Cinema Technology Magazine - September 2017

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t s a rt ar ea y e he h he ry t t t of dus in


The leading magazine for cinema industry professionals

September 2017

n he tion a ol f t adi N r al o l tr e ph eviv rica o ist he r eat r h Ch nd t d t a ran g

direct-view LED 3D's bright future cinema's heart With the advent of giant flatscreens, has the digital projector had its day?

Industry specialists have their say on the prospects for stereoscopic movies

Why the movie palaces of today are increasingly vital to our communities

Vol 30, No3 produced in partnership with

There are many good light sources for projection. Laser



But there is only one good source for all light sources.

Congratulations on Cinema Technology‘s 30th anniversary! We are very proud to be your partner for many years now.

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE September 2017 • Vol 30 • No 3 NEWS

Features the cover: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk 017 on has been a tour de force in cinemas.

Features continued Tate Modern there’s a gem of a 080 Inside cinema just waiting to be discovered —


Jim Slater explores the wide variety of formats Dunkirk has been screened in



The future of 3D: Adam MacDonald gives his, and other experts’ views on the stereoscopic cinema of tomorrow

The refurbishment of Vue West End has seen a leading London cinema recapture its glory days. We take a look inside



Africa could be cinema’s next big market, as Patrick von Sychowski explains

Interview: Putting on a varied programme at the BFI Southbank is no easy task. Dominic Simmons is the man in charge


Happy Birthday, Cinema Technology. Thirty years young with this issue.


Interview: Odeon’s lead engineer in the North, Bev Gilston-Hope talks about the highlights of a varied career in cinema


event cinema: David Hancock examines the impact the Asian cinema market will have on live event broadcasts


Tricks of the trade: Grant Lobban looks back to the artful techniques used to put on a show that are being brought back

TEchnical developments view LED screens: Lotte cinemas 052 Direct in South Korea installs the latest


Boosting your online advertising: Julia Brown introduces the Film Cooperative, a helping hand for independent cinemas


What a turkey: Billy Bell introduces Taffy, a cinema engineer with a varied range of “skills” — and a good line in excuses

technology from Samsung and Harman



Gary Feather, from Nanolumens, 0 discusses the future for direct view LED

Joining forces: Compeso and Showtime Analytics are making sense of data



Cinema audio conforming: Julian Pinn introduces the concept behind 4cine® — a new cloud-based service

Special Report: The modern cinema can be the heart of the community. Jim Slater opens the door on some recent examples that show how the big screen can reinvigorate our towns and cities

008 011

Introducing Finity, Sony’s new brand of 4K Premium Large Format cinema A new CEO at the helm at MPS, and Unique Digital introduces Rosetta PoS

COLUMNS 015 087 089

Keeping you updated on the latest from the International Moving Image Society Coming soon: UKCA is masterminding the rollout of the SMPTE DCP test The IBC Big Screen experience is the opportunity to see technology in action


the the is

Mark Trompeteler on the film’s impact

and it handles a wide range of formats

And one last Thing… not what your trade organisation can 098 Ask do for you, but what you can do for your trade organisation. Simon Tandy argues the case for giving something back

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

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



CINEMA TECHNOLOGY On 30 years of reporting excellence Visionary industry analysis Unparalleled technical expertise

Arts Alliance Media are proud to move the industry’s understanding of software solutions forward with a publication as innovative as the Cinema Technology Magazine. Here’s to the next 30 years!





from the editor September 2017 • Volume 30 • No.3

Our thriving industry is buzzing with ideas and an air of optimism as new cinemas open in new venues, old ones are refurbished (often playing a vital part in town centre regeneration), and new features and facilities are introduced in cinemas large and small. Customer expectations have never been higher, and the determination to match or exceed such expectations is clear — luxurious seats are fast replacing standard offerings of old, pictures and sound in any ordinary auditorium are better than they ever were, in spite of what 35mm enthusiasts with memories clouded by nostalgia may say, and many of the Premium Large (and smaller) Format cinemas offer an unforgettable experience hard to match elsewhere. In a world where customers have so many choices on ways spend their leisure pounds, it is good that so many cinemas have woken up to the need to address these challenges. The CineEurope conference always presents an opportunity to catch up with what is happening technically, commercially, and socially. In this issue we have tried to distil the essence of the many presentations given, so that those who weren’t

able to attend can be up-to-date with the key issues addressed. Technically, it seems that non-stop change is the ongoing situation. Just as we were getting used to the notion that different forms of laser projection seemed likely to take over our cinemas, manufacturers (some from outside the cinema industry) are suggesting that ‘active screens’ might replace projection at comparable prices, something that seemed totally unlikely even a few months earlier. They are backing up their beliefs with impressive demonstrations, and we report in this issue that a cinema in Korea has become the first to install an LED cinema screen in a major auditorium. Demonstrations of Virtually Reality techniques showed a range of ideas as to how it can be used, but although everyone seems convinced it will have a place in cinemas, no-one has yet come up with the ‘killer’ application. Your guess is as good as mine. Commercially, it was interesting to learn that cinemas are at last learning to benefit from the supersalesmen’s techniques that have long been the norm in the retail marketplace. Some of our latest cinemas have lobby layouts carefully laid out to ensure maximum ‘dwell time’ for customers, so that you are far more liable to buy something, as well as shopping baskets to encourage you to buy more than you can carry. Variable ticket-pricing according to demand, long practiced by hotels and airlines, looks certain to find its way into modern cinema booking systems.

“cinema technology”, thirty years on… It is good to be able to celebrate with our readers and advertisers the 30th anniversary issue Cinema Technology. Looking back at how things were in our business in 1987 enables us to see just how far the industry has progressed. Predictions are always difficult, and the experts who contribute to our great magazine have very different views on where the technology will be 30 years hence, but without exception all agree that in 2047 people will still gather together to share the enjoyment of watching a movie — it’s what cinema is all about!

Jim Slater, Managing Editor

Writing in this issue… 1






A consultant for RealD, Adam has many years’ commercial experience working in stereoscopic cinema. On p23 he assesses the future direction of 3D for films.

Involved in supporting education projects for IMIS. Mark has written for CT for many years. In this issue his focus is on the multi-format release of the film Dunkirk, p17.

Based in Singapore, Patrick is editor of the online site, Celluloid Junkie and a leading industry consultant. On p28, he reviews the cinema market in Africa.


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

Finity — Sony’s new PLF brand Sony has launched Finity — the company’s Premium Large Format (PLF) projection solution. The company’s message is that Finity tells audiences they’re in for a truly spectacular big-screen experience, with images presented in Sony Digital Cinema 4K for unparalleled clarity, colour and contrast. A number of cinemas have already committed to the new offering that combines Sony’s Premium HDR-ready 4K dual projection technology with a complimentary suite of tailored branding assets and marketing support. Exhibitors equipped with the current family of Sony high-contrast SRX-R500 Series dual projection systems are already ‘Finity ready’, with no need for any additional investment. Cinemas will be given a full range of ‘Presented in Finity’ promotional materials, from signage, to posters and PR/social media support. With the support of film studios, this powerful package gives cinema owners a valuable hand in promoting their Sony 4K PLF screens to customers and the films which are being shown in this premium format. Damien Weissenburger, Head of Sony Digital Cinema, said that the surge in Premium Large Format screens is bringing super-size pictures to audiences while ringing up bigger profits for exhibitors. The Finity message is clear to audiences: there’s simply no better way for film fans to experience every drop of movie magic on the biggest screen, as the director intended.

BARCO PROJECTOR SCREENS PREVIEWS OF DUNKIRK A five-minute preview of Dunkirk has been travelling through Europe during the summer, using a Barco projector. Film fans enjoyed short previews of Dunkirk prior to its official release. A high-tech mobile cinema from Cinetransformer travelled to different cities for the screenings, and an integral part of the spectator experience was a Barco projector, the ultra-quiet DP2K-6E.

Barco’s Dunkirk travelling roadshow

VISIT A sale on the cards next year for Vue? Recent reports say so

VUE CINEMAS FOR SALE Vue’s owners, including two pension funds that bought shares in Vue in 2013 and own about threequarters of the company, and the management team who own the rest, are reported to have appointed investment banks Rothschild and JP Morgan to identify

buyers for a possible sale next year, at the same time as making preparations for a stock market listing. It has been suggested that the owners of the chain are looking for a price of around £1.6bn. Vue has more than 200 sites.

New Business Head for Sony Digital Cinema 4K

Following the move of David McIntosh, to head Sony’s Sports Division (including products such as Hawk-Eye and Pulselive), Sony has appointed Damien Weissenburger to spearhead its expanding Theatre Solutions business that serves cinema chains and independent screen owners. Based in Basingstoke, UK, He will keep his current responsibilities as Business Head of Corporate & Education Solutions. Damien said that in his new role he will be building on David McIntosh’s great work as Sony’s cinema business moves into its next phase of growth. He believes it will be possible to maximise synergies across Sony to develop new presentation solutions.






A 140-year-old former chapel in Borth, West Wales, has been transformed into a stunning 60-seat boutique cinema and restaurant. For owners, Peter Fleming and his partner Grug Morris this project was a labour of love and Sound Associates has worked closely with them throughout. SA installed a 4K Sony R515 projector with a Datasat AP20 audio processor utilising the latest DIRAC room optimisation so the cinema is now able to offer the highest-quality film watching experience. The Libanus 1877 opened to rave reviews, proving that the original dream has resulted in a highly desirable venue.


Sound Associateshas worked with Vue on their latest new-build cinema, a seven-screen in Bedford. All screens have Sony 4K projectors, Screen 1 having a R510 Double Stack. All the screens are equipped with 7.1 playback facilities utilising Dolby CP750 processors with QSC amplifiers and speakers.

The 140-year-old former chapel in Borth, West Wales — not your typical cinema venue


One central point to manage content: AAM’s Producer has given MBO cinemas great control



MBO Cinemas is the first exhibitor in South East Asia to centralise all its operations at head office, using Arts Alliance Media’s Producer TMS system. From one central point, MBO can monitor and manage all content, KDMs, reporting, and pre-show advertising and trailers. MBO Cinemas said that Producer has revolutionised their operations, allowing them to control the cinema circuit in the

way they want much more easily, and the improved visibility means that any issues can be resolved quickly, maintaining high customer service standards. Producer’s automation makes building playlists is faster, more flexible, and more accurate. Producer is designed to control and monitor the status of all the sites in a circuit, displaying playback details in real-time and highlighting any upcoming issues for proactive resolution. Content

can be managed remotely and pre-show packs of ads and trailers built from head office – saving staff time at sites and reducing the possibility of human error. Since deploying Producer, MBO’s content and monitoring operations have been handled by a single staff member at head office, and the streamlined operations and automation of day to day tasks has given staff time to add value in other customer-facing areas.







Dolby has opened its 100th Dolby Cinema installation, at the AMC South Bay Galleria in California with 325 Dolby Cinema sites installed or committed. The cinemas are backed with studio support, with over 100 titles released or announced. The Dolby Vision projection system delivers high dynamic range with enhanced colour technology and a contrast ratio that far exceeds others on the market. The laser projection system was co-developed with Christie, which supplies, installs, and services all the projector systems. The combination of Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos technologies with the design of the Dolby Cinema makes audiences feel closer to the action.

The 100th Dolby Cinema installation — the AMC South Bay Galleria, bringing customers closer to the action


MATT ASPRAY TAKES THE HELM AT MPS On the back of a year in which Motion Picture Solutions has been identified by the London Stock Exchange Group as one of the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain, the leading film services provider has announced the appointment of its new CEO, Matt Aspray. Taking over from former UPI CFO, Howard Kiedaisch, Matt’s leadership has been integral to the growth of MPS over the past 11 years. He takes the reins at an exciting time, with expansion of the core services of digital mastering, KDM delivery and content localisation prompting the acquisition of new offices by MPS’s West London facility — as well as the launch of a new US facility in Los Angeles. “MPS has undergone a huge transformation over the past couple of years, from being a small player in UK digital cinema, to a respected entity serving the wider entertainment industry,” explains Matt, “and I’ve been lucky to be at the heart of the company from the start. Under Howard’s wise counsel, MPS has cemented its reputation internationally. I’m delighted he’s staying on as a non-executive director. His industry knowledge is unsurpassed, as is his commercial judgement.” Howard Kiedaisch joined MPS as CEO when he moved from Arts Alliance Media in 2015. “When I joined MPS two years ago, I did so with huge respect for the two things that set this company apart — its relentless pursuit of technological advantage and focus on the customer’s needs,” says Howard, “Both those aspects have flourished and this company is poised to have a big impact internationally.”


UNIQUE ADD POS TO ROSETTA FAMILY Unique Digital now offers RosettaPOS, a browser-based PoS system capable of managing the needs of a multi-territory, multi-language chain, or a small independent. It provides collaborative movie scheduling, real-time reporting, integrated signage and an autonomous web ticketing solution. Trialled in a number of live sites over the past year to refine the product ready for its widespread release, it is easy to set up and integrate and offers a monthly subscription at a competitive price, allowing all management functions to be accessed remotely. Available in either cloud-based (SaaS) or self-hosted formats, it integrates directly with Rosetta Net, Advertising Accord and the Unique Film Database. Screenvision Media, a leader in US cinema advertising serving a network of over 14,600 screens in 2,300 locations has now completed integration of the RosettaBridge Theater Management System with their pre-show system. This enables automated ingestion and programming of ad content directly to an exhibitor’s show system. RosettaBridge TMS installations are now able to ‘switch on’ automated preshow integration with Screenvision Media, making life easier for operators.

POWER TECHNOLOGY RETROFITS FROM XENON TO LASER Laser retrofitting is now a viable option for exhibitors not ready to purchase new laser projectors — laserilluminated projection (LIP) is a cutting-edge technology implemented in over 300 cinemas. Lip replaces xenon lamps with more reliable laser light sources. However, not everyone is ready to invest in a new laser projector. Retrofitting may be a viable option in those cases. Retrofitting cuts down on maintenance, eliminates bulb cost (30.0000 hours of lifetime illumination at 95% brightness), reduces electricity bills (properly engineered laser engines use 50% less), and gives exhibitors a marketing edge. Power Technology offers in-house retrofitting as well as trained integrator partners across the world trained in retrofitting projectors to work with the Illumina Cinema Laser System. The firm can retrofit popular series 1 and 2 projectors with DLP or SXRD engines from manufacturers including Christie, Barco, Sony, and NEC. Email waburgess@ SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



NEC’S NC1700L ADDS A RED LASER TO THE MIX IMIS CINEMA TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE Richard Mitchell (Chairman), Mike Bradbury, Roland Brown, Bryan Cook, Michael Denner, Kiril Enikov, Richard Huhndorf, Denis Kelly, Peter Knight, Graham Lodge, Adam MacDonald, André Mort, Mark Nice, Dave Norris, Ngozi Okali, Kevin Phelan, David Pope, Toni Purvis, Stephen Rance, Jim Slater, Russell Smith, Simon Tandy, Chris Tostevin, Paul Wilmott, Demir Yavuz.

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

In the most common design of laser phosphor projectors, a blue laser creates the blue colour in the final image, but the same laser is also used to illuminate a yellow phosphor wheel, which emits the yellow light. This light is then split by a prism or colour wheel into green and red components. This gives high brightness with good colours. The newly introduced RB laser technology from NEC, first shown in the NEC 1700L takes things a stage further, by using both red and blue laser diodes (hence RB), combining the advantages of brilliant colour reproduction with cost efficiency. In RB laser projection: a blue laser creates the blue colour and, with the significant difference from the earlier design, a red laser is used to create the red colour in the final image. This gives a higher red light output than earlier designs and more intense and natural playback of red tones.

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

EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: JIM SLATER 17 Winterslow Road, Porton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0LW, UK

Since green laser diodes at realistic prices for this application don’t yet exist, green is generated by light from a blue laser hitting a green phosphor wheel which emits green light. This allows efficient light reproduction by avoiding optical filters, resulting in more intense and natural colours especially in the red s, as well as providing a higher brightness output. NEC claims the RB laser light source technology goes beyond the cinema colour and brightness output of traditional laser phosphor projection systems, as well as providing the advantages of reduced initial purchasing and operational costs.

T: +44 (0) 1980 610544 E: 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: COMMISSIONING EDITOR: PETER KNIGHT E: ART DIRECTOR: DEAN CHILLMAID W: E:

SUBSCRIPTIONS Cinema Technology is mailed free to IMIS Members. For subscription details — or e-mail


3D legal battles continue...


2017 has proved a vintage year for lawyers in the cinema field. After the patent battles which led to several RealD patent infringement victories against MasterImage and resulted in RealD acquiring the assets and 3D technology of MasterImage, further legal skirmishes are underway. Early this year, Shandong Luxin-Rio Visual Technology Company acquired French company Volfoni. Qingdao Volfoni-Rio Company Ltd. is the manufacturer and sales partner of Volfoni and Volfoni 3D cinema products in China. GetD, founded in 2005, is another manufacturer and supplier, headquartered in China, with partners in South America, Europe, Russia, Turkey and India, and has developed 3D systems and glasses for cinema, home theatre and educational markets. In July Qingdao Volfoni-Rio launched a lawsuit against the parent company of GetD for claimed patent infringement on GetD’s triple beam 3D cinema products, demanding that GetD cease manufacturing and selling the products, and destroy all existing finished goods. GetD rejects what it calls the unfounded allegations, saying that current rumours are affecting its activities in the industry and that there is no evidence to prove GetD infringed the patent of any company. At a time when 3D cinema attendances in China is greater than anywhere else, it will be interesting to see how the wranglings turn out.

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Making Light Work

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

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



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NEWS AT I.M.I.S. From the President Thanks for your support over the past year which has enabled us to turn IMIS/BKSTS onto a path relevant for the 21st Century, and thanks to all the members who attended the AGM/EGM. Thanks to Peter Samengo-Turner, on behalf of IMIS members, for all his sterling efforts in restructuring the Society. We will miss you at Council meetings and wish you well in the future. Thank you also to John Alford for your time on Council over many years, we wish you well for the future. My congratulations to those elected to the Advisory Council for the ensuing year and welcome to new council members Damien Carrol and Maureen Kendal. Damien will be taking on the role of Hon Treasurer. Thank you for the trust you have in me to be your President for another year. I am looking forward to working with you to ensure that IMIS achieves its objective – ‘Promoting Excellence in the Media Industry’, and look forward to seeing you at one of our events soon. Roland Brown, President

From the COO We’re working hard on a series of events and training and as always, need members’ help. Currently, we have two active committees in the Society (Cinema Technology Committee; Education, Training and Events Committee) and we are looking to grow larger. If you have interest in being part of one of our existing committees or want to help form a new one please email We need people who are passionate about leading the industry forward and volunteers to chair new committees. We want to take IMIS to new heights and need your help! Bryan Cook, COO

The advisory council More nominations for our Advisory Council than seats this year meant a proper election for 2017-2018. The resulting council is: Roland Brown Arthur Cain Damien Carroll Bryan Cook Angela Gordon Nigel Hamley Meirion Hughes Maureen Kendal Kevin Phelan David Pope David Spilsbury Mark Trompeteler Martin Uren Peter Wilson Christopher Woollard

With a selection of short screenings and a good deal of industry input, the annual summer event at the BFI was wellattended



The 10th IMIS Annual Summer Event for students and staff on IMIS/ BKSTS Accredited Courses was held on 4 July at NFT3, within London’s BFI Southbank complex. Hosted and organised by Mark Trompeteler, on behalf of IMIS Education and Training, the afternoon was the usual mix of short screenings from a number of universities, with some industry input back to these institutions. A good-sized audience consisting of students, university staff, IMIS members, industry colleagues and some guests watched a series of short 25min compilations of current work being

produced within the accredited and approved courses. There was some discussion of both the work and associated production issues. FINDING THAT JOB... In the final hour, Mark interviewed Jessica Bingham of The Moving Picture Company about how young people might gain entry into the visual effects industry and the various job roles that follow on from that - giving useful advice to both the students and staff present. A convivial and lively conversation filled networking session, with drinks, in the BFI Atrium afterwards, concluded another successful annual event.

WIDESCREEN WEEKEND 2017 There is only one cinema exhibition venue in the world where audience members can enjoy a film in 35mm, 70mm, 2K, 4K, IMAX and three-strip Cinerama in a single complex. The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford is that venue. To see films in all these formats over a period of four days, together with associated talks, archive items, two wine receptions and convivial breaks and intermissions, book your place at Widescreen Weekend 2017, 12–15 October. The festival pass prices are: adults £120; concessions £100; Picturehouse members £110; Picturehouse members concessions £90. If you want to book call +44 (0) 871 902 5747), or visit the link below. Passes will not be available to buy after 15 September.


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Nolan & 70mm Film Strike Back

Mark Trompeteler on Christopher Nolan, his epic new film and the triumphant return of the grand cinematic vision.


ne of the major significant pre–cursors of today’s Premium Large Format brands, in the days of celluloid analogue cinema, was the worldwide premium exhibition format of 70mm analogue film. When sitting in the BFI IMAX a few years ago watching Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar in 15 perf/ 70mm IMAX format, I was convinced that this would probably be the very last time I would ever see a major commercial feature film, in a modern cinema, as part of a contemporary limited 70mm release.




Cinema fights back: the epic nature of Dunkirk makes it imperative to watch it on the big screen

70mm — an archive format Obviously I was wrong. What I had not considered in my thoughts on the last days of 70mm film were a number of factors. First, the persuasive powers of major industry figures such as Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Kenneth Branagh, the Weinstein Company, and others, to lobby and persuade studios to finance the shooting of major new feature films on 65mm film. Second, the realisation by a number of Hollywood studios, that if the budgets of their big “tent pole” feature films are getting so big, and that if they want to be able to access and exploit these highly expensive visual assets, e.g, the latest Star Wars or Bond film, in 50, or 60, or 100 years’ time, then the most reliable and cheapest way of accessing and archiving those assets would be if they were stored on large format film, and not as a digital file. Who knows the total cost and the reliability of archiving and accessing a very valuable digital file for a period of 50 or 60 years? Third, some industry observers and trade journals have speculated that possibly as much as between $8-10million was spent on re-installing 70mm projectors into cinemas around the world for the 70mm release of The Hateful Eight. Such initiatives are said to be justified by box office figures indicating that the profits from continuous full houses in a small number of niche 70mm venues, on the release of such a film, compare very favourably to the box office take in less than full houses in a very much larger number of digital venues.

70mm — a growing trend The initial opening of Thomas Anderson’s picture The Master in 2012 was in just 14 70mm venues worldwide. Christopher Nolan lobbied and persuaded Paramount and Warner Brothers to screen his 2014 Interstellar in 50 70mm-enabled IMAX

venues. Tarantino’s 70mm version of The Hateful Eight opened in 70 locations in its first week, with a huge amount of accompanying publicity. This summer Dunkirk opened in 125 70mm venues worldwide. Warner Bros’ press releases announced that it was the widest release in the format in 25 years. Lastly, I cannot help being mildly ecstatic that the championing, celebration

and love for 70mm amongst an older generation of die-hard enthusiasts has seen some vindication and some part-revival of this wonderful analogue format. They are epitomised by such individuals as Thomas Hauerslev, Bill Lawrence and many others, and such resources and events as the website, and the 7Omm festivals that are held internationally — not least the annual Widescreen Weekend festival in Bradford (see page 15 for details).

dunkirk — a rare preview opportunity

Redefining “immersive”: audiences get a real sense of the cold, wet, anxious nature of the Dunkirk battle

Through the thoughtfulness of a friend, and fellow IMIS member, Mark Lyndon, on 13 July I was sat in NFT1 at BFI Southbank for a special 70mm pre-release screening of Dunkirk, introduced by Christopher Nolan. Nolan had just been ferried across the River Thames from the red carpet world première at the Odeon Leicester Square, to which he returned once the house lights had dimmed at our parallel universe screening. This was a special screening running in tandem with the world première on the other side of the river. Only Interstellar Nolan could be at two screenings at the same time!



Crafting intelligent films for discerning viewers: filmmakers Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas

“THE CELEBRATION AND LOVE FOR 70MM AMONGST A GENERATION OF DIE-HARD ENTHUSIASTS HAS SEEN SOME VINDICATION” Nolan and his wife, his producer Emma Thomas, came on stage and he talked about how he had been wanting to tell the story of Dunkirk on film for some time, and raise the awareness of this historical event globally. He described how it was a critical moment in modern history that has had a profound impact on the western world and everything that has followed. If Dunkirk had had another outcome we could all be living in a very different world.

A love of 70mm film Nolan also spoke of his love for the 70mm IMAX format, how it can create immersive experiences and convey intensity in storytelling. Both his wife, Emma, and he extolled the merits of film generally, including 35mm. Emma also recounted an anecdote about an embarrassing accident that occurred during the filming of Dunkirk. At one point a very expensive 70mm IMAX camera was dropped into the sea and was submerged in salt water for a not insignificant time. After some careful flushing and drying out it still worked. Could that happen with a digital camera?

Special images and a special quality To me the screening of the 70mm film had that softer, warmer, slightly glossy surface quality to the film image in comparison to what I often feel is the crisper, precise, colder surface quality of a digital image.

