there is still a chance of 3D returning to TV. Fox provides content for a range of media outlets, not just cinema, and they work with display manufacturers. There is currently a great reluctance from them to move to 3D with their UHDTV displays. Gary Feather from display manufacturer Nanolumens said that 3D images should not come forward out of the screen, but should provide the effect of looking out of a window rather than taking part in an event. Arjun disagreed, saying it should be up to the creative filmmaker to decide such things — and he threw in the problem of where the subtitles should go in a 3D picture. The 8K TV displays at IBC really do give the impression of looking out of a window — so might higher resolution cinema displays replace 3D in cinema? Travis responded that the director isn’t necessarily wanting to provide reality. He or she wants control of depth of field which 3D provides.

Quantity or quality? David Hancock asked whether the industry, rather than producing 40 3D films a year, might produce fewer 3D films but of higher quality, so that audiences learn a 3D movie is special. Some felt demand for 3D is insufficient, others that they would love to make lots of 3D films for 14fL showings, but the cinemas aren’t capable of showing them. Mike Bradbury noted that there are real concerns with current 3D films, whose quality has deteriorated in the past couple of

years. The 3D films that are not so great spoil the pitch for the few great ones. He supported the idea of fewer, better 3D films, so that cinemas could make the launch of each new 3D film a big event. He also suggested that these highlight films should be advertised as ‘Great in 3D’ rather than simply another film.

Technology can still improve things Travis from RealD said that 3D technologies are being developed to improve the quality, citing RealD’s Ultimate screen as a technological upgrade for 3D Cinema. The company is refining the design and concentrating on ways to make it cheaper to manufacture. RealD is also working on making 3D glasses lighter and more comfortable for the viewer. Giovanni Dolci explained how IMAX is trying to bring greater consistency to 3D showings — at present a customer can spend the same money for a great experience in one cinema as for a poor one elsewhere. In IMAX cinemas the whole environment is carefully controlled and consistent from screen to screen, so the customer can be sure of a great experience. He suggested that the rest of the industry might take note of the need for consistency, a call that Arjun echoed.

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Volfoni welcomes Arts Alliance Media to the Luxin-Rio Group Untitled-1 1

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inema guru and polymath Peter Ludé (technical advisor to RealD) has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the technologies behind the LED screens tentatively being offered to the cinema industry, as well as alternative technologies being researched. At IBC, he took industry insiders behind the scenes of the different manufacturing processes, explaining the variations between the screen-making technologies, ‘chip on board’ and ‘surface mounted’. Not one to shirk the commercial side, he outlined costs per pixel to manufacture, and did the maths to demonstrate why large LED screens currently need to be expensive. Having looked at the market for LEDs and driver chips manufactured in China, Taiwan and the USA (Cree) he expressed confidence that screen costs will drop, due to a combination of lower manufacturing costs, better thermal control and higher pixel densities. He cited one manufacturing technique which uses micro-LEDs of around .01mm which can be transferred to screens at a rate of millions per hour. The modular design of these screens might also make it possible to use them to give wraparound immersive viewing — the modern equivalent of curved Cinerama. At IBC, Chris Buchanan of Samsung described their new LED screen offering, proudly explaining that the company has installed the first commercial cinema LED Screen at Lotte Cinema World Tower in Korea. At 10.3m (33.8ft) wide, the Samsung Cinema LED Screen brings HDR picture quality to the big screen, and ultra-sharp 4K resolution (4096 x 2160) with peak brightness levels of 146fL (500 Nits), some 10x greater than that offered by standard projector technologies. The screen surface is matt-black, reducing unwanted reflections, and no masking is needed — you just switch off unwanted pixels to provide ‘Scope or Flat aspect ratios. Marketing teams claim an ’infinity to 1’ contrast ratio, but knowing his audience of engineers, Chris said 100,000:1 was more realistic — still far greater than anything at cinemas today. He claimed the colour gamut is larger than DCI P3, even at very high brightness levels, and that the low-tone greyscale

performance is excellent. The HDR images are perfectly uniform, with no hot-spots, no darkened screen corners, and none of the optical distortion often inevitable with projected images. The system is efficient at turning electricity into light on screen, and although it runs warm, there are no fans required for cooling or heat extraction. DCI security issues have been addressed using an integrated GDC media block, and this can cope with inputs from a wide range of sources. Concerns about audio dialogue from the screen have been addressed by a collaboration between Harman Professional Solutions and Samsung Audio Lab — speakers above the screen at the front, and special audio processing provide a true-to-life experience, using the ‘psychoacoustic’ ventriloquist effect.

maintaining a balanced view Sony’s ground-breaking Crystal LED direct view display technology was on display at IBC, though not in a format intended for cinema use. Sony’s Oliver Pasch provided a balanced overview of the relationship between current and new generations of projectors and direct view screens. Sony is showing this screen technology to cinema professionals to gain feedback on the implications its use might have. Decisions about making such screens available to the cinema industry are under consideration, but initial responses have been enthusiastic. Such screens could go up to 16K resolution and are capable of 120fps — Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn images have been shown. A 4.8m x 2.7m 4K screen was shown at September’s FNCF Congress in Deauville, offering a glimpse of the future. The audio solution there was from Alcons Audio.

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A time for new standards? Before the cinema industry adopts this large flat screen technology,

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which will eliminate disadvantages of projection such as optical distortion and ensure that images are always in focus, there are many considerations to discuss, including theatre design and layout. As Oliver Pasch explained, the industry will need a standard for a new enhanced brightness level, and maybe it will prove beneficial to have appropriate lighting surrounding the screen — much work was done on this for TV use by companies like Philips. Since this type of display provides the only true cinema HDR capability, the industry will need to agree on an HDR standard. Going further, we will need to look again at DCI specs, which were written with projectors in mind, and to see what changes will need to be made to take account of direct view screens. Even the name of the technology will need to be discussed — active screens, direct view etc. Oliver came up with the interesting suggestion that, just as we created LIPA to consider all aspects of using laser projection in the cinema business, perhaps the time has come for a similar organisation to look into all aspects of active cinema screens — he suggested The Active Screen Society. Oliver predicted segmentation between different types of screen in cinemas. Today, exhibitors have an unprecedented choice of lamp and laser-based solutions for presentation in any size theatre. Looking further ahead, that choice will get

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Such a provocative headline at IBC encouraged many to take part in a set of debates that delivered the very latest knowledge on direct view LED technology — and what active screens means in the cinema setting. www.cinematech.today

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DIRECT VIEW LED SCREENS

wider still with LED screens. This will allow exhibitors to pick the right blend of technologies to suit their needs — 4K projection still has a great future. Gary Feather from Nanolumens, has a long history working on DLP devices at Texas Instruments, so understands the needs of the cinema industry well, and his previous role at Sharp Electronics looking after development of their LED displays gave him a deep understanding of the technology, leaving him qualified to talk about active screens in cinema settings. Three years ago NanoLumens completed development of a direct view LED display suitable for cinemas, and Gary discussed the detailed considerations now taking place on how the company’s 4K 2.5mm pitch LED display screen technology can be tailored to fit high-end cinema applications. The

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colour space uses Rec 709 (the same as standard HDTV) but work is going on to ensure that this gamut can be extended to P3 and Rec 2020 soon. Brightness is an interesting topic — LED screens allow for far brighter cinema pictures, but the industry needs to consider exactly how bright it wants them. Too much brightness can lead to

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fatigue. A high percentage of cinema storytelling is done with dark images, so it is no good aiming for maximum brightness. Light levels must match the story. Theatre design will have to be re-thought too — cinemas must provide the best views of LED screens, especially where these may wrap around the sides of the theatre. Pixel size is important — we must ensure that tiny LED dots provide as good an image as DMD pixels with a fill factor of 80%, as well as making pixellation imperceptible. Gary said that we can’t

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consider the screen in isolation, but must look at the process flow for the whole system, including frame rates and motion artifacts. He believes there is a great future for LED in cinema, and will work with the industry to incorporate all viewpoints into the solutions they create. According to Gary, the introduction of LED screens to cinemas will create the most lifelike experiences possible for audiences everywhere, and will effectively create a whole new industry — with many tens of thousands of researchers working on improvements to LED technologies the future is bright for direct view LED screens in cinema.

THERE ARE STILL CHALLENGES… Peter Ludé highlighted that the advantages of LED displays still need to be proven in cinema. There are numerous challenges: Cinemas use a wide variety of screen sizes and shapes — all LED products currently on sale are 16:9 aspect ratio. Image scaling might be used, but might produce aliasing. Modern image processing technologies can reduce this. � Colour gamuts of current models don’t match cinema — it will be possible to match P3 and Rec 2020, but it isn’t easy. � Current products show colour shifts at low luminance levels. � Greyscale linearity isn’t uniform. It will probably be necessary to use PWM to

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drive the displays, rather like with DLP projectors. The nonuniformity is more pronounced nearer to black, and different colours have different nonuniformities in that area. The different coloured LEDs don’t ‘fire’ at exactly the same time or code value, the result being that near-black areas can appear with a red hue to them as the red LEDs start glowing at lower code values than other colours. Displays will need calibration to account for this. High contrast ratios can be achieved, but for cinema use, careful design of the substrate is needed. Off-axis uniformity can be a problem due to the construction

of the LEDS. Colours look different as you move off axis. Solutions can be found. Scanned images can give rise to temporal artefacts which affect some people when they move their head. We are used to hearing on-screen dialogue via perforations in the screen, so sound processing will need to be used to provide convincing

audio. Sound could also be reflected back from the screen. DCI security considerations will need to be found for the multiple display modules that make up a large LED screen. Peter concluded LED displays are likely to become viable, bringing super-dynamic range to cinemas — and a disruptive experience for the industry.

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CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Making Light Work

Miguel D'Amico Network Operations Center Engineer Bardan Cinema Miami, Florida

At Bardan Cinema we are proud of our 40 year heritage providing the highest quality cinema experience to our customers across The Americas and beyond. We rely on Philips LTI LongPlay lamps to deliver consistent, reliable performance with maximum projector uptime.

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THE U

MATE CINEMA XENON LAMP

The Philips trademark is a trademark of Koninklijke Philips N .V. and is used under license

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BFI LIVE CINEMA

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live cinema: Would Kubrick approve?

Screening films with live orchestration is technically demanding. Tim Stevens, BFI's head of business development and production, describes the experience of producing one such large-scale live project — 2001: A Space Odyssey

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ven silent cinema was rarely silent. In the early days, film relied on live musical accompaniment to provide mood and to mask the whir of the projectors. When the Lumiere brothers put on the first ever public cinema screening in 1895, their films were accompanied by a guitarist to provide a suitable soundtrack to this new medium. But then technology moved on and the

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talkies took over, adding sound to the films. Live music and cinema went their separate ways for almost a century and only in recent years are they back together: the live cinema experience has been reborn. From the reappraisal of old silent classics with contemporary re-scores, to symphony orchestras filling concert halls with live versions of new theatrical releases, everywhere you look today you can

experience film with a live soundtrack. This phenomenon now seems to have come full circle, and it has been made possible, in part, by the recent digital revolution in cinema technology.

the high-quality option When the BFI and Southbank Centre commissioned the live concert version of Stanley Kubrick's celebrated classic 2001: A DECEMBER 2017

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Space Odyssey in 2010 there were very few of these large scale live cinema events. The commission was made possible by significant investment by the Royal Society. 2010 marked the 350th anniversary of the organisation and to celebrate they put together a science and arts festival at the Southbank Centre. For us at the BFI, the project was a no-brainer: one of the greatest films of all time with a beautiful and terrifying score that included music from the past and the present. The result is breathtaking: a full symphony orchestra and choir perform the music live as the film plays in full. It’s a seamless theatrical cinema experience with the addition of 95 musicians and a 64-voice choir onstage, all kept precisely in time with the film by the conductor. First premiered at the Royal Festival Hall, it has since been to more than 20 concert halls across the world and has been watched by an audience of more than 85,000 people. In 2015, we produced the show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to an audience of 12,329. It was a magical evening and one which I will never forget, but every time I see the show I always have a voice in the back of my head asking the same question: “What would Stanley think?” Sometimes I shudder and imagine his anger — why meddle with a masterpiece? Or would he be happy to see his film given new life, new voice? In more confident moments I hope he would approve. Our ambition was always to present the film to the highest possible standards.

a truly unique experience What interests me about the modern film concert is that it has the ability to create a one-off experience for audiences. These events cannot be replicated on the small screen or in multiplexes. Their ambition and scale demands the best musicians, the best conductors, the largest venues and most importantly for cinema, the best possible technical presentation. In many respects, the technical aspects of the project have been the hardest of all to overcome. Unsurprisingly, the only venues big enough to house a symphony orchestra and choir are concert halls. By committing to this project, we were immediately not showing the film as it was intended. A live show, by it’s very nature, changes the experience, and if you are not careful it quickly becomes an experience that is not cinema. Added to this, we were also dealing with one of the greatest films ever produced, made by one of the most talented and exacting practitioners the industry has ever known. For this project especially, the presentation of the film had to be at the very centre of our ambitions. Warner Bros and Jan Harlan (Kubrick’s brother-in-law and long time collaborator/ CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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producer) were both incredibly supportive from the outset. They understood the scale of what we were trying to achieve and trusted that the BFI and Southbank Centre were the right organisations to be able to do the project justice.

the technical challenge ahead Our first major task was to strip out the soundtrack from the film. The plan was to be able to create a new 2K DCP from the

HOW DID IT START? The rise of modern film concerts was driven in the first instance by the music world. Over recent years concert halls and orchestras in America and Europe have been looking to engage with complimentary art forms and new audiences. With film, a secondary benefit was tapping one of the largest ticket buying audiences in the world. Apart from being a savvy commercial move on the part of orchestras, this is also culturally significant for the history of film. Concert halls are large by their very nature, and this sudden, modern meeting of film and live music meant that feature films were being presented on a scale rarely seen in cinemas. Where else would 16,000 people be able to watch a film on the big screen? Only at the Hollywood Bowl, a music venue, that until recent times hadn’t played a single film since it’s opening in the 1930s. Even an average concert hall sits around 2,000 people, which is considerably more than most cinemas. So we now have live concert film screenings on a scale beyond even the original enormous 1920s “picture palaces.” These capacities have simply not been possible for cinemas since, as ticket sales would never support it.

master scans in Burbank, but without any of the score. The dialogue, FX and foley all would need to remain on the DCP. Warner Bros in Burbank were willing to try, as they had previously made digital versions of the assets from the original analogue material. The lead time for the premiere of the show was tight, and to be safe we needed a back-up in case the teams in California came back with unforeseen problems. We engaged with several sound designers to investigate whether it would be possible to cut out the music by using frequency filters and frame-by-frame analysis, but after much testing it became obvious that our only real solution would be to rely on the skills of the technical experts in Burbank. Thankfully they did what they set out to do and returned with a new concert version of the DCP which had no music recorded.

