Tag Archives: 3D

CJ@IBC ‘Doug Trumbull Keynote – An Odessey of Cinematic Innovation’

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“There is no more appropriate visionar than Doug Trumbull to have as our keynote,” Julian Pinn says as he opens the IBC Big Screen Keynote session, listing Trumbull’s many cinematic achievements, ranging from being responsible for the groundbreaing visual effects for ’2001 a Space Odessey’ and ‘Star Trek the Motion Picture’  to writing and directing ‘Silent Running’ and ‘Back to the Future: the Ride’.

Trumbull begins by thanking the team behind the scenes. (I know that this presentation was particularly bleading edge and that the last 48 hours had been frantic in getting it all together.) He talks about his life-long fascination with science-fiction and how he liked panoramic paintings, but got frustrated that they didn’t move – hence he got into film.

From the beginning it was always the largest of screns that held the greatest fascination for him. “I was disapointed when the giant screen experience went away and they got chopped into multiplexes. 70mm production largely ended,” and this was tough for him, Trumbull admitted. Anyone who has seen a 70mm presentation of ’2001′ can probably understand his sentiment. He then switched his focus to World Fairs and Expos as a substitute for he big screen experience.

The Life and Times of a VFX Wizard

By way of introduction to his body of work and cinematic vision he then screens a short film and history which charts his journey from ’2001′ all the way to his Magi process and Trumbull Studios, with cameos by the likes of Roger Ebert, Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner extolling his virtues. He then switches back to explaning how he arrived at the 70mm Showscan process in the late 70s/early80s, which he had wanted to use for his film ‘Brainstorm’, and how this in turn then led him to Magi in the present day.

“We lost track of something a long time ago when we transitioned from silent films with hand cranked cameras – we called them ‘the flicks’ for the flickering – to 24fps to accomodate the optical soundtracks. We have never insreased it since then,” Trumbul bemoans, even as color and other innovations were added. “Unfortunatelly people are now migrating away from the cinema experience, because the convenience of tablets outweighs the inconvenience of going out to the movies.”

He says that the Hollywood studios think they have the tiger by the tail… so they prefer a commonality of formats that works for cinema and television. But Trumbull sees this as a false economy if it dilutes the cinematic experience. Studios also don’t invest in R&D, prefering to leave that to manufacturers, he observes. This left him in a quandry.

Trumbull Studios

“My wife and I decided we have to do it ourselves, so we had to build the stage, bum every camera and light we could get our hands on and put together this UFOTOG film as cheaply as possibly,” Trumbull explains, bringing us into the present with his latest work. “Instead of the two cameras shooting in sync, they shoot sequentially, [and thus] they achieve 120fps for the same price as 60fps.” It is the same (Threality) rig that Jim Cameron and Peter Jackson use, with Cannon cameras. “This captures 100% of the action that goes on in ront of the camera and 120 frames of unique fields of action,”Trumbull explains.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 2 June 2014

Farewell my concubine opera

“Farewell My Concubine” had its global premiere yesterday at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles; the first ever Chinese 3D opera in Atmos to be shown in cinemas.

Yesterday, appears on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles of a particular landscape, held annually Oscars Dolby theater entrance a few meters of the opera “Farewell My Concubine” eye-catching posters, many pedestrians stopped to watch, even passing The open-top bus passengers have also picked up a camera on Mengpai. China’s first 3D opera film “Farewell My Concubine” overseas premiere was held last night at “the temple” of the Oscars. Dolby Executive Vice President Andy said, “this is not only the first Chinese film premiere held here, it is also the film’s first country outside the United States premiere to be held here.”  LINK

Farewell my Concubine Q&A

Co-star Shi Yihong agrees the whole experience was new and exciting.

“As a Peking Opera performer, being a part of a film is very interesting for me, especially in this amazing 3D project,” Shi Yihong said.

The film is being shown in the US as part of celebrations to mark the 35th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the US.

