CineEurope Grows With Confidence

The third annual CineEurope in Barcelona conclude yesterday on a strong and confidant note, with a clear voice and profile as the must-attend trade show for the Euro-Asia/EMEA cinema exhibition industry.

UNIC’s member territories represent almost 30 per cent of global box office. In some of the praise for China and rising Asian markets by the Hollywood studios (even at this show!) it is easy to overlook that this sometimes messy and fragmented part of the world still account for nearly a third of what a film earns across all cinemas. Unic is not about to let you forget.

The organisation has reasons to be proud of its stewardship of CineEurope (and the Sunshines/Prometheus for its management). Speaking at a press conference Unic’s President and CEOs Phil Clapp and Jan Runge, together with Jaime Tarrazon (Head of Spain’s Cinema Federation) outlined the growth and new milestones for the trade show event on the last day of the show.

Commenting on the convention, Phil Clapp said:

“We are delighted with the success of this year’s CineEurope. As our involvement in the event has grown in recent years, so we have managed to further increase the attractiveness of CineEurope. Alongside the vital continued commitment of our studio partners and key sponsors, we have also this year added several great European film companies to the screening schedule and increased the amount of conference sessions available to visitors. CineEurope now increasingly reflects the diversity of European cinema and we look forward to continue to develop the show together with our partners PGM in the coming years.”

There were several notable achievements. The show was expanded from 3.5 to full 4 days (though the last afternoon was quiet and dinner rushed for the sake of a World Cup match – so more like 3.75 days) and attendance was up by 5%. This might not seem like a record, but at a time of consolidation for both exhibitors and technology companies, this small growth should not be under-estimated.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wed/Thur 18-19 June 2014

With Patrick von Sychowski still in Barcelona attending CineEurope, I have been tasked with curating the daily digest posts in his absence. Celluloid Junkie readers (i.e. you) have been telling us lately how much you like the daily digest and I’ll do my best to keep it up as best I can.

Needless to say, the past few days have been filled with news coming out of CineEurope. Not only do we have Patrick’s live blog of the conferences panel sessions, but there is no shortage of press releases being published by industry vendors. Here’s a summary of some of the releases which contained new, updated or relevant information:

Technology

JT Bioscopen Hilversum

Artists rendering of JT Bioscopen cinema being built in Hilversum Media Park

Barco: As is their custom during trade shows, the projector manufacturer has had their public relations department working over time during CineEurope. On Tuesday came news that JT Bioscopen will install a Barco laser projector at one of its multiplexes. More precisely, d-cinema integrator dcinex will install the Barco 6 primary Laser3D (6P) laser-illuminated projector at JT Bioscopen’s new seven-screen complex at Hilversum Media Park.

JT Bioscopen is the second largest cinema chain in the Netherlands (behind Pathé) with 21 multiplexes in 19 different cities. The circuit converted entirely to digital in 2011.

Here’s a nice little factoid front the release:

Known as ‘Holland’s Hollywood’, the Hilversum Media Park houses all major Dutch TV and radio stations, production houses, studios and other companies in the audiovisual and entertainment business.

You learn something new everyday. Granted, Barco was probably hoping that their announcement would help educate people about their 60,000-lumen laser projector which, thanks to the company’s Alchemy technology, can show 4K content at 60 frames per second or in 3D, all while minimizing speckle and thus the need for a mechanical vibrating-screen. But that bit about Holland’s Hollywood seemed like a good piece of trivia worth passing along. LINK

Now, while we’re on the subject of Barco, the company also announced that the relatively new Barco Alchemy Integrated Cinema Media Processor (say that ten times fast) is now fully integrated with Arts Alliance Media’s Screenwriter Theater Management System (TMS). Actually, Screenwriter is the first TMS to be support Barco’s new ICMP (which is how all the cool kids refer to the Integrated Cinema Media Processor). The good news is that any AAM customer already using Screenwriter will also get an upgrade featuring the Alchemy integration, not just customers that deploy the software in the future.