A series of potential pitfalls The effectiveness of this process is dictated in the most part by the condition of the original film materials. We were lucky Warner Bros had a 70mm print and had already made separate digital stems of the music and sound. For older films, or ones which are lesser known, it is more of a gamble as the condition and location of the original material is likely to be less certain. One of the biggest challenges when producing a live cinema experience on this scale is ensuring that DCI compliance is maintained. If you have the correct equipment, creating 14fL for 2D is easily done in a black box cinema. A concert hall is a different offering altogether: a space made from almost entirely light-reflecting wood, 159 people sitting on stage each with individually lit music stands, no installed screen, no cinema sound system, and no acoustic baffles. On the contrary, most concert halls are designed to create as much reverberation as possible in order to carry the acoustic tones of the instruments. The list of challenges we faced is endless; these spaces were never designed to show film. We collaborated with Motion Picture Solutions to achieve the best possible presentation of the picture. Ian Thomas and his team are masters of digital cinema and they were confident from the outset that we could achieve our ambitions. Within a concert hall venue a single Christie CP2230 is just about sufficient to get 14fL from the centre of the screen, but with all the players on stage and their individual music stand lights on it requires more output. To remedy this we double up and slave the second system so that both are firing simultaneously. The issue then is whether we have too much light hitting the screen and distorting the colour range and conformity. Each time we show the film, it’s essential to do the fine tuning with the orchestra in situ. www.cinematech.today

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BFI LIVE CINEMA

CINEMA IN CONCERT HALLS

First problem when screening a classic with live orchestration? How do you handle the light levels…

reaching new audiences Live cinema concerts are now ubiquitous. The medium has become big business as commercial promoters, orchestras and distributors have realised the power the

encouraging to see but it comes with a warning: too often the art is compromised for the sake of ticket sales, and the first aspect to suffer is the film. Unfortunately I see this more often than not. Producers,

“OUR FOCUS FROM THE START WAS THAT THE IMAGE AND SOUND BOTH DESERVED TO BE PRESENTED TO THE HIGHEST STANDARDS” format holds to reach new audiences, re-invigorate back catalogue titles and promote new releases. Part of the challenge with the 2001: A Space Odyssey project was that it had to be the best it could possibly be. Our focus from the very start was that the image and the sound both deserved to be presented to the highest possible standards. We wanted to speak to both film and music audiences, and show respect for both art forms. The growth of the market is www.cinematech.today

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promoters and technical experts must not lose sight of our duty to present films in the best possible way. When asked about how I ensure that projects don’t fall into that trap, it always helps to ask myself whether or not Mr Kubrick would approve.

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In order to create the best possible cinema experience we opted for a mini perforated Harkness matt plus screen with 1x gain. The screen was hung in front of 3 x J-Series d&b arrays - L, R and C, with subs behind the stage, and the surrounds were 14 separate V-Series speakers placed around the auditorium. The whole stage was dressed in black wool serge and an additional drop was placed behind the array to box in any light coming through the perforations.

KEEPING TIME

The orchestra need to keep in perfect time throughout the duration of the film, and hit every cue exactly where it was intended to happen on the original print. For this project, this mammoth task landed solely on the shoulders of the conductor. It was decided very early on that the players should not be on click track as it would restrict the music too much: if the conductor kept to timecode and visual cues it would give the precision the film required, but also allow the orchestra room to play the music as naturally as possible.

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WIDESCREEN WEEKEND

Three steps to heaven Escape, Cinerama & The Triptych

Mark Trompeteler reports on the evolving Widescreen Weekend festival of big screen technology at the National Science & Media Museum

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ust as cinema changes and evolves, so the festivals and institutions around it change too. A more diverse demographic of delegates than usual descended on the newly renamed National Science and Media Museum in Bradford to attend the 21st Widescreen Weekend for four days in mid-October. It billed itself as “the unique festival of big screen technology, past, present and future”. Incorporating its IMAX auditorium alongside the analogue, digital and three-strip projection facilities in its Pictureville cinema, and programming recent releases alongside classic big screen films, efforts were clearly being made to deliver on the promise of presenting past, present and future of cinema technology.

The best things come in threes Nothing demonstrated the uniqueness of this festival more than the programming: a presentation on the Barco Escape system alongside the exhibition of a digital restoration of a Cinerama/Cinemiracle film. These accompanied the presentation of an original three-strip Cinerama film, as well as the legendary triptych from Abel Gance’s Napoleon (1927) — a three-strip cinema CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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heaven almost no other venue can emulate. Barco’s Stefan Vandemaele and Frederick Lanoy referred to the company’s development and launch of the three-wall Escape system as almost part of another repeat of cinema history. They asserted that recently, whilst box office takings were remaining steady, due to the utilisation of higher prices for PLF and an improved and wider range of offer and other sales factors, there will always be a concern about falling attendances in auditoria. As in previous eras, there is always that imperative that cinema must offer exceptional experiences that cannot be replicated at home. With large 4K TVs, surround sound systems, 2K and 4K movie streaming services all available, the imperative on cinema to offer an experience that cannot be imitated at home is as great, if not greater, than before. Barco’s Escape utilises a three-screen system as Cinerama and “The Triptych” did before it. No-one will be utilising three walls of their living rooms any time soon. Stefan and Frederick maintain that Escape is a compelling experience that can only ever be enjoyed at the cinema. It can be retro-fitted by Barco to existing cinemas whilst retaining the integrity of the existing

central screen. An additional pair of acoustically transparent, and retractable screens, with additional curtaining, are added to the two sides of the existing screen. It is DCI-compliant and versions of movies will be available with DCPs encoded so that either the movie can be run with just one central screen, or in a version that has the two added screens available to project. They argue that, due to digital projection, Escape is deliverable far more easily and reliably than was Cinerama. There is no need for three projections boxes — “hushboxes” can be fitted round the additional two projectors in the auditorium. Synchronisation of sound and picture is far more reliable and easily achieved than it was with Cinerama. The aspect ratio can be as wide as 7:1 (3x2.39:1), with today’s shooting of threepanel movies not having to be restricted to the three-camera rigs of times gone by. High resolution digital motion picture cameras making movies for large-size PLF screens are capable of achieving the required 858 x 6144 pixel image size via their large sensors: e.g. the Arri 65 (6560x3100), Red Weapon (8192x4320), Red Epic (6144x3160) and the Sony F65 (6144x2160). Obviously the making of movies or sequences in “Escape” www.cinematech.today

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fans, and was the opening night film, projected in 70mm, of course. The closing night film Lawrence of Arabia featured a glorious pristine new 70mm print without a mark on it, and it looked and sounded magnificent. Its visual and dramatic power, and thoughtful and layered unfolding of an epic story reminds us just how good classic films can be. Classics are not reliant on the transitory nature of sensation and spectacle alone, or on the latest technologies to deliver them — the ingredients and craft of good storytelling are just as important, if not more so. Gregory Orr, grandson of Jack L, Warner, and a filmmaker in his own right, attended the whole event and introduced a beautiful 4K DCP of “My Fair Lady” on the flat screen and in 2.2:1. As well as the films mentioned, the

“BARCO ESCAPE USES A THREE-SCREEN SYSTEM. NO-ONE WILL BE USING THREE WALLS OF THEIR LIVING ROOM ANY TIME SOON.” a screening of the museum’s rare and fragile three-strip print of The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. The Cinerama restoration team of David Strohmaier and Randy Gitsch presented their improved restoration of the three-strip nautical feature length travelogue Windjammer. In today’s climate of PLF formats and discussions on how VR may impact mainstream cinema, Cinerama screenings at Bradford demonstrate just how much resolution and detail is presented across a deeply curved Cinerama screen and how immersive and like VR it can seem. Still on the three panel theme, the release of the silent masterpiece Napoleon in 2017 on both DCP and BluRay has made the viewing of the legendary Napoleon triptych far easier to arrange. Kevin Brownlow gave an illustrated account of his epic lifelong journey to restore the film, and his partner at their company, Photoplay, Patrick Stanbury, told us about the restoration of the triptych for digital release and presentation.

a modern widescreen Classic Even in the year of its release, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk has already reached classic status among widescreen and 70mm film www.cinematech.today

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weekend featured a broad mix: The Fortune Cookie (35mm B&W 2.35:1); Jailhouse Rock (35mm B&W 2.35:1); Apocalypse Now Redux (35mm 2.35:1); Moon (35mm 2.35:1); The Untouchables (70mm “blow-up” 2.2:1); Suspiria (35mm 2.35:1); La La Land (DCP 2.55:1); and Sleeping Beauty (DCP 2.55:1). Interspersed with the films were a number of “in conversations with” discussions on stage relating to the films. Now in its fourth year, the IMIS International Student Widescreen Film of the Year Competition” featured the screening of a shortlist of student films from around the world. The competition, which only features films in aspect ratios of 2.2:1 and wider, showed some which had outstanding commercial production values. Within the overall programming mix, there was an opportunity to choose between two different films on two separate occasions and programming strands within the evolving weekend were becoming evident: the traditional fare of 70mm, three-strip and widescreen classics; a whole day dedicated to students and a younger age demographic; celebrating monochrome widescreen; a family film for Sunday afternoon; the inclusion of a cult film or two;

Three Panel Experts: Left to right: Stefan Vandemaele, Frederick Lanoy, David Strohmaier, Randy Gitsch, Patrick Stanbury, Kevin Brownlow.

and the brilliant idea of a celluloid Saturday when every film shown was on celluloid so that people who had never experienced celluloid projection could buy a day pass and experience analogue cinema without having to subscribe to the whole four days. Programming suggestions from a number of delegates had clearly been taken on board by the festival director and been amalgamated into this year’s event. Programme consultants Rebecca Nicole Williams and David Strohmaier and guest curator Sir Christopher Frayling had contributed to the work of the triumvirate behind the organisation of the weekend: Kathryn Penny (festival director), Rebecca Hill (festival co-ordinator) and Tom Perkin (technical manager). Double the number of student day passes had been sold this year and there was an overall 15% increase in attendance for the whole event. IMIS was pleased to sp onsor the weekend once more.

A Three-panel finale To end on the three-panel cinema theme, I asked Stefan Vandemaele of Barco to comment on what he thought of it. He said “Cinerama was the first format to expand the theatrical experience beyond the traditional rectangle, offering an immersive new format to moviegoers for the first time ever. I enjoyed seeing it in its full glory during the Brothers Grimm screening, using three original analogue projectors. A challenging job for the projectionists, but one very well done! I was excited to join the Widescreen Festival at Bradford to bridge formats like Cinerama with new formats such as Barco Escape, our own three-screen, panoramic cinema experience. It’s good to reflect, look into movie history and learn from it. Today, we’ve overcome projection challenges of the 1960s and have the luxury of working with advance digital projectors that allow easier synchronisation and modern post production equipment.”

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PHOTOS BY THE AUTHOR WITH ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS TO: CINERAMA INC.; PHOTOPLAY PRODUCTIONS; BFI; BARCO; NATIONAL SCIENCE & MEDIA MUSEUM

has significant pre-production, production, post-production and workflow issues. Even a movie been shot with just one central screen in mind could have sequences added that are in Escape, or could be entirely Escape, enhanced by CGI fabricating the two additional panels to add immersion. One Cinerama expert mentioned to me in conversation that, in his view, Escape had the danger of just producing “visual eyewash” to either side of the central screen. His fear was that whilst “eyewash” on either side might give a feeling of immersion it might not be used narratively. His point was that in Cinerama and its predecessor, “The Triptych”, side panels were used to depict action and characters essential to the scene, and hence story development. Cinerama screenings this year included

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EDCF

THE INDUSTRY DRIVES AHEAD

With 15 speakers covering a wide range of topics in three hours, the EDCF Global Update session at IBC brought cinema professionals from around the world up to speed with the latest business and technology developments

SMPTE DCP:Q4 2017

AT IBC IN SEPTEMBER, DAVE MONK, EDCF’s CEO welcomed very nearly 200 delegates to a packed Emerald Room at the RAI. There was a packed line-up — first up was EDCF president David Hancock who provided a review of the state of the worldwide industry, starting by explaining how cinema sits in the media landscape. The business has seen more change within the past 10 years than throughout its 100+ years history and he brought the audience up to date with the latest stats (167,000 screens globally, more 3D screens than 2D, 44,000 3D screens in China, $38Billion box office with $8Bn from 3D). Immersive sound is now in around 3,700 screens and use of laser projectors is growing. Around 5,000 laser-phospor projectors are in use and some 400 screens have RGB lasers. ‘Experiential cinema’ is growing, with 4D and motion seating increasingly popular. David discussed the importance of the social and leisure aspects of cinemagoing, explaining the need to balance areas of innovation to deliver enhanced experiences. In a bullish conclusion he explained how segmentation into different types of cinema targeting different audiences will lead to further growth. Some forecasts suggest that in five years perhaps 144 completely new cinemas with up to 1,000 new screens are due to open, of which 20% will be in the boutique/neighbourhood category.

The SMPTE DCP rollout

Toby Glover from Deluxe Technicolor outlined the SMPTE DCP tests in different European countries, giving information www.cinematech.today

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about the successful work in Netherlands, Scandinavia, Iceland and Russia, singling out Gofilex, MPS and Unique for all their organisational and technical help. He went on to give the detail of the tests in the UK and Ireland — 1,025 cinemas had agreed to take part in the tests with 208 sites responses so far. Toby predicted that 3,874 cinemas in Europe will have completed the tests by the end of 2017, with a further 2,101 in France completing tests shortly after, to be followed by Spain, Germany and Italy. So far virtually all the technical issues that had been raised had been solved by updating software and firmware in projectors, servers and TMS. On the theme of SMPTE DCPs, Ben Ritterbush of 20th Century Fox provided valuable details about the transition in North America, explaining it has taken nearly a decade to make the change because distributors had a long-standing fear of catastrophic failure if the DCPs didn’t work. He discussed legacy hardware issues, problems with TMS incompatibility and the sheer unawareness of many small cinemas in the US. The results of testing were very encouraging, with very few problems and absolutely no reports of dark screens. For early tests 200 back-up hard drives were provided, but only seven were needed. Just two related issues were raised in the latest phase of testing that involved 3,100 screens showing the 2017 Fox movie Snatched. Again, simple software and firmware updates solved minor issues. Ben concluded that a rapid move to SMPTE DCP releases is now feasible, with planning, and that several big titles will be released in North America

NETHERLANDS

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NORWAY

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FINLAND

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BALTICS

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DENMARK

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SWEDEN

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ICELAND

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UK & IRELAND

1025

RUSSIA

1508

FRANCE

2101

completed sites

testing sites

in this format by the end of the year. Fox plan on doing away with dual inventory during 2018. Other studios are working toward the same goal. He warned if you want to see the next Avatar you must be SMPTE compliant! Disney is also targeting solely SMPTE DCP distribution in 2018, expanding this to DECEMBER 2017

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Automated Cinema Operation

film schedule planning

screen advertising planning

trailer planning

wider rollout of fibre. Broadband delivery offers a financially sensible package with peace of mind that comes from knowing your content has been delivered intact, with everything hash protected and guaranteed to playout on demand. Unique is pushing ahead across Europe, and, rather more provocatively, Eyvind suggested its broadband delivery system is ready to open the door to shrinking delivery windows.

The commercial benefits… push content delivery titles, schedules and show attributes show structure templates

tms automation

available cpl’s and metadata content storage

auditorium capabilities

playlists, schedules and content assets

South America and the Asia-Pacific regions quickly. Some speakers confirmed that most of issues in tests in Europe related to problems with subtitles. Toby Glover agreed that wrapping subtitles in MXF sub files is causing some problems, and that they are focusing on solving these. Richard Philips from Arts Alliance Media discussed ‘Exploiting CPL metadata for a connected future’, showing how this could offer new opportunities to move to fully automated cinema operation. He showed how too many versions of content are currently available — for Inside Out there were 23 UK specific CPL versions. The distributor had to prepare 351 different CPLs in total. He showed how the currently used Digital Cinema Naming Convention is used — it is not the best, but we currently have to live with it. The move to SMPTE DCPs will include use of a standardised CPL metadata, including a composition playlist, additional composition metadata and guidelines. As one example Rich showed that the current Film Title field only has room for 14 characters, which can lead to confusion, whereas the new version will allow for full titles and be easier to use and read. The eventual aim is to achieve a machinereadable unique identifier which could lead to full automation of scheduling and playout.