The two are different, and you can have futile arguments about which is better — or not — forever. The main point concerning this screening, and the film itself, was about another more important factor. Some of the best moments of cinema are those where meaning, emotion, story and action are conveyed solely through the use of images, editing, music and non-dialogue sound. This concept of “pure cinema” goes right back to the silent days. Think: the pregnant mother crossing the moors, to the workhouse, in a storm, at the start of David

Lean’s Oliver Twist; The Blue Danube sequence in 2001; some desert and other sequences in Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia.

Pure cinema From its beginning, to its closing moments, Dunkirk is pure cinema. It propels the audience into an immersive experience of what it might have felt like to be at Dunkirk. It uses very few titles to explain what is going on. Dialogue is sparse and not essential to understanding what is happening, (useful in a global cinema market). The ticking clock/pounding heartbeat audio motif racks up the intensity throughout the film. It’s use of intercutting between three different “viewpoints” of events is also highly cinematic. Use of images, editing, music and non-dialogue sound reign supreme.

AN INTELLIGENT EPIC FOR A NEW GENERATION Many of the blockbuster franchise, superhero and remake movies in commercial cinema are somewhat trite. Nolan by comparison, is now consistently producing intelligent epic films that do not patronise the audience, keep one eye on the imperative to provide entertainment and drama, and another on box office appeal. In this he is a worthy successor to such film-makers as David Lean, Alfred Hitchcock, and Stanley Kubrick for our modern contemporary times. Dunkirk uses the old box office strategy of casting a pop icon as one of the actors. It handles violence and destruction of war in such a manner that young teenagers can go and see this and not be traumatised by 15 or 18 certificate blood and gore. In Dunkirk Christopher Nolan has produced a mass audience, wide age demographic, intelligent epic war film for modern times — a war film that still has an appeal to the music video/Marvel /DC comics superhero/video games generation. In doing so he has furthered the cause of 70mm film, arguably to a much wider demographic than The Hateful Eight, and also added some welcome quality to the global box office.



A veritable

feast of Formats Screening Dunkirk in multiple formats helped create a sense of occasion — but it has also created a few headaches, as Jim Slater explains


unkirk was released by Warner Brothers in a number of formats, the most headlinegrabbing of these being that around 125 cinemas worldwide were showing Christopher Nolan’s epic on 70mm film. The movie has proved to be enormously successful, but not without its headaches for those wanting to show it at its best in the multiple formats in which it was released.

Imax 70mm film The IMAX film version shows about 75 percent of the movie which had been shot on IMAX film, with an aspect ratio of 1.43:1, the footage included the enormous panoramic shots of the beaches. For the other 25 percent of the time in the IMAX

and the variations continue On IMAX’s laser-projection system, the film was available with an aspect ratio of 1.9:1 or 1:43:1, depending on the size of the particular cinema screen in question. Standard IMAX Digital cinemas, including the multiplexes, showed it with an aspect ratio of 1.9:1. Standard 70mm film showings (5 perf) used 2.2:1 aspect ratio. 35mm film screenings were at 2.4:1. Standard digital projection formats used in the vast majority of multiplexes could have been expected to use an aspect ratio of 2.2:1 or 2.4:1, but there was much variation as experienced projection people tried to do their best to ensure that customers saw the best possible image.

“CINEMAS WERE SENT ‘PROJECTIONIST LETTERS’ CONTAINING INSTRUCTIONS AND FRAMING CHARTS TO PLAY THE MOVIE” theatre Dunkirk is projected in standard 70mm format, 2.20:1, so the top and bottom of the IMAX screen have black bands. This change of aspect ratio effect is actually used artistically during the movie, the smaller picture focusing in on restricted areas such as the confined interior of the hull of the ship.

To some people’s surprise, the studio decided to send out the digital version in a Flat container that meant that some cinemas did not fill the screen. Cinemas were sent ‘projectionist letters’ containing instructions and framing charts to play the movie in Flat, the charts showing them what the image should look like

At the Odeon Leicester Square, and other sites, customers received a commemorative strip of 70mm film as they left the auditorium. Together with an introduction from staff to the film, touches like this help to create a genuine, and welcome, sense of occasion for such screenings

a special case Some cinemas with the requisite technical capabilities built special macros for their projectors to fill the scope screen and arranged appropriate masking, but most multiplexes weren’t able to do this. The Odeon chain made a very good shot at giving their customers the best possible images: they had previously created projector settings for 2.0:1 ratio in all their cinemas to cope with the increasing number of films released in that format, but didn’t have 2.2:1 set up anywhere. So they decided to play the film in the 2.0:1 ratio, thus making the image fit slightly better than the 1.85:1 ratio in some of their screens that have static scope frames.

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The ghost in the 3D machine Inherent with passive systems is some degree of ghosting. As projection gets brighter will the experience become less satisfactory?

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Regardless of your opinion on 3D formats, the technology spearheaded the conversion from 35mm to digital, is available on around 58% of global cinema screens and has been responsible for over $45 billion in global box office since its digital incarnation in 2005 with Disney’s Chicken Little. Simply put, 3D has been an integral part of the cinema landscape in the 21st Century. This feature seeks insight from industry luminaries, discusses how current technologies and consumer appetite are all having an effect on the 3D landscape of today, and examines the good, the bad and the ghostly(!) that are all shaping the future of the format. The importance of 3D as a driving force in the transition from film to digital cannot be underestimated — during the early CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017



stages of digitisation, 3D installation rates were, in many circuits and territories, over 90% and even up to 100% of digital installs. It is well-documented how much James Cameron’s Avatar drove 3D (and in turn the digitisation of cinema) with its release in 2009. It still holds the Box Office record of $2.8billion globally — not only the saviour of 3D, but many would argue at the time the saviour of the cinema full stop.

But are the best days over? Whilst the halcyon days of Avatar are history, the format continues to be important, as UK and Ireland Director of Sales at 20th Century Fox, Andrew Turner points out, “3D is here to stay, at least certainly for the foreseeable future. Whilst

the UK has seen a comparably steeper decline with its 3D percentage of GBO (Gross Box Office) on titles, the bigger blockbusters are still regularly delivering 3D contributions north of 20% of the total GBO. Rogue One, the UK’s biggest film of 2016, delivered £17.63million in 3D box office revenue. That 3D GBO alone would have made it the 20th biggest title in a record-breaking GBO year competing with more than 900 new releases. Other major EMEA markets are notably more stable, such as Russia and Germany that boast a 56% and 65% GBO across all 3D titles. Fox continue to back and invest in 3D with titles dated as far out as Dec 2025 with Avatar 5.” Andrew’s thoughts are echoed by Giovanni Dolci, VP of Theatre Development and MD Europe and Africa, IMAX Corporation. His view is that the immersive aspect of 3D can be central to the right type of film: “At IMAX, our goal is to provide filmmakers with the best suite of tools possible to help achieve their creative vision, whether that is 2D, 3D, film or digital. I believe that 3D can have a very immersive impact on the audience experience when done well and for the right kind of film — such as Avatar, Gravity and films this year including Guardians of the Galaxy and Transformers, the latter of which was shot in IMAX 3D. While I think you will continue to see filmmakers and audiences embrace various formats, technologies such as laser projection, which has vastly improved 3D brightness, and other advancements in capture and post-production will continue to progress the 3D experience. Audiences have demonstrated that, as long as the 3D content and presentation are top notch, they are still willing to pay a premium for it.” In global terms the 3D ‘boom’ has now passed and whilst some circuits are still making every screen 3D capable and some countries are seeing up to 100% box office on 3D (due to, in some cases 100% only programming of 3D as is often the case in China), others are fitting out sites where 50%, or even fewer, screens are 3D ready — it is worth noting that few sites would have no 3D capabilities at all.

Passive systems Passive polarised 3D systems are the most popular type of 3D technology in cinemas around the world, however, it is widely agreed that there is some degree of ghosting inherent and present in most polarised 3D cinema systems and presentations. The very best technologies can minimise ghosting to the point where it is virtually impossible to notice but the effect is generally more visible at brighter 3D levels and if the content contains any imperfections. Advances in recent years of more light-efficient systems are something


A premium format and, done right, immersive too, but 3D doesn’t always meet expectations

of a blessing and a curse; with each system, screen and content combination needing to find a ‘sweet spot’ where the content looks at its best. Whilst hitting 14ftL 3D seems to be the goal of many exhibitors, it could be argued that with many current technologies, ghosting levels can be too high at such light levels. Perhaps in many cases a level of 6-7FtL could actually prove a better all-round experience? Recent developments in laser projection are certainly helping to generate more light on screen; lasers are currently being used most widely to project through passive polarised 3D systems, but also on white screens and with RGB laser using colour separation and higher quality re-usable

attendance pays big dividends to exhibitors and moviegoers alike”, Beck concluded.

Looking at the whole chain The future for 3D will certainly be helped if we can have more ‘joined up’ discussions between all parts in the value chain, from content makers and producers through to exhibition and also colleagues in postproduction. The post-production process of much 3D content is mastered on white screens, so the producers do not necessarily see where the ghosting is occurring or have the ability to correct it. When issues then arise with ghosting, the DCP is in circulation and it’s too late. Whilst poor-quality screens, incorrect port glass and inferior technologies will all lead to an impaired 3D presentation, content

“SHOWING 3D THE WAY IT WAS INTENDED, FIRST SHOW, EVERY SHOW ENHANCES THE PLF EXPERIENCE” — BILL BECK, BARCO eyewear; as Bill Beck, ‘The Laser Guy’ from Barco, explains: “The future of 3D cinema is benefitting greatly from the deployment of RGB laser projection systems. Getting consistently brighter 3D on big PLF screens has been one of the most important early drivers of laser-illuminated cinema projection. But brightness is not the only advantage laser brings to the 3D experience. Higher stereo contrast; highly saturated colours, higher sequential contrast, improved uniformity on high-gain screens are all available in multiple 3D formats (“6P” colour separation, polarisation, active glasses). Showing 3D the way it was intended, first show, every show, enhances the experience in PLF rooms and in any large screen theatre where maximising 3D


also needs to be perfect for the illusion to be sustained. As Jan Rasmussen, Head of Screen Technology at Nordisk Film Cinemas, in Denmark, commented: “As long as commercially and artistically relevant content comes out of Hollywood, we will no doubt continue to show the movies in 3D and certainly on the biggest screens. At the same time, it is a serious issue that the quality of 3D in some instances is as poor as is the case. We have spent millions of Euros on being able to present 3D movies at the right light levels and on the best passive polarised systems we can find, but that doesn’t help if the technical quality of 3D on even some of the biggest Hollywood titles leaves us short. Over the past couple of years we have seen

GONE FROM TV... The overwhelming point of view consistently voiced from across the industry is that 3D is here to stay and not the fad many predicted; and with 3D TV having the ‘plug pulled’, the format remains something cinema can offer that differentiates it from the home; add to this the fact that it is also something pirates cannot capture, or screen at home, makes it a format Hollywood can rely on to remain a truly theatrical experience.


3D was one of the first ‘premium’ offers in the digital cinema age and one that did, and generally still does, command a higher price. However, for a premium, cinemagoers expect a premium experience. In order for the future of 3D to be a bright one, it needs to be, well, a bright one! If we are to be honest, the reality is that in many screens around the world the 3D experience falls well below par for a number of reasons; but without doubt the two factors that are most commonly raised are light levels and ghosting — not enough of the former and too much of the latter. (‘Ghosting’ — where an image intended for the left or right eye ‘bleeds’ into the other eye, giving the effect of a ghostly second image on-screen). IMIS CTC has a working group currently looking at the issue of ghosting in 3D and hopes to have findings and output on this in the coming year — watch this space!




more blockbusters with far too much ghosting to justify both the premium price and the nuisance of wearing 3D glasses. “As always, the future of cinema and cinema technology will be pushed by visionary filmmakers and cinemas investing heavily, pursuing opportunities and innovation. With direct-lit LED screens with HFR and HDR on the horizon, the depth perception of 2D images may well challenge the need for 3D in the cinema. But if Avatar 2 arrives in 2020 with glasses-free 3D of superior quality, who knows!?”

Important for the marketplace Despite the many stumbling blocks that 3D has encountered, be it poor 3D conversions, general apathy in the consumer market or poor-quality presentation at exhibition level, the format is still extremely important for box office and something that exhibitors are happy with and want to offer their customers — eight of the Top 10 Global Box Office hits from 2016 were released in 3D. Cinemagoers are increasingly being offered a more premium experience; be it a wider range of quality food and beverage, comfy reclining seats and the best audiovisual experiences ever available. 3D needs to keep up the pace and it needs to deliver a truly premium experience. Ever more savvy customers will not keep going back for more if the experience is sub-standard. Roland Jones, Executive Director of Technical Services at Vue International, had this to say, “3D is still very much alive from an exhibition point of view, but is not growing. There is a significant proportion of customers who now choose to see a movie in 2D rather than 3D. “Milestone movies like Star Wars or Avatar will skew more heavily towards 3D, which is a reflection of the higher quality of these 3D productions. “I cannot see any major changes or innovations for 3D in the near term other than higher light solutions like laser or double stacks allowing for higher brightness versions of 3D films. Since these

technologies are not widespread, there will be a limited impact overall, but this may reinforce 3D as a “premium” experience in a smaller number of screens. “For future innovations to become adopted, it is imperative that the industry works together throughout the value chain. I have heard rumours about Avatar II being planned to be available in “glasses-free 3D”. I do not know how this could work, or what equipment we would need to procure for it. If exhibition can be involved as soon as possible in the innovation process, this would maximise the chances of economically and operationally viable solutions being created for the benefit of all.” Well-told stories that are expertly produced and projected with quality 3D are simply stunning — a cinematic experience that can take movie-going to another dimension; and, importantly, it can be a true premium experience, one that cinemagoers are happy to pay more of their well-earned cash on. However, when any part of that chain breaks down, it has the opposite effect of immersion, taking the customer out of the moment and feeling, too often, ripped off.

So what is the future for 3D? The best cinematic 3D is still yet to come in terms of production and projection, and we will continue to see progress being made with the format. The current buzz in cinema technology circles is all about LED screens such as those recently showcased by Sony Digital Cinema and Samsung (see page 52).

REFLECTING ON THE FUTURE OF 3D ACCORDING TO A NUMBER OF THE WORLD’S EXPERTS I am convinced that for the future of 3D to be a strong and vibrant one, we need the value chain to be more joined up; with no true ‘standards’ in place and so many links in the chain not collaborating, it is inevitable it will continue to fall down more often than it should. As an industry we need to make sure that what is on-screen is what the Director, Producer and Distributor anticipated. Perhaps now is the time for a standalone trade body or association to work together on maintaining 3D standards and quality in cinema? If we can work more closely together to get it right as an industry, and the biggest talents in film making continue to believe in 3D, then the future will be very bright indeed!


Currently, 3D demands the audience’s patience with glasses. But will it still do so in the future?

Will these technologies gain momentum and can they or will they be 3D-enabled? Will they enhance the 3D experience or be competing technologies? Time will tell.

Will other new technologies help? High Dynamic Range (HDR) is also an emerging creative space that could be both competitive or potentially complimentary to 3D, something that Michael Karagosian — president of MKPE, co-chair of the Next Generation Cinema Display Committee of the ASC Moving Image Technology Council, and creator of Cinepedia — points out: “The building blocks of 3D are market-driven and artistic. The market recognises the ability of 3D to command a bump in ticket price. Artists pulled to 3D are attracted by the element it can bring to story-telling. Not all artists are pulled to 3D, and many 3D movies are produced for market reasons. “Market success relies on audience appetite for a novelty that requires people to wear glasses. However, audiences eventually grow weary of novelty, which is evident from the drop in 3D revenue per release in those parts of the world where digital projection has been around longest. “The question is whether the negative trend expands and grows, or whether the 3D format is just riding a wave and we’re in an ebb. To better understand this invites a look at competition. 3D competition comes in at least two flavours: 2D, which requires no glasses, and the emerging format of HDR, which also can be appreciated without glasses. “HDR can impact both market and artist. HDR is not just a brighter image, but a new palette for telling stories, in effect, competing for the artistic drive of filmmakers. HDR also delivers spectacle, which could command its own bump in ticket price and compromise the 3D market. Of course, one would expect HDR and 3D to be striking together, finally delivering properly bright 3D. And someone will write that production cheque. Which leads to the sage observation of a friend (who I won’t embarrass) who once described 3D as “akin to athlete’s foot: it just keeps coming back.”



France’s economic and cultural legacy from colonial days in Africa are the reason for the present interest and involvement in the continent’s cinema scene. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the North African Maghreb territories, particularly in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The CEO of CineAtlas Holding in Morocco, Pierre-François Bernet, recently announced plans to spend MAD 10 million (USD $1m) to renovate the Le Colisée movie theater in Rabat and convert it into a four-screen multiplex.

Within five years this program would expand to renovating and building a dozen cinemas across Morocco, Cameroon, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and other African countries. The plan is to have 4K projection with 3D capability and offer comfortable seating. Morocco had more than 300 cinemas in the 1980s, each with seating capacity of between 800 to 1,500 on average, the lack of modernisation in the past two decades is blamed on the decline to just some 30 cinemas.

The plan of Canal Olympia is to focus on French-speaking African countries such as Togo, Benin, Guinea, Senegal and others, according to the Vice-President of Vivendi Village Corinne Bach. The fifth cinema opened in Burkina Faso in March of this year. The Canal Olympia cinemas are not only DCI-grade but have solar roof panels to supply them with electricity, developed by the Bolloré Blue Solutions program. The cinemas are typically built in as little as 100 days, with tickets selling for just $3, thus making them affordable.

A Digital Cinema Gold Rush in Africa Patrick von Sychowski investigates how the Nigerians and the French are leading the push to bring (back) cinema to the continent. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

Yet the country already has multiplexes with French-Moroccan exhibitor Megarama operating in Casablanca (16 screens), Marrakesh (10 screens) and Fez (two-screens), with more cities coming in the future. There is even an IMAX located inside Morocco Mall in Casablanca. Megarama’s two existing large multiplexes account for an astonishing two-thirds of Morocco’s total box office.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and the world’s second-largest movie production territory, trailing only behind India but ahead of Hollywood. ‘Nollywood’ is estimated to be a content market worth over $3bn, though the vast majority is accounted for by street vendors selling pirate discs for just $2. Less than 1% is estimated to come from official ticket sales. Film is also Nigeria’s second biggest export after oil. Cinemas are slowly emerging to cater to the growing middle class, showing both domestic hits (30 Days in Atlanta) and Hollywood films.

South Africa has a well-established cinema industry with modern multiplexes, dominated by local majors Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro, which are fully digital and offer Imax, Dolby Atmos, 4DX and more. It also has a thriving local film industry, as well as being a popular location for film, television and advertising shoots, with Cape Town for example standing in for Islamabad in the fourth season of the television series Homeland. Yet South Africa is also the regional outlier when it comes to cinemas, with the rest of the continent lagging far behind.



ith the notable exception of South Africa, cinema has been slow to embrace digital across the continent of Africa. This is not so much because Africa clings to analogue film, but because the theatrical cinema business has languished or, in some countries, vanished, mainly due to piracy, the rise of home entertainment and stunted local film industries. In Congo’s capital Kinshasa, for example, the last cinema closed in 2004, leaving a city of 10 million without a

Egypt has long been the largest producer and exporter of films and TV shows to the rest of the Arab world. This helped to create a strong domestic cinema sector for many decades. Yet political unrest, censorship and economic hardship has led to the decline of both film production, export and cinema viewing. Egypt presently produces around 20 films per year, less than a quarter of what it used to do in the past century. Yet cinema persists and Cairo has a resilient arthouse sector in the form of the 170-seater Zawaya and the new Cinematheque.

single movie theatre. Yet the growth of an affluent middle class and malls has led local operators to start investing in new multiplexes and upgrading existing facilities. The market has attracted outside interest, particularly from France with the likes of Vivendi, MegaRama, CineAtlas and Ymagis racing to enable a potential African cinema revolution. No single article can do justice to the varied nature of cinema across the 54 internationally recognised countries that make up Africa — even if data and information was available for all. The good news is that after years of decline, cinema is slowly on the rise across much of sub-Saharan Africa. UNESCO data showed the number of cinemas went from just one in Senegal in 2012 to six in 2015, Mozambique grew from four in 2009 to six in 2015. Even war-torn South Sudan is recorded as having one cinema in 2015. But in North Africa there has been a steady decline, with Egypt dropping from 165 cinemas in 2005 to 69 in 2015, while Morocco had 119 cinema in 2005 but just 31 ten years later.

The heartland of african cinema When it comes to cinema, three countries have traditionally played an outsized role in the African continent when it comes to cinema and film: South Africa, Nigeria and Egypt. Of these, South Africa has more in common with markets such as Brazil or Thailand than the rest of Africa when it comes to having a developed cinema sector. This leaves Nigeria and Egypt as the twin poles for

“GROWTH OF THE AFFLUENT MIDDLE CLASS HAS LED TO LOCAL INVESTMENT IN MULTIPLEXES” cinema in sub-Saharan and North Africa. Of these two Nigeria has seen the most multiplex developments recently. Silverbird Cinemas in Ikeja Mall claims to be Nigeria’s oldest multiplex, having opened in 2004, and the operator has since expanded to eight cinemas with 69 screens, making it West Africa’s largest operator. Filmhouse opened its first multiplex in 2012 and has the ambition to open 25 cinemas by 2020, with a current total of 44 screens across ten sites. Genesis Deluxe Cinemas (GDC — not to be confused with the server maker) has opened seven cinemas with 15 screens and was the first to show a digital 3D film (The Green Hornet) in Nigeria. There are also other small operators such as Ozone Cinema and Viva. IMAX concluded its first agreement in Nigeria


with Filmhouse Cinemas in 2015 for a screen in Lagos. This was a first for West Africa, though IMAX had previously signed a deal in Angola as well as several sites in South Africa and Kenya. “There is an appetite for the premium experience that IMAX has to offer,” Giovanni Dolci, IMAX MD for Europe and Africa was quoted in Variety, saying that African IMAX screens have “extremely solid” returns, comparable to cinemas in more developed markets. As in other markets, the arrival of multiplexes and IMAX in Africa is to a large part a function of the growth of malls. Other West African territories are following, with Ghana also having two Silverbird Cinemas.

a market of opportunity? Yet the absence of a cinema resurgence in many African territories has prompted outsiders to step in. The perhaps unlikeliest is Vivendi Group’s Chairman Vincent Bolloré, whose Canal+ is a major pay television operator across Africa with 2.8 million subscribers. His Canal Olympia venture aims to open 100 cinemas across Africa, the first of which opened in Cameroon’s University of Yaounde in June 2016, followed by a second in Douala (south) and a third cinema in Yaoundé. Cameroon had 32 cinemas in 1973, but the last closed in 2009. With television and piracy arguably helping to kill cinema, a TV platform owner is now cinema’s unlikely saviour. The next ones planned are an 11-screen complex in Rabat and an eight-screen multiplex in Tangiers. These are expected to grow box office by a staggering 70%. With ticket prices at around $5, the multiplexes cater to the middle class, though Moroccan films hold their own with Hollywood, consistently capturing half of the Top Ten films each year. Morocco is outpacing Egypt in both films and cinemas.Against this backdrop, Ymagis’s acquisition of R2D1 in 2015 makes sense, given the presence and involvement of the cinema service company in North and French-speaking Africa. The same year Ymagis’s Maxime Rigaud was appointed to head the exhibitor service division (merged with Ymagis Engineering Services and now called CinemaNext) for France, Switzerland and Africa. In 2016 CinemaNext installed Laser Barco DP4K-60L RGB and Dolby Atmos immersive sound systems for three new Megarama multiplexes in Bordeaux and Morocco, Casablanca and Marrakech for the Horizon PLF screens. Morocco thus had 4K RGB laser with Dolby Atmos even before some European territories. The above is just a snapshot of the cinema situation in Africa, with a focus on SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



Cinematic statistics for selected African Nation: South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt south africa Population (2016)



Population (2016)

Population (2016)

95.6m 55.9M

Cinemas (2015)


Cinemas (2011)


Cinemas (2011)

Films Produced (2013)



677 Films Produced (2013)

Films Produced (2013)

Box Office in US dollars (2013)

1,844 25



Box Office in US dollars (2013)

Box Office in US dollars (2013)




Film & TV Market

the high-end multiplex market that caters to the middle- and upper-classes. But cinema has proliferated and flourished in countless of other ways across Africa. This ranges from the many festivals appearing from Algiers to Zanzibar; the travelling outdoor cinemas that provide both education and entertainment to people that CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

don’t own a TV, the low-cost 100-seat cinemas in Addis Ababa, the glorious Art Deco cinema in Eritrea dating from Mussolini’s days, the inflatable screens that attract hundreds of children in the slums of Kenya, the ‘cinema at the end of the world’ in the Egyptian desert that had seats, projector, screen, and electricity

generator out in the open but never showed a single film. These and many others also reflect the reality of cinema in Africa today. Yet there can be no doubt that multiplexes and digital single-screen cinemas are on the march. It has been estimated that Nigeria’s entertainment and media market alone will double in value to $8.5 billion by 2018, of which a growing part will go to cinema box office. So even with currency fluctuations, conflict and political uncertainty, it is clear the appetite for big screen entertainment is being re-kindled across Africa. With global attention having been focused on territories such as China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey, Africa could be cinema’s next big growth market.



