Tag Archives: studios

Appeals Judgement in DCN VPF…

The case is, in one sense, rather straight forward and is well described in the attached press release regarding the Federal appeals court finding. A full reading of the court document is interesting as well since it describes more of the story as the appeals judge had to review the entire proceeding in only a few pages. The case law doesn’t sound that much different than what one would expect from most ‘Western” countries. The official court link to this case can be found at:


On the other hand, as the industry turns the corner toward full implementation of digital around the world, this still leaves a mess of a negotiation for settlement by OmniLab with digitAll [not DCN – correction from earlier draft–Ed], then a return to the table of the independent exhibitors to strike a deal with the studios still offering VPF deals. So, there is still more to the story to pay attention to.

Appeals Judgement in DCN VPF…

The case is, in one sense, rather straight forward and is well described in the attached press release regarding the Federal appeals court finding. A full reading of the court document is interesting as well since it describes more of the story as the appeals judge had to review the entire proceeding in only a few pages. The case law doesn’t sound that much different than what one would expect from most ‘Western” countries. The official court link to this case can be found at:


On the other hand, as the industry turns the corner toward full implementation of digital around the world, this still leaves a mess of a negotiation for settlement by OmniLab with digitAll [not DCN – correction from earlier draft–Ed], then a return to the table of the independent exhibitors to strike a deal with the studios still offering VPF deals. So, there is still more to the story to pay attention to.

Art of Mixing Motion Pictures

‘Our primary rerecording format remains 5.1-channel soundtracks,’ considers ‘Doc’ Goldstein, VP of post-production engineering at Universal Studios Sound. ‘But we can accommodate other multichannel formats and always have our eye on the future requirements of filmmakers.’ The ubiquitous 5.1-channel format involves three screen channels (left, centre, right) plus separate surround channels beside and behind the audience (labelled left-surround and right-surround) in addition to a low-frequency extension/LFE channel that carries reduced-bandwidth material (hence the ‘0.1’ label).

Read the rest of this fine Mel Lambert/ProAudio Asia article at:
The art of mixing motion pictures – Pro Audio Central

Part 2 of article, speaks about the Iosono Sound Audio System: 
Iosono Surround Sound – a perfect companion to 3D releases?

Such material is carried to audiences on analogue film using one of three data-compressed formats: Dolby Digital, which optically prints the digitised audio between the sprocket holes; DTS, which uses a time code track on the film to synchronise a companion CD-ROM that carries the multichannel audio; and SDDS – Sony Dynamic Digital Sound – which uses a similar technique to Dolby but, as we shall see, can accommodate additional screen channels.

Dolby Digital premiered in 1992 with Batman Returns, while DTS launched a year later with Jurassic Park

Meanwhile, reacting to a need for a more immersive soundtrack experience and to provide additional panning options …

The first Digital Surround EX release, in May 1999, was for Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Earlier this year Dolby unveiled …

There is however another 7.1-channel format that offers extra behind-the-screen loudspeakers. …

According to Gary Johns, SVP of Sony’s Digital Cinema Solutions, there are roughly 7,000 screens worldwide equipped for SDDS 5.1 playback, with fewer than 1,000 screens outfitted for SDDS 7.1. ‘…

‘Of the formats beyond 5.1, we have seen some 7.1-channel mixes,’ Universal’s Mr Goldstein offers. …

All current analogue film releases also carry a two-channel optical Dolby Pro Logic soundtrack that contains…

In addition to the IMAX presentation format that uses a 70mm film or digital file…

Tomlinson Holman, formerly with Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Ranch and now president of TMH Corporation, has been advocating several playback formats, including a 10.2 configuration. Co-developed with Chris Kyriakakis of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, and first demonstrated …

‘The difference is not the placement of the speakers,’ Mr Holman stresses, ‘but rather the type of speakers and the information sent to them. 12.2 would use both surround-diffuse and surround-direct channels.’ …

Multichannel Mixes for digital cinema

The advent of digital projection with playback from hard-disk servers rather than analogue film …

‘Beginning in April 2011,’ points out Charles Flynn from the DCinemaCompliance Group, …

The ability to carry uncompressed audio to audiences at enhanced bit rates and sample rates will extend filmmakers’ creative options, …

Sony Pictures Studios’ postproduction complex features five state-of-the art dubbing stages that are ‘capable …

Theaters Respond to Studio’s VOD Threat

The outreach is in response to statements by media executives touting plans to offer movies in the home via video on demand at a price of $30 to $60, one to two months after they are released in theaters.

