Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Powell’s Finds Its Sweet Spot With Outdoor Movie Night

Powell's Sweet Shoppe in Burlingame, CA

Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Burlingame, California Promotes Its Outdoor Movie Night

Summer break is shortly coming to an end for school children in the United States. Very soon this year’s trips to the beach, summer camp and the county fair will be but memories. For my two daughters, aged eight and nine (and-a-half) years old, that means it’s time for the annual August visit with their grandparents in San Mateo, California.

This time around my daughters are particularly looking forward to spending a week at “pony camp” where they will ride, groom and care for their very own (though borrowed) pony. As fun as miniature equine can be, my daughters always look forward to one specific activity when visiting their grandparents; a trip to Powell’s Sweet Shoppe in Burlingame.

Powell’s is a franchised candy store with retail stores in 14 California locations as well as single outlets in both Idaho and Oregon. Powell’s isn’t geared just toward kids. Each store is designed to stir up emotions in every adult that sets foot inside. Dozens of bins filled with every sweet treat or candy imaginable are meant to create the perfect sense of nostalgia as one searches for their favorite candy from when they were a youngster.

As the company’s website explains:

Everyone has an extremely vivid and pleasant memory of where they went as a child to get their favorite candy – whether it was the corner store or their Grandma’s candy dish. Powell’s Sweet Shoppes are a nostalgic re-creation of that classic and bygone era. On the surface we sell ice cream and sweets, but you don’t have to stand in the Shoppe too long before you realize that what we really offer are memories.

Upon arriving this week I noticed a hand painted sign on Powell’s window promoting an “Outdoor movie night”. Needless to say, I was curious and went inside to learn more.

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Giving the Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium a Closer Look

Simons IMAX Theatre

The Matthew and Marcia Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium (Photo: J. Sperling Reich)

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram are probably aware I’ve been in New England over the past two weeks. (Thus the lack of posts from me). Specifically, I was in Boston.

While there I stumbled upon the Matthew and Marcia Simons IMAX Theatre at the New England Aquarium. Though “stumble upon” is hardly the proper expression and can only be used in the most figurative sense since the theatre is enormous and hard to miss. That’s kind of the point of this post.

I happened to be dining at Boston’s world famous Legal Sea Foods at Long Wharf just across the street from the aquarium and snapped a few photos of the asymmetric metallic exterior. I figured I could dash off a quick post featuring the photo with a humorous caption along the lines of “Is it just me, or is there something fishy about this IMAX theatre?”.

Upon downloading the photo from my camera I began to wonder who designed the theatre’s rippling metal exterior, as it reminded me of some of architect Frank Gehry‘s more recent work, such as Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles or the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain. I hope the good folks at Verner Johnson, Inc. don’t mind that I mistook their work for Mr. Gehry’s.

Actually I’m glad my curiosity led me to investigate the Simons IMAX Theatre further to discover Verner Johnson, the only architectural firm in the United States that specializes solely in planning and designing museums. I’m surprised I wasn’t aware of them already since they have designed at least 15 IMAX theatres for museums and science centers throughout the U.S. (and even one in China).

What’s noteworthy about the Simons IMAX Theatre, and the reason I chose to expand this post beyond my questionably humorous caption, is an important feature of the auditorium that might otherwise go unnoticed; its ability to market both the aquarium and IMAX.

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GoWatchIt Is Making It Easier To Find Outdoor Movie Screenings

GoWatchIt Outdoor Movie Guides

When it comes to movie release schedules, summer in the northern hemisphere seems to be starting earlier and earlier (think late April). In reality, summer 2014 is only 10 days old, and as GoWatchIt reminded me last week, there are still two whole months left to watch a wide array of films in outdoor venues throughout the United States.

GoWatchIt is one of those websites and services that I signed up for years ago when it was in beta and have visited only a handful of times, if at all. In that regard, it’s kind of like the many apps download onto my iPhone, yet never use. (I’m looking at you RoadNinja, ShowYou, Jelly and Secret, among dozens of others).

GoWatchIt was developed by Plexus Entertainment as a resource that will inform you where, when and how a a movie can be viewed be it in a cinema, on DVD of video-on-demand. A user can visit the website (www.gowatchit.com) or pull up the app on their mobile device and search for a title or alternatively discover one via the site’s curation and social suggestion functionality. Users can also save movies to a queue and be alerted when titles are available for viewing in desired formats.

