Category Archives: Events

CJ@CineAsia – CineAsia University NAC: Building the Experience

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In an effort to provide updates on the CineAsia 2014 conference and trade show presently taking place in Hong Kong SAR, this post was written live, and in the present tense, during one of the conference’s presentations. Comments attributed to speaker(s) are paraphrased unless denoted specifically by quotation marks. [Also no spell check on my tablet version of WordPress. Sorry.]

The National Association of Concessionaries (NAC), the trade body of the popcorn, soda and other snack vendors, set up a mini-conference room on the trade show floor – similarly to Cine Europe one this summer, though larger. Each seat has a tote bag stuffed full with promotional soda cups, popcorn buckets, merchandising straws and drinks bottles. If there is any doubt where the real money is made in cinemas, this is it.

Building the Experience in Concessions Operations

Craig O’Connel takes the stage, promising raffles and prizes to the three-quarter full rooms. The seminar session is sponsored by Golden Link and Larry runs through the ‘Thank you’s’ to all the other sponsors. He then introduces Dan Barski , Exec VP of NAC (pictured above). He gives an overview of what NAC is and does. He correct the misconception that it is a ‘national’ body “because it is truly international and that is why we are here today at CineAsia.” He then gives a name check to Larry Etter, Senior VP Malco Theatres and Director of Education NAC, who will shortly take the stage.

But first, a raffle prize – a Kung-Fu Panda 2 Power Charger. With that over comes the presentation. Yesterday was Session 1&2 [which I missed]. The first part was ‘landscaping’, which “maybe is not as positive as we would like it to be,” Larry aknowledges. Then they moved onto service, which discussed what customers will expctin the future and how the bar has changed. “In the 1960s and 50s Coca Cola and popcorn was enough, but that’s not sufficient today.” Today is Session 3&4.

“We started yesterday’s second session with the emotional quotient, about how people make decisions. The next part is about financial profitability in how we sell. And there is a certain amount of intelligence required to do that,” Larry. He then refers to the book “Switch” about why people buy when they buy and for what reason. He talks about an elephant walkin thrugh a jungle (the emotions) and man sitting on top steering (the intelligence) and how they often conflict. Then comes the story of Larry’s wife going to shop for white sweaters. The moral is – they don’t buy one, even though plenty are on offer. The next day the temperature drops and they are cold. Then they are compelled to pick a sweater.

“What I want to talk about is the data and analytics that you need if you’re going to run your business efficiently and smart,” Larry proceeds. The quesiton he asks of his members is “What is your transaction time?” He asks a member of the audience who says “one minute” but doesn’t seem completely sure. “Very few people know what their transaction times are,” Larry observes and then talks about how many people get out of the line because they don’t want to wait. He opens the floor to suggestions about how to solve this issue.

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Why We Are Not Covering ShowEast (This Year)

ShowEast 2014 - Hollywood Florida

With ShowEast presently underway in Hollywood, Florida many of our readers have been asking why they can’t find coverage of the event on Celluloid Junkie. ShowEast is exactly the kind of industry event CJ has built a reputation of covering in great detail and we’re truly flattered (not to mention a little surprised) that so many of you noticed its absence.

Rest assured, we did not forget about ShowEast. Unfortunately, despite contacting ShowEast organizers multiple times to arrange accreditation to attend, we never received a response or heard back from them. Whether this was simply an oversight we don’t know.

With no assurance that CJ would be provided access to properly cover ShowEast, and given the expense such coverage requires, we made the difficult decision not to attend this year’s conference.

As such, we regret to inform our readers that other than this post we will not be writing about ShowEast 2014 or covering any press announcements that specifically reference the show.

This is a disappointing situation but we felt it was our only choice. We do however appreciate all of your inquiries and understanding.

