Cinema Technology Magazine - June 2016

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The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals

June 2016 cinematechnologymagazine.com

the lowdown on downloads

Theatrical windows, living room cinemas: how the cinema industry is meeting the challenges of the 21st century entertainment landscape

CinEEurope at 25 monopoly money? laser defence Previewing the 25th anniversary of Europe’s leading film conference

Do today’s distribution agreements give smaller cinemas a raw deal?

Why the new wave of laser projection systems are destined for greatness

Vol 29, No2 produced in partnership with


CINEMA IS MORE THAN THE MOVIES

Great movies are what brings people to the cinema, but these days, there are more reasons to stay there. *PULTHZ HYL L]VS]PUN [V ILJVTL LU[LY[HPUTLU[ JLU[LYZ @V\ ULLK OPNO X\HSP[` H\KPV ZVS\[PVUZ [OYV\NOV\[ `V\Y JPULTH JVTWSL_ UV[ VUS` PU [OL TV]PL [OLH[YL *VUJLZZPVU HYLHZ HUK SVIIPLZ YLZ[H\YHU[Z HUK IHYZ NHTPUN HYLHZ M\UJ[PVU YVVTZ L]LU `V\Y IV^SPUN HSSL` KLZLY]LZ [OL ILZ[ X\HSP[` ZV\UK H]HPSHISL

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Creating Extraordinary

Creating C Cr re ea attiing ng E Extraordinary xxttra raord orrdi o din na ary ary y

Big screen breakthrough: Higher contrast Higher brightness Lower costs Larger cinema screens can now step up to the unrivalled image quality of Sony Digital Cinema 4K with our breakthrough, high-brightness, dual projection solution. The new SRX-R515DS system offers exceptional 30,000 lumen brightness and high 8000:1 contrast ratio. Quick and simple to set up with automatic alignment for perfect image calibration, the system uses energy-efficient HPM multi-lamp array to deliver lower wer operating costs on any size of screen. www.pro.sony.eu/dcinema

IDEAL FOR

Š 2016 Sony Corporation. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Features and speciďŹ cations are subject to change without notice. Sony and Sony Digital Cinema 4K and their respective logos are registered trademarks of Sony.


dynamic content platform

dynamic adjective dy路nam路ic 1. (of a process or system) characterised by constant change, activity, or progress. 2. positive in attitude, full of energy and new ideas.

content noun con路tent 1. information made available by a website or other electronic medium. 2. a state of peaceful happiness.

platform noun plat路form 1. a group of technologies used as the base upon which other applications, processes or technologies are developed. 2. a raised structure from which rockets can be launched.

One world for cinema content

www.oncinema.com See us on booth 712 at CineEurope


INSIDE THIS ISSUE June 2016 • Vol 29 • No 2 NEWS 008 011

The Editor’s pick of the latest industry happenings Barco rolls out its new Immersive Lobby, Ymagis consolidates its new brands

Events 031 035

CinemaCon: Patrick von Sychowski reflects on where the industry’s headed Now in its 25th year, CineEurope 2016 is set to be a European spectacular

COLUMNS 040 073 074 076 077

David Hancock examines the strength of a cinema release to today’s feature films UKCA’s Phil Clapp on security measures cinemas must take in the modern world A strong slate slowed event cinema’s march in 2015, but the ECA’s undaunted Guillaume Branders outlines UNIC’s mission to boost member’s box office The EDCF’s John Graham lays out the organisation’s key issues for the future

Features Focus: The lowdown on downloads: CT 014 Inexamines how the industry is meeting the challenge of shrinking windows

022

Cinema must embrace the diversity of modern media, argues Lord Puttnam

044

Unfair distribution: are smaller cinemas hampered by distributor policies aimed squarely at the multiplex market?

048

Inside Picturehouse Central, a flagship cinema with a very independent flavour

059

088

Billy Bell turns his hand to acting, literally, with a star turn in a feature on Stalin

TEchnical developments lines: Barry Fox examines how 025 Blurred home entertainment technology and cinema technologies are merging

053

In defence of lase-illumination: why the latest systems will be a force to be reckoned with in the projection booth

Access for all: Grainne Peat on a new initiative to encourage filmgoing for audiences with special needs

057

Arts Alliance Media’s John Aalbers on what the second digital revolution in cinema will mean to the audience

061

Jim Slater visits Saffron Screen in Essex, and uncovers a shining example of a community-run cinema

065

Darren Briggs tells the story of a technical tour-de-force — a new sixscreen independent cinema in Yorkshire

069

Enric Mas argues that, with Cinerama, cinema’s pioneers set a high bar that digital cinema will struggle to reach

083

Grant Lobban traces the rise and fall and rise again of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio

078

The Genesis Cinema in Stepney — a perfect place to showcase Philips’ Lightvibes set-up to UKCA members

080

Stockport Plaza knew how to entertain audiences back in 1932 — and still does

And one last Thing… Associates’ Graham Lodge 090 Sound wonders whether the pace of change has transformed the industry for the better?

The BKSTS (British Kinematograph Sound and Television Society) exists to encourage, sustain, educate, train and provide a focus for all those who are creatively or technologically involved in the business of providing moving images and associated sound in any form and through any media. The society works to maintain standards and to encourage the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of moving image and associated sound technology, in the UK and throughout the world. The Society is independent of all governments and commercial organisations. : Association of Motion Picture Sound • British Film Institute • British Society of Cinematographers • British Universities Film & Video Council Cinema Exhibitors Association • Cooke Optics • CST • Focal International • SMPTE Skillset • Society of Television Lighting Directors • UK Film Council. The Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the above Companies and Organisations. BKSTS membership enquiries should be addressed to: Roland Brown, President, BKSTS - Moving Image Society, Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Bucks SL0 0NH, UK. Email: info@bksts.com. www.bksts.com

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


CONNECTED CAR

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LIFESTYLE AUDIO

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PROFESSIONAL SOLUTIONS

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CONNECTED SERVICES


WELCOME

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from the editor June 2016 • Volume 29 • No.2

Every June, CineEurope in Barcelona has become the show which I and many colleagues look forward to more than any of the others we attend. A unique combination of venue, usually great weather, and the chance to meet all our old friends in the cinema business make this an event not to be missed. Although the organisers are naturally proud when numbers increase each year, the still relatively small scale of CineEurope makes it perfectly possible to seek out and talk with everyone you want to see, whilst offering plenty of chances for serendipitous meetings with new people that can so often lead to new understandings, and for Cinema Technology, new ideas for articles. We are fortunate to be part of an industry which is still growing and still exciting — no sooner had we got over the major hurdle of digitisation, which many saw as a one-off event after which cinema would return to its usual status-quo, it became apparent that life had in fact changed for ever. Digital technologies have opened up so many new avenues for developments that were previously unthought of, and it is significant that the total number of screens worldwide has grown as a result. This growth has made irrelevant my early questions

to projector manufacturers at the time asking what they would do when all the (then) world’s 130,000 or so screens had been digitised? Manufacturers not only took up the challenge, providing projection equipment that was so compact, so effective and so cost-efficient that thousands of new cinema screens became practical in venues where film projection could never have worked, but they were also far-sighted enough to see how digital technologies could be used to make cinema better than it had ever been. Immersive sound systems, digital equivalents of multi-screen Cinerama, lobby systems that involve you in the excitement of the movie-going experience before you ever get to the screen, as well as a multitude of 4D+ effects, with opportunities to experience luxury service and excellent food and drink whilst you watch — all of these have changed forever the customers’ movie-going experience. Historically there has always been a divide between the quality of the top cinemas making use of the latest formats and equipment and their lowlier suburban cousins, but digitisation has actually helped — few would disagree that the ‘average’ multiplex now provides pictures and sound of a higher quality than were ever the norm at this end of the market, whilst the Premium Large Format offerings really do bring something extra-special to a visit to the cinema. Cinema Technology magazine has long served as a mouthpiece and a forum for the industry, and that continues in this issue as we debate topics including how modern technologies can be used to improve distribution methods as well as providing more choice and greater flexibility to cinemas large and small. And the fascinating arguments between those who make the movies and the techies who are responsible for ensuring that the director’s vision is recreated on the cinema screen go on and on — laser light sources for the cinema are only in their infancy, and we all still have a lot to learn.

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

Writing in this issue… 1

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

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3

LORD PUTTNAM CBE

GRANT LOBBAN

BARRY FOX

An Oscar-winning producer and an educator who needs little introduction, in this issue, Lord Puttnam examines how the film world addresses the challenges of the modern entertainment landscape (see page 22).

Grant, who for many years worked at the BBC, has researched and written fascinating archival material for the BKSTS for decades. In this issue, he focuses on the rise and fall and rise again of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio (see p83).

A writer on consumer and entertainment electronics, Barry is a contributor to a wide range of titles, including the New Scientist. In this issue, he examines how television is impacting on the cinema industry’s technology, (page 25).

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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

KODAK TO OPEN NEW LABS — REAL FILM IS BACK

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With multiple premieres at the 2016 Cannes Film (GUVKXCN UJQV QP -QFCM Æ’NO -QFCM UC[ VJCV Æ’NO KU PQV QPN[ UVKNN C XKCDNG ETGCVKXG EJQKEG DWV VJTKXKPI CICKP Å©-QFCMŦU FGEKUKQP VQ KPETGCUG UWRRQTV QH Æ’NO CU C OGFKWO YCU QPG QH VJG OQUV RTGUEKGPV EJQKEGU YGŦXG OCFG Ū UC[U 5VGXGP 1XGTOCP RTGUKFGPV QH -QFCMŦU %QPUWOGT CPF (KNO &KXKUKQP Å©6JG Æ’TUV RJCUG QH QWT UVTCVGI[ YCU VJTGGHQNF 5GEWTKPI EQOOKVOGPVU HTQO OCLQT UVWFKQU GPICIKPI NGCFKPI ETGCVKXG VCNGPV KP RTQOQVKPI VJG WPKSWG OCIKE QH Æ’NO CPF RCTVPGTKPI YKVJ MG[ KPFWUVT[ XGPFQTU +VŦU YQTMGF 9GŦXG VWTPGF VJG VTCLGEVQT[ CTQWPF +P 'WTQRG CNQPG UCNGU QH OO OQVKQP RKEVWTG Æ’NO JCXG FQWDNGF KP OQPVJU Ū Å©-QFCM TGCNKUGU YG JCXG C TGURQPUKDKNKV[ VQ VJG OQVKQP RKEVWTG KPFWUVT[ GURGEKCNN[ VQ VJG CTVKUVU YQTMKPI KP VJG OGFKWO Ū UC[U #PPG *WDDGNN XKEG RTGUKFGPV /QVKQP 2KEVWTG -QFCM Å©1WT RTKQTKV[ KU VQ GPUWTG VJCV UJQQVKPI Æ’NO KU GCU[ CPF VJCV QRVKQPU CTG TGCFKN[ CXCKNCDNG 6JCV OGCPU UWRRQTVKPI VJG GPVKTG KPVGTPCVKQPCN KPHTCUVTWEVWTG HTQO *QNN[YQQF VQ KPFGRGPFGPVU VQ UEJQQNU CPF CTVU QTICPKUCVKQPU Ū -QFCM KU OCMKPI UVTCVGIKE KPXGUVOGPVU VQ GPUWTG EQPUKUVGPV CPF SWCNKV[ Æ’NO UGTXKEGU KP RTQFWEVKQP JWDU CPF OCLQT OCTMGVU 6JG EQORCP[ YKNN QRGP CPF QRGTCVG C OQVKQP RKEVWTG Æ’NO RTQEGUUKPI NCD KP 0GY ;QTM EKV[ NCVGT VJKU [GCT YJKEJ YKNN UGTXKEG OO 5 5WRGT Æ’NO RTQEGUUKPI CPF UECPPKPI -QFCM KU CNUQ YQTMKPI YKVJ RCTVPGTU VQ UWUVCKP Æ’NO RTQEGUUKPI ECRCDKNKVKGU GNUGYJGTG +P .QPFQP -QFCM KU OCMKPI KPXGUVOGPVU KP KPVTQFWEKPI OO Æ’NO RTQEGUUKPI KP C TGIKQP VJCV JCU UGGP C JWIG KPETGCUG KP DKI RTQFWEVKQPU UJQV QP Æ’NO 6JG 7- JCU UGGP VJG RTQFWEVKQP QH VJG Star Wars HTCPEJKUG CPF 'WTQRG KU VJG NQECVKQP HQT C TCPIG QH WREQOKPI TGNGCUGU UJQV QP OO

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MOTION.KODAK.COM

YMAGIS TO ACQUIRE SUBTITLING COMPANY, ST’501 ;OCIKU )TQWR JCU UKIPGF C /GOQTCPFWO QH 7PFGTUVCPFKPI HQT VJG CESWKUKVKQP QH (TGPEJ UWDVKVNKPI EQORCP[ 56Ŧ YJKEJ URGEKCNKUGU KP NKXG DTQCFECUV UWDVKVNKPI HQT VJG VGNGXKUKQP KPFWUVT[ ;OCIKU )TQWR YQWNF DGEQOG VJG UQNG UJCTGJQNFGT QH 56Ŧ 6JG RCTVPGTUJKR YQWNF CNNQY ;OCIKU VQ DQNUVGT KVU EWTTGPV UWDVKVNKPI CPF CEEGUUKDKNKV[ QHHGT CPF GZRCPF QRGTCVKQPU KP EQPVGPV UGTXKEGU KPENWFKPI ENQUGF ECRVKQPKPI CPF UKIP NCPIWCIG KPVGTRTGVCVKQP HQT VJG FGCH CPF JGCTKPI KORCKTGF OWNVKNKPIWCN UWDVKVNKPI CPF CWFKQ FGUETKRVKQP

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


NEWS

9

UK DEREGULATE SCREEN ADVERTISING USHIO AND VUE PARTNER FOR XENON LAMPS

The UK Cinema Association has YGNEQOGF EQPƒTOCVKQP VJCV VJG deregulation of screen advertising came into effect from 1 April 2016. The Association, along with the $TKVKUJ $QCTF QH (KNO %NCUUKƒECVKQP (BBFC) and Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) argued for removing the current dual regulation during a public consultation back in May 2012. After prolonged discussion, the move has been achieved through liaison between the BBFC and CAA, and will see the former’s role here delegated to the CAA. The BBFC will retain its ENCUUKƒECVKQP TQNG HQT VTCKNGTU RWDNKE KPHQTOCVKQP ƒNOU ECORCKIPKPI ƒNOU and all other theatrical works. Screen advertising agencies will now be better-placed to harness the flexibility of new technology, and to compete with other media outlets for advertising income. Separately, the UKCA has just published its Annual Report for 2015, packed with information and statistics about the ongoing progress of the UK cinema business. It is downloadable from their website, cinemauk.org.uk or hard copies are available on request, telephone +44 (0)207 734 9551

Ushio, the world-leading manufacturer of xenon lamps, and Vue, one the largest cinema groups in the world and a leader in the premium entertainment cinema sector, have established a strategic partnership aimed to enable future growth. The three-year exclusive supply agreement for xenon lamps was signed for the UK and German market, making Ushio the sole xenon supplier for all the Sony projectors in Vue cinemas. Vue said that they had tested all major lamp brands in their Sony projectors and had chosen Ushio for its outstanding lamp quality and the wide choice of lamp-types that allows for optimum performance in each screen. Nils Bßker, Sales Director, Ushio Europe B.V. said that the agreement represents a UVTQPI UVTCVGIKE CNNKCPEG YJKEJ ƒVU YGNN YKVJ both companies’ missions and provides an exceptional value proposition.

WWW.CINEMAUK.ORG

Widescreen Weekend 2016 The world-renowned Widescreen Weekend will take place at the National Media Museum, Bradford from 13-16 October, 2016. Programme details and booking information will be announced later this month. A unique festival of international standing, Widescreen Weekend will welcome back Sir Christopher Frayling as guest curator. It will be expanding its “Student Widescreen Film of the Yearâ€? competition, in partnership with BKSTS, and is also collaborating with Bradford UNESCO City of Film and its network around the YQTNF HQT CEEGUU VQ TCTG Ć’NO RTKPVU Dedicated to the past, present and future of large format cinema, the festival will premiere new restorations of Cinerama Ć’NOU ECRKVCNKUKPI QP VJG /WUGWOĹŚU UVCVWU as the only venue outside the US which RWDNKEN[ UETGGPU %KPGTCOC Ć’NOU

CONTACT: PHIL.OATES@NATIONALMEDIAMUSEUM.ORG.UK

www.cinematechnologymagzine.com

NEW SALES MANAGER FOR USHIO EUROPE Job van der Heijden (right) has joined Ushio to provide customers with top-of-the-line sales and service. He is responsible for the promotion and sales of a diverse range of discharge and JCNQIGP NCORU HQT UEKGPVKĆ’E CPF professional applications.Job is 27 and graduated as Bachelor of Business Administration, writing his thesis on the subject “Solving global challenges with LED technologyâ€?. He has experience in the lighting industry and in international business and cultures. He replaces Ruut Schouten, who, becomes customer service specialist at Ushio Europe BV. Job is reporting to Nils BĂźker, sales director.

HOLLAND

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


Organized Digital Delivery Unlocking the next level of possibillities FKHFN ZZZ JRÀ OH[ FRP

INTRODUCES

THE BIG SCREEN JUST GOT BIGGER FEATURES AND EVENT CINEMA FINALLY DELIVERED TO YOUR DOORSTEP check: www.cinio.net


NEWS 11

BARCO’S IMMERSIVE LOBBY EXPERIENCE ROLLS OUT

‘BIG SCREEN’ GOES HDR FOR THE IBC 2016 CONFERENCE

$CTEQ KU GZRCPFKPI KVU TGNCVKQPUJKR YKVJ &KXGTUKƒGF VJG UGEQPF largest AV integrator in the US, to strengthen its offering and services for its roll-out of the Barco Lobby Experience to movie theatres. 6QIGVJGT $CTEQ CPF &KXGTUKƒGF YKNN ETGCVG FGRNQ[ CPF OCPCIG $CTEQŌU innovative, advanced technological platform. The Barco Lobby Experience turns a cinema lobby into an immersive storytelling environment, through C EQODKPCVKQP QH CPKOCVGF DQZ QHƒEG EQPEGUUKQP CPF OGPW DQCTFU CPF OWNVK UETGGP U[PEJTQPK\GF HGCVWTG ƒNO RTQOQVKQPCN EQPVGPV ECNNGF Ŋ.QDD[ &QOKPCVKQPU Ū $CTEQ CPF &KXGTUKƒGF JCXG FGRNQ[GF C $CTEQ .QDD[ Experience solution at Regal LA LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center, claimed to be the world’s most technologically advanced movie theatre.

USA

New digital cinema distribution alliance Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema (DTDC) and Unique Digital have created a distribution alliance to provide an online DCP delivery solution based on Unique’s Movie Transit (MT) PGVYQTM YJKEJ FKUVTKDWVGU HGCVWTG ƒNOU XKC landline broadband. Initially launching across the UK, Ireland, Nordic and the Baltic regions, DTDC and Unique Digital plan to expand the service into additional MT network territories, which would see the installed network site base reach over 4,000 connected cinemas. This strategic alliance will bring to market a range of services to help link the value chain of servicing content to exhibition and deliver a JKIJ NGXGN QH CWVQOCVKQP CPF EQUV GHƒEKGPE[ 6JG ƒTUV QH VJG PGY UGTXKEGU YKNN HQEWU on trailer and KDM management, utilising Unique Digital’s Smart Trailering and Basekey

platforms. This will migrate key delivery away from email to a truly electronic operation, and allow for bespoke dynamic programming of content at either a central or local level, DGPGĆ’VKPI DQVJ FKUVTKDWVKQP CPF GZJKDKVKQP George Eyles, managing director of Deluxe Technicolor Digital Cinema EMEA said that the alliance with Unique provides the ability to deliver a long-term viable future for content delivery for studio and independent distribution customers, while Chris Hagan, chairman of Unique Digital called the alliance a real step forward in terms of enhancing DCP delivery.

FOR MORE, SEE WWW.UNIQUEDIGITALCINEMA.COM

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

With more than 300 executives sharing insights on key issues, IBC’s Big Screen Experience will focus on key developments that affect the art, science and business of the motion-picture sector from production to exhibition. The four-day conference runs from 9-12 September in the RAI Auditorium, Amsterdam. Julian Pinn, consulting executive producer, IBC Big Screen Experience, told Cinema Technology: “With the digital transition behind us, the industry is examining its future direction. Digital is enabling new ways to shoot movies, capture performance, and manipulate in postproduction elements that were otherwise locked in.� The IBC Big Screen Experience offers an editorially-led programme — High Dynamic Range projection will feature this year, thanks to Dolby Laboratories. In addition to Dolby Vision projection, Dolby Atmos immersive audio will be featured, powered by QSC. Friday and Saturday will focus towards the capture end of the content-supplychain, while Sunday and Monday will, amongst other topics, examine experiential innovations such as HDR, Wide Colour, Immersive Audio and High Frame Rate. The European Digital Cinema Forum will be hosting its usual Sunday-afternoon global update. The IBC Big Screen Experience is free to attend for IBC Exhibition delegates. www.ibc.org/conference JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


12

NEWS

BKSTS CINEMA TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE Richard Huhndorf (Chairman), Max Bell, Mike Bradbury, Chris Connett, Laurence Claydon, Michael Denner, Tom Dodgson, Rachael Eldrett, Keith Fawcett, Fred Fullerton, Graham Hughes, Denis Kelly, Peter Knight, Graham Lodge, Adam MacDonald Andre Mort, Richard Mitchell, Mark Nice, David Norris, Ngozi Okali, Kevin Phelan, Rich Phillips, Julian Pinn, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Paul 5EJQĆ’GNF ,KO 5NCVGT 4WUUGNN 5OKVJ 5KOQP 6CPF[ Chris Tostevin, Paul Willmott, and Demir Yavuz.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY ISSN 0955-2251 - is published quarterly by Motion Picture Solutions Limited on behalf of the BKSTS. The print edition is mailed to members of the BKSTS and is also distributed to the major cinema chains and independents to reach virtually every cinema in the UK and many 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 to everyone and providing a continuously updated news link of all the latest cinema industry happenings www.cinematechnologymagazine.com Views expressed in Cinema Technology Magazine are not necessarily the views of the Society.

EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: JIM SLATER 17 Winterslow Road, Porton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK T: +44 (0) 1980 610544 F: +44 (0) 1980 590611

DIGITAL PERFORATION PATTERN FROM GALALITE Galalite Screens has rolled out its latest Micro 4K Perforation Pattern, a new screen technology developed to enhance overall picture quality, which is expected to replace current screen technology. The new pattern is particularly suited to cinemas using 4K. Galalite Screens’ director of operations, Yusuf Galabhaiwala, explained that the 4K perforation pattern has been developed with the same openness as standard perforation, the main difference being that it has over 185,000 holes per square metre. In comparison to standard perforation, this development increases light reflectance, ensuring a brighter viewing experience in cinemas. The holes are proportionately smaller in size, which allows for a closer viewing experience, without visible seams cropping up to disturb the picture. The new 4K perforation pattern should eliminate the moirÊ fringing that occurs when a screen’s weaving pattern aligns, interfering with the pixelated images of a projector, ultimately causing a strobe-like effect on the screen that hampers cinema viewing.

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 ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID W: www.spacehopperdesign.co.uk E: dean@spacehopperdesign.co.uk

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

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

Ymagis focus on CinemaNext and Eclair Ymagis Group recently announced a complete corporate rebranding initiative which is now being rolled out throughout the organisation. “To increase synergies across our divisions, we are streamlining our organisational structure around two compelling names, Eclair and CinemaNext,� explained Ymagis CEO Jean Mizrahi, adding “With the lightning bolt used by Eclair since its foundation in 1907, it is a unifying symbol and reminder of the Group’s strong, deep-

rooted heritage in the history of cinema.â€? All exhibitor services activities (dcinex, Ymagis, R2D1 and shortly Proyecson) now operate under the PCOG %KPGOC0GZV YKVJ KVU OCKP QHĆ’EG in Liège, Belgium. The unit is divided into four divisions: equipment sales and installation, online and support services, in-house products and consulting. All content services activity (Ymagis, dcinex and Smartjog Ymagis Logistics) now operate under the name Eclair. Its OCKP QHĆ’EG KU KP 8CPXGU (TCPEG

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CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

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The Theatrical Window: Special Focus

The boundaries of cinema are blurring, and it is not just the technologies… Jim Slater introduces a special focus on the impact of VOD on theatrical windows

T

he technical boundaries between cinema displays and home television screens are blurring, and, as large screen domestic TVs offer ever higher quality pictures and sound systems some think could seriously challenge cinema-going. It’s a subject Barry Fox examines in detail on page 25 but, while technology is important, we in the industry know that the single most important factor that drives customers into our cinemas is the film content — we are totally dependent on the regular release of high-quality movies that people want to come and watch.