Naturally, Screenwriter already supports a multitude of cinema equipment from various industry vendors. It is, after all, a TMS. This is just the latest integration AAM has completed. Rich Phillips, CTO of AAM, explained this much better in the release, stating:

“We support all the key servers and media blocks, enabling exhibitors to use equipment from different vendors in the same facility seamlessly. We are delighted to be able to now offer the same support for the innovative Barco Alchemy product, giving exhibitors the freedom to make technology decisions that are not limited by compatibility with their existing systems.”

Yeah, Mr. Phillips did a much better job of what I was trying to explain.

Speaking of which, since it’s fairly new we should probably tell you that the Barco ICMP is what is known as an integrated cinema processor, or if you want to sound hip, an ICP. The DCI-approved module goes a step beyond decoding encrypted content as a media block and adds the functionally of a media server onto a single board. This is meant to reduce the amount of digital cinema equipment in the booth. Barco is putting the Alchemy ICMP into all of its new d-cinema projectors, though any of the company’s Series 2 projectors can support the technology. Hard to believe all that fits into the device shown below. LINK

Barco Alchemy ICMP

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CineEurope 2014: Immersive Sound Focus Session

Immersive Audio Panel at CineEurope 2014

With just 60 seats in a temporary room the middle of the trade show, there are 30+ people standing at the back. Either the immersive audio session is a wild success or the venue is too small. And there is plenty of surround sound which can be seen throughout the rest of the show.  The following are highlights from the panel discussion as submitted via iPhone:

Dave Monk of the European Digital Cinema Forum says time is short and wants to gets to grips with, ‘what is immersive sound’.

Brian Claypool from Barco talks about Auro and a “natural sense of immersion” that was cost effective that could easily integrate with existing workflows. “Let’s have the premium experience at the cinema,” he says. Monk asks what key differentiator between 5.1 surround and immersive audio is. In one word, ‘height’. Three levels – two 5.1 plus overhead sound.

Stuart Bowling (standing in for Dean Bullock?) from Dolby says that sound had taken a backseat as a way to transport you away as a cinemas goer. “Pushing the envelope pushed us to Atmos. Sounds is that narrative of motion pictures that gives you an emotional response.”

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CineEurope 2014: The Future of Big Screen

The Future of Big Screen Panel at CineEurope 2014

Next panel-ette starts a bit early with IHS’s David Hancock saying he will try to “keep it short, sharp and punchy.” RealD and IMAX in the ring with him.  Here are some of the highlights from the panel discussion as submitted live via iPhone:

“How do you define large screen?” asks Hancock. Andrew Cripps of Imax cites Los Angeles Times article that reported that premium large format (PLF) screens are 20% larger than regular size movie screen but says in IMAX “a lot of other elements go into it.” RealD’s Bob Mayson notes irony of discussing big screen in a very small conference room. [Indeed].

Luxe is an Eastern Europe/Russia focused initiative. Mayson told me earlier that they announced in a recent investor call that they now have 22 PLF screens committed of which at least half should be in place before the end of this year.

Cripps talks about working with film makers and the ‘total experience’. Hancock asks what drives it. Mayson says premium ticket prices and the ‘thirst for a better experience, particularly when there is so much competition for the consumer’s dollars.’ He points out that when he was at Kodak he sold a LOT of film to IMAX. [that was before Cripps joined].

Cripps agrees with Mayson on the premium price/experience. Makes an analogy with Starbucks coffee. Hancock asks if smaller 2D screens are under threat. Mayson mentions small VIP seating, but acknowledges that’s not today’s topic.

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CineEurope 2014: Coca-Cola Seminar – Reasons to Believe

Coca Cola Presentation at CineEurope 2014

The single most important food and beverage (F & B) company for the exhibition industry hosts its seminar at CineEurope 2014 on how to reach and engage with consumers. I have seen their talks at Cannes Lions (where I was yesterday – hence why no first-day CineEurope coverage) and they really do make you believe that there is so much more to their business than just selling brown sugar water. Having one of the world’s most iconic brands obviously helps and the “Share a Coke” name-on-a-bottle campaign is pure marketing genius.