Read the entire Los Angeles Times article at:
Theater operators fight studios’ plan to release movies in homes earlier
The chains are trying to build support for preserving ‘theatrical windows.’
By Richard Verrier and Claudia Eller, Los Angeles Times
1:18 PM PST, December 23, 2010

Seems like it was only a year ago (26 December 2009) that the title was:
Studios, theaters wrangling over film release windows 

Premium-priced VOD is foreseen as a new revenue source for studios looking to offset declining DVD sales, as well as a boon for cable companies that have been stymied in their efforts to deliver movies into the home earlier in part because of concerns it could cannibalize home video sales.

But theater companies contend that the VOD plans will undercut movie ticket sales, giving consumers less incentive to trek to the theater if they can wait a few extra weeks to watch the movie in the comfort of their home.

“A 30-day window makes absolutely no sense to us whatsoever,” said Gerry Lopez, chief executive of AMC Entertainment, the nation’s second-largest theater operator. “We’re concerned about the grave consequences this could bring.”

Currently movies are available on VOD about the same time they become available on DVD, about 130 days after they debut in theaters.

The pushback is led by the National Assn. of Theater Owners, the trade group that represents most of the country’s major theater circuits.

“We are reaching out to the creative community and the business community because we think some of the studios are moving down a path of a bad business model,” said John Fithian, the association’s president. “They risk losing two dimes to save one nickel.”

Theater owners are taking their case directly to Wall Street. In recent weeks, Fithian and top theater executives have held meetings with analysts from such firms as Deutsche Bank and Barclays to outline their concerns on early premium VOD releases and make the argument that the studios’ strategy won’t pay off for either side.

They’ve also been enlisting the support of filmmakers, hoping that their voices can help sway opinion.

“We don’t make movies for the small screen, we make movies for the big screen,” Jon Landau, producer of James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar.” “Television is a great art form, but it’s an oxymoron to say we’re giving you a premium experience on TV.”

But theater operators could be fighting against the inevitable. As broadband technology becomes faster and consumers increasingly turn to their high-definition, big-screen televisions to watch movies, the demand for content will also grow, potentially tipping the economics away from theaters.

Studio executives contend too that they need to find ways to generate new sources of revenue in the face of emerging technologies, changing consumer habits and a steady decline in home video sales, which for many years propped up the movie industry.

“We are exploring every conceivable additional revenue stream out there,” Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson said. “The facts are irrefutable that our business models are under an extraordinary amount of pressure. In order for the studios to remain healthy, we need to find ways to recapture that revenue.”

Studios and theaters have a symbiotic relationship stretching back a century that has been mutually beneficial. Theaters get to keep roughly half the revenue from ticket sales, while the studios keep the other half and resell their movies multiple times to consumers: first in theaters, then on DVD, followed by video on demand, then showings on cable channels such as HBO and Showtime.

However, the partnership is now under strain.

Theaters threatened to pull Walt Disney Co.’s “Alice in Wonderland” from screens this year after Disney announced plans to release the movie on DVD one month earlier than it typically does. In May, the Federal Communications Commission granted a controversial waiver to studios, clearing the way for an anti-piracy technology that makes it easier for studios to pipe first-run movies into the home.

More troubling, movie theater operators are leery about the pending merger of Comcast Corp. with NBC Universal, which would put a top Hollywood studio into the hands of the company that provides cable TV service to one out of every five homes in the U.S. Comcast executives have signaled their desire to offer movies from Universal’s film library earlier to cable subscribers than traditionally has been the case.