Clear windows

Traditionally, a feature film has been released first in cinemas, then on DVD/ Blu-ray and pay-per-view/video-on-demand and, much later, on broadcast TV. This ‘release window’ scenario has always been important to the cinema exhibition business since it provides a period of weeks when the only way to see a new film is by going to the cinema. In recent years, as it became apparent to the studios and distributors that most of the eventual longer-term income www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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SPECIAL FOCUS

15

The n um the le ber of we exclu ngth of t eks h wind sive theat e ow h r i a s fa c a l ll e n t o

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from a movie would come not just from cinema ticket sales, but more from DVD/ Blu-ray, merchandising, VOD downloads etc, the early exclusive ‘theatrical window’ in which the movies are realised to massive publicity has sometimes been seen by the studios primarily as heavy promotion for the long-tail income from these other longer-lasting sources. The studios benefit from a reduction in the time between each distribution method as they only need pay for a single integrated marketing campaign. A film which is still

“EXHIBITORS CAN ONLY BE EXPECTED TO INVEST MONEY IF THEY CAN BE CERTAIN OF A PROFIT-MAKING PERIOD� fresh in the minds of consumers because of all the publicity surrounding it is likely to sell better on DVD/Blu-ray and downloads, and to appeal to TV companies. It also has been suggested that shortening the release window reduces the opportunity for piracy by camcording from cinema screens before the movie is available legitimately. Pressure from the studios has meant that the length of the exclusive theatrical window has fallen significantly (in the UK, from 27 weeks in 1999 to an average of around 15 weeks today). That is just for feature films and blockbusters — many smaller films have much shorter release windows. It is no surprise that exhibitors are concerned about this trend. They continue to invest money in improving the cinema-going experience but can only be

SECURELY STREAMING HOLLYWOOD INTO YOUR HOME

John Grimm, senior director at Thales e-Security, looks at how encryption is FTKXKPI KPPQXCVKQP KP VJG Ć’NO KPFWUVT[ using the example of Prima Cinema: Legally watching new releases at home on the same day they hit the theatres is an appealing prospect. This is what Prima Cinema is doing for movie fans. But of course, there was a big hurdle to overcome: security. Since the dawn of the digital

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

TGXQNWVKQP VJG Ć’NO KPFWUVT[ JCU UVTWIINGF with the challenge of content protection. Film piracy, in particular, is an enormous concern for studios and distributors who, by some accounts, lose billions of dollars GCEJ [GCT YJGP Ć’NO CPF 68 RTQRGTVKGU are illegally copied and distributed. When Ć’NOU CTG UJQYP KP VJGCVTGU OCPCIGTU can monitor audiences to try to prevent “cammingâ€? — but for home theatres, where no such supervision exists, a different kind of security is needed. To get buy-in from studios and other content owners for this business model, Prima needed a highly secure YC[ VQ FKUVTKDWVG CPF UJQY Ć’NOU YKVJQWV compromising the viewer experience. No

expected to carry on making such investments if they can be certain of a profit-making period before movies are released on other platforms, so the ‘theatrical window’ is vitally important.

New visions

In recent times, several ideas have been put forward that challenge the idea of the theatrical window and suggest that a business case could be made for allowing well-heeled members of the public to pay a premium price to download and watch movies on or about the same date that they are released in cinemas. This already happens on a very limited scale in Members’ Only clubs around Hollywood and in organisations like the now world-wide Soho House group. These clubs pay handsomely for the privilege of being able to show the newest movies to their members in exclusive luxurious screening rooms — and since the members are usually from film- and media-related industries, such showings are regarded as ‘in house’, and in no way competing with the traditional cinema industry. Several recent developments suggest that much might be about to change, so that first-run features could soon be coming to the living room. Six years ago the MPAA, the trade association which represents six main Hollywood studios, persuaded the Federal Communications Commission to permit recent movies to be sent directly to American households via cable or satellite prior to their release on DVD or Blu-ray. This involved the use of TVs with digitally secure interfaces to receive high-definition content from a cable, satellite or IPTV provider, making movies widely available for home viewing far earlier than before. Last year, Paramount Pictures came to an agreement with two

easy task, considering the value of the content, and potential threats lurking in the uncontrolled home environment. Prima Cinema developed a system for RTQVGEVKPI CPF FKUVTKDWVKPI Ć’NOU VQ JQOG theatres that involves multiple layers of encryption, digital watermarking, and strong, FKIKVCN EGTVKĆ’ECVG DCUGF CWVJGPVKECVKQP between their servers and home playback devices, using hardware security modules (HSMs) to generate and protect private encryption and digital signature keys. 'XGT[ Ć’NO KU GPET[RVGF DGHQTG FKUVTKDWVKQP and the playback device installed in home cinemas includes a trusted platform OQFWNG YJGTG RTKXCVG MG[U CPF EGTVKĆ’ECVGU associated with the decryption and device authentication are secured and managed. During manufacture, keys are never exposed outside the HSM and the consuming device

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The Theatrical Window: Special Focus

As the quality of home entertainment improves, cinemas need to maintain their differentiation

major cinema chains, AMC Entertainment Holdings in the US and Cineplex Canada, that allowed it to make movies available as downloads for home viewing as little as one week after they hit the cinema screen. Many in the exhibition business fear such a move could sound the death knell for some cinemas, especially now that superb pictures and sound are available on top TV equipment. To sweeten the pill and get cinemas to agree, the studio said it would share a portion of revenue from the digital downloads with exhibitors. But if cinemagoers find they can get the newest

— and the application that controls all cryptographic processing and key handling KU GZGEWVGF YKVJKP VJG (+25 EGTVKĆ’GF EQPĆ’PGU QH VJG *5/ By employing security mechanisms VJCV KORNGOGPV VJG JKIJGUV NGXGNU QH assurance, Prima was able to become the Ć’TUV EQORCP[ KP VJG JKUVQT[ QH EKPGOC VQ DG ITCPVGF TKIJVU VQ NKEGPUG CPF FKUVTKDWVG Ć’TUV TWP OQXKGU VQ RTKXCVG JQOG VJGCVTGU 5GEWTKV[ ECP IGV C DCF TCR HQT DGKPI CP GPGO[ QH KPPQXCVKQP $WV VJG CDQXG example shows how security can enable KPPQXCVKQP CPF FTKXG RQUKVKXG FKUTWRVKQP +P VJKU CIG QH FKIKVCN VTCPUHQTOCVKQP VJQUG that look to create new business models VJCV QHHGT EQPUWOGTU EQPXGPKGPEG QT QVJGT advantages can count the ability to protect EQPVGPV Ţ YJGTGXGT KV IQGU CU QPG QH VJGKT UVTQPIGUV CNNKGU

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“FOR THOSE WITH REAL MONEY, THERE ARE ALREADY SYSTEMS THAT ALLOW YOU TO DOWNLOAD NEW RELEASES� movies at home, there must be a risk that they will lose the habit of going to the cinema. Other big cinema chains were initially cool to the idea, whilst not all dismissed it, it was notable that exhibitors’ trade group National Association of Theatre Owners, which has previously been totally opposed to reduced windows, showed some interest and talked of the need for new models for distribution. Paramount said that they believe that total revenue from their movies will rise because of the new download system, whilst cinema revenues will be relatively unaffected.

ÂŁ500m

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Prima Cinema

For those with real money, there are already systems that allow you to download new studio releases. Prima Cinema, for instance, whose first systems were installed in 2013, claims to be the first premium entertainment company that delivers Hollywood films directly to your private home cinema. They currently have agreements with 12 studios to supply their films, and the studios get a part of the download fee, just as they would get a part of the box-office fee in a cinema. Described by one newspaper as ‘Netflix for millionaires’, with good reason, since the download and storage equipment costs around ÂŁ25,000, with each movie download costing around ÂŁ350, Prima Cinema is only for private, residential, non-commercial use and must be installed by a Prima Cinema-authorised dealer into a professionally-installed home theatre which meets specified standards. Hollywood’s understandable concerns over piracy meant that Prima needed to convince them that they had a highly secure way to protect digital movies from piracy and to control strictly the viewing of movies by authorised viewers in their home. They brought in Thales (see panel, left), a world leader in critical information systems and cybersecurity, who deployed hardware security modules (HSMs) using cryptographic keys and tamper-resistant containers which addressed the piracy concerns of Hollywood studios, allowing Prima to be granted rights to distribute theatrical release movies to private home JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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The Theatrical Window: Special Focus Prima cinema — available to all, but at a price

“PRIMA TAKES PIRACY SERIOUSLY - THE COMPANY RUNS BACKGROUND CHECKS TO ENSURE YOU DON’T HAVE A HISTORY OF PIRATING FILMSâ€? cinemas. Prima takes piracy seriously — you sign an agreement that movies are for personal use only and the company runs background checks to ensure you don’t have a history of pirating films. As well as encrypting each film, every frame is watermarked so the source of any pirated image can be identified. The ÂŁ25,000 ‘set-top box’ actually requires a small 3U 19in rack of equipment which can store up to 50 full-length movies, and Prima recommends a 20Mb/s or higher internet connection with a fixed IP address for security reasons. There are redundant power supplies, dual Ethernet connections, two HDMI outputs, and a 4Tb RAID array hard drive system. A fingerprint scanner in a separate ‘biometric authorisation station’ ensures that access is only available to registered users. Reports say that picture quality is good, with 1080p 24fps 10-bit, 4:2:2 video. This is less good than some normal cinemas, but it has been announced that this year will see the launch of Prima Cinema’s secondgeneration platform which will include advanced audio and imaging capabilities including 4K and High Frame Rate (HFR) Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) playback, as well as support for theatrically released Digital Cinema Packages (DCPs) featuring the Dolby Atmos format.

cinema business, claiming to provide benefits for studios, distributors and, more controversially, the exhibition business. Screening Room claims that it will offer, via a new design of set-top box that provides completely secure anti-piracy technology, newly released movies directly to home users on the same day they appear in cinemas. A vital difference from the restricted high-end services like Prima Cinema, which are priced to suit only an exclusive few, is that Screening Room would charge about $150 (£100) for the set-top box that receives the movies and $50 (£35) to watch each movie, with viewers being given a 48-hour window to view the film. At those prices, at a time when it will cost far more than £35 to take a family to the cinema, even ignoring travel and popcorn costs, the introduction of the system could appeal to a huge mass audience. It has the potential to reduce cinema audiences significantly — why bother to go to the cinema when you can stay at home and watch the latest blockbuster on the same

ÂŁ25,000

Screening Room — A revolution?

Just before CinemaCon this year an announcement from Sean Parker, the American entrepreneur who transformed the music industry by introducing the music file-sharing site Napster in 1999, suggested the time and the technology is right to allow home viewers to download the latest movies to their homes on the same day that they are released in cinemas. The Screening Room project is trying to use new technologies to suit the requirements of all sides of the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

high The price of a t se A IM end PR ing en re Sc x. bo top ge $150 room will char

night it hits the local cinemas? Parker’s experiences with the Napster music sharing service — which didn’t turn out as he had originally envisaged, but certainly disrupted the status-quo and led to a revolution in the music industry — mean that he understands the importance of taking along with him the various different players in the cinema business. Although he won’t be quoted directly, it is obvious that he has been and is in discussions with all sides in recent months. There is reported to be serious interest from several of the major studios, although their public announcements are playing this down, and they are currently studying the business plans and potential contract terms as discussions continue. Unsurprisingly, at least one of the major studios has let it be known that it is not interested! The obvious appeal to the studios and distributors would be that it could create additional value and revenue by getting people who wouldn’t ever go out to the cinema to pay $50 for the privilege of watching the same movie in their own homes, thus growing the overall ‘cake’, to the benefit of all except perhaps the cinema exhibitors. Screening Room suggests that cinema exhibitors won’t suffer, because the people who buy into its system will be those who wouldn’t in any case visit the cinema. There is a potential downside for some distributors in the currently revealed plans, where Screening Room suggests that it would be the exclusive content partner for this type of download service. Some studios currently make their movies available through various other digital channels and might find such a restriction unacceptable, but Parker seems to be encouraging discussions and it would make sense for Screening Room to be flexible. A positive

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The Theatrical Window: Special Focus

FOR AND AGAINST — THE INDUSTRY RESPONSE The UKCA says Screening Room is a risk to members but is open to development of new business models.

17 days The number of days distributors in the US have agreed to reduce windows to in some circumstances

“NEW DISTRIBUTION METHODS ARE STARTING TO EMERGE AND ON DEMAND SERVICES AREN’T GOING TO DISAPPEAR� feature for studios and distributors, though, could be the inclusion of Screening Room’s anti-piracy technology — some currently have problems with content theft resulting in major films being available illegally online within hours of release. The real problem, of course, will be in convincing cinema exhibitors. Not only would the availability of the latest movies at home discourage people from visiting their local cinemas, but in the longer term whole families might get out of the habit of going to the cinema. Screening Room has, therefore, come up with a number of ideas to overcome exhibitor resistance. It www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

More worryingly for Screening Room is that several trade organisations have come out strongly against its proposals:

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the European body representing cinema associations and key operators HTQO VGTTKVQTKGU JCU UCKF VJG OCLQTKV[ of its members will view the ‘Screening Room’ proposal with great concern. The OQFGN QWVNKPGF UGGOU VQ QHHGT NKVVNG DGPGĆ’V to cinema operators and their distribution RCTVPGTU YJKNG TGRTGUGPVKPI UKIPKĆ’ECPV potential risks. UNIC maintains that the GZENWUKXG VJGCVTKECN TGNGCUG QH C Ć’NO JGNRU create unparalleled levels of audience CYCTGPGUU CPF WNVKOCVGN[ DGPGĆ’VU KVU performance across all platforms. They have concerns about piracy, and about a model that might result in a proliferation of high-quality copyright-infringment.

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) stated its disapproval of the service, saying that the exclusive theatrical release window makes new movies into events, and the initial launch success in cinemas establishes brand value and bolsters revenue in downstream markets. NATO says that it is not against new ideas and has consistently called on movie distributors and exhibitors to discuss release models that can grow the business for everyone. More sophisticated window

The UK Cinema Association says the Screening Room proposal represents a massive risk to the prosperity of its members and colleagues across the YKFGT Ć’NO KPFWUVT[ 6JG[ UC[ VJGTG KU C place for development of new business models in the industry, but that requires a collaborative approach through discussion DGVYGGP EKPGOC QRGTCVQTU RCTVPGTU KP Ć’NO distribution and those with realistic long term value-enhancing ideas, not those offering unsustainable alternatives.

no 36

Screening Room representatives have met major studios and US exhibitors recently, trying to make agreements. They’ve let it be known that they are close to a deal with AMC. This would be a big boost for Screening Room, but many other exhibitors are strongly against the idea, saying they would be aiding their own demise if they agree to the removal of the exclusive cinema exhibition window. In recent times, however, US exhibitors have shown some flexibility, with chains signing up to a plan allowing distributors to release ƒNOU VQ JQOG GPVGTVCKPOGPV RNCVHQTOU days after the number of cinemas showing VJG ƒNOU FTQRRGF DGNQY

modelling may be needed for the growing success of a modern movie industry, but those models should be developed by distributors and exhibitors, not a third party. NATO seems to want Screening Room to go CYC[ YJKNUV KV YQTMU YKVJ FKUVTKDWVQTU VQ Ć’PF better solutions for the future.

The National Association of Theatre Owners has stated its disapproval of the ‘Screening Room’ proposal — the theatrical window makes PGY Ć’NOU GXGPVU KV UC[U

UNIC says that its members in the EQWPVTKGU KV TGRTGUGPVU YKNN XKGY Screening Room proposals with a great deal of concern.

proposes to give to exhibitors a significant percentage of the revenue, as much as $20 of the $50 fee has been suggested, but exactly how this might be done practically is still up for discussion. In another cunning ploy to impress cinema owners, Screening Room is suggesting that home cinema customers who pay to download a movie to their set top box are at the same time offered two free tickets to see the movie at a cinema of their choice. If that worked, exhibitors would get to see more new customers, with the added benefit of profiting from concession sales. The argument for this is that they are targeting groups that don’t currently go to the cinema. If cinemas could get a tiny fraction of those people to try their experience, the whole exhibition business could benefit. In order to keep the distributors ‘on side’ Screening Room has suggested that participating distributors would also get a cut of the pay-per-view proceeds, perhaps 20%. Screening Room is likely to charge its own fee of 10% of the proceeds.

The way forward

As Cinema Technology regularly reports, the industry won’t stand still. New methods of distribution are starting to emerge. It seems clear that on-demand services aren’t going to disappear — the best approach for the film industry as a whole is to find some way of satisfying both those who want to see the latest movies at home and those who want to go out and enjoy films with their friends as part of a special cinema experience. It is our job to ensure that going to the cinema is a special experience, one that can’t be matched at home, no matter the technology or even the content available. Whether or not Screening Room becomes a turning point in the film business or whether it ends up as just another good idea that eventually fizzles out, the impact it is already having on our industry is not to be ignored. The idea is already making the cinema industry look seriously at how it can survive and thrive with new technologies poised to disrupt the current business models. JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


22 SPECIAL FOCUS

If patience is a virtue, nobody told the millennials! Speaking to the Film Distributors’ Association, Lord Puttnam CBE recently outlined how cinema must meet head-on the challenge of diverse modern entertainment channels Lord Putttnam of Queensgate’s recent keynote speech to the FDA reflected on a series of opportunities and challenges that the cinema industry must confront, and Cinema Technology is pleased to provide an abridged version, concentrating on three of the topics discussed — the effects of cinema on the millennial generation, downloads of movies into homes, and the need for film distribution to be more flexible:

T

he film business has always been resolutely forward-looking. Let’s take precisely that approach and look a few years hence. Let’s ask ourselves what role will film and cinema play in the all-too rapidly approaching entertainment environment of 2020? But as we look ahead to 2020, with technologies and consumer behaviours evolving at break-neck speed, forgive me if I don’t attempt any precise predictions. I’m more concerned with the direction of travel. Digital technologies have become so all-encompassing, permeating every walk of life, that the word ‘digital’ itself has become almost meaningless, having become the ‘default everything’. To talk about ‘digital’ as some kind of separate, siloed entity indicates that you don’t understand it.

At the heart of all of this is ‘mobile’. By 2020, another billion people will actually have access to a connection — which suggests that the vast majority of the world’s population will be actively on a mobile network. And at least a third of those mobile connections will be 4G or beyond. What’s certain is that mobile broadband will be the most ubiquitous platform for people and businesses everywhere. Technology will not only be faster, but smaller, lighter and cheaper, and, as ever, in a state of flux. 3D scanners and printers will be increasingly available in high street outlets, carrying out ever more complex tasks. E-commerce as a whole will have increased — exponentially. There are likely to be fewer physical stores, more automation, and more packages delivered by driverless vans or drones. And deep learning — teaching machines to mimic the thought processes of the human brain will become ever-more common. We should all be hoping that world-leading technology clusters will have sprung up in regions right across the UK, not only in London. Cloud repositories of data will be more common. There will certainly be new models of online learning, and thousands of new apps for education. So schools, teachers and employers will all need to have adapted to different working practices. How well equipped are we to navigate through this? Are sufficient multiskilled, multi-talented people coming through our education system to drive business forward? Current evidence suggests not.

2 0 2 0 7 / 4 2 The millenial s generation ha n io at ct pe an ex be that they will /7 connected 24 ever ywhere — and always super-fast

B y 20 20 , a further billion pe ople worl dwide will have access to a mobile co nnection

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

Millenials get responsible

The ‘millennial’ generation — those born between 1980 and 2000, one of the largest generations in history — are about to move into seriously responsible roles. Sometimes dubbed ‘Generation Y’, this is the first genuinely digital generation. They’ve come of age

during a period of globalisation, economic upheaval and incredibly rapid changes in technology. It’s a generation for whom political, media and business elites don’t command anything like the same respect as was previously the case. A behavioural change that, as part of an overall breakdown of trust, has been largely self-inflicted, certainly by western societies. It’s a generation that sees a world without borders. They are mobile, global citizens as never before. Proportionately fewer of them own their own homes, they’re having kids a good deal later, and don’t even bother asking them when they expect to retire! Having always lived substantial chunks of their lives online, the millennial generation expects to be connected 24-7 — at home, at work and in transit — and all of it super-fast. If patience is a virtue, nobody has told the millennials. Their smartphones encourage more immediacy in communication, more spontaneity in the sharing of news, music, movies and other media than ever before. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are their living, breathing magazines. Many film companies have made strides towards gathering high-quality, first-party data on film audience segments — I’d strongly encourage all of them to do so. Inevitably, the entire communications world is redefining itself for the millennials and successive generations.

marketing in the process of change

Rather than the traditional trio of advertising, publicity and partnerships, the key pillars of marketing are in the process of changing, pretty much everywhere. These changes are likely to be built around: • Content — to attract and engage audiences; • Channels — that’s to say, managing the ever-shifting landscape of options to reach those audiences; • Data — arising from all those digital and offline consumer touch-points; and • Technology — to manage that data, and the content flowing across different channels. In considering these trends, where does cinema entertainment fit in? Is what the cinema offers, and the way it offers it, www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


The Theatrical Window: Special Focus sufficiently in sync with the way in which millennials and others live their lives? Well, ‘shared mass experiences’ would certainly seem to fit the trend, and to my mind that’s unlikely to change, which can only be a positive start. And potentially, there’s still something thrilling, indeed life-affirming, about going out to see a movie and sharing the experience with an attentive audience. Enjoying experiences has become as important to the millennials as acquiring products, if not more so. There are already distressing signs that, beyond the ‘special event’ franchise movies that reverberate around the world, many potential audience members no longer, consider cinema as their preferred point of consumption. In 2015, out of 800 theatrical releases, the top 5 generated well over a quarter of the total box-office. Such extreme polarisation can’t be healthy, and its future implications should concern all of us. Cinemas that concentrate 95%-plus of their screen time on blockbusters, effectively opting out of more specialised films should be careful what they wish for.

the case of the missing projectionist

The change to digital has meant that if and when technical difficulties arise on site, there is frequently nobody there to fix them. Customers tend to be quickly handed a comp ticket and asked to come back another day. This must be as frustrating for the staff, who have to deal with it, as it is for ejected customers. It’s also the case that there’s not yet enough of a social stigma attached to talking and texting when a movie’s on the screen. Whenever those oblong panels light up in the darkness, it’s not just a distraction; it wrenches you out of the world that’s being conjured up, negating the very effect the film is attempting to create. All too often, and regrettably, the cinema’s great strength as a shared public pastime has become the very thing working against it. Cinema operators must retain the memory of ‘putting on a show’. Regardless of the film itself, and whether it’s projected from a file or a print, attendance may plummet if the overall customer experience consistently fails to be outstanding. Cinemas aren’t merely retail units; they’re modern-day picture palaces providing heightened adventure and spectacle at a fairly high cost, especially if you’re a family. But in a second scenario: The cinema does further enhance its special, distinct service to audiences with all but limitless entertainment choices. More IMAX and Atmos installations? High-definition laser projection? More luxury fixtures and fittings in the auditoria, not just the retail zone of the foyer? And for those who want it, more cinemas with multi-course meals served at their seat? Perhaps selfprogramming services could extend www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

further, too. They offer the chance to see a film of your choice, from a selection of titles, at selected local cinemas on, say, a Sunday afternoon. You schedule it in, and provided a certain number of tickets are sold by a specified date, the screening goes ahead. The cinema’s larger-than-life brand of escapism can continue to thrive provided that cinema-going retains a general public appreciation that its monetary and emotional value compares favourably with those of any number of competing attractions available in and out of the home. As a life-long cinephile, I passionately believe that the cinema experience can continue to be uniquely special. Some original drama commissions emanating from the likes of Netflix, are unquestionably feature quality. Long-form, cinematic television has changed perceptions of the sort of stories that can work brilliantly, among a public who appreciate the validation of their own super-size screens.

the shifting media landscape

By 2020, the media landscape will no doubt look very different. As the millennial and subsequent generations age, they’re most likely to migrate towards cloud-based or internet-delivered content services with multi-screen facilities. One revenue stream that might well develop significantly in the next few years is Virtual Reality. Strap on a VR headset and you effectively get an IMAX field of view. I’m not suggesting that this offers a replacement for the cinema experience. But for companies able to combine libraries of premium content with

Lord Puttnam: “The whole point of digitisation is that it brings scope for diversity and flexibility

theme here. One size does not, and cannot, fit all. Common sense demands that each movie optimises its ability to capitalise on its strengths. The enforced rigidity of the 17-week window — preventing legitimate access — is utterly counter-productive and unjustified. It dismays me when the UK, one of the world’s top 5 cinema markets, lags behind in the exercise of commercial logic. There’s not a shred of evidence from countries such as the US or Australia, where more flexibility applies on a film by film basis, that the theatrical box-office is harmed one iota. It should be everyone’s top priority that digital platforms are allowed to develop freely, right across the board. Sean Parker’s controversial Screening Room concept, which cuts exhibitors in on the revenue, may or may not work. But at the

“ENFORCED RIGIDITY OF THE 17-WEEK WINDOW — PREVENTING LEGITIMATE ACCESS — IS UTTERLY COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE” the latest gaming technology, VR could develop into an additional form of spectacular entertainment — for groups of people together, not just for individuals. Today, film distributors face big, even existential, challenges. First, cinema operators are now perfectly happy to play modern-day BBC specials, like Dr Who or Sherlock, simultaneously with their TV transmission — with no window at all. And yet, at the same time, they flatly refuse to show a mainstream movie if it comes with any less exclusivity than 17 weeks, even when they only play it for 4 or 5 weeks — if that. The Force Awakens, the highest grosser of all time, had pretty much played out after a 9 or 10 week-run. So, most UK consumers had to wait almost two further months during which the film was simply unavailable for legitimate purchase. The ‘ask’ from distributors, and it’s sorely needed, is flexibility — my cross-cutting

very least it demonstrates an appetite to explore innovative models that seek to tap into un-met consumer demand. With celluloid projectionists long gone, operators can set up their shows remotely. They’ve enjoyed a step-change in programming flexibility. The growing array of ‘event cinema’ offerings has, rather wonderfully, democratised the audience reach of organisations such as the National Theatre, and the RSC. The whole point of digitisation is that it brings increased scope for differentiation, diversity and flexibility. The full text of Lord Puttnam’s speech can be obtained from www.launchingfilms.com

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



THE CINEMA AT HOME

25

blurred lines Barry Fox summarises the latest technological developments in the TV/home cinema marketplace — how should the cinema industry react as the domestic experience improves?