The EIDR, the Entertainment Identifier Registry, is a global unique identifier system for a broad array of audio-visual assets for movies and television. Such a system, with the SMPTE DCP, could allow for automated DCP assembly and KDM fulfilment. On automation, Richard Welsh from Sundog media, discussed ‘How you get more for less’, explaining how micro services can optimise cinema operations. He stressed the need to consider security issues when using cloud services for things like playlist generation, showing how generation of hundreds of playlists in a short time drives costs down and makes full automation practicable. The difference between service and technical models is now blurring, and different versions can be automated by gluing together cloud-based micro-services.

The DCP over time

Eyvind Ljungquist from Unique Digital gave a history of how electronic distribution of DCPs has developed since 1997, when hard-drive distribution was the norm, through broadband point-to-point first seen in 2005, to 2012 when broadband was ‘just good enough’ to today when his company and others are providing what he described as ‘gold standard point-to-point’, although he did say that we are still waiting for the

“THE DIGITAL CINEMA NAMING CONVENTION IN USE ISN’T THE BEST. WE HAVE TO LIVE WITH IT — FOR NOW”

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Three manufacturers’ presentations from Tom Bert of Barco, Brian Claypool of Christie and Mark Kendall from NEC brought the audience up to date with claimed advantages of the manufacturers’ latest laser projector products and plans, and led to numerous questions about conflicting requirements of high brightness and high contrast and the different cost and performance compromises tobe considered when buying new kit. Julian Pinn introduced the 4cine.io system (described in Cinema Technology, September 2017). This idea of ‘Cinema Audio Conforming in the Cloud’ has many potential uses, but as far as cinema audio is concerned it uses three specialist techniques (mix-extraction, analysis, and cinematicremapping) to analyse virtually any noncinematic audio mix (could be two-channel stereo initially intended for TV, for instance) to provide a 5.1 /7.1 version for cinema, which has been optimised to preserve the original creative intent of the sound creators. A major use of the system will be to improve audio that accompanies Event Cinema productions, which may originally have been optimised for TV or an auditorium playout system. Regular live event patrons know that the sound accompanying drama or opera productions can sometimes sound not quite right in the cinema, sometimes manifesting itself as ‘woolly’ dialogue or unbalanced sound mixes. Julian explained how 4cine.io analyses final audio mixes to identify compatibility issues that might impact the playback experience in cinemas. He described the workflow used to produce a cinema version conformed to relevant industry standards for perceived loudness, and explained how the original stereo intent can be faithfully reproduced across the wide cinema audience seating area. You can only truly judge something when you have tried it for yourself, so one remark from a 4cine.io customer summed up the success of the system: ‘It sounded as if it was mixed in 5.1’!

ACES high

Andy Maltz, of the Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, outlined work they are doing. The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) has effectively become the industry standard for managing colour throughout the life-cycle of a motion picture, solving www.cinematech.today

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production, post-production and archiving problems that arise with the variety of digital cameras and formats. ACES 1.0 was the first production-ready release of the system and is used widely. Andy began by asking ‘Is there life after ACES 1.0?’ He explained how they are currently building enhancements and extensions to support various workflows. Higher Dynamic Range, HDR, is a major focus. ADX, the Academy Density Exchange encoding system, can pull more detail and colour out of film negatives, but the industry still needs to decide on how to use the expanded palette. The ACES HDR starter pack includes output transforms for images at 1,000, 2,000, and 4,000 Nits, and Andy said that the Academy realises the need for standardised tone curves so that pictures appear the same on different display devices. They are currently exploring issues in HDR re-mastering, and use of immersive sound systems. Work is ongoing on a number of SMPTE standards relating to ACES work. Andy showed a clip from the 2017 digitally remastered version of the Glory Film Company’s short 35mm Cinemascope film The Troop, processed using the ACES system, highlighting some of the related features of the images. He finished by encouraging everyone to look at www.acescentral.com where all the available tools are free!

The Facility List Message

John Hurst of CineCert described the latest work on “Facility List Messages” (FLM) for use in Digital Cinema systems. The FLM delivers digital certificate information between exhibition sites, KDM distributors, and/or content owners. The FLM carries information identifying and describing a device and providing the details of its digital cinema certificate. It is based on the format specified in SMPTE 430-3 and uses XML to represent the D-Cinema Digital Certificate information specified in SMPTE 430-2, secured using standardized XML encryption. Current standards work includes ST430-15 and ST430-15. For exhibitors and distributors a key advantage will be the ability to register automatically the details of equipment (a server, for example) when it is changed, so that shows aren’t lost when KDMs don’t match due to last-minute equipment changes. Such an operation depends upon having extensive databases of information about cinemas. Work at CineCert aims at being able to send KDMs by email to individual screens, not just cinemas. They are developing a system to track status of a KDM and enable the sender to know the film has been ingested and is working properly . Mats Erixon, Media System Specialist at the Community Hub Foundation explained how he currently teaches remote production and fibre-based communication on TVwww.cinematech.today

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A still from The Troop, a 35mm Cinemascope original, remastered using the ACES HDR system

Media education courses at universities. He has implemented bi-directional societal services for culture and education over local, national and international networks, mostly in the Nordic market. His key message was ‘use your fibres!’. He explained how he has set up an experimental network to allow remote 4K image editing and distribution. Switching and mixing video and sound signals completely in the IP domain is possible if latency can be kept low, but Mats said there are still parts of the puzzle to be resolved — no totally IP-based system yet exists. They are looking at live theatre and drama, the aim being to be able to cut and render live signals on the fly to allow collaboration at distances of up to 1,000kM. The Foundation cannot afford the costs of dealing with high-end production values, so they are experimenting with use of simple static cameras (with 5.1/7.1 sound) to cover cultural events made available, via fibre, to a range of audiences. Costs are low, perhaps €4,000 for technology to get such shows to a range of regional audiences. The Foundation plans to use fibre networks to distribute locally produced cultural and educational events, and they would like cinemas to be the places that people go to attend them. Mats stressed it is not pictures and sound alone, but ‘presence’ they want to achieve. The Foundation has started with music teaching for pupils in rural areas. Two-way fibre means teachers and pupils can work together easily. Trials showed that HD can be acceptable from images off a 5m-wide stage, but 4K is needed to bring ‘presence’ to images from larger stages. Bi-directional communication is essential, hence the need for a fast network. The Foundation expects to connect some 30 schools in Scandinavia shortly, and Mats left with the message ‘Join our project to bring varied content and wider audiences to your cinema!’ Radoslav Markov from Audio Video Orpheus in Bulgaria talked about full colour gamut projection, explaining that the launch of the Rainbow Gamut Alliance was aimed

at by-passing current discussions on ‘wide color gamut’ to develop the ultimate ‘Full Color Gamut’. He explained that the system in development will allow projection of more than 95% of the IEC colour triangle. Extra colour gamut information is used in the camera, scanning, mastering and projection stages, and extra colour information attached to the DCP as additional metadata. This can be used to control the projection process, using modified projectors. 16-bit colour is required throughout the system. The system uses the latest developments of lasers, quantum optics and photonics, and represents a considerable development in colour science technologies. Radoslav described the basic imaging techniques — each pixel on the imaging chip has a filter, with each pixel covering a different primary colour. Effectively, multi-spectral chips provide XYZ encoding for every pixel. In these days when xenon projectors are being regarded as passé by some, Radoslav said that sunlight or xenon lamps provide the best illumination for full-spectrum display. Join the alliance at www.fullcolorgamut.xyz

Co-operation is the key

David Hancock closed the session with a look at the current work of the EDCF. In 2017, EDCF has held an Annual Convention, organised an LA Studio Tour, taken part in ISDCF sessions at CineEurope and CinemaCon, and he said that current work organising SMPTE DCP testing in Europe is a good example of how co-operation can lead to great things. He invited new members to join the EDCF and reminded members of the forthcoming Annual Convention to be held at Barco’s ‘One Campus’ in Belgium.

Information about SMPTE DCP is available on the following website www.edcf.net

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the cinema O scene on the Isle of M an Government and private cinema ownership makes for a truly vibrant Manx mix, as Jim Slater discovers www.cinematech.today

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ver many years Kris Elstrop from the Broadway cinema on the Isle of Man has been a regular at many of the CTC technical courses for projectionists — he has long been keen for Cinema Technology to uncover the island’s cinema scene that serves its resident population of 84,000 as well as the 300,000 annual visitors. Like many, I had previously headed to the iconic TT motorcycle races, when the island is packed, so it was good to go ‘out of season’. At a time when the questions of the UK leaving the EU loom large, it was interesting to learn that, as a self-governing Crown dependency, the Isle of Man isn’t a member of the EU, nor is it in the European Economic Area. Nonetheless, a treaty permits trade in Manx goods without non-EU tariffs, and there is free trade with the UK. Although Manx goods can be freely The impressive ceiling in the Gaiety Theatre DECEMBER 2017

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moved within the EEA, people, capital and services cannot. Economically, the Isle of Man government has long-recognised the importance of film to the island, and Isle of Man Film is a regional screen agency, part of the IoM Government’s Department of Economic Development, which aims to drive inward investment in relation to film and the creative industries. Since 1995 Isle of Man Film has built a worldwide reputation, having co-financed and co-produced more than 100 feature film and television dramas on the island. It offers a package of services for film producers and production companies and a film-friendly regulatory

outlets supported by the government, based in school/college/museum premises, and used for special ‘history of the island’ showings and event cinema performances.

Welcome to The Palace The Palace Cinema in in the island’s capital, Douglas, started life as the Palace Lido. It had a long history as a dance hall and is now the largest cinema on the Isle of Man, with two screens, Screen 1 seating 293 and Screen 2 holding 95. Both auditoria were smart and comfortable — the red seats in Screen 2 were replaced four years ago. I spoke with Stephen Rea, the manager, who, with his

“THE GOVERMENT OFFER A PACKAGE OF SERVICES FOR PRODUCTION COMPANIES AND A FILM-FRIENDLY REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT” environment. In a previous issue of Cinema Technology we reported on the shooting of Marc Samuelson’s 2011 film ‘TT3D: Closer to the Edge’ with his then company Cinemanx.

Cinemas old and new It was good to learn that the Manx government is also supportive to the exhibition side of the industry, not something that happens, for better or for worse, in the UK. The island has the usual history of cinemas long gone, including the Grand, Regal, Bijou, Empire. Pavilion, Royalty and the Strand. I was able to photograph the remaining frontage of The Strand, which now houses TK Maxx — the old Picturehouse is now a Superdrug. Although there are just two proper full-time cinemas on the island, the privately owned Palace and the Government-owned Broadway, which forms part of the Villa Marina arts complex, there are a surprising number of other film CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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deputy manager, is responsible for all technical and business aspects. Stephen worked in several other IoM cinemas before taking this role. He started as an usher but loves movies and wanted to move on, so was initially trained as a projectionist by veteran cinema manager Bill Crisp. The Palace is owned and administered by the local Sefton Group, who own the adjacent Palace Hotel and other hotels, health club, and casino as well as a construction company. Although their website talks of ‘state of the art digital projector systems’, it is a measure of how fast technical developments move on that in fact both screens use Barco Series 1 projectors, a DP1200 in Screen 2 and a DP1500 in Screen 1. These are now around eight years old, so although the images are still pretty good, with enough light for reasonably bright Dolby 3D pictures when required, it was no surprise to hear from Stephen that discussions ongoing as to how to replace

these with more up-to-date projectors. Since this is the largest cinema on the island, it gets the pick of first release movies, so they might even consider an upgrade to 4K projection. Dolby Servers with 2TB of storage are used and Sound Associates has provided service and maintenance for the equipment for many years. Having two screens allows the cinema to show a range of content, catering to both local and tourist audiences. Screen 1 has a wide curved screen and Screen 2 has a flat silver screen. Both have Dolby 5.1 sound from Dolby CP750 processors and Quad 520f power amps are used. Although 35mm projection is no longer used, it was a little nostalgic to see a rather forlorn looking Cinemeccanica Vic 7 hiding in a corner. Film deliveries are via Unique, with ads from DCM. Only a few films now arrive on hard drives, which is a huge improvement. Physical deliveries used to be affected by bad weather delaying ferries — I was Clockwise, from top left: inside the Palace screen 1; the traditional facade; screen 2 seats 95; the impressive Edwardian Villa Marina complex; the Royal Hall - part of the Villa Marina

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THE VILLA MARINA The impressive Villa Marina and Gardens is owned and operated by the Isle of Man Government Department of Economic Development. It was completely refurbished in 2004, and includes a theatre, concert hall and the Broadway cinema (see main article), which is on the first floor, approached by a magnificent ornate staircase. I couldn’t help but be impressed by the adjacent centre-piece of the Villa Marina, the Royal Hall, a spectacular auditorium that combines Edwardian grandeur with the latest sound and lighting systems. It hosts some of the biggest names in music and comedy, as well a wide range of conferences — the IoM International Chess Championship was taking place during my visit.

regaled with tales of motorcycle couriers and last-minute trips across the Irish Sea. Screen 1 has a stage and AV facilities and is used as the regular Sunday venue for a local church group, and both screens are frequently used for corporate events. The Palace isn’t currently used for event cinema showings — several other places on the island specialise in that area. Stephen does all film booking and programming — he knows his customers and can generally predict which films will appeal to different audiences. He can generally negotiate good deals with the distributors since this is the major cinema on the island, but occasionally gets frustrated when they insist on sticking to the ‘two-week’ rule even once it has become obvious that a movie will do little business in its second week. This inflexibility is a complaint often heard from small cinemas and should be easily resolvable in these days

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of electronic distribution. On the ticketing side, the Palace uses the Vizzi system, which Stephen said is well-suited to their operation.

A look inside The Broadway Cinema Taking my leave from the Palace, down at the Villa Marina, senior projectionist Kris Elstrop proudly showed me around his Broadway cinema empire, and introduced me to assistant projectionist Charlotte Howarth. Between them they keep the cinema operational each day and evening, with Sean Kenny, the events manager for the Villa Marina complex, on hand to keep an eye on things in their absence. Sean talked to me about the business side of the cinema, which is doing well with more than 250,000 visitors since it opened in 2004. He is full of ideas as to how they can bring in new audiences and is keen on many of the event cinema performances. He explained how the Bolshoi Ballet, for example, brings in different audiences. Sean told me of some successful film-based events they had put on, including a swish pop-up restaurant and bar that made a showing of Fifty Shades... into a very special evening. When I visited, he was planning special events to go with Murder on the Orient Express. Sean is responsible for programming the cinema and works with Mike Vickers of Filmbuyer to obtain selected films from the distributors. Although they show most of the latest releases, plus a selection they know will appeal to local audiences, they can’t always get the latest blockbusters — some distributors prefer to let the Palace Cinema have them first, because of their greater seating capacity. I suggested that, because they are government-owned, it is

not a priority to make a profit, but was assured they have to justify all spending and to make an excellent business case for any new equipment they need to buy. Sean is well aware of the cinema’s competitors and understands that pricing is important — regular full price seats at £8 with matinees at £6 would make many a London cinemagoer envious! Ticketing for the Broadway and the rest of the Villa Marina complex is done via the Ticketsolve booking system, which works well. Ticket sales are 50-50 online and at the box office. Advertising is done through Pearl and Dean, and several local companies, including construction companies and the ferry company are regular advertisers. The Broadway puts out a regular newsletter advertising its programme, and Sean told me he is constantly proclaiming that independent cinema isn’t dying.