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CINEMA'S EURO FIESTA In this section

p34 ICTA The technological focus of the ICTA session

p36 The focus sessions


Adding screens, diversification and VR

The CTC session How do you spend €50k in a cinema?

p39 Beating the pirates


The inroads being made to protect copyright

Opening sessions Women in the business and innovation

p42 Coca Cola session


How to capture the youth market

The retail session The disruptive change in the lobby

p44 The Trade Show From 0-to-120 stands in just two days!

Roll up, roll up for a dazzling display of lights, showmanship and technological astonishment. The CineEurope circus is in town once again and all eyes are on Barcelona for the annual moviemaking magic show! xcited whoops and warm applause greeted Hugh Jackman as he hit the stage during the 20th Century Fox slate presentation at CineEurope in June. Accompanied by a high-energy troupe of dancers, startling pyrotechnics and the stardust infused instant transformation of the auditorium, Jackman was there to introduce his forthcoming tentpole feature, The Greatest Showman. In many ways, his performance as the inventor of showbusiness — P.T. Barnum — was apposite, reflecting the circus that


CineEurope has become, rolling into town for its sixth outing in the Centro de Convenciones Internacional de Barcelona, Spain. A firm fixture in the distribution and exhibition calendars, the most energetic in the European cinema business justifiably look forward to the clamour of June when they gather together to marvel at forthcoming spectacles, innovative technologies and catch up with friends old and new. Over the coming pages, Cinema Technology reveals what was big at CineEurope and what will keep industry minds occupied over forthcoming months — until the circus rolls into town once more. SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY




ICTA'S TECHNOLOGY FOCUS The European arm of the International Cinema Technology Association discussed technical matters in earnest in Barcelona he Cinesa cinema complex provides an excellent venue for manufacturers to demonstrate projection equipment and new systems at CineEurope, and ICTA members, experts and guests (a quarter of them exhibitors) gathered there to debate the latest in cinema technology. After welcomes from Thomas Rüttgers, ICTA European representative, and Jan Runge, on behalf of UNIC, who highlighted the publication of ICTA’s ‘Innovation and the Big Screen’ report, Sony’s Oliver Pasch introduced a panel to discuss the current hot topic — ‘HDR: Is it The Next Big Thing or Just Another Hype?’. Toby Glover from Technicolor explained the technology, the terminology and the acronyms, and the ‘blacker blacks, whiter whites and expanded colour space’


definitions met general approval. Till Cussmann from CinemaNext was bullish about HDR in the form of their EclairColor system, saying that it is an affordable solution, and Stuart Bowling talked about the DolbyCinema system that encompasses theatre design and the physical environment as well as the DolbyVision and Atmos technologies, recognising that their ‘Hero Grade’ pictures will be too expensive for all but top-of-the-range cinemas to incorporate. A question from Ioan Allen about whether HDR includes Higher Frame Rates led to much discussion — the two are interlinked, and it was pointed out that HDR can show up judder at 24fps which is not apparent using standard dynamic range, and that increasing the frame rate reduces the judder. Toby Glover said that HDR and HFR can provide a different visual experience.

Desperately seeking "wow"

During the first session there was agreement that cinema needs to provide a ‘wow’ experience, but Roland Jones, who makes the technological decisions for the Vue chain, asked the most relevant question: How are we going to sell HDR to the customers? HDR is obviously a hot topic, and there were many opinions. There was agreement that cinema can’t stand still at a time when domestic TVs offer better resolution and higher dynamic range — some of the panel extolled the high quality of the best domestic TV images and noted that TV manufacturers are coming around to some sort of ‘standard’ which means a customer knows what he is

getting when he buys a UHDTV. This led to a general consensus that there are no current cinema standards for HDR and that the industry urgently needs such a standard if exhibitors are to be expected to invest in new equipment and, if cinemagoers are to be persuaded an HDR performance

Tackling the thorny issue of HDR, standards and quality — a panel of industry specialists

is special. Reminiscences of when THX used to be a guarantee of an all-round high-quality experience led to declarations that cinema once again needs to become the ‘gold standard’ for presentation. Questions were asked about how SMPTE standardsetters are helping, and all agreed cinema needs to provide a high-quality experience with a recognisable ‘badge’. Work is progressing, but we are a long way from the standard needed. Till Cussmann noted that we are 10 years into different forms of immersive sound in cinema and there is still no standard there. He felt that the industry has a maximum of five years to get its act together with HDR — people will be used to HDR on their TVs and if


The ability to provide a seamless display surface has been demonstrated.

Sony developed the Crystal LED and already market it in the Visual Simulation & Visual Entertainment industries. The suggestion that this technology might be of interest to the cinema industry was made at CinemaCon 2017 where a 4K screen was shown. This received a positive reception, and Sony was keen to make clear that the product isn’t yet ready for cinema use and that their intention is to gather feedback from experts with a view to applying it to cinema

It wouldn’t be possible to use the traditional perforated screen to make the sound appear to emanate from the screen. New surround sound systems will needed and other acoustic changes may be required.


in the future. Many factors are now being considered, including: Impact of a high brightness, high contrast, high resolution display in a cinema. Wider viewing angles it could provide. How some inevitable negative aspects of projection such as the need for booths or pods, geometric distortions, focus etc. could be eliminated.

3D displays will need careful consideration — active 3D will be the most likely option. How modular units could be combined to make various sizes of cinema screen, and how they might co-exist with projection.



12-PAGE CINEEUROPE SPECIAL The Cinesa complex offers manufacturers a superb facility to showcase innovatons

cinemas don’t provide pictures at least as good, they will lose a large part of the cinema audience.

Do you reach the customer…?

"Smart Connect — how to empower marketing for personalised customer touch points" was the title of a session led by Michael Halevy of Compeso [CT covered their ticketing/POS system in March 2017]. The essence was how to use data you gather as an exhibitor to ‘touch the heart of the customer and then improve your profits’. He showed the five phases of the customer journey from pre-booking through to watching the movie. The talk showed how significant increases in profits can be generated from relatively straightforward analysis and use of data. Sharing a similar storyline, Christian Kluge from Smart Pricer asked why cinemas are lagging behind the airline and hotel industries in adopting dynamic pricing. His figures showed how increasing bookings in non-peak times and incentivising early bookings can drive revenues up, with new ways of targeting new audiences with offers such as ‘earlybird’, ‘super saver’ and ‘saver’ tickets. He showed how Smart Pricer can provide cinemas and entertainment venues around the globe with the necessary tools to increase revenues and attract visitors. Research has shown that 20% of

20% ...of potential cinema customers can be flexible in their attendance

1000 Sony's 4K Crystal LED displays can emit 1000 Nits of high brightness

25% of ICTA's audience was drawn from the exhibition community

potential cinema customers can be flexible in attendance times.

So, farewell to the projector?

"Active Cinema Screens - the end of projectors?" was the provocative title of a session that everyone had been looking forward to, after the demonstrations from Samsung and Sony at CinemaCon had raised so much interest. The programme promised presentations from GDC about the Samsung system and from Sony, so there was some disappointment when the GDC speaker didn’t appear. Mark Clowes from Sony did a sterling job, however, explaining how Sony’s 4K Crystal LED displays work, providing super-high contrast, high brightness (perhaps 1000 Nits compared with the 48 Nits or 14fL of a standard cinema screen) and wide viewing angles. He explained how the technology allows multiple display units to be mounted so that there are no visible seams, and, later in the week, I was able to confirm, along with a number of other critical viewers, that the pictures are magnificent and that ‘you really can’t see the joins’, when Sony showed a 2K version in its CineEurope demonstration area. Mark was upfront that the product is not ready for cinema use, with no product sold, and that it has been introduced to gain feedback from exhibitors. He acknowledged there is work to do with considerations of power consumption, mounting of the display in the auditorium, how 3D might be achieved, and, how cinema sound (especially dialogue) can be achieved. This raised much concern with the sound experts in the ICTA audience, who predicted ‘devastating acoustic consequences’ and ‘phantom images depending on where you sit’. Others felt that modern sound processing and positioning systems, including object-based systems, might find ways of overcoming these difficulties. Mark acknowledged the possible problems and stressed that the technology had been introduced in order to stimulate such discussions. Sony had been taken aback by the level of interest and will welcome feedback.

A new sound format

John F Allen from High Performance Stereo gave a detailed presentation about "A New Sound Format for Large Screen Cinemas". He had come up with a design using five speakers across the top and five speakers across the

bottom of a very wide screen in a US Marine Museum in order to provide coverage over the whole area of the screen, creating a sound image to match the huge picture. "Innovation in Cinema: Pain Points and Relief Missions" was the initially puzzling title that enabled Dave Monk of EDCF to raise some vital discussion points for exhibitors. Considering the barrage of innovations hitting the business and confusing claims made for laser projection, he suggested it is time to reset our priorities and consider what exhibitors really need. We must concentrate on making the equipment we have now work optimally — cleaning and refurbishing projector optical systems can bring huge gains in light output and ensure the lifetime can be maximised, improving return on investment. The same goes for audio and all the cinema equipment — making the best of what you already have can make a huge difference to the experience for customers. He identified various pain points, including the need for more brightness and better contrast to improve colour portrayal of images. Elisabetta Brunella from the EC Media Salles project gave a market update discussing variable growth in audiences in different European countries. She made some pertinent points on investment, saying that the cinema industry should ask itself if efforts to modernise have been successful in ROI terms — she claimed the number of screens has increased more than the number of attendees, so there are fewer people for each screen. Before investing in new cinemas, we should consider the cost of maintenance, energy and the effects on the environment, recommending an eco-tech approach. It was suggested that non-digital (Blu-ray, DVD screening) cinemas should not be included in the cinema statistics that Media Salles uses, but Elisabetta was adamant they should, as they keep alive the habit of viewing movies communally. "The Impact of Projector and Room Design on Contrast" was the topic considered by Gilles Claeys of Barco, discussing the prospects for HDR in cinemas and explaining how not only projectors have to be redesigned to provide blacker blacks, whiter whites and greater contrast images, but that it is vital to ensure that extraneous light sources are kept to a minimum with screens, furniture and fittings also designed to ensure as little light as possible is reflected back. SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY




WIDE-RANGING, CLOSE FOCUS A number of focus session seminars in a special auditorium on the tradeshow floor involved a range of organisations, including ICTA, EDCF and IMIS CTC nnovative Ways to Add Screens to an Existing Multiplex was the title of the first session on the trade show floor. Bernard Collard (ICTA and ECCO Consulting) introduced an expert panel containing a cinema architect, an integrator, and a cinema operator, asking them to consider the new technologies and how they are likely to affect cinema design in the future. Walter Achatz from Atelier Achatz Architekten in Munich gave an overview of some of the cinema designs they have been responsible for over the past 20 years, explaining how they use tried and tested methods, but are constantly addressing new challenges, and finding ways of integrating the latest technologies, to benefit both the cinema owner and the customer. Walter gave several examples of new, exciting designs, including Kinomax Irkutsk, Siberia, opened last year. Integrator Graham Lodge, whose company Sound Associates fits out and maintains cinemas in many parts of the world, provided much practical advice about adding screens to existing multiplexes, noting the current trend to smaller screens, often with luxurious furnishings. He said that many ‘little or no maintenance needed’ claims from projector manufacturers are simply not true if reliable operation is to be assured. He warned that ideas of fitting projectors in small pods in order to squeeze in an extra screen or two need to be carefully assessed during the design phase. Access for maintenance will be required, and services like electricity and ventilation will need to be provided to the projector — this should be considered well before the design is finalised. All too often providing ventilation can be a challenge, and even projectors that claim to need little extra ventilation will undoubtedly last longer if installed in environmentally benign positions. Sound systems too need to be thought about — where are amplifiers and the processors to go if there is no projection room? Putting them behind



the screen can work, but at the design stage you need to think about how sufficient power can be provided there, and where cables between amps and speakers will be routed. In a new cinema the position of the concession stands needs careful thought if you are to maximise footfall and profits, and building in the extra facilities required for event cinema is easier if you consider this at the design stage. When modifying existing sites it is often the case that real-life situations differ from the architects’ drawings created years earlier. Graham recalled finding a huge water pipe running across what the plans showed to be an empty space. He concluded by saying that cinemas considering the addition of extra screens should work with their integrator to make the best of every particular situation. Laura Fumagalli, an independent cinema operator from Northern Italy who runs the family cinema business, Arcadia, with several locations in commercial areas, stressed the importance of continuing to invest

in technical innovation. They have introduced laser projection and Dolby Atmos as well as comfortable modern seating, and their customers appreciate the quality of their theatres, and love the overall experience.

Feedback from the floor

The Focus Sessions on the trade show floor are the perfect forum for exploring the industry's concerns

The session led to an interesting discussion on designing new auditoria for multi-purpose uses. It was agreed that there may need to be compromises, the designer and architect may not appreciate the ‘black room’ decor cinema purists desire, but new LED lighting systems could completely change the ambience between events. Graham pointed out that it is possible to have two different sound equalisation setups for different events in the same auditorium. If active screens do move into cinemas there will be some advantages, in that it may be easier to arrange the auditorium layout if projection angles don’t need to be considered, but there will undoubtedly be problems in optimising the sound, and consideration will need to be given to removing the heat from the front of the auditorium. There was general agreement that when working with designers and architects the choice of screen type will need to be considered earlier, and that integrators need to be brought in to work with the architects much sooner than is now usual.

THE BIG VIRTUAL REALITY CONUNDRUM The afternoon session included a session entitled ‘Virtual Reality - Killer App or Companion Experience?’ where a panel involving some of the companies from the cinema sector most closely involved in this area looked at the lessons learned from the use of VR to date and explored possible ideas for its use in cinema in the future. There were numerous VR demos around the show, including a MediaMation Pod on the Coca-Cola stand where you put on the headset, sat in the unit, and became immersed

in the VR film, plus opportunities on other stands to try different VR headsets. The experiences were all ‘mind-blowing’ in various different ways, but in spite of one company telling me they have a popular theatre auditorium in which the whole audience sits together whilst wearing these closed headsets, ‘sharing’ the VR experience, I am no further forward in understanding where VR will fit into the shared experience of cinema in the years to come, and look forward to seeing what develops.



12-PAGE CINEEUROPE SPECIAL Bernard Collard from ICTA, introduces the first session on the tradeshow floor

The case for diversification

"Diversifying the Cinema Going Experience — The Business Case" was a session chaired by David Hancock of EDCF. Mike Thomson from Light Cinemas said that diversification plans depend on which market is being considered. His experiences in the Middle East and in Nordic countries showed great differences, but the overall message is that you must tailor the offerings to the needs of the local market. He felt that the changes that digital cinema had brought had not actually resulted in much movement in the business. We have some more content in the form of event cinema, but really haven’t ‘cracked’ sport in cinemas, and the increased flexibility that electronic distribution could have brought has not happened. Although more films are released than ever before, the choice that customers are given is still restricted, due to the way the distribution system works. Light Cinemas has identified the need to serve a more mature audience and often chooses films to suit. It provides a ‘premium multiplex’ experience and each of its cinema offerings is tailored to provide what that particular community wants — a local business moulded to suit each l community, a ‘social space’, a venue for local people rather than just a cinema — the opposite of a big cinema

Walter Achatz gave an overview of Atelier Achatz Architekten's last 20 years

900 Out of around 900 films made in a year, a total of 94% shown came from the top 100.

The Kinomax Irkutsk opened in 2016, in Siberia, Russia

chain. The opportunity to provide ‘cinema on demand’ has so far not been taken up widely. Secret Cinema and Pop-Up cinema are providing new experiences and bringing in audiences, but it is notable that these are being provided by ‘non-cinema’ outsiders rather than regular operators. Mike said that cinemas need to develop new relationships with content distributors and that the industry ‘isn’t yet out of the starting blocks’ as far as diversification is concerned.

Bringing in the big brands

Christine Costello of More2Screen was more sanguine about diversification, saying that event cinema has come a long way in a short time — it didn’t exist ten years ago and now is a thriving world-wide business. It had initially been difficult to persuade the ‘biggest brands’ in content industries such as ballet and opera of the advantages of diversifying into the new audiences that cinema can provide, especially as the whole process could prove expensive, and they need to make a profit on their investment. But gradually things developed, with cinema initially being seen as a ‘loss leader’ to get people to attend actual live events, and we now have more diverse content and more diverse audiences attending the cinema. Independent cinema has played a major part, being flexible

enough to include a range of different event content for different audiences. Domien De Witte of Barco explained how digital cinema had led to more options, with different demands from older and younger audiences. Youngsters want to see the content that they choose, and they want it ‘now’ — not something the traditional cinema industry has provided. The cost of the experience is secondary.They are more interested in being able to make the best use of their time, and this could provide a huge business opportunity for exhibition. Cinemas need to know their customers and to know what works in each location and community. There are immense opportunities by offering experiences at different price points, mirroring Barco’s strategy to offer ‘Business Class’ Flagship laser projectors as well as less-expensive Smart Lasers more oriented to family cinemas. He noted that in China, Video on Demand performances are already popular in cinemas. David Hancock kicked off the discussions by saying that in many ways cinema has been the same for 100 years, and we now need to find ways to keep the core of the cinema experience whilst diversifying to provide a more social experience. The panel, with contributions form the audience, agreed there is the need for flexibility to put on content — the traditional way of a cinema having to book a film for two weeks perhaps needs to change. Currently we have more films being made than ever, but with less choice for the customer— of the 900 films made in a year, 94% of come from just the top 100 of these. Although the conference tends to concentrate on the move to premium cinemas, it is also important to keep ‘economy class’ happy. Light Cinemas effectively supply a premium offer at a standard price, with more legroom and comfort — the all-important ‘value’ that customers appreciate. There was agreement that diversification is the way to keep cinema alive — there must be a remodelling of what we offer customers. Lessons from event cinema show that the new technologies are bringing forward new content in a financially viable way, and it is important to ask customers what it is that they want to see. Competition from the likes of Netflix makes it plain that different content must be available to cinemas, in order to diversify to maximise its strengths. It has to keep evolving. SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY




HOW DO YOU BEST SPEND €50,000? Richard Mitchell, Chairman of IMIS/BKSTS Cinema Technology Committee, brought together a panel to discuss how best to make sure technology investments pay off he first IMIS CTC panel at CineEurope focused on how best to invest €50,000 to increase revenue. On the face of it this might be a seemingly impossible task given the cost of most technology, but the panel led by Chairman Richard Mitchell and made up of respected cinema experts Mike Cummings (TK Architects), Derek Galloway (Martek Contracts),


Bag yourself some data

Graham Spurling said that the industry is being transformed by data, and that it isn’t only the big chains that can benefit. His own cinemas were using data to increase efficiency and profits, and he said that they can ‘drill down’ into their data to get a range of valuable management information, including the performance of individual staff. Money spent on this type of data analysis is well spent. In equipment terms he said that €50k doesn’t buy much, with dual stack projection costing perhaps €85k — but new financing systems spread payments over several years and can provide a good return on investment. Mike Cummins also thought major equipment changes were outside of the budget. He suggested taking a look at the layout of the cinema to determine if there are areas that are no longer useful, considering reusing or redeveloping these to increase the sales that might be made from them. Mike Bradbury told how recent work at Odeon’s cinemas had clearly shown the financial and performance benefits that could be gained by refurbishing CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

Graham Spurling (Movies@) and Mike Bradbury (Odeon UCI) came up with innovative ways to make a little go a long way. Derek's first thoughts would be to concentrate on improving food and beverage areas to increase sales — this thinking tied in well with the earlier CE Retail seminars. He also felt interactive signage linked with modern retail displays could make a big difference to sales, and said new signage represents good value for money in terms of returns.

older projectors. Relatively simple stuff like cleaning projector optical systems and ensuring optimum alignment could increase the light output of projectors significantly, increasing their useful lifetimes, making better use of the existing investment and providing a better experience for the audience.

Time to linger, and invest

One of the key take away messages was about the requirement for exhibitors to increase dwell time in order to increase retail sales. In terms of the lobby it was clear — install a free WIFI network, install digital signage, increase food and beverage options or deploy a lobby experience (perhaps a VR one). The longer you keep cinemagoers in the building, the more chance of increasing their spend. In terms of the auditorium, there’s two main options with a limited budget. Either make the best of what you’ve got by cleaning or replacing ageing light engines in the projector which can significantly improve light output, or use a small sum of money to open up a financing deal which enables ageing projection equipment

From top to bottom: exhibitors were keen to find out how to spend a (relatively) small sum; Richard Mitchell introduces the session; the panel gave sound advice for smaller operators

to be replaced by newer offerings (not necessarily limited to laser) that might open up possibilities for improved viewing through things like HDR. The clear message from this well informed panel was that you can do something useful with modest sums of money… and maybe you should.

€85K Dual stack projection system may be outside the budget, but financing it certainly is not


In tech terms €50,000 to increase revenue is peanuts — but supplying free WIFI in a lobby costs far less





Illicit Streaming Devices and IPTV: A New Route to Piracy showed how the cinema industry isn’t putting up with piracy, but is using the cyber technology to beat it


nnovative methods of fighting those who damage the industry through illegal downloading and streaming were revealed at a CineEurope. Liz Bales, Chief Executive, British Association for Screen Entertainment, led the focus session, explaining that the industry

has never seen piracy on such a large scale as in the past 18 months. Much of this is due to the ready availability of low-cost IPTV/ Android/web-TV boxes that connect to the TV in your living room, allowing a wide range of internet content to be shared with the family. Because many of run a free and open source software package called Kodi, a media player

and entertainment hub that brings digital media together via a user-friendly package, this type of box is commonly referred to a Kodi box. Kodi (formerly XBMC) can be installed on Linux, OSX, Windows, iOS and Android, and allows users to play videos, music, podcasts, and digital media files from local and network storage and the internet.


Selling and using this software and the boxes and devices it runs on is legal, but Kodi’s flexibility has made it easy for pirates to provide ‘add-on’ software users can easily download, allowing a vast range of copyrighted material from TV and film sources to be brought into the home. Many vendors offer ‘fully-loaded’ Kodi boxes that allow instant access to pirated material without the need for any technical knowledge. Andrea Ayre from the British Association for Screen Entertainment and Marie Davison, who looks after Global Content Protection for the MotionPictureAssociationofAmericaexplained the ways in which the film industry is working with organisations like BBC, Sky and the Premier League to combat the threat and to educate the public on the dangers of piracy. The Industry Trust for IP Awareness is the UK film, TV and video industry’s consumer education body, promoting the value of copyright and creativity, and aims to address the challenge of film and TV copyright infringement by inspiring audiences to value and choose to watch film and TV from legitimate sources.

Legal Issues

The making available and the use of this copyright material are undoubtedly illegal acts, and some in the film industry see them as representing the most serious piracy threat for a generation. A major problem is that because watching pirated movies in your own home and sharing them on your family TV screen has become so easy, there is a worrying trend that such behaviour is growing to be socially acceptable. The press have contributed to the legal confusion by suggesting that it is only those providing the material that are guilty, and legal action has so far been taken only against the ‘fully-loaded’ box suppliers, rather than individual viewers.

For many of Cinema Technology’s technical readers, it was Elliott Ingram, Founder and CTO, Entura International who provided the most interesting practical information about what is being done technically to combat the threat. Legal action is all very fine, but always expensive and time-consuming, whereas some of the technical techniques that are used can take immediate world-wide effect to effectively paralyse the piratewebsites.

Tools of the trade

Entura issues enforcement notices, monitors for compliance and There are many parts to works with other bodies to mitigate the Entura toolkit, but the main infringement.Cyberlockers are online filething is that the company finds, verifies, hosting websites that offer straightforward addresses and monitors infringing content, uploading and downloading services. Entura can using automated technologies, proprietary tools rapidly remove pirated content by scouring the and dedicated experts. The aim is stay ahead of web with custom tools, prioritising most popular pirates by developing solutions that deliver the best sites and taking down relevant parts of the site BitTorrent protocols for Entura’s experts results for each media business. Each technique is all tracked by skilled compliance teams.Tackling peer-to-peer file sharing used to examine these devices and the devices: Legitimate VOD and OTT distribute large amounts of data over the focused on mitigating the business impact of pirated reverse-engineer them to find out Internet are now less trouble than they were. content by disrupting the piracy process for the end how they work and what can be done to devices like AppleTV and Chromecast are in millions of homes, but the number of Entura focuses on disrupting the BitTorrent user and frustrating the uploader. At its simplest, lock them and prevent their being used to pirate software applications for index sites to frustrate any would-be pirates if a customer finds a wanted download doesn’t deliver illegal services — something that should use on a range of devices looking for content. A team of cyber researchers happen when clicked on (because Entura has drive consumers back to legitimate services. is growing. analyses sites that could provide a threat and they disabled the source) the customer will get Questions were raised, including how to make frustrated and the source provider are constantly monitoring for new uploads.Streaming legitimate film content more readily available will have to find another provides what is probably the most readily available to people looking to see a movie. findanyfilm. way. form of piracy and it is the simplest from the com is one recommended site to search for average user’s point of view. Entura constantly your favourite films, movies and TV shows. monitor streaming portals, scanned for This educational seminar explained the embedded and linked content. They have steps taken to tackle film piracy at systems to identify, take down source and to educate SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY and remove the content at the public. source.