A

s serious thought is being given by film companies to providing direct home downloads of new release movies, we should reflect on the newest generation of consumer TVs, being offered with 4K/ Higher Dynamic Range/Wide Colour Gamuts. They can provide pictures of a better quality than the average cinema multiplex, stuck with its last-century 2k projection technology. There is more to this than the pixel count — where cinema

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THE CINEMA AT HOME

has generally chosen to continue with 2k (although 4k technology is available at a price), the television industry is now aiming for HDR with P3 colour gamuts. Studios are using the same production workflow for P3 colour and HDR10 and proprietary Dolby Vision and Philips/ Technicolor HDR. Ultra High Definition ‘Premium’ TV and Ultra-HD Blu-ray are the prime movers. They bring 4k resolution into the home (albeit with 3840 pixels × 2160 lines, and 16:9 aspect ratio, instead of DCI’s 4096 x 2160, and 1.9:1 aspect ratio). With 4K TV comes High Dynamic Range. Ultra HD Blu-ray can talk to displays with up to 10,000 nits brightness, equivalent to 2900 fL — compare that to the 48 nits and 14 fL of the normal cinema screen. The wider colour gamut being used in these TVs comes close to that of the P3 used in digital cinema, with even higher range Rec2020 systems promised soon. There’s also the option of immersive sound, for homes that can house extra speakers.

Format wars

True to form, the electronics industry has stoked up a format war between competing HDR systems (mainly HDR10 versus Dolby Vision versus Philips/Technicolor HDR) and between Dolby Atmos and DTS:X immersion, but standards are emerging that allow for backwards compatibility with (in theory) bolt-on box and HDMI connection solutions.

The line-blurring was neatly summed up at Panasonic’s annual European Convention for dealers and press held in Frankfurt earlier this year. The consumer electronics giant had commissioned Vanja Cernjul (Director of Photography who shot Marco Polo in 4k HDR for Netflix) to make a short HDR promotional movie using the Panasonic top-end consumer DX902 TV as an HDR monitor — and flew in Cernjul to answer questions on his working practices. “The workflow for DolbyVision and HDR10 is the same” he explained, when asked how Netflix will handle grading for the two systems it supports. “Marco Polo was shot with an F55 camera. It’s the first time I have been able to shoot and view on an HDR screen. I think consumers will recognise and get used to HDR quality more quickly than 4K resolution. “But with 1000 nits screens (which is what the DX902 can pump into a living room) we are moving into scary territories. We will have to learn what to do with all that power. It will be abused, of course, but I hope we can be part of the learning process. I grade colour in P3, as for theatrical release and I grade HDR the same for HDR10 as for DolbyVision.”

Standards and acronyms

Standards hardly make good bedtime reading, but they do make a good starting point for understanding this brave new Consumers can already put a 4K UHD television, such as this Panasonic, into their living room

“TRUE TO FORM, THE CONSUMER ELECTRONICS INDUSTRY HAS STOKED UP A FORMAT WAR BETWEEN COMPETING HDR SYSTEMS”

world of TV that the manufacturers have done a rotten job of explaining to the trade and press, and thus to the public. As Jamie Hindhaugh, chief operating officer, BT Sport & BT TV (Europe’s first live sports Ultra HD channel) told the audience at MESA Europe, the Media and Entertainment Services Alliance conference, held early this year at the Ray Dolby Theatre, in London: “The marketing and the messaging and the language is so messy, with so many acronyms. We have always been an acronym-heavy industry but it’s got so much worse. Even very senior people who should know what they are talking about are getting baffled.”

Seeing is believing?

There have been few meaningful demonstrations of HDR, and no comparisons between competing technologies. A demonstration of consumer HDR was promised at the MESA event, including footage from Mad Max, but after one session the offer was withdrawn. Dolby’s spokeswoman later explained that this was because it would have included members of the press. “Given that there was no PR support onsite at MESA, we were unable to provide demos to media,” she wrote.

The first real standard

The first real UHD 4K consumer standard was for UHD Blu-ray. HDR10 is an open standard (so hopefully royalty-free) and is mandatory for UHD Blu-ray. It is now also being used for consumer HDDR TVs. Set in August 2015, it runs to 1,200 pages: • Video will be compressed using MPEG HEVC/H.265, (High Efficiency Video Coding), the latest MPEG compression system (sometimes incorrectly referred to as MPEG-5). BBC tests have now shown HEVC to be nearly 60% more efficient than existing MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. • Video coding is in 10 bit digital words rather than 8 bits as for current Blu-ray. • The UHD Blu-ray disc will have up to three recording layers which are each denser than for current Blu-ray — 33Gb per layer instead of 25Gb. So the new BDs can hold up to 100Gb of data, which makes them ideal for storing multiple versions of the same movie, for instance a choice of HDR systems and optional immersive ‘Voice of God’ sound systems including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro 3D, in addition to all the basic PCM and Dolby/ DTS horizontal surround formats. • The UHD BD standard gives a choice of EOTF (Electro Optical Transfer Function) and colour coding, for modern screens.

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Gamma and EOTF

EOTF defines how a TV set turns electric signals (volts) into light on a screen, measured in candelas per square meter, cd/m2, more commonly called ‘nits’. “Ordinary� TVs muster between 100 and 400 nits. New HDR TVs range from around 500 nits up to 1000 nits. OLED screens currently deliver only a few hundred nits but have deeper blacks. The existing EOTF standard, which gives Standard Dynamic Range contrast, is called ‘gamma’. It’s a non-linear curve which uses less bit depth for bright highlights and more for subtle shadows. But gamma is based on measurements made in the 1930s with CRT screens (although it was not enshrined in an ITU standard, BT.1886, until 2011.) New EOTF ST 2084, recently created by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), relies on ‘Perceptual Quantization’ or PQ, which combines non-linear and logarithmic coding. HDR10 is also being used for consumer HDR TVs, albeit under a confusing confection of fancy names. HDR10 relies on EOTF ST2084 HD BD also offers the option to use a proprietary, royalty-payable, HDR system such as Dolby Vision, or Philips/ Technicolor HDR. Both rely on ST 2084 PQ but whereas HDR10 uses only static metadata to match the source material to the display peak brightness and black level capability, the proprietary and optional HDR systems Dolby Vision and Philips HDR add dynamic metadata, which adjusts the display scene-by-scene. Dolby Vision is a ‘double-layer’ system which needs more metadata than ‘single-layer’ Philips (up to 25% on top of the video, compared to a few kilobits for Philips).

Adding a twist to the confusion‌

In a new twist to this tale of consuming confusion — and although Dolby has not yet made any formal announcement — SMPTE, the Ultra HD Forum and the BBC have all separately let slip that Dolby has developed a single-layer version of Dolby Vision that needs less metadata. Pressed for comment, Dolby’s spokeswoman has confirmed that there is indeed is a singlelayer version of Dolby Vision “for applications where backwards compatibility is not required�. Because there have been no comparative demonstrations of different systems, useful independent comment on the pros and cons is impossible. Most of the manufacturers are not yet convinced of the need to pay royalties.

The manufacturers’ positioning

Danny Tack, director of product strategy and planning at TP Vision (the joint www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

WIDER COLOUR GAMUTS

Current 8 bit Blu-ray discs code colour with the Rec.709 (also known as BT.709) colour space system which was standardised for widescreen

JKIJ FGƒPKVKQP VGNGXKUKQP D[ international standards body the ITU in 1990. The new BD standard adds Rec. 2020 (also known as BT.2020) coding, for 10 bit 4k coding. The UHD BD standard also adds P3, the colour coding system which was agreed in 2007 for digital cinema by the SMPTE, and can reproduce more demanding shades like the red QH C .QPFQP DWU ƒTG GPIKPG QT Coca Cola label or the green of CP #OGTKECP TQCF UKIP QT 2CEKƒE QEGCP XKGY %QPUWOGT 68 UGVU can’t currently handle P3 but it’s coming soon.

The above colour gamut chart illustrates curves for 4'% 2 OO Ć’NO CPF VJG NCVGUV ĹŁ 4'%

In practice P3 content will be carried by a UHD BD using a BT. 2020 container format.

“THERE’VE BEEN NO COMPARATIVE DEMONSTRATIONS, SO USEFUL INDEPENDENT COMMENT ON THE PROS AND CONS IS IMPOSSIBLE� venture between Chinese TPV and Dutch Philips) confirmed recently that Philipsbranded TVs from TP Vision will only use the HDR10 system — at least until Dolby Labs and/or Philips Labs in Eindhoven (and its partner Technicolor) can convince TP Vision that there is real consumer benefit from paying for a proprietary system. This is despite a high profile demonstration of Philips sets with Dolby Vision given at IFA 18 months ago – and despite TP Vision’s obvious close ties with Philips Labs. “Dolby Vision HDR Blu-ray discs will also have HDR10 content,� Danny Tack reminded recently. “So all HDR content is available in HDR 10 and therefore we are future-proof. And although it will need a new HDMI standard, HDR10 can be expanded to include dynamic metadata. We need to be sure what extra a proprietary HDR system like Dolby Vision will bring for the consumer over HDR10�. Panasonic is also backing OpenHDR10. “DolbyVision is mainly of interest to the lower end brands, such as the Chinese� suggests Masayuki Kozuka, director, R&D division, Panasonic, who was closely involved with the UHD Alliance on developing the HDR Premium standard, and works with Toshiya Mizuno, Chief

Picture Quality Engineer, Panasonic, who is in charge of picture performance for the DX902 HDR sets. “Those brands don’t have the processing skills to make HDR10 work well. So they can benefit from using Dolby’s technology. Major brands like Panasonic have their own HDR technology so we don’t need it (DolbyVision)�.

Coping with conversions

Arguably the industry’s biggest new problem is working out how to convert between all the different picture and sound coding systems so that new recordings look and sound acceptable on old hardware — and vice versa. A new standard SMPTE ST 2094 should glue everything old and new together — but it’s still work in progress. The new Ultra HD Premium marking standard scheme announced by the consumer electronics and studio-based UHD Alliance requires BT.2020 colour handling with “more than 90% of P3 colour�. It leaves the HDR system as optional but requires the use of SMPTE ST 2084 EOTF with a combination of peak brightness and black level that is either more than 1000 nits peak and less than 0.05 nits black, or more than 540 nits peak and less than 0.0005 nits black. This JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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double standard inside the Premium standard keeps Korean company LG happy because of LG’s commitment to low brightness OLED screens that look best in blacked out rooms or dark corners of exhibition halls.

UHD reaches the consumer

UHD Blu-ray players are now reaching the consumer market. Panasonic’s first UB900 model, priced at cost around £600, comes with free copies of Mad Max and San Andreas. The player upscales 4K 4:2:0 to 4:4:4 but has no onboard decoding for proprietary Atmos or DTS:X audio or proprietary HDR. Instead it relies on an HDMI connection to stream coded audio to a separate AV amplifier, with HDR video travelling down the same HDMI pipe to handshake with an HDR TV. But all this only happens if the HDMI sockets conform to the new HDMI 2.0A standard and support HDCP 2.2 content protection. Early hands-on tests suggest the user may have to hand-tweak some settings too. The grand plan — when all the bugs shake out — is that only content and equipment that meets all the Alliance’s requirements for sound and vision and plug and play connection can carry the approved UHD Premium logo. Home theatre could then become truly comparable to a seat in the stalls. How the industry tests and polices the Premium mark with the required precision and due consideration for user-friendly operation remains to be seen. This may explain why Sony, although part of the Alliance that set the Premium standard, has now said it won’t use the Premium logo even though the company is confident that its TVs can technically meet the standard. An appealing destination to meet with friends? Cinemas need to maximise their clear advantages

And where does this leave cinemas? What impact will technical developments in home electronics have on the cinema industry? asks Jim Slater

H

aving had long discussions with Barry Fox on the way forward for consumer TV, I gave some thought to the possible effects that such changes might have on the cinema industry: what can cinema do? Make things special. Since the earliest days of television the cinema industry has had to learn to compete, and although there were decades back in the 1970s when cinema exhibition faced hard times, in general they have always managed to come up with something new — multiple widescreen formats, 3D, surround sound. The second decade of the 21st century sees a situation where most cinemas are multiplexes where the pictures and sound are probably as good or better than they have ever been at ‘ordinary’ cinemas, but which often fail to provide that magic ‘something’ that is necessary to persuade a potential customer to get out of their armchair. Cinema people are re-learning the lessons of the past, realising that they need to offer something more than satisfactory pictures and sound, which can be experienced at home without the hassle of a journey to the cinema and the

annoyance of other cinemagoers with their feet on the seats or playing with their mobile phones.

technology to improve the experience

Fortunately, cinema people have realised this basic fact, and potential customers are now being offered a wide range of different premium experiences. Cinema Technology magazine regularly reports on the niche cinemas that offer de-luxe accommodation, luxury seating, gourmet food and drinks brought to your seats, really making a visit feel special. Bigger companies are using new technologies to improve the cinema experience and ‘Premium Large Format’ is a significant growth area. In Dolby Cinema, as well as providing High Dynamic range, Wider Colour Gamut and Atmos immersive sound, the creators have taken care to ensure that the whole experience starts as you walk to the auditorium, giving a sense of excitement and anticipation before you ever see the film on screen. The Barco Escape system provides the digital equivalent of three screen Cinerama, but they also take care to ensure that ‘the experience begins in the lobby’. Alternative content, event cinema, is

THE KEY MESSAGES So the key messages for the cinema exhibition industry at a time when the consumer electronics industry is RTQXKFKPI UKIPKƒECPVN[ DGVVGT RKEVWTGU and sound have to be: keep providing and showing UWRGTD ƒNOU make every visit to the cinema a special event use the new technologies to improve the cinema experience.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

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THE CINEMA AT HOME

providing an ever-expanding menu of special events to persuade new and different audiences to visit the cinema, and technologies such as Philips Lightvibes, which uses coloured LED panels in the entrance lobby and along the auditorium sides that change in sympathy with what is on screen, can enormously increase the sense of excitement for some shows such as pop concerts on screen.

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Presentation standards are vital

As CTC training courses regularly stress, good presentation standards and ‘showmanship’ can make an enormous difference to the experience of going to the cinema. Customers really do appreciate the difference that having bright, wellfocused images and properly set up sound systems can make, at little or no cost. Even being greeted and welcomed personally as

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29

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you enter a cinema enormously improves the experience.

Content is king

The single biggest driver that persuades people to go to the cinema is undoubtedly the actual movie content. We are fortunate that, in recent years, film producers and distributors seem to be getting better and better at providing a wider range of content from blockbusters to niche art-house to specialist movies with which to tempt audiences. The ‘theatrical window’ between the release of a film in a cinema theatre and on any other platform, which allows new movies to enjoy exclusive cinema presentations, is still vital to the industry. Current discussions in the industry between studios and non-cinema outlets including web-based operators are giving rise to concerns, and even now a significant number of small films observe release windows of just a few weeks. The cinema exhibition sector strongly believes that a wholesale move to a short (or even no) window would put hundreds of cinemas up and down the country at risk, along with the jobs and local services they support. JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



CINEMACON 2016

EVENT REVIEW

31

WHERE THE INDUSTRY IS HEADED

The author, tests out one of the many 4D seat offerings at CinemaCon Barco's Wim Buyens talks to the crowd — the company introduced its Regal LA Live Barco Innovation Centre before CinemaCon

n the trade show floor the two biggest booths, after Coca Cola’s, were tellingly both Asian — the Chinese trade mission, showcasing vendors for almost every cinema technology imaginable, as well as CJ CGV, which showed its 4DX immersive seating, ScreenX immersive screen and POS and CRM solutions. One reputable Chinese 3D stereoscopic solutions vendor was offering a triple-beam system with claimed 77% transmittance (compared to 78% for RealD and MasterImage) for under $6,000, highlighting how Asian vendors are competing aggressively. Much of the innovation at CinemaCon was ‘invisible’, that is, cloud-based and focused on data analytics and customer insights. Vista Group had a major presence, having recently acquired stakes in Shared Dimension and Powster and launched a cinema staff scheduling tool, MovieTeam, at the show. There were solutions on offer from Showtime Analytics, Arts Alliance Media, Unique and other vendors, but with major entities like Movio part of its stable, it is clear that New Zealand’s Vista more often

O

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than not runs the cinema show. Literally! Lasers are the new normal, with NEC, Barco and Christie all offering both RGB and BPL projectors for every size of screen, as well as companies like Illumina, Power Technology, Appotronics and Sino Lasers all trying to make inroads into the xenon NCORJQWUG TGVTQĆ’V OCTMGV 5CPVKMQU DGECOG VJG Ć’TUV GZJKDKVQT VQ CPPQWPEG plans to convert all its screens to laser with

IN FOCUS

With digitisation completed and no major new technologies shown off at CinemaCon, inevitably the Screening Room concept hung heavily. Yet look closely and there were clear signs of where the industry is heading, as Patrick von Sychowski discovered.

77% On the trade show floor at Caesar's Palace, New Zealand's Vista impressed with its range of data and insight tools for cinemas

Light transmittance for less than $6k for one Chinese triple beam 3D system

100

Wanda has ordered 100 Dolby Cinema systems for China

$38bn

worldwide DQZ QHĆ’EG revenue for 2015 products

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


CINEMACON 2016 partner Barco. The high-end HDR aspect of laser projection was much discussed, with Dolby Cinema dominating with its integrated proposition launched last year. Wanda has ordered 100 systems for China and 100 for AMC in the US, though with the latter’s acquisition of Carmike those systems might get re-distributed. Meanwhile, IMAX has crossed 1,000 screens worldwide and is now swapping out older digital systems for laser projection with its own proprietary 10.1 immersive audio. While Dolby’s Atmos and Barco’s AuroMax did not feature prominently, DTS:X was showcased as part of GDC’s SX-400 Standalone IMB (with XSP-1000 Cinema processor) offerings, though now also the subject of a lawsuit/counter-lawsuit spat with Dolby. Similarly, major stereoscopic 3D providers were fairly muted this year, with RealD celebrating 10 years in the business. Having unveiled its “Regal LA LIVE: A Barco Innovation Centerâ€? prior to the show, the Barco zone was largely a repeat of last year but impressed with its slickness, particularly the Barco Escape system VJCV Ć’PCNN[ UGGOU VQ JCXG IGNNGF DQVJ KP terms of technology and content, with the announcement of the Star Trek 3 Escape

UNIC president Phil Clapp takes to the stage

version. Sony meanwhile insisted lasers are not required for great pictures and that the 8,000:1 contrast ratio of its SRX-R515 QWVRGTHQTOU VJG HQT Ć’TUV IGPGTCVKQP laser projectors. Yet Sony representatives also acknowledged that its scientists in Japan are working on laser solutions. Immersive seating, aka 4D, continues to attract interest, with 4DX, D-Box and MediaMation all displaying their propositions, while there was also a major tradeshow footprint by manufacturers of VIP leather recliners. While not a technology revolution, it has not gone unnoticed that chains such as Marcus, AMC and Regal

are able to eliminate up to 60% of their traditional seating in favour of VIP seating CPF UVKNN OCMG OQTG OQPG[ CV VJG DQZ QHƒEG Cinema dining and aging patrons were also discussed at two of the many panel discussions that interspersed showreels, meals, parties, demonstrations and trade show hours. CinemaCon seems to have settled into Caesar’s Palace, though the slog down the corridors does not get any shorter. Overall, there was a mood of cautious optimism about the outlook for exhibition. NATO’s John Fitihian argued that the fact that China’s Wanda is buying into Carmike VJTQWIJ #/% KU C ŊXQVG QH EQPƒFGPEG KP VJG future of the cinema industry.� With a record DP FQOGUVKE DQZ QHƒEG CPF DP YQTNF wide — which would have crossed $40bn, had it not been for the strength of the dollar ţ KV YCU ENGCT VJCV ƒNOU NKMG Spectre and Star Wars and emerging markets led by China lift the prospects of the industry as a whole. While 2016 is not expected to match HQT DQZ QHƒEG JCWN CV NGCUV PQV KP North America), a solid slate of sequels means that there are one or more Marvel, DC, Star Wars or Avatar ƒNOU UNCVGF HQT each year between now and 2023. Yet the fact that the Screening Room sucked the

ANG LEE AT NAB 2016 Even the most jaded digital cinema professionals emerged bowled over from the 120fps 4K 3D technical demo of Ang Lee’s upcoming Ć’NO Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at NAB 2016. After the declining interest in stereoscopic 3D in cinema, this could create a new cinematic language; if only cinemas can replicate the technology that currently only exists in test-bed like setups. The demo in a small room at the Las Vegas Convention centre involved a Christie’s Mirage 4KLH 6P dual-laser system — which claims to be “the only laser system capable of up to 4K resolution at 120Hz in a single projector — with the two projectors pumping out 28 footlamberts per eye. The projectors offer RGB laser 5-60,000 lumens with full Rec2020 colour space. The projector is typically used for immersive environments (theme parks and corporate) as opposed to cinemas (Christie Solaria CP42LH) or pro venues (Christie D4K60LH). The 3D system was from Dolby and Christie Vive audio speakers were used. The 11-minute footage was not complete in terms of special effects, colour grade and sound mix, as Ang Lee explained before the screening. Those watching were asked not to reveal the plot, so it can only be reported that it featured a mixture of daytime and night-time scenes in two very different environments, including static wide shots and more close-up moving shots.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

The end result was a stunning degree of realism, a you-arethere feeling, that transcends the television-like look that was a frequent complaint of those watching previous HFR (high frame rate) releases, particularly Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit — shot and displayed in 48fps. [Industry insiders in attendance who professed themselves majorly impressed included DCI veteran Howard Lukk and Jim Whittlesey to Avatar producer Jon Landau and former Sony exec Andrew Stucker.] It would appear that 120fps bridges the ‘uncanny valley’, something which had previously been demonstrated in Doug Trumbull’s UFOtog shown at IBC 2014 [read

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SCREENS THAT SET THE STANDARD

PREMIUM HGA BRIGHTER IMAGE WIDER VIEWING ANGLE oxygen out of the many conversations at CinemaCon shows an industry not completely at ease with the technological future, while the most eye-popping demonstration of the year came not at CinemaCon but at the following weekend’s NAB with Ang Lee’s 120fps demo.

The AAM stand welcomed a number of visitors throughout the conference

more in the report in the Cinema Technology December 2014 issue].

800 + giant Premium HGA screens delivered to PLF theatres in over 45 countries

In his keynote, ‘Pushing the Limits of Cinema’, after the demo Ang Lee acknowledged the help and input of Trumbull and his “quest to go deeper into cinemaâ€? after the success of 3D milestone Life of Pi. While no cinema might be able to replicate the NAB demo EQPFKVKQPU VJGTG KU C EJCPEG VJCV GXGP KP - CPF & VJG Ć’NO YKNN impress when it opens in November — but only if it preserves the acquisition frame rate. “It is only at 120fps that it is strobe-free,â€? Lee observed. “I would say it is quite revolutionary, even in 2D.â€?

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CINE EUROPE 2016

EVENT FOCUS

35

CINE EUROPE: A 25TH ANNIVERSARY SPECTACULAR Barcelona will be buzzing at the end of June, when the ďŹ lm industry heads to town for the annual get-together. Patrick von Sychowski previews what’s in store.

