Last updateMon, 29 Jan 2018 2pm


Introducing – Tools for Cinema Quality Assurance


Cinema Test Tools for the non-Technical Manager – Post Installation Quality Assurance Has Begun

Cinema Test Tools is a free resource for the cinema industry, tuned most particularly for the non-technical manager. The tools include several DCPs, all with interesting means of testing the sound and picture quality for the interested by lightly trained staff. The lessons on sound and light are written to provide a foundation to communicate with the technician who must respond quickly and well to the information that they discover.

The key is a free Managers Online Walk Through Checklist that correlates with the many DCPs. It helps bring an understanding of the many nuances of the auditorium's situation in a straightforward way. 

The feet hitting the street. This is where it all plays out.

Avatar in Arcadia - 3D can't get larger

Avatar at Arcadia - 3D at its finestThe list of technology artists required to create the phenomena of Avatar is in the thousands (2104 people listed). One doubts if any of them have seen the movie on a 30 meter seamless screen in full 3D, which is how the patrons of Arcadia in Italy got to see it this week.

Using 2 Christie CP2000-XB projectors and XpanD's 3D technology, Pierro Fumigalli is able to get 35 cd/m2 to the eye (candela/meter2 or about 10 foot-lamberts.) It is a real feat to get that enough light to make 3D really work.

Arcadia is famous for attracting patrons from all over Italy for event showings like Star Wars. At Friday's showing, couples from Nice France arrived to see Avatar in completely immersive 3D.

We will complete an interview in the 2nd half of this article.


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Movie Theatre Popcorn Makes You Fat (Surprise!); Army Confirms

With jokes of stents with each serving of "extra-large tub of orange vinyl nacho cheese" and "3 days [worth] of saturated fats", the Boston Globes dives into the light-hearted report from the CSPI, the Center for Science in the Public Interest titled ‘Two Thumbs Down’ for Movie Theater Popcorn. You'll also see it as the cover story in the December issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter - Since one doubts it will be seen in the cinema's book and magazine counter, here is the PDF of BIG movie theaters fill buckets...and bellies.

Then Sperling at Celluloid Junkie brings the above title home, using the word that should have been in everyone's title, lead and summary - “Surprise!”

His dissection begins;

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Setting The ShowEast Record Straight | Celluloid Junkie

Let’s face it, while mainstream media might be screaming about an economic recovery, times are still tough for many businesses all over the world. That is especially true for trade shows. No matter the industry focus, attendance at global conventions has dropped in 2009 by more than 25% in most cases. Just look at attendance at some of the annual confabs the motion picture industry holds; the Sundance Film Festival down 11%, ShoWest down 15%, NAB down 20%, the Cannes Film Festival down 30% and IBC in Amsterdam down at least 7%. That may be why at ShowEast, which was held in Orlando, Florida from October 26th to October 29th, the talk amongst delegates was as much about the trade show’s attendance as it was about 3-D, digital cinema and the upcoming blockbuster release “Avatar”.

[Editor's notes: The mainstream media speaks of one or two signs of the recession/depression ending, but in general and in specifics, it seems to cherry-pick stats. For example, while something called the Easily Manipulated Gross National Product has increased for the 1st time in several quarters (signifying growth at last!), unemployment is up, foreclosures are up, etc. And more pertainent to the cinema business, corporate filings from the major exhibitors and industry polls show that the number of patrons is down, and if income is up, it is only up because of the ability to charge more for 3D movies.]

While such conversation tends to feed on itself ultimately making mountains out of mole hills, Robert Sunshine, the Vice President of Nielsen Film Group which organizes the event, readily admits attendance at this year’s ShowEast, like most conventions around the world, was down roughly 20%. “It’s numbers that we don’t like to see,” said Sunshine. “We attribute it to the economy and we also attribute it to the fact that there are lots of [industry] conventions, there’s the major convention, ShoWest, and certain people don’t have the money to attend all of these shows so they are picking and choosing where they go.”

[Editor again: In addition to Andrew's point: There used to be more differenciation between the different shows as well. ShowEast would have an International Day that grabbed a decent EU crowd and an excellent South American crowd for example. One dosn't get the feeling of a specialness anymore. Later in the article Andrew talks about the studios making an effort, even if they can't bring a film. I'm certain that he can't bite the hand that feeds him, but the exhibitor attendees need to see the films, need to be excited about what is coming. Everything else of the show is just gravy.]