Why not the royal hall next door? Though the Broadway has only 154 seats, which must make it difficult to bring in large amounts of revenue, I suggested the adjacent Edwardian Royal Hall could be used for showings. Sean told me it does get used for screenings on rare occasions, but it would be difficult to justify investment in permanent large-scale projection equipment for a hall that by its nature is used for a wide range of purposes and which could only act as a cinema intermittently. The hall has first-class AV facilities and its specialist team of technicians also serve the nearby Gaiety Theatre. Kris Elstrop is primarily dedicated to the Broadway, although he does help out the other AV team occasionally. DECEMBER 2017

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The projection room and auditorium The seats in the Broadway auditorium were replaced earlier this year and the whole experience is luxurious and comfortable. Kris put on a range of clips for me, and I also crept into the back during a public screening. The pictures were extremely bright and the sound just right. Kris told me that Dolby 5.5 seems perfect for most screenings — they don’t get the “too loud” complaints that affect other cinemas. An infra-red Williams Sound system delivers audio description. In truth, unlike the work of many in multiplexes, the projection job at the Broadway gives Kris time to do everything properly. I watched as he prepared for a matinée of Victoria and Abdul, and as well as collecting tickets and ushering people to their seats, he spent time in the auditorium as the film began, checking the images and ensuring the sound levels were fine. A look at the projection room showed that Kris’s attendance at the CTC projectionist’s courses was time well spent — everything was spotlessly clean and tidy. The cinema opened in 2004 and the installation was done by Sound Associates who continued to look after the equipment until 2012 when AM Digital took over. A Barco DP2K-15C projector, bought secondhand, with a 3kW lamp, provided superb pictures using the Dolby 3D system. Having commented on the brightness of images on the Perlux P140 screen, Kris told me they measure 20fL in 2D, higher than the recommended 14fL. I suggested this might mean some of the whiter scenes would be ‘burned out’, so Kris put on the dcineco test chart and we examined it carefully, noses to the screen. He was right. Each individual ‘grey scale graduation’ at both white and CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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black ends was readily distinguishable. Returning to the projection room Kris showed me that when screening 2D films there is a simple neutral density filter situated between the lens and the porthole to reduce light levels — you can be sure there is plenty of light for Dolby 3D showings! And yes, the lamp setting on the Barco is at its lowest permitted setting. I also noted that this was probably the only screen I have ever seen where the test image fitted the screen and the masking exactly. The arrows at the edges were in exactly the right places — obviously a well-designed auditorium. Dolby 7.1 sound is used, from a CP750 processor. QSC amps feed Turbosound Impact 50 full-range, surround speakers, with JBLs behind the screen. A Cinemeccanica Victoria 5 from 2004 in good working order is used for special occasions at the Broadway — a whiteboard on the wall included signatures from celebrities who had particularly enjoyed 35mm presentations, ranging from Sir

Atkinson of AM Media installed interfaces to ensure that the Barco projector can cope with all likely inputs, from BluRays to Apple TV and a Crestron Airmedia unit allows complete wireless HD presentation from any mobile device. Lecterns are available and LED par cans illuminate the stage and speakers. There is DMX control of all the lighting and the screen surround colours. There is even a separate wi-fi system for conference delegates. In general, a lot of trouble has been taken to provide remote control facilities for the cinema. A touchscreen near the porthole in the projection room wall means adjustments such as macro changes can be done without touching the projector. Virtually all controls, lights, sound, masking etc., can be done from a wi-fi connected tablet.

The value of event cinema Live screenings and event cinema are important elements in the Isle of Man Government’s cultural plans, and although

“THE BROADWAY IS PERHAPS THE ONLY CINEMA I HAVE SEEN WHERE THE TEST IMAGE FITTED THE SCREEN AND MASKING EXACTLY” Norman Wisdom who had opened the place to CT’s own Mark Kermode. Kris was kind enough to lace up the Vic5 with a collection of old trailers, and it was great to remind myself just how good 35mm cinema can be.

Conference facilities The Broadway is a popular venue for small conferences and meetings, so earlier this year a lot of work was put in to ensure that all facilities are readily at hand. Andy

the cinemas are concentrated in Douglas, event cinema presentations are also given in other parts of the island. A good range of live cinema screenings includes not only opera, ballet and theatre from companies such as the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and Royal Shakespeare Company, but also numerous spectacular theatrical productions — the message to locals is that you need never leave the Isle of Man in order to view fantastic shows. www.cinematech.today

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Far left, digital projection at the Broadway and, left, traditional 35mm, too, in the laced-up Vic5

Studio Theatre Ballakermeen Event cinema screenings at the Broadway are fitted in around regular cinema showings, but a few miles away at Ballakermeen, inland of Douglas, the Studio Theatre, a community theatre, puts on a year-round programme of live events including contemporary music, classical concerts, dance, comedy and musicals. Their programme of event cinema screenings really is comprehensive, and they try to offer something for audiences of all types. The 172 seat Studio Theatre is located within Ballakermeen High School, and is used by both school students presenting their shows and also live screenings. Encore screenings are rare, generally only used when the live performances have sold out and there is a public demand for more.

The Erin Arts Centre Towards the south-west of the island the Erin Arts Centre, in Port Erin, was founded in 1971 and has achieved international recognition for its range of prestigious festivals. Staffed by a dedicated team of volunteers the centre puts on a wide range of event cinema performances, including those from the New York Met and The Royal Shakespeare Company.

The Ramsey Arts Centre To the north of the island, Ramsey Grammar School’s sixth form theatre has become a popular venue for live screenings. Under the banner of The Northern Theatre Experience, its mission is to provide opportunities for the northern community of the Isle of Man to experience the best of live theatre, the arts and culture in general, as well as to enhance the lifelong learning experience for students at the school. The venue puts on the best of theatre screened

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live from London’s West End, as well as a wide range of international events. Although not primarily a ‘cinema’ venue, the Peel Centenary Centre on the west of the island does have a film club with an enthusiastic following. There is also a cinema and lecture theatre in the Manx Museum in Douglas which is usually used for running an introduction film to the Story of Mann, giving the island’s history from stone age to the present, and this venue is used for special charity screenings. From my visits it became obvious that film and cinema play a major part in the cultural life of the Isle of Man, and the government and the private sector work together well to achieve this. The wide range of venues with their various capabilities all provide something special and unique, tailored to their local communities and, from an engineering point of view, it was great to see the highest standards are maintained at the two major cinemas.

AND DON’T MISS THE GAIETY! Along the road from the Villa Marina is the Gaiety Theatre, one of the finest works by legendary theatre architect Frank Matcham. Opened in 1900, the Gaiety, has been a cinema on several occasions in its history, and has been extensively restored in recent years. Seamus Shea, technical manager at both The Gaiety and the Villa Marina runs a technical staff of six. The theatre puts on a year round calendar of plays, concerts and comedy shows. Owned by the IoM government, it relies on the voluntary work of The Friends of the Gaiety who help out on show nights, take visitors on tours and raise funds. Seamus pointed out that the work of the Gaiety is to maintain the historic heritage of the island in tandem with providing a venue for entertainment. I was shown the building and the backstage areas, but a major reason to visit was the cinema museum which is a popular tourist attraction. It was great to see so much projection and theatre equipment from yesteryear. Most remarkable was the sight of two old projectors in their original place in a projection room high above the theatre, but it was also good to see other kit, the original rewind room and bench, electrical switchgear from a past age and the ever-magical glass bulbs of the mercury arc rectifiers that for decades provided the direct current to feed the carbon arcs.

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THE REGAL, FORDINGBRIDGE

bringing the movies to town The newly refurbished Regal Cinema in Fordingbridge is a real gift for this small Hampshire community

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ong famous for its ancient arched stone bridge across the Avon, Fordingbridge is a Hampshire town of some 6,000 people on the edge of the New Forest. Although its cinema history is obviously far less venerable, older residents still remember with affection visiting the town’s Regal cinema, even though it closed over 52 years ago. Fordingbridge had a cinema on this site from the early 1930s — originally called The Picture House, it was built in the Art Deco style, with a 20ft wide proscenium and some 250 seats. By 1937 it was The Regal and by 1944 new ownership made it The Glendale Theatre. A further change of owners meant the Regal Cinema name was restored in 1947. By 1963, now operated by Haggar’s Cinemas Ltd, times were hard for cinemas and the Regal closed in late 1965. Until 2012, the building was used by Branksome China, to manufacture porcelain tableware. When they moved out, it remained empty for four years. A solitary reminder of the original Regal cinema, apart from the renovated front façade, is the external ladder to what used to be the projection room, on the building’s right side.

Enter the White Knight Local businessman Brian Currie is chairman of Corintech, an advanced electronic design and manufacturing company with bases in Fordingbridge, Hong Kong and the US. He plays a full part in local affairs, and has long held a keen interest in cinema, though he never imagined he would own one. When the site became available, he came up with an idea CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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to redevelop it to provide seven high-spec apartments, primarily for workers at Corintech, and to incorporate a newly built 30-seat luxury cinema in the former rear stalls area of the original cinema

Finding a solution Brian worked with local company BrightSpace Architects and they looked at many options for the cinema, starting from an appreciation of the history of the building. They came up with a solution that satisfied the requirements of the planning authority and yet provided a financially feasible outcome that includes a first-class cinema. After much discussion, New Forest District Council agreed to the plans, and welcomed the re-use of the property which had been in poor condition after lying vacant. The Regal re-opened on 30 June this year with a screening of Casablanca.

A sensitive restoration From the exterior, the original brickwork and tiles have been fully restored, and aluminium slimline windows tastefully replaced the previous timber frames. It was considered important for the entrance to remain relatively unchanged, so existing timber bi-fold doors were refurbished. The introduction of a pitched roof allowed two

apartments to be situated on the ground floor and six others in the space created in the first floor. Great care was taken to ensure the auditorium is sound-proofed, eliminating extraneous noise within the screen as well as ensuring the apartments are not disturbed by even the loudest films through the cinema’s Dolby Atmos system.

with full masking in the auditorium The 30 seat auditorium (five rows of six) is a delight, although truthfully it reminded me of a luxury home cinema that a millionaire might have built to show off to friends. The acoustically transparent 20ft by 13ft screen from Screen Research is just the right size for the room, and has fully remote controlled black masking to match virtually any aspect ratio, something any multiplex would do well to emulate. To meet modern access requirements, a wheelchair space can be created by removing one of the seats..

Join the club Much thought was given to how the cinema would operate, knowing that it would only manage to pay for itself if it were mostly run by volunteers. The Regal Cinema is operated as a not-for-profit community cinema by the Fordingbridge Regal Cinema www.cinematech.today

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Left, the art deco brick facade of the newly restored Regal cinema. A cinema first opened on the site back in 1933; right, local businessman Brian Currie was the driving force behind this community cinema project

Club (FRCC). Tickets for screenings can only be purchased by FRCC members, who must be over the age of 16, with priority given to local residents. Various types of membership are available, costing £15-35 per year, with tickets for screenings costing around £9, with a range of discounts and family ticket options available. The cinema uses the Veezi cloud-based ticket system, and since it isn’t possible to keep a booking desk manned for long periods, it was originally planned for tickets solely to be bought online via the Regal’s website. In the majority of cases this works well, but it became apparent that some of the town’s older residents didn’t have or wish to have internet facilities, so a local store has been cajoled into installing Veezi software on its tills, allowing any member to buy tickets easily. The PoS terminal in the cinema’s bar has also been modified to take the Veezi software, providing yet another option for members wanting to buy tickets.

Making it all work Club secretary, Emma Goddard has been a driving force in this massive project, pulling together the team of volunteers who help with the running of all aspects of the cinema. She stressed that anyone interested in becoming a member should come along www.cinematech.today

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and look at what has been achieved — the team really wants the community to see how the building has been transformed. Emma did much of the early work of setting up the cinema and establishing the club, and is in charge of PR activities, with a special focus on trying to establish Saturday morning cinema for children. She liaises with local schools, trying to get kids to choose to come to the cinema rather than consuming content on phones and tablets. With a long history in the technology behind banking, Barry Robbins is currently managing day-to-day operations. He is a cinema enthusiast with a love of films which he shares with the owner Brian Currie. He explained the progress being made in gaining members and volunteers. There are currently some 350 members, a surprising proportion of whom have opted to take up lifetime (platinum) and gold memberships rather than the basic silver associate membership at £25. It is expected that this number will grow to the 500 or so required to fulfil the long-term aims of the business plan. Equally importantly, there are currently some 35 regular volunteers who do all the tasks needed to ensure a cinema works well, including providing a welcoming atmosphere for members. The cinema is currently open two days a week (Fridays and Saturdays) and demand for tickets has proved high. As numbers of members and volunteers increase, it is anticipated that the numbers of screenings will grow to match a widening demand.

Programming and selling Having looked at the recent programmes, mainly a variety of classic and modern films, I asked who was responsible for selecting the films — these are chosen by a ‘film committee’ which selects what they think will appeal to the community — true local democracy! One idea that has already taken off is to encourage locals to book the cinema to share ‘My Favourite Film’. One member starts the ball rolling by booking 10 tickets for £100, inviting interested friends to share a showing. The cinema commits to selling the remainder. Such shows often include a short presentations on why the movie has proved a favourite, with background information and facts. Private hire is expected to be popular as the cinema is perfectly suited to such events. The stylish interior, combined with state-of-the-art technical facilities, allow tailored packages to be put together for individuals and businesses. Businesses can hire the venue for all manner of events from training to conferences and the high-speed

MAKING AN ENTRANCE As you enter the cinema through its main doors (a side entrance leads to an impressive club bar area) the imposing black and white tiled entrance hall takes you back to the art deco era when the cinema was first opened. The wooden ‘ticket desk’ (below) was custom-built by a local craftsman using the original drawings of the old cinema’s ticket booth which were uncovered during the renovation. It features curved art deco design motifs repeated throughout the cinema auditorium, and in the specially designed drink-holders on the seat armrests. The theme continues in the bar and lounge area, with a centrepiece marble clock, recreating the atmosphere of a 1930s cocktail bar — members are encouraged to take drinks and snacks into the auditorium whilst watching films. There is an outdoor seating area adjacent to the bar’s glass doors.

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THE REGAL, FORDINGBRIDGE

Above: a spacious equipment room behind the auditorium is a base for the cinema’s admin; Right, the luxurious 30 seat auditorium — the projector is in a ceiling-mounted ‘pod’ at the rear

teleconferencing link is expected to prove popular. Costs compare favourably with charges hotels make, especially when you account for pricey catering hotels insist on.

Presentation standards Prior to each showing, Barry explained that he or one of the volunteer projection team goes through each BluRay movie to check the timings and to ensure that projection settings are correct and the automatically controlled masking is set to match the appropriate aspect ratio for the film. Sitting in the auditorium he adjusts the sound to the level considered most appropriate for the film and for the audience. The shows are then completely automated, with lights fading up and down on cue. The complete programme is built in advance, including local ads and trailers streamed from RIB Audio Visual, who provide the pre-film content shown when the auditorium is opened for members in the run-up to the films’ advertised start times. Having watched and listened to some superb pictures and sound from Hacksaw

can be insignificant. In fact, the chosen projector retails at over £30k, so money obviously wasn’t the main consideration, although value for money in terms of getting the best possible 4K picture within the available budget had been paramount. The technical equipment had been selected and installed not by one of the usual digital cinema integrators, but by local AV company RIB Audio Visual, based near Bournemouth Airport. They act as the interface between the customer and equipment suppliers and RIB specialises in turnkey installation of high-end home cinema systems. They also have experience in home automation enabling simple control of complex AV systems. This was vital to operation of the Regal by non-technical staff. I saw just how easy the system was as Barry controlled the cinema from an iPad.