With blockbusters and major Studios' slate presentations, the industry is in for a treat

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Feel the VIP vibe

ineEurope celebrates its 25th birthday and its Ć’HVJ [GCT KP $CTEGNQPC DCUMKPI KP VJG INQY QH C KPETGCUG KP DQZ QHĆ’EG and admissions up by 6% across UNIC territories in 2015. With HWNN UWRRQTV PQV LWUV HTQO CNN *QNN[YQQF UVWFKQU DWV CNUQ UGXGTCN OCLQT 'WTQRGCP RNC[GTU NKMG 5VWFKQECPCN CPF 7PKHTCPEG VJG theme this year looks set to be less about RWTG VGEJPQNQI[ CPF OQTG QH C HQEWU QP EQPUWOGTU CPF KPPQXCVKQP 6JG EQPHGTGPEG MKEMU QH YKVJ C NQQM CV ĹŠ6JG (WVWTG QH %KPGOCĹŞ YKVJ C JKIJ NGXGN GZGEWVKXG TQWPFVCDNG VJCV KPENWFGU &TGCOYQTM #PKOCVKQPĹŚU -CV\GPDGTI 1FGQPĹŚU &QPQXCP CPF %CTOKMGĹŚU 2CUUOCP

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CINE EUROPE 2016

WHAT'S GOING ON AT International Distributor of the Year

Rodolphe Buet, President of Distribution & Marketing at StudioCanal, will receive the “International Distributor of the Year Award� at the CineEurope Awards Reception hosted by the Coca-Cola Company on 23 June. Andrew Sunshine, co-managing director of CineEurope, said Buet has brought international distribution and marketing in Paris and across Studiocanal’s direct distribution territories to a new level,

UKIPKĆ’ECPVN[ KORTQXKPI VJG EQ QTFKPCVKQP with distribution partners. Buet joined StudioCanal in 2005 and contributed to the successful integration of StudioCanal UK and Germany and the distribution strategy QH 5VWFKQ%CPCNĹŚU OCLQT KPVGTPCVKQPCN Ć’NOU boosting the exploitation of their catalogue, one of the largest in the world, and was instrumental in closing key strategic deals with Lionsgate for the US and Universal TV and Video for the rest of the world.

PowerTechnology Illumina at CineEurope

A challenge currently facing projector manufacturers is to deliver more brightness on screen economically. The Illumina Cinema Laser system removes limitations of xenon bulbs by offering 30 times the bulb lifetime in most projectors. This saves thousands of dollars over a projector’s lifetime while providing more engaging experiences to customers. Illumina easily exceeds the brightness requirements of today’s demanding 3D applications and is engineered virtually to eliminate speckle while simultaneously increasing available color gamut. Scalability allows manufacturers and theatre owners to choose the right amount of light for the right projector at the right price. From art house screens to giant cineplexes, the Illumina Cinema Laser System provides between 12,000 and 60,000 lumens of D65compliant white light exactly where you need it‌ on the screen. Visit booth 207.

New Luis Wassmann line array speakers

Despite what some traditional sound peo people say about line array technology not being optimum for cinema use, its advantages in having a low drop off in dB because of the cylindrical wavefront rather than the usual spherical one, and its well-controlled directivity are seeing its increasing use in cinemas. Louis Wassman’s LW8000 series offers a modular system that allows the installer to stack as many 2x, 4x or 6x modules as needed. Extra units can be added in the auditorium to provide optimum coverage, and the LW 8000 Series surround systems offer curved or straight units, in order to get the surround effects where they need to reach. LW 8000 speakers are also ideal for Dolby Atmos, and LW’s R&D department are happy to help with design. Cine Europe booth 212.

NEW DIGITAL SCREEN PLANNER FROM HARKNESS Aimed at architects, engineers, installers and exhibitors, the brand new Digital Screen Planner app from Harkness Screens is a free utility for iOS and Android. Launched at Cinemacon 2016, and being shown at CineEurope, the tool allows those specifying cinema screens to carry out complex mathematical calculations quickly and accurately. From physical screen curvature and tilt through to specifying the physical sheet size, the Digital Screen Planner app is an ideal tool for ensuring that these key construction design elements CPF VJG CEVWCN UETGGP URGEKĆ’GF CTG EQTTGEV RTKQT VQ VJG RTQLGEV JGNRKPI VQ RTGXGPV RQVGPVKCNN[ costly on site delays or mistakes from occurring. The Digital Screen Planner app is available for both iPhone and iPad and Android devices.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

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EVENT FOCUS

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CINE EUROPE 2016? 30

The Illumina Cinema Laser System removes the limitations of xenon bulbs and their never-ending replacement costs by offering 30 times the bulb lifetime in most projectors.

30

Continually improving cinema sound

StudioCanal's Rodolphe Buet is being honoured for his role in integrating StudioCanal's UK and Germany divisions.

27 14 USL's latest JSD-60 cinema processor now JCU Ć’ZGF HTGSWGPE[ Ć’NVGTU plus bass and treble shelving Ć’NVGTU

The latest GetD Passive 3D system claims an impressive 14% light GHĆ’EKGPE[ rate.

German distributor Amptown System Company will be at CineEurope, where its digital cinema team Michael Staats and Maurice Camplair will be on hand to showcase their cinema sound systems. ASC has played a major part in installing digital projection equipment for important players such as CineStar. In a chat with Cinema Technology, Maurice Camplair said that there’s a rising demand for perfect movie sound as operators realise that you can’t really match the potential of modern digital projection technology using older sound equipment. Many European cinemas CTG DGPGƒVKPI HTQO VJG PGY TCPIG QH loudspeaker equipment from manufacturer Cine Sound Lab whose full-range surroundsound systems have wide dispersion characteristics. Cine Sound Lab helps movie VJGCVTG QRGTCVQTU VQ KPXGUV YKVJ EQPƒFGPEG giving audible improvements in quality as

YGNN CU Ć’PCPEKCN CFXCPVCIGU #5% TGEGPVN[ installed a Cine Sound Lab 7.1 system in the WeiĂ&#x;enburg Movie Center in Bavaria, and last year they equipped the Stage Theater at Potsdamer Platz with Dolby Atmos. As a system supplier ASC is able to implement every common sound format and is in contact with all projector manufacturers. At CineEurope, the team will be seeking to meet and talk with movie theatre operators from around the world, providing them with a detailed view of the company's offering and discussing ways to help operators meet the demands of the fast-changing industry. Booth 113 at CineEurope, www.amptown-system.com

MAJOR APP UDATES TOO Harkness has updated its Digital Screen Modeller and Digital Screen Calculator apps to work with the latest laser projectors from Barco and NEC. The new releases of the apps also feature the new Barco DP2K-6E and Sony SRX-R515DS (dual) projectors. Both apps are available via the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for free. The Digital Screen Modeller is a 3D simulation tool that allows architects, engineers and exhibitors to visualise and optimise digital cinema scenarios in a virtual environment. Make more informed decisions about screen, projector and lamp choices before they’re even installed or as part of planned TGVTQƒV TGHWTDKUJOGPV RTQLGEVU 6JG &KIKVCN 5ETGGP %CNEWNCVQT KU C CKOGF CV QRVKOKUKPI cinema equipment. It quickly calculates capabilities of equipment choices and theoretical operating costs. Experience the latest from Harkness in MR128 at CineEurope

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JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


CINE EUROPE 2016 GetD Passive 3D system

Bernard Collard,, well known to the industry and now MD of Future 3D Group – GetD cinema division, n, will be showing a ve 3D system, new mini passive the GK1000 at the GetD neEurope in booth during CineEurope Barcelona. The system, which claims GPE[ EQPVTCUV CPF NKIJV GHƒEKGPE[ EQPVTCUV CPF osstalk is said to be a perfect less than 2% crosstalk ler venues like cinema VIP match for smaller rooms or high end home cinema. It can cope rs up to 7kW, 30,000 lumens with light powers e Rates up to 240Hz. and High Frame nd 213 CineEurope stand

Christie CP2208-LP laser phosphor projector

Christie has expanded its series of laser phosphor projection systems with the launch of the DCI-compliant Christie CP2208-LP digital cinema projector. Delivering up to 11,000 native lumens of brightness, the 3D capable Christie CP2208LP is virtually maintenance free, offering a lower total cost of operation, and a lower carbon footprint. Available as a complete system with the optional Christie IMB-S2 integrated media block, it also works with other popular Series-2 IMBs. It delivers superior content flexibility with its ability to display DCI content, 3D content and content developed at high frame rates.

New Planar Ribbon Driver Based Loudspeakers

4

Christie's new Vive Audio LS Series, launching at CineEurope, is a 4-way screen channel

JSD-60 gets even better

11,000

Having listened to requests from their customers, USL has introduced new advanced product features to the popular JSD-60 Digital Cinema Processor. USL’s inventive engineering team has now added Parametric Equalization and Bass Management to the JSD-60 processor. JSD-60 users now have the choice between third octave equalization and parametric equalization. With third octave GSWCNK\CVKQP WUGTU JCXG ƒZGF HTGSWGPE[ ƒNVGTU RNWU DCUU CPF VTGDNG UJGNXKPI ƒNVGTU As an alternative, the user is presented with GKIJV RCTCOGVTKE ƒNVGTU QP GCEJ EJCPPGN The frequency, gain, and Q can be adjusted on each. It is often possible to get better UQWPF D[ WUKPI HGYGT ƒNVGTU YKVJ VJG precise frequency, gain, and bandwidth TGSWKTGF VJCP WUKPI C NCTIG PWODGT QH ƒZGF HTGSWGPE[ ƒNVGTU 0GY DCUU OCPCIGOGPV ƒTOYCTG CFFU a second LFE channel with its own input mixer and equalization. In a typical cinema installation, this second LFE channel

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

native lumens of brightness from Christie's new laser phosphor CP2208-LP

(LFE2) drives subwoofers in the rear of the auditorium. The surround channel audio coming in over AES/EBU (Ls, Rs, Lrs, and Rrs channels) are combined in the mixer, Ć’NVGTGF CPF VJGP UGPV VQ .(' .(' extends the low frequency range of the surround speakers. Additional features of the JSD-60 include an optional BLU Link output board, an internal RTA, 8 main outputs (for up to 7.1 channels) plus HI and VI-N outputs (all balanced line level). There is a digital bypass circuit for AES/EBU and all other formats and an optional internal biamp crossover is available for 5.1 and 7.1 channel auditoriums. Booth 527 at CineEurope

Christie is launching the Christie Vive Audio™ LS Series 4-way screen channel and 2-way surround loudspeakers at CineEurope 2016. Featuring planar ribbon driver technology with its low distortion characteristics, LS Series screen channels are single-enclosure designs, ideal for most 5.1 and 7.1 distributed sound applications. LS Series enclosures offer a cost-effective entry into superior cinema sound. Christie will demonstrate the LS Series in Suite D.

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DAVID HANCOCK 41

The Exhibitor’s strong hand As theatrical windows shrink, exible release strategies need not be imposed on unwilling exhibitors. David Hancock explains why a cinema releases is often essential

A

is little evidence from previous attempts that consumers place a high price (i.e. the viewing price) on receiving content earlier than is currently the case. There is a general feeling that windows are not changing, stuck in an exhibitor-made rut and harming the revenue-earning chances of films.

t Cinemacon in Las Vegas, the gaming capital of the world, one of the hottest topics for discussion was inevitably the Screening Room. Attitudes to the proposal had hardened in the lead up to the event, and unfortunately the backers of the venture didn’t publicly explain why this would be in the sector’s interests at the event itself. They were not the only people pushing new business models at the CinemaCon convention, but they certainly had the highest profile. The general tone of all players, including the studios, was of backing the theatrical window and the cinema experience, and even if Screening Room has supporters with clout, it seems that the idea is struggling to gain any traction. Aside from the windows issue, there is also a very valid case for arguing that Screening Room is not a mainstream model at the price it is pitched, and there

The facts tell a different story

This is not backed up by the facts, as recently outlined in an IHS research piece. The truth is that the window is getting shorter, especially in digital formats. In 2015, theatrical titles waited 118 days on average before releasing on physical video. This compares to a 149 day window 10 years previously, in 2005. This means movies are arriving on discs 31 days sooner than a decade ago. In addition, the digital home entertainment window is significantly shorter than the physical one. Of a research sample of 313 titles, 191 were available for digital

Decay rate North America weeks -America selected yrs) ratefor forselected selcected years in North years in(in North America 100.0 90.0 80.0

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JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


DAVID HANCOCK

download an average of 24 days prior to their respective physical video street date and an average of 97 days after the films’ opening in cinemas. On top of this, digital speeds things up. That may seem a truism, but this includes the extent and pace of windows’ contraction. The theatrical-to-digital download window has shrunk by almost 29% in just the past 4 years; it took over a decade for the physical release window to contract 21% to where it ended 2015. The absence of a window already exists in the market — 13.7% of the 313 titles studied with a 2015 release were available on digital formats the same day as theatres or shortly before opening in theatres. The equivalent number was 15 in 2014. The type of title in the latter category is most likely a small indie film, but the increase is hard to escape. This type of release strategy is becoming more common.

revenue from the few, not the many

However, as stated previously in this column, the Top 100 titles at the box office earn more than 90% of the gross market revenues, leaving 600 titles to battle it out across just 9% of the box office in North America. As long as the Top 100 titles are not subject to a strategy like this, the cinema exhibition business can continue to thrive. Resisting such a day-and-date release for smaller films would seem fairly pointless, and open up exhibitors to accusations of obstruction to a distribution strategy designed to maximise revenue for smaller titles. The decay rate of a film’s earning power is also a relevant topic in this discussion. How quickly does a blockbuster film (Top 20 title) make its money at the box office and how has that

Average theatrical to DVD window by Box Office range 160 160 150 150 140 140 DAYS AFTER THEATRICAL DEBUT

42

130 130 120 120

110 110

Co

100 100 Co

90 90 80 80 70 70 60 60

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

COMBINED DVD AVERAGE COMBINED DIGITAL AVERAGE

Source: IHS Notes: Excludes titles with windows larger than 13 months.

weeks in the current exhibition market. Cinema exhibitors know, or should know, that they have several strong cards to play in this debate. Their transactional business model remains a high-value and crucially stable revenue in a fragmented, changing, digitally led home entertainment and television market. Cinema is the value creator for the whole film value chain, and given that and the rising proportion of filmed entertainment revenues accounted for by the cinema sector, the sector needs to be a starting point for any development of new business models to maximise revenues on certain types of films. Bring the cinema exhibitors into the tent and

“CINEMA EXHIBITORS KNOW — OR SHOULD KNOW — THAT THEY HAVE SEVERAL STRONG CARDS TO PLAY IN THIS DEBATE” changed over time? We have done research into this for some years now, back to 1998, and the results are intriguing. In 1998, the first week of release earned around a quarter (25.6%) of a film’s overall box office in North America. By 2004, that figure had become 31.4% and by 2015 it was 44.8%. This means that nearly one half of a tentpole film’s final box office figure was earned in the first week of release last year. In 1998, the first six weeks of release made up 82.8% of overall box office, becoming 94.1% by 2015. And in the first 10 weeks, the box office share was 93% in 1998 and 98.2% by 2015. Seemingly, the film is almost spent after the first six CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

work out the acceptable and mutually beneficial parameters together.

past two years, which inevitably ends in a boycott of product by the largest exhibitors and harms the film in question.

external initiatives?

The problem is that these new initiatives almost always come from outside the exhibition sector, and are perceived to be being imposed without a thought for the wider health of the film value chain and the survival of the cinema. It is risky to aim to subvert the theatrical model without a replacement value-creator in place. There is a discussion to be had about flexible release strategies for some type of films and exhibitors do need to keep an open mind on this issue, but potential solutions will not be imposed on an unwilling exhibition industry that is worth $38bn worldwide. David Hancock is research director, Film & Cinema at IHS Technology and president of the European Digital Cinema Forum.

new distributors roll their dice

It was instructive to see the new distributors presenting slates at Cinemacon, outside of the six studios: STX, fronted by an ex-Universal chief and making midbudget movies for cinema release, and Amazon Studios, who loudly backed the principle of a theatrical window and explained how they were working to generate value from their investment into production using the launch pad of cinemas. This is in contrast to the attempts by Amazon’s rival Netflix to get around or minimise the theatrical window over the www.cinematechnologymagazine.com



44

DISTRIBUTION

us issue io t n te n o c portant and im ly g in s a ses an incre s u c is d y g hnolo Cinema Tec

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

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DISTRIBUTION

45

’ with the ting power ia ot eg become ‘n d enhance rs this has ea y t n ce e re in t in tors setting ology magaz studios, bu big distribu h it to w inema Techn , e lt . The ag cu uch cover ave it’ basis more diffi ‘take it or le has given m ich films are a king on or s w d rm wh the te have a goo to s is d th at the ways in ee in n w ience, of h to cinemas film booker ed by exper n lar a distributed ai e cu g , av ti h ge ar d p We now knowle ell’ in a digital age. y to ‘play w rive at el ar k s li to l e lm ea ar fi p s e her film y to ap situation w via oker ich are likel hard-drive, cinema, wh iences. A good film-bo on as em d n ci an d that e, s au it r ie ll la te ov sa cu and parti obvious m broadband singly entify less ri g id n rp so si su al ea l o il cr d w in al to e are seeing bust the potenti nemas hav and more ro might have , so many ci es u en e v efficiencies w n lm ai What their fi well in cert lable to all. ships with stems avai great ing relation y st film booker e la an gth is , n at er lo delivery sy portant th far, howev e im so er is h t terms en It w se s. s tr ’t er book haven sible con ac tage of os turistic idea p d fu t e es an b th e s ew d n th e percen negotiates move towar e from a vast range of including th io will take. es s, m io d os m o u ra st g ch e with th cinemas g daily pro at the stud revenue th ntent, tunin nces. contract, ticket sales archived co ds of individual audie part of the t n ta or p here, ee im n ly e ntrated on An equal to meet th e to be conce to each film on d an , er howev applies itment that d of weeks an is the comm Big ideas iplexes were first introduced er b m u n m u ree to im ag lt en u in st oz ner mu ing a d — the m When m e cinema ow ated that hav would allow that th p s ci g ti in an en y scre man e site ous lable on on rent film. can be a seri nge of diffe screen that screens avai ra e ol h w a restriction all y of sm rr e in a p ca s ty — er to is a st as Th cinem all cinem od blockbu sm o y w d in ly an s an ol m tl ie H r d mov n in Sco problem fo films, with lly produce remote tow in ca a l lo g ia as s, in er w en at rv 0 re 0 m se an 5,0 cinema bigger sc art-house on of less th ew foreign and er happened h a populati ld not show a major n it ev n w others, and ly al tu ir u v to ie co is it it h ov d T ld m n l. e u to ead fo rry th recently others stil d agreed to ca ns, who inst nce it an ai s ie ss ch d er le ig st au n b u u al e b e ti releas with th The poten show block s. to k t le e ee b th w fi ta h e o fi it ithin th rs daily for tw be more pro on several screens, w s to the movie w ou le en er ab se es m n e u u as n e av le b h in would recent re plicated or would u at d er g . s n op es er ei e b m s th om ti ie et tra cust d show few days, y biggest mov bring in ex e ith staggere to ar w s s as lm en t fi em re n en er sc y small ci show oth independ different r an le M al s. k e sm r th ee fo ew why lm Especially during thes ology to ask ged in the fi sity with Cinema Techn ttle has chan past few decades. g er li , iv in d as ct e ta em m n n co ci program over the er er at ss ok re ive o ce g b ct ro of ri p lm e st g k by re promis bookin ly pay a fi io a is held bac d ers general u n em st n h ow ci it a w al it em dig Cin ntracts practices. a tribution co eory, dent cinem distribution to make dis behalf. In th r ei th on an indepen , es is v of ti gl ta ts In n lo se r on R repre king fo ooker is wor ld give him ou because a b sh is th , nemas different ci

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JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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DISTRIBUTION N

consultant with much experience of running small cinemas, says: “It is generally agreed that the top 20 films bring in 50% of box office revenue, the top 100 films take 90% of box office revenue, and event cinema performances may account for 15-25% of annual box office. For all cinemas, small and large, access to these highearning films at the time when they are most likely to earn strongly is essential. This generally means screening the films in the first or second week of release. But, by being forced to accept restrictions on the number of screenings and days these films are screened, the distribution sector is actually harming the viability of many local cinemas and preventing local audiences from seeing their films. Tentpole releases take most of their box office in the first two weeks of release with a 60-70% drop between weeks 1 and 2 before further substantial drops in subsequent weeks. Arthouse and quality dramas may escape the steep drop off and some even gain in weeks 2-4 but these rarely stay on release for more than 4 weeks today.”

The potential

“With more than 700 feature films released in the UK plus more than 100 event cinema performances, digital cinemas have the potential to offer many different audiences several potentially attractive films almost every week — except that they are often prevented from scheduling appropriately because a distributor insists on far more screenings than are justified in a local

“DISTRIBUTORS’ RESTRICTIONS ON SCHEDULING PREVENT THE DIVERSITY THAT DIGITAL CINEMA WAS SUPPOSED TO DELIVER” cinema which may only have one or two screens. This prevents the diversity that digital cinema was supposed to deliver.”

Sustainability through diversity

Ron continues: “Local cinemas, especially in smaller towns and rural areas where the venue may only operate as a cinema part-time, have to serve a range of audiences in order to be sustainable. The total audience for a tentpole release in that locality may be taken up after only a small number of screenings, so insisting on ‘all screenings every day’ actually hurts the cinema — for that week no other audience can be provided with an appropriate film or event cinema performance. If a local cinema chooses to wait until the terms are less restrictive, the potential tentpole audience will have significantly declined partly due to other films being in the news, partly due to the potential audience travelling to city venues to see the film, and partly due to CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

illegal downloading. So the distributor loses out, as does the local audience and the local cinema — in fact everyone loses. The only rational reason for a distributor to insist on ‘all screenings all days’ is to prevent smaller venues screening the film and keep the national screen average as high as possible — essentially generating ‘boasting points’ for the distributor. This policy may make sense for an eight-plus screen multiplex, but it makes no sense for smaller local cinemas and puts their viability at risk.”

The industry is growing

Recent years have seen new local cinemas in the UK and more are in development. Local communities strongly support the arrival of these new venues, but can be frustrated when choice of films is restricted. Local cinemas generally appeal most strongly to young families and older audiences. One reason for this is that these cinemas are prevented from screening the

high-profile films younger audiences would go to if they were screened in the week of release. The policy of restricting access to new releases works against the efforts of the industry sponsored Into Film initiatives designed to develop new audiences. Not all distributors enforce these restrictions, but nonetheless it is still the general practice of major distributors in the UK. The UKCA has highlighted this problem and the way it is preventing programming diversity. In a recent speech to the FDA reported in this issue (see page 22), Lord Puttnam stressed the need for more flexibility from distributors. Lord Puttnam focused on a more flexible approach to release windows, but this would make even more sense if accompanied by relaxations on the booking restrictions being highlighted here. This is mainly an issue for independent rather than circuit cinemas, but there are a lot of independents in the UK. For example, if a cinema can get a new release in week 1 or 2 without having to commit to all screenings all days, then a DVD release earlier than 17 weeks might make sense for the distributor and doesn’t adversely affect the exhibitor — most films are past their commercial life www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


DISTRIBUTION

176 seats only: the Corn Exchange in Oxfordshire is a typical example of a local cinema that suffers from distributors’ restrictions on releases

after maybe 6-8 weeks. But if the distributor makes the cinema wait until weeks 3-5, as is often the case at present, then the value of that film to the exhibitor (and local audiences) is greatly diminished and would be diminished further if the DVD release was imminent.