Sounds pretty simple and actually quite helpful for movie buffs such as myself. As far as I’m concerned there’s really only one problem with GoWatchIt; I always forget it exists, and thus, never actually use it. Maybe that’s because of the limited number of partners such as Indiewire, Filmmaker Magazine, RogerEbert.com and The New York Times featuring the “Watch It” and “Queue It” functionality on their own websites. Even though the list of sources being tracked is inclusive, featuring the likes of Amazon, Fandango, Google, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, Redbox and YouTube, I still never remember to visit the website or launch the app to search for or queue up a title I’m interested in.

Apparently I also forgot to remove myself from GoWatchIt’s email marketing list. In their most recent weekly email update, the website promoted their outdoor movie guide for New York City, which has recently been updated with a number of additional events. Thinking this would be of interest to Celluloid Junkie readers I clicked through to find more than 120 different outdoor screenings were still to be held in New York this summer, 69 in July and 52 in August. Cineastes can enjoy al fresco showings of Sundance selections such as “Happy Christmas” and other indie buzz films thanks to Rooftop Films, award winning blockbusters like “Gravity” in settings like the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum or even classics from yesteryear including West Side Story at Habana Outpost.

As if to prove just how much I have undervalued GoWatchIt, they have also been kind enough to create outdoor movie guides for both Los Angeles and San Francisco with dozens of upcoming events during July and August.

Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 10 June 2014

MI-Horizon3D

MasterImage3D – The licence-free 3D company will be showcasing its new MI-HORIZON3D cinema system, which promises a 33% light efficiency and 0.8 throw ratio, at CineEurope 2014.

Show your 3D movies in the best possible light. Our new MI-HORIZON3D cinema system takes 3D to new levels of brightness and picture quality — with better light efficiency, more vivid colors, and sharper images than any other 3D system.

See the brightness for yourself. Get a demo of the MI-HORIZON3D at CineEurope, June 16-19.

DepthQ - CineEurope 2014

And just so you know that we don’t do favouritism here at CJ, DepthQ tells us that they will be exhibiting too. Send us your press releases and you are pretty likely to get coverage. Volfoni didn’t send us theirs, but we will give them a mention nonetheless, though without graphics.

At this year’s CineEurope in Barcelona June 17th – 19th, Volfoni will showcase their game-changing 3D cinema system: SmartCrystal™ Diamond. First announced at CineAsia in December 2013, this system follows the success of their previous 3D systems (SmartCrystal™ Cinema Vertical and Horizontal), which are already installed in over 1000 locations worldwide.

Designed in Europe, and powered by Volfoni’s unique “Triple Beam” technology, the brightness achieved by the Diamond surpasses all other passive 3D systems in the market, with an amazing light efficiency (LEF) of 30%.  LINK

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GUEST COLUMN: Review – The Lounge at Whiteleys by Sally Hurst

sallyinbutcher As both an ardent foodie and lover of film, this trend towards fine dining at the cinema, and I mean served right in your seat during the film, intrigued me. Quite often I find myself tempted to wait until a film hits Netflix so I can curl up on my couch with my favorite bowl of homemade whatever, but the big cinema chains have caught on to my routine and they’re now offering commodious seats, alcoholic beverages, and more than just your typical popcorn, nachos or a hot dog to choose from on the menu. There are independent theatres that have been doing a version of this for years now, luxe seating with lattes and macaroons or wood fired pizzas and wine served up in the lobby, but a full-on dining experience in the dark, how exactly would this work?

The Lounge at Whiteleys Odeon was a blustery but thankfully short walk from my home in West London, past the neat rows of homes, doors wide open as parents were desperately trying to decamp their families into waiting Black Cabs to take them to Heathrow, to somewhere warm or maybe snowy for half-term break. It was the perfect afternoon for a movie! Whiteleys itself is somewhere I’ve always tried to avoid, not understanding the need for a shopping mall in such a vibrant neighborhood, the surrounding streets crammed with independent shops and restaurants. Much like any shopping mall in the center of a city, I find it disheartening, the diffused sunlight, the chain shops and faux sidewalk cafes. However, most movie theatres are tucked away at the top of these soulless spaces, and so past the Zara, the Café Rouge, the mobile phone shops, the M&S Food, I strode.