“SIMPLE CONTROL OF COMPLEX AV SYSTEMS WAS VITAL TO THE OPERATION OF THE REGAL BY NON-TECHNICAL VOLUNTEERS” Ridge, I could see the general public would be completely happy with the technical quality of the presentation, which came from a 4K BluRay disc. But I was curious to learn why the decision had been made not to install ‘professional’ DCI-spec equipment, which would have enabled the cinema to have a wider choice of early release movies, rather than having to wait a few months for them to appear on BluRay. A couple of years back the answer would have been purely down to cost, but with 2K DCI projection equipment currently available at less than £20k including a built-in server, and a 4K Sony digital cinema projector available for under £30k the difference in cost between that and a 4K high-quality video projector CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Technical decisions: why not DCI? Talking with Robert Bawden, managing director, and Richard Pugh, technical director of RIB Audio Visual, their enthusiasm for ensuring everything at the new cinema was as good as it could possibly be shone through, and it was good to have some clear, straightforward answers to my probing questions. First, owner Brian Currie was determined that this cinema would have 4K projection. Next, the design of the auditorium, with no space for an adjacent projection room, meant that the projector would have to hang in a pod at the rear of the room. This in turn meant that the projector needed to be able to work without special cooling arrangements, apart from

an external vent. With a largely volunteer staff who wouldn’t have the expertise to change a xenon lamp, and with limited access to the overhead projector pod it was important that the projector would need little maintenance. The decision was made to go for a laser-phosphor projector with a promised light-source lifetime of more than 20,000 hours — many years of operation at a venue like The Regal. Discussions with the owner made it clear he had no plans to show first-run movies — classics and long-term favourites would form the bulk of the repertoire at The Regal — so the (to me, surprising) decision was made that a 4K DCI cinema spec projector wasn’t needed, and that they would instead choose the best possible 4K AV laser projector. Several suitable laser projectors are on the market, including the Sony VPLVW5000ES, which is significantly more expensive, but JVC’s DLA-Z1 projector ticked all the boxes, with a claimed light output of 3,000 lumens and, important for cinema use, its ability to provide 100% of the DCI-P3 digital cinema colour range, as well as some 80% of the BT2020 HDR colour spectrum that is coming into use for UHDTV applications. The projector is the first in the world to be recognised as a THX Certified 4K Display, a standard introduced by THX to certify displays that faithfully reproduce video as it was intended to appear by the director. Qualifying displays must pass 400 strict tests of image quality. The Z1 supports the new Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) high dynamic range format, as well as the TV industry standard HDR10, but not Dolby Vision’s dynamic metadata HDR platform. The imager chipset uses three newly developed D-ILA devices, with a pixel pitch of 3.8 µm. They are tiny at 0.69in, and allow the projector to achieve a high-definition www.cinematech.today

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Right, club sectertary Emma Goddard, guiding hand behind a team of volunteers; and far right, specially crafted art deco cupholders on the seats

display at 4K resolution (4096 × 2160 pixels). Patented technologies reduce light scattering and diffraction, enhancing contrast. The 100mm diameter 18-element lens has been tailored to reduce colour distortion to a minimum while maintaining optimum brightness. The JVC BLU-Escent laser technology features a blue laser diode array that provides the blue light and excites a yellow phosphor on a high-speed, reflective rotating aluminum disc. Yellow light is then combined with the blue light to create white light and a wider colour range.

event cinema on the programme, too Event cinema from a range of sources will be an important part of The Regal’s offering to its local audience. An 80cm satellite dish has been installed at the cinema, and this feeds a Technomatic (domestic) satellite receiver that can provide the wide range of Freesat programme signals as well as theatre, opera and ballet transmissions.

A first-rate scaler Readers who have attended the CTC’s ‘Making the best of your presentation‘ courses will understand the importance of using a good-quality ‘scaler’ to make the best use of a variety of input signals when feeding them to the projector, so I was pleased to see that RIB had chosen to install a Lumagen Radiance scaler. This allows input sources from 1080, 720, and SD up to 4K 60fps and a range of computer sources to be adjusted for size, aspect ratio, keystone correction and masking, ensuring the best possible quality of image always appears on the screen. Most films are shown from 4K BluRay disks via the Oppo UDP-203 4K

BluRay player which provides 4K pictures with HDR, but the Lumagen scaler enables low-res BluRay disks to be upscaled to produce first-rate images and makes the best of images from other sources.

Sound equipment Sound processing is via a Marantz SR7011 9.2 channel 4K Ultra HD AV receiver with built-in Dolby Atmos. There are six Steinway A2 digital amplifiers each offering four channels at 400Watts. Speakers are from Danish company M&K Sound, all approved to THX requirements. Eleven iW300 amps (four in the ceiling for Atmos), are each capable of handling 300W. Four M&K X12 subwoofers are used, each with two 12in drivers mounted in opposite phase in a push-pull arrangement. A flexible cinema like The Regal will need access to a wider range of content than BluRay discs, so I was interested to learn of the Kaleidescape Strato movie player. The Kaleidescape Movie Store is an online store with a library of content from Hollywood’s studios. It offers 4K Ultra HD titles, and thousands of movies in full BluRay HD quality which Strato scales up to 4K.

Movies are available with lossless multichannel and object-based audio, including Dolby Atmos. Unlike streaming services, each movie is downloaded and stored on a hard drive on the movie player (server). Strato plays downloaded movies in 4K Ultra HD at up to 100 Mbps and 60 frames per second, without the startup delays, buffering messages, or quality drops that streaming services can suffer.

A truly worthwhile project Owner Brian Currie is to be congratulated on a successful outcome to what must have been at times a daunting project. Although he is an experienced engineer and project manager, he admitted that this restoration of a cinema was completely new to him, but is delighted at how it has turned out. The re-opened Regal is not only a credit to him and his team, but a major asset for Fordingbridge, and an great example of a local businessman putting value back into the community. Initial ticket sales and memberships numbers are good, and local press coverage positive. I look forward to watching the Regal’s progress. Jim Slater

THE KEY INFORMATION The Regal, fordingbridge SCREENS: 1 Projector: JVC DLA-Z1 4k laser Number of seats: 30 First opened: 1933 website: www.theregalcinema.org

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THE CONNAUGHT, WORTHING

The Connaught Cinema,

Making the best of what you have, with professional upgrades on a budget

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his article sprang from an unusual source — a crie de coeur from a volunteer at The Connaught, Worthing. Having seen that CT regularly features state-of-the-art cinemas, he wanted to tell the world a different kind of success story. Owned and operated by Worthing Borough Council, on a limited local-government budget, the Connaught is keeping up with the technologies needed to provide a first-class experience, by building relationships with local companies and using technical skills and know-how of its in-house team. The Connaught’s success comes down to ‘getting the best out of what you’ve got’, so I went to meet the team. There is a long history of cinema on the site, originally built as the Picturedrome in 1914 with 850 seats. The Connaught Hall (later known as the Ritz for some periods) was built next door in 1916. Since 1987 the site has operated as two dual use cinema/ theatres, the Connaught Theatre seating 520 and the Connaught Cinema and Studio, 162. The cinemas are increasingly popular and run a full schedule of mainstream and specialist titles alongside a couple of theatre shows each week. Programming is done through film officer James Tully in conjunction with Picturehouse, and there are about 12,000 cinema visitors a month. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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Enthusiasm and ability Martin Wright is the technical manager leading a team of six enthusiastic technicians responsible for all technology (both for theatre and cinema) in the two adjacent buildings — access to the two projection/control rooms was via an external staircase between the buildings. Remarkably, they attend to technical needs of two other Worthing theatre venues too, the Pavilion Theatre and Assembly Hall. Kristian Bell, senior technician for the past nine years, showed me around and, with part-time technician Bryan Donnelly, an ex-Odeon projectionist, talked to me about the cinemas and recent improvements made to their sound and lighting systems. Both screens (each 29ft wide when in ‘Scope) have NEC 2000C projectors, fed from Doremi servers. There is 35mm film projection available from an old but good FP20 (the lamp-house was converted from carbon arc) and tower system in the Studio. Both cinemas have flat white screens from Powells that can be used with Dolby 3D, and the screen in the Theatre rolls up to reveal a large stage area behind. The last time the 35mm kit was used in earnest was last year for a Star Trek presentation made up from old prints, part of a season of 1986 classic films. The equipment is kept in good order and was in action earlier this year,

and they were disappointed not to be able to get a 35mm print of Dunkirk from the distributors — it would have been of great interest to locals. There are Dolby CP750 sound processors for digital in both screens, and a CP650 for use with 35mm There are many volunteers among the front of house staff and the theatres get involved with local schools, encouraging visits and sometimes providing ‘treat days’ — special tours to reward children who have done particularly well.

The latest control systems The first thing you notice in each of the auditoria is that these are real theatres with all the plush magnificence of an earlier age — wonderful venues for watching films and totally different to a multiplex ‘shoe-box’. The fully remote-controlled curtains swished open to reveal a cinema screen with fully adjustable tabs — Kristian controlled everything from his iPad whilst we sat in the auditorium. An extensive ELS automation system controls a DMX lighting system, sound and projection. This has been fitted tidily into the plinth of the NEC projector. They use a lot of automation with their playlists, controlling masking, tabs, houselights etc. and use toggle signals going to infrared systems (switching between live audio and server audio), signals to bar and www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

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Worthing The Studio projection room has an NEC200C digital projector but keeps 35mm film capability with a Philips FP20 projector, and there is room on the rewind bench to make up films when required.

PUTTING ON EVENTS foyer speakers, to select different genres of house music, and the server is connected to the theatre’s DMX system, allowing lighting scenes and special effects to be created in playlists. Showmanship is important here. Servicing and maintenance is done by Sound Associates, and Kristian values the work of SA engineer Will Phillips, who lives locally and has often helped out with valuable advice and guidance when they are considering modifications or new equipment installs. The team can create their own DCPs for in-house advertising and local features. I was interested to see a 15TB storage computer (built by Connaught staff) which pre-dates the arrival of the MPS LANsat and Unique servers. Films www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

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are delivered via MPS’s LANsat, Movie Transit and Arqiva — with only about 10% of content now arriving on hard drives.

Recent upgrades — lighting and sound As a council-run venue, budgets are tight, so to keep up with improving technology the Connaught has had to take a different approach from a normal chain. They use their own team to do virtually all the design and installation work and the recent improvements in auditorium lighting are a good example. In February, Worthing Theatres installed new tiered seating into the studio space using installers Specialists In Seating, creating new bar/ foyer areas and changing the shape of the auditorium.

Not surprisingly, event cinema is popular here — people love coming to see an opera, ballet or NT Live performance in a real theatre. The cinema has two dishes to handle signals from Intelsat 10-02 and Intelsat 905, and they have professional receivers from LANsat and Arqiva as well as a ‘domestic’ decoder, which gets used because it often provides the cheapest solution. Event cinema signals can be networked between the two screens. The cinemas are well-used for conferences, and the technical staff can cope with a range of inputs from various digital players. There are tie lines between the stage areas and control rooms, for microphones and projector control.

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THE CONNAUGHT, WORTHING

are split channel, enabling lanterns within the chandeliers to be controlled in groups — allowing their use as a creative tool.

Great sound on a super-tight budget Improving the sound system had become urgent, but they didn’t have the budget to go

on performances. There are 16 surround speakers in all, 10 in the Connaught, six in the Studio, all are B&W CT7.3 full-range models with 8-inch bass units, a Kevlar mid-range speaker and B&W’s famous Nautilus tube-loaded tweeters. There are two B&W CTSW15 subwoofers in the

“THE MAIN LIGHTING FIXTURES HAD BEEN HAND-MADE BY THE TECHNICAL STAFF FROM OLD THREE-HOUR 35MM SPINDLES” Top, The spacious theatre projection room, above, automation kit in the NEC projector plinth

It was then down to the technical team to change all the lighting fixtures in all these spaces. They designed, made and installed fixtures and controls for the auditorium, bar and two foyer spaces — significant changes that would otherwise have cost thousands of pounds. Every light is now LED and most are DMX controlled for theatre and cinema automation use. The main lighting fixtures had been hand-made by the technical staff — they created them from old three hour 35mm spindles and profile lantern yokes. Other fixtures were made from old counterweight pulleys found under the stage. The chandeliers used as houselights CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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along the normal equipment replacement route, so came up with some interesting ideas, using their own technical team but working with local company Bowers and Wilkins to achieve a new 7.1 sound installation for each theatre on a budget. The ‘special relationship’ tie-in with Worthing’s B&W is a ‘sponsorship’ idea that will hopefully benefit both sides. The world renowned high-end speaker company provided advice and superb speakers at a great price, in return for which The Connaught has provided some small brand awareness pieces in print and a modest display of B&W products in one of the bar areas. B&W staff are also invited to special screenings and get discounted rates

Connaught and two Custom built B&W 15” cabinets in the Studio. The main stage speakers are BK Electrical ST225 (biamped). Amps are 4-channel QSCs, with 2-channel amps for the subs. Kristian was keen also to acknowledge the help of Kevin Marwick, owner of The Picture House cinema in nearby Uckfield, who donated a Dolby CP750 processor — it’s great to see one cinema help another in this way. Modifications to the acoustics in the Studio have improved the overall sound. Working with a volunteer, the technical team custom built in-house numerous sound absorption panels at a fraction of the cost you would expect. They designed, made and installed inch-thick panels to www.cinematech.today

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THE KEY INFORMATION SCREENS: two Number of seats: 520 + 162 Projectors: NEC2000c + 35MM Speakers: Bowers & Wilkins First Opened: 1987

cover most of the side walls in the Studio space. Filled with fire-resistant, acoustically absorbent foam covered in a flame retardant wool serge material, the idea is to absorb any reflections in the sound to make sound “drier” — giving greater clarity. It helps block outside noises and absorb the sound of fridges in the bar. Heavy black curtaining and track as you enter the auditorium from the bar further reduces extraneous sounds. I watched and listened to some clips in the Connaught, including the Dolby 7.1 trailer, and was impressed. At a sound level of 5.5 it was loud but not uncomfortable, with the ‘surround’ effects clearly audible throughout the theatre and dialogue crisp and clear. Kristian told me that the staff listen to the sound level in the auditorium at the start of every performance to make sure everything is perfect. The improvement work on the sound systems has clearly resulted in cinema sound just as it should be — a great result at a remarkably low cost.

Bowers & Wilkins CT7.3 surround speaker with B&W CTSW15 subwoofer

A real success story The Worthing staff were modest about their achievement, but they have showcased superb work by a small tea m of individuals and volunteers. They have made the most of their resources and injected their own creativity and passion into the cinema. Jim Slater www.cinematech.today

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FIGHTING PIRACY

FCPA rewards the pirate fighters Good work fighting piracy gets recognition

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f you are a fairly lowly member of staff at a big multiplex, it can often be a bit daunting if you notice a member of the cinema audience behaving in a way that suggests they are trying to pirate a movie. In these days when everyone has a mobile phone with a built-in high-quality video camera, attempted piracy is not always as easy to spot as when a proper camcorder was required, so it is sometimes difficult to be certain — it is often easier to look the other way and pretend you haven’t seen anything. Fortunately cinema chains have in recent times been training staff as to what to look for — strangely positioned bags or phones propped up between the seat arms, for instance, so it is easier for staff to be confident when something untoward is going on. The Film Content Protection Agency developed a programme to increase the awareness and vigilance of cinema staff by providing them with anti-piracy training, current best practice guidelines and other resources. These measures have had really positive results as an increasing

number of cinema staff are finding the nerve to report such happenings, knowing that they will be supported by their management, with the result that piracy in the UK remains very low.