Practical examples

An example of a local cinema that is suffering from the restrictions imposed by distributors is the Corn Exchange, an independent cinema/theatre in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, which has a single auditorium with 176 seats for films, plays and other theatrical events. The venue is finding it more and more difficult to obtain new releases in a timely manner for two or three nights’ booking. As their catchment area is limited, they consider that this duration would be optimum for several films for their audience profile. They cannot accommodate a mandatory one- or two-week slot of a single title. This would result in very thin or empty houses and block other deserving titles. They are told that they cannot have the film for anything between five or seven weeks following release for limited duration bookings. John www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

Warburton and John Pinniger of the Corn Exchange management team write: “We think this is very unfair and that we are being discriminated against. The major distributors say there is no discrimination, as the same terms are offered to all cinemas. This cannot make sense, as two or three nights at sell-out capacity must be better than two or three nights at 30% capacity more than five weeks later. The decision does not take into account the fact that multi-screen venues can accommodate several films at a time and move programmes between screens to maximise capacity. It seems to us that the large chains are content with, or endorse, the distributors’ policy which might help protect their income. “Surely distributors should welcome all exposure, and hence revenue, from wherever it comes and not have a policy that appears to restrict the market? Many independents, like us, are some distance from other major cinema chains — that is why we exist. We are 12-15 miles from major centres (Oxford and Reading) that have multiplexes, and 6 miles from Didcot which has a five-screen cinema. Our audiences would welcome the chance to see new films locally and in a more timely manner without having to travel to distant venues. Many will wait to see the film, but others may forget about it several weeks after the marketing exposure, thereby damaging the potential revenue for both distributors and cinema. The income we generate is very important to our small organisation, but because of the distribution policy we miss out on promotions, such as films for school holidays — by the time we show the film the audience is back at school!â€? Paul Willmott from Saffron Screen, a community cinema which operates from Fridays to Mondays, says that they too find it frustrating that they are not allowed ‘first run’ features, which would be incredibly popular with local audiences, and profitable for both cinema and distributor. Is it too much to imagine a utopian future where studios might present an electronic menu of movies and other content to cinema owners? (Systems such as Cinio™, JukeBox™, MovieTransit™ and AAM’s Thunderstorm™ all offer this technical potential). Cinemas would select from that menu the content they want to exhibit and create a play list specific to each cinema, first run, second run etc. The terms would be set for each movie by the studios. In the next issue of Cinema Technology, I hope to talk with distributors’ representatives to get their thoughts on how the current system operates and to discuss whether it may prove possible to satisfy the needs of the smaller operators that have been highlighted here. — Jim Slater

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NEGOTIATION IS THE KEY‌ THE FILM DISTRIBUTORS’ ASSOCIATION RESPONDS: The commercial reality is that Ć’NO DQQMKPIU CTG PGIQVKCVGF QP C FKUVTKDWVQT D[ FKUVTKDWVQT CPF Ć’NO D[ Ć’NO DCUKU &GCNKPIU YKNN KPGXKVCDN[ XCT[ HTQO EKPGOC VQ EKPGOC HTQO YGGM VQ YGGM KPENWFKPI VCMKPI CEEQWPV QH VJG RQKPV KP VJG TGNGCUG CV YJKEJ C RCTVKEWNCT Ć’NO RNC[U %WTKQWUN[ VJGTG UGGOU VQ DG PQ CEMPQYNGFIGOGPV QH VJG XCUV KPXGUVOGPV KP RTQFWEVKQP CPF CESWKUKVKQP CU YGNN CU OCTMGVKPI CPF FKUVTKDWVKQP TGSWKTGF VQ FGNKXGT C ĹĽVGPVRQNGĹŚ VKVNG Ţ CPF HQT VJCV OCVVGT GPICIG CWFKGPEGU HQT CP[ VKVNG 0CVWTCNN[ VJG DKNCVGTCN PGIQVKCVKQP QH C RQVGPVKCN DQQMKPI YKNN TGHNGEV VJG UECNG QH EQUVU KPEWTTGF CNQPIUKFG VJG CPVKEKRCVGF TGVWTPU 6JKU JCU NQPI DGGP VJG ECUG CPF PQ QPG YQWNF TGCNN[ GZRGEV QVJGTYKUG 0GIQVKCVKQP KU VJG MG[ ĹŁ DQQMGTU GZRGTVU KP VJGKT VTCFG WNVKOCVGN[ EJQQUG YJCV KU RNC[GF +P TGCNKV[ VGPVRQNG TGNGCUGU CNTGCF[ RNC[ YKFGN[ CETQUU VJG EKTEWKVU CPF KPFGRGPFGPV QRGTCVQTU VJTQWIJQWV VJG 7- +H OWNVKRNGZGU HQEWU QP VJG VGPVRQNGU JQRGHWNN[ VJCV ECP NGCXG VJG KPFGRGPFGPV UGEVQT YKVJ VJG UEQRG VQ QHHGT ITGCVGT FKXGTUKV[! &GRGPFKPI QP NQECN ECVEJOGPVU CPF RQRWNCVKQPU KV OC[ DG VJCV RNC[KPI C Ć’NO VJCV KU CNTGCF[ KPVQ KVU PCVKQPCN TGNGCUG YKNN YQTM OQTG GHHGEVKXGN[ ĹŁ QNFGT CWFKGPEGU HQT GZCORNG QHVGP VCMG NQPIGT VQ EQOG QWV VQ C Ć’NO VJCP VJG QRGPKPI YGGMGPF 9KVJ C FQ\GP QT OQTG PGY TGNGCUGU VQ UGTXKEG GCEJ YGGM Ć’NO FKUVTKDWVQTU YQWNF YGNEQOG VJG QRRQTVWPKV[ VQ FKUEWUU YC[U VQ UGEWTG OQTG UETGGP VKOG UOCTVN[ CPF HNGZKDN[ +V KU FKUVTKDWVQTUĹŚ KPXGUVOGPV VJCV JCU XGT[ NCTIGN[ GSWKRRGF GZJKDKVQTU YKVJ VJGKT FKIKVCN UVQTCIG RTQLGEVKQP U[UVGOU YJKEJ KP VWTP JCU GPCDNGF PQP OQXKG ĹĽGXGPV EKPGOCĹŚ VQ HNQWTKUJ %KPGOCU VJCV JCXG KPXGUVGF KP VJGKT UGTXGT ECRCEKV[ OC[ YGNN DG CDNG VQ CEEQOOQFCVG CNN OCPPGT QH URGEKCN ENCUUKE CPF QVJGT VKVNGU Ţ CICKP VJG CRRNKECDNG FKUVTKDWVQTU YQWNF YGNEQOG VJG FKUEWUUKQP Ţ CPF KP OCP[ YC[U KV KU UVKNN C TGNCVKQPUJKR DWUKPGUU

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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PICTUREHOUSE CENTRAL

A london landmark for picturehouse cinemas It is amazing what you can do with a rundown cinema when you add money and imagination, as Jim Slater discovers at the Picturehouse Central in Piccadilly

A

fter being closed for nearly a year, 2015 saw the reopening of Picturehouse Central on the site of the old Trocadero, in London’s Picadilly. The completely refurbished cinema has seven screens seating around 1,000 people, with 2k and 4k digital projection, 35mm and 70mm film projection and a Dolby Atmos sound system in Screen 1. I had been to the new cinema on a couple of occasions during the past year, sampling the excellent pictures and immersive sound in Screen 1, and so was interested to talk with Geoff Newitt, head of technical operations for the Picturehouse group, who has been fully involved with the technical side of the refurbishment, and with Richard Leeder, who as technical manager for the site, oversees the regular film screenings on as well as an impressive 40-60 hirings each month. The varying demands of the hirers keep the technical team of five on their toes, and they can all cope with whatever special requirements are asked for — event cinema is a particular USP of the group.

A clever layout

Initially I couldn’t find my bearings with the new layout — the old Trocadero entrance has been replaced by one in Great Windmill Street (the original cinema entrance from decades ago, I was told) and you enter

through a cafÊ on the ground floor and go up a beautifully lit staircase to a huge cafÊ/bar area, already popular as a meeting place. A luxurious Members’ Bar caters to the growing numbers of Picturehouse members. Screens are accessed via a series of escalators and Geoff told me that the basic layout of the seven screens had remained unchanged. Many improvements have been made, however, with the size of the pictures increased in almost every screen. Screen 1, now with 341 seats, was the subject of the greatest change, with rows of seats at the rear removed and the floor tiered to improve sightlines. The picture was increased to nearly 14m wide, with wonderful curtains and traditional lighting effects.

Super sound

Dolby Atmos wasn’t added to Screen 1 until late in the day, once most of the structural changes had already been made, but all 36 surrounds (14 in the ceiling), three main screen speakers, two conventional subs, and four additional high-level subs, two behind the screen, and two on the back wall have been integrated perfectly. The other screens use Dolby 5.1, with lots of QSC sound kit. Pete Warland, Dean Mercer and the team from DW Electrical have worked on several Picturehouse cinemas. They were brought in to Central fairly late on, to focus on Screen 1, pulling in 52 speaker cables for the Atmos system, mounting the 14 ceiling surrounds

A BIT OF AN INDEPENDENT STREAK

Picturehouse Cinemas claims to be the leading boutique EKPGOC QRGTCVQT KP VJG 7- QHHGTKPI C DTQCF TCPIG QH Ć’NOU CPF events. Formed in 1989 in a deliberate attempt to challenge the multiplex model, Picturehouse Cinemas owns and operates 23 cinemas with 74 screens and programmes a further 42 venues across the UK. Picturehouse Cinemas are located in city centres and are often architecturally unique venues that provide cafĂŠ bars, restaurants and live events alongside the traditional moviegoing experience. Instead of building from scratch or taking over existing cinemas, Picturehouse has a tradition of converting interesting and sometimes challenging structures into cinemas.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

and aligning all 36 surround speakers. Cineworld group technical director Ilan Schor and Bartek Rytwinski also helped with the Atmos system and other details, and Dolby’s Chris Quested was a great help with the Atmos commissioning process.

Bringing light and life to the building

Malcolm Hiles of the W.Hiles Partnership was overall project manager for the Picturehouse Central conversion. Experienced cinema architects Panter Hudspith Associates (PHA) were responsible for the design of the building — they have opened up areas and revealed previously closed off windows, making the whole building lighter and airier. They dealt with design issues such as screen sizes and sightlines before the choice of technical and projection equipment was made by Geoff and his team. Panter Hudspith partner Mark Panter has worked with Picturehouse throughout its history, designing several of the cinemas, and PHA won a Building Design Architect of the Year award for its work on Picturehouses East Dulwich, Central and Crouch End. Design of East Dulwich was led by Sarah Robinson, while both Central and Crouch End were led by James Jeremiah, working closely with Mark.

Digital Projection

Picturehouse group has a wide variety of digital projection kit, ranging from early

Its programmes encompass quality mainstream, family, artJQWUG KPFGRGPFGPV HQTGKIP NCPIWCIG CPF FQEWOGPVCT[ ƒNOU Event Cinema is a major part of the Picturehouse Cinemas offering — it was a pioneer of live satellite cinema shows in the 7- DTKPIKPI PQP ƒNO EQPVGPV UWEJ CU 3 #U CPF VCNMU EQPEGTVU art exhibitions, the New York Met Opera, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet to community cinema screens. Picturehouse Cinemas has a distribution arm, Picturehouse 'PVGTVCKPOGPV YJKEJ FKUVTKDWVGU DQVJ HGCVWTG ƒNOU CPF alternative content to cinemas in the UK and internationally. Since its launch in 2010, Picturehouse Entertainment has distributed an eclectic range of releases. It is also the distributor for showings

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Top, the refurbished Screen 1, with its 14m screen and traditional curtains. Above l-r, Rich Blake, Chris Swindells, technical manager Richard Leeder. Paul Perkins and Sam Cuthbert (parttime) complete the team. Left, Plenty of room for Ć’NO ĹŁ )GQHH 0GYKVV YKVJ VJG FWCN OO 8KE

from the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bolshoi Ballet, as well as one-off events such as the V&A’s David Bowie is Happening Now and Monty Python Live (mostly), beamed from the O2 to over 570 cinemas in the UK and 2,000 worldwide. A big change came in 2012 when cinema giant Cineworld made a major investment by buying Picturehouse. There were worries that uniting two very different chains, with Cineworld’s mass-market multiplexes joining Picturehouse’s more sophisticated cinemas catering to a more highbrow audience might lead to the demise of all that Picturehouse had stood for. But Cineworld, which runs around 80 multiplexes nationwide, gave assurances that nothing would change at Picturehouse,

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and that it would continue as a separate entity. The real bonus to Picturehouse from the deal promised to be that much larger sums would be available for investment in new cinemas and upgrades. In the years since the deal, I have spoken to many Picturehouse people, and it seems that both sides have DGPGĆ’VGF YKVJ 2KEVWTGJQWUG CDNG VQ QRGP OQTG EKPGOCU CPF Cineworld able to extend its effective reach to a wider market of older, higher value customers, an important step when the population is aging and people spend more on leisure activities. In 2014, Cineworld PLC merged with Cinema City International to form the largest exhibitor outside the USA. Listed in London, Cineworld PLC opened its 2,000th screen late in 2015.

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


50

PICTUREHOUSE CENTRAL

Left, the projection area for Screen 1 showing NEC 4K digital projector and dual 35/70mm Vic 8. Above, the Kinoton FP20 in Screen 7

DSN projectors still in regular use to the latest 4K models. Most projectors used by the group are Christie, which Geoff favours for a range of reasons, including what he cites as superior reliability, but around 15 NEC projectors and 8 Barcos are also in use.

Every facility from film to digital

At Picturehouse Central there are four RealD 3D screens, and Screens 1 and 2 can cope with higher frame rates if required. Screen 1 has a Vic 8 35/70mm projector and Screen 7 has a Kinoton FP20 35mm projector fed from a platter. The film showings are increasingly popular for special events — the Sundance Festival was due shortly after my visit. Geoff praised Ian Thomas and the Motion Picture Solutions (MPS) team for their magnificent work on bringing the 70mm projection kit to perfection in Screen 1, including overcoming the fairly knotty problem of routing legacy sound through a Dolby Atmos system. He also singled out Omnex for their great job installing the 35mm Kinoton installation. The NEC projector and Dolby servers were originally installed as a joint project between Bell Theatres and Cineworld’s own engineers. Arts Alliance gave everything a thorough overhaul and clean up (despite best efforts, the projection room and equipment did suffer during the long closure), before resetting everything for the new screens. AAM also had a hand in adding all the alternative content equipment and the tie-lines for conferencing. Installing the new Harkness screen in Screen 1 provided logistical challenges — the package was 7m long and weighed 80kg! Camstage installed the screen there, and came up with the ingenious chain drive for the tabs, which disappear behind the screen rather than bunching within the proscenium, reducing the possible picture size. The project brief was to maximise the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

picture size as far as possible (hence the lack of tabs and masking in the other screens). Camstage did all the work on the screens — unusually, Picturehouse opted to modify, not replace, existing frames in Screens 2-7, in part due to the difficulty of getting materials on site. Camstage also reworked acoustic wall panels in the screens.

Satellite kit

Satellite signals are delivered via Icecrypt decoder/recorders and these can be networked to any of the screens. Reflecting the importance Picturehouse puts on special hirings, there is even a super high-speed digital link available for hire by those wanting to put on multimedia events.

All types of event

The event-hire business is obviously a major strength of the Picturehouse Central team, including films (350 films were shown during one festival week, I was proudly

told), conferences, gaming, and presentations by some of the world’s biggest companies. The 40-60 events a month range from simple three microphone Q&As to film festivals to AV extravaganzas (often with outside contractors), right up to the complete, week long takeover of the building by Advertising Week Europe… and that figure doesn’t include any of the rehearsals. Richard and his team work extremely hard to provide any technical facility that is likely to be needed, and it was good to hear that they actually enjoy meeting the challenges — “I couldn’t think of a better job,” said Richard, although he did admit that long and unsocial hours can sometimes get a bit wearing! Geoff commented that it’s staggering to think that before the venue opened (they hadn’t anticipated such a high level of hires and events), they had budgeted for 80 projectionist hours a week. In practice, 180 hours a week is nearer to the reality.

THE KEY INFORMATION

picturehouse central SCREENS: seven OPENED in: 2015 Projectors: Christie/NEC/Barco & film owner: Cineworld PLC Technical Manager: richard leeder

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LASER PROJECTION

53

T E C H N O L O G Y

laser projection We still have much to learn… The defence of laser projection begins — Jim Slater reports on developments feedback creeps out of the shadows

Feedback from different sides of the industry followed the article Laser Projection — Matching Artistic Requirements’ published in the March 2016 issue. Two directors of photography had clearly expressed their dissatisfaction with some of the laserprojected images they had seen during a carefully staged demonstration, saying that what appeared on screen hadn’t always matched their artistic intentions, and that some of the images had revealed more shadow detail than they had intended their carefully lit scenes to show. They also complained of slight shifts in colour balance between images displayed from xenon and laser projectors, and were irritated by laser speckle artifacts on some, generally brightly lit, parts of their pictures.

Technical realities

Technically minded types spoke of the inevitability that colours from different light sources would look slightly different, as a result of metameric variability due to the different spectral power distributions. Coincidentally, April 2016’s SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal carried an in-depth article relating to the same topic (Observer Metamerism Models and Multiprimary Display Systems, David L. Long and Mark D. Fairchild), encompassing both television and cinema displays — the relationships between the two are also discussed in Barry Fox’s article in this issue (Blurred lines, page 33).

The ‘corporate’ view

The corporate representatives of some projector manufacturers (rather than their engineers) used the ‘attack is the best form of defence’ approach to let me know that thousands had watched hundreds of showings from laser projectors and all, without exception had declared the pictures the best they had ever seen… No-one would agree more than me that such pictures can be excellent, but as engineers we have a responsibility to go deeper. As one of the CTC members said, he would like to ensure that, when laser www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

projectors are introduced everywhere, all aspects of their images are better than previous technologies, not just some.

New projectors, new technologies

I spoke with Mark Kendall from NEC, which has just launched its first RGB laser projector, having already had success with its laser phosphor designs, including the second generation NC1201L projector for screen sizes of up to 12m wide. The highly flexible and silent design allows for easy installation without the need for a special exhaust system, making it suitable for boothless or mobile installations — but the major benefits for most cinema operators are the maintenance-free operation, low, eco-friendly power consumption and low total cost of ownership. The latest NEC entry into the RGB laser market, first shown at CinemaCon, is the NC3540LS projector, a 4K machine capable of providing up to 35,000 lumens with the wider REC 2020 colour gamut. These projectors use a separate projector head and

one of several growth areas that it considers could provide new market opportunities. It has recognised the trend for cinemas to upgrade image quality and the overall moviegoer experience by changing from xenon. Not only is IPG looking at cinema projectors, but it sees opportunities in other entertainment and signage markets. We discussed the problems that had been highlighted in our previous article,

“WE NEED TO ENSURE THAT WHEN LASER PROJECTORS ARE INTRODUCED EVERYWHERE, ALL ASPECTS OF THEIR IMAGES ARE BETTER THAN PREVIOUS TECHNOLOGIES, NOT JUST SOME” laser module, the light being fed to the head through a single flexible fibre-optic cable. For use in the largest cinema environments, two of these projectors can be stacked, to provide up to 70,000 lumens.

Can technology make a difference?

I was especially interested to learn that this projector is using a third-party fibre laser light source from IPG Photonics Corporation, a company with decades of experience in the wider industrial laser market, both high- and low-power, from metal cutting and deposition to welding and marking. IPG has recently identified laser-illuminated projection for cinema as

and straightaway the IPG guys told me that its technologies can go a long way to provide solutions. Fibre lasers can evidently have significant advantages. Solid-state lasers use a crystal or glass gain medium pumped by a flash lamp or diode lasers. The beam propagates in free space through the gain medium with standard optics such as mirrors, lenses, and diffraction gratings to control the beam. In contrast, fibres act as waveguides for the light, confining it to a small core. Once the guiding fibre is doped with active rare-earth elements the waveguide (fibre) itself becomes a gain medium, amplifying the light. JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


54

LASER PROJECTION

T E C H N O L O G Y precise control

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

IPG Photonics’ new 3P/6P High Power Luminaire Laser system (left) has broad laser linewidths to suppress speckle. NEC’s 4K NC3540LS projector (above) can provide up to 35,000 lumens

produce a range of RGB laser illuminated projectors to suit all venues.

A very positive outlook

We began by discussing the need for new developments in cinema projection to take account of artistic requirements of those who create the films that are the ‘raison d’être’ of the whole movie business. It is the job of the

projection industry to re-create the vision of the cinematographers and directors as closely as possible — and it is encouraging that many on the technical side are realising that, although laser-illuminated projection is already capable of providing stunning images, the whole area is still relatively young, and much more can be done to ensure that future images become even better.

LEARNING FROM OTHER INDUSTRIES Although few people know what has gone on in the darkest recesses of the various RTQLGEVQT OCPWHCEVWTGTUĹŚ TGUGCTEJ FGRCTVOGPVU KP TGEGPV [GCTU + Ć’PF KV JCTF VQ imagine that each developed its own independent laser illumination system from scratch without input from laser experts. Even so, it is an intriguing development to see that non-cinema companies with expertise in laser technologies are now openly moving into partnership with cinema projector manufacturers, and we have discussed some of the advantages that such co-operation can bring. In the previous issue, we highlighted a similar, parallel, development where CPQVJGT NCUGT EQORCP[ YKVJ XCUV GZRGTKGPEG KP VJG Ć’GNF 2QYGT 6GEJPQNQI[ introduced its Illumina Laser Light Farm technology into cinemas (below 6JKU PGY way of bringing laser light to cinema projectors illustrated the importance of bringing in new ideas from outside the cinema industry. Although perhaps most suited to completely new-build multiplexes, the idea of feeding light from a central laser light UQWTEG XKC Ć’DTG QRVKE ECDNGU VQ OWNVKRNG RTQLGEVQTU KP FKHHGTGPV NQECVKQPU RTQXKFKPI each with exact amount of light needed, could revolutionise future cinema designs.

central illumina light farm

For projection applications, it is important that many different parameters of the system can be adjusted separately, allowing wavelengths and bandwidths of the light to be controlled and optimised to provide the best possible images. Since it is known that speckle effects are worse with narrower laser bands, IPG has developed unique fibre laser solutions specifically for use in cinema projection that enable the fibre lasers for red and green light to achieve wide laser line-widths. The IPG system allows the spectrum to be tuned precisely to minimise speckle and provide the best-possible images. The wider laser line-widths should also help mitigate the metameric concerns discussed earlier. The IPG projector light source uses blue laser diodes as a source of blue light, with separate red and green fibre lasers (instead of diodes), which are developed and manufactured by IPG. By using several modules providing slightly different wavelengths to generate each individual colour, they can generate wider laser bands, making speckle less visible than a projector using a single wave length per colour. O IPG’s system for cinemas can be used for 3P or 6P for 2D and 3D, and the 6P system uses six different wavelengths for R,G and B. O Being able to control each parameter precisely allows for higher light efficiency. It uses a ‘unique’ red wavelength of 615nm, which, due to the higher sensitivity of the human eye at that wavelength compared to 635nm or longer, enables more powerefficient output of white light. In the 6P system the other red wavelength is 635nm. O IPG claims that its fibre-laser system works over a wide temperature range, providing a stable white balance without the need for the close temperature control which affects other systems. A single lownoise chiller is sufficient for cooling all three colours. Since the cooling water temperature isn’t particularly critical, there is no need for a special cooling water supply and it might be possible for cinemas to integrate projector cooling water with the heating and ventilation system. O A single thin fibre-optic cable can feed light to a remote projector head several metres away. O From a cinema operator’s point of view, it is important that the laser system has been designed with plenty of redundancy — the laser source uses multiple laser modules so that an individual failure will not result in the loss of a show. O 3P and 6P laser modules are available from 10K lumen to 100K lumen projector light output, allowing manufacturers to

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NEW TECHNOLOGIES

57

DIGITAL CINEMA 2.0 Cinema’s second digital revolution must really focus on the audience, insists John Aalbers JOHN AALBERS, CEO OF ARTS ALLIANCE MEDIA

Digital and content harmony

THE FIRST DIGITAL REVOLUTION in the cinema industry sparked a dramatic change in the way films were projected. It was an industry game changer, but the projector is just the tip of the digital iceberg, Exhibitors need to do more than change hardware to address challenges they face. Exhibitors still face the age-old challenge of maximising occupancy, feeling lucky to attract 15-45% occupancy at showings. With the advent of services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, consumers get what they want, when they want, in the way they want. Like these services, cinemas today need to embrace a more personalised experience — from the way audiences watch content through to the adverts they are exposed to. Exhibitors need to consider a number of different aspects to compete in the evolving market. Acknowledging the demand for new, alternative content, advertising that is relevant and engaging experiences will drive the next generation of digital success. The projector is simply the foundation on which exhibitors can create experiences that place customers at the front of operations. Technological change in cinemas is like the evolution of computers. Early ones took up an entire room, needed a specialist to operate and had limited functionality. We

then had the personal PC in our homes — today, we have computers in our pockets. They do pretty much anything we want. There’s a similar transformation in cinemas, but too many exhibitors still use a projector and think that’s where it ends. It’s like using a smartphone simply to make calls. Digital projectors have been highly significant over the past decade — audiences get better quality screenings, content is easier to deploy, operations more efficient. However, audiences have changed. They now rely on technology to aid everyday activities and entertainment — whether onthe-go, or in the home — and that is thanks to the widespread adoption of smartphones. In the connected world, it is imperative for cinemas to create experiences that today’s consumers demand. Turning phones off during a showing needs to be forgotten if exhibitors are to stay relevant. Evolving technology is beginning to offer ‘second screen’ experiences, where consumers watch content on the exhibitor’s screen but also interact with it via a second screen. By embracing this second screen, exhibitors drive a contemporary level of customer engagement. ‘Second screen’ experiences allow exhibitors to offer promotions directly to consumers, driving further revenues.