Corinne Thibaut is upfront about the challenge of a declining youth cinema attendance. “We need a new marketing approach,” she says, to engage a new generation, and “to capture the imagination of moviegoers.” She then hands over the floor.

Javier Sanchez Lamelas, European Marketing Director of the Coca-Cola Company takes the floor and announces the theme of his talk: “falling in love with cinema.” Rather than talk behind the lectern, he walks out amongst the audience. He shows amazing exams of how Coke promotions date back to anaglyph 3D glasses in 1914! Shows the “Skyfall” 007 Countdown challenge video which was viewed 10 million times on YouTube. The audience here at CineEurope loves it. Mainly because it is good.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 16 June 2014

CineEurope Logo

Patrick von Sychowski has been at the Cannes Lions in Cannes, France over the last four days and is presently traveling to Barcelona, Spain to attend CineEurope. While Patrick is traveling I will be doing my best to keep up our daily digest of news related to motion picture exhibition and distribution. Please bear with me. Patrick is scheduled to be back online tomorrow, June 17th, with live coverage from CineEurope.

People

Bill Beck

Barco: The company is taking its move into laser projectors seriously. The digital cinema projector manufacturer has hired industry veteran Bill Beck to assist the company’s research and sales efforts. Beck is the co-founder and former chairman of the Laser Illuminated Projector Association (LIPA). He has spent the past 30 years developing and working in and around photonics. Beck was previously the Executive Vice President of Laser Light Engines, a company he founded in 2008.

In the press release announcing the move, Todd Hoddick, Vice President of Global Entertainment for Barco, pointed out that Beck had become the go-to guy when it came to laser illumination technology”

We simply call him ‘The Laser Guy’… For more than 10 years, he has been on the leading edge of laser technology and focused his efforts on the image quality and operating benefits of laser illumination for cinema exhibition and other high-performance projection applications.

LINK

Audio

QSC: The audio technology firm is bringing its latest product offering to CineEurope; the SR-1290. It is the newest entry to the company’s SR Series of surround sound speakers, that was developed with the requirements of emerging immersive audio formats in mind.

QSC's SR-1290

In the press release announcing the SR-1290, Barry Ferrell, Senior Vice President, Chief Strategy Officer and Business Unit Manager for QSC’s Cinema Group, explained how the new speaker can help theatre owners overcome some of the challenges of immersive audio:

“A properly configured system requires many more surround loudspeakers and amplifier channels, which can mean a significantly higher cost compared to a 5.1 or 7.1 system. The loudspeakers must be capable of producing higher output, with features allowing them to be mounted in non-standard locations, and to be aimed with more precision. And more amplifier channels are needed to power all of these extra loudspeakers. The new SR-1290 addresses all of these needs. Since it is a coaxial design, the front baffle area is much smaller relative to a conventional ‘over-under’ horn and woofer configuration, resulting in a smaller enclosure, making mounting and aiming easier. Its high power rating and 4 ohm impedance means it draws more power from the amplifier and produces greater output compared to most 8 ohm loudspeakers in its class – which also means smaller amplifiers can be used to achieve maximum results, minimizing overall equipment costs.”

If you understand some of the tech-talk in Ferrell’s quote, then you might care about a few of the specs for the SR-1290 Cinema Surround Loudspeaker:

  • High-power, long-throw 12″ (305 mm) low-frequency transducer
  • Coaxially-mounted 1.75″ (44 mm) titanium diaphragm compression driver
  • Smaller enclosure design, coaxial alignment also creates frequencies perfectly aligned through the crossover region
  • Enclosure can be rotated with no effect on the coverage pattern
  • Safe and secure overhead mounting
  • Cabinet constructed of 15-mm Baltic birch plywood with internal bracing for superior structural integrity.
  • Four mounting points centered on the cabinet’s rear panel

QSC estimates the SR-1290 will be hitting the market in September 2014. LINK

Technology

USL's CMS-2200

USL: The cinema product manufacturer has been awarded a patent for innovations found in its CMS-2200. The DCI-compliant device is an integrated media server that plugs directly into a digital cinema projector and negates the need for external storage thanks to four solid state drives. The CMS-2200 also employs the DTS Multidimensional Audio engine for immersive audio and also supports 13.1 surround sound. Trying to pin down specifically what technology the patent was issued for was not successful, though this likely be due to our search methods.