When I booked my tickets online, they urge you to arrive 30 minutes before the start of your film to take advantage of the full “Lounge experience.” I did as they asked and sat sipping a cranberry juice while watching well-heeled couples settle into the plush seats surrounding the bar. We were to be a small group, well the theatre only seats 50 at most, and at these prices, GBP £18.50 (US $30)per ticket, not everyone will indulge. Just five minutes before the start time, we were ushered to our seats, wait staff carrying our drinks on trays like they do at the finest restaurants.

photo 2

The seats are huge, reminiscent of the ones used in nail salons for pedicures (thankfully they don’t vibrate). A bright blue button on the arm of your chair can be pressed at any time to request a server come to you. On the other arm a small tray is attached and a menu awaits inspection. In honor of the recent Chinese New Year, there was a small selection of Dim Sum, and I thought I must indulge. Prawn and chive dumplings, if you please. The other dishes are divided into Finger, Fork, and Spoon categories. I decided to rely on my trusty fingers, thinking a fork banging on a plate might be just too much during the show. The hot dog, while tempting, was too close to what I might get at just any old theatre, lemon sole goujons too reminiscent of culinary school, sushi too dicey at this venue. I settled on the three fillet steak sliders with onion rings. We were still in the previews (I’ll most certainly be first in line to see The Grand Budapest Hotel) when all of my food arrived and a little wine chiller bucket was set up to hold my bottle of still water. Fancy, indeed!

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Discourse On The State of Movies Is a Hot New Trend

 Every few years a notable film critic will take a step back and assess where motion pictures finds themselves in the changing nexus of art, technology and commerce. Notable recent ones are New York Press critic’s Godfrey Cheshire’s “The Death of Film/The Decay of Cinema“ (1999), a prescient look at the coming future-shock that digital projection would bring. A decade later there was The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane examination of the rise of 3D, “Third Way – The Rise of 3D“.

Adding to this canon are two new entrants. The first from The New York Time’s A.O. Scott (right) who looks at whether television dramas have unseated films as the source of quality drama in his piece “The Big Picture Strikes Back“. Surveying the “post-film, platform-agnostic, digital-everything era,” he asks “what the art of cinema might be” in this era. It is a think-piece that anyone involved in, or who cares about, film and media should read and reflect upon. The second is a piece titled “Film Isn’t Dead, It’s Just Misused” and is written by Kenneth Turan, chief film critic at the Los Angeles Times. He diligently assures readers that “nothing can envelop viewers like a movie,” but that “the emphasis at movie studios on profits has hurt content”

The publication of these two latest editorials, so close together, seemed like the perfect opportunity for Celluloid Junkie’s own thought provokers to discuss their own views on the subject. The following is transcript of their conversation:

J. Sperling Reich: Much in the way Hollywood studios will all jump on a hot new trend like 3D or paranormal stories, this really seems to be a year in which everyone is piling on the film business. I’m not sure if it stems from the public finally growing bored with the onslaught of mediocre tentpole releases that soak up so much public mindshare or if the fact that filmmakers themselves have started bemoaning the state of the artform. First we had Steven Soderbergh’s talk at the San Francisco International Film Festival earlier this year about the dire state of cinema, then almost immediately we had Steven Spielberg and George Lucas echoing the sentiment. I suppose that’s what prompted A.O. Scott’s piece. What do you think? In your travels have you noticed that ragging on current movies and the industry itself have become almost trendy?

Patrick von Sychowski: It’s definitely hip to be down on films. However, movies and the industry that spawns them regularly go through bouts of soul searching and anxiety, with the Golden Era of the 40s and 50s or the studio ‘auteur’ era of the 70s giving way to the elephantine Cinerama spectacles of the 60s (think Cleopatra) and multiplex and VHS fodder of the 80s (think Police Academy III). The difference this time is that the ragging comes in the shadow of what Wired Magazine dubbed the ‘Platinum Age’ of television, with the growth of screen sizes in people’s homes matched by a rise in quality of what’s shown on them. Cinema may not face the existential threat that is staring newspapers and magazines in the face – a quick look at the MPAA numbers confirm that, particularly given the growth in non-US markets – but films have lost the elite cultural cache that was once the their exclusive preserve. The Coppolas, Scoceses, Ashbys, Friedkins and Spielbergs of the 70s are today the Chases, Gilligans, Weiners, Huruwitzes and Harmons. So isn’t the “decline” of movies simply the ascendancy of HBO and Netflix?

J. Sperling Reich: I’m not sure if it’s HBO, Netflix or a specific source of content. I think a flood of media from 500 cable networks, to multi-player video games, to mobile apps, iPods, the Internet and more, has shifted the attention of an entire generation of younger consumers and focused it on a range of mediums some of which they have control over. The kinds of visual effects that used to be achievable only in feature films can now be seen in the latest blockbuster video game release. So now you have Hollywood studios wanting to up the ante by producing these huge tentpole releases that cost a fortune. One of the issues Spielberg and Lucas were highlighting earlier this year is that the stakes are so high with so many films now that studios are trying to lower the risk by casting big movie stars and backing them with expensive marketing campaigns. This has meant fewer medium sized titles or “art” films get made leaving a ton of talented creatives on the sideline.