“THERE’S ONLY SO MUCH THAT EXHIBITORS CAN DO WITH BIGGER SEATS AND BETTER SOUND”

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As today’s audiences crave personalised experiences, a one-size-fits-all approach to content can’t be applied to paying audiences — they want, and deserve more than that. More astute management of content will bring a number of benefits to theatres. The process will improve customer experiences, drive repeat visits and streamline operations. With hundreds of sites each playing different features at different times, head office visibility may be reduced, meaning management cannot easily know what is happening across their networks. Exhibitors knowing and responding to audiences’ local demands is vital, but it is equally important for head offices to know what content is playing in their cinemas on a national (or international) level at all times. Having a physical presence at each site is, of course, impossible for the head office, but embracing centralisation technology will offer a birdseye view of operations across their circuits, and enable exhibitors to gain control of content on a new level. Centralised systems will provide insight on requirements such as live playbacks, log collections, and detecting any KDM problems prior to issues rising. Control, ability and concentration remains with head office — problems can be fixed before individual cinemas become affected, leading to a holistically-driven experience for both front and back-of-house operations. The customer experience is key to every single cinema across the world. There’s only so much that exhibitors can do with bigger seats and better sound. Freeing managers to interact with members of the public by adopting centralised systems, so operational tasks can be automated and monitored from head office, will allow more personalised customer experiences that audiences want.

Welcoming new opportunities As the digital world transforms all parts of our daily lives, it is more and more apparent that cinema will change too. Exhibitors have a tremendous opportunity to impact their business positively by embracing new technologies in the market. If they don’t, their businesses won’t evolve and they will lose out to in-home options that customers could view as more engaging and more valuable. Exhibitors that choose to ignore the potential and opportunity to focus on their audiences, will be left behind. JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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ACCESSIBILITY

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CINEMA ACCESS FOR ALL The UKCA’s Grainne Peat reports on a new initiative to promote accessible film screenings to all

grAinne peat Policy executive

shown in UK cinemas. The site will be fully accessible for disabled customers. Given the scale of this new venture, there will inevitably be some teething troubles, and the Association is asking users for their support and patience in improving the service. In doing so, it has recognised that one of the issues for many deaf and hard of hearing customers, who want to watch subtitled films, is the accuracy of the information.

Analysing the problem

THIS SUMMER WILL see the launch of Accessible Screenings UK, a new cinema listings website which provides up to date and accurate information on the many accessible screenings in UK cinemas. For a number of years now, cinema operators have screened films that take into account the specific requirements of customers who are deaf or hard of hearing or those with a visual impairment. This is done via the provision of subtitled (ST) — sometimes referred to as open-captioned (OC) — screenings and through the provision of audio described (AD) films. More recently, a significant number of companies have also introduced as a regular feature of their programming additional screenings which are typically referred to as Autism Friendly Screenings (AFS) — sometimes also referred to as ‘relaxed screenings’. These prove popular with those audiences that know of them.

Getting the word out While these are all positive developments, a surprisingly small proportion of the audience that might potentially benefit from such provisions are actually aware that it exists. To help address this, in July the UK Cinema Association will launch Accessible Screenings UK, the UK’s first comprehensive and searchable listings website providing details of all ST, AD and AF screenings in UK cinemas. The site will also provide information on what each type of accessible screening entails, have individual profile pages setting out the access features to be found at each participating UK cinema site and provide a forum for customers to feed back on their experiences, good or bad. The primary objective of Accessible Screenings UK will be to create a central hub for industry information and a news platform for all accessible screenings

For that reason, the UKCA has engaged a specialist accessibility company to manage the new site, analysing and tracking issues and recommending how these might be addressed. As such, customer feedback will be vital here. While cinema operators have made some significant strides in adapting their cinemas and opening up the big screen experience to the widest possible audience, there is always, inevitably, more that can be done by the industry. The Association hopes that as well as promoting the good work already being undertaken, this new website will kickstart even greater dialogue between the UK cinema sector, industry partners, supporting charities and disabled people on accessibility in UK cinemas. One of the aims is to generate a better understanding of the challenges that exist in making adjustments and to share better the information surrounding these issues. The Association acknowledges that the industry needs to improve the way in which it communicates with disabled customers in order to grow the audience for accessible screenings and improve the services provided. All UKCA members are being asked to ensure that details of their accessible screenings are included on the new site and industry colleagues are likewise encouraged to share their news and developments in this area.

“THE KEY OBJECTIVE OF ACCESSIBLE SCREENINGS UK WILL BE TO CREATE A CENTRAL INFORMATION HUB” The site is live on 1 July at www.accessiblescreeningsuk.com for More info, email: accessiblescreeningsuk@cinemauk.org.uk

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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COMMUNITY CINEMA

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ten years on, Saffron Screen ticks all the boxes Jim Slater visited Saffron Screen — a community cinema that has captured the hearts of its local fans

O

ne of the cinemas at the top end of the Community Cinema business is Saffron Screen in Saffron Walden, an Essex town, around 35 miles north of London. Based in congenial premises at Saffron Walden’s County High School, Saffron Screen is a not-for-profit independent cinema, and I visited recently whilst they celebrated the 10th anniversary of the cinema’s opening in May 2006. The celebrations included ‘Iconic films from the past decade’ — Mamma Mia! was their all-time box-office hit. Getting on for 3,000 people saw the movie in the auditorium and at special ‘Saffron Screen on the Green’ outdoor showings. During the past 10 years the small team has presented some 3,746 screenings of more than 1,740 different films and alternative content events, to a total audience of over 341,000. They are doing something right — audiences have grown continuously from 15,983 per annum in 2006 to 43,500 in 2015, and they’re rising.

Making a start

Saffron Walden used to have two commercial cinemas, but they disappeared more than 40 years ago, so locals had to drive 16 miles to Cambridge if they wanted to see a film. The idea of a new community cinema came to fruition thanks to an enthusiastic group of volunteers and the help of the local council, which was happy with the idea of sharing a new 202-seat,

10 years: Saffron screen’s highlights

At the heart of his community: Saffron Screen’s technical and business manager Paul Willmott

multi-purpose hall at the school with the community. The auditorium has a 9m-wide fixed screen with electrically operated masking doubling as screen curtains. The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) was enormously helpful in advising how to set up a community cinema, and most of the start-up capital for the cinema equipment was raised through grants. From the start, the aim of the directors was to set up a professional cinema based on 35mm film, rather than taking the “film club” route using DVD. Saffron Screen plays an active role as part of BFI Film Hub Central East.

Using the professionals

Future Projections installed the original 35mm film equipment and the subsequent digital projection kit, and continues to provide remote fault-finding and any necessary servicing. Saffron Screen’s technical and business manager, Paul Willmott, told me that FP are always available at the end of a phone line and

2006

2007

2008

Launch Winner - Market Town Awards, East Of England

First silent movie with live piano accompaniment

Online booking launched

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

always helpful. A recent problem with an Enigma card which initially proved hard to diagnose had caused the rare loss of two shows, but FP had worked speedily with Barco to get the fault identified and the required spare part delivered quickly. Saffron Screen works closely with the school to share the hall to the maximum advantage. This means that the cinema operates on a part-time basis — usually Friday to Monday evenings, with matinees on Saturdays and Sundays and additional screenings during school holidays. They typically screen three or four films on the single screen with six to eight shows over the weekend. The programming manager works closely with the ICO, which provides its film booking services and expertise, tailoring the shows to what experience has shown will do well with local audiences.

Distribution frustrations

As a small independent operator, Saffron Screen can’t get first run films from the

2009 First Young People’s Film Festival

2010 Winner — CTC Projection Team of the Year

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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COMMUNITY CINEMA

usual distributors, but find their audience will usually wait a few weeks to see a film at Saffron Screen, since it is their local. Saffron Screen would love to show films when they are first released, but current distribution practices don’t allow for this. Paul told me of another regular frustration with the distribution system — even though they only show ‘second-run’ films, distributors won’t let them have KDMs more than a day or so in advance. This means, with limited access to the hall and part-time staff who can’t always be available, it is hard to do ‘rehearsals’ to ensure everything is okay for a weekend showing. Ideally, Paul and his team would like to have everything ready to go by Friday for all the weekend showings, but, in spite of pleas to distributors, many KDMs don’t arrive until later than they would like.

COMMUNITY CINEMA: WHO SUPPORTS IT?

Special events

Event cinema presentations such as plays, opera and ballet are popular and the cinema often hosts special events such as films accompanied by director Q&As. Two satellite dishes on the roof can be connected to an Icecrypt, a Humax, and a LANsat receiver, and events can be shown ‘live’ or recorded for ‘encore’ performances. Whilst many films now come into the cinema via LANsat, Unique or Screenfast systems, enabling remote ingesting, a significant proportion still arrives on a hard drive.

The term Community Cinema covers a wide range, and in Cinema Technology we JCXG NQQMGF CV GXGT[VJKPI HTQO QPG PKIJV RQR WR EKPGOCU QWVFQQTU CPF KP VQ Æ’NO showings in old cinemas and various public buildings — using foldaway seating such as at Saffron Screen, above — including schools and universities. The essential thing is that such cinemas are run by and for the community, often in places that would not PQTOCNN[ DG CDNG VQ UWRRQTV C EKPGOC 'SWKROGPV WUGF XCTKGU HTQO DCUKE OO Æ’NO through various forms of electronic projection to full DCI quality digital projection. Numerous organisations help to ensure that community cinema thrives. Cinema For All (formerly the British Federation of Film Societies, BFFS) is the UK’s national support and development organisation for community-led cinema, including EQOOWPKV[ EKPGOCU Æ’NO ENWDU CPF UQEKGVKGU +V JGNRU EQOOWPKVKGU VQ FGXGNQR CPF UWUVCKP VJG V[RG QH Æ’NO UETGGPKPIU VJG[ YCPV +V PQY JCU CTQWPF OGODGTU 6JG +PFGRGPFGPV %KPGOC 1HÆ’EG +%1 KU VJG PCVKQPCN UWRRQTV QTICPKUCVKQP HQT KPFGRGPFGPV GZJKDKVQTU QH CNN MKPFU KPENWFKPI EKPGOCU Æ’NO HGUVKXCNU CPF Æ’NO UQEKGVKGU It acts as a programming advisor, distributor, consultancy, development agency, and RTQXKFGT QH VTCKPKPI DTKPIKPI C YKFG TCPIG QH Æ’NOU VQ C TCPIG QH CWFKGPEGU BFI Neighbourhood Cinema and its Film Audience Network are part of Film Forever, a BFI scheme to help create cinema experiences in local community venues. 6JG CKO KU VQ DQQUV CWFKGPEGUŦ EJQKEG QH Æ’NO CPF VQ KPETGCUG VJG TGCEJ QH EKPGOC into rural and urban communities. The lottery-backed Neighbourhood Cinema Fund is helping community cinemas to offer quality local cinema experiences using DVDDCUGF GSWKROGPV UJQYKPI C YKFG XCTKGV[ QH Æ’NOU CV CHHQTFCDNG RTKEGU 6JG (WPF CKOU to grow audiences, establish and develop community venues in underserved areas, and give advice, information and networking opportunities. The BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Touring Fund provides grants to enable touring cinemas to set up in underserved areas and increase specialised programming in existing community cinemas. The BFI Neighbourhood Cinema Equipment Fund helps provide equipment HQT GZKUVKPI EQOOWPKV[ EKPGOCU YYY DÆ’ QTI WM PGKIJDQWTJQQFEKPGOC

Always ready for use: Saffron Screen’s 35mm kit

2011 Digital projector installed First live event screened

2012 Saffron Screen on the Green pop-up screening Film Festival

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

Europa Cinemas is funded from the EC MEDIA programme, focusing on KPETGCUKPI VJG GZRQUWTG QH 'WTQRGCP Æ’NOU +V RTQXKFGU UWRRQTV VQ EKPGOCU VJCV UETGGP 'WTQRGCP PQP PCVKQPCN Æ’NOU CPF JGNRU EKPGOCU ETGCVG CEVKXG TGNCVKQPUJKRU YKVJ VJGKT communities in order to thrive.

2013 Shortlisted for Exhibitor of the Year at the Screen Marketing Awards

2014

2015

2016

Launch of Pop-up Saffron Screen

Shortlisted for Cinema of the Year at the Screen Awards

Saffron Screen celebrates KVU VJ anniversary!

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


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The business model

The business model for the cinema relies on a core of part-time paid staff (Paul is paid for 24 hours a week) and a large number of volunteers. There is a cinema manager, who looks after and organises all FOH and ticketing matters, a marketing manager who carries out the full range of publicity and liaison activities, and a marketing sssistant. Paul has an assistant technical manager responsible for setting up all the weekend’s films. There are three box office staff (tickets are also sold at the town’s Tourist Information Centre), a duty manager and two assistants. Thanks to the volunteers the business model works well — financially, Saffron Screen is self-supporting. Ticket prices are deliberately kept to modest levels, typically around £7. The average number of tickets sold for the 202 raked foldaway-seat auditorium over all showings is about 99 — a figure that many small cinemas would envy.

High standards

Paul has always been keen to ensure the highest technical standards in the projection room, and has been on many training courses and encouraged the other members of the projection team to qualify for BKSTS CTC certification — they won the BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

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a GDC server unit. Dolby Digital DA20 and CP55 processors provide the sound. There is a Panasonic video projector which is mainly used by the school for presentations and by the School Film Club.

Looking to the future

Support from volunteers ensures that the Saffron Screen business model is a viable one

Projection Team of the Year Award in 2010. A team of up to six volunteer projectionists do most film screenings, whilst Paul is responsible for all business and technical aspects, and managing live satellite events and pop-up cinema screenings. A look around the clean and tidy projection room showed the original Kinoton FP20 35mm projector with a Westrex tower, only used these days for special ‘film festivals’ and the like, but it is kept in ‘ready-to-use’ condition. The Barco DP2K-15C digital cinema projector is now around five years old, and this works from

The management board that oversees Saffron Screen is well aware that the cinema could potentially do much more than its current single screen permits. Experience has shown that there is a great demand for the various extra ‘pop-up cinema’ events that it mounts from time to time, and the audience statistics show that it could be financially viable to open a second or even a third screen. This would provide Saffron Walden audiences with the chance to see an even wider range of movies, including recent main releases. Such a big change would need a new building, presumably in the town centre, so would involve massive new challenges, financial and commercial. Although the very idea of moving from today’s very successful, if perhaps rather limited, community cinema into a huge uncharted expansion might seem daunting, having seen what the Saffron Screen team and its army of volunteers have achieved in its first ten years, I can only wish them the best of luck and look forward to seeing where they will be in another ten. JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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THE PARKWAY, BEVERLEY

65

A new venue for Parkway

A new independent cinema in East Yorkshire is a technical tour de force. Here Darren Briggs, digital cinema engineering manager at Arts Alliance Media, tells the story behind the installation.

P THE PROJECTORS

Projector choice was based on a brief from Parkway to be ‘future proof’. This led to the decision to have 4K in the large screen 6 but use projectors capable of upgrading to 4K if required in the medium-size screens using the CP2220. All use the Christie IMB-S2 solution for the playback server. MasterImage Wave 3D systems are installed in screens 3 and 4. AAM Screenwriter TMS software runs on a LANsat box from Motion Picture Solutions, providing easy central management of all screens and incoming content. Screen 1 Projector: CP2215 2KAudio: LA1 HF/MF, S115 LF, S218 sub Screen 2 Projector: CP2220 2KAudio: LA1 HF/MF, S115 LF, S218 sub Screen 3 Projector: CP2220 2K, plus MasterImage 3D Audio: LA1 HF/MF, S115 LF, S218 sub Screen 4 projector: CP2220 2K, plus MasterImage 3D Audio: LA1 HF/MF, S115 LF, S218 sub Screen 5 projector: CP2215 2K Audio: LA1 HF/MF, S115 LF, S218 sub Screen 6 projector: CP4220 4K Audio: LA2 HF/MF, S115 LF, S218 sub x2

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arkway Entertainment — an independent chain run by the family of that wellknown UK cinema figure, the late Gerald Parkes — has opened a new six screen multiplex in Beverley, East Yorkshire, with installation managed by Arts Alliance Media. Gerald’s sons Gerrard and Richard Parkes were the creative driving force for the spec and look of the site, something their father would have been proud of. (Note the image of the Tower Reel light fittings, above!). AAM supports many UK independent cinemas both for projection and sound systems, and has worked with Parkway since 2005, with the pioneering Digital Screen Network DSN project, and we continue to support the various Parkway sites to this day. Parkway Entertainment has three other sites: Cleethorpes with nine screens, Louth with three and Barnsley with two (which is jointly run with Rob Younger of Propix UK, who also runs the

Above left, the LA3S line array surround system Above right, the creative foyer in the new cinema

CineEurope in 2015 to confirm some thoughts on what they wanted to install and what was realistic in costs. Speaking to staff at other Parkway sites, it was clear that Christie Projection was preferred from a user point of view. With this in mind, Christie were brought in and they proposed that they could also provide the full audio equipment line-up. I knew that Christie Vive Audio is top-of-the-range equipment using the latest Line Array technology, so had some initial concerns over cost, but with the long-standing relationship between AAM and Christie, we managed to put together a package of projection (see panel left) and sound which came in well below the cost of using alternative standard sound equipment. As such, all screens use the Christie SKA-3D audio processor and the VIVE audio range of cinema speakers in 7.1 configuration. Amplifiers are all from the VIVE audio range with CDA2, CDA3 and CDA5 units.

“CAREFUL DESIGN IS IMPORTANT IN ANY PROJECT, WHETHER ITS A SINGLE PROJECTOR OR A FULL MULTIPLEX INSTALLATION” Station Cinema in Richmond, N. Yorkshire). The state-of-the-art six screen Parkway Beverley is housed in the brand new Flemingate Centre in the heart of the town. It offers six auditoria, with Screen 6 also being ‘The Hayward Theatre’, a multifunction theatre venue. Having been involved from the start, I was invited to suggest a specification for all six cinema systems, both projection and sound, meeting Richard and Gerrard Parkes at

Screen 6 was the first in Europe to use the LA2 Line array (HF/MF unit) with a dual 15in LF sub unit. This gives 24 drivers per stage channel alone. Backed up with two dual 18in sub units providing 4KW of sub bass. All other screens use the LA1 line arrays and single 15in LF sub units per stage channel and a single S218 dual 18in sub per auditorium. The surrounds also employ ribbon driver technology. Mounted high on the JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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THE PARKWAY, BEVERLEY

wall, these give a wide horizontal dispersion which spreads the sound along the wall, giving a seamless transfer of sound from stage to surround channels. Movement around the four surround channels in 7.1 is provided. Chris Connett (well-known in his former role at Dolby) heads up the VIVE audio range for Christie in EMEA. When we fired up Screen 6, the result was, in his words, ‘very impressive’.

Processing and control

The Christie SKA-3D audio processor provides internal crossovers for the bi-amp configuration of all screens. In addition, it provides flexible alternative content processing. Plug in an HDMI lead, select the projector channel and audio is all taken care of by the processor, with the advantage of DTS audio decoding in addition to Dolby Digital decoding for Blu-ray/DVD/HD-Sat playback. This is a major advantage over other cinema processors in the same price range and cheaper than buying two separate boxes (cinema processor and scaler). VGA and component video inputs are also available, together with controls over image scaling and video control. A web interface allows remote control of the unit.

Installation

Installation started with pre-build of audio racks and cabling in the AAM workshops. Careful design is important in any project, whether it’s a single replacement projector, sound system upgrade or a full multiplex installation. Supply of cable schedules to electrical contractors is vital —knowing you can arrive on site with fully labelled cables of the right type and specification makes installation far smoother.In this instance, accepting the delivery of equipment on site took a full day and a half. An articulated lorry full of VIVE audio kit arrived from the Amsterdam warehouse —it took a day simply to move the equipment into the building. With each of seven S218 subwoofer units being more than 100kg, even with the assistance of a fork-lift to get equipment onto the auditorium level, the AAM engineers had a work-out. As with many site builds (AAM also installs all Picturehouse sites and others, so we are regularly involved in ground-up installations), things tend to run a little late and to the wire, so the projection area was often a busy place. Integra, the electrical contractors worked extremely well with us to see that we were not held up in any way, and provided great assistance in ensuring what they had provided was correct. Even when a single infra-red system power cable was missing, it was found and presented from the ceiling void in minutes, with no delay to our install whatsoever. Chris, from Christie, attended the site to lend a hand and ensure the audio systems CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

performed well in all the auditoria. He was a great help in what became a busy final three days of installation. Screens were only fully in place three days before opening, to ensure rooms were as dust-free as possible. Technical support at Beverley is given by AAM engineers who also look after over 100 UK independent sites. Five full-time engineers assist cinemas from Stornoway in the Hebrides to Kingsbridge in Devon, with an engineer never too far away. They are backed by telephone support from AAM’s London helpdesk.

Ready for Star Wars and Beyond…

The Parkway Beverley cinema opened in time for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, running the film in both 2D and 3D.

Screen 6 at the Beverley Parkway also hosts “The Hayward Theatre”, a multi-function venue

Commercially, the cinema is already a success. In less than two months, it managed to bring in the fifth highest revenue in the UK for Dad’s Army, starting as they mean to continue — onwards and upwards for independent cinema operators. Live satellite broadcasts are also planned, bringing a new type of cinema content to Beverley alongside a varied programme. With the new theatre opening in Beverley, Parkway continues its mission: to present the best current releases, and offer the best theatrical experience for an audience of all tastes and ages, by becoming part of the community it serves.

THE KEY INFORMATION

parkway, beverley SCREENS: 6 (2 with 3D) OPENED in: 2015 Projectors:Christie CP2215/2220/4220 owner:Parkway Entertainment Website: beverley.parkwaycinemas.co.uk

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Dolby Atmos: Global Momentum

1800+

465+

Screens have installed or committed to Dolby Atmos

Titles announced using Dolby Atmos

130+

Mixing-Facilities worldwide use Dolby Atmos

2016 Oscar® Winners Mad Max: Fury Road (Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing) and Inside Out (Best Animated) featured Dolby Atmos sound

Major Directors including Alejandro González Iñárritu,

Ron Howard, Ridley Scott, Guy Ritchie, Francis Lawrence, and George Miller, among others have used Dolby Atmos

DOLBY.COM/ATMOS


CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

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CINERAMA

69

Cinerama to digital cinema:

from the zenith to the decline I Enric Mas argues that the pioneers of cinema set a bar far higher than today’s digital cinema can ever reach try to imagine what audiences felt when they first saw a movie in Cinerama… but I can’t. Did they feel the same as I did when I saw a projection in 70mm IMAX for the first time? Some clues tell me the answer is no. Howard Rust, of the International Cinerama Society, gave me an initial clue when he told me that he was “talking to a chap the other day who’d just been to see IMAX. ‘Sensational’, he said. ‘But, you know… it still doesn’t give you the same pins and needles up and down the back of your spine that Cinerama does’”.

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

What’s the secret? How is it that seeing a film in Cinerama can be a unique event remembered for decades? We have another clue in the man who collaborated with D.W. Griffith in That Royle Girl (1925), who produced and directed technically innovative short films, where black performers appeared, a rarity at the time, including the first appearance of Billie Holliday (Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life, 1935). He created a new imaging system (Vitarama) for the World’s Fair in New York (1939), joining 11 16mm projectors, which reached a vertical image

Fred Waller’s artillery simulator (above WUGF ƒXG 35mm projectors to create “targets” — aircraft. A roller-coaster ride: the Cinerama screen (top) allowed the audience to get close up to the action

of 75 degrees high and 130 degrees wide, developments which led to the most advanced artillery simulator in the world, used to train future aircraft gunners in World War II. This man’s name was Fred Waller. We have more clues in Waller’s other collaborators: Hazard Reeves, a sound engineer who helped popularise the use of quartz crystals for radio transmitters and incorporated a stereo system (in a sevenchannel format) into Waller’s idea; Lowell

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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CINERAMA

Fred Waller with the 11-camera Vitarama set up created for 1939 World Fair. Cinerama’s threeRTQLGEVQT UGV WR NGCF VQ UQOG FTCOCVKE ƒNO right)

HISTORY REPEATING This would all be history were it not that history is repeated. Digital cinema (Digital Light Processing, DLP), invented by Texas Instruments, was introduced in 1997. It had a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels, distributed across a huge screen, which sounds to today’s viewer like a very low resolution. An endless list of projectors arrived demonstrating the industry’s desire to improve resolution, culminating in the introduction of 4K and the prospect of 8K. Websites dedicated to 4K acknowledge that “70mm Imax projection also beats out 4K projection in terms of sheer resolution, creating something closer to 8K in qualityâ€? (which is not twice, but higher) and that “the difference between 70mm IMAX screens and just about anything else truly is noticeableâ€?. (see www.4K.com) These quotes are from supposed experts. The director Steve McQueen has said, why try to imitate what you already have? The same answer lies behind most of Hollywood’s riddles: OQPG[ 6JG 75 DQZ QHĆ’EG TGCEJGF $11billion in 2013, split roughly 50/50 between a few studios and thousands of theatre operators (all of which rely on concessions to DQQUV RTQĆ’VU #PF FKIKVCN EKPGOC represents, in theory, a reduction in costs in production and distribution. Here’s the key. Big studios do not care deeply whether the resolution KU JKIJGT KP VJG Ć’NO PGICVKXG QT whether the sense that the viewer RGTEGKXGU KU OQTG TGCN YKVJ Ć’NO or whether digital cinema looks pixelated. People like McQueen know this and prove it when they say bluntly that “all this technology, KVĹŚU EJCPIKPI GXGT[ Ć’XG OKPWVGU because someone’s making some money out of itâ€?. He adds about TGGN VQ TGGN Ć’NO ĹŠ6JGTGĹŚU UQOGVJKPI TQOCPVKE CDQWV Ć’NO 5QOG UQTV QH magic — it’s almost like it breathes. Film feels much more‌ ‘human’?â€?.