- Celluloid Junkie Editorial Team

CJ@SMPTE Conference – Bringing It Home: The Future of More Delivery

SMPTE Conference 2014 - HPA El Capitan Marquee

In an effort to provide updates on the proceedings of the 2014 SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition presently taking place in Los Angeles, CA, this post was written live, and in the present tense, during one of the event’s panel discussions. Comments attributed to panel members are paraphrased unless denoted specifically by quotation marks.

A half-hour is spent with Deluxe’s Stephen Ferguson and cinematographer Dave Stump, ASC looking at high resolution and high frame rates images with specially created test materials. The MOS footage was created by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science Sci-Tech Council so that there would be royalty free material to test high dynamic range and high frame rate capability, among other features. Look for the new Academy StEM material to be made available soon, with detailed descriptions and appropriate licenses.

Then Jerry Pierce, Vice-President of the HPA and Technical Advisor at the National Association of Theatre Owners, kicks off a panel featuring Mitch Singer, formerly the Chief Digital Strategy Officer at Sony, Shaun Lile of Elemental Technologies and Pete Putnam, the president of ROAM Consulting. The focus is on how to get all the new fangled technology discussed previously in the day into the home, rather than cinemas.

Singer is the first to air his thoughts on the matter and he starts off with an axiom that has become a national anthem in the entertainment industry over the past several years. “Can I access the content I want to access when I want to access it and the device I want to access it on?” he asks rhetorically. “I think in this group [SMPTE] we focus on the quality of the content without focusing on the consumer experience. It’s really challenging as a consumer to pay more money to get higher quality content. I think we sometimes overlook that when we distribute high quality content. In the end it’s just a movie or a television program and you want to be entertained. Unless I can see it and see the difference I’m probably not going to be pay extra money for it.”

Singer gives a real-world example of how during a demo of native 4K on an 84 inch Sony television set versus a scaled HD image, he couldn’t tell the difference, so why spend the extra money? Alas, marketing groups have gotten their hands on the term 4K and won’t let go. “I’m not sure that 4K is going to sell anything,” he says. “However, I did see HDR, and the moment I saw HDR I brought everyone from Sony Pictures to see the demo. That’s the one thing I could actually see across the room. I really hope we get to that as soon as possible. I’m not sure if studios will be able to monetize it but I know that audiences will be able to see the difference with HDR.”

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CJ@SMPTE Conference – Listen Up: Immersive Sound

SMPTE Conference 2014 - Immersive Sound

(from left) Sara Duran-Singer, Gabe Guy, Ben Wilkins, Dennis Baxter and Hanne Stenzel

In an effort to provide updates on the proceedings of the 2014 SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition presently taking place in Los Angeles, CA, this post was written live, and in the present tense, during one of the event’s panel discussions. Comments attributed to panel members are paraphrased unless denoted specifically by quotation marks.

After the immersive visuals of Howard Lukk’s high dynamic range footage, the second afternoon session of the SMPTE 2014 Symposium deals with the subject of immersive audio. The panel discussion is moderated by Sara Duran-Singer, a senior post-production and production executive formerly with Walt Disney Studios. The panel itself includes Dennis Baxter, who has engineered and designed the sound for more Olympics telecasts and sporting events than anyone can count, Gabe Guy, a sound mixers from Walt Disney Studios, Hanne Stenzel who is working in the field of 3D audio at the Fraunhofer Institute and Ben Wilkins a sound designer and mixer at Technicolor.

The opening remarks touch on the first immersive audio technology developed by Iosono back in 2004, bringing us into the present day with Dolby Atmos and Barco Auro. Duran-Singer asks the panel the benefits of immersive sound.

“At Disney we’re really into immersing the audience and providing the audience with new experiences” Guy answers. His team is trying to elevate what all the artists have created onscreen with audio of a similar caliber. He is mixing in “native Atmos” by listening and monitoring in an 11.1 setup. His group will then listen to the 7.1 and 5.1 fold-downs “just to hear what it sounds like”.