It’s hoped that the combination of a 200-year-old Peking Opera and modern 3D technology can help American people better understand Chinese Culture.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 27 May 2014

Invisivision specs

USA – The idea of the same audience watching two different movies isn’t new (Finch won a Gold Lion for their Pedigree advert that used that technology), but the problem is that the audience will always hear the same soundtrack, which limits the possibilities of what can be done on the screen.

Imagine watching a film with a friend on the same screen where you watch it through the eyes of the villain, but they have the hero’s perspective.

That’s just one of the many uses for Invisivision glasses, a product developed by PipeDream Interactive based in Ontario, Canada.

The ‘smart glasses’ have an additional layer of lenses that can flip up and down, giving viewers two different experiences – or even entirely different films – when staring at a cinema screen.  LINK

Accessibility

CinemaConnect

Germany – After the Greta and Straks app from Germany in yesterday’s Daily, news reaches us that Sennheiser too is launching an app for cinema accessibility.

With Sennheiser’s CinemaConnect technology, film lovers with a visual or hearing impairment will no longer have to forgo a trip to the movie theater. The core of the solution developed by Sennheiser is a smartphone app that moviegoers can use to connect to a WiFi network at the theater to access additional soundtracks for audio descriptions or assistive listening.

The audio files chosen by the users are streamed over a multi-channel app on their own smartphones so they can enjoy the film using headphones. It has taken more than three years to develop CinemaConnect, and Sennheiser placed particular emphasis on making the solution simple and convenient to use. Sennheiser worked directly with user groups during the development of the app to ensure this.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 8 May 2014

Wanda Cinema CBD

RealD and Wanda Cinemas have launched a 3D Brightness certification scheme that will ensure that participating screens will be displaying at least 6footLamberts (6FL) of brightness. There is a fear that dim 3D images could soon lead to a similar 3D backlash that has already been experienced in the US. It is calculated that running a 6kW compared to a 3kW bulb will cost 30,000 yuan (USD $4,800) more per year, which is why tickets to these auditoriums will be at a higher premium. Perhaps an idea to export to the West.

This theater standard will come at a higher cost. However, improved viewing experience has become a major pursuit of cinemas. Thus, Wanda Cinema Beijing CBD  became the first cinema hall in Asian with 6FL certification auditoriums. It is reported that this certification means that the auditorium will always show image brightness of 6FL for all 3D movies, with 3D brightness regularly monitored. For tickets the price will be slightly higher than non-certified cinema screen, and will be particularly marketed as such by Wanda Cinema on the ticket.  LINK

Cineworld Logo

UK: Cineworld had a good Q1 but expect cinema attendance to slump during the World Cup – until England gets eliminated in the second round, that is.

Hits including The Lego Movie, The Wolf of Wall Street and 12 Years a Slave helped Cineworld increase its share of UK box office takings from 26.9% to 27.6% in the first four months of the year, as the group pushed up ticket prices almost 5%, against a 1.9% rise in admissions. Cinema goers have been more willing to spend on popcorn and fizzy drinks, and now Starbucks coffee, as retail revenue rose 6.1% on last year.

Revenue growth of 7% at home was beaten in Eastern Europe and Israel after the £500 million acquisition of Cinema City International this year. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 24 April 2014

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In something other than sad news from South Korea, enhanced experience cinema seat maker CJ 4DPlex has revealed its global ambitions and roadmap.

To many movie fans, “300” is a Hollywood blockbuster about an epic battle between the Spartans and the Persians. But for CJ 4DPlex, the number has a different yet significant meaning.

For the CJ affiliate, 300 is the number of theaters worldwide in which it hopes to deploy its 4-D technology called 4DX that offers a new experience for moviegoers.

“We are going to hit critical mass once our 4-D technology platform is adopted at more than 300 theaters globally by the first half of next year,” CJ 4DPlex CEO Choi Byung-hwan told The Korea Herald.  LINK

CJ 4DPlex wants 4DX to become a major cinema brand like Imax and drive added revenue for exhibitors.