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

Thomas, a writer and traveller who filmed the legendary T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) in the Palestine campaign during World War I; Michael Todd, a producer, who after leaving the Cinerama project, created the Todd-AO system with American Optical, (with a projection of 70mm and six audio channels) to try to compete with Cinerama; Merian C. Cooper, an aviator, writer, producer and director known for innovations in King Kong (1933) and the first film in Technicolor (Becky Sharp, 1935). He directed This Is Cinerama (1952), the first film in the Cinerama system. If we try to imagine all these innovators together in a single project, we can begin to understand why Cinerama is so important. The system arose in response to the loss of viewers at the cinema and the fight with television — and the response was overwhelming. The Cinerama system has three 35mm projectors that project to 26fps to improve stability, a screen aspect ratio of 2.65:1 in a curved screen with an image that includes a 146 degree visual field and seven multi-channel sound. If we imagine an audience accustomed to watching films on an almost square screen (1.33:1), mostly in black-and-white with mono sound, we can deduce the impact on the viewer. But there is something more than that. Fred Waller was obsessed with reproducing the full range of human vision in a motion-picture experience. He created film cameras with 27mm focal length lenses, a very close approximation to the focal length of the human eye; the screen is curved at the same radius as the human retina; the camera lens had the same size as a contact lens of that

Cineramaâ€?, (see page 83) however CinemaScope triumphed nonetheless. Why? An aggressive strategy by Twentieth Century Fox to impose it‌ and the press, with critics such as Bosley Crowther of the New York Times finding it “similar to Cineramaâ€? (!?). An estimated 200 to 350 cinemas per week converted to CinemaScope and by April 1954, 3,500 were installed. In mid-1955 it was 13,500. The industry adopted Panavision (a modification of CinemaScope with new lenses) as a standard in 1959.

the quest for the spectacular

The spectacular impact of the Cinerama format helps to explain why a group of cinema’s best directors is struggling to preserve reel-to-reel film (either 35 or 70mm). Directors Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino are among the best

“WE ENJOY INCREDIBLE TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS — THAT END WITH OUR TAKING A SELFIE ON A MOBILE PHONEâ€? time (rigid); and the projection covers a 146 degree horizontal angle of view, very close to the human binocular visual field. Understandably, the technical difficulties of production, filming and editing did minimise Cinerama footage and screenings. But contemporaneously, a battle to match the Cinerama format began: the aforementioned Todd-AO, Super and Ultra Panavision 70, VistaVision, Technirama and Super Technirama 70 — and the best known: CinemaScope (1953), which developed a system created by Henri ChrĂŠtien in 1929, using anamorphic lens (manufactured by Panavision, Inc.). In this issue of Cinema Technology, Grant Lobban explores the advent of this format that some critics decried as a “a poor man’s

known. Tarantino, at Cannes in 2014, said “digital projection and DCPs are the death of cinema as I know. [‌] Digital projection, that’s just television in public — and, apparently, the whole world is okay with television in public, but what I knew as cinema is deadâ€?. And further: “We have ceded too much territory to the Barbariansâ€?. Something important has happened. It’s a familiar story — it has happened with music, photography, books, and now it’s the movies. In trivialising a format (as CDs transitioned to MP3s), the music industry has made people assume they no longer need to buy CDs. The psychological effect is terrible. I no longer “buy the CDâ€?, I don’t need it. Now I just “buy the musicâ€?. People are so accustomed to materialism that we www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


no longer remember the romance of the little things — if something is not being sold in a physical form, its value is just smoke. If I no longer need CDs, I don’t need the stores where they sell them either and, ultimately, I don’t need to buy the MP3 if a friend can get it for me or I download it myself. The situation with photography is identical. If you do not need negatives, you no longer need a place to develop them. You do not need photo albums — you send images over the Internet. Ultimately, you don’t need a camera because your smartphone can solve everything. Christopher Nolan also refers to this format trivialisation impacting film, highlighting how ‘content’ can be ported across phones, watches, petrol station pumps or any other screen — and the suggestion is that movie theatres should accept their place as just another of these ‘platforms’. He says: “This bleak future is the direction the industry is pointed in, but even if it arrives it will not last”. His prediction is that with the current evolution of the industry, films will be seen mainly at home, with the few surviving theatres being relegated to hosting events for films focused on fans or franchises. Claiming that the public knows the background to these issues is illusory. There is one aspect that puzzles: why do the people who are supposedly experts, the critics, filmmakers, collectors, not want to accept the reality of the situation? They have all contributed to this. I remember colleagues saying that the CD was the ultimate solution for music. It was created with that intention. They were then astounded by the MP3… and then they stopped buying music. Meanwhile, die-hards bought (and are still buying) vinyl. The case of photography is identical. We enjoy incredible technological developments that end with our taking a selfie on a mobile phone to be uploaded to the Internet in a compressed format. There www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

is a gap between so-called experts and true lovers of art: experts think they know the truth imposed and assume it as their own, the latter knows art expresses the truth.

There is A ray of hope

There is hope. For example, in Barcelona, a city I know a little, there are options for cinemagoers such as the Zumzeig bistrocinema, the Texas theatres and the “Phenomena Experience” theatre. These are fighting back in the digital war. The Zumzeig combines programming of films and documentaries that are difficult (if not impossible) to see elsewhere. It has a taste for films in their original version, with the possibility of projecting in 16 or 35mm, alongside presentations by producers and directors. What a concept — if you are the only venue to show a film, you don’t have any competition. Viewers can sit in the bistro afterwards to chat about the film — a great way to spend the afternoon. Cinemes Texas is a revival house at an affordable price, with original versions and an awareness of the state of cinema (is it a coincidence that there was a Steve McQueen film and Catalonian films at its inauguration?). The Phenomena Experience theatre offers revivals, showings in 35 and 70mm, original versions, seasons, a catalogue worthy of the best film libraries… It is the only theatre in Spain that showed Tarantino’s latest film, The Hateful Eight, under the conditions set by the director (70mm and Ultra Panavision). Guess where I went to see that movie? For all those geeks who think they know the truth about the advancement of digital cinema, the opportunity exists to open their eyes wider (literally). It’s easy: see a film in 70mm and UltraPanavision then in digital cinema (in 4K, even). Sit the same distance from the screen on both occasions and judge which is the better experience. JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


Design Right, Build Right, Stay Right.

In-theater screen monitoring for maintaining presentation excellence For more information visit: www.harkness-screens.com/curolux

TM

Operator Lease Opportunity Campbeltown Community Business Ltd is seeking a professional partner to operate the restored and redeveloped 2-screen Campbeltown Picture House, and contribute to investment in the redevelopment. Expressions of interest are invited for the operating lease of the historic cinema, scheduled to reopen in Spring 2017.

Š Burrell Foley Fischer LLP Architects

For more information and to register expression of interest, contact: Ron Inglis, Project Manager - The Centenary Project, Campbeltown Picture House at: ron.inglis@craigmount.org. Deadline for submitting expressions of interest: 24 June 2016

Coastal Communities munities Fund

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


UKCA

73

ALERT, NOT ALARMED

In today’s world, cinemas need to be cautious — not paranoid — about heightened security risks

Phil clapp chief executive, UKCA

businesses. These were found to be hugely valuable and the Association would certainly encourage others to consider their involvement. Any companies wishing to receive similar training for their employees can register their interest at http://ow.ly/ b7ET3004hs1

Stay safe, eyes wide open

FOLLOWING INCIDENTS in the past six months in Paris and then Brussels, the UK Cinema Association has recently taken the opportunity to revisit and to refresh longstanding advice to its members on cinema security issues. The core message to cinema staff is to remain alert, but not alarmed — to focus on what can be done to ensure that cinemas are safe, not least through ensuring that relevant information is communicated through the appropriate channels. The Association’s actions come at a time when the security threat level in the UK is categorised as severe, which means that a major incident is highly likely. If that sounds alarming, it is perhaps worth noting that the UK has been operating at this level since August 2014. Cinemas are among a range of venues identified as presenting a particular security challenge: they are places where large numbers of people gather and which are sometimes found in high profile location(s). In addition, they sometimes

show challenging or controversial content. In 2012, the Association established a Security Working Group to discuss and to share best practice around issues such as security training and awareness and cyberfraud. Through this work, the Association has established good working relationships and channels of communication with a variety of contacts — including the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NACTSO), the body responsible for raising awareness of the national security threat. NACTSO also has an important advisory role to educate the public on measures that can be taken to reduce the risks and mitigate the effects of any serious incident.

Project Griffin training As a result of this relationship, a number of circuit cinema sites have acted to host counter-terrorism awareness training sessions under Project Griffin, whereby local police and NaCTSO contacts provide security and crime prevention training to frontline staff in cinemas and other local

“CINEMAS ARE IN A RANGE OF VENUES IDENTIFIED AS PRESENTING A PARTICULAR SECURITY CHALLENGES”

www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

The Association has also been able to make a number of resources available to members to support cinemas in ensuring that they have appropriate policies and procedures in place. Many are of broader relevance to colleagues across the film industry (and indeed more widely). The ‘Stay Safe’ and ‘Eyes Wide Open’ training videos provide information on precautionary measures that can be taken to improve security awareness amongst staff, not least around what to do in the event of a security incident; The Protective Security Improvement Activity (PSIA) Toolkit was trialled by several of the UK’s largest cinema operators in 2013 and found to be useful in helping them to improve their security on a site by site basis and identify gaps in policies and procedures. The PSIA toolkit helps cinema staff to assess the level of security threat to their site and offers advice on what can be done to help safeguard each business through developing a more tailored approach in identifying and reducing vulnerability. The vast majority of measures can be implemented at little or no cost. The training resources and toolkit are designed to be transferable and applicable to a wide range of organisations and business sectors, not just cinema exhibition. The Association has recently made these available to all of its members, but others can access them either directly from NaCTSO (www.gov.uk/nactso) or via the UK Cinema Association Head Office — info@cinemauk. org.uk — where further information on any of the above can also be sought.

If you would like to attend UKCA events or find out more, email Annette Bradford on annette@cinemauk.org.uk

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


74

EVENT CINEMA ASSOCIATION

A SIGN O’ THE TIMES

A strong studio slate last year may have slowed event cinema’s march, but it hasn’t stopped it Melissa Cogavin managing director Groovy: the ECA’s Melissa Cogavin and Fathom Events’ CEO John Rubey hanging out in Vegas

The path to growth

THE ECA HAD A GREAT start to 2016 and, perhaps indicative of the general sense around the globe of the possibilities in this area, we’ve grown our membership substantially since January — and this includes new members from Ukraine and Japan for the first time. In line with our mission spelled out in our most recent article for Cinema Technology (i.e. to decentralise our activities away from London and focus on our membership in other territories), we’ve worked hard to make that mission a reality. To that end we have hosted or attended overseas events on a monthly basis: Utah’s Arthouse Convergence, the British Film Festival in Belgrade, Cinema 2020 in Amsterdam, CinemaCon in Las Vegas, Kino 2016 in Karlsruhe — and it’s only half way through the year! Our CinemaCon cocktail reception (above) held with our friends at Fathom Events and Cineplex was well attended

and the feeling amongst our guests was positive. All week, my LA-based colleague Jonathan Ross and I saw event cinema increasingly viewed in North America as it is in the UK: as an asset to exhibitors, content providers and technology firms alike. It offers an invaluable revenue stream with fantastic, largely untapped potential. It was infectious to hear such passion and commitment and we came back from the US thoroughly inspired and excited for the future of our sector.

Dates in the diary In August, we are hosting a half-day seminar as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, aimed at content providers and local exhibitors, and then in October we are hosting our Stockholm one-day conference with the intention of learning from our Scandinavian friends about their event cinema experience.

But it’s not all fun and games. This year, we’ve seen some developments in event cinema that have been unlike previous years, and tough questions are being asked about the future. The record-breaking productions we have become accustomed to in this arena have slowed down recently and there have been one or two events that have not performed to expectations, casting doubt on future planned events. In context, against arguably one of the strongest studio slates that the industry has seen in a decade, it’s not as simple as saying the party’s over; it is symptomatic of changing times we live in, bombarded by content as we are from the moment we wake up each day, and the event cinema industry is still in a pioneering period. The established arts content continues to perform well and there is a lot of talk about gaming this year. Possibilities are still endless, but the path to growth is not a straight line. The upward trajectory we’ve seen from event cinema was at such a keen angle that it was unlikely to continue at that rate indefinitely, but — as William Goldman reminds us — in this industry, nobody knows anything.

CineEurope — bag a seat early At CineEurope in Barcelona this month James Dobbin of Showcase Cinemas will not be shying away from this together with other issues, challenging a fantastic panel on the subject “10 Years of Event Cinema: What have we learned and what does the future look like?” at our eagerly anticipated ECA Focus Session on the Trade Show Floor on Wednesday afternoon. Places are limited so get there early. We had to turn people away last year, which shows interest in this area is greater than the number of seats we could provide and that must be good news.

“IN THE USA, IT WAS INFECTIOUS TO HEAR SUCH PASSION FOR EVENT CINEMA. WE CAME BACK INSPIRED” visit www.eventcinemassociation.org CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

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76

UNIC

INNOVATE & THRIVE

UNIC’s mission to keep exhibitors at the forefront of technology will benefit their box office GUILLAUME BRANDERS, PROJECT MANAGER AT THE INTERNATIONAL UNION OF CINEMAS

WITH CLOSE TO 95 PER CENT OF screens across UNIC territories digitised in 2015, an increasing number of experts believe that exhibition has today effectively transformed into an IT industry, as cinema operation is now mostly software-based. That seismic shift has seen a whole host of outstanding developments, in image and sound terms, inside the screening room. The cinema experience is getting closer and closer to technical perfection. The most obvious improvement that one would mention is the improved facilitation of film delivery, the most significant impact of which is the incredible programming flexibility it offers exhibitors. In short, there are more films screened at local cinemas than ever before. Diversity can also be observed in the content on offer, including live broadcasts enabled by satellite delivery. In turn, operators have been developing and experimenting with digital applications in order to engage their audience before, during and after the screening. Progress in data analytics gives exhibitors the chance to monitor new consumer trends and tailor

their marketing strategy to the needs and preferences of patrons, including younger demographics. Online ticketing, apps and dynamic pricing are but a few concepts thriving in this new digital ecosystem.

Better than at home… Offering cinemagoers an experience that cannot be reproduced at home remains the underlying objective of our sector. In recent months, the industry has tackled this challenge impressively through a number of technical enhancements inside the screening room. For instance, premium large formats have resulted in much wider, sometimes expanding screens being built and implemented in theatres around the world. Immersive sound systems have been integrated in an impressive number of auditoriums at a pace that, arguably, no-one could have predicted. In addition, laser projectors, while still arguably in a developmental phase, could improve image quality and result in cost efficiency. These technologies have been embraced by several renowned filmmakers, and have

made a lasting impact on those lucky enough to experience them. Wide colour gamut, high dynamic range or high frame rates — from 48fps to 120fps – were all described at CinemaCon as disruptive innovations that could redefine the Big Screen experience . As innovation and change becomes central to the business, UNIC looks to assist exhibitors in identifying “game changing” technologies, evaluating new consumer trends and ensuring that investment in upgrades leads to tangible returns. Cinema operators want to be able to screen as many movies as possible in all of the above formats. For this reason, UNIC published a statement on the need for open standards, highlighting how creative decisions in the film-making process can have a direct impact on exhibitors’ ability to show certain films. We are convinced that open standards would, in turn, allow new and innovative formats to flourish and be adopted more widely. UNIC will continue to assist operators with this multitude of different topics to help ensure cinema remains the gold standard for watching films together in the digital era. Our different expert groups — including the UNIC Technology Group — monitor and evaluate these trends, in close collaboration with manufacturers, service providers and key industry associations. For instance, UNIC is currently working with the EDCF to facilitate SMPTE-DCP roll-out in Europe and is involved in debates surrounding a number of other innovative developments. Perhaps most exciting, though, is the fact that more lies ahead, thanks to astonishing technology in development. Looking at the film-making process, light field imaging could offer unlimited technical possibilities to directors. It also remains to be seen how virtual and augmented reality could be integrated into cinemas without impacting upon the social dimension of watching a film together on the big screen. We will surely hear more on these fascinating topics during CineEurope, the official convention of UNIC. See you in Barcelona!

“UNIC WILL CONTINUE TO HELP ENSURE CINEMA REMAINS THE GOLD STANDARD FOR WATCHING FILMS” FOR MORE INFORMATION ON UNIC, VISIT WWW.UNIC-CINEMAS.ORG

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY

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EUROPEAN DIGITAL CINEMA

77

DCINEMA: ALL DONE?

What are the key issues for the EDCF to address in the future? The membership has spoken…

John Graham EDCF General secretary

TO HELP SET OUR upcoming programme of activity, several weeks ago we posted a questionnaire to all EDCF members for them to tell us what are their key issues as they move their technology and businesses forward. We suggested 24 likely topics on our list and, not surprisingly, members added more of their own as part of their responses. The “winner” — the topic with most votes — was higher dynamic range, followed closely by laser-illuminated projection, immersive audio and digital cinema 2.0 standards. The full results of this survey will be posted on the EDCF website (www. edcf.net) in the near future. This exercise was at the centre of a reality check by the EDCF board asking itself whether there is still a role to play now most screens in Europe are converted to digital? The fact that nearly 30 issues have been recognised as needing attention underlines that, after 14 years, the EDCF still has a significant opportunity in helping the industry resolve questions and issues.

EDCF @ IBC EDCF is again heavily involved in the Big Screen programme at this year’s IBC in Amsterdam. Following on from many years of providing exciting informative cinema sessions, this year’s Big Screen programme promises to be the best ever with emerging new technologies and leading creatives pushing the boundaries still further. The EDCF Global Update session will be on Sunday, 11 September and will bring delegates up to speed with the latest business and technology developments in cinema

SMPTE project update The EDCF/UNIC project leading the transition to SMPTE DCPs has made significant progress. The project group includes studios, distributors, exhibitors, manufacturers and integrators. The first step for the project group was to agree on the core feature set of the standard and then create test content designed to check the operation in European installations. Knowing that exhibition has limited budget, time and appetite for endless testing, we decided to start the compatibility on a region-by-region basis. This enabled us to www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

around the world. We will offer a review of the state of the world-wide cinema industry — technological developments and the success, or otherwise, of the business. The introduction and development of laser projection technologies is bringing new operational challenges for cinema operators; what are these and how are they being dealt with? “Cinema Distribution in the Age of Ubiquitous Data” will examine possibilities for cinema distribution in environments having massive storage and network

connectivity. We will also examine how far electronic delivery has progressed in Europe. The long-awaited and long-debated transition to SMPTE DCPs is now becoming an operational reality. The importance of this move and how it is being managed in Europe will also be explained. Finally, “Loudness, the science and the politics” will bring a new slant on this often debated topic. These and many more areas of interest will be exposed in this fast-moving, interactive session. This and all the Big Screen sessions are Free Entry. Keep up to date at ibc.org

gather data on equipment and configurations to find problems and avoid dark screen situations. The first countries selected were the Netherlands and Norway, as distribution in both territories is managed primarily by a single entity (Film & Kino in Norway and Gofilex in Netherlands) where equipment line-up is known and very exact information could be collected as the testing rolled out. Every installation in these countries has now been tested with feature films in the SMPTE DCP format. In summary, the test content has been pivotal and revealed those areas where upgrades have been required.

Most of these have been firmware upgrades although there are a few early systems which will need new hardware to manage the inevitable complete conversion over the next year or so. The single biggest lesson learned is that regular updating of D Cinema software will need to be planned and managed just as it is in the IT industry. the EDCF Provides common understanding across all European territories of business and technical matters in digital cinema. for details, visit www.edcf.net

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


78

UKCA LONDON MEETING

UKCA Lightvibes demo at Genesis ®

At the recent UKCA regional meeting at the Genesis cinema in London, attendees were privileged to view an extensive demo of Philips’ LightVibes system.

T

en of the large LightVibes® LED panels were mounted on the side walls of Screen 1, and it was intriguing to see how the images and colours on these, together with computer-controlled, rapidly switched spotlighting, really did bring excitement and impact to a pop concert performance on screen. The system certainly enhanced the sense of ‘immersion’, and rather than the LED panels distracting from the action on the main screen, they seemed to add to the overall ambience. With your awareness of the extra screens only apparent in your peripheral vision, they add an extra ‘something’ to the performance. Clever lighting also enhanced the architecture of the auditorium, highlighting various features as the performance took place. The occasion provided a good opportunity for many cinema owners to see the potential of the lightvibes system for themselves, and to discuss the costs CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

involved in fitting the equipment into their cinemas. Some 40 UKCA members from cinemas large and small and industry colleagues were welcomed by London branch chairman Stuart Hall. The public sessions included talks on access initiatives, the IntoFilm project which encourages children to get into the cinema-going habit, piracy issues, and cinema security, particularly relevant in light of recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels. There was much discussion of the Screening Room idea which would enable movie fans to pay to use a special set-top box which includes anti-piracy technology, to stream new films as soon as they are released. Some of the top Hollywood studios have evidently shown initial interest, but UKCA, together with

Step into another world in Stepney: the Genesis has been renovated to be a beacon for local cinema

cinema owners and operators in many parts of the world, are totally against the idea, believing it to represent a massive risk to the future of the industry. Jim Slater www.cinematechnologymagazine.com



80

THE STOCKPORT PLAZA

Making Cinema Special: a lesson from the past The Plaza in Stockport knew how to excite audiences in 1932 — and the experience is just as good in 2016

I

n recent times, Premium Large Formats and luxury niche cinemas have highlighted the need to keep on making a visit to the cinema something special. Using the latest technologies is only one part of the recipe — the whole ambiance around each visit must provide an air of excitement and anticipation, and systems such as Barco Escape and Dolby Cinema stress that the experience ‘begins in the lobby’ or even outside the cinema. I was fortunate to be invited to an event at the Plaza Cinema Stockport, organised by the local branch of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, that really did tick all the boxes as far as ‘keeping cinema special’ was concerned, and it was fascinating to see how all this was achieved using not the latest 2016 technologies, but the technologies that were the very latest thing back in 1932.