Most, if not all, of Guy’s experience in immersive audio is with Atmos and he reports the new technology hasn’t made the post-production process more complicated. “We wouldn’t be able to do something like Atoms if it added a lot of time or complexity,” he says. “We managed to make it work in our existing workflow so that it adds as little as one day. We’re able to do all of that complexity and work up front. Our whole goal is to not add additional time and treat it as much like a normal mix as possible.”

As for specific benefits Guy tells the symposium attendees, “It’s taken the handcuffs off. It allows you to be more specific and take dialogue off the screen. The effects are much more precise in panning. The composers said they really enjoyed hearing their scores on Atoms because it can separate out the instruments.”

Guy also appreciates the way individual characters and their dialogue can be separated during action sequences.

Whether to add immersive audio to a production is always a decision that comes down to money, adds Wilkins. “It’s the balance between art and commerce,” he says. “Is Atmos going to increase ticket sales?”

Certainly it can increase costs by a minimum of USD $10,000 and is a choice that is best made before post-production begins on a movie. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked on a show where they’ve ever gone back and said let’s make it Atmos,” states Wilkins. “It’s an economically and fairly tough decision to do that. It effects everything including how we record sounds.”

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CJ@SMPTE Conference – Howard Lukk Presents HDR Footage From “Emma”

Emma Preview at 2014 SMPTE Symposium

In an effort to provide updates on the proceedings of the 2014 SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition presently taking place in Los Angeles, CA, this post was written live, and in the present tense, during one of the event’s panel discussions. Comments attributed to panel members are paraphrased unless denoted specifically by quotation marks.

The afternoon session of SMPTE 2014 Symposium begins with a preview of footage from “Emma”, a short film directed by Howard Lukk, formerly the Vice President of Production Technologies at Walt Disney Studios. “Emma” was shot in high dynamic range by Lukk and cinematographer Daryn Okada.

Four minutes of the 13 minute film is shown. To maintain eligibility for film festivals Lukk can’t show the entire piece. Nor can he show it in true HDR at the symposium since the projector being used isn’t capable of HDR. Still, Lukk says what he is showing should give attendees a good sense of the latitude HDR gives filmmakers.

Emma” was shot in Los Angeles over four days in May and June of 2014. Locations included Griffith Park, the historic Mount Pleasant House and a sound stage. Okada used an Alexa camera with an open gate to facilitate a scope picture shooting ARRIRAW in the ACES color space.

Since the piece is a suspense thriller Lukk and his cinematographer strove to get rich contrast. Lukk cites the work of cinematographer Greg Toland on “Citizen Kane” as an inspiration.

One of the biggest problems on set was monitoring, says Lukk, “We were shooting an HDR movie and using and SDR monitor.” As such Okada had to rely on his light meter to estimate light drop-off in certain shots.

Lukk reports that HDR allowed his team to rely heavily on natural light, but that in closeups the use of (too much) makeup was an issue. “When we went in for the closeups you can see a lot of flaws in peoples faces,” he recalls. “I wanted to see those realistic things.”

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CJ@SMPTE Conference – What We Want To Do With More

SMPTE Symposium 2014 - What We Want To Do With More

(from left) Steven J. Scott, Ben Grossmann, Joe Kosinski, Carolyn Giardina and Steven Poster at the 2014 SMPTE Symposium in Hollywood, CA

In an effort to provide updates on the proceedings of the 2014 SMPTE Technical Conference and Exhibition presently taking place in Los Angeles, CA, this post was written live, and in the present tense, during one of the event’s panel discussions. Comments attributed to panel members are paraphrased unless denoted specifically by quotation marks.

The daylong SMPTE 2014 Symposium is being held at the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA on the first day of the organization’s Annual Technical Conference & Exhibition. The symposium is being hosted by the Hollywood Post Alliance as one of the first joint events SMPTE and HPA are putting together as they work toward consolidating their organizations by May of 2015.

The symposium begins with comments from Leon Silverman, President of the HPA and General Manager of the Digital Studio at Walt Disney Studios, along with Jerry Pierce, Vice-President of the HPA and Technical Advisor at the National Association of Theatre Owners.