USL product manager Bill Cribbs, pointed out a few of the CMS-2200′s newest features in the press release announcing the awarding of the patent:

“The CMS-2200 now has Cue bundling, which is the ability to group any number of automation cues into a bundle, greatly simplifying playlist creation. When used with the CMSA controller this provides an incredibly powerful automation solution. In the alternative content area, the CMS-2200 now supports HDMI auto switching, which means HDMI presentations can be placed directly into one playlist. An intermission feature was also added to playlist creation, which allows a user to insert an intermission playlist inside of a feature presentation.”

USL will be showing off the CMS-2200 during CineEurope. LINK

Digital Signage

NEC: No trade show for motion picture exhibitors would be complete without some news from companies supplying display signage of some form. Have no fear; NEC and Coca-Cola have admirably filled that role for this year’s CineEurope.

These days most of the signage being installed by cinema owners is digital. NEC Display Solutions and Coca-Cola are teaming up at the conference to create an interactive lounge that will demonstrate such capabilities as motion-activated movie promotions, synchronized monitors and video walls. According to the release:

Coca-Cola invited NEC Display Solutions, YCD Multimedia, Littlebit Technology and Intel to provide digital media and digital menu signage presence on its booth on the Trade Show. LINK

 

Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 12 June 2014

RealD CineEurope 2014

We’ve featured MasterImage, DepthQ and Volfoni, but the 3D presentations at this year’s CineEurope will be courtesy of RealD.

Exhibiting from the grand CCIB Auditorium, RealD will be at the very heart of the proceedings using our innovative 2D and 3D-optimised Precision White Screen (PWS). Benefiting from extra wide viewing angles and brighter edges, RealD ensures an unprecedented quality of image for this year’s best upcoming releases.

Experience the future with us in in Barcelona. We look forward to seeing you there. Discover more in room M213.

Sony CineEurope

As if we weren’t tempted enough by the ECA Lounge or the Coca-Cola bar at CineEurope, who can resist this tempting invite from Sony?

Unwind and relax in our chill out zone on the first floor at CineEurope 2014 from 16-19 June in Barcelona.

Relax on our sofas, charge your phone with our power outlets and play with the latest 4K tech.

Click here for more information

Only a few more days to go now until CineEurope 2014 kicks off in Barcelona. See you there.

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Howard Kiedaisch Departs Arts Alliance On His Own Terms

Howard Kiedaisch

Howard Kiedaisch

Late last night (or early this morning) before finally closing my laptop and logging off, I sent Howard Kiedaisch a hasty email to see if he wanted to have a quick conversation to catch up before CineEurope. When I had spoken with the CEO of Arts Alliance Media at the end of May he had told me the company would be making a few announcements on the run up to the conference. Though he provided a heads up about AAM’s plans for alternative content (more on that in a moment), Kiedaisch confessed he wasn’t ready to talk about one or two developments that were in the midst of being finalized.

Due to the time difference between London, where Kiedaisch and AAM are based, and Los Angeles, and knowing his replies to email are often swift, the first thing I did this morning was grab my phone check if he had gotten back to me. Indeed, there most certainly was an email from Kiedaisch, the contents of which shook off any remnants of sleep and jolted me awake. To be sure I wasn’t still dreaming however, I reread the press release Kiedaisch had pasted into his email. The one announcing after nine years as CEO of AAM, he would be stepping down from his position on July 7th of this year and will be succeeded by John Aalbers, the former CEO of Volubill, a telecom industry software developer.

Oh, and yes, the release also went on to detail the merger of AAM’s event cinema distribution division with Mr. Wolf, a content production and finance company that, like AAM, was founded by Thomas Høegh. The combined outfit will operate as Arts Alliance Limited and focus its commercial efforts on financing, producing, distributing and marketing event cinema (a.k.a. alternative content).