Immersed in jam and clotted cream…

The special experience started well before the show, with a fashionable ‘high-tea’ served in the cinema’s Art Deco café by smart waiting staff dressed in traditional black and white. A selection of delicate sandwiches and scones with jam and cream, presented on three-tier cake stands and served with leaf tea from individual pots, set the scene. We were then gently ushered into the 1,300-seat auditorium to the sounds of the Compton Organ, with its sunburst decorative glass panels. The traditional cinema music immediately got the audience into the mood for something really spectacular. The multi-coloured lighting system — originally Holophane but now programmable LED — provided some wonderful effects. Gary Trinder, who has been working on the project to restore The Plaza for nearly 20 years, told us of the history of the cinema and about its restoration, giving details of the building work, the craftsmanship that had gone into restoring everything from the curtains, to the seats, the carpets and the murals, as well as telling us about the projection equipment. Cinema Technology has followed this project along the way, carrying articles about the Plaza restoration in March 2010 and December 2003 The next treat of the evening was a

certainly hear the groove noise, but the sound we heard actually came from a married optical sound on film print. This was followed by a remarkable excerpt from the 1929 film Broadway Scandals where the sound came directly from a 16in disc. These discs last for 10mins, which matches the playing time of a 1,000ft film reel running

“WE WERE USHERED INTO THE AUDITORIUM TO THE SOUNDS OF THE COMPTON ORGAN, WITH ITS SUNBURST GLASS PANELS”

The Plaza Stockport’s original Kalee 8 projector — still in use, but only for very special occasions CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

screening of the 1931 Laurel and Hardy movie Hog Wild, in which Ollie can’t find his hat and the duo try to install a rooftop aerial. This was notable for being shown from the Plaza’s Kalee 8 Indomitable projector, illuminated by a pre-1935 carbon arc attachment, mounted on a Western Electric Universal base with turntable. The sound had been originally recorded on a 16in, 331/3rpm disc with a needle tracking from the centre outwards, and you could

at 24fps. Gary explained how the sound and picture needed to be synchronised by the projectionist putting the needle into the start groove at just the right time — it was ‘nearly but not quite’ when we saw and heard the results, as the projectionist had not quite managed to get the ‘start’ mark in exactly the right place! Although there was plenty of crackle from the recording, the dialogue was actually remarkably clear, and it was also surprising to learn that the www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


perfectly adequate volume level in the auditorium was achieved by means of a traditional valve amplifier providing just 8 Watts through horn loudspeakers at the centre of the screen. We learned that the disc played from the centre outwards so that as the needle wore down the increasing linear speed along the track compensated for the wear. Gary pointed out that this Western Electric audio equipment really was the top-class kit available in 1930, and would have cost £700 at that time — many thousands of pounds in today’s money.

access all areas

We were fortunate to be given a tour of the backstage areas — this is a fully functioning theatre as well as a cinema, so the Plaza has all the latest facilities for moving scenery about. I was particularly interested in the multi-ratio flying screen assembly that allows the 46ft screen to be flown in and out of position rapidly. It can display all film formats correctly and was custom-built by Omnex Pro Film. Omnex’s www.cinematechnologymagazine.com

Seating for all — the Plaza’s impressive Art Deco auditorium serves as both a cinema and a theatre

They don’t make them like they used to: the beautifully restored Plaza is a product of its time

managing director Ged Atherton has been enormously generous in unstintingly giving his time and equipment to the Plaza restoration project. A visit to the projection box allowed us to see the twin refurbished Western Electric Westar projectors which are used for the regular cinema showings, as well as the antique Kalee 8 which is reserved for special occasions. All those involved with the ongoing restoration of the Plaza are to be congratulated on the magnificent outcome

of their work so far. Donations to the Stockport Plaza Trust will help to continue the restoration and maintenance of what is truly a Super Cinema and Variety Theatre. It is sobering to see how, in the 1930s, a cinema such as the Plaza was fully capable of providing patrons with an unforgettable experience — an aspect that it is important for today’s cinema operators to match if they are to ensure that a night out at the cinema can still enchant the public. Jim Slater

THE KEY INFORMATION

PLAZA, STOCKPORT OPENED in: 1932 (reopened in 2009) Owned by: The stockport plaza trust Projector: kalee 8, Western Electric westar Audio: Compton organ & horn speakers website: stockportplaza.co.uk

JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


PRESENTS:

THE MOVIE INDUSTRY’S PREMIER NETWORKING EVENT

30TH ANNIVERSARY

2016 F O N TA I N E B L E A U

M I A M I

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THE HISTORY OF CINEMA

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all shapes and sizes: PRESENTING A BROADER VIEW Grant Lobban explores the rise, fall and rise again of a wider cinematic spectacle: the 2.35:1 format

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or the present generation, the most familiar shape of moving pictures is now television’s 16:9 (1.78:1) ratio, leaving the squarer 4:3 (1.33:1) to add old world charm to films from the past. At the cinema, the wider, 2.35:1 is still currently the most popular screen shape, a survivor from the days of film which has lived on into the digital age. The Telekinema, the 1951 Festival of Britain’s cinema of tomorrow, led the way with 3-D, stereo sound and ‘electronic’ pictures, but missed the chance to be in at the start of the widescreen revolution. The third dimension would come and go, but the other two were about to change for ever. The desire for a bigger and wider screen, dates back to the birth of the cinema, but there was always a reluctance to stray too far from normal practice, particularly the standard 35mm film format. This was pushed to its limits and beyond, when, in the 1920s, the Magnascope process surprised audiences by zooming up the size of the picture to give extra impact to spectacular scenes. Using it too often lost the novelty value and the disappointment when the screen shrunk back to normal led to finding a way to show the complete film on a larger screen. As those seated under the balcony couldn’t see the top of it, attention turned to simply making it wider.

Widescreen’s false start

The father of CinemaScope, Henri Chretien, and his original camera and projector lenses

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At the end of the 1920s, Hollywood took the idea seriously, shooting a few films on wider stock. With each studio choosing a different width and exhibitors’ panic at the thought of having to buy new projectors, this advance in presentation was put on hold. No need yet for a new attraction, as the public was already flocking to theatres to see, and hear, the latest “talkie�, which

could be shown using far less disruptive bolt-on sound equipment.

Don’t give up

Although the Depression and later wartime restrictions kept wide-film on the shelf, widescreen also had its own less costly add-on alternative in the form of ‘anamorphosis’. This optical trick could squeeze the wider picture onto normal 35mm film and expand it back during the film’s projection. The most persistent early promoter of this method was the French professor of optics, Henri Chretien, who first demonstrated his ‘Hypergonar’ distorting lens in 1927. His first suggested application was to compress two frames into the space of one, perhaps finding a use for those devising new two-colour or 3-D systems. However, after seeing impressive triptych sequences at the climax of Napoleon, his attention turned to using it to expand the screen. Chretien took every opportunity to demonstrate his lens which could help the industry to break free of the 4:3 screen without the need for wider films. Apart from those quite happy with 4:3, many experts dismissed this particular idea with doubts about maintaining the optical quality when mass-producing the more difficult to manufacture cylindrical lenses and other types of anamorphotic devices. The professor proved his attachment could produce good quality images when he projected two, side-by-side stretched out pictures on a huge outdoor panoramic screen on the facade of a pavilion at the Paris World Fair in, 1937. The Hypergonar wasn’t completely ignored, as both Paramount in the US and PathĂŠ in France tried it out behind the scenes, but didn’t go on to exploit it commercially. Following its last big push at the 1951 Congress Technique International in Italy, the Rank Organisation took out an JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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THE HISTORY OF CINEMA

option, but they too sat on the idea.

The right time arrives

All would change after the sensational debut of the triple projector Cinerama in New York during 1952. Waiting in the wings for Rank’s option to expire was 20th Century Fox looking for a more practical way to bring a similar eye-filling curved screen panoramic picture into ordinary cinemas. Perhaps Rank was wise to let Fox do all the work as, in the coming months, their quest for a wider screen would become the biggest gamble in the studio’s history. They were about to spend over $10 million (in 1950s money) developing their new process and commit a further $24 millionworth of productions to a system which no cinema in the world could show. The cost would include another $25,000 to purchase their chosen name for the process, CinemaScope, which was already the registered trademark for a television-to-film transfer system.

Original CinemaScope prints with only their four magnetic stripes had an aspect ratio of 2.55:1.

from the still 4:3 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. As 3D was beginning to lose its appeal, she was playing her part in persuading the rest of the industry to make a new best friend of a process which could be admired without the need for special glasses.

OK for snakes and funerals

Given their first sight, some critics thought this was a little too wide, prompting the well-known comment from one eminent director that its ribbon-like picture was only good for photographing snakes and funeral processions. Others were more positive, seeing a new visual tool, particularly useful for drawing the viewer into sprawling adventures set in the great outdoors, perhaps leaving the old small screen to tell the more intimate stories. Fox hoped the choice of its first productions would prove that all kinds of subjects could benefit from going wide.

Squeezing Marilyn

Fox had purchased Chretien’s complete stock of lenses, including a couple snatched back from Paramount and Rank, but only three were considered good enough for actual photography. One was soon in front

Never mind the quality, look at the width Ready to show CinemaScope prints with mag sound: the 35mm projector had a bolt-on magnetic head above the gate and an anamorphic lens.

of a normal camera lens filming The Robe, a biblical epic which had been halted to start again in CinemaScope (the 4:3 version was also completed). Another was put to work, both above and below the waves, for Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef. The third, despite being confined mostly to a New York flat, would improve the prospects of How To Marry A Millionaire with the sight of its leading ladies draped across the wide expanse of the screen also seducing the audience. One of the film’s glamorous stars, Marilyn Monroe, could already be seen in CinemaScope’s show reel performing her ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ number

WHO CHOSE CINEMASCOPE’S SHAPE? The proportions of the CinemaScope screen owe more to engineering than any creative contribution. It would simply be a combination of the shape of the maximum area on the 35mm print available for the picture, doubled in width by the already Ć’ZGF Z FGITGG QH NCVGTCN EQORTGUUKQP CPF GZRCPUKQP EJQUGP D[ *GPTK %JTGVKGP KP #U JKU RCVGPVU JCF TWP QWV D[ VJG U Fox could have waited and made its own ‘anamorphic’ lenses with possibly a different squeeze factor and resulting aspect ratio. It wanted Chretien’s originals to make an immediate start QP KVU Ć’TUV RTQFWEVKQPU CPF FGOQPUVTCVKQPU VQ GPEQWTCIG VJG industry to join with this latest answer to falling audiences. CinemaScope would also try and emulate Cinerama with its own ‘wonder of stereophonic sound’ and accommodating it

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

Casting a more critical eye on more recent higher-definition DVD and Blu-ray copies of these early films shows that even the best examples of Chretien’s original hand-made Hypergonars had noticeable flaws. The nominal x2 compression factor varied across the frame, with the actors gaining and losing weight as they moved across the screen. The compression factor also changed at different distances, more (2.5x) further away, and lesser (x1.8) closer to the camera. The first films avoided big close-ups to prevent the actors now appearing to have the ‘mumps’. Today’s wonder of digital restoration could even this all out, as it has done to eliminate the distortions and often visible joins between Cinerama’s triple side-by-side images. All very clever, but spotting the joins, and the

would also have an effect on the picture’s shape. For its early previews, the multi-channel sound would also come from a separate magnetic track, leaving the squeezed image free to use the larger full-aperture (silent) frame, its 1.33:1 aspect ratio UVTGVEJGF VQ QP VJG UETGGP #NVJQWIJ EQOOQP KP UVWFKQU during post-production, and already being used for a few URGEKCN UJQYKPIU QH EQPXGPVKQPCN CPF & ƒNOU VJG żFQWDNG band’ method was considered too cumbersome for general use, YKVJ VYKEG CU OWEJ ƒNO VQ FGCN YKVJ CPF VJG GXGT RTGUGPV TKUM QH it all going out of sync. To make CinemaScope more convenient for cinemas and easier to handle by distributors, it was planned to provide a combined print with four magnetic tracks recorded on narrow oxide stripes placed on either side of the RGTHQTCVKQPU #NVJQWIJ VJGUG YGTG OCFG UOCNNGT PQY USWCTG (QZ JQNGU VQ ICKP UQOG GZVTC URCEG VJG YKFVJ QH VJG ƒPCN RKEVWTG YCU TGFWEGF C NKVVNG VQv

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THE HISTORY OF CINEMA

“MARILYN MONROE WAS PLAYING HER PART IN PERSUADING THE INDUSTRY TO MAKE A NEW BEST FRIEND OF CINEMASCOPE� efforts made to hide them within the complete picture, was all part of the fun of watching a Cinerama film. Fox would contract the optical company Bausch & Lomb Inc. to supply an improving series of anamorphic lenses, and encourage other manufacturers, in the US and other countries, to produce their own versions, particularly the thousands needed for projection if, as hoped, CinemaScope became a global success. Some of Fox’s new camera attachments were set aside for other studios, but most hesitated, waiting for the public’s reaction. One of the more confident was MGM which began shooting its first, Knights of the Round Table in England, although they did film a 4:3 version, just in case. Another, started before CinemaScope reached cinemas, was

Errol Flynn’s William Tell, but the troubled production never reached the screen. Back at Fox, How To Marry A Millionaire was now finished and ready for release. There would be no trouble grabbing the audience’s attention with its new panoramic picture, but to help them appreciate the stereophonic sound, a specially filmed overture was added featuring the full Fox Studio Orchestra playing ‘Street Scene’ composed by their resident composer, Alfred Newman. He also extended Fox’s trademark opening fanfare for its longer ‘Presents a CinemaScope Production’ logo. A delay in constructing the laboratory magnetic striping and recording machines, meant The Robe was also completed, and chosen as a more spectacular launch for the process. It opened in September 1953, just 10 months after the first tests through the Hypergonar. Their faith in it was about to pay off, as both the film and CinemaScope became a big hit both with the public and press which said it “Will bring the missing millions back into the cinema�.

This advance in cinema sound stumbles

Squeezing Marilyn and then back to her normal proportions helped to celebrate %KPGOC5EQRGĹŚU Ć’TUV birthday

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Like all new presentation techniques, it’s always the exhibitors who have the final say. Big city theatres, able to show CinemaScope, both its 2.55:1 picture and stereo sound, to its best advantage, welcomed the boost in ticket sales. Athough many of the smaller local cinemas were willing to install its wider screen, even if fitting it in reduced its height to a ‘letterbox’, they questioned the value for money of the stereo sound. It was suggested that if they turned up the volume of their normal mono

85

AND THE SOUND? Although audiences liked greater involvement with the wider picture, there was a mixed reaction to its matching wide-ranging sound. Like many of today’s cinemagoers who prefer a quieter life, the temptation to turn up the level of this early immersive sound system left them, as one reviewer said after a demo, “drowning in a cacophony of sound coming at you from all directionsâ€?. Others loved the clearer and higherĆ’FGNKV[ UQWPF URCTMKPI QHH VJG PGY JQDD[ QH JK Ć’ KP VJG JQOG #V VJG cinema, Fox enveloped them in true stereo, with even dialogue recorded using three microphones suspended from a special boom. The effects track was used sparingly. The sound sent to the auditorium’ speakers came from the narrowest of the four stripes, so to avoid a background hiss, they only came to life in the presence of a 12kHz control signal recorded along YKVJ VJG GHHGEVU #HVGT C HGY Ć’NOU Fox followed the later practice of recording the music in stereo, leaving the sound editor to assign the (mono) dialogue to the appropriate track, or the dubbing (re-recording) mixer to ‘pan-pot’ it between them. Some just left it coming from the centre speaker.

optical track, and perhaps added a couple of extra speakers to spread it out, most of their less informed patrons wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Taking the idea a step further, the ‘multi-directional’ Perspecta sound system became available which could also move the mono around. A standard optical track now included three ‘hidden’ low-frequency control tones which JUNE 2016 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY


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THE HISTORY OF CINEMA

It was the squeezed image on a standard mono optical sound print which secured the 2.35:1 format’s future. Most cinemas had to wait for the coming of &QND[ŌU ƒTUV UVGTGQ QRVKECN VTCEMU VQ DTKPI HWNN JK ƒ stereo.The sound track on the left shows Dolby’s Stereo Variable Area track Dual purpose mag print with an additional halfwidth mono optical track, reducing the aspect ratio to 2.35:1 and the centre line back to normal.

“EXCEPT FOR BLOWN EXCITER LAMPS AND KEEPING OPTICS CLEAN, A NORMAL OPTICAL TRACK WAS TROUBLE-FREE� were detected by an additional ‘integrator’ and used to change the relative volume of the speakers, shifting the apparent source of the sound across the screen.

“You do notice the difference�

Fox stood its ground, still insisting that CinemaScope, including its 4-track magnetic sound, was a complete package and cinemas couldn’t pick and choose. Even the Rank circuit was deprived of Fox films, when it stopped short of equipping all its theatres with magnetic sound. Apart from the initial outlay, there were on-going care costs to maintain its superior quality. Except for the odd blown exciter lamp, and keeping the optics clean, a normal optical track was trouble-free, running largely untouched through its sound-head. The more expensive 4-track mag print had to be kept pressed against its own head, which eventually wore out. Like the rest of the film path, it had to be de-magnetized to prevent a build-up of background noise and partial erasure of the higher frequencies. Joiners too, could add clicks and plops to the track. The rival Perspecta system wasn’t foolproof. In less stable pre-microchip valve days, with projectors sometimes straying from 24fps depending on the weather, its decoder could lose control of the sound, leaving it to wander about on its own. Fox put its foot down, insisting that CinemaScope be shown on its ‘MiracleMirror’ curved screen. A leftover from their earlier ‘Eidophor’ theatre television project, its brighter, but directional aluminium CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

surface was a mixed blessing for all shapes of auditorium. All changed when MGM announced it would use Perspecta directional sound on its CinemaScope prints. In the interest of the system’s future, Fox relented. Cinemas could choose their own flat or curved screen and show on it either a new dual-purpose 4-track mag print with an alternative mono half-width optical track alongside the inner left stripe, or the squeezed image on a standard optical sound print with normal perforations. In both cases, the picture width was reduced a little to give an aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

Perspecta fades away

By the start of the 1960s, Perspecta had gone quietly, and the number of CinemaScope 4-track mag prints had declined, reserved mostly for large scale epics and musicals. A lifeline for magnetic sound would be the re-birth of 70mm, with the original premium large format system, Todd-AO, using it exclusively. Shot on 65mm film, its 70mm prints made room for the stripes, now with six tracks — adding two extra speakers behind the even bigger 2.2:1 screen. Making the system a practical proposition for the larger first-run theatres was its ‘multi-purpose’ projector, which could also run 35mm magnetic and optical sound prints. With auditoria being split, and the coming of the multiplex, 70mm screens began to shrink, so their additional pair of speakers were sacrificed, their channels now giving directional sound to the surrounds and the shake-it-all-about

sub-bass, which had become an essential feature in the new sound of cinema. In the next part, Grant traces the future fortunes of the 35mm 2.35:1 format, including threats from television and the coming of digital cinema.

THE FATE OF MAGNETIC SOUND

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88

BILLY BELL

When Billy met “Joe”... A star turn as Stalin’s projectionist? It’s amazing what you can turn your hand to, as Billy Bell’s Movie Engineer’s Diary reveals

T

he Russian leader Joseph Stalin, played by the late Colin Blakely, was the principal character in the British-made film Red Monarch — and the County Hall, Westminster, with neo-classical pillars in its central hall, was the ideal location to represent the Kremlin. The County Hall already had Kalee 21 projectors since the 1950s, but they had been out of action for years. In 1983, they had to become operational once again so that “Stalin” (according to legend and the storyline) could watch his favourite Hollywood cowboy film, My Darling Clementine. I became involved with this production when I received a call from Samuelsons Ltd, who were advising the film company regarding the projection facilities, asking me if I could help them find the missing arc lamp rectifiers. I said I’d ask the engineer who last serviced the projection equipment there. Perhaps he could explain the mystery of the missing rectifiers? Unfortunately, I had lost all contact with him — he had retired and moved to a new flat somewhere in East London. Directory enquiries, however, provided several telephone numbers of likely subscribers in that area. I rang the first and a woman answered. “Can I speak to Ted?” I asked. There was an ominous silence, then she said “Ted died six weeks ago, who are you?” I told her I was an old colleague. “You worked for the Coal Board, then?” she replied. I couldn’t say I had dialled a wrong number, so I expressed condolences and asured her that Ted was a fine fellow and would be sadly missed by his workmates. I rang the second number and was relieved when the real Ted answered. I then asked him the burning question “Where are the arc rectifiers at County Hall, Westminster?” He told me that there had never been rectifiers there. He explained that, in addition to the 415 volt AC threephase mains supply, they also had a 220

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volt DC three-wire mains supply system which was tapped at 110 volts DC. The room next to the box was fitted out with ballast resistances to drop this 110 volt DC supply to the required arc voltage for the Kalee lamphouses. Because of a fire in this room years ago, the ballast resistances were removed and the projection equipment had been out of action since. With the mystery solved, Samuelsons asked me to provide a separate rectifier and to help set this up and generally assist in putting Stalin’s favourite cowboy film on screen. A single phase Westinghouse rectifier was duly delivered, but the only way to the box was by way of an iron staircase. e. To avoid damage to this, it

“Can I speak to Ted?” I asked. There was an ominous silence. “Ted died six weeks ago.” CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

was decided to place the rectifier in the room below, which was also being used by the film’s wardrobe department. A standard AC 13 amp plug was strengthened to supply power to this rectifier, and all was left working in a satisfactory manner… During the very first take in the central hall, when “Stalin” was being filmed watching his favourite movie, the picture suddenly went off. I rushed downstairs to the rectifier with fuse wire at the ready, only to find the leading lady, played by Carroll Baker of Baby Doll fame, was having her blonde hair coiffured by the make-up girl, who had unplugged the rectifier and plugged in the hairdryer instead. One particular scene called for the projector to be laced hurriedly, so “Stalin” would not be kept waiting, and I was asked to perform this special task. When I saw the finished film, I was disappointed that the close up shots of my hands had been consigned to the cutting room floor. Billy Bell died, aged 90, in February 2014, but left a legacy of unpublished stories which Cinema Technology magazine will be proud to publish in the coming years. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


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AND ONE LAST THING…

THE PACE OF CHANGE

Technological changes have transformed our industry. For the better, asks Graham Lodge?

Graham Lodge Managing Director, Sound Associates

IF MY FATHER PETER was still around and involved in Sound Associates, I don’t think that he would find anything even remotely recognisable compared to when our firm was UK agent for Cinemeccanica 35mm and 70mm film projectors. Then, we had shelves and shelves of spare parts covering projectors that had been manufactured in the early 70s and were still in daily use in cinema across the UK and the world. Probably more than 100 unique items per projector type had to be held in the UK for quick despatch to a cinema in need. The intermittent unit was considered to be ‘really expensive’ at a cost of around £1,500. We had engineers on hand to talk to those projectionists who were experiencing technical problems — that was the extent of ‘remote support’ and a short-term fix was typically the removal of a safety wire or holding up a broken bit of metal with a rubber band or a piece of string. Compare that to the modern day when we are connected via the internet to the vast majority of the digital projectors that we have installed (even down in the Falkland Islands) and the projector reports back

issues and potential off-screen events even before the site manager is aware of a problem. The projectionists have all gone, alas — or been ‘re-assigned’ to other duties within the cinema. Some modern projection rooms are only ever visited by human beings when our engineers arrive on their preventative maintenance visits. We still hold some spare parts, but the vast majority are shipped from the various manufacturers and cost thousands of pounds, sometimes taking a couple of days to arrive — but this seems to be an acceptable solution to many operators. Not that this change is bad — just different.

An accelerating rate of progress Technology has changed at a far faster rate in the past 10 years compared to the 35mm world. In the 10 years since 2006, digital cinema has transformed from an untrusted ‘new-fangled technology’ where the 35mm was typically left in place as a backup. The digital projectors are now put into smaller and smaller places, installed in a far wider range of venues — not just cinemas — and have been accepted as good, reliable and high-quality units that do their job

“SOME MODERN PROJECTION ROOMS ARE ONLY EVER VISITED BY HUMANS WHEN OUR ENGINEERS ARRIVE”

CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | JUNE 2016

consistently in a quiet, unassuming manner. Series one projectors have given way to series two, the trusty xenon lamp now has competition from metal halide, RGB laser and the new, lower-cost phosphor laser light sources, but this hasn’t changed the offering to the cinema patron — it has simply changed the economics of how these projectors are going to be paid for. Other technological changes that are taking place include the new immersive audio systems that utilise lots and lots of speakers placed around the auditorium to provide a more enveloping experience. Dolby Atmos is by far the most accepted at the moment, but competition for an ‘open standard’ for immersive audio will surely encourage Barco AuroMAX and DTS:X with their offerings — both based on this new, as yet unratified, open sound format? Integrators — there’s a new name that wasn’t around 10 years ago — Bell Theatre, Omnex and Sound Associates used to be referred to as installers or dealers, but even those terms seem to have been ‘improved’. We are all now simply referred to as integrators together with the other newer entrants to the technical side of the industry. I find it a bit of a bland term, if I’m honest, but it’s what we are now known as…

Keeping the customer satisfied Little has changed from the viewpoint of the end customer. They still go to their independent or multiplex cinema, and they still watch the same type of films. The quality is better — no scratches — and the sound is better, and sometimes immersive. So how does the customer benefit? A wider range of films, consistent better quality, event cinema (which was simply not possible before to any quality level), immersive sound, immersive pictures (3D). The biggest benefit of new technology, however, is that places that previously never considered showing feature films due to the complexity and cost of equipment are now discovering that they can purchase something that they use as a simple video projector for part of the time, but that has the added bonus of being able to show Hollywood content as well. A whole new section of the population, previously out of the reach of a cinema, can now enjoy the delights of a first-run feature in their local theatre or even in the village hall. www.cinematechnologymagazine.com


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LSS-100P

Light and Sound Sensor

US Patent Number 8,836,910

Digital cinema technology is far more complex than 35mm film. Cinema owners need a simple automated solution to ensure presentation quality of every show. The LSS-100P is designed to do exactly this.

Ĕ Monitors screen light levels and chromaticity Ĕ Monitors levels of all audio channels Ĕ Monitors IR performance of ADA equipment Ĕ Email alerts automatically sent to technicians* Ĕ Database software available to monitor numerous cinema auditoriums Ĕ Simple installation with Power over Ethernet (POE) capability Ĕ Patented Technology

* Requires external database server

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