The idea of 4DX came from CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun, who suggested CJ CGV integrate the concept and technology of theme park rides with cinemas to offer a different movie experience.

This came as the theater market has been facing strong competition from the home entertainment sector.

Lee’s 4-D insight was also in line with his vision for CJ’s media and culture globalization, which was to encourage global consumers to watch one to two Korean movies a year; eat Korean food at least twice a month, watch one to two Korean soap operas a week; and listen to one to two K-pop songs a day.

Here is another video that explains the technology in more depth (that I’m unable to embed).

ArcLight Santa Monica

USA (CA): The go-ahead has been given to one of the two ArcLight cinemas proposed for Santa Monica.

Council voted quickly and unanimously to approve the first new Downtown Santa Monica movie theater in decades.

An ArcLight Cinema with 10 to 13 screens and up to 1,500 seats will be built on the third level of the Santa Monica Place mall and could be completed by next year.

Council also voted unanimously to move forward in negotiations aimed at placing another larger ArcLight on Fourth Street where Parking Structure 3 currently sits.  LINK

Concessions (not the snack kind) made include a USD $120,000 contribution to the pedestrian Colorado Esplanade, funding Downtown wayfinding signage, closed caption devices at all its theaters, three screens made available for AFM and local hiring of staff.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 23 April 2014

China_cinema_2144703b

Is China undergoing a 3D backlash? Speakers at the recent Beijing International Film Festival seemed to go to great lengths to condemn poor 3D.

Prominent members of industry like Yang Buting, chairman of China Film Distribution and Exhibition Association and China Film Overseas Promotional Corporation, lined up to have a go at the format. Director Paul Andersson (Resident Evil and many other 3D films) said that there were too many bad 3D films and exhibitors over-charging (see next item), which could lead China to follow the US lead of audiences switching back to 2D.

Take the numbers with a pinch of salt, however, as the most recent screen count in China is 20,007, which makes the first figure quoted nonsensical.

More than 20,000 movie screens in China can play 3D films and more companies are competing to sell their 3D projection equipment, which used to cost between 80,000 yuan and 150,000 yuan. Now equipment is no more than 20,000 yuan, said Yang.

“This kind of vicious competition has lowered the quality and cost of 3D films, thus upsetting viewers,” he said.

Paul Anderson told Xinhua that it is better to give audiences a choice.

“If you don’t give them a choice and you deliver bad 3D products, eventually they will stop going to the cinema. American people are choosing to watch 2D rather than 3D films,” he said.  LINK

It is worth remembering that films like RoboCop and Transcendence were released in 3D only in China, to qualify for the 20+14 foreign film import quota, while Noah was released in 3D everywhere around the world (except in muslim countries that banned it in 2D and 3D) except in the US.

red-blue 3D glasses

Not the glasses sold in cinemas

Chinese cinemas are also coming under scrutiny by city councils for the practice of charging a premium for tickets to 3D films, as well as requiring patrons to spend extra to buy 3D glasses.

Miss Xiao told reporters the she recently went to a South City theater to watch a 3D movie. After buying the tickets, she was told she would be required to purchase 3D glasses sold by the cinema or she would not be able to watch the 3D movies. “At the time, I felt very angry, but I did not want to think about spending more money to buy more than the ticket to affect my mood, so I spent more than ten yuan to buy 3D glasses trouble.” Consumers such as Miss Lee, Mr. Jin is one of many who suffered such things. City Council said yesterday, after investigating  theatres in Dongguan, that this situation does exist.  LINK

The City Council is threatening cinemas with actions for violating Article 26 of the “Consumer Protection Law” and urges them to “consciously safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.” Seems like there is trouble brewing here on multiple fronts.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 14 April 2014

4D_4DX_rumble_seat

The Wrap takes a look at the growth of ’4D’ offered by the likes of D-Box, CJ 4DPlex and MediaMation and whether there is a business case for it. Not if it shakes the popcorn out of the tub, it seems.