This year’s symposium is meant to address workflow demands involved with emerging technologies offering higher resolution images with greater contrast, color and brightness, high frame rate production, immersive audio… generally more of everything.

During the first session, titled “So Tell Me More” Mark Schubin, whose not only the Program Chair at the HPA but has a list of credits too long to list here, does a yeoman’s job of educating attendees on the intricate details, studies of image resolution, high density range, high frame rate, screen brightness and immersive sound. Schubin’s presentation is so heavy on acronyms there are enough letters to make a complete alphabet soup in numerous languages. Way too much information to document in a blog post. At the presentation’s conclusion Pierce rightly says it was like “drinking through a fire hose”.

Suffice to say, big take away is that HDR provides the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to audience perception, but that there is no stopping 4K for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that marketers have gotten their hands on it and the technology is ready right now. HDR, laser light sources (screen brightness), immersive audio and HFR are still being worked on. Exacerbating the problems with imaging is that each of the enhancements interacts with one another… and not in a good way.

That brings us to the first panel discussion of the day, “What We Want To Do With More”. Journalist Carolyn Giardina moderates a panel that includes Ben Grossman, a visual effects supervisor who won an Oscar for his work on “Hugo”, Joe Kosinski, the director of “Oblivion” and “Tron:Legacy”, Steven Poster, a cinematographer who counts “Donnie Darko” and “Amityville: The Awakening” among his credits. and Steven J. Scott, a senior digital colorist at Technicolor whose numerous credits include “Gravity” and the “Iron Man” franchise.

Giardina conducts a quick survey of the room that reveals a good number of attendees work in post-production, only a handful working production and that an overwhelm majority are engineers (the latter to nobody’s surprise).

Giardina asks Kosinski if HDR is important to him. “Well I’m real excited by it, more than any other recent development, even more than 3D,” says the filmmaker. “That’s because anytime you can show your work that mimics the world we live in with the color and brightness of everyday life, I think that’s a good thing. Frame rate I have slightly different feelings on.”

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CJ@ECA Conference: Event Cinema Awards 2014

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It is time to hand out the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards for event cinema, which is for 100K, 250K and 500K admittance to any event cinema event. This is to help cast a light on the success of events in cinemas. The second category of awards is excellence awards, voted on by the members of the ECA. Sponsor is Rentrak.

The first Gold award goes to BBC WorldWide for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary – Day of the Doctor, for getting more than 500,000 admissions this year. No silver, but five Bronze awards: Arts Alliance for The Nutcracker. Nobody from Arts Alliance is here to collect the award, but nobody is here from AAM to collect it. which is a shame, because they also win the next two prizes. The last two bornzes go to Omniverse for Muse and More2Screen for Pompeii, both of which got more than 100,000 admissions.

Mark Allen, Picturehouse picks up first excellence award and the second goes to Graham Spurling for Movies@. Final exhibition award goes to Mark from National Amusements. He is also not here to collect. “It is a bit like the Indian films awards” our host quips.

The first Excellence in Programming Award goes to The British Museum for Pompeii Live. Then Omniverse gets one for Keane and the final one is for Nexo for the live Cannonization. Caspar from AAM appears and runs down and collects his stack of awards, slightly out of breath.

Phil Grabsky, Exhibition on Screen delivers the Closing Address.

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CJ@ECA Conference: Practicalities of Live Cinema Delivery

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The afternoon break out session No. 1 looked at technical issues, such as delivery of live events to cinemas. Fabrice Testa of DSat gave a presentatio earlier over lunch (which they sponsored) of the company and its network 1,300 cinemas, showing 50 events and 400 hours of content last year. Isabelle Fauchet is the moderator.

The session structure will include a tour of the OB truck parked outside the Genesis cinema, with a live video link into the theatre. “We want to show you the sharp end of digital cinema,” were the opening words from Arqiva’s Nigel Crow and the OB truck that could be used for small and medium sized events.