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Future Cinema: How to Get 100,000 People to Pay £35 ($50) to Watch an Old Film

You wouldn’t expect UK’s most successful cinema innovator to have a tag-line of ‘Tell no-one’, keep audiences in the dark about which film they will get to see and then charge them double what a ticket costs in Leicester square to show them an old film readily available on DVD.

Appropriately enough I met Future Cinema’s founder Fabian Rigell at a BSAC sponsored keynote by Twitter’s UK head, because Future Cinema is both a reaction against the on-line disintermediation of film consumption, as well enabled by the technologies of social media and digital projection (they claim to have an on-line community of 2.8m on Twitter, Facebook, etc.). We discussed how to build audiences for old and niche film, me for a small Swedish cult label and him for over 100,000 people at events across London alone last year. He is an unassuming PT Barnum of exhibition without a cinema of his own; the world is truly his screen.

Although he was already the subject of a major profile in UK’s Wired magazine last year and the events have steadily been growing in popularity in London and beyond, it seems that 2014 will be the breakthrough year for Future Cinema and its sister operation Secret Cinema.

Put simply, FC/SC do not arrange film screenings, they stage events around films in which the audience become participants. It has become a must-attend fixture for film lovers in London, but has been a long time coming from a small but telling start. It began, as noted by Wired, when:

Riggall wanted to find out how to turn [a film festival] into something more social and reach audiences beyond the film-festival circuit, but he wanted to go further than just screenings. “How can we create a film experience that’s more like a nightclub? There’s music and there’s performance and there’s art and you dress up.” He launched Future Cinema in 2005 as “live cinema”; 1,000 people attended a screening of Dreams Money Can Buy, an experimental film from 1947. Riggall put on gypsy and flamenco bands; audio-visual group The Light Surgeons created an installation.

This has since led to showings of The Shawshank Redemption in a Hackney school converted to a prison, with audience members having to dress up as inmates; a One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest event held at the Princess Louise Hospital where audience members were admitted and “treated”; and as Screen noted, “More than 25,000 audience members attended the last Secret Cinema run of Brazil, which ran from May 2 to June 9. The production saw screenings of the 1985 film staged across a 13-floor office block in West Croydon, with music provided by Imogen Heap, Atoms for Peace and The Knife, among others.”
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Tampa Cinema Shooting – Sign of More Cinema Smartphone Rage to Come?

A retired police officer in Tampa, Florida has been arrested after an argument over cell phone use in a multiplex escalated into a shooting, leaving a man dead and his wife injured. The incident happened Monday 1:30pm at the Cobb Cinema Grove 16 and CineBistro in Wesley Chapel near Tampa, Florida during the previews of Lone Survivor.

CNN provides a chronology of the events that happened:

As a male moviegoer texted, the man seated behind him objected, and asked the texter to put his phone away.

They argued several times, according to police and witnesses, and the man who was texting watched as the other man walked out of the theater. Charles Reeves, a retired police officer, apparently went seeking a theater employee to complain about the texting, police said.

Two seats away Charles Cummings and his son watched the squabbling.

When Reeves returned, he was without a manager.

“He came back very irritated,” Cummings said.

The man who had been texting, Chad Oulson, got up and turned to Reeves to ask him if he had gone to tell on him for his texting. Oulson reportedly said, in effect: I was just sending a message to my young daughter.

Voices were raised. Popcorn was thrown. And then came something unimaginable — except maybe in a movie. A gun shot.

Oulson was fatally wounded. His wife was hit, too, through the hand as she raised her hand in front of her husband as the shooter drew a handgun.

Oulson staggered toward the Cummings and fell on them, Charles Cummings said.

The shooter sat down and put the gun in his lap.

The alleged shooter, Curtis Reeves (71), is reported to be a retired police officer who left active duty in 1993 and worked as a security specialist until 2005. The victim was 43-year old Chad Oulson, whose daughter that he was texting is three years old.

Cobb Theatres issued a statement saying:

“We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred earlier today, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. The theatre is currently closed, and we are actively working with the sheriff’s office on this investigation. This was an isolated altercation between two guests that escalated unexpectedly. The safety, security and comfort of our guests and team members are always our top priorities, and we are truly heartbroken by this incident.”