THE OPENING SESSIONS On women… and other innovations

fter introductions and welcomes from Jan Runge and Phil Clapp of UNIC and a presentation from Sponsors 4DX, the opening session of CineEurope began in earnest with a panel of four women and one solitary man, to consider Women in Cinema — The Business Case. Women make up at least half of the cinema audience in most territories, yet less than 5% of senior positions in the industry are held by women. With numerous studies showing that companies that strive for gender-balanced leadership outperform others in terms of profit and turnover, this session was to explore what might be done to encourage a greater representation of women amongst senior management roles in the industry.


Taking the initiative

UNIC is soon to launch a pilot initiative, the Women’s Cinema Leadership Programme, a pan-European crosssector mentorship scheme for 10 highpotential female cinema professionals. Using this as the springboard, and under the moderation of Clare Turner, Client Services Director, Pearl and Dean, panellists Eddy Duquenne, CEO, Kinepolis, Jill Jones, Executive VP International Marketing & Distribution, Mister Smith Entertainment, Anna Marsh, Executive VP International Distribution, StudioCanal and Dertje Meijer, CEO, Pathé Netherlands, discussed a range of relevant topics. The situation regarding women in senior roles in the cinema industry varies widely throughout Europe, with CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

the UK being one of the best. Each female panellist discussed their own career, crediting the men and women who had acted as mentors, and it was plain that all involved, including Eddy, who had the somewhat unenviable task of representing the male gender throughout the industry, agreed that appointments should always be made on merit, and that the industry had suffered in the past by neglecting the massive resource and massive talent that the female half of the population offer. There was a feeling that the situation is slowly improving, and it was felt that the situation is deeper than just an industry issue, being a broader cultural thing that reflects our whole society on screen. One fascinating quote was that 80%

The cinema industry is not unique in underrepresenting women in senior roles, but at CineEurope, the opening session addressed ways to alter the imbalance

of Dutch men and women don’t like women on top! There was agreement that working towards a situation where it becomes more normal for women to occupy management positions will bring in new talent and new ideas to the industry that will make it more successful, and that future generations of women will find it easier to make their mark at the highest levels of management.

Innovation and the Big Screen

This European Film Forum Session had been co-organised with Creative Europe MEDIA, and Lucia Recalde, Head of the unit at the European Commission, gave an opening address. Cinema-going around the world is thriving, thanks to continued commitment to the big




screen experience by the creative community and due to on-going investments in innovation by cinema operators and their business partners. Patrick Von Sychowski of Celluloid Junkie moderated a panel containing a high-level group of industry leaders to discuss how cinemas and the wider film sector can continue to embrace innovation in order to further grow their competitive edge in an increasingly global and digitally connected value chain. He started by saying that a key aim of the discussion was to find ways of reaching younger audiences — that would represent real innovation — and that he was delighted that all the panellists shared a common factor — they all love film! Tim Richards, Founder and CEO, Vue International, said that innovation at this time requires us to go back to the basics, which he described as seats, sound, and screen. Vue are introducing three types of new, more comfortable seats, and real evidence is being gathered these are a gamechanger, a talking point, which people tell their friends about, encouraging them to visit the cinema. Screen size is important, and it isn’t just that ‘bigger is better’ — rather that the screen should be the most appropriate size to provide comfortable viewing in each auditorium. The highest picture quality is vital. The trend is towards laser projection, but this can be really expensive and, having done many comparisons, Vue have decided to go with Sony 4K projectors. Tim said that he liked their pictures better than laser pictures that he had seen. Sound is also important, and Vue recognise the benefits that Dolby Atmos can bring.

80% ...of Dutch people don't like women on top! One of the more unorthodox statistics raised when discussing the status of women in the industry.

35mm Some community cinemas in Africa are struggling to view films now that 35mm prints are unavailable — a serious concern of one Nigerian operator

Another important innovation will be for cinemas to make the best use of the masses of audience data that they have available — he sees new ways of using such data as a major direction in which the cinema business will travel. Jean Mizrahi, Founder and CEO, Ymagis Group / CinemaNext said that the development of cinemas across Europe is non-uniform — different markets show different stages of maturity. This means that cinema represents a moving environment, with exhibitors asking for different solutions. He instanced PLF, 4DX, EclairColor as typical innovations, saying that different customers would require diverse solutions to their particular market needs. He foresees that exhibitors will become their own marketing agents, something that started with the introduction of event cinema, and said that the innovation needed will not only be technical, but that cinemas are already demanding better solutions to help them to manage the relationship with their customers. Discussing technical innovations he said that cinema needs to catch up with UHDTV, as customers readily recognised the improvements that HDR can bring. Edna Epelbaum, CEO, Cinevital, Cinepel, Cinemont, Quinnie and VicePresident, UNIC — she described herself as ‘wearingmore hats than Lady Gaga’ — raised issues about the importance of trade bodies in achieving innovation, and the difficulties of raising finance to pay for such innovations. She felt that it is audiences that are pushing for innovation, and said that it would be good to encourage audiences to watch a wider range of material and that perhaps the industry should put on special ‘Cinema Days’ to give something back to the audiences and show that we care about them. Mikael Lövgren, Partner, Bridgepoint and Chairman, SF Studios said that the key to getting people to come to the cinema is to make great movies — great films bring in the customers. The industry needs to understand and address the needs and desires of is customers and to work out how best to attract and bring in the younger customers. The big screen experience brings in audiences to share a common experience and cinema need to focus on this and to find ways of ensuring that people don’t prefer to stay at home to watch movies. Jon Watts, Screenwriter and

Director of SpiderMan: Homecoming, agreed that we must make going to the cinema a memorable experience, something awesome, a huge spectacle, and that movie makers must continue to find new dreams for us all to share. The session gave rise to many questions and comments. Tim was asked if the lack of standards for new developments in cinema such as HDR is holding the industry back, and he replied that he gets nervous about standards, since they can stifle the very innovation that we are seeking to introduce. There were many questions on data and what the cinema business can do with it. It was agreed that indepth analytics of audience statistics will help to provide answers and to suggest solutions. ‘We can only manage what we measure’ was a comment, and Tim assured us that Vue pays close attention to the return on investment for everything they spend. Having a large circuit allows you to try the effects of different ideas, both locally and globally. Edna answered a question as to whether small cinemas can benefit from data analytics, by saying that Switzerland is effectively a small version of Europe, and that even the smallest cinema can find the study of its data a useful business tool. One Nigerian cinema operator expressed concerns that adopting new technologies would lead to price rises — community cinemas in Africa are finding that they cannot show films now that 35mm prints aren’t available. Jean Mizrahi said that small operators can now have access to much cheaper digital cinema projectors and ways need to be found of doing things differently to the benefit of all. Dave Monk asked if sufficient innovative thought was being given to ways of getting older people to get back the cinema-going habit. He was told that on the production side there is now an established film genre appealing to older people, but the cinema has to be open to all, families, youth, older people, and this is being realised as shows are put on in the mornings and the afternoons to meet the demands of the various generations. But youth is the section cinemas have to concentrate on, since we are in grave danger of losing a whole generation to mobile devices, Netflix and other content providers unless we can persuade them that going to the cinema is cool. SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY





This year’s Coca-Cola seminar took a detailed look at how young people can be persuaded to acquire and keep the cinemagoing habit



modern teenagers and told that their average attention span of six seconds compares unfavourably with goldfish!

Cinema trends in Europe

Experts on the youthful mind

The panel was really great — knowledgeable (with at least one parent of a teenager), well-rehearsed, sparkling with enthusiasm and continuously linking intelligently to each others' comments — the only complaint might be that there weren’t any teenagers! There were some fascinating tales, and a notable quote from a 15 year old summed it all up — “Dad, why would I want to spend two hours trapped in a darkened room at the cinema where I can’t do anything else but look at the screen? It would be torture!” We learned of the secret mobile lives of teenagers who are miserable and useless when without their phones, and that parties are now the preferred alternative to nightclubs, being seen as more cosy, friendly and affordable. But above all the younger generations are looking for unique and authentic experiences that will enable them to meet new people and have fun. They have daily access to a whole new world of content, created by teens for teens, with 90% of young Brits watching YouTube daily. The audience was introduced to teenage web phenomena like Felix Kjellberg whose video site has an incredible 54million subscribers, and Zoella with around 11.5million followers. The major challenge facing cinema is the competition with other attractive leisure time activities, and older teens see cinema-going as a big effort. The discussions explained that it is vital to the future of the cinema

Average Annual Cinema Visits:





7% Drop in numbers of 15-25 year old UK cinemagoers from 2008-2015

38.3 in 2001


exhibition industry that youngsters are persuaded that the cinema should be a regular part of their social lives, and it became clear that we are currently not doing a good job of recruiting the next generation. There isn’t a single ‘one size fits all’ solution, since it has been identified that the different age groups have different needs and expectations. We certainly need to do things differently to attract teens, and must create more and different social experiences to encourage increased participation. We need to find ways of making a visit to the cinema more fun for teenagers, to get them more involved, and to make the whole experience more enjoyable. Examples were given of providing teenage lounges, chill-out zones and special party experiences at cinemas, with more emphasis on different content such as e-sports and gaming. The message from this seminar was a really positive one — although there are currently real problems in getting younger generations to engage with cinema-going, the top decisionmakers in the exhibition industry have recognised the situation and are working hard on a whole range of solutions which seem likely to make cinema visits far more appealing to youngsters. A visit to the cinema needs to be memorable for all ages. The panel was an intelligent and lively one

in 2016

Source: UNIC

oca Cola and UNIC had commissioned a study on youth audience preferences and the cinemagoing experience in Germany, Spain and UK. The study was then extended to work with focus groups of young people aged 12-25 both to explore those survey findings in more detail, but also — most innovatively — to work with young people to design their ideal cinema experience. This session at CineEurope was an interesting update about the latest findings from this work. The always brilliant Corinne Thibaut, International Director Cinema & Leisure for Coca-Cola led a lively panel with Susanna Meyer, Head of Media and Entertainment Germany, GfK, Jan Runge of UNIC, and Bill Tishler, VP Design and Construction, Cineplex Entertainment Canada. They outlined the facts about cinema-going trends in Europe and showed the results of the UNIC survey on young audiences, which illustrated considerable variation between countries, with 26% reporting increased attendances amongst 12-25 year olds over the past 10 years whilst 52% reported a decrease. The full report is available from UNIC so the detail won't be considered in depth here, but once brought up to date with the ‘generational’ terminology and taught that ‘generation Z’ or the ‘centennials’ — those born since around 1995 — have been connected from birth, so that technology is part of their life and they can multitask with up to five screens, the audience was given some fascinating insights into the lives of

Median age of Cinemagoers in Europe




From left to right: the "pinball" approach in action — ensure customers "bounce" past retail offers; highly targetted offers can now be sent direct to cinema customers' mobiles

THE CONCESSION SESSION Unlocking cinema retail growth with disruptive innovation successful cinema has also to be a successful business, and when visiting cinemas large and small the owners regularly comment on what they do to increase their concession sales, never failing to note that the distributors take most of the proceeds from ticket sales and that it is the sales of sweets, drinks, snacks and popcorn that enable them to make a living. The Coca-Cola Retail Seminar at CineEurope served as an interesting reminder that the concessions (retail) side of the business is undergoing significant changes, many of which tie in with the technical developments in areas such as on-line ordering and shopping that are affecting all of our lives outside of cinema. Kevin Styles, MD for Vue UK&I, pointed out that 65% of cinemagoers don’t buy anything at all from the


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KEY RETAIL FACTORS Duncan Reynolds, Group Development and Real Estate Director for Odeon Cinemas Group, explained factors that must be prioritised as he makes investment decisions. Key points were: The need to understand how shoppers engage and interact in an individual way.

concession areas, leaving a huge opportunity for improvement. He shared some fascinating information about how the large concessions area of Vue’s newly refurbished site in Bristol Cribbs Causeway was developed. Much thought was given to the move away from traditional counter service to a carefully structured selfservice ‘walk through’ area designed so that customers will have to pass many different stands with many opportunities to buy different things before getting near to the auditorium. As an innocent customer it was fascinating to learn some of the tricks that the retail trade gets up to persuade us to part with our money, including: Make sure the customer can’t walk straight through the retail area, by placing the merchandising stands strategically (like the obstacles on a pin-ball machine) so that you have to pass as many of stands as possible. Provide a wide range of merchandise

Remove friction from the whole journey Involve supply chain teams early and often. Stores need different ways to measure success. Get buy-in at the top and partners in the chain. There is growth potential in Retail. Allocate more resources on food & beverages.

Better data will enable better service.

Explore alternative retail formats.

Be ready to enable flexible store designs.

Disrupt current situations with new technology

- 60% of what people buy wasn’t on their list. Since people are programmed to always ‘turn right’, ensure that when they enter the area and turn right they will encounter the sales area. Provide baskets — people will buy more if they can carry it easily. Make sure displays appeal to the kids — Dads are weaker than mums at resisting child pestering. People (especially men) prefer self-service to human contact, and everybody hates queuing, so make sure the checkout process is quick. Kevin pointed out that people believe on-line shopping is likely to provide better value, and said that initial trials of new methods and ideas show clearly that their adoption causes a major increase in merchandise sales and in customer satisfaction, which has to be good for the business.

Pre-ordering your popcorn

In a more hi-tech vein, Matthew Bakal, Executive Chairman of AtomTickets shared a case study on the impact of mobile pre-order concessions on consumer behaviour in US and Canadian cinemas and talked about experiments being carried out that allow cinemagoers to pre-order their merchandise via the phone, perhaps at the same time they are ordering tickets. He gave lots of examples of how this works outside the industry and described some interesting ideas for mobile ordering in cinemas. Custom messaging capabilities drive customer awareness and action, using data from several exhibitor case studies. The presentation gave an insight into the potential that modern datafocused marketing techniques hold for improving relationships between cinemas and customers. The message was that embracing digital disruption will lead to growth — and that retail in cinema (and elsewhere) will change more in the next five years than it has in the past 50. SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY





FROM 0-TO-120 STANDS IN DAYS: CINEEUROPE'S TRADE SHOW Seating, virtual reality, popcorn? What more could you want? t is always good to see our Cinema Technology advertisers and friends at CineEurope, the biggest and most successful European convention and trade show dedicated to cinema exhibitors of all sizes. Theatre owners, operators and many others related to the industry, attend each year and the annual CineEurope Trade Show is a key part of all this, with the various stands



Transforming the large hall in the CCIB for the trade show is a miracle of organisation and manic activity — the result is a show that highlights the best in the industry

providing opportunities to get ‘hands on’ with the latest technologies. This year there were several stands offering Virtual Reality experiences as well as a fully interactive 4DX Pod on the Coke stand. Seating is currently a major investment for many operators who realise the importance of offering their customers the ultimate comfort, and this was reflected in the number of seating companies providing impressive opportunities to try out their latest models. Browsing around the stands lets you see the new developments for yourself and by talking with the company representatives you can find out

everything you need to make informed decisions about the latest and best technologies, services, comforts, and conveniences to make your cinemas must-attend destinations.

A triumph of planning

A lot of hard work and planning go into producing a successful trade show and it was, as always, amazing to see how a huge empty space is transformed into a polished showcase over just a couple of days. Many people come to CineEurope purely for the Trade Show — with free entry it is a great way to ensure that you are up to date with the latest in all aspects of cinema exhibition, and well worth the visit.



30 years of change Cinema Technology is celebrating its 30th anniversary year in 2017 — here we look back to the distant days of 1987 to see just how much has really changed in the world in the past three decades. Comfortingly, it’s not entirely unfamiliar!


e are all familiar with how fast things move in our industry, but those who have been about for a while know that it was ever thus. Back in the first issue of Cinema Technology in October 1987, the Empire Leicester Square was being re-modelled for Cinema International Corporation (subsequently merged with AMC to form UCI) and their new High Wycombe six-screen multiplex was described as the ultimate in luxury. Technically ‘all cinemas have full automation and stereo Dolby, with No.1 cinema equipped with the George Lucas THX sound system of which there is only one other in the country, namely Warner Theatre Leicester Square’. [By coincidence, we look inside this cinema, Vue West End,

In the outside world in 1987:

in our 30th anniversary issue, see page 78.] Cannon Cinemas new eight screen multiplex in Salford Quays had just opened, and was technically notable for a film interlock system that allowed a single print to be used in up to four cinema projectors at once. Intermittent movements, sprockets and avoiding heat damage to films were items of great concern to readers and there were numerous questions and answers about the importance of cleanliness in projection rooms to avoid dirt and scratches. Xenon lamps were rapidly completing their takeover from carbon arcs, and it was informative to read that ‘xenon lamps are essentially hand-constructed, taking up to six weeks to make.’ The BKSTS CTC was (as it still does)

Work began on the Channel Tunnel linking the UK to mainland Europe

Disney agree creation of Disneyland Paris (opened in 1992)

Big film titles released included: Fatal Attraction, LethalWeapon,Good Morning Vietnam and Dirty Dancing

Oliver Stone won best director Oscar for Platoon which also won best picture Oscar.


organising training courses and regional seminars, with one entitled ‘It’s Your Image’ being aimed at ‘Theatre managers, Manager Operators and Projectionists’. Frame rates were under discussion in 1987 with tests comparing 24fps to 30fps film systems for flicker/motion portrayal. Harkness was featured in the Guinness Book of Records for a 93ft x 70.5ft IMAX screen in Japan. Videowalls were of great interest in 1987, with Philips and Electrosonic offering various solutions. Sound — the 60th anniversary of the introduction of sound to movies was being celebrated, and it was amusing to learn that, as today, there were complaints to the broadcasters about the poor audibility of dialogue in television programmes.

The world population is estimated to have reached 5 billion — 7.5 billion today

London Docklands Airport opens

The Single European Act became effective

Ronald Reagan was US President Margaret Thatcher elected for third term as Prime Minister

Technical Oscar awarded to Eastman Kodak for development of Eastman Color high speed film negative.

Sporting stars Andy Murray, Lionel Messi, Maria Sharipova and Novak Dokovic were all born in 1987

Paul Newman won best actor in leading role and Marlee Matlin best actress Oscar for Children of a Lesser God.

Ford Escort was the UK’s best selling car

59th Academy Awards:

Andy Warhol, Fred Astaire, Rita Hayworth, Liberace and Lee Marvin died


ing at b r h ry l e 0 t sa Ce r 3 er ou nni v e a su is

19 20 17

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Surround sound for the home was being described by Dolby, who had recently introduced their ‘Pro Logic’ matrix system for consumers. Westrex was still operating, but had been taken over by Quad 8 in 1983 and it was, in turn, absorbed by Mitsubishi. Technical standards for projection have always been of interest. In 1987, the recently revised ANSI/SMPTE 196M-1986 standard was being brought in, demanding 16ftL open-gate luminance. Satellite broadcasting and digital TV were being introduced as futuristic concepts — ‘to 2001 and beyond’ was the strapline. 3D wasn’t of much interest - the only reference in the journals was to a talk on history of 3D in film back to 1951!

Choose between Cloud-based or Server on-site, with access from anywhere 20 million tickets sold, and counting

2047 — it’s not so far away. Or is it? It will be fascinating to see where our industry will be in another 30 years. A CTC survey earlier this year found unanimous agreement that people will still want to gather in cinemas to watch films together, but no one can have a clue about what the technologies will be. Projection may have disappeared and been replaced by flexible plastic videowalls, or we might even have video and sound signals beamed direct to our brains! Judging by its history and success, it seems reasonable to predict that Cinema Technology magazine will still be with us in 2047.

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Event Cinema

As event cinema becomes firmly established in certain markets, could Asia


lobal box office was worth over $38bn in 2016, firmly on an upward trend for the past decade as new countries embrace the modern cinema experience. How does event cinema, a newer but important member of the cinema content family, compare to the growth seen by box office and is the main driver the same: Asia? China and Japan are the second and third largest cinema markets in the world, respectively, and although screen densities in Asia are lower than in Western Europe and North America, the screen base in Asia is being refreshed later than those markets CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

and the region offers an increased potential over time. Global revenues for event cinema are rising, due to new markets opening up, even if some older markets (such as the UK) have stabilised for the moment. Asia Pacific is actually the largest single region for event cinema in 2016 (accounting for 36.3% of all revenues), mainly due to Japan rather than China (as with box office). This contribution is forecast by IHS Markit to remain stable over the next few years, as other markets in the world develop but also as China comes into the event cinema sector. However, as with cinema, China could end up dwarfing other markets, as discussed below.

The pull to the east The centre of gravity of the film industry is shifting eastwards, driven on by developing markets and a relative stagnation in mature Western markets. The Asia Pacific region will account for 45% of global revenues in cinemas in 2019, from 22.6% in 2000. While Asia is a big place, in film terms two markets dominate: China and Japan. Recently, the Event Cinema Association (the trade body for the event cinema sector) held a seminar with a focus on Asia and the following is drawn from that event. Much has been written about China and its booming cinema business. The box office


in Asia:


A tale of two halves

provide a new impetus for the sector? David Hancock argues that it could. gross stands at $6.9bn in 2016, and while there has been a slowdown in the very high growth rates experienced in the past decade and more, in November 2016, China became the world’s largest cinema market by screen count, breaking the 41,000 threshold in early 2017 and passing the USA. However, in the event cinema world, the market has yet to start. The past decade has been about building cinema circuits, and building a demand for film product, and with the stagnation in box office of the past year, the current focus is more on renewing the interest in cinema and identifying the films that will drive the box office upwards.

So, event cinema has been far from most people’s minds in this major cinema market. There has been a perception that event cinema was not viable in China, as it would fall under the quota system or the flat fee booking system, but that does not appear to be the block it could have been. One new exhibitor is aiming to overturn the current film-centric model and grow a cinema operator on the back of event cinema. The potential is clearly there to be a large market: even 1% of the overall market would be $70m. Bingo Cinemas is a relatively new operator in China, and has a stated ambition

to earn at least half of its revenues from event cinema by 2019. The company is looking to build 40 new cinemas in the next two years. This is very ambitious from the position the market is in now. To this end, the cinemas are being designed with event cinema in mind, with a layout that differs from traditional cinemas halls. Most film content in China is locally-produced (81% of releases) although the highest-earning comes from the US through the quota system. The films allowed in are also approved which adds a new dimension to the event cinema system, that of censorship. Sourcing content for the Chinese event SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



Global Event Cinema revenues in $m western europe

cen./east europe

north america

cen./south america





PROJECTED 2019 revenue forecast in $m




500 450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0









Japanese BO & Event Cinema revenues in $m box office

Event cinema










cinema market is not an obvious task, especially with the objective of making it equal to films in importance. So far, Bingo has an agreement with a local theatre group and has already staged live performances. Bingo has launched an event cinema subisidary, City Lights, to handle this side.

Japan: a more established market Japan is the traditional heart of the Asian cinema sector, a mature market with a longstanding tradition of filmmaking and watching. For many years, Japan was the second largest cinema market in the world and growing steadily in the first decade of this century, only overtaken by China in 2012, but was set back by an earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear reactor meltdowns in 2011, from which it has not yet fully recovered. Box office was ÂŁ2.1bn in 2016, down from $2.5bn in 2010. The Japanese event cinema market was worth $149m in 2016, from $43m in 2012. This is a significant 7% of the theatrical market, higher than the largest market traditionally of the UK, which is worth around 3% of the box office. At a theatrical CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017





6 5 4 3 2 1 0

Revnue in $m

2000 1500 1000 500



EC as % of BO

Revnue in $m

Source: MPPAJ, IHS Markit





Japan: Event Cinema revenues by content source 160

3000 2245.8


level, Japan is a market driven by local content: Japanese releases make up over half of the total, for a market share of 63% in 2016. However, in the event cinema sector, there is a distinct opportunity for foreign productions, if they can get the right genre. These made up only 4.9% of overall event cinema revenues in 2016, with local recorded content taking 54.3% and live broadcasts taking up the remaining 40.7% of overall revenues. Local market successes are animĂŠ and youth pop events, such as J-Rock and K-Pop. Live Viewing Japan is one of the key players in this market. It is a joint venture made up of a wide range of industry players. They include local majors Toho and Toei, as well as advertising group Dentsu, publishing group Asahi Shimbun and Sony Music Entertainment Japan. It distributes content in a variety of ways, to a variety of venues (450 in total) including cinemas, concert halls and arenas. Given the near saturation of the local market with content from Live Viewing (166 releases last year), the company is looking to expand abroad. Overall, the picture in Asia is a little unclear as the data sources that exist in some other

140 120 100



Source: MPPAJ

Revnue in $m

Source: IHS Markit


60 40 20 0






parts of the world have been lacking. What is clear is that, in common with the global box office, Asia has the potential to be a driver region and while content is often going to be specific to a region or country, there will be room for content forms from outside. Event cinema is a global phenomenon, with well over 60 countries around the world having screened some form of non-film content of this type. The ECA has members from 41 countries.