The integrated company makes perfect sense and combines the production and marketing expertise of Mr. Wolf with the distribution and cinema background offered by AAM’s event cinema division. There are natural synergies between the two companies which offered slightly overlapping services. Additional news and information about the new venture is likely to come out of CineEurope next week.

In hindsight, Kiedaisch stepping down is also completely logical. That’s why he thought of it five months ago and spent the intervening time orchestrating his departure in a way that would set AAM up for success. He explained to AAM’s board at the end of last that the company would have to decide which of its five businesses it truly wanted to support; digital cinema financing and management, network operations, software services, content services and/or alternative content. Kiedaisch rightly felt that the marketplace for some of these businesses was becoming overcrowded and by working in so many areas AAM may giving each short shrift.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 11 June 2014

Carmike share price

Carmike Cinemas’ share price is up 166% in the last two year, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, according to research analyst Gary Bourgeault. This long article looks at Carmike’s rollup and acquisition strategy, whether it will be bought by a larger competitor and what price is right.

Carmike has chosen to grow via acquisitions, contrary to its competitor AMC Entertainment (AMC), which is focusing primarily on quality rather than quantity. Nonetheless, Carmike has been able to grow revenue and earnings per screen while adding more theaters to its circuit.

Now, the question is whether or not the acquisition strategy and performance of its individual theaters is reflected in the share price, or the company has heated up too much and is overvalued.

Another catalyst to contemplate is that Carmike is considered a prime candidate for acquisition, as it moves toward its goal of owning 300 theaters and 3,000 screens. At the rate it’s growing in this consolidation atmosphere, I think part of the reason for the surge in share price is the inclusion of the possibility of being acquired by one of its larger rivals.  LINK

Just as with his incisive piece of analysis about AMC, I urge you to read this article in full.

Bow Tie Cinema Schenectady

USA (NY) - Physical attacks on people trying to enjoy a film without others talking are not being taken seriously enough. This dad was attacked by eight people. Will it take another shooting? Justice has definitely not been served in this case. You can read here what originally happened.

In the case of last summer’s vicious attack at the Bow Tie Cinema by a gang of teenagers on an innocent father trying to enjoy a night out with his daughters and their friend, justice for the victims is nowhere in sight.

During the June 28 incident, a Niskayuna man suffered a severe concussion, a broken hand, a damaged tooth and other scrapes after being repeatedly kicked and punched by a group of out-of-control teenagers. One of the man’s daughters also was punched in the face and had her cell phone stolen.  LINK

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Volkswagen Public Service Ad Makes Impact In Cinemas

YouTube Preview Image

Please Note: To experience the full intent of the advertisement being discussed, it is advised to watch the spot, embedded above, before reading this post.

These days for an advertising campaign to be considered a success it has to not only has to reach a large percentage of its intended audience, it often must work across multiple platforms. German auto manufacturer Volkswagen is providing us with a perfect example of such an ad campaign with a spot they created to prevent texting while driving.

The public service announcement, produced in collaboration with the international ad agency Ogilvy & Mather, is currently being shown in Hong Kong cinemas before movies. In fact, the ad was created to be shown specifically in movie theatres. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily unique, sincere there have been many ad campaigns produced solely for cinema, though in the case of VW’s spot, the effectiveness of the advertisement relies on being shown in a movie theatre.

In addition, the interactive nature of the ad means that it can’t just be dumped into a preshow at any old cinema, but rather one setup with a close-range, location based mobile messaging broadcaster. Let me explain.

The spot was setup to play before a film at the MCL Cinema in Hong Kong. VW and Ogilvy then filmed the presentation of the ad as shown in the clip above this post. It starts out with cinema patrons entering the theatre and auditorium, then shows them watching the advertisement on screen. The ad features a driver’s point-of-view through the front windshield of a car as they speed along a country road. The audience looks relatively bored. That’s when somebody is shown using a computer to broadcast a text message, an SMS, to all the mobile phones in the auditorium. When we cut back to the audience we can hear everyone’s phones vibrating and chirping as they receive the text message. Naturally, moviegoers reach for their phones curious to see who is pinging them and a second or two after their devices light up…. CRASH! The car on screen has swerved off the road and smashed into a tree, shattering the windshield.

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