The website is currently dark and the cinema is closed until further notice. CNN notes that “in the theaters’ website is a list of prohibited items and actions. Among them: No cell phone use, including texting, in the theater auditorium. And no weapons allowed.”

News sites are quick to remind people of the 2012 Colorado shooting when gun man James Holmes killed twelve people and injured almost 70 at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. Gun crime is, however, all too common in US, with a less reported incident of a man shot outside a Starplex cinema in South Fort Worth, Texas two days earlier, only being reported in local news.

A larger spectre of ‘smart phone rage’ in cinema looms, with anger directed at people who keep their small screen shining while those around them try to focus on the big screen. With airlines now allowing the use of smart phones aboard, cinema is one of the last phone-free places, but only if people adhere to the polite reminders to ‘Turn Your Phone Off’.

The age of the victim and the suspect are also telling; these were not kids or gang members having it out on a rowdy weekend night screening. It was a pensioner telling off a grown man during a matinee showing. Note also that the alleged shooter was unable to find a manager in the multiplex or did not get the response to his complaint that he wanted. While we may see isolated incidents of extreme reactions like this again, the larger response to smartphone use in cinemas will be that older people get annoyed to the point where they simply stop going to the cinema. It would be surprising if John Fithian, NATO’s President, did not touch upon this incident and issue during his keynote at the upcoming CineCon 2014 convention.

UPDATE: A statement has been issued by NATO, which reads:

“We extend our sympathies to the victims of today’s incident. Despite the tragic altercation in a Florida movie theatre, which as reported is an isolated incident, movie theatres are a safe and enjoyable entertainment destination for millions of people.

“We encourage our patrons to remember that they are sharing a common wish to be entertained and to treat their fellow moviegoers with courtesy and respect.”

NATO’s anti-piracy trailer which begins “TEXTING IS RUDE” has taken on an additional sad significance.

For Your iConsideration (UPDATE): the Nominees

 

For Your iConsideration

 

With the nominations announced for the BAFTA awards, it is worth re-visiting the issue of DVD and on-line screeners to analyse what if any impact they had on the films that made the shortlist. The usual caveat applies that BAFTA members watch and vote on films, documentaries, foreign language films and shorts based on their artistic merit. However, in the deluge of worthy end-of-year releases it is difficult to catch them all in the cinema, let alone cram in home viewing over the Christmas holiday. So access and convenience of screeners can play a part.

This year was notable in terms of the number of screeners being made available on-line to download or stream came close to matching the number of screeners sent out on DVD, with both just over 50 each – but with DVDs taking a late narrow lead. On-line distribution was the preferred option mainly for Documentaries and Films not in the English Language (and Shorts, though we won’t cover those here), with iTunes and Vimeo battling out for platform preference, but other candidates being distributors’ own websites, DMS, YouTube and DropBox. Several films were made available on both DVD and on-line, though with the exception of one studio (Universal) and another studio’s specialty division title, Hollywood largely shied away from the on-line option for screeners.

Not surprisingly all the films that have received nominations in the heavyweight categories (Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, as well as Outstanding British Film) were sent out on DVD screeners to BAFTA members. Gravity was the earliest one sent (9 December) while 12 Years A Slave was sent latest (20 December). The only three Hollywood titles nominated that were not sent out on screeners were Iron Man 3, Pacific Rim and Star Trek Into Darkness, though all of these received, perhaps not surprisingly, their only nomination was in the VFX category. It should also be noted that nominations for technical categories are voted for only by a smaller sub-set of BAFTA members from a particular chapter.

Interestingly, two of the big Hollywood releases that missed out on any nominations were 20th Century Fox’s The Counsellor and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, whose screeners were not sent out until December 30th. While the former had not gotten much critical acclaim or strong reviews (with the exception of Steven Gaydos), the latter had been considered a potential candidate, even with the mixed reviews it got, but walked away with no nominations. The late sending out of screeners could potentially have hurt its prospects. There was also no nomination for Fox Searchlight’s Enough Said, which was only made available via Fox’s website. Again, this may have ended up hurting a film that was otherwise well reviewed and for which a nomination was expected for the late James Gandolfini. This was also the case for TWC’s Fruitvale Station.

Turning thus to the two categories in which on-line distribution was the preferred mode, ie Best Documentary and Best Film not in the English Language, there are several interesting things to note.