Indeed, some theater owners have experimented with the technology, only to decide that it is best served up in small doses. Rolando Rodriguez, president and CEO of Marcus Theaters, installed 30 motion seats in one of his fifty theaters. While the seats are popular features when paired with big-budget blockbusters, he has decided not to invest in the technology. The $8 surcharge the 4D seats carry limits their appeal, he said.

“We’re investing in other amenities that play better with our customers,” Rodriguez said. “We’re pleased with the performance, but from our perspective, investing in things like large screen theaters and in-theater dining is more important.”

But other exhibitors and manufacturers counter that this is more than just a novelty act.

“We’re finding that people turn into aficionados,” Michel Paquette, vice-president of marketing of the 4D manufacturer D-Box Technologies, said. “Once people try it, if they like it, they usually get hooked.”

Likewise, Heath Thomas regional manager of the Goodrich Quality Theaters, has placed 4D seats in 16 locations and reports they are a big hit with audiences between the ages of 18 to 30.  LINK

 Odeon logo

UK: UK/European cinema major Odeon-UCI saw its revenue and profit drop sharply in the past year, dragged down by the lack of a Skyfall-size hit and by its Spanish arm.

Odeon’s earnings before interest, tax and other charges dropped by 24 per cent to £69.2m while sales fell five per cent to £706.7m.

In Spain, where Odeon operates 43 cinemas, Odeon’s market volume fell 15 per cent last year.

“In 2014, there are some early signs that the economy may be turning: unemployment has started to fall slightly and retail sales have started to grow,” Odeon said, adding that it has now grown its Spanish market share to 21 per cent.  LINK

Odeon’s results do not include its property arm.

NCR logo

USA: Marcus Theatre is deploying the full range of services offered by NCR Cinema software.

NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR), the global leader in consumer transaction technologies, today announced that Marcus Theatres®, a division of The Marcus Corporation (NYSE:MCS), has now deployed NCR’s full suite of cinema and restaurant solutions to improve its business operations and enhance its customers’ movie experience. Marcus Theatres has been a long-time customer, using NCR’s mobile and fixed point-of-sale (POS) systems, indoor kiosks, takeout and delivery software and NCR MovieTime mobile application.  LINK

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BREAKING NEWS: Wanda Breaks Embargo on Deal For 780 New RealD 3D Installations

Wanda breaks RealD embargo

CELLULOID JUNKIE EXCLUSIVE: It seems that China’s Wanda – the world’s biggest cinema operator and owner of American multiplex chain AMC – has broken its own embargo on an announcement for an expanded deal with 3D vendor RealD.

It looks like this deal was set to be announced on Monday next week (24th of March), which is the international day of CinemaCon and the day these type of deals typically get announced.

The statement (translated by Google) reads:

March 24, Wanda Cinema 3D images with the world-renowned technology provider RealD jointly announced that the two sides will continue cooperation agreement, Wanda Cinema will install 780 sets of RealD 3D equipment in the next three years, placed in Wanda Cinema The 3D movie hall. Plus 800 sets of equipment currently installed Wanda Cinema, RealD equipment Wanda total installed throughout China will be more than 1500 sets.

RealD is currently the world’s most widely used 3D cinema projection technology. As of March 4, 2014, there are 74 countries worldwide, more than 25,049 screens in 1,000 theaters install RealD 3D projection equipment. Brightness RealD 3D theater system is twice that of other 3D technologies, and have screened the film features a high frame rate.

The fact that the story (press release?) is dated March 24th means that it was most likely to be on hold until that date, but somehow the Chinese version was posted on Wanda’s website too early.