Asia-Pacific - coming live to you While Asia was not necessarily at the forefront of this type of content, although Australia and Japan were both quick to experiment and develop event cinema, the region is now firmly on the map. New business models and technologies will enable a closer relationship between cinemas and audiences and the fragmented world of event cinema is well placed to benefit from these advances. Now is the time to explore these opportunities. David Hancock is Research Director, Film and Cinema at IHSMarkit and the President of European Digital Cinema Forum.

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Samsung and Harman debut world’s first cinema display Lotte Cinema World in Korea has installed a huge Samsung direct view LED screen — and Harman has sorted out the audio


fter technical demonstrations at cinema conferences around the world, it was exciting to see that the first real commercial cinema installation of an LED screen has taken place at the Lotte Cinema World Tower in Korea. Designed as a High Dynamic Range (HDR) LED cinema display, the Cinema LED Screen is claimed to create a more captivating and vibrant viewing experience through nextgeneration picture quality and true-to-life audio, thanks to a collaboration between Harman Professional Solutions and Samsung Audio Lab.

MEETING DCI REQUIREMENTS Prior to its commercial debut, Samsung ran the Cinema LED Screen through a series of the industry’s most rigorous tests to validate its performance and presentation. In May 2017, the Cinema LED Screen became the first product to achieve full compliance with the highly-esteemed Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) theater technology standards prior to its commercial release. This certification acknowledges the display’s ability to showcase the complete colour spectrum with unaltered accuracy. The cinema industry looks forward with interest to see how these latest technologies become more widely developed and applied.


Bringing expertise together There has been much comment from cinema experts (see our CineEurope reports, p33) about how difficult it would be to ensure that the sound accompanying an LED display will satisfy the requirements of a cinema auditorium, where it has always been considered necessary to have the sound emanating from behind the screen via perforations. Samsung are world experts in LED displays, whilst its recently acquired subsidiary company Harman has a wealth of experience of cinemas and cinema sound, so it makes perfect sense for the two to work together in bringing this revolutionary new technology to the commercial cinema market.

leverages ultra-contrast and low-tone grayscale settings to showcase the brightest colours, deepest blacks and most pristine whites at a nearly infinite contrast ratio.

They haven’t forgotten the sound To go with the stunning video technology within the ‘Super S’ theater of the Lotte Cinema, Samsung has paired its Cinema LED Screen with state-of-the-art audio technologies from JBL by Harman. This integration includes powerful speakers bordering the screen, proprietary audio processing technology, and JBL’s Sculpted Surround system, producing an unparalleled sight and sound experience that is faithful to the content creators’ intent.

feel part of the picture HS Kim, President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics said that through sharper and more realistic colours, complementary audio and an elevated presentation, the new Samsung Cinema LED Screen makes viewers feel as if they are part of the picture. They are partnering with Lotte Cinema to bring this technology to market, and look forward to continuing to shape the cinema of the future. The screen at the Lotte cinema is about 10.3m (33.8ft) wide, but Samsung can supply such screens in a variety of cinema configurations. The LED screens offer superior levels of technical performance, reliability and quality. They bring the visual power of High Dynamic Range picture quality to the big screen, and enliven content with 4K resolution (4,096 x 2,160) and peak brightness levels (146fL) nearly 10 times greater than that offered by standard projector technologies. Additionally, the Cinema LED Screen’s futuristic, distortion-free presentation




Pushing forward into cinema Samsung say that as demands within the cinema industry evolve, its Cinema LED Screen offers the versatility to expand services to meet a wider range of audience needs. The display maintains its advanced presentation capabilities in a range of dark and ambient lighting conditions. This flexibility makes the Cinema LED Screen ideal for venues wishing to use auditorium

space for corporate events, concerts, sports event viewing and for gaming competitions.

And The Cinema’s View? Lotte Cinema/Entertainment is a Korean-based entertainment company that provides theatre screening, movie investment and movie distribution services throughout the globe. Lotte Cinema’s CEO Wonchun Cha said that their ‘Super S’

“A new paradigm of movie screening”: the Samsung Cinema LED Screen in situ in Korea

theatre is a new paradigm of movie screening, and that they look forward to working with Samsung to introduce more new, high-quality technology to the industry, which they believe will drive customer satisfaction through an improved viewing environment that brings a variety of content to life.




nanolumens Gary Feather, chief technology officer LED makes its of NanoLumens takes a technical commercial look at an LED mov(i)e on cinema and future that may not be so far away. The digital Story I cried that spring evening in San Jose at SID (The Society for Information Display Conference) in 1994 when the first movie was electronically projected using the DLP to a crowd of technologists at SID. A Texas Instruments technology breakthrough for a device with 2.4 million rapidly switching 17um square mirrors projected onto a screen to create the first High Definition digital electronic cinema prototype. The movie, The Secret of Life on Earth, not only showed the capability of the colour of the technology, but the feat itself was remarkable. Then a mere five years later Star Wars Episode 1 was digitally scanned and distributed to theatres, showing on DLP Cinema Systems in larger theatres. Today more than 140,000 digital cinemas exist with nearly 85% of them being DLP. Estimates put the total value created by DLP systems over the past 20 years at greater than $20billion. A wonderful story, but is there a new LED cinema story ready to be told? While the challenge of electronic cinema has been met with DLP, the question exists. Is there any way that another technology — direct view LED displays — can begin the effort to resolve limitations and meet the requirements of cinema? The challenges are large but the requirements have been carefully defined by many experts to assure that the destination, if met, can be a suitable

Pixel pitch

replacement for some of the vulnerable portions of the digital cinema market. Looking at the challenges, we can assess how much work will be required.

The DLP Projection Cinema The DLP is a complex micro-electricalmechanical machine (MEMS). After years of laboratory development in an analogue mode, the transition into a digital light switch was made to support the pulse width

then combined. As an option a large laser source is used with cooling and control to produce coloured light. Adding to the DLP is a decade of image processing and control to align the psychophysics of the human visual system to the images and motion of the screen to create the lifelike images. There is no better solution today for digital cinema than a DLP. But in a few years?

The LED Direct View Cinema

“FOR EVERY ONE WORKING ON DLP, THERE ARE OVER 10,000 RESEARCHERS WORKING ON IMPROVEMENTS TO LED” modulation approach (PWM) to form images using a rapid set of light planes with hundreds per frame for the eye, a perfect integrator, to derive beautiful images. The precise control was revolutionary. The addressing was similar to writing to memory. The fabrication used all common semi-conductor processes. However, the DLP is just the light reflective array mirror switch. The DLP needs a light source and a projection lens to make an image. Complex Minolta optics formed the expensive projection systems, with xenon lamps with 3 DLP chips and 3 primary colour filters used to create red, green and blue images that are

60 ft

Looking to the future, it appears that the direct view LED display has the makings of a solution to challenge DLP. The differences of the approach are dramatic, but the results can be every bit as impressive to the eye of the viewer. The core objective is to satisfy all the movie experience requirements with the perfection that is required by those producing and directing these images in Hollywood (and elsewhere). The core element of an LED Direct View Cinema Display is just the LED. For every one working on DLP, there are over 10,000 researchers working on LED improvements and optimisations. Of course that includes

40 ft

Pixel Pitch – most digital cinemas have a wide set of screen screen ranges. In a 60ft wide screen the pitch is 9.5mm at 2K resolution and 4.9mm at 4K resolution. The more PROJECTED IMAGE 9.5MM @ 2K RES 6MM @ 2K RES typical size screen at a multiplex would be 40ft wide. In FOR SEPARATE RGB that case the projection image pitch is about 6mm for CHANNELS WOULD BE 4.9MM @ 4K RES 3MM @ 4K RES 2K and about 3mm for 4K. Understand that a projected DIFFERENT THAN AN EMISSIVE LED image with three separate channels for red, green and blue would be different than an emissive LED. Also, the aperture ratio will be fuller in projections. So the proper equivalent solution for an LED RGB pixel configuration would be to support only 4K screens (lower resolution is passé). With that, pixel pitch for a 40ft wide screen would be between 2-3 mm pixel pitch and at a 25ft wide screen the recommendation would be 1.9mm pitch. At that pitch, pixels are “invisible” at less than one picture height away. Today the LED industry ships 1.25mm pitch in volume. Supporting the pixel pitch is complete. CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017



T E C H N O L O G Y lighting research as well. Realizing that demand creates the market, which supports the research, just a simple estimate for LED in cinema would have the consumption of over 1.2 trillion RGB LEDs in the next decade for professional cinema alone. But can an LED work in a cinema?

Colour Display colour is critical, as the colour must present to show all the colour of the intended capture. Today, LED colour is controlled in the fabrications — tradeoffs are made for yield and performance in luminance. First, luminance is a real LED advantage. In fact, the current LED arrays can support 10x the luminance of a normal theatre environment if required. The colour requirements for theatre are set in DCI-P3. The selection of R and G and B at the correct wavelengths and saturation is the challenge being overcome today. Meeting Rec. 709 was fairly simple. As an example, by moving the green over 4nm from current specifications, we can approach an ideal 525nm solution. Assuring the spectral width must be managed in the colour control as the next step. The Digital Cinema Initiative has established DCI-P3 as an attainable and compelling colour space for digital cinema. While a subset of Rec. 2020, the solution matches the capabilities of the newest projection display solutions. Direct view LED will be working toward full Rec. 2020 solutions this year as optimal LEDs are specified and implemented. Currently, LED display systems process at 16-18 bits in the controller and then output 8 bits per colour. It is important to map the real colours properly to the available colour space with a 3D lookup table. In addition, it is important to allocate the bits using a critical view luminance (Lv) to assure the dark scene areas where the eye is the most sensitive sees uniform images. But colour space alone is only one part of the challenge.

Motion The addressing and presentation of images on displays has a direct impact on the viewer perception of motion, detail and edges. The content is captured in a regular manner. However, it is incumbent on the display to recreate natural motion. Frames of images are presented differently on

different display systems. The direct view LED display is currently a non-persistent as well as multiplexed solutions (1/8 to 1/32). That means current control and drive systems are simplified by presenting the data in groupings and then assuring the brightness by driving brighter for a shorter period of time. The eye serves as the integrator to see images properly. However under fast motion or fine detail in motion the addressing and presentation method can result in poor image reproduction. It is essential the system architectures and the Processing/Controller with the drivers be optimised to support the best perception of motion. Leveraging experts in the field currently optimising DLP systems will be essential in creating the best motion solutions to mimic nature. The same processing challenges exist as with colour.

Cost Projection systems require expensive optics for screen projection, a well-designed and manufactured screen, high-brightness light sources with either xenon arc lamps or RGB laser sources and industrial cooling systems. Direct view LED requires none of these. LED display cost is basically a product of the numbers of pixels; the cost of the LEDs. The number of pixels is related to both the essential resolution requirements and the viewing distance. Recent analysis of both suggests that for cinema applications of LED, it is best always to focus on no lower than a 4K implementation. Since most

NanoLumens Inc. is a private US corporation, headquartered in Georgia, that designs and manufactures digital LED displays. Since 2006, Nanolumens has designed products that target the market gap between consumer flat panel displays and commercial outdoor LED billboards in indoor spaces. Best known for creating the world’s first large-format flexible display, the NanoFlex 112”, the company has a full line of fixed, indoor LED displays in any size, shape, or curvature.


A world first: the native 4K 2.5mm LED display at the Telstra Customer Insight Centre, Sydney

cinema data is 4K, the implementation aligns well with the content. Based upon that approach for the 35-60ft wide (1:1.85) theatre application of LED display at below 2.5mm pixel pitch is very acceptable. So when considering life cycle costs and support, the LED display can be competitive today. Technology and manufacturing improvements are moving quickly with greater levels of integration. Expect these costs to drive down with double-digit percentage savings over the next 3-5 years.

Reliability and the future Every display system requires maintenance. The direct view LED solutions will provide years of life if the LEDs are selected and packaged using the current standard reliability practices. These systems can result in occasional failures of the LEDs (dark) typically referred to as PPM. The best LED display solutions are all designed for easy replacement of display modules should a failure occur. Intelligent driver solutions are emerging to detect and report failures. The path ahead for LED in the cinema will soon be crowded with designers and developers on both the hardware and the software side. The networking of these professionals will continue to focus on the challenges to make LED display more competitive. Everything learned since the early days of DLP will help pave that path. While not there today, sometime soon a visionary such as Spielberg will recognise when LED is ready for the cinema. When that time comes, expect system sales to ramp up from the hundreds to thousands per year worldwide. LED is making a move on cinema and the time is now.





cinema audio Cinema Audio Conforming in the Cloud

Julian Pinn sets out a case-study of how his company, Julian Pinn Ltd, has envisaged, developed and brought to market a new cinema audio conforming cloud service being adopted internationally.


ncreasing the quality and reducing the cost and time required to conform non-theatrical audio for cinema — these were the goals for the development of 4cine®.io, which ultimately helps maintain the consistency and quality of the cinema-goingexperience across the entire show including the now popular yet typically non-theatrically-produced event cinema.

defining the problem Audio mixes that are created for noncinematic (non-theatrical) experiences are made with a very different set of considerations than audio mixes created for cinema (theatrical). Some of the key differences are set out in Table 1. The interchangeability of theatrical with non-theatrical audio has been an ever-present industry challenge that often requires manual and unsatisfactory compromises in trying to solve the conversion (conforming) process. Theatrical-to-non-theatricalconversion is often much easier. This is typically the process of reducing a large

palette of techno-creativity to fit within a smaller one. Providing dynamic-rangecontrol and, also normally, a down-mix from 5.1 to LR stereo for home entertainment applications are reasonably straightforward processes. Non-theatrical-to-theatrical-conversion

The drivers behind cloud-based 4cine® were cost, efficiency and quality of sound conforming

(cinema conforming), however, is a lot more difficult in comparison. The innumerable amount of creative decisions has already been baked in to a smaller palette of techno-creativity and gaining

Table 1: Attributes of theatrical/non-theatrical audio ATTRIBUTES

Dynamic Range

Channel Layout

Playback Level

Audience Volume Control

Acoustic Environment

Listening sweet-spot

Sound & Picture unity illusion


Potential Emotional Power



At least 5.1

Absolute Reference


Large with audinece in reverb feild

Needs to be very wide


Very high if cinema & post respect standards

Very high


Low to moderate

Often LR stereo

Relative Reference


Small with audience in near field

Less critical

Much less challenging/ non existent

Consumer’s discretion





Table 2: The consequences of poorly conformed audio If not addressed, the issues outlined below will continue to attack the premium status of the cinema experience

ISSUE: Loudness

CONSEQUENCE: Standardised level (fader 7) is required for high quality, dynamic, predictable and believable sound reproduction but content that is too loud causes cinemas to reduce their fader thus quality

ISSUE: Dynamic range & appropriate use of LFE

ISSUE: Unfication with the on-screen action

CONSEQUENCE: Content that is unnecessarily compressed tends to be unintersting and unbelievable and often LFE tracks are left broadband with unwanted, unpredictable, unimpressive, and very ugly results

access to them is both next to impossible and yet necessary in order to reproduce faithfully the non-theatrical audio mix in the more-challenging theatrical environment. Of note, this is not the same problem as faithfully reproducing a smaller picture gamut (dynamic range and/or colour space) within a larger display or projector capability because conversion isn’t necessary like it is with audio, however desirable or not it might be. The list of theatrical-to-non-theatrical conversion scenarios is short: it’s pretty much just the need to make homeentertainment versions of a theatricallymixed movie or trailer. The list of scenarios where non-theatrical content needs to be conformed for cinema is much longer—and growing because digital cinema is enabling many more types and sources of content to be exhibited than traditional mainstream movies. Typical scenarios include the optimisation of: original music, often stereo, and stereo sound effects in movies; event cinema content for theatrical exhibition; cinema advertising, where 90% are originally TV mixes; exhibitors’ cinema policy content, which is often created without much appreciation of cinema norms; and movies and trailers that are mixed in non-theatrical studios — which is on the increase since the loss of film and the conditions attached to the use of the associated proprietary film sound formats.

tackling poorly conformed audio The consequences of poorly-conformed non-theatrical audio content for cinema can be summarised in Table 2 and if not improved will continue to attack the CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

CONSEQUENCE: The use of the central channel is critical in the cinema in order to unite sound with picture for centrally-localised elements like vocals, dialogue, and narration; LR stereo in the cinema does not achieve this…

ISSUE: Immersivity and believability

CONSEQUENCE: ...and causes a lack of immersivity and believability that erodes the emotional connection with the entertainment and the attention given to the branded messaging within the advertising and trailers

premium status that cinema must preserve. To date, the conformance of already-mixed non-theatrical content is manual, expensive, time-consuming, and often yields poor results. Many companies ignore the process altogether and at best miss out on the opportunity to exploit the full power that standardised cinema sound systems offer, or at worst deliver unsatisfactory sound to complaining audiences and cinemas. To solve the problem defined above, my company, Julian Pinn Ltd, embarked on a research-and-development-initiative

ISSUE: Audience seating area

CONSEQUENCE: The wide seating area requires the appropriate and careful use of all loudspeaker channels located around the auditorium in order to widen the sweet-spot for as much of the audience as possible

follows relevant industry standards with: the least amount of intervention, and the highest integrity and respect for the original artistic intent? Can the process be: automated, intelligent, and predictable for the end-user; informative for additional human intervention if necessary; and scalable, useful for both frequent and infrequent use, and be cost-effective for a wide variety of users? Can we maintain absolute security of

“TO DATE, CONFORMANCE OF ALREADY-MIXED NON-THEATRICAL CONTENT IS MANUAL, EXPENSIVE & OFTEN YIELDS POOR RESULTS” to establish whether a confluence of science together with extensive experiences and specialisation in motion-picture audio and standardsmaking could help play a role in preserving the art of good cinema sound; ultimately, to preserve the content creators’ intent with an easy and accessible yet ultra-high-quality method of cinematic conformance.

content exchange between the client and the supplier? Would the original audio mix engineer endorse the result of the conformance process when experiencing their content in a cinema environment? After extensive development and real-life in-cinema testing, we were indeed able to achieve the answer ‘yes’ to all these important questions.

R&D aims

the Approach

The key aims of the project were to establish if it were possible to answer every one of the following questions with an affirmative: Is it possible to identify suitablyconformed audio content and leave it completely untouched? For the un-conformed content, is it possible to analyse for typical issues and, not only report back, but to solve them quickly and accurately and produce a suitably-conformed cinema version that

4cine®.io is a secure and scalable service that runs in the cloud. Each client offers a secure file transfer protocol server to which is granted access and upon which establishes input and output sub-directories. Audio or video files are submitted to via the input sub-directory for secure and encrypted delivery to the cloud for immediate analysis for a wide range of attributes and other techno-artistic aspects. Each client sets their required


Figure 1: Conforming LR to cinema 5.1 These reports are from a real-life commercial job in which remapped stereo to 5.1


by positioning them accurately within the standardised cinema 5.1 setup. The key here is that the experience at that single perfect stereo listening position is now reproduced across the wide seating area of the auditorium, making full use of the cinema loudspeakers available including the LFE.

The REsults

type such as conformance to the DCI (Digital Cinema Initiatives) DCDM (Digital Cinema Distribution Master) or not, and whether the loudness recommendations of TASA (Trailer Audio Standards Association) or SAWA (Global Cinema Advertising Association) are to be complied with. Based on the specific workflow chosen, then delivers the conformed DCDM, together with PDF and XML reports, over the secure and encrypted channel to the output subdirectory on the client’s sFTP server ready for consideration towards the production of a DCP (Digital Cinema Package). The process takes minutes, but utilises highly sophisticated and CPU-intensive audio signal processing algorithms and workflow logic that extract and analyse millions of artistic decisions that are otherwise baked in to the supplied content and remap those to the greater capabilities and challenges of the standardised 5.1 cinema environment. No

expensive hardware or software investment is required of the client, just an sFTP-serving internet connection and a basic office PC setup.

A light touch approach For all the processes involved, follows a strategy of absolute minimum intervention and when it does intervene, it always aims to be completely respectful to the original artistic intent of the mix engineer and their original mixenvironment. The best example of this, the most complex and impressive process, and one that I’m personally most proud of, is’s spatial conforming process. The spatial conforming process is a proprietary algorithm that models the soundstage reproduced by two perfect loudspeakers to a listener with perfect hearing in the perfect listening position in a near-field monitoring environment, and remaps all elements of the mix maintaining their precise stereo soundstage localisation

Key members of the industry showed interest during the development stage to make trials of the service even before it was fully productised. As part of those trials, those key early-adopters set up evaluations where a range of content was passed through’s output conforms were then compared to both the original content and to the manual conversion service of professional mix-studios. Not only was considerably faster, it was less expensive and the results were superior in every case. The best compliment so far has been from an audio specialist who said that’s spatial conforming process made the content sound like it was originally mixed in cinema 5.1. We even had birds and other ambience clearly emanating from the surrounds — but most importantly, provides a very stable centre channel and a very wide listening area in the cinema. Figure 1 shows the report of a real-life commercial job where a 5.1 audio file was submitted; analysed that it was actually just LR stereo and proceeded to remap — with spatial accuracy — that original stereo mix to cinema 5.1 and conformed it — in this case — to a DCDM complying to the SAWA maximum loudness recommendations of 82 dBLeq(m). At the time of writing (July 2017) and since its first commercial adoption (May 2017), is now committed to conforming commercially more than 6,000 cinema ads per year across four European countries with trials underway in a number of other markets. Ultimately, the service will be useful for event cinema companies to conform alternative content such as opera or music concerts and the like; for cinemas to conform their own policy content and to check and conform any suspect unencrypted DCPs; and for sound designers to conform stereo music and sound effects suitably for cinema, which is especially important where one needs a strong vocal performance from the centre channel. My company’s mission is to advance the art, science, technology and business of cinema as the world’s most premium entertainment experience — we are delighted that is proving to play a significant role in this endeavour. SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY



Helping exhibitors make money All cinemas have websites, but few small operators realise these might create their own income. Jim Slater spoke to the Film Cooperative’s Julia Brown about optimising advertising revenue online

THE ADVANTAGES: BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN ADVERTISERS & CINEMAS Julia says: “As well as providing distributors with a guaranteed high-quality position on key websites, the Film Cooperative also gives them the chance to offer support, and gain benefit, from a closer relationship with the hard-to-reach independent exhibitor, many of whom have neither the time nor the resource to have a regular dialogue with the trade marketing departments of the individual film companies. The Film Cooperative acts as a single point of access to these cinemas for providing online advertising and distributing trailers and social media assets.”



How to get ahead in advertising…

How does it work?

In all the years we’ve been covering how technology is used in the cinema environment we have rarely delved into the world of online advertising , so it was with some interest that I spoke with Julia Brown from The Film Cooperative Ad Network earlier this year at a UKCA event.

The Film Cooperative supplies an “ad tag” for the cinema’s web developer to put into the positions on the website where ads are displayed. The tag, a piece of code, will pull in ads that will be displayed in that slot. There are two types of ads: lower-value “network” ads for well-known brands served via vast algorithm-driven online auctions that bid for each space as it loads on the reader’s browser, and higher-value ads from distributors keen to get their films in the most prominent positions on the cinema websites. Ads can be provided in many sizes and aren’t restricted to desktop sites, but are available for mobile and apps.

What is the Film Cooperative? The Film Cooperative was set-up to help independent exhibitors make money out of their websites. Volume is everything in the online advertising world and it’s only through aggregating the advertising spaces on many websites that the best rates can be achieved hence the word “cooperative”.

Who uses it? Users include more than 120 cinemas from circuits such as Merlin, Scott, Reel, and The Light down to individual cinemas. These include large urban powerhouses like AMC Manchester and Odyssey Belfast through to smaller community venues like The Rex Elland and the Westway, Frome, featured in this issue (see page 76).

The tricks of the trade The key ‘trick’ is to give the ads sufficient prominence to gain the customers’ attention without the cinema’s website looking over-run with third-party advertising. The more “viewable” the ads are, the more money they make, and those sneaky algorithms that lurk behind the scenes in the web code can tell when an ad has been buried at the bottom of the page. Accordingly, they will allocate a low value


ad to fill the space. Also, film campaigns are set-up so that it’s possible to click through directly to the booking page for that film since in that instance, it’s in everybody’s interest to get people to the online checkout as quickly and efficiently as possible. Film campaigns range in size from 500,000 to 2million impressions and can last from a couple of days over an opening weekend to more than six weeks if there’s a pre-booking element for a big blockbuster.

Can you retire on the proceeds? The answer is probably not. The revenue driven is an add-on to other revenue generating activities like screen advertising. Measured in £s per thousand impressions, a busy website with a lot of traffic will make more. A single screen cinema might only make £1,000 a year whereas a larger circuit might make tens of thousands. Julia says, “Online advertising is, like most forms of advertising, a mixed blessing, but if you have onscreen ads and in-foyer 6 sheets why not make money from engaging your customers’ eyeballs on your cinema’s website too?”