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EU Commission [Including EDCF Response] Wants To Hear from You re: DCinema

European Cinema in the Digital Era Questionaire, EDCF response attached:

The US currently has the lead in digital cinema. A digital master is already available for 90% of all US new films whereas in France (the EU's biggest film producer) less than half of new films are available on digital. In addition, the US developed the VPF (Virtual Print Fee) model where third parties collect part of the money saved by film distributors which can then be used to finance digital equipment. In Europe, only 2428 screens have been converted so far for digital projection. Worldwide, some 12.000 screens have been digitally equipped on a total of around 110.000 worldwide. By 2012, it is estimated that nearly 20% of cinemas worldwide will be converted.

Recently, the European Commission issued the document European Commission seeks views on the opportunities and challenges for digital cinema. The paragraph above comes from the text immediately following the invitation for "EU film exhibitors, distributors, national film agencies, and public and private film organisations to share their views."

One reads a document like this, giving it an extra dose of substance due to the gravitas of the agency. Yet it proofs the rule which asserts that everything one reads, if not written by an expert in the field, and/or not given enough space for nuance, is subject to being very wrong while appearing very right…which is OK, as long as one knows that one has then entered into the propaganda world that some special interest has thrown into the author's universe.

The US currently has the lead in digital cinema - as a statement is somewhat correct, as long as one qualifies the word ‘lead’ as a dubious honor (as will be shown below.) By quantity and percentage there are perhaps more digital screens  and more digital movies on US soil. The projector though is doubtlessly designed and manufactured in Canada/Japan (Christie) or Japan (Sony or NEC) or Belgium (Barco), since those are the only projectors compliant with the security-centric specifications of the major studios. The servers as well are probably not entirely of US origin; Doremi, with the largest installed base, is as much a French company as a California company. Except for Dolby, which also has a large presence in England, most successful server manufacturers are from outside the US.

The VPF model may have developed in the US, but the first implementation (though not immediately successful) was attempted in Ireland. And frankly, the VPF agreements are a large band-aid on an even larger problem. The companies who have used them thus far are shells of their former selves, with much more debt and diluted stock than dreams of excitement for being in the ‘lead’.

And finally, to the 3rd sentence of the Commission's paragraph, that 2428 screens have been converted is not a bad thing. The dirty little secret in the mix of the systems that are in the field is that none of them (with the likely exception of the Sony unit which has only been shipping relatively recently) will meet the standards that all equipment must meet after (somewhat nebulas) 2010 deadline. The deadline is a contractual obligation to run to the next level of security mandated by the ISO Standards (as described by the SMPTE standards and as initially described in the previously mentioned studio mandate, the DCI Specifications.) In practical terms, the Texas Instruments engine which powers almost all of the projectors in the field must be upgraded to a Series 2 level. It is unlikely that any Series 1 equipment will be able to be upgraded to those standards. It is not only a security issue as the Series 2 engines allow for other features that the modern facility needs, allowing a better level of subtitles, as well as open and closed captioning for the hearing and visually impaired.

And that is merely the quickly scribbled notes from one paragraph. Nothing earth shattering really. Nothing to say that the early adopters were wrong. Some of them can point to valid statistics that showed that digital screenings out-pulled film-based movies by 5:1. The current flurry of 3D movies were also only shown on digital equipment.

But it would be an easy premise to support that it would have been wrong for every facility to have converted by now, even if it were financially or technically possible. Certainly the science experiments that began appearing in the field in 2002 had all the excitement of a program that would lead one to believe that one was falling behind if they weren't digital. But since the digital equipment is 2.5-3 times as expensive as the equipment it replaces, that is not necessarily the case. And given that few can point to a computer that works reliably 100% of the time for 100 stressful hours a day, and which is also 5 years old…well, there is a lot to be said for waiting.

So, following the grand question that insiders have asked for every year since George Lucas' May 2002 digital Star Wars II release, “Is this the year?” and, “How do we get there?”

Respond to the EU Commission's interest at the link: European Commission seeks views on the opportunities and challenges for digital cinema

Fun With Numbers - Mojo

Just for fun, here are some links for box office crowned movies, but by other than standard metrics.

To begin, lets look at a chart that accompanies some of the Box Office Mojo Star Wars Special Briefing site.

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