If this is the case, this is a serious slip-up as RealD is a publicly listed company and a big deal like this could give its share price a bounce. Wanda had a previous deal in place with RealD from 2010 for 500 screens.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 17 January 2014

The Odeon cinema in Leicester Square

UK: The head of Odeon-UCI, europe’s largest cinema group is stepping down. “Sky News understands that Rupert Gavin, who has run the privately-owned group for eight years, is to leave a year after its owner abandoned its latest attempt to sell the company. Mr Gavin will be replaced by Paul Donovan, a former executive at Vodafone and Eircom, the Irish telecoms group.” With Cineworld’s Steve Wiener having announced that he is leaving prior to the announcement of the merger with CCI, this leaves Vue’s Tim Richards as the doyen of the UK exhibition business. However, “Mr Gavin would become an adviser to Terra Firma and join the board of Garden Centre Group. The outgoing Odeon UCI boss will also spend more time at Incidental Colman, his privately-owned theatre and entertainment group.” Link.

India: Youth killed after fight in cinema. “The youth was fatally stabbed by a group in the aftermath of a quarrel which broke out while watching newly-released Tamil film ‘Veeram’ on Wednesday. In the clash that ensued on a playground, two others sustained injuries and were hospitalised.” Link.

Technology

Int’l: Harkness has released the third iteration of its popular screen calculation tool – as an app. From FJI: “The Digital Screen Calculator is a free utility on iOS, Android and through the Harkness website that allows engineers and exhibitors to ensure that digital-cinema investments are fully optimized. The tool calculates the capabilities of equipment choices and provides recommendations on projector, lamp and screen choices based upon chosen screen size and light levels for 2D and 3D. It also calculates theoretical operating costs and shows how screen choice might reduce these dramatically.” Link.

China: Parents are pushing for better 3D glasses for children. “Some parents said they were more concerned about hygiene and worried about infectious diseases. Moreover, all 3D glasses in cinemas are the same — too heavy and big for children. Local cinema houses said smaller-sized 3D glasses are available in certain theaters. They said parents can buy small 3D glasses for children.” Link.

Poland: “Orange Poland continues the series of Kino Orange cinema travelling over Poland to bring cinema to municipalities which do not have any. In January, it will bring five premiere films, of which two in 3D. Kino Orange is a joint project of the company Outdoor Cinema and Orange Poland.” Technology used is NEC projectors and XpanD 3D glasses. Link.

Netherlands: Games on the big screen. “On January 25, five students of the Hanze University Groningen will organize the event FIFA 14 in the Wolff Cinema in Groningen. 100 participants will be playing the football game FIFA 14 from 12:00 to 19:00 for a chance to win the tournament title.” Link.

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Can RealD Rival IMAX In The Premium Large Format (PLF) Market?

With Cinema Europe currently underway in Barcelona, two trends for premium cinema experiences that pull in opposite direction are hot topics for exhibitors gathering in Spain. The first is towards smaller, intimate venues that typically serve fine food and wine, as exemplified by The Electric in London or the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas. But it is the super-sizing of cinemas in a bid to compete with IMAX and its ability to charge premium ticket prices that is attracting the most attention right now. And RealD wants to be the centre of that action.

With cinema admissions in most of Europe static or even down and 3D seeing its lowest admission figures yet in the US this week, the hunt is on for how to squeeze more out of the people that still go to the cinema. This is where the success of IMAX comes into play, with exhibitors either partnering the large format (LF) player or launching their own premium experience auditoriums, to be able to charge a premium above that of 3D. The track record of exhibitors that have launched their own IMAX-like screens has been mixed, with social media in particular abuzz with patrons venting their unhappiness about large screen up-charges. This blog called AMC’s ETX ‘an Excuse To charge Extra’ and is no less kind about Regal’s RPX.

With Digital 3D being a key part of the PLF experience, RealD has spotten and opportunity to try to create a branding on behalf of exhibitors. From their press release:

At a special presentation to European cinema exhibitors at CineEurope, RealD Inc. (NYSE: RLD) today introduced “LUXE: A RealD Experience,” a premium large format (PLF) initiative aimed at unifying the exhibition community under a single brand with a goal of becoming synonymous with the ultimate out of home entertainment experience. Minimum standards will assure all “LUXE: A RealD Experience” auditoriums feature massive screens, ultra bright 2D and 3D, enveloping audio and luxury seating for a premium movie-going experience. “LUXE: A RealD Experience” auditoriums will provide full flexibility with content, allowing exhibitors to show any movie at any time for optimized profitability.