Cinema Server


Masking / Curtains



Cinema Sound System

Cinema Core 510c


Digital 1-sheets

Concession Signage




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

which many operations and functions of the cinema complex can be combined, centrally controlled, and monitored – from virtually anywhere. Since it’s software-based, it can be easily updated as technology moves forward, which means your investment is always protected. If it can be controlled, it can be controlled by Q-SYS. QSC and the QSC logo are registered trademarks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and other countries.#16C



A new cinema software partnership Richie Power


COMPESO and Showtime Analytics: Where experience meets modernity.

Munich-based company that has been providing software solutions to the German cinema market for more than 20 years with its WinTICKET software, Compeso is furthering its goal of delivering a smart ticketing solution to the industry by partnering with the innovative Dublinbased company Showtime Analytics. A brief interview with Richie Power, CEO at Showtime Analytics and Michael Halevy, Director Product Design at COMPESO provided more information. CT: WHAT IS SHOWTIME ANALYTICS? RP: Showtime Analytics is a data analytics product and services company that provides cutting-edge products and services to cinema owners and film distributors. This allows cinema owners and film distributors to collate, analyse and visualise their operational data in real time to deliver insights that drive improved business performance. Ever since our foundation in 2015, Showtime Analytics has developed an industry-wide data integration platform which allows all stakeholders in the cinema industry to collect, store and visualise all of their data in one place. WHAT DOES THIS NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH COMPESO OFFER TO MEMBERS OF THE CINEMA INDUSTRY? RP: The first product from the Showtime platform that customers will have access to is Insights. “Insights” is a cloud-based solution which brings data to life through real-time, user-friendly visual analytics

through a standard web browser or mobile device. Each Insights dashboard provides a highly interactive analytics view of key areas of business focus such as events, concessions, distribution analysis, occupancy, retail trend, probability analysis and real-time KPI. MH: As one of the leading cinema POS systems, WinTICKET collects a huge amount of data that now can be used to gain profitable insights in the cinema exhibitors business by providing these data to the analytics software of Showtime Analytics. Compeso and Showtime Analytics provide a new integration of their products that allow Compeso customers


which will be released in coming months. WHAT REQUIREMENTS MUST EXHIBITORS MEET IN ORDER TO BENEFIT FROM THIS PARTNERSHIP? MH: If you are already using the current version of Compeso WinTICKET, you have all that is needed to start benefiting from our mutual efforts to improve the customer experience in your cinemas. RP: Our system is cloud-based and it can be accessed from any web browser via any device. DO YOU PLAN TO EXPAND YOUR PARTNERSHIP? MH: In a joint collaboration of experience and know-how, the combination exceeds

“EACH DASHBOARD PROVIDES AN INTERACTIVE VIEW OF AREAS OF BUSINESS FOCUS SUCH AS CONCESSIONS AND OCCUPANCY” to utilise the benefits of Showtime Analytics “Insights” software. The interface exchanges all transactions with product and ticket details so that “Insights” can analyse the cinema exhibitors’ data in depth. WHAT CAN THE CINEMA INDUSTRY EXPECT FROM YOU IN THE SHORT-TERM? MH: Compeso is currently implementing and testing the interface. It will be available within a few weeks. RP: There are a number of other datarelated offerings we are working on

the sum of its parts by far (to the profit of the cinema operator). The next step will be the integration of Showtime Analytics “Engage” software with the powerful promotion engine of WinTICKET to engage with cinema guests in a smart customer journey. RP: We think that this partnership has huge potential to bring value to Cinema Exhibitors across Europe, given the large client footprint that Compese has across the European continent and the complementary nature of Showtime products to Compeso’s.

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focus on community



Is it sufficient for a cinema simply to show blockbusters? Not if it wants to win a place at the heart of a local community. As the shining examples on the following pages illustrate, the cultural capital of cinema can be leveraged as a force for good, whether a small independent or part of a major chain.

Helping to rebuild a community... The Light at Sheffield: a new cinema, but so much more


he Light cinema chain will be familiar to many Cinema Technology readers — over the years we have covered numerous projects by its founders John Sullivan and Keith Pullinger, including their first, a seven-screen cinema in Bucharest, Romania, which opened in 2008. The partners have extensive experience in the cinema industry, and are equally well known for using this experience alongside their extensive practical knowledge of the property development business.




From left to right: Pristine projection rooms enable easy maintenance and help ensure onscreen standards are high; the public areas of The Light are airy, modern and adaptable; the striking and dramatic auditoria adhere to a strict “premium for all” philosophy; the café area celebrates both the site’s heritage and the building’s new purpose

This combination of different skills and expertise was readily apparent at the official opening of the Light cinema in Sheffield, where, as well as the expected gathering of the great and good from all areas of the cinema business, perhaps half the guests were from companies connected with architecture, property development and town-centre refurbishment.

Working in partnership Phil Dove, Customer Experience Manager at Light Cinemas, and Simon Burke, Chairman of the board opened the proceedings by saying that Light Cinemas is the fastest-growing cinema business in the UK, and presented several examples where Light Cinemas had worked with developers and town councils to provide cinemas that had played a key part in the renovation and renewal of town centres and shopping centres. Before and after pictures of their first UK cinema in New Brighton in 2011 showed how an eight-screen cinema became a vital part of the Neptune Group’s development of Marine Point, a key to the regeneration of the town, and pointed out that this has been the pattern for many of The Lights’ cinemas, where they work hand-in-hand with financiers and property developers to deliver a cinema-based development that provides a significant range of benefits to the local community. The company has grown rapidly and will have nine cinemas, with 78 screens by the end of this year, with the aim of a further 11 cinemas by 2020.

John Sullivan and Keith Pullinger joined Phil and Simon on stage, and explained that The Moor was Sheffield’s main post-war shopping precinct in the city centre, that it had become run-down in the past years, and that The Light had worked with the city council and developers Ashcroft, in partnership with financiers Scottish Widows, to help to revitalise The Moor as a city centre destination with a strong all-day leisure and retail offer plus a vibrant night-time business, increasing the number of people using the town centre. The Sheffield project fits perfectly with Light Cinema’s aim to find a city centre location with easy access by both car and with pedestrian access to public transport, and to provide eye-catching architecture and contemporary interior design to create an exciting environment and encourage socialising. A look at the photos here of the building’s interior and exterior clearly shows that they have achieved this aim.

Light Cinemas was established to capture an important new element of the UK cinema market. It identified a need in the market for a “premium mainstream” cinema offer, a concept targeting all socio-economic categories but with an emphasis on the growing cinema audiences within the A, B and C demographics, families and also the mature market. The Light is adding a new concept to the usual cinema experience by bringing an exciting, highly inclusive social venue to the town centre, and people will be encouraged to use the site’s bar, food and social facilities whether or not they are aiming to see a film.

A programme to match local tastes The Light seeks to create a dynamic cinema offer, exploiting the flexibility of digital cinema and offering a wide range of onscreen content, with event cinema including live arts, theatre, opera, and sport as well as other social programmes. They had

WHAT DOES ‘PREMIUM MAINSTREAM’ MEAN IN PRACTICE? Seated in the auditorium of the Sheffield site, I looked at several of the nine screens with Damian Drabble, Director of Operations at Light Cinemas (formerly with AMC UK and Ymagis). I was immediately impressed with the new extralarge premium seats, each providing masses of leg room, a table, and footrest. Stadium seating meant you could see the screen clearly from everywhere. The design of each auditorium features attractive colour schemes on the walls, seats and furniture, so much more attractive than the ‘boring’ designs of shoe-box multiplex screens, bringing an air of excitement and the impression that you are participating in a worthwhile event. The Light’s philosophy is to offer a good quality cinema


but keep the pricing at a sensible level and hopefully appeal to everyone. ‘Every seat is VIP — comfort and quality with no hidden extras’ is the advertising strapline on their website, and with seat prices at £9.45 with concessions available this ‘luxury environment at normal ticket prices’ certainly appears to be the case. In practice, the pictures and sound in Screen 8 were superb, thanks to the skills of the CinemaNext team, led by André Mort. Tim Collins and Alan O’Hara were the install team and did a great job. Tim will be well known to many CT readers. He previously worked for Vue and AMC and has worked on all the Light Cinema sites since Wisbech in 2014. Jim Slater


37 The Light Cinema in Sheffield site currently employs 37 local people

recently put on the very successful Sheffield Doc/Fest, the UK’s premier documentary festival, celebrating the art and business of documentary and all non-fiction storytelling, and this brought in very different audiences, many of whom wouldn’t normally be considered cinema patrons. Whilst they show all the big films, they also offer a wider choice, and try to include independent films that they think might be popular with the local community. The manager of every Light cinema (including Sheffield’s Ashley Inman) is encouraged to select films and put on events that will resonate locally. The Light use the term Business Manager and encourage them to run the cinema as their own business. The idea is that they should know their local business better than any head office in London. These individuals are actively involved in film booking, events and marketing, and the head office team are there to support the Business Managers, not the other way round.

2020 The chain plans to have a further 11 cinemas by 2020

The Sheffield cinema has a special multi-purpose room for community use, which will see the cinema building utilised for a wide range of private and community events — community engagement is the name of the challenge. The point was stressed that all Light Cinema’s local managers are told to think about and run each cinema as a local operation, not as just an arm of a big cinema chain. This allows them the flexibility to work out what is best for ‘their’ particular cinema and makes for a more interesting and responsible management job. The Sheffield site employs some 37 local people.

cinema it was notable that you could get a drink from the local Kelham Island Brewery, that the coffee and the ice cream are provided by another local supplier, and that fresh waffles and organic hot-dogs were on sale — very different from what you would get at a big multiplex. One of the secrets of success of The Light cinema developments, in terms of property development and attracting people into the city centre — including this one, is that they attract a number of major restaurants to the area surrounding the cinema, and there was certainly a rich choice of eating places available nearby.

In a change to the popcorn programme…

A refreshingly different opening

The Light had identified that their customers are not satisfied with the Coke and popcorn food offerings that most ordinary multiplexes offer, so they have developed a wider range of food and drink experiences that appeal to their more mature market. In the lobby of the Sheffield

The opening session turned out to be far more engaging than the typical ‘nibbles, speeches, watch a movie’ occasion, although those elements did feature too! The session had been entitled ‘The future of cinema’, and after the presentations from Keith and the other Light people, there




Even the smaller of the auditoria maintain the atmosphere — drama for all, and all accessible

4,000 The UK has around 4,000 screens for 65 million people, each making around 2.7 annual cinema visits

followed an in-depth talk by David Hancock from IHS. After endearing himself to the local audience by telling them that he was brought up in Sheffield (he has since moved to leafy Surrey…), David provided sufficient facts, figures and statistics to keep the most avid of cinema buffs happy. The UK has around 4,000 screens for 65 million people each of whom makes 2.7 visits per year being a typical sample. He noted that although we are 10 years into using digital projection, we are only at the beginning of what we can do with digital techniques and technologies, and gave some ideas as to how we can use these to drive forward the business. He gave much food for thought about the way that much of the current growth in cinema is coming from premium and boutique cinemas, and it was interesting to ponder

“ALL THE LIGHT CINEMA'S LOCAL MANAGERS RUN EACH CINEMA AS A LOCAL OPERATION, NOT AS JUST AN ARM OF A BIG CHAIN” how closely this relates to Light’s ‘luxury at affordable prices’ business strategy. The panel and audience discussion that followed was somewhat different to the usual ‘future of cinema’ debates one typically listens to, reflecting the fact that much of the audience comprised architects, planners, developers, and finance people. Discussions on the minimum populations needed for new cinema developments and the financial arrangements needed to bring these to fruition were matched by arguments as to whether we are doing enough to bring in more young people, and

the urgent need for cinema to differentiate itself from the high-quality home viewing facilities that are becoming available. Discussions carried on long after the guests were asked to vacate the auditorium. The Light Cinema team is to be commended on arranging a meeting that brought together so many people from different walks of life but with a common interest — cinema. And if any Cinema Technology readers happen to find themselves near Sheffield city centre, make sure you take the time to visit The Light — you won’t be disappointed!

Nine screens and all fitted to the highest specification SCREEN





















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A Cornish cultural asset


The Newlyn Filmhouse complements the town’s rich cultural heritage


he Newlyn Filmhouse provides a new two-screen cultural cinema with a café bar in a former fish store on the Coombe in Newlyn, Cornwall. Burrell Foley Fischer worked closely with the owners to find a suitable site in the area for their vision. Externally the conversion uses existing large-shuttered openings at ground and first floor level and retains the appearance of a former light industrial building. The design is inspired by the venue’s coastal location, whilst providing state-of-the-art projection facilities and comfortable seats. The film programme includes a wide range of independent and world films, documentaries, archive films and cultural activities, including live streamed event cinema. The Filmhouse complements existing cultural and commercial enterprises in the town, including the Newlyn Gallery and Newlyn Art School.

A prize-winning project Newlyn Filmhouse was awarded “Best Inclusive Building” at the South West Local Authority Building Control Awards 2017, recognising BFFs long-standing commitment to inclusive design. Previous BFF cinemas that have won awards include Broadway, Nottingham’s Media Centre, given an Adapt award in 1998 and Norwich Cinema City which won the East of England LABC Award in 2008 for “Best Project for Access and Compliance with Disability Regulations” and went on to win the National award for that year.

2017 1 Newlyn Filmhouse was awarded “Best Inclusive Building” at the South West Local Authority Building Control Awards 2017

From top to bottom: a former fish store, the Newlyn Filmhouse demonstrates that any appropriate building can be considered as a cultural destination; the cinema has been recognised for the quality of its conversion




Putting a long-neglected town hall Jim Slater discovers the Odeon, Oldham, a remarkable example of how a new development has brought an old Victorian building back to the heart of the community


he last cinema in Oldham Town centre, The ABC on Union Street, closed in 1986 (the old Odeon had closed in 1982), and with the closure of the next nearest cinema, The Roxy in Hollinwood (I had my wedding reception there!) in 2005, local residents had to travel to Ashton, Rochdale or Manchester to watch a film on the big screen. Many schemes were considered without success in the intervening years, so it was great news that a seven-screen Odeon opened there last October.

modern use as the heartbeat of a new Oldham town centre — but it faced many challenges. Like all councils, Oldham’s was strapped for cash, but it managed to carry out some works to keep the place stable, waterproof and secure whilst a development scheme was worked out. Oldham council eventually contributed more than £26 million towards the £37 million project, but realised that if the project hadn’t gone ahead they would still have had to spend many millions in keeping the site secure over the years.

not another shoebox

From vision to reality

This wasn’t just any old ‘new multiplex opens’ story, though, and the new cinema certainly isn’t like any other that you are likely to come across. Oldham Town hall, built in 1841, a Grade II-listed gem of a property, had been empty since 1995, when the local court ceased to use it — the council had moved out in 1978 — and over the years it was neglected, suffered wet and dry rot, and by 2008 the roof was about to collapse with chunks of masonry falling off. Oldham Town Hall was declared as ‘the most endangered Victorian structure in England and Wales’. Something needed to be done, and big decisions were eventually made. This ambitious project had a straightforward vision — the need to restore an iconic Grade-II listed building and give it a

Oldham Council appointed BDP as architects for this project in 2012 and the plans were backed by local residents. It was generally recognised that the fact that the council was committing to such an expensive scheme would kick-start the wider regeneration of the town — anything that could result in a falling–down eyesore being transformed into something modern and useful just had to be a good idea. BDP eventually gained planning permission for the multi-million redevelopment of the Old Town Hall, the idea being to completely refurbish the old building and to add a futuristic glass extension on the side of the old building which, with clever architectural design, would enable the creation of a new cinema within the old building with superb access

to the screens and leisure facilities from within the new part. English Heritage supported the overall design concept, as did the North West Design Review Panel, which felt that the building’s use as a cinema would be commercially viable.

Designing a cinema around a courtroom It wasn’t an easy building to convert into a


Fitting the projection equipment into the spaces required for the seven screens was often something of a challenge to the Odeon installation team. Absolutely everything had to be handlifted up the many staircases at the installation stage. The problem in most of the projection areas wasn’t lack of space,


but the need to site the portholes in peculiar places so the projection beams would hit the screens in the old rooms. The centre photo shows that the projector for the screen installed in the former magistrates’ room had to be installed on a special rack close to the floor.


back to community use

The striking glass extension (left) is a marked contrast to the Grade II-listed frontage of the old town hall; many of the orginal features of the building have been cleverly retained (above)

cinema, having lots of small rooms, corridors and staircases on different levels, but the clever design managed to retain key architectural features such as the existing ballroom, council chamber, committee rooms and court rooms, which have, by a feat of architectural magic, been transformed into cinema screens, as some of the accompanying pictures show. Particularly notable is the preservation of the magistrates’ courtroom that has been converted into a cinema auditorium, while retaining its original features. A major feature of the project was the need for painstakingly detailed restoration work to preserve the building’s heritage, and the construction firm Morgan Sindall Group replaced or replicated 92 different styles of heritage tiles, made 2,282 replica replacement tiles and had craftsmen carry out 1,250 heritage tile repairs. That so many of the original features of the building have been either restored or retained is enormously impressive — certainly a much more difficult job than building a cinema from a greenfield site.

Light and airy The new extension, effectively a translucent glass light-box on the side, fits in

surprisingly well with the adjacent Victorian architecture, and has created a stunning new entrance to the building. The original porticoed town hall entrance is still in use as well, providing access via a stylish coffee-shop. The views from the glass foyer as you are waiting to go into the various screens are fantastic, looking over a refurbished Parliament Square and on to the green of the moors and hills beyond. As you enter the older building from the new it is remarkable how the developers have managed to keep and restore so much of the old panelling, doors and plasterwork, and fascinating photographs of parts of the old town hall in all its initial glory have been framed and placed around the building — it is as if you are visiting an art gallery as well as a modern cinema!

1841 Oldham Town hall, built in 1841, a Grade II listed gem of a property, had been empty since 1995


A modern multiplex inside I was fortunate to be shown around the fascinatingly different selection of screens and the matching projection room areas by Odeon’s Lead Engineer Bev Gilston-Hope, whose enthusiasm for the place was tremendous, despite her painful memories of how difficult it had been to lug projection equipment up the many staircases when doing the initial installation.

Oldham’s new Odeon has seven screens with a total of 789 seats.




£5m The local development scheme is expected to bring in more than £5 million a year to Oldham’s economy.

“THE NEW DEVELOPMENT HAS GIVEN RISE TO AN ESTIMATED 230 NEW JOBS, THE VAST MAJORITY OF THESE TO LOCAL PEOPLE” Oldham’s new Odeon has seven screens with a total of 789-seats. The largest of these, Screen 3, with 206 seats has been built to the conform to the high standards of Odeon’s Premium Large Format ISENSE brand — one of just a handful of such screens in the UK at the moment. ISENSE screens are huge, floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall, curved to maximise the picture quality at each seat, using the Harkness Precision White Screen material, and state of the art 4K NEC DLP xenon projectors deliver superb pictures. The premier seating is luxurious and comfortable, and Dolby ATMOS sound forms an integral part of the experience. As usual with a modern cinema complex, there is a wide choice of concession stands as you enter the cinema, and, as an integral part of the whole development the cinema is surrounded by an array of different cafés and eating places. A unique feature of the Oldham cinema, though, is that the Costa Coffee shop is on the ground floor in the magnificent setting of the old Town Hall — a far classier experience than your average coffee shop!

economy — a healthy sum for a project that has been the salvation of a derelict building. As one who knew the town in some of its less fortunate times, I was delighted to see how the opening of the Odeon cinema in Oldham has matched the expansive vision of those who, quite rightly, saw the scheme as a catalyst for the regeneration of the whole town. It is an achievement that the cinema industry can be proud of.


Screen 3 is the largest screen, with 206 seats

Access to the Odeon’s ISENSE screen (above) is via a dramatically modern foyer, which marks a sharp contrast to the interiors of the auditoria, including a former magistrates’ room (below)

A cinema with benefits... In Cinema Technology the benefits that a new cinema can have on a town centre are frequently highlighted, but of note in this instance was the fact that the new development has given rise to an estimated 230 new jobs, the vast majority of these having gone to local people. Additionally, the whole scheme is anticipated to bring in more than £5 million a year to Oldham’s CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017


A true family affair


Wells Film Centre shows how a family cinema can thrive and grow as it passes from one generation to the next


he city of Wells is really just a village with a cathedral attached — that’s a common saying in this Somerset market town (city…) which had a population of around 10,500 in the most recent census. With The Wells Film Centre regularly providing a range of entertainment covering many genres, it can’t be just a coincidence that Wells is bidding to be UK City of Culture 2021! In 1998 Cinema Technology last carried a piece on this family cinema in the town which had been established by Derek Cooper, long-time supporter of the UKCA and a stalwart voluntary worker for the industry charity the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund for many years, raising many thousands of pounds. Derek (50 years in cinema!) has now stepped down from the day-to-day running of the Wells Film Centre, and it is in the competent hands of his three daughters. I was shown around by Sally Cooper, who is a member of the UKCA board and Chairman of the UKCA West of England branch.

A proud history, always developing Having grown from a single cinema in what was a ‘shed’ that had previously housed a boys’ club to a three-screen cinema, the family has continuously invested in better equipment and facilities, and in recent times new seats have been fitted throughout and new toilets built, including spacious disabled facilities and a baby changing area. Disabled access throughout the cinema has been improved, something that isn’t always easy in a building of this type. New screens have been installed recently in all three auditoria by Chris Hitchens.

appeal to their local audience. Event cinema performances are popular, drawing in different audiences from those who watch the popular films, and Sally told me that they try to encourage those coming for event cinema performances to give the normal cinema performances a try. It is a good way of encouraging new customers to acquire the cinema-going habit. Libby is Cinema Supervisor, ensuring that everything runs smoothly front of house and that ticket sales and retail counter concession sales are run efficiently — the family employs a number of part-time staff to keep the cinema operating seven days a week. A recent addition to the ‘family’ is Aaron Collett, who will be taking on a day-to-day ‘hands-on’ management role. He is already a competent projectionist, I was pleased to note! Aaron is soon to be married to Becky, when he will become a true member of this cinema family, to which the word dynasty might not be completely inappropriate! It is good to see a family business working in a small community, and to see that investment and hard work can result in a successful business to be handed on through the generations. Jim Slater Sister act (plus a husband to be!): established by Derek Cooper, the Wells Film Centre is now run by his daughters Sally, Libby and Becky, assisted by Aaron Collett — soon to be married to Becky

THE EQUIPMENT The screens seat 101, 77 and 77 respectively, with two wheelchair spaces in each. Barco projectors are used, two 15cs and a 12c. Incoming features arrive on hard-drive and the Unique platform, with LANsat used for event cinema performances. A Unique’s RosettaBridge TMS acts as the hub within the cinema, everything being channelled through to provide control, management and monitoring of the showings. There are two projection rooms. Box 1, the main projection room, serves Screens 1 and 2 and is well laid out — easy for maintenance purposes. Box 2 serves Screen 3. Projection equipment is serviced and maintained by Sound Associates, in an arrangement with CinemaNext, and Sally told me the service from their NOC in Belgium is impressive.

The family roles Having grown up in the cinema, all of Derek’s daughters can do anything that needs doing, at a push, but this is a well-managed business and each has a defined series of roles and responsibilities. Sally Cooper is Proprietor and Business Manager, looking after the financial and organisational side of the business. Becky is the Cinema Manager who is also responsible for all the film bookings. The choice of films for the local audience is important — the cinema prides itself on providing a range of material as well as the usual multiplex fare, and long experience means that they know which are likely to




A philanthropic approach in Lewes Built in harmony with its surroundings and opened in May, The Depot is a new venue in East Sussex that typifies the role a cinema can play at the heart of a local community.


rchitects have always played a major role in redevelopment of town centres, and as more and more cinemas are included at the heart of such developments, it is always interesting to see the results when an architect works from the outset with those wanting to build community cinemas and win over the planners. The Depot is one such new community cinema for the town of Lewes, in East Sussex, built on the site of the old Harvey’s Brewery depot. It shows feature and independent arthouse films, as well as hosting events, exhibitions and festivals, and provides facilities for film education and community activities. A café/bar and restaurant allow filmgoers to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat. Burrell Foley Fischer were commissioned by Lewes Community Screen, who built and operate the new venue, to design the cinema. The existing warehouse building was retained and the


three screens (140, 129 and 37 seats) inserted within it. A new glazed extension houses the box office, café/bar, restaurant, film education and training facilities, giving a contemporary setting to the former industrial building that is a familiar and popular landmark in a prominent location close to the town’s railway station. The former tarmaced service yard has been landscaped to provide a new public realm, and includes native plant species providing seasonal colour and a small orchard and wildflower meadow, reflecting the historic site layout of orchards and meadows. The Depot is a privately funded philanthropic project, being delivered

planted with chalk-loving plants, found in SDNP. There was extensive consultation with local access groups over the provision of a welcoming and accessible facility.