REwarding action The film industry recognises the importance of preventing such film theft, and the harm it does to our industry, so each year the FCPA works with cinema operators to reward those staff who have spotted and reported attempts at privacy. In September, 26 staff from cinemas across the UK came to Universal Pictures UK in London for a special ceremony hosted by the FCPA at which their good work in disrupting and preventing film piracy was recognised and they were rewarded. Cheques of £500 and £250 were handed out by Simon Brown, director of the FCPA, and the day’s special guest Peter Dickson, voice-over artist from the X-Factor. His booming tones provided a moment of fame for each winner as their name resonated around the Universal screening room

where, as ever, top-projectionist Dave Norris made sure that pictures, sound and all the technical equipment were top-notch. The rewards payments were all funded by the Film Distributors’ Association, which set up and owns the Film Content Protection Agency. Interestingly, the award-winners varied in physical scale from the burly ‘bouncer’ types who would put the fear into any would be pirate to petite young ladies, so you obviously don’t have to be an intimidating presence, just determined to stamp out cinema piracy! Recipients of the award included employees from Cineworld, Vue, Showcase, Odeon, Empire and Light Cinemas, and Simon explained that the rewards related to 22 incidents of attempted piracy, six of which led to arrests and five to formal police cautions.

visit www.cinematech today FOR ALL YOUR NEWS & INDUSTRY ANALYSIS

Obituary: Peter A. West

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orn in Prague in March 1928, Peter West’s early childhood was marked by the extremely adverse circumstances of being an evacuee, in a country where he had no close family. He completed his education at a boarding school in Kent for people in his position. Peter had a varied life in our industry. Early on in his career he was a cinema projectionist, and then worked at Ilford on photography and film processing. He went on to work for the BBC in Cardiff as a film cameraman, and then for Anglia Television in Norwich. He got married to Sandra, his late wife, before going on to join Independent Television News (also as cameraman), firstly using film and later pioneering the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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use of video for electronic news gathering. Over a period of more than 25 years, he pioneered the use of, and helped to develop, the workflow techniques which are still in use in modern television news gathering to this day. He was involved with the switch from film to video, and later with the move from analogue to digital media. Whilst travelling the world as a cameraman over many years, his nightly reports both documented the history of the time and went on to help shape national opinion. Peter was a member of the BKSTS, IET, RTS, AES and SMPTE and was acknowledged by many people and organisations within the film industry as an expert in both film and video. He maintained a level of understanding and expertise — even after retirement — for as

long as he was capable. Peter passed away after an extended period of ill health which lasted throughout most of this year. His knowledge and understanding of the film and related industries is a great loss. He is survived by his son Alex, who also works in media production. A thanksgiving service will be held next year. Colleagues who knew Peter are invited to email alexwestis@gmail.com for further information. www.cinematech.today

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constructing a fan-base

FDA exhibition aims to attract younger audiences with a film-focused show

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he Film Distributors’ Association Ltd. (FDA) is well known as the trade body for theatrical film distributors in the UK and as the voice for UK film distribution, a passionate advocate of the distributors’ role in the well-being of the whole film economy. A major part of their remit is to increase the UK cinema audience across the board, and the FDA has long realised the importance of getting young people interested in cinema, from movie-making to movie-going. In August, the FDA mounted an extremely well-targeted exhibition at London’s Soho Gallery under the ‘Secrets of the Movies’ banner. At first sight this provided a great art display of movie posters and photographs from behind the scenes of movie-making, with the focus on

films released in 2017, but through the door it became apparent there was much more on offer, an interactive event for all the family.

The opening splash After a welcome from FDA chief executive Mark Batey, the event was opened in energetic style by TV presenter Alex Zane who introduced a surprise guest, actress and TV star Kara Tointon. Alex interviewed Kara about her love of film and theatre, coaxing from her the revelation that she was a little nervous about her on-stage role as Olivia in the RSC’s recent production of Twelfth Night. She finds the process of acting in a theatre every night more satisfying than film-making, where actors often have to film scenes out of sequence, making it hard to know how the finished performance

SUPPORT FROM THE TOP FDA President, Lord (David) Puttnam of Queensgate CBE, expressed his support for the event, saying “The cinema brings out the inner hero in all of us, never more so than during the summer, when we can live vicariously through big-screen champions of every conceivable shape and size. Secrets of the Movies is a wonderfully vivid, new showcase of many of the creative skills required to make and release films to their audiences. It’s a timely reminder that the cinema experience continues to offer a vast array of compelling and brilliant entertainment.”

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will appear. Kara wielded the FDA’s scissors to cut the ribbon and open the show. Looking around, displays of film and cinema artefacts revealed who does what on a set, demystifying jobs such as ‘gaffer’, ‘boom operator’ and ‘VFX technician’. The exhibition also allowed visitors with smartphones to use QR codes applied to each exhibit to gain access to a detailed ‘secret’ cache of related content. Activity sheets and quizzes ensured there was plenty to do for anyone, and the lower-tech needs of younger visitors were well catered for by ‘Creative stations’ —tables of art materials which proved enormously popular. There were free activities every day, including live stunt performances, a video booth, giant games and seminars on designing posters, presentations on animation, and more. One display I found particularly interesting was a unique model cinema, built for the FDA from 25,000 Lego bricks. A diorama of a foyer and auditorium with a diverse audience taking their seats, it took 150 man-hours to assemble! Jim Slater

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DECEMBER 2017

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CTC, VR & AR

The CTC examines

vr and ar in cinema Last month, a CTC VR/AR event explored technologies that push boundaries

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s a venue that has been showing film since 1896 when the theatre played a movie by the Lumière Brothers (regarded as the first motion picture shown to the public in the United Kingdom), the Regent Street Cinema, London, was an appropriate location for the IMIS seminar on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Cinema. The evening had been arranged by the CTC, whose chairman Richard Mitchell brought together two world-class experts in these fields, one from each side of the Atlantic: Scott Grant, CEO of Soluis, one of the UK’s leading creative organisations, and industry guru Professor Harry Mathias from San Jose University. Over 70 people attended, with many others around the world participating in an on-line streamed session.

Cinema storytelling Speaking via an excellent Skype link, Professor Harry Mathias (whose in-depth interview with CT appears on page 17) said he would talk exclusively about the potential for VR in cinemas, rather than gaming or other applications. Previous

innovations in cinema have been driven by the need to tell stories more effectively. We are now in an era of cinema ‘ultras’ where all sorts of new technologies are being applied, but it is unclear whether these will contribute to the key element of storytelling. Showing an audience picture with each member encased in a VR headset, he supposed that each would be having a VR experience but questioned whether they were sharing a communal experience, since each person has a different experience depending upon where they chose to look. He surprised many by suggesting that many new technologies aren’t actually fulfilling a need, saying that the last invention that truly revolutionised cinema was the Steadicam, which allowed picture taking whilst moving along with the actors, thus improving the way stories can be told. Never afraid to provide his candid opinions, Harry told us that there are many things ‘not to like’ about VR and the cinema.

The way it is shot Multi-camera setups, whether lots of cheap GoPros or expensive 360-degree camera

rigs require many images to be stitched together, and we cannot yet do this acceptably. Developments in lens technologies will continue to be expensive. All round shooting means there is no room for the camera operator or crew — all those specialists who play their part on a film set.

The audience experience Even if you move forward from today’s VR experience where goggles make movie viewing a solitary experience to some new 360 degree projection system, (as has been tried before in 35mm film days) your view of the ‘experience’ will be interfered with by all the rest of the audience.

Will Editing VR be impossible? Editing is an essential part of storytelling, it structures a film and focuses the audience’s attention on what the director considers is important. Rapid cutting is a vital part of editing, and such cuts would be impossible to structure in VR — think of the effects on the viewers. Nausea is already a well-known side-effect of VR. The technology of VR is probably 10-15 years from being able to

AUGMENTING REALITY IN THE CINEMA Scott Grant explained the work of Soluis in VR and AR, producing a range of visual media and interactive environments that showcase projects to any audience. A leading provider of computer-generated imagery and digital media, Soluis develops VR and AR applications for use on many different devices. Much of their work involves explaining complex proposals and designs to people by bringing viewers into the virtual world of a design. In film production their motion graphic design team provides a wide variety of video content, and understand how to evaluate the most effective camera paths for capturing the key elements of a design in the most visually engaging manner. In gaming they have been working in interactive real-time environments and have pioneered adoption of realtime games engines technology for

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mainstream visualisation for over 10 years. It is early days for VR applications in cinema exhibition, but AR has been used in the business for over four years, mainly linked to trailers, and TimePlay has shown how the technology can be used to provide an interactive experience. Many ideas are being trialled, one being interactive posters that use AR to trigger some experience as you go past — ‘Tom Cruise walked out of the poster and I took a selfie with him’ is one idea. VR is being used in pods outside the auditorium space, but there are still major queries about providing a communal VR experience in the auditorium, a totally different experience to watching a movie with add-on AR features. Filmmakers well understand how to direct a story

that will be shown in a frame, but telling a story shot around 360 degrees requires a different set of skills, as yet undeveloped. Scott was confident that we will get to a stage where an audience member will be able to effectively participate in a movie, choosing which acting role you take up, and he felt that this will begin with movies like Star Wars, where many fans already feel an inherent connection with the story. He predicted that this could happen within five years, saying that we need higher resolution and image quality to provide the illusion of reality.

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CTC, VR & AR

provide ‘visually correct’ unflawed images that will work for cinema. Harry said that it is important to remember that film is not and never has been a substitute for reality — it is a carefully structured experience. We are only hearing about VR today because companies such as Apple see it as a way forward for using their technologies. When asked what he would do if asked to make a movie in VR, Harry explained that he had already done some shooting for VR games, describing the process as ‘the most tedious thing in the world’ — you have to take multiple shots to cope with all the different options that games provide at each point, and that most material will never be seen. Questions came thick and fast on topics from space technology to HFR to Immersive cinema to human visual perception, with the professor providing instant and sometimes provocative answers to each. When talking of wrap-around formats such as Barco Escape he said that, as a cinematographer, he wouldn’t want to shoot a movie that causes people to turn in their seats — he wants to compose a picture within the desired frame. “In a cinema we want a different experience from real life — if you want 360-degree viewing you can leave the cinema and join the outside world.”

a technological trinket? Professor Mathias summed up his views by saying that current attempts at VR for cinema are little more than a nice novelty, and that since you can’t include a crew, you www.cinematech.today

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can’t light a 360 degree scene properly and you can’t create good sound, he isn’t convinced that this is a future genre for filmmakers. He ended as provocatively as he had begun by leaving the audience several key points to ponder: Are these new technologies trying to fix something that is wrong with cinema? What is it that we are trying to fix? Are any of these technologies good enough to take a bad story and make it good? If not, although there is always money available for new technology, we would be better off improving the storytelling. Professor Mathias ended with the telling statement “I am not convinced that it is technology that is holding the cinema back!” Just as the VR experience will be subtly

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different for each of the people in a shared cinema space, so every person who attended this seminar will have taken away something slightly different. Whatever we end up doing with VR — and the technologies make almost anything possible — the key factor for cinema is that we must ensure superb storytelling remains at the heart of what we experience on screen. Watch the seminar on YouTube by clicking on: https://youtu.be/a_7FS0lJhak

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DECEMBER 2017

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CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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BOOK REVIEWS

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MOVIE GEEK: THE DEN OF GEEK GUIDE TO THE MOVIEVERSE

BOOKS

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hen I first opened this paperback I was reminded by its layout and print style of Mark Kermode’s book ‘The Movie Doctors’ which CT reviewed in time for Christmas 2015. This impression was strengthened by reading the positive foreword contributed by Mark. Within a few pages I found the two books don’t, in fact, have much in common, except that both are fun and unashamedly aimed at movie enthusiasts. In fact the Movie Geek title explains perfectly the audience at which it is aimed — you

do need to have obsessive compulsive tendencies to know all about cinema to gain maximum enjoyment from it! For the as yet unenlightened, ‘Den of Geek’ is a successful movie website packed with information about all aspects of movies, its contributors providing witty, entertaining and informative journalism, never afraid to call a spade a spade. Having read the book cover to cover, I am still not sure how to describe it for CT readers. It is non-technical, but with plenty of financial information, packed with detailed stories (sometimes verging on the scurrilous!) from behind the scenes of movie-making from story development to production to exhibition. I kept on being surprised by the range of fascinating facts that I previously had no idea about. The blurb claims it will improve your chances of winning a film quiz, and whilst that is undoubtedly true, it provides far more than that, containing a lot of detailed film-making history cleverly disguised as ‘trivia’. This could actually be used as something of a

reference book - the detailed index and a list of citations make it easy to look up the various tales and topics when required. In this role it deserves a place on the bookshelves of any serious film fan, perhaps even some who wouldn’t readily accept that they are geeks. Authors: Simon Brew with Ryan Lambie & Louisa Mellor, foreword by Mark Kermode Paperback: 240 pages Publisher: Cassell; Oct. 2017) ISBN-10: 1844039358 ISBN-13: 978-1844039357

THE ART OF ILLUSION: PRODUCTION DESIGN FOR FILM AND TELEVISION

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Authors: Terry Ackland-Snow with Wendy Laybourn Paperback: 160 pages Publisher: The Crowood Press Ltd (Sept. 2017) ISBN-10: 1785003437 ISBN-13: 978-1785003431

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inema really is The Art of Illusion, and this book is a beautifully illustrated work of art, an encyclopedia of all things to do with film production design and an essential training manual for those wanting to begin a career in the industry, appropriately described as ‘The Oscar winners of tomorrow’. Terry Ackland-Snow is a renowned Art Director with hundreds of films to his credit, and he has worked with Wendy Laybourn, whose working life in the film industry has encompassed a wide range of roles, to produce a book that passes on the secrets to a future generation, stressing throughout the importance of ‘Showmanship’ to the cinema. The many roles involved in creating a film are described, showing how the multi-skilled artists and craftsmen each play a part. Many skills of filmmaking have remained constant for decades, and the book manages to explain these whilst including the fast-moving technologies involved in current production design. The

work of the different departments, art department, production office, set dressing, lighting, cameras, special effects, is explained, with technical exercises provided to give students a realistic idea of what is involved. Case studies from numerous films are used to illustrate points being made, and over 100 original sketches, as well as behind-thescenes photographs, storyboards and artwork provide a practical approach to the instruction. Detailed technical information is leavened with stories — entitled ‘Professional Perspectives’ — from a range of experts, including industry gurus Gerry Anderson and Aardman’s David Sproxton (who features on page 30 of this issue). If you are the target audience for this book — a young person wanting to join the industry — it is a must buy, but a wider range of people will find it simply a delightful read, beautifully illustrated. At £18.99 for the paperback it is a great buy - only the soft cover prevents it from becoming a far more expensive ‘coffee-table’ book. DECEMBER 2017

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HISTORY OF CINEMA

HIGH, WIDE & HANDSOME

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IS PLF THE NEW 70MM? GRANT LOBBAN CONTINUES HIS HISTORY OF CINEMA WITH A LOOK INTO THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF PREMIUM LARGE FORMATS

he cinema is often described as the big screen, but with ever-larger TV screens being squeezed through the door at home, cinema is trying to prove that size still matters by offering even more eye-filling Premium Large Formats. This has pleased those who, although they appreciate the value of the latest sound systems, still think that a good picture is worth a thousand extra speakers.

What exactly is PLF?

So, what is 70mm?

The term appears to have a broad definition and several categories based on providing ‘the optimal configuration of sight and sound and seating experience’. This has always been the main aim of the various special venue systems found at and supported by museums, science centres and theme parks. Here they present specially produced, usually short, films on various flat, curved, domed and all-around screens, with some viewed while ‘riding’ on movie seats. For long periods, they would be the only opportunity to see big screen 3D. Many of their ideas are now inspiring more adaptable multiplex versions to give normal commercial features the same enhanced degree of audience participation. Before the general switch to digital projection, many would make use of cinema’s original large format, 70mm film.