The code words are clearly audible dog whistles for cinema owners. The first sentence effectively says, “you have largely failed with your efforts of creating in-house PLF brands that can take on IMAX.” The second sentence says, “too many of the PLF auditoriums have been poor IMAX-lite causing consumer backlash.” The third sentence is the most critical, because it tells cinemas not to tie themselves in with IMAX’s restrictive licence terms – “you will have to pay a licence fee to RealD, but it will be less than what you would pay IMAX and we also won’t tell you which films to play and for how long.” Not surprisingly the effort has won the backing of the studios, who are keen on premium ticket pricing, but not on IMAX dominating the market. [NB: The first point was made even more strongly in the ScreenDaily interview, where Mayson is quoted as saying, “There are more than 50 PLF brands worldwide. We’re trying to unify those brands on the grounds that it’s easier to create awareness around one experience."]

Bob Mayson is quoted in the Hollywood Reporter on the technical specifics:

“LUXE comes in response to our exhibitor customers, who are seeing increasing demand for premium cinema offerings but really want a single identifiable brand that will be a guarantee of quality to their customers,“ Robert Mayson, Managing Director of RealD Europe told The Hollywood Reporter. According to Mayson, the technical standards, which include wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screens of at least 16 meters (52.5 feet) in width; 3D sound; auditorium rakes and a screen brightness for 3D projections about twice the current norm, means LUXE will be an elite standard. “We are talking about the top five percent of cinemas, there will be many theaters that won’t have the capacity or the physical dimensions to qualify,” he said.

Note in particular the mention of ’3D audio’. RealD is careful not to pick a winner in the fight between Dolby’s Atmos and Barco’s Auro and would most likely prefer to see an open standard, as called for by NATO and UNIC [Dolby’s Artmos in its RPX screens, 3D audio will together with a big screen and bright projection be a cornerstone of the PLF experience. Though for exhibitors not willing to install two projectors, whether Sony or DLP, the equation will not truly be completed until the arrival of laser projection.

The next thing to note is the territories where this system will launch. THR identifies this as, “RealD plans to roll out the new LUXE initiative in Europe, Russia, the Middle East and Africa. Europe in particular has seen strong growth in the premium segment of the cinema market.” Screen meanwhile lists, “Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Bulgaria, Romania and the Balkans.” The thing to note is that it is the emerging markets that are of particular focus, which is why we get a quote from “Paul Heth, CEO of Karo Film, a leading cinema chain in Russia.” These are the markets that have not attempted a PLF brand on their own and that will build new multiplexes, so that the system does not have to be retrofitted into existing multiplexes. RealD is thus unlikely to try to persuade existing cinema clients in North America and Western Europe to ditch their own in-house PLF brand in favour of LUXE.

While IMAX is built on great technology and offers (depending on the site) a terrific viewer experience, there is nothing about it that cannot be replicated with todays digital technology – unlike the analogue 70mm systems of olden days. What sets it apart from in-house PLF screens is thus one thing: branding. IMAX has done a terrific job of re-positioning its brand from 60 minute documentaries for school groups that put bums on seats Monday through Friday 9am until 5pm, to one where people book tickets weeks in advance to catch the latest Hollywood blockbuster on the opening weekend. This despite the backlash of the ‘IMAX-lite’ entry into the multiplex market a few years back. Vue Xtreme and Regal RPX have simply not been able to match the branding power of IMAX. RealD too has some cleaver technology, including launching the brighter screen this week, but there is nothing inherently unique about circular polarization 3D at the heart of their solution. The truth is that RealD too is about branding. Just like IMAX it charges a licence fee. Just not as much or with terms perceived as equally restrictive. If RealD succeeds with LUXE – and it stands a better chance than in-house PLFs – it is because the company understands IMAX and what makes it a success all too well.