Time Warner Inc., owner of the Warner Bros. movie studio, expects to offer premium-priced movies through video on demand 30 to 60 days after their release in theaters. News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox and Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures studios are also weighing earlier VOD service.

“In a world where consumers see our DVDs available at Redbox for $1 a night, we want to establish the value of our content,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

He added that the studio would be flexible, adjusting VOD release depending on how long a film plays in theaters.

Studios aren’t all looking through the same window, however. Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures studio is not pursuing a premium VOD window, said an executive with the company.

“We’re operating under the belief that the best strategy for our business is to have an exclusive theatrical window,” Paramount Vice Chairman Rob Moore said.

Moore agreed with exhibitors that they need to protect the movie-going experience, otherwise “attendance could drop significantly.”

Paramount is also the only studio that has corporate ties to the theater business. Its parent company, Viacom, is controlled by Sumner Redstone, who also controls the National Amusements theater chain.

Attendance is down 3.4% this year and has generally been flat in the last five years, although revenue for the industry has risen because of higher ticket prices.

Unease among theater operators has been fueled by a breakdown in talks that studios and exhibitors began a year ago over the theatrical windows issue.

“Our concern is that we have read more about specific intentions of certain studios in the press versus direct communication with us,” said Amy Miles, chief executive of Regal Entertainment, the country’s largest theater chain. “We believe pursuit of a collaborative strategy potentially avoids the need for defensive alternatives to protect our business.”

Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said the subject of making movies available earlier on VOD had been broached with theater operators, but at the same time he acknowledged that there had not been a “meaningful dialogue.”

Some industry analysts contend that the concerns are overblown, arguing that studios have too much at stake to risk biting the hand that feeds them, and that with fewer than half of U.S. households capable of viewing VOD, the upside would not be significant.

“The potential market for someone who is going to pay $30 or more 30 days after a movie is released is a very small market,” said James Marsh, a media industry analyst with Piper Jaffray.

[email protected]

[email protected]


Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times

3D Wonders

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s desperation plea: Movie biz needs to make movies that look good in 3-D | The Big Picture | Los Angeles Times – Patrick Goldstein
WSJ – Clash of the Titans | Full-bodied takedown
2 articles already commented on Decline and Fall: 3D takes some knocks
Forbes’ Dorothy PomerantzShow Me the Money blog, described Katzenberg’s answer to his critics 

It is easy to agree and disagree with the 3D-bashing. First, this is another case of a technology’s sausage making evolving in public. Usually the steps progress logically. In the case of cinema 3D, Avatar showed what could be done 6 years in advance of what might have happened if natural progression had taken place. This affected all aspects from acquisition and post, and customer perception. Suddenly the bar is set high and movies still in post-production looked 2nd (or 3rd) rate in comparison. Upon these, people are making their judgement.

The part that Cameron didn’t handle was exhibition, though it is said that he tried to arrange for different master prints into auditoriums that could put out more light…which would have been splendid, because there is still a major technical problem of getting enough light to the eyes with 3D, which presents many implications that journalists just skim over (at best). But one point can’t be argued against; there are fewer reasons to forgive the evolution excuse when cinemas are charging extra for the experience, leaving them open to complaints. 

None of the professional critics have room to mention that the cinemas are spending 20 to 30 thousand for the extra 3D portion of the DCinema equipment, plus glasses, plus glasses cleaning equipment, plus the personnel to distribute and clean the glasses. Perhaps that isn’t being explained well by the professional marketeers, but the critic’s research should have figured this out. 

One the other hand, that some cinemas are using silver screens for 3D is just a horror in the making. These screens are made so that some seats get an optimum amount of light. Those outside of this “sweet spot”, which can be the majority of seats, see an inferior picture – a picture with so little light that it causes problems which have not been well researched, and about which people merely generalize.