Back in the 1890s, wider film gauges were common, but all had disappeared by the time the more popular smaller 35mm size became the industry standard. Wider formats returned briefly at the end of the 1920s and early 30s when Hollywood tried to introduce bigger and wider screens. This time they were killed off by the Depression, and the new Talkies were already drawing in the audiences. In a case of third time lucky, wide film finally came to stay during cinema’s switch to widerscreen in the 1950s. The current 70mm format was launched with the Todd-AO process, its name a combination of producer and showman Mike Todd and the American Optical Company which turned his ideas into reality. Todd was involved in making the first 3-strip Cinerama film, but thought its triple 35mm projector system too

TODD-AO AND OTHER 70MM PRINTS HAVE A FRAME AREA 2½ TIMES THAT OF 35MM CINEMASCOPE MAGNET IC SOUND COPIES AND ALS O HAVE APPLIED STRIPES TO CARRY STEREO complicated and costly for normal filmmaking and cinemas. Despite its success, he was determined to find a simpler way to fill a similar large deeply curved screen using a single film and projector. Announced at around the same time as CinemaScope (Fox’s 35mm anamorphic lens response to Cinerama, which reached the public just ten months later), Todd-AO took almost three years to develop. For the photography, a 65mm camera, left over from the earlier 1930s widescreen experiment, was fitted with a range of lenses, with one having an ultra-wide view approaching that of

From left to right: Cinerama’s original three projectors shared the deeply curved screen Cinerama’s louvred screen gave the picture a streaky appearance

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HISTORY OF CINEMA

KEEPING THE CURVE

Missed by many was the practice of showing 70mm on deeply curved screens, which have been in and out of fash ion. Most cinema higher gain screens have a directional effect and are slightly curved to improve distribution of light direc ted back to the audience. There have always been advocates for a much greater depth of curve, thinking it draws the view er into the picture. Unfortunately, if very deep, one side of the screen can see the othe r and cross reflections can spoil the cont rast. Always an integral part of Cineram a, they solved the problem with louvered screens, the slats angled to allow stray light from the other side to pass through the gaps and out to the back of the screen. Todd-AO’ s early

Cinerama. To make it an attractive proposition for more theatres, its projector would be multi-purpose, able to show 35mm films, including CinemaScope, as well as the new 70mm prints. These were a little wider beyond the perforations, to follow CinemaScope’s idea of finding room for multi-channel magnetic stripes. The first Todd-AO films would featured HFR, the frame rate increased from 24 to 30 to reduce flicker and smooth out the action on the intended brighter, bigger screens. To make it easier to install, the theatre’s normal projection room could be used even if it was high at the back of the circle. Cinerama used level projection, with each of its projectors

screens embossed their reflective surface with ribs which changed in profile as they moved away from the centre, all to keep the light going in the right direction . Both the vertical ribs and slats gave pictu res a streaky look which, in the case of Cinerama, helped disguise the seams between its three panels. Even so, they kept this type of screen even after switching to sing le lens 70mm prints. A rival deep curve system, Dimensi on 150, relied on a relatively low gain screen to help keep cross reflections to a mini mum. to help reduce the distortion, inclu ding Higher contrast 70mm prints were the stretching effect at the sides. All this sometimes used to keep the pictu re looking was not good enough for one prom inent good. Both the new 70mm Cineram a and director. The London showcase for D-150 D-150 kept to level projection and used was the Odeon Marble Arch. Whe n it hosted lenses with a curved field of focus to the 1989 70mm restoration of Law rence of keep their images sharp. They coul d also Arabia, David Lean didn’t like its effe ct on his provide laboratories with special printer desert landscapes. The curved scre en was lenses to modify the image on the print replaced with a flatter one.

the deeply curved screen, before these too were largely discarded in favour of a normal flat or slightly curved screen. Todd personally produced the second Todd-AO feature, the star-studded Around The World in 80 Days, which now displayed the great advantages of its larger frame. The 2.2:1 aspect ratio suited the biggest screens, with at least the width of CinemaScope but with extra height, all achieved with less magnification, resulting in a sharper, brighter, steadier picture. 70mm was first seen in Britain, when the third Todd-AO production, South Pacific opened at the Dominion Tottenham Court Road. By now, the frame rate had been

“PEOPLE WOULD TRAVEL FOR MILES TO SEE THE FILM FIRST IN 70MM SPLENDOUR” only having to cope with a third of the curve. A single wide film image from above sags in the middle so, long before digital help, an ingenious optical printer arched the image on the print to counterbalance the effect. Sadly, it wasn’t entirely successful and together with a poor print, marred the premiere and early shows of Oklahoma!, the first film in the process, resulting in 70mm being given the thumbs down by both critics and trade press. Fortunately, the film was a smash and drew attention from Todd-AO’s shortcomings. Also, it was simultaneously filmed in 35mm CinemaScope just in case of trouble and for later general release.

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reduced to 24 fps, so the same 65mm negative could be used for 35mm reduction prints. Sadly, just as 70mm was taking off, Mike Todd was killed when his plane crashed on the way to New York to receive the Showman of the Year award in 1958. Fox would acquire Todd-AO and Todd’s widow Elizabeth Taylor retained an interest in the process and helped ensure Cleopatra was shot in it, rather than the originally intended CinemaScope. This film would be among many large-scale epics and big-screen musicals photographed on 65mm film for an initial 70mm release. Todd-AO’s specifications and dimensions became a new 65mm/70mm international standard. One variation came from MGM, which teamed up with anamorphic lens attachment maker Panavision to add a low power (x 1.25) version to both the camera

and projector for its Camera 65 process which increased the width of the screen to provide an aspect ratio of 2.75:1. It became available to other studios as Ultra Panavision 70 and another, Super Panavision 70 using normal lenses was the same as Todd-AO. Like PLF today, installing 70mm gave the chance to re-model and upgrade the auditorium and offer a different, more theatrical, performance.

The 70mm Roadshow When 70mm arrived, most cinemas operated on a continuous performance basis. Once doors opened, cinemagoers were free to enter the auditorium at any time. You could enjoy the show until the ‘this is when we came in’ moment came round again, or stay in the warm until the national anthem. A roadshow presentation was special. Chosen seats could be booked in advance for a separate performance which came with an overture, intermission and a souvenir brochure. People would travel to the West End and other big theatres to see the film first in 70mm splendour. Unfortunately, recent attempts to revive the idea, like special 70mm showings of The Hateful Eight, left some viewers, unfamiliar with the etiquette of roadshows, rather bemused. Originally, most overtures were played with the curtains closed, the music coming from tracks recorded on blank film at the start of reel one. Even in the glory days of 70mm, some did project an image on screen in case the unenlightened in the audience thought the film had started but the bulb in the projector had blown. An unexpected intermission can also leave modern audiences sitting wondering what to do next. In the past, sales staff soon came down the aisles with trays of drinks and confectionery delivered directly to your seat. DECEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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HISTORY OF CINEMA

A SELECT ION OF 70MM PR INT VARI AT IONS THE WESTERN-THEMED ON-SCREEN ANNOUNCEMENT DURING THE 70MM PLAYING OF THE OVERTURE TO THE HATEFUL EIGHT The rise and fall of 70mm All projector manufacturers would soon be producing dual 70mm/35mm models and 70mm would soon become an added attraction in many more cinemas. To ensure a continuing flow of 70mm prints to show, many began to be made by enlarging 35mm films. At first, these came from anamorphic CinemaScope-type negatives, their 2.35:1 images a reasonable fit to 70mm’s 2.2:1. Although not a match to 65mm shooting, if carefully done, the results were more than satisfactory with films like Doctor Zhivago showing their worth. The average viewer didn’t notice a loss of image quality and still enjoyed other benefits, including 70mm’s magnetic stereo sound. Many dedicated 70mm enthusiasts didn’t consider these ‘blow ups’ to be true 70mm and even more so, when they began to be made from various shapes and sizes of non-anamorphic 35mm negatives, with most, in an effort to retain their original aspect ratios, no longer filling the complete 70mm frame. However, in terms of print numbers, the 1980s and most of the 1990s would become the heyday of 70mm, with blow-ups mostly being ‘Presented in 70mm’, before a combination of improved film stocks, the coming of optical Dolby stereo to 35mm prints and the smaller auditoriums and screens in multiplexes, led to a decline in 70mm. The last 65mm/70mm film presented under the Todd-AO banner was in 1970 and Cinerama in 1974. A new name soon became familiar and synonymous with giant images.

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The advertisement for the deeply curved Vistarama screen comes from a different age!

and rides. One of these, IMAX, was first seen in 1970. It was the invention of Canada’s Multi-screen Corporation, which as its name suggests, provided the expertise for the multi-screen displays popular at events like major exhibitions, world fairs and expositions. It was premiered in the Fuji Group pavilion at Expo 70 in Japan. To reduce the number of projectors needed, a single 70mm film was turned on its side with a 15 perf. frame, shown using a unique compressed air ‘rolling loop’ projector, much kinder to the film as it moved through at 3x the normal speed. The emphasis was still on multi-images, with up to three 65mm or nine 35mm, printed within its large, now 3:4 frame. However, a 65mm 15 perf. camera was constructed for the occasional full frame image. These were so impressive on the 60ft screen, they would set the pattern for future IMAX theatres with steeply raked seats to keep all the audience close to the vast screen which filled their complete field of vision. IMAX would go on to produce a domed screen version, sometimes combined with a planetarium, photographed and projected via fish-eye lenses and even a ‘Magic Carpet’ show with another screen under your feet. At first, IMAX mostly showed short films at museums and other institutions. Often of an educational nature, for many, unlike Cinerama, they didn’t always exploit the giant screen to the full. When they did, IMAX produced amazing sights, particularly when the camera was taken up in the air, under the water and out in space, when its huge negative area allowed the eye to roam over a vast screen, picking out the tiniest detail. IMAX also lead the way to bringing back 3D to the big screen — which we will investigate in the next issue.

Abandoned Todd-AO ‘arched’ copy (Oklahoma)

MGM Camera 65 squeezed print for a wider 2.75:1 screen (Ben Hur)

Ultra Panavision rectified version for Cinerama screens (squeeze greater at the sides of the frame) Blow-ups not filling the frame

E.T. 1.66:1

The Blue Lagoon 1.85:1

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event cinema

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leading the dance

In 2017, the ECA has been the organisation that has driven the discussions in event cinema

Melissa Cogavin managing director

Awards. This is also taking place at the newly refurbished Vue West End and we expect another great day of networking, expert advice and best practice advocacy. We are seeking speakers and sponsors ­— there are plenty of opportunities, so if you have ideas to share or want to see certain topics discussed get in touch (info@eventcinemaassociation.org) as our conferences are a reflection of the industry itself. At the ECA, we aim to lead discussion and facilitate solutions to the challenges our industry faces ­— but we need input from members to make this happen.

Reflections on the year

Another year has flown by And the Event Cinema Association has continued to support and promote the event cinema industry. In June we had a hugely successful free one day event in Barcelona dedicated to the industry and saw attendees from all over the world gather to hear advice and opinion from some of the biggest players in the market. Our Focus On China seminar was well received and a first — our members CityLights Events and Live Viewing Japan gave a fascinating overview of cultural, commercial and technological advancements in the Far East as well as some (ambitious!) predictions, but the enthusiasm behind these projections was undeniably infectious. As Cinema Technology goes to press, our ECA Slate Day on 6 December is coming up

taking place at the Vue West End cinema in London’s Leicester Square courtesy of our good friend and board member Johnny Carr. We have had a great response from attendees and presenters alike. This is also an industry first which we have developed further to the successful trial in Barcelona, though this time distributors and content providers will be able to present content themselves, directly to exhibitors for 15 minutes at a time. This is expected to be an annual event taking place at the beginning of the arts season and an opportunity for that all-important networking which the ECA is at pains to provide and is so vital for the industry’s continued growth. On 7 February 2018 we will, once again, be hosting our annual ECA Conference and

In 2017, the event cinema industry faced its fair share of challenges, just as the film industry has generally. The business model is steeped in risk, the audiences tricky to find (and keep), and the box office outcome 100% uncertain regardless of marketing spend. This is just like the film industry, but perhaps more so. At the ECA, we have experienced challenges too and you may be aware that the survival of the ECA itself has been in question of late; fortunately we have had tremendous support from our members but it highlights the issues the industry faces and reminds us that as an association we need to evolve to remain relevant, engaging and vital. The next year will be exciting for the ECA and event cinema itself. We must continue to communicate, be engaged, committed and work together to ensure our sector continues to offer fantastic content to fanatical audiences, supported by a lively, creative industry that rolls with the punches.

“we must continue be engaged, committed and work together to ensure our sector thrives” visit www.eventcinemassociation.org

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BILLY BELL

The Fullscope Lens Billy Bell worked with many people, including a former Egyptian army general with a widescale passion for film

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ust when you thought you had seen every 35mm film oddity, along comes another in the form of a “Fullscope” lens. The inventor, the late General Shafik, believed this was the answer to Cinerama. I first met Deen Shafik in Samuelsons at Cricklewood in 1980. He told me that since the 1950s he had been obsessed with producing a Cinerama type effect using only a single camera and projector. He decided the key was to pull the screen round into a full half circle, and that this would create a pseudo-3D effect. The task he set himself was to project a 180-degree picture on to a deeply curved wraparound screen, and with minor adjustments, to achieve a 360 degree picture. His lens consisted of a series of six spherical lenses set in a metal tube like a telescope, which focus the image on to a curved mirror. The lens takes a horseshoeshaped image from the frame of film and spreads it out across the screen. The

while still in the Egyptian army he mugged up on optics. His artillery experience and the maths associated with ballistics and trajectories stood him in good stead. When he retired in 1974, he started looking for financial backing and a computer expert. A rich friend in Kuwait provided finance and Professor Charles Wynne, former director of the optical design group at Imperial College London, helped with the computing. I.C. Optical Systems produced the lens and the Samuelson Co. provided the freedom of their workshops and expertise. A demonstration of the Fullscope lens was duly carried out at the London International Film School, in the late 1980s. The film used was shot from

“Today, all of General Shafik’s efforts could easily be replicated by digital technology” projection lens is made slightly asymmetrical to show the image upwards, with the bottom of the picture at an angle of 2.5 degrees, the top at 60 degrees. This means the projector can be mounted on the floor in front of the curved screen to give the audience an unobstructed view. During the development of his Fullscope lens, General Shafic asked me to supply a xenon lamphouse and suitable projection equipment. The lamphouse contained a 300mm dichroic mirror and dichroic filters and could also take seven different types of xenon lamps. Film rollers which were mounted on top also enabled him to run film loops. A Kalee GK 37 projector mechanism was chosen because of the simplicity of modifying its optical arm to take the Fullscope lens. This test equipment was set up in his flat near Marble Arch which provided adequate space for a 16ft wide wraparound screen. During many visits, he told me that CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | DECEMBER 2017

090_DEC17_BILLY BELL.indd 90

the top of a moving vehicle speeding along a narrow street. The projection lens was also the taking lens used for shooting the demo film. The wraparound screen set up at L.I.F.S. provided a stunning 3D effect , even more so when things didn’t quite go according to plan. The general hadn’t anticipated that the taking lens, when used for projection, would be affected by heat from the light source and that the lamp black interior of the lens would continue to dry out. This condensation caused the picture to fog in the middle of the screen giving a

Fullscope 180 degree and 360 degree frames

nightmarish 3D effect, where the viewer is driving blindly through dense fog, while still able to see the shops on either side of the street flash by in sharp focus. When I last visited General Shafik, he proved that he had achieved a successful result with his Fullscope lens by showing a 360 degree picture on a 12 ft diameter circular screen. The 360 degree film frame shows three supports within the taking lens, but these were later eliminated by optical means in the finished lens. Today, all of General Shafik’s efforts and the capability of his Fullscope lens could easily be replicated and enhanced by digital technology. Nevertheless, it was a privilege to work with him. New Scientist reported on the system in 1988, when Shafik said that it was designed to enhance realism, because viewers see some of the screen only by peripheral vision, out of the comers of their eyes. He said the system’s equipment is simpler than other devices created to produce realistic pictures on wide screens. The image photographed on Fullscope film looks like the view through a wide letterbox, curved into a horseshoe shape. He revealed that six spherical lenses set in a metal tube focus the film’s image onto a curved aluminium-coated glass mirror. After reflection from the mirror and projection onto the screen. the horseshoe image ends up looking like a realistic panorama. www.cinematech.today