“THE DEPOT IS A PRIVATELY FUNDED PHILANTHROPIC PROJECT, BEING DELIVERED WITHOUT ANY DRAW ON PUBLIC FUNDING” without any draw on public funding. The project aims to make a positive contribution to the South Downs National Park and to respond to its special qualities. It is an exemplar of local flint craftsmanship. Given the topography of Lewes and the Downs, particular thought has been given to the design of the roofscape, as a fifth elevation, featuring flint paving and a green roof

Screen 1 has a small stage and the technical infrastructure for small-scale comedy acts and music performances, while live music events are also held in the café/bar. Screen 3 is available for private screenings and events and benefits from its own small bar/lounge. As well as a cinema, the Depot’s restaurant is open throughout the day. It provides a welcoming

The Depot Cinema was opened in May by Martin Freeman, star of The Hobbit and Sherlock. he said that he was ‘very impressed’ with the cinema’s design and luxurious screens. He said “I think it is important to support cinema. Independent cinema is the lifeblood of the genre — and it’s important to me because I do a lot of independent movies as well as some big ones. I’m about to go to New York this summer and do an independent movie and I do a lot of those kind of things, thank God, so if I can support it, I will.”




environment for all sectors of the community and visitors to Lewes. Proximity to the station makes it accessible to visitors from the wider district.

celebrating local creativity There is the facility within the foyers to mount temporary exhibitions in addition to the permanent display of Stephen Chambers’ The Big Country, which has been donated by the artist. The acoustic wall panels in Screens 1, 2 and 3 are digitally printed with a reproduction of figures painted on the walls of the Depot by Julian Bell, when he used it as his studio prior to its conversion. There are facilities for film

education, including a small film library and study space, and a multi-use room for a range of training and workshop events. The external landscaping incorporates facilities for outdoor screenings and events. Lewes Community Screen opened in May with a three-day festival of 25 films including silent films and classics, new movies such as Sense of an Ending and critically acclaimed mainstream movies such as Logan and Beauty and the Beast. Clockwise from top left: the Depot features learning spaces and training areas; the local flint vernacular is incorporated; strong environmental principles feature in the final design; the bar/café features both live music events as well as coffee

25 Lewes Community Screen opened in May 27 with a three-day festival of 25 films

...AND THE LOCALS LOVE IT! This new cinema really did begin to become part of the community very quickly, with supportive online comments flooding in. Here’s just a tiny selection: “Wow, really, just wow! So thrilled to have this in Lewes!” “Came to see Logan last night — perfect sound and picture quality (good film too!). The screen room was well decorated and sofa seats very comfy! The architecture and layout of the place shows the hard work and funding that has gone into it which I appreciate very much. Staff were friendly. Looking forward to more trips to the pics here!”

whole development is: contemporary, stylish and well laid out. Looking forward to this becoming a regular haunt!” “Love this place. Watched Peppa Pig with my little boy today. Cinema is amazing. Then went back again for tea and cake. So beautifully designed and brilliant staff. Feel very lucky. “Top screen in terms of picture, audio and seats. Swanky bar and foyer. Happy days.”

“The best cinema experience l’ve ever had! The ambience on entry sets you up for something different. The seats are so comfy I don’t fidget at all! And the surround sound is phenomenal. My family and I shall be frequent visitors, especially at such a great rate on film, food and drinks. Superb!”

“Welcoming, stylish venue next to railway station. Warm, welcoming and helpful staff make for a relaxed and engaging cinema and entertainment experience. Excellent selection of films on offer, personally selected for quality and range of appeal to all sectors of the community. Screen studios have state-of-art technology and generous, comfortable seats and screen layout while set into this charismatic traditional, yet with a modern twist, warehouse setting that makes your visit a pleasure.

“Enjoyed our first visit to our new local cinema yesterday — comfortable seats and excellent sound system certainly enhanced the experience. The after-screening drink in exterior seating area gave us a chance to appreciate how attractive the

“The Depot is wonderful — a haven of art, comfy seats and environmental principles”

“Watched Logan with my dad. Perfect! Great seats, great staff and the place looks amazing. Definitely coming back again.”




Brought back from the brink The refurbished Westway Cinema, in Frome is a prime example of how a knowledgeable cinema family with imagination can transform the business case for a small town cinema


erhaps surprisingly for a country market town of around 26,000 people, Frome in Somerset is remarkably well served culturally, with two thriving theatres, the Frome Memorial theatre and the Merlin theatre (which also shows event cinema), as well as the newly-reopened Westway cinema. As with many places, cinema in the town has had its ups and downs. The old Memorial Hall, built in 1922 was converted and opened as The Grand cinema in 1931, and continued until 1974 when the lease expired. After many misadventures and frustrated plans and a complete refurbishment, that building eventually became what is now the Memorial Theatre. Frome’s Gaumont cinema opened on Cork Street in 1939, with 969 seats, and was much later renamed the Classic. It closed in 1971 and was demolished. In 1974 a brand-new 350 seat cinema, the Westway, was opened on the Cork Street site as part of a new shopping precinct. It was managed by cinema operator Raymond Franklin until 1993, when it was taken over and operated by Dennis and Dolores O’Connor until around 2012, when their daughter Martina O’Connor and her partner took over. In the latter years the cinema faced difficult financial times, became rather rundown and unpopular with the locals, went into liquidation, and eventually closed in March 2016. It was therefore great to learn that Pat and Beryl Scott, who run the three-screen Ritz cinema at Burnham-on-Sea [see CT

September 2014], and who had known the O’Connors for many years, had decided to take on the lease of the Westway, and to completely rebuild the cinema internally to provide three brand-new auditoria.

A new era for Frome The new cinema opened in February this year, and had its VIP official opening in June. I had visited the site earlier to look at

the equipment and to take photographs, but the truly memorable feature of the grand opening was the way that the local community made it quite plain that they were delighted to have a smart new cinema back in the town. The Town Council had given every support to Pat and Beryl’s project, and the Mayor attended the opening ceremony, whilst the previous owner, Dolores O’Connor cut the ribbon.




The estimated population of Frome

The price of a ticket in Westway Cinema, Frome

Westway opened this year - February 2017




Clockwise from left: the three screens are fully fitted out by colour — red, green and blue, appropriately; the site forms part of the revitalised Westway shopping centre; Screen 3; former owner Dolores O’Connor had the ribbon-cutting honour

All the local tradesmen who had taken part in the refurbishment, including a team from Burnham who work with Pat, neighbouring shopkeepers in the precinct, and even the security guards came along to the opening, and many were given ‘thank you’ tokens in the form of bottles of fizz. It turned out that this had been a project that genuinely had involved much of the local community, and the first few months of the cinema’s operation demonstrated the their willingness to support the enterprise in return, with plenty of ticket sales. Perhaps this wasn’t too much of a surprise when all the tickets are a mere £4 — cry your hearts out you West End cinemagoers, where I noticed recently that a single ticket can cost £26.50! I have known Pat and Beryl for some years — rather than being a family business, they are more a ‘Mom and Pop’ outfit, totally devoted, some might say obsessed, by the desire to run cinemas. I asked them the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ relating to the new cinema — ‘why on earth would a couple who might be looking forward to a well-earned retirement want to take on a loan to finance refurbishment of a cinema in area where its predecessor failed?’

Seizing an opportunity Pat, who had been a an aircraft engineer in a previous life, told me that he had always wanted to have his own cinema, and that taking on the Ritz in Burnham had fulfilled that dream. He had recently installed a third screen there and was looking for new opportunities. The independent cinema world is a small one, and when he heard that the cinema in Frome was available, he decided to take it up, having been to Frome many times and having liked the cinema in its more salubrious times.

Putting ideas into practice How a relatively small operator goes about turning a single screen building into three is, in itself, a remarable story, and it was fascinating to learn that it was Pat’s own layout ideas, in conjunction with much practical advice from Steff Laugharne of BTS who spent a lot of time discussing what would be practically possible, that resulted in the rather clever layout that has managed

to squeeze three screens into the site. Pat then worked with his trusted architects Rob Barnes and Paul Abraham from LED Architects to translate these plans into actual building work to be carried out. As some of the pictures on these pages show, considerable imagination was needed to work out how the projection equipment could be installed to serve the three screens. Screen 2 has its projector on the floor, since that is the only way to access the porthole, Screen 3 (in red, above) has its projector in a ceiling box, and Screen 1 (in blue, opposite page) has its projector completely concealed within the false ceiling of the corridor outside — one of the photographs (overleaf) shows this unusual arrangement plainly. Such restricted access couldn’t possibly have worked in the days of 35mm, and even with digital only a few projectors can cope with the restricted opportunities for cooling and ventilation — not to mention access for maintenance . This sort of layout can only work practically if you are pretty certain SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY







A conventional projection room for Screen 2 (1), but with the projector at floor level. Screen 3’s projector is sited in a ceiling mounted pod (2). The unusual projection arrangements for


that maintenance will only be required infrequently. As always, Pat takes his technical recommendations from Bell Theatre Services (BTS) — “I trust Max implicitly” was the notable comment from Pat, and he reinforced quite how helpful Sean Downey, general manager at BTS, had been during the project.

The technical kit They decided that the NEC NC1201 laser


Screen 1 (3). Pat opens up a tile from the false ceiling (4). This reveals the NEC laser phosphor projector in the ceiling void (5). How the porthole looks in the back wall of Screen 1 (6).


phosphor projectors would be ideal for these three screens, since they use little power, generate little heat, require little ventilation and don’t need lamp replacements. Barry Wright from BTS carried out the tricky installation and its subsequent commissioning, together with Paul Oliver, and Mike Vale sorted out the software arrangements that are so important in any modern cinema. The projectors are fed from Dolby IMS 2000 servers and the sound is Dolby 5.1 from Dolby CP750 processors and Crown DSi 1000 amplifiers. A Unique TMS is installed, as well as LANsat facilities from MPS (Motion Picture Solutions). Pat told me


A nod to tradition Retaining something of an old-style tradition, the cinema is unusual in that an intermission is usually held in between the trailers and the film — when I attended, ice-cream was brought to your seat by ladies with trays! The cinema also has a fully licensed bar, with an up-to-date hot drinks machine, and all the usual snacks and sweets, including popcorn, naturally, are available from the completely refurbished counter area in the foyer.

Working with the community This cinema is clearly meant to be a beacon in the local community. Pat and Beryl put


Owners Pat and Beryl Scott, with Chris Hitchens


that he can programme the screens at Frome remotely from his other cinema at Burnham, although KDMs still need sorting out at the Frome site. Chris Hitchens installed the screens and some of the other equipment. There are very comfortable seats from Sussex Seating in all three screens. Programming the screens is done by Steve Reynolds. Pat told me that most films arrive via LANsat or Unique, with only a handful on hard drives, which makes operations far simpler than in previous years.

on a number of charity events, where they show the film for free and the charity takes away all the donations that come in. Pat said that their aim is to look after the customer, to provide a clean and friendly environment with the best possible sound and picture presentation standards, and to offer the traditional cinema experience. It is great to see how two cinema people have taken on the challenge of bringing a community cinema to the town, and how their efforts have transformed the commercial fortunes of a site.

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The Art Tate Modern’s refurbished Starr cinema shows film and so much more… and you can hire it for your own screenings.


hilst wandering through Tate Modern, having enjoyed a conducted tour of the Louise Bourgeois exhibition (think huge spiders!) and a couple of fascinating audio installations in ‘The Tanks’, I came across the Starr Cinema, and, taking a breather in the comfortable Starr foyer, was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by name by Mariusz Pozierak. He explained that he remembered me from his attendance at one of the BKSTS CTC projection training courses, and kindly invited me to look around Tate Modern’s cinema facilities. Mariusz has worked in cinema for many years, having been an IMAX projectionist in Warsaw and Krakow before coming to the UK and working in numerous cinemas, including the famous Ritzy in South London. He grew up with film, of course and is one of that rare breed that can still do a slick ‘changeover’ between projectors when needed, and has since learned the completely different skills needed for digital projection. His task as ‘AV Coordinator, Media’ at Tate Modern allows and requires

A well kept screening secret — the Starr Cinema at Tate Modern; left, all sources can be handled




of Projection in Cinema

him to make use of all these skills and more. An up-to-the-minute screening room, the Starr Cinema is Tate Modern’s recently refurbished home for film — and I was surprised to discover that it is effectively one of London’s largest, most luxurious

an adjacent lighting and sound control room provides all the facilities for almost any type of presentation. The cinema hosts a varied programme of events and screenings, both for Tate events and for hirings, and a real strength of the set-up is

“BEHIND THE SCENES, THERE IS AN IMMACULATELY KEPT AND SPACIOUS PROJECTION AREA — AND SPACE TO HANDLE FILM” screening rooms, offering a wide range of facilities. It seats around 230 people in comfortable surroundings and is fully equipped with 35mm and 16mm projection facilities, digital cinema projection, and, perhaps more remarkably, Dolby Atmos immersive sound. The twin Ernemann 16/35 film projectors (pictured above) are still used for special events, film festival showings and arts projects, but the bulk of the projection work is now done from a 4K Sony high contrast ratio SRX515 projector using six UHP mercury lamps (pictured above, to the left of the Ernemann projectors), and it is fed with cinema content from a Sony server. This was installed by Sound Associates, which has a long history of maintaining and servicing the equipment at the Starr.

Space to handle film Behind the scenes, there is an immaculately kept and spacious projection area — there is space for film handling when required, and

that the in-house AV team can cope with any technical issues that might arise. They also carry live events from satellite.

an essential part of the gallery The Starr Cinema is far more than a superb screening room — it is an integral part of

Twin Ernemann projectors handle film, Sony 4K the digital; above, the immaculate control room

the artistic work of Tate Modern. Regular film showings are structured into different cultural strands with topics such as Pioneers, Artists’ Cinema and CounterHistories – Tate Film’s Cinema Programme brings together works from different traditions of cinematic and artistic practice, exploring, challenging and asserting the place of the moving image within the museum of the 21st century. In Cinema Technology we often mention ‘the art of projection’ so it was great to see how art and projection can come together in practice, and good to meet a team of projection people who experience a much wider range of artistic material than we normally find in our cinemas. Jim Slater

BRING IT, AND WE CAN SHOW IT… The team is used to dealing with requests to show video content from a whole range of different source types, especially when they have film festival-type bookings, and as well as various types of video player (from VHS to digibeta to DVcam, many of which I hadn’t seen for years) the equipment racks include a complex patch panel that can be used to route the different sources to different places around the cinema and to numerous other places around the galleries. They can cope with most types of video file and have the capability to make DCPs for specialist purposes when required. Tate Modern boasts a range of audio-video equipment and installations around its exhibition areas, installed and maintained by the AV team, but this is a separate and more substantial exercise from the cinema.




A west end revival

Vue West End reopens after complete refurbishment, recapturing its glory days


t is quite an investment for a company to decide to close a West End cinema for several months for refurbishment — so it represents a vote of confidence in the future of the industry that Vue invested £6.6 million in redeveloping its Leicester Square site. There has been a theatre there since 1893, but it was probably most famous for the Warner Theatre, pictured above, that was opened in 1938 with a single auditorium of 1,798 seats. In the 1980s, the site was redeveloped by Warner Village, becoming a nine-screen multiplex, eventually taken over by Vue in 2008. The cinema had got tired in recent years, so it is great to report that all areas have now been refurbished, with each of the nine screens having a complete revamp, with superb reclining seats and new sound and projection equipment installed for Screens 5 and 7. A ‘hard-hat’ tour of the site a few weeks before the cinema re-opened, showed just how much had been achieved. Whilst much building work was going on, with up to 90 workers on site each day, the transformation for the official opening just a few weeks later was remarkable. This is truly now Vue’s flagship site, offering 1,388 luxurious leather reclining seats across nine auditoriums with stepped stadium seating ensuring that every one provides an excellent view of the screen. Vue is incorporating Sony’s new Premium Large Format (PLF) offering, branded FINITY, which combines Sony’s Premium HDRready 4K dual projection technology with tailored branding assets and marketing.


The technical kit Roland Jones, Executive Director, Technical Services at Vue Entertainment International, is well known for keeping a sharp eye on new technical developments, so it was no surprise that Vue has taken the opportunity to incorporate the latest technologies. The two largest screens, 5 and 7, are equipped with Dolby Atmos immersive sound whilst the other seven have Dolby 7.1. Sound Associates installed and commissioned all the projection and sound equipment, with their team having to lug all the heavy equipment up the cinema’s multiple staircases whilst lifts and escalators were out of action. EOMAC carried much of the other installation work, including the acoustic treatments. The 7.1 screens use Dolby CP750 processors, and the Atmos Screens 5 and 7 use Dolby CP850 processors, Dolby Multi-channel amplifiers and Dolby SLS speaker systems. As in the rest of its chain in Europe, Vue has eschewed the fashion for laser projection and has chosen Sony 4K projectors for all the screens — R320 models in all screens apart from Screens 5 and 7 where Sony R515 double stack systems are used to provide the required brightness. 3D projection is available in screens 5, 6, 7 and 8 where Harkness Clarus XC 170 screens have been installed. Accessibility is more and more important, so it was good to see Dolby Fidelio systems installed to provide HI and Audio Description assistance in all screens. They make such a difference to an increasing number of people.

The most noteable change to the outside of the Leicester Square cinema is the huge 62.7m² digital video screen — it really is impressive, and wags in the business are already joking that the largest screen at the Vue West End is the one on the outside. You can see it on the picture, above right.

The retail and hospitality areas The whole lobby area is more spacious than before, with a complete redesign of the foyer and bar. It is an excellent example of an installation of Vue’s next generation retail offer with two new hot food concessions — Square Pie and Pizzeria Maletti. There is a sophisticated bar area on the first floor too. On the opening night, after all the usual razzamatazz, I watched Planet of the Apes in Screen 5. The preceding Dolby Atmos trailers demonstrated the capabilities of this fantastic sound system, and the film’s pictures and sound were excellent, with the dual-stack Sony 4K projectors providing bright, sharp pictures. Kevin Styles, Vue’s MD had introduced the showing, and after thanking all those involved with the refurbishment said that Vue is intending to set new standards for out-of-home entertainment, making it plain to audiences that there is no substitute for watching movies on a big screen with the highest standards of sound, pictures and comfort. Vue’s investment is a testament to the future direction of the company and to the cinema industry. I can only agree — this cinema has transformed into something special. Go and take a look! Jim Slater

Clockwise from far left: the Vue West End’s refurbubished bar area — not a soda fountain in sight; the Warner Theatre first opened in 1938; the new 62.7m2 electronic screen dominates the facade; one of the newly equipped projection rooms

THE KEY INFORMATION vue west end SCREENS: 9 Projectors: SONY R320 & SONY R515DS Number of seats: 1,388 IN TOTAL PLF Format: Sony Finity First Opened: 1893 (as a theatre)




DOMINIC SIMMONS A cinema exhibition challenge and then some! Each day, the Technical Services Team at BFI’s London venue, project films from all eras of cinema across four different auditoria. How do they cope?


ark Trompeteler continues with the second part of his two part interview with Dominic Simmons, Head of Technical Services at BFI Southbank.

MARK TROMPETELER (MT): Do you have any specialist areas or workrooms? How are the digital files ingested and routed? DOMINIC SIMMONS (DS): The Vaults area is where all titles are initially processed. We have a Steenbeck for checking prints and there are two Vaults used for analogue prints and temporary storage of nitrate. This is where we keep our TMS, and all Technical areas are networked from here on a mix of fibre and Cat6. The Vaults are stuck into a difficult part of the building and are pretty cramped, so hardly ideal, but that is one of the compromises you have to make when your venue is under a bridge. All the projection boxes have areas for make up so in that respect we are similar to other cinemas. One area that could be considered more specialist is our Content Production Suite, tucked away in what used to be the Digital Test Bed. We have built a DCP production and QC area with a fully calibrated 2K, 5.1 D-Cinema installation. We increasingly produce our own DCPs for screenings and this is where Russ Would, our Content Supervisor, is based. He’s recently produced nine DCPs of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s work for a national release under an agreement with Arrow Films so we have a pretty comprehensive setup. We also use this area for building CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

DCPs for clip shows, trailers and other screenings. It sees a lot work during the BFI London Film Festival as we only show films on DCP in the Festival — anything that turns up on other formats is converted. MT: What extra work do festivals mean? DS: We run a few over the year, the BFI London Film Festival (LFF) of course, but also BFI Flare, the London LGBT Film Festival, BFI Future Film Festival and BFI and Radio Times Television Festival as well as smaller weekend festivals such as LOCO, The London Comedy Film Festival, The London Indian Film Festival and Kinoteka Polish Film Festival. A lot of the extra work comes from the increase in digital content coming through the building and the intensity of events and screenings. We ramp up the number of technicians on shift and often work longer shifts. For BFI Flare and the BFI LFF the Festivals team take on additional screening coordination staff to ensure all films are in the right place. MT: The BFI LFF must be huge for you – BFI co-ordinates with other cinemas around London during that. Is that mainly a programming co-ordination issue or do you get involved with other aspects? DS: The BFI LFF is the busiest period of the year for us as BFI Southbank becomes the hub for the Festival. All screening material passes through the Vaults. With nearly 250 features and over 150 shorts, the cinemas operate at capacity with all screens running four or five screenings a day. We partner with 17 venues and assist where necessary.


Our partner venues are obviously capable of running DCP screenings, but we often help out hiring additional equipment for Q&As and sorting DCP issues. I like to meet the teams involved in advance to ensure they are happy with the information that we give them and processes involved. The key aspect of the LFF, and this is true for every festival, is the volume of data that passes through the venue. We store a copy of all DCP titles in-house before sending them to the venues, so there is a huge amount of ingest and storage required. The advantage of DCP is the reliability of the screenings. Even though we had over a thousand screenings in the LFF in 2016, we didn’t lose a single one. The LFF last year saw a huge uptake in the amount of work for Technical Services with the construction of the Embankment Garden Cinema in Victoria Embankment Gardens. An 800-seat cinema with a 16-metre matt white screen was built from nothing in 11 days, and for the duration of the Festival was the second largest cinema in London. This was an exciting project to be involved in and technicians from BFI Southbank operated the venue over the 45 screenings. The project was popular with filmmakers and audiences alike. MT: Private hire is a growing area for you. Can you tell us about that and other types of exhibition work you get involved with? DS: Although the BFI is part-funded by Government Grant in Aid, budgetary pressures are a fact of life for all ArmsLength Public Bodies. In order to support



Below left, the 80TB storage is regularly used at BFI as the content changes daily basis; below right, alternative film threads for customised Kineton FP75E projectors; bottom, handle with care

our programme and serve our core purpose of promoting the broadest range of film culture for everyone, we increasingly look for creative, commercial ways to fund our operation. Corporate hire is a key element of this. To do this, we’ve made improvements to conferencing facilities and have found ways of working smoothly with external events companies. It’s a competitive market — we need to offer the flexibility companies require for their conferences, events and awards shows. With the equipment we have installed, events production companies can be sure when they turn up they’ll be able to get content and presentations on screen easily. Our technicians are as comfortable running corporate events as they are 35mm. We are increasingly broadcasting live on-stage Q&As to other venues, a good example being Ian McKellen’s Richard III last year. This involves facilitating the film crews and broadcast engineers’ needs but also ensuring that the paying audience has a good experience. We’ve recently televised various “In Conversation” events on stage in NFT1. A recent example was the Martin Scorsese screen talk where we worked with the BBC which was reproduced for TX on BBC2. NFT1 has been set up to allow a lot of flexibility in terms of lighting, video and audio, so we can service the needs of broadcasters as well as the public. We regularly run screenings with live music accompaniment as part of our Sonic Cinema

strand too, so are used to large PAs being installed. Our job is to make essentially a 70-year old cinema meet the requirement of contemporary audiences and formats. MT: Are there any “extremes” of cinema exhibition you still regularly undertake? DS: One of the pleasures of working here is the variety of formats we run. Around 40% of titles are screened on analogue film and included in that is 70mm, nitrate and 16mm on both optical and separate magnetic sound. We screen 70mm fairly regularly, perhaps 10 times a year, the last screening being a 50-year-old Todd AO print of Dr Doolittle. It sounded great — the focus was sharp; the picture was a little pink though! We recently screened a nitrate reel of Brighton Rock for an internal presentation; it looked fantastic on screen. We rarely screen nitrate so ensuring all the safety equipment is functioning correctly is vital, as well as making sure processes are in place to avoid any disasters. That is one of the enjoyable challenges here; 4K DCP, broadcast and live music one week, nitrate the next! We also show a lot of “Expanded Cinema” in NFT3. Artists Film and Video is a key part of the programme. We will often screen from dual 16mm projection and occasionally Super8, as well as the more common contemporary digital formats MT: You and the team must find your work

challenging — but what are the greatest satisfactions in your work that you get? DS: Working in such a varied film environment. The programme here means we never do the same thing from one week to the next. This brings its own challenges: we have a huge amount of legacy equipment to keep in operation. One of my major projects at the moment is sourcing and purchasing enough analogue projection spares to keep us running analogue film for the foreseeable future. I will be installing some reconditioned Cinemeccanica Victoria 8s in NFT2 this summer. Another challenge is keeping in-house training up to date, to ensure the technicians are comfortable operating such a wide range of kit. We also need to keep abreast of what is coming next technology-wise. I’m keen to explore immersive audio and RGB laser in NFT1, and we’re trying to overcome the challenges of funding this but it’s a challenge I am looking forward to.