A Tour of the OB Truck

We got a walk-through of the equipment in the self-contained truck. Nigel talks the audience through the routing that the signal takes in reaching the cinema, having a choice of four different satlites (Thor 10-02, EUT 5WA, IS-905 and Galaxy 16), which can then pass on the signal via the Arqiva Winchester Teleport all the way via fibre to Hong Kong or Atlanta. It will be used for Manon from the Royal Opera House this evening. With that he signs off and prepared to come in and join Fabrice and Isabelle on the sofa.

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CJ@ECA Conference: New Business Models and New Technology

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Micheal Gubbins of Sampo Media chairs the afternoon panel looking at new business models and new technology for event cinema. He begins with an anecdote about pensioners in his neighbourhood that book up entire opera seasons, go to every performance and all of them dressing up in their best operatic gear. Even the 90-year old gent.

Starting on the far end of the Salim Mukaddam, BBC Worldwide, who works on the music side on thing like the Westlife concert, in addition to Doctor Who and other content. Tom Shaw of Digital Theatre who captured some of the content we saw before the panel started (including flashing Philips lights0. The Matthew Aspray from LANsat/MPS. Thgen award winner Mariusz Spisz of Multikino in Poland (who I  just saw at the SAWA event in Berlin last weeks). And finally the Philips rep – Ronald Maandonks.

Micheal starts off with question to BBC WW about what it is with technology that now makes event cinema possible. Salim begins by stressing BBV WW’s television strength, being the biggest non-Hollywood studio television exporter. “Back in 2009 event cinema was possible and we were looking at things like Met Opera about how we can replicate things for things like the Proms. We split the world with By Experience in US and another company for Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.” Aparently the experience with By Experience was good [but what about the other one?] and they continued doing Last Night of the Proms with them.

They then continued the trials with Robbie Williams’ comback concert and Westlife, both of which were record breaking event cinema events. “It’s really about cost of taking it to the market. Prior to 2009 we would never have done it for the cost of taking such a film to cinema,” Salim states. “It is the move to digital that did it for us.”  The point is made about technology becoming’ invisible’ and now it is about the business model and the experience. Salim confrms that “the key for us is live, so if we can go briefly live over satelite makes it a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience,” as well as “cost effective ways of going live across the globe or near-live” rather than going out on DCPs.

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CJ@ECA Conference: Farsight Blueprint of the Future – Discussion Session

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Christine Costello from More2screen introduces the session looking ahead by quoting Bill Gates about over/under estimating change in the short/long term, as well as getting it wrong (as Bill Gates and Microsfto did with the Internet).

There is no panel, but an opportunity for discussion between Christine (a true veteran and event cinema expert) and the audience. She starts off by giving a background to her companyand the industry, ticking off several firsts and partnerships with the likes of Glyndbourne and the Royal Opera House into UK and international markets.

More2screen has gone out on 5,000 screens, 60 territories for 150+ productions (as you can see from the slide at the bottom). What’s new in 2014 is the British Museum for the first archeological exhibition (earlier ones had been art-focused), representing new genres. “Where there is new technology, we want to be using it,” Costello affirms. Which ties in neatly with how they also did the 4K concert for Peter Gabriel this year.

Key themes are using new technology, building new genres, collaboration, innovating wherever possible and partnering. “That’s us. Now we come to the big question: how will event cinema change ib the next ten years.” Admitting that none of us have crystal balls, she sent out the question ‘How will Event Cinema landscape develop in the next decade?’ to leading members of the industry all over the world.

The question/statement was: Event cinema is on a steady growth curve and by 20202 will represent the following % of my territory’s box office: 5%, 10%, 15%, or other. In the US it is just 2% today. The majority seem to be voting 10%, with 3-4 people voting 15% (including myself and Hancock, so that’s the analyst’s guess) with Rickard and Isabelle voting for ‘other’.

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