Film not in the English Language (FNIEL)

Of the five films nominated three were sent out on DVD and on-line, two were only sent on DVD and no film that was only made available on-line made the shortlist. Of the three that were made available on-line, all three were distributed via iTunes and in some cases also on the distributor’s own website. No film distributed on Vimeo, DMS, YouTube or Dropbox made the cut. Again, quality more than technology is likely to have been prevailed, with Blue Is The Warmest Colour having won the Palm d’Or, The Act of Killing having been named Film of The Year (any category) by The Guardian, The Great Beauty having won the European Film Awards, Metro Manila having won the British Independent Awards and Wadjda having been widely acclaimed on its release. However, it would be reasonable to suppose that the suspenders-and-belt approach of DVD + iTunes download could have helped giving these films a slight edge.

Documentary

Here the picture becomes much more mixed and interesting. One of the films nominated was neither sent out as a DVD screener, nor made available on-line and has not been released in cinemas yet. So voting members can only have seen it at one of the festivals where it screened or a preview screening. One of the documentaries was only sent out as a DVD screener. One was only made available via iTunes. One was made available on iTunes and the distributor’s own website. The fifth and final was sent out as a DVD, made available on iTunes and also on the distributor’s own website. Again, no film on Vimeo or any other platform made the shortlist. Sending out a documentary on DVD alone is no guarantee, with several others that opted for this category alone did not make the shortlist. Documentaries are even more difficult to catch in the cinema than FNIEL, so voting members have had to make an extra effort. While The Act of Killing has been universally acclaimed and was expected to be on the short list it is worth noting that that two of the other documentaries were backed by major Hollywood studios (Universal and Sony), which gave them a slight marketing edge. But apart from that the picture is mixed.

In conclusion it is safe to observe that DVD screeners continue to dominate, even as on-line platforms make inroads, especially for FNIEL. For documentaries it seems that there are many roads to a nomination, including just screening in cinemas. The on-line platform that had most nominees was iTunes, sometimes in combination with the distributor’s own website, but going only on your own website or Vimeo et al does not appear to have improved the chances of any of the films.

It only remains for us to express a sincere wish that may the best films win purely on artistic merit, wherever and however they were seen. Our own preference here at Celluloid Junkie will always be the cinema.

 

 

Oscar Recognition For Film Lab Technicians – Every Single One of Them

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences or AMPAS (Oscar academy) has just announced this year’s 19 scientific and technical achievement awards, who unlike the Best Film, Best Actor, etc are named and honoured prior to Oscar night, mainly to allow for more telecast time for the Angelinas of the red carpet business. These are typically individuals, often working for a specific company, whose technology has made a significant difference to the film industry, be it a new Kodak film stock, an Arri camera, a Dolby sound processor or a technical development like the Lowry film restoration process. They typically get a plaque or a medal, rather than an Oscar statuette, but it is no less of a recognition for those honoured. This year the Scientific and Technical Awards presentation ceremony on Saturday 15 February will be special in that it could see the stage swamped with hundreds of un-employed or soon-to-be unemployed film lab technicians getting a recognition for their work, just as their industry is about to die.

The list of 19 awards is a good illustration of how the motion picture (not ‘film’) industry has shifted. Two individuals, VFX supervisor and DoP Peter W. Anderson and post-production veteran Tad Marburg, are singled out for a special gong each. No less than 15 of the 19 recognition go to computer and software-related tools and developments, be it VFX, animation, rendering, color correction, digital modeling, or the likes. Two award go for separate helicopter camera systems and one of the 19 goes to the three people that designed ‘the Pneumatic Car Flipper’ that can send stunt cars flying through the air. So the scorecard is Digital: 15, Analogue: 3.

But the 19th award seeks to redress the digital-analogue imbalance by recognising an entire industry that is about to be no more: analogue film labs. Here is the commendation is full:

ACADEMY AWARD® OF MERIT (OSCAR STATUETTE)
To all those who built and operated film laboratories, for over a century of service to the motion picture industry.
Lab employees have contributed extraordinary efforts to achieve filmmakers’ artistic expectations for special film processing and the production of billions of feet of release prints per year. This work has allowed an expanded motion picture audience and unequaled worldwide cinema experience.

With all the lab employees out of work with the shutting of the film labs of Deluxe, Technicolor and others around the world, it could thus get crowded on stage. However, it is a worthy and dignified tribute to the countless of unsung heroes whose work over the last century with lights and chemicals is what produced that thin strip of film that was the only thing that both separated and connected audiences and film makers. In my view, everyone who ever worked for a film lab should get to keep the Oscar statuette for one day before passing it along to a colleague.