BFI BIG NEWS! The BFI announced last summer that it is a step closer to realising its ambition to build a new Film Centre on London’s Southbank, opening its doors to the public in 2022. This new cultural venue will be a flagship national home for this diverse, evolving art-form and it reflects the UK’s worldwide reputation for creativity and achievement in film, TV and moving image. It will give visitors — from schoolchildren to award-winning creatives — new experiences whilst providing a hub for filmmakers, professionals and artists to meet, exchange ideas, showcase work and develop skills.




THE BIG SMPTE DCP TEST By the end of the year, the UK and Ireland should have the green light for a new DCP standard Phil Clapp Chief executive, UKCA

firmware on the projector and/or the server. Co-ordinating such an exercise, which will ideally reach every site and screen across the UK and Ireland, is a major undertaking, not least in that it requires the involvement of a host of partners from film distribution, technology suppliers, mastering houses, integrators, local maintenance entities and screen advertising agencies.

Getting everyone on board

THE COMING WEEKS see the beginning of a hugely important test exercise involving cinemas across the UK and Ireland, whereby operators of all shapes and sizes will be asked to ensure that digital cinema content mastered according to a new format, the SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) DCP standard, can be reliably played by their current cinema technology set-up. The transition to the new standard will be crucial to the UK industry in that it provides a number of benefits across the board.First, it provides a solid foundation upon which new emerging innovative and next-generation cinema technologies can be built. This includes developments such as immersive audio and high dynamic range picture, which dramatically improve the movie-going experience. It will also provide much greater consistency and robustness in how different pieces of equipment work together and make trouble-shooting simpler and more efficient. The current test has been put together by the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF)

supported by a number of partners and is being co-ordinated jointly with the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). Its principal aim is to highlight any potential technical issues there may be in playing SMPTE content in your cinema so they can be resolved before operators receive SMPTE content.

A Europe-wide rollout

The UK and Ireland test is the latest stage of a European-wide rolling programme which has already been successfully completed in Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland and is now underway in Sweden, the Baltic countries, France and Russia. With all territories, the aim — once a nationwide test has been satisfactorily completed — is to begin the transition of all digital cinema content over to the new SMPTE format. Across all territories where the test has been completed, the vast majority of screens have passed without issues. And where they have arisen, these have been straightforward to resolve, largely by updating software or


To get as many people on the same page as possible, in January, the EDCF and UKCA held a ‘town hall’ meeting at the Vue Piccadilly, where those attending heard more about the background to the test and were able to witness the short test content play for themselves. As a result of discussions on the day, it was decided to expand the test beyond the UK to Ireland (given that the two are treated as one for distribution purposes) and to include content mastered at 24 and 25 frames per second (given that much advertising content arrives in the latter). That, and the need to ensure all pieces of the jigsaw were aligned, has meant a delay in launching the test, but it’s now ready. Test content will be distributed to sites by one of two UK screen advertising agencies, Pearl and Dean and DCM, and Wide Eye Media in Ireland. Having played the content in each of their screens, operators will be invited to use an online portal to confirm a successful test or to flag up issues. In the first instance, resolving these will be for the operator to discuss with their technical integrator or local maintenance entity, though the EDCF stands by to help out if needed. While the test is straightforward, given that it is beginning during the summer months, it is anticipated that completing the test across the entire territory may take several months (although operators will be encouraged to ensure that’s not the case!). But it is hoped that well before the end of the year, the UK and Ireland will receive a ‘clean bill of health’ when it comes to the SMPTE DCP format and operators can look forward to a stable, straightforward future. For more information on how to be involved, please contact Grainne Peat at the UK Cinema Association on grainne.peat@


Register Now! Conference 14-18 September 2017 Exhibition 15-19 September 2017

IBC2017 The World’s Leading Media, Entertainment & Technology Show Join over 1,700 exhibitors showcasing the latest technological innovations, 400+ speakers delivering the latest industry insights and 55,000+ attendees providing unlimited networking opportunities at IBC’s 50th annual conference and exhibition.

Register at #IBCShow



THE BIG SCREEN PANOPLY The IBC Big Screen Experience conference has become an unmissable cinema industry event. julian pinn consultant executive producer

today’s digital cameras, while also offering commentary from Directors of Photography, Producers and HBO Executives about how these tools are currently being used. The screening is followed by a panel of the key representatives of this fascinating project.

Film-makers on laser technology

THE IBC BIG SCREEN CONFERENCE (15-18 September, Amsterdam) is brought to you by a specialist committee for executive level motion-picture professionals. Housed in the Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos, Christieequipped RAI Theatre, the event examines and demonstrates the hottest topics, movies, and insights surrounding the art, science, and business of cinema from capture to exhibition.

This year’s highlights

The conference includes integrated sponsorsessions from RED, Sony CineAlta and ARRI which support a packed progamme, including: “Event Cinema on Steroids: shooting and delivering HDR and immersive audio alternative content to the big screen” is a session examining a case-study of this year’s UEFA Champions League football final. It’s sport’s largest global event and BT Sport shot and broadcast it in HDR and immersive audio live to homes and to an HDR and immersive audio-equipped screening room, which has never been achieved anywhere before. “Visualising the Science of High Dynamic Range and Wide Colour Gamut” is a session

that features Dave Schnuelle of Dolby Laboratories and Dominic Glynn of Pixar, on the latest research and application of HDR and WCG to movie-making.

Is holography where we’re headed?

“Future Camera and Display Technologies and Applications leading to AR/VR, Immersive Media, and Holography” is a session from legendary cinematographer, visual effects supervisor and author, David Stump ASC and light-field visionary Jon Karafin who will discuss developments in technologies that are destined to revolutionise how we capture images and volumetric lightfields, and how we empower content creators to explore and display free-viewpoint creations of both live-action and computer-generated content within augmented and virtual reality immersive media playback environments including future holographic displays. “HBO Camera Assessment Series: Season Five” Making full use of the Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos installation at the IBC Big Screen, this documentary provides insight into the imaging capabilities of a wide range of

“Laser: the Creatives’ voice”. After inviting film-makers to witness their own content on laser technologies, we explore findings on how the images looked and hear from manufactures in this art-meets-science examination. “Direct View Displays: is this the end of projectors?” will review the technology that makes direct-view LED displays feasible for movie auditoria as well as the challenges that face such a fundamental shift in motionpicture image technology. “EDCF Global Update” promises a quickfire round of industry specialists covering a wide range of global topics — including a valuable networking reception afterwards. “International Business Insights” is a three-part session that examines ‘who is your cinema audience’, ‘the digital journey of a cinemagoer’, and ‘innovation and the big screen experience’. How can exhibitors better understand moviegoers, determine what we need to do to future-proof attendance, explore how the customer journey is evolving and what the industry needs to do to break through to audiences and drive measurable business results, and explore the impact that today’s innovations will have on the cinema sector. “Cinema 3D: the next chapter” With over 50% of global screens able to show 3D and newer illumination technologies enabling better quality 3D, it is time to refresh the format and think about the types and numbers of films made in 3D. This session aims to appraise where we are with 3D and what are its options for remaining part of the theatrical future. “Virtual Reality: Cinema’s Companion or Successor?” will examine lessons learnt from creation of VR stories to their ‘cinematic’ VR presentation, and explore where it will head as cost and quality improve through time.





A cinema engineer’s story Jim Slater talked with Bev Gilston-Hope, Odeon’s lead engineer in the North, about her role as one of cinema’s most respected engineers.


Onwards and upwards

have met Odeon’s lead engineer, Bev Gilston-Hope, many times at various of the chain’s cinemas around the country, and eventually found a few minutes to talk with her about her career while looking around the amazing new Odeon in Oldham. From her general conversation it doesn’t take long to discover that she is one of those people who just loves film and loves the cinema. ‘Did you see?’ and ‘Do you remember in that film when…?’ constantly cropped up in conversation, so it can only be good that she has found herself a job she loves in an industry she loves!

Cannon in Salford Quays, which was taken over by the MGM Group in 1990, later a Virgin cinema and then a UCI. Bev became a Chief Projectionist, and over a 12-year period worked in various chief projectionist roles at places as varied as Granada TV Studios, the Showcase Liverpool on the East Lancashire Road, and MGM Belfast.

A career in cinema


Bev told me that she wasn’t one of those people who grew up knowing that they wanted to work in a projection room, but somehow things just worked out that way. Having left Sharples High School in Bolton in 1982 she took a job as a cashier in the local Cannon cinema, which in previous incarnations had been The Lido, Star, Studio and eventually an ABC. There is now a block of flats on the site… Whilst working there she met one of the chain’s engineers, got talking with him about what the job involved, and decided there and then that she would like to follow that path. She began as a projectionist for Cannon, working at the eight-screen

a move further northwards She moved to Scotland in 1997 and joined Odeon, working at Renfield Street, The Quay and then the dual-sited Ayr and Kilmarnock. She became a BKSTS Member

twenty years ago back in 1997. Totally experienced in all things 35mm, Bev was one of those happy to move forward, and embraced Odeon’s training in digital projection technology, and in 2009 became an Odeon ‘Sound and Projection Engineer’ installing and maintaining all types of cinema equipment all over the place - she claims to have installed more than 100 digital projectors, although nominally based at Odeon Trafford Park.

In May of this year, she was promoted to become lead engineer for the North, supervising and working with Odeon’s team of sound and projection engineers covering the North of the UK, including Scotland. This task involves a lot of travel the aim being to ensure that all Odeon’s sound and projection equipment is kept working at its best. As well as the regular (and emergency) repair, maintenance and calibration of equipment, she gets fully involved in numerous new projects, the Oldham new build being just one of many.

A true all-rounder With such a focus on cinema and on film in her life, I might have imagined that this left Bev with little time for anything else, but nothing could be further from the truth. Married to Alison, somehow she fits in an extremely active social life, enjoying walking activities and plenty of holidays. She loves her dogs and animals in general, and has even done voluntary work at a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia! SEPTEMBER 2017 | CINEMA TECHNOLOGY





or most cinemagoers, the main attraction is still the film itself, leaving today’s ever -improving technology to add even greater realism to the fantasy worlds. As digital cinema has already given us enough audio channels to immerse audiences in all-around sound, industry innovators, such as Dolby, IMAX and the various projector manufacturers, are now turning their digital skills to further enhancing the image. Also welcome, is a desire to use the latest technical advances to help keep the overall cinema-going experience special and not just another way to watch a film. Once, the cinema only had to lure the public from their televisions, now there are many more screens to watch films on, both at home and on the move.

Enjoy it first… in a real cinema In response, multiplex operators now have the opportunity to employ the latest methods to ensure they retain, and sometimes bring back, the old cinema magic and showmanship. This begins before reaching the doors. Many of the early characterless warehouse-like multiplex exteriors can be livened up with eyecatching, easily changed electronic billboards. It’s becoming rare that a brave member of staff has to climb up to change the letters on an old-style canopy. Also going is the opportunity, when out and about, to catch a fellow projectionist up a ladder and ask if you could have a look around. Sometimes, particularly for films expecting a long run, an elaborate display was constructed on the front of the cinema, with some, looking back to their fairground roots, including movement and special effects. A memorable example, back in the 1950s, was a giant mannequin of Marilyn Monroe in a dress, which was suddenly blown up by a blast of air, tempting the public to come in and see the real thing in The Seven Year Itch. Like the latest digital displays, which can also feature movement, CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

SOME OF THE OLD TRICKS THAT CINEMA MANAGERS USED TO MAKE A CUSTOMER’S VISIT MEMORABLE HAVE BEEN GIVEN A MODERN MAKEOVER, AS GRANT LOBBAN EXPLAINS this is now discouraged, as it may distract passing drivers. Before LEDs replaced wood, metal and neon, a hoarding on the facade of the Odeon Leicester Square was made even more spectacular with jets of flaming gas until waiting cinemagoers had to scatter when fire engines arrived to stop the theatre from burning down. Who says showmanship is dead? At one time, it took some time for a big film to reach smaller local cinemas, so their managers, often frustrated showmen, were free to reignite some of the original hype. Many had fun involving the staff in organising related events, competitions and publicity stunts. Today, the audience themselves are positively encouraged to help promote the film by using the latest word of mouth way of spreading the news. Even before the screening is over, social media can be buzzing, telling friends and the world how much you have enjoyed the film.

Earlier, short-throw pre-digital video projectors had to share the auditorium with the audience

from the silent era, when it was a cheaper alternative to a full orchestra. This wondrous instrument and its organist could rise up and keep audiences happy during intervals and were available to accompany visiting entertainers. In towns without a suitable venue, the film projectors were also given a rest when the auditorium hosted live acts. During the 1950s and 1960s, a cinema was often

“IT’S RARE THAT A BRAVE MEMBER OF STAFF HAS TO CHANGE LETTERS ON AN OLD CANOPY” Something different, now and then However you get to know about it, the choice can now include Event Cinema, with the normal digital projector used to show live relays of opera, plays and concerts. This too, brings back memories of earlier alternative content. Before every home had a television, cinema screens would sometimes go live when patrons in the stalls had to keep well away from the thousands of volts passing through the earlier analogue short-throw video projectors, temporarily installed to screen important national events, with royal occasions and prize fights drawing large audiences. For an actual live performance, some theatres still had a cinema organ, many a survivor




Apart from the thriving home cinema market, the coming of digit al projection, without reels of film to deal with, has encouraged and mad e it easier to set up pop-up shows both indoors and out, be they on land, wate r, or up on the roof. For communities who have lost their local cinema, specialist distributors can now clear the right s and provide DVDs or Blu-Rays of rece nt releases for showing in nearby pubs , clubs and village halls. Even if stuck in hospital, some are now finding space for a free voluntee rrun Medi-Cinema able to show curr ent DCPs to patients, sure to feel better by not having to stay in bed to watch films on over-priced pay-as-you-go hosp ital TV. For the well-off, who choose to stay in, cinema architects have found new work designing luxury mini cinemas , not only for multi-millionaires meg a basements, but now an extra facil ity for residents of upmarket apartme nt No chance of missing what ’s on, with almost blocks and hotels. all of the front of the cinema cove red in wood, metal, paint , and neon.

borrowed for a full house of fans standing on the seats to scream at the latest touring pop star or group. A few large capacity and well-appointed cinemas, which had avoided a multi-screen conversion, would finally give up showing films altogether, becoming prominent music venues. Among those now gone was the Astoria Charing Cross Road, now the new Tottenham Court Road tube station. But still going strong is the former Odeon Hammersmith, which is also remembered by ‘old’ film fans, when it played the part of the ‘Grand’ cinema rival trying to put The Smallest Show on Earth Bijou flee-pit out of business. More recently, Disney has revived the

the art of

Cine-Variety idea of combining a film with live acts, when it offered to present a pre-film mini-musical before a couple of its animated features. So successful were these that they have now expanded into full-scale stage musicals, without the film.

Cinemas’ new look Probably going to be missed the most by film memorabilia collectors and dealers, is the possibility that downloaded images on video screens will eventually replace paper posters and the already gone portraits and cut-outs of the stars, and the display boards with their ‘Now Showing’ and ‘Coming Soon’ stills and lobby cards. Today’s foyers

Traditional billboards are still going strong, and there is an LED version on the facad e of the Odeon Leicester Square

are being praised for their clean uncluttered look, often with the air of a well-furnished airport departure lounge, rather than the traditional cosy plush of a high street cinema’s foyer, often with its own adjoining café or restaurant. The dominant feature of a modern foyer is its food and concession counter. This plays the role of an information point and the box office for on-the-door tickets, not already booked online or issued by a machine. During quiet periods, some multiplexes boast that they need only one person, with an eye on CCTV,


The Gaumont, then the Odeon, and now the Apollo Hammersmith. A ‘Super-Cinema’ that escaped a multi-screen conversion or being pulled down by becoming a prominent music venue. Left: The Smallest Show on Earth ‘Bijou’ fleapit. Not a good example for today’s designers.





to look after their customers. However, like many West End theatres, others still think it is worthwhile to spare a well-informed member of staff, with a smile, to greet visitors. As well as directing them to their chosen screen, via the popcorn, they can talk about the films on offer and even answer any ‘technical’ questions about the latest presentation methods being used to show them. This harks back to the days when the manager, in a suit and bow tie, would sometimes come out into the foyer and join the commissionaires to give ordinary cinemagoers a VIP welcome. The most recent multiplex designs have more in common, architecturally, with the

specially lit corridor or tunnel that helps create the mood as you enter. Watching the film today need not be just a case of sitting in silence in front of a bare screen in a plain black box. Although technically this may provide the ideal conditions when actually projecting the film, once the lights come up, they are soulless, with only rows of speakers along the walls to look at. No need to call in artisans to add decorative plasterwork, creating a more theatrical look may simply involve fitting examples of the latest mood lighting panels and fixtures, some of which can include the speakers. It’s even possible to retro-fit the screen with curtains and

“AS MOST FILMS USE THE 2.35:1 FORMAT, THEY LOOK BETTER IF PROPERLY MASKED” shopping complexes in which they are sited. Even so, designers put imagination into creating attractive high-tech spaces which are more familiar and welcoming to today’s audiences, than entering the hallowed old picture palaces and cathedrals of the movies. That old ethos is even more likely to be blown away, with the latest idea of adding to the pre-show experience with the chance to try out virtual reality headsets. Some, however, are bringing back a degree of theatrical ambiance, by finally reaching the screen along a more atmospheric, CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

soundtrack, can be played unobtrusively while the audience take their seats. Then, after the ads and trailers, it can return at greater volume with the lights half-dimmed to create a roadshow-type overture before the illuminated tabs, real or a projected virtual version, open. Perhaps the distributors could provide an optional overture for their latest blockbuster? This can add to the sense of anticipation before the main event and suggest it’s time to put the mobile away. All this takes imagination and showmanship, together with a projectionist to programme it all in.

All this, and then some In an effort to compete with ever-growing televisions at home, audiences are being tempted to pay more to enjoy the film in one of the various ‘Premium Large Format’ systems now being offered in a number of main auditoria. So, next time: Is PLF the new digital ‘Splendour of 70mm’?

variable masking. As most current films use the 2.35:1 format, they look much better if properly masked and not just across the centre of a previously fixed 1.85:1 screen, leaving the audience to wonder where the rest of the picture has gone.

Don’t stop the music Music too plays its part in creating the right mood. Known as the non-sync back in the days when no projection room was complete without its turntable and pile of records, the music, possibly from the film’s

Lobbies can be digitally transformed to deliver the magic of sight, sound… and social media



Taffy... a rare old bird! Billy Bell reminds us that cinema presentation standards aren’t always as high as they should be — and that projectionists didn’t always concentrate fully on the job in hand.


arrying out one’s monthly routine cinema servicing commitments often engendered a feeling of pleasure at the thought of seeing some projectionist friends once again. It must be stated, however, that some service visits failed to produce this feel-good factor. One projectionist, who always created a feeling of apprehension, was old Taffy, whom I met on a regular basis, due to the fact that his projectors were always breaking down. At least, that’s what Taffy would tell his bosses in order to cover up

film programme, as advertised, was now back on track, and a much relieved Taffy told us that he didn’t expect the audience to complain. He said that they would just think that it was a complicated storyline and would blame themselves for not being able to follow the plot.

“Taffy must have drilled holes in someone else’s car as the manager’s was still outside” his many mistakes in the projection room. Taffy’s bosses finally succumbed and decided to buy new projection equipment. As a general rule the installation of new projection and sound equipment would take one whole week, and the cinema would still remain open during this period. Taffy would carry on with the usual routine of making up the film programme and putting on a picture show whilst trying to cope with the inconvenience of having engineers and the new equipment cluttering up his projection room. On the first day of this confusion, Taffy, mistakenly, laced up the wrong film and started the afternoon film performance with the cowboy picture, instead of the supporting detective “B” film. The manager was quick to point this out to Taffy, who immediately changed over, from the middle of the cowboy film, on one projector, to the middle of the detective film on the other machine. The CINEMA TECHNOLOGY | SEPTEMBER 2017

One morning during the installation, the manager came into the projection room with two wing mirrors for his new car. He told Taffy that the car was parked outside and asked him if he would attach the wing mirrors to the shiny new vehicle. Taffy borrowed an electric drill and a hole cutter in order to do this. After drilling the holes he came back to collect the mirrors and then went back again to finish the job. Moments later he returned in a state of shock and told us the manager’s new

Projectionist, turkey farmer, car mechanic, entrepreneur — Taffy was a true rennaissance man

car had been stolen. When Taffy broke this to the manager, he told him he must have drilled holes in someone else’s car, as his was still outside the cinema! Taffy was also interested in making extra money on the side. He would do this by buying defunct television sets in Petticoat Lane Market, and would bring them back to his projection room. He would then ask the service engineer, on his regular visit, to repair the sets, so that he could sell them on at a profit. The installation of Taffy’s new projection equipment was carried out during the summer months — and during this time he asked me if I would like to buy a turkey for Christmas. He explained that his brother had a turkey farm in Wales and that he would fatten a bird especially for me in time for the festive season. I agreed to this and paid a deposit on the bird. I saw Taffy again several months later and asked about the turkey’s progress. He told me that he had recently visited his brother’s farm and recognised my bird immediately, because it had a label with my name on it tied to its neck. When I conveyed these graphic details to my daughter, she declared “I’m not going to eat it”. Taffy was a likeable old rogue, but in all probability, the turkey, like his dodgy TV sets, was more likely to come from Petticoat Lane Market than a remote farm in Wales. We bought a freshly plucked goose instead.


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

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september 2017 | CINemA teCHNOLOGY



Ask not what your membership association can do for you, says Simon Tandy, but what you can do for it

Simon tandy ECA board Member

experiences. And it’s those — largely volunteered — skills that have nurtured the sector’s own association to be the recognisable brand for event cinema. It’s the community of experienced colleagues and members — advocates in their own right — that have helped forge a path for increasing box office revenues and gaining access to a broader range of content.

An industry that can handle change

OUR INDUSTRY IS LITTERED with acronyms — HDR, WCG, DCP, KDM, LED to name a few. Our world can appear, to the uninitiated, like an alphabetical assault course, but there are some acronyms, such as the likes of the UKCA, the FACT, the MPAA and BAFTA that are considerably more important to the cinema business than others when it comes to the promotion and protection of the medium we cherish. Of these, ECA is one such acronym that I believe deserves a fuller explanation. The Event Cinema Association (of which I am proud to have been recently appointed a board member) has, in just five short years, set a tempo that many similar trade bodies in other industries should eye with a certain degree of professional jealousy. Apart from anything, the ECA’s success is proof positive that cinemas have the ability to adapt and thrive outside of their core business model.

A glimpse of the new world

Digitisation gave access to more than just films. In its early guise, Alternative Content needed a path to find its audiences. Cinemas recognised this, but did their customers?

Bringing people back to the cinema and letting them know that cinema was about more than just the movies, was central to the mandate of the ECA: it promoted engagement to Enjoy Cinema Again. Similarly, within the arts world the ECA has been fundamental in helping to position cinema as a place for serious theatrical entities such as the Royal Opera House and Exhibition on Screen to broadcast their content. It has helped confound the fear that event cinema productions might in some way cannibalise live audiences. There has been a lot of speculation over the place for event cinema and its importance, but while the high-level box office sees some 3% of the industry’s total revenues, it’s fair to admit that the magic is not just at the movies — it’s at the heart of the venues that truly nurture and understand their audiences, with some sites seeing event cinema receipts account for 50% of their total box office. But that is the case only for a few truly engaged locations. In short, you really do get out what you put in. The event cinema sector, like others within our industry, is fortunate to have an incredibly passionate mix of skills and professional



So what are the lessons we can glean from all this success? First, the cinema industry itself has the ability to adapt. Second, the industry has a wealth of talent on the distribution, exhibition and technology sides that can support that transformation and finally it is the positive, creative and engaged venues and distributors — and their customers — that stand to benefit the most. It has been amazing to witness worldwide distribution colleagues create, test and share in the spread of genres and their boundaries. From E-gaming delivered live from the US to the UK, to the recent Shark Week or even Woody Harrelson’s ground-breaking Lost in London Live broadcast simultaneously to more than 500 cinemas in the US (and one in the UK) early this year, in January. And as we head into the new season of event cinema productions, it is the community of these knowledgeable cinema owners, bookers, marketeers and technologists that the ECA is the advocate for.

Stepping up to the plate

This paean for event cinema is all well and good — it’s one of my specialisms in my day job at Motion Picture Solutions — but the ECA is not unique. There are, of course, many societies, associations and committees staffed by people, motivated by the desire to improve cinema’s standing, whether on the technology side, the exhibition side, or the distribution side. If you feel you have something to offer, then give back. Consider the etymology of the words. ‘Society’ comes from the French societé, meaning originally ‘companionship’; while ‘association’, has its roots in Latin, meaning ‘united in purpose’. Finally, ‘committee’, from late-15th-century English, in its early form, literally meant ‘a person to whom something has been entrusted’. Don’t let the future of your industry be entrusted to someone else… Join today!

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