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To all those who have, or had, some interest in projected moving images, past and present. Perhaps you’re already connected with today’s cinema, technical or otherwise, but have an interest in vintage equipment, or you have been retired from the business so long, you would wish to revisit “the good old days”. Take heart and consider joining The Projected Picture Trust and help preserve the magic of cinema. Apart from equipment restoration, the Trust provides help and assistance to non-commercial community cinemas and museums exhibiting film related artefacts. The National Museum of Cinema Technology has perhaps, the largest collection of all types of film equipment in the U.K. The Data Archive within the museum holds over 3,000 items including technical manuals, film related documents, press cuttings etc. Membership of the P.P.T. will give you access to these amenities as well as the collections within the Trust’s regions. JOIN US TODAY by contacting either of the following addresses. e-mail: contact@ppttrust.org www.ppttrust.org The Projected Picture Trust, Dean Clough Mills, Halifax, West Yorkshire, HX3 5AX www.cinematech.today

091_CT_DEC17.indd 2

Advertisers’ index Arts Alliance Media 60 Barco 22 Camstage 95 CineAsia 88 Cinema next 04 compeso 41 depthQ 35 eclair play 48 Future Projections 91 Galalite Screens 26 guangdong exhibition group 87 GDC 02 Gofilex 10 Gofilex 37 harkness screens 41 The Jack Roe Companies 91

Motion Picture Solutions 06 NEC 96 philips 54 Powell Cinema Engineers 82 The Projected Picture Trust 91 QSC cinema 14 Sound Associates 13 Sony Digital Cinema 32 Strong MDI 77 Ushio Europe 64 ushio USA 16 Veritek Global 31 Veritek Global 69 Veritek Global 89 Volfoni 51

december 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

17/11/2017 15:15


92

contributing authors of 2017

AUTHOR

TITLE

month

page

subject

Veezi

Ticketing Technologyw

March

16

ticketing

Jack Roe

Ticketing Technology

March

17

ticketing

MovieTickets

Ticketing Technology

March

18

ticketing

ticket.international

Ticketing Technology

March

19

ticketing

Compeso

Ticketing Technology

March

20

ticketing

Hancock, David

Technology Development: Driving Necessary change?

March

23

technology

Stojmenovik, Goran

Colourful World of Tomatoes and Lasers

March

27

technology

Slater, Jim

Big DCP Changeover

March

33

distribution

von Sychowski, Patrick

CineAsia: Growing in Stature

March

37

trade show

Slater, Jim

ECA Conference February 2017

March

41

other organisations

Slater, Jim

Refurbishing Early Digital Projectors

March

45

digital

Slater, Jim

30 Years Hence

March

48

cinema future

Trompeteler, Mark

Immersive Audio: Bernard HappĂŠ Lecture

March

50

bksts events

Stephen, Mark

Autonomous Cinema

March

52

cinema future

Slater, Jim

QubeWire Digital Distribution

March

54

distribution future

Slater, Jim

Audio Description and Subtitling demo

March

57

audio description

Slater, Jim

Scott Cinemas Savoy Exmouth

March

60

cinema

Slater, Jim

EDCF Annual Convention 2016

March

62

other organisations

Ruttgers, Thomas

ICTA Technology Seminar 2017

March

64

other organisations

Peat, Grainne

UKCA Driving Forwards

March

65

other organisations

Cogavin, Melissa

ECA Update

March

67

other organisations

Branders, Guillaume

Pioneering Spirit: Innovation

March

68

cinema future

Slater, Jim

CTC Awards 2016

March

70

ctc events

Slater, Jim

BSC Expo 2017

March

75

other organisations

Lobban, Grant

Presenting a Broader View. Aspect Ratio

March

76

projection

Bell, Billy

Notes from a Movie Engineer's Diary - Sensurround

March

80

audio

Pasch, Oliver

Time to Celebrate

March

82

digital

Slater, Jim

Next Generation Multiplex: Showcase Southampton

June

19

cinema future

Slater, Jim

Next Generation Multiplex: Odeon Bournemouth

June

24

cinema future

Slater, Jim

Next Generation Multiplex: Sambil Madrid

June

28

cinema future

Davies, Peter. Ellis, David

Next Generation Odeon Baron's Quay Northwich

June

31

cinema future

Hancock, David

Le Vieux Continent

June

35

cinema future

von Sychowski, Patrick

Cinemacon 2017: A Confident Future

June

39

trade shows

Slater, Jim

UKCA Conference 2017

June

42

other orgnisations

Dougherty, Lucy

Beacon of Movie Magic

June

47

technology

Trompeteler, Mark

BFI Southbank

June

48

cinemas

Burgess, Walter

Laser Projection upgrade

June

52

laser

Slater, Jim

EclairColor

June

56

HDR

Slater, Jim

Digizig multiple projector installation

June

59

projection

Lindop, Bryan

Rosbeek Techniek Red and White Readers

June

63

audio

Slater, Jim

Yoel Noorali: ourscreen.com

June

66

cinema future

Slater, Jim

Earcatch

June

69

audio description

Monk, Dave

EDCF LA Tour

June

72

other orgnisations

Ruttgers, Thomas

ICTA report

June

76

other orgnisations

Peat, Grainne

UKCA: Hard of Hearing

June

77

audio description

Mitchell, Richard

Cinema's Beating Heart

June

78

IMIS

Cogavin, Melissa

ECA: A Global Hit

June

79

other orgnisations

Branders, Guillaume

UNIC: Big Technologies

June

81

other orgnisations

Knight, Peter

Experiencing 4DX

June

83

immersive

Slater, Jim

Wells Film Festival 2017

June

84

trade shows

Slater, Jim

Projection as an Art Form: Barbican

June

86

projection

Slater, Jim

Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre goes 4K

June

87

projection

Briggs, Darren

Hackney Castle Cinema reborn

June

89

cinema future

Slater, Jim

Making the Best of your Image: Milton Keynes

June

90

training

Lobban, Grant

All Shapes and Sizes: Aspect Ratio

June

92

projection

Bell, Billy

Notes from an Engineer's Diary - Vorsprung Durch Technik

June

96

cinematography

Huis, Paul

Distribution can achieve much moe

June

98

distribution

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | december 2017

DEC17 CT INDEX.indd 88

www.cinematech.today

17/11/2017 12:02


contributing authors of 2017

Editorial Index Vol 30, 2017, compiled by Denis Kelly

93

index

AUTHOR

TITLE

month

page

subject

Trompeteler, Mark

Dunkirk: Nolan and 70mm Fight Back

Sept

17

large format

Slater, Jim

A Feast of Formats: Screening Dunkirk

Sept

21

large format

MacDonakd, Adam

What's the Future for 3D?

Sept

24

projection

Slater, Jim

CineEurope 2017: ICTA's Technology Focus

Sept

34

trade show

Slater, Jim

CineEurope 2017: Trade Show Seminars

Sept

36

trade show

Slater, Jim

CineEurope 2017: CTC Seminar - Spending €50,000

Sept

38

trade show

Slater, Jim

CineEurope 2017: Taking on the Pirates

Sept

39

trade show

Slater, Jim

CineEurope 2017: Coca Cola Seminars: Youngsters in

Sept

42

trade show

Slater, Jim

Cinema Technology Magazine: 30 years of Change

Sept

46

Cinemas

Hancock, David

Event Cinema in Asia

Sept

48

event cinema

Slater, Jim

LED Screen: Lotte Cinema World

Sept

52

cinema future

Feather, Gary

Nanolumens: LED in Cinema

Sept

54

cinema future

Pinn,, Julian

Cinema Audio conforming in The Cloud

Sept

57

audio

Slater, Jim

Making Money: Film Cooperative, Julia Brown

Sept

60

technology

Slater, Jim

Cinema Software COMPESO/ Showtime Analytics

Sept

63

multimedia

Slater, Jim

The Light Cinema. Sheffield

Sept

67

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Newlyn Filmhouse

Sept

69

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Odeon Oldham

Sept

70

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Wells Film Centre

Sept

73

cinemas

Slater, Jim

The Depot, Lewes

Sept

74

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Westway Cinema, Frome

Sept

76

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Tate Modern, Starr Cinema

Sept

80

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Vue West End: Revival

Sept

82

cinemas

Trompeteler, Mark

BFI London: Dominic Simmons interview

Sept

84

cinemas

Clapp, Phil

SMPTE DCP Test

Sept

87

post production

Pinn,, Julian

The Big Sreen Panoply: Cine Europe

Sept

89

technology

Slater, Jim

Cinema Engineer's Story Interview

Sept

91

people

Lobban, Grant

Keeping the Magic

Sept

92

projection

Bell, Billy

Notes from a Movie Engineer's Diary - Taffy’s story

Sept

96

projection

Tandy, Simon

Members' Benefits

Sept

98

event cinema

Slater, Jim

Fordingbridge Community Cinema

Dec

70

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Isle of Man Cinemas

Dec

65

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Connaught Cinema Worthing

Dec

74

cinemas

Slater, Jim

Film Distributors Association Summer Exhibition

Dec

79

Distribution, Education

Slater, Jim

Antipiracy Rewards - Film Content Protection Agency

Dec

78

Distribution, Security

Bell, Billy

Notes from a Movie Engineer's Diary -The Fullscope Lens

Dec

90

Projection, Optical

Lobban, Grant

High Wide & Handsome - is PLF the new 70mm? Part 1.

Dec

84

projection

Slater, Jim

In Conversation with Prof. Harry Mathias

Dec

17

technology, virtual reality

Slater, Jim

Interview with Dave Sproxton of Aardman Animation.

Dec

30

animation, film-making

Slater, Jim

Cinema in Focus at IBC Big Screen

Dec

33

technology, displays

Slater, Jim

The Creative's Voice at IBC Big Screen

Dec

38

projection

Slater, Jim

Is Projection Dead? - IBC Big Screen report

Dec

52

projection

Slater, Jim

Business Insights - The Cinema Marketplace. IBC

Dec

42

cinemas, business

Slater, Jim

Cinema 3D - The Next Chapter? IBC Big Screen Report

Dec

49

cinema, 3D

Slater, Jim

Virtual Reality - Cinema companion or successor? IBC

Dec

46

cinema, virtual reality

Slater, Jim

Fast & Furious - EDCF IBC Conference Report

Dec

61

cinema, technology

Slater, Jim

Movie Geek Guide to the Movieverse - Book Review

Dec

83

Cinema, book review

Slater, Jim

The Art of Illusion - Book Review

Dec

83

Cinema, production, book review

Trompeteler, Mark

Escape, Cinerama & “The Triptych” , Widescreen Weekend

Dec

58

projection, history

Cogavin, Melissa

News from the Event Cinema World

Dec

89

event cinema

Hancock, David

South American Cinema

Dec

23

cinema future

von Sychowski, Patrick

Chinese Private Cinemas

Dec

27

cinema future

Stevens, Tim

BFI live cinema

Dec

55

live cinema/orchestras

Mitchell, Richard

Positive Moves - Time for a cinema renewal

Dec

94

cinema industry

Slater, Jim

The CTC, VR and AR

Dec

80

cinema future

West, Alex

Peter West MBKS - Obituary

Dec

78

obituary

Kelly, Denis

Cinema Technology Contributing Authors’ Index

Dec

90

index

www.cinematech.today

DEC17 CT INDEX.indd 89

December 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

17/11/2017 12:02


94 AND ONE LAST THING...

POSITIVE MOVES

Instead of talking ourselves down, the industry should be focusing on renewal, says Richard Mitchell Richard Mitchell president, Cinema Technology Committee

bored of remakes and franchises, when we declare content isn’t presented as the filmmaker intended, that our presentation is substandard and that showmanship has, for the most part, disappeared from cinema? We run the risk of doing our own version of a Gerald Ratner. In 1991 the former CEO of long-defunct UK jeweller (Ratners) thought it humorous to describe one of his products as “total crap” at a major event. One or two journalists were in the room and, overnight, that joke wiped £500m off the company’s value — it never recovered. Our collective responsibility is to ensure we don’t do that.

Time for renewal

BACK IN JUNE 2008 I WAS working for a tech company servicing the construction industry. As the world plummeted into recession, confidence started to ebb away not just within the confines of the business, but in the market in general. I remember my boss saying to me “There’s a danger of talking yourself into a recession or even a depression”. It was something I dismissed as rubbish at the time, but maybe he was right. Right now, the cinema industry appears to be at something of a crossroads, but no-one knows what that is — or how we got to this point — without trying to apportion the blame somewhere else. At the recent Kinokonferansen in Oslo, Patrick von Sychowski, from Celluloid Junkie, put the falling share prices of exhibitors and doom-laden press headlines into perspective by explaining that there’s a need to look at the weather (a quiet month or quarter) against the wider climate (box office revenue). You could easily be forgiven for reading the press and thinking we’re headed towards an existential crisis, yet global box office revenue is holding up well in what could be described as two average years. The

threats of VOD, shorter theatrical windows and piracy don’t appear to making any real impact at the box office, yet. So rather than talk ourselves into a depression, why don’t we focus on actions instead? In every business there is a need for continual improvement. Arguably that drive and impetus comes either from competitive threats or the ability to reduce costs and in turn increase profitability. It was, after all, the latter that helped drive digitisation of the cinema industry and it’s behind the recliner re-seating program being undertaken round the world by many exhibitors and the drive for innovation in auditorium technology.

Think positive, talk positive

What should we be most concerned about now? Consumer confidence, that’s what. In a high-profile industry such as ours, general criticisms we make amongst ourselves and those made by the mainstream media loudly resonate and have a profound impact on the confidence of the consumer. What do we expect to happen when we criticise film content for having a lack of originality, or if we suggest movie-goers are

“WHAT DO WE EXPECT WHEN WE CRITICISE FILM CONTENT FOR HAVING A LACK OF ORIGINALITY?”

There is an element of truth to many of the criticisms in the industry today, but this should be a time of exciting renewal where we come together and build confidence as a community, address the issues and step change the offering to the movie-goer. Part of the renewal we need undoubtedly involves technology, however, in isolation it isn’t the silver bullet. The latest breed of auditorium technology gives movie-goers the potential of being told a story in a way that’s more immersive than ever before but, there’s also an incumbent responsibility on exhibitors to ensure they’re making the best of the equipment they have if they’re unable or unwilling to invest in new technology. Aligned to this, film-makers and indeed studios need to work more closely with exhibitors and manufacturers to understand technology capabilities, the issues on the ground, what a movie looks like outside of a post-production studio (particularly in 3D) and the profound operational issues such as delivering DCPs in unusual aspect ratios has for exhibitors — and for movie presentation. The Cinema Technology Committee (CTC) as an organisation is focused on bringing the community together to build a knowledgesharing network because we passionately believe that by doing so, we’ll solve issues faster. We’ll also put back into the industry confidence and what’s actually been missing for a few years, the element of controlled risk that breeds creativity. 3D was the last controlled risk we took as an industry and if we’d worked better together in the years after Avatar, it might be a very different prospect today. Let’s be positive about our proposition to the world and work together to make it even better — because cinema is still incredible.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | DECEMBER 2017

094_DEC17_OPINION.indd 94

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Profile for Cinema Technology

Cinema Technology December 2017  

In this issue of Cinema Technology, we're looking at nothing less than the future of cinema… Will it survive thanks to technology, or is the...

Cinema Technology December 2017  

In this issue of Cinema Technology, we're looking at nothing less than the future of cinema… Will it survive thanks to technology, or is the...

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