That the cinemas are then showing 2D movies on these screens should get the SMPTE police on their tails, as well as invoke sanctions if the cinema has a VPF agreement which compels them to follow the DCI specs that call for uniform light across the screen beginning with 48 candela (14 foot Lamberts) in the center. (They are lucky if they get 10 candela now (3.5 ft/L).) As technical articles demonstrate, sitting anywhere off center … or even in the wrong rows depending on the slant of the projector and the screen … makes the already dark 3D image intolerable. People should get a discount instead of being charged more if they are in the wrong areas. See: 23 degrees…half the light. 3D What?

Laser Illuminated Projection Association (LIPA)

The real news of the month has been laser systems. First was an announcement that Laser Light Engines, LLC has received significant financing, including from the IMAX group, for taking their now working products to production. Then Kodak started inviting people to see their system – doubtlessly timed to get people as they went to ShowEast next week. Kodak are not only working to change the source of light, they are changing the entire light block. Their hope is that they can allow standard lenses in the digital cinema projector, knocking off a significant amount of the cost of the dcinema system. And, like with all laser systems, the energy waste a lot less than with the xenon bulbs in standard use.  

And finally, Sony is being shy, but showing that they will have cards to play…which was already obvious 18 and 12 months ago when they went public with their laser announcement(s). (The Science Of The Laser Projector | Sony Insider) There are other rumors of other companies that Sony might be working with – c’est possible. The news though is that they are working publicly to get the standards group that deals with lasers (The US Food and Drug Administration…go figure…) to create a new category named Laser-illuminated Projection. That, instead of the category that laser light shows are under.

Sony, Imax Tout Lasers in Cinema – 3D Cinecast/WSJ
Laser Light Engines gets IMAX funding– Putting Light on the Subject

The article above gives quotes and also points out that increasing light levels will be good for 3D. One can’t have an article about digital cinema without talking about 3D. But it is true, though not the main point.

What that Wall Street Journal article doesn’t mention, and why lasers are mentioned in this 3D article, is not due to the light increase – which will come incrementally and at great pain to the mastering process and exhibition community trying to keep up with even more changes – but rather because lasers won’t need Z-screens or fancy spinning wheels from RealD or MasterImage to make the photons spin in alternating patterns. Giving photons a rotation state is inherent in the capabilities of the laser technology. [Maintaining the rotation state still requires a silver screen, which implies bright spots and dark spots and color shift of the picture depending on where you sit. Perhaps getting more light will allow silver screens with less gain, which might mitigate their most egregious features. But like many things, this requires research – and everyone is busy with the niggling details of keeping up with growth and complying with a change toward international standards after years of transitional standards.]

MasterImage, who also had a press release this month about taking more space at Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios, and RealD are really in a fight for a piece of the home cinema 3D market…as is XpanD. The professional market has been important, and an incredible financial, political and technical operation, but if they win a segment of a growing consumer market, they could afford to lose professional cinema. At this time, the active glasses solution seem to be winning, but the race will be long and the first technology hurdles are just being overcome. Perhaps it will become easier to glue a lens to the front of the screen with enough precision that it won’t subtract from the quality and add too much to the cost, which is what is needed for the passive glasses systems. Then cheap glasses will have a chance. In today’s economy, no one stands a chance…except perhaps for THX, who notably has announced the first THX Certified 3D TV.

YouTube – CEDIA Expo 2010 – What is THX 3D Certification on the LG PX990/PX950 Plasma TVs?
YouTube – LG electronics introduces first 3D TV certified by THX

To MasterImage’s credit, and contrary to the important point in the critics criticisms of 3D in the cinema, MasterImage announced glasses that fit the faces of kids. RealD announced that they were releasing kid sized glasses for Toy Story 3. One wonders how many theaters are making this change? What a scandal that it has taken this long for developers and cinema chains, who up until now have grouped all viewers as if they had the same interpupillary distance, but thankfully that is changing. I still would recommend taking a piece of foam to cushion the bridge of the nose from the plastic, but that’s just me. 

Our picture of a recommendation is in the article:
RealD and Polaroid — Possible Promise PR

Good luck to us all.