Tag Archives: 4K

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 – 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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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 12 September 2014

As you may have noticed Patrick von Sychowski is in Amsterdam attending IBC which means you must suffer my attempt at putting together a Daily Cinema Digest.  Be sure to check out all of Patrick’s coverage of IBC after catching up on the day’s (or in this case, week’s) cinema news.

Big Cinemas

Hey, remember when North American exhibitors built way too many multiplexes during the 1980′s and 90′s over extending themselves to such a degree that during the early 2000′s the industry began to consolidate with cinema chains buying each other out or merging?  Well, it seems this is a trend that might be hard to avoid.  India has been going through a huge multiplex boom over the past decade and now it seems has entered the consolidation phase of the business cycle.  Rumors are afoot that Carnival Films is in negotiations to acquire the majority of Reliance MediaWorks theatre chain Big Cinemas.  This would be the third such merger or acquisition for India’s exhibition industry in as many months:

Inox Leisure, India’s second largest multiplex operator, acquired Delhi-based Satyam Cineplexes Ltd for nearly Rs.240 crore, paying Rs.182 crore in cash and taking over its debt in a deal that expanded Inox’s presence to 50 cities, with 91 multiplexes and 358 screens; and Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) sold its multiplex business Broadway Cinemas to Carnival Cinemas for an undisclosed amount.

If the deal goes through Carnival would end up with 280 screens.  That really seems to be one of the main reasons for all the mergers and acquisitions; more screens a bigger market share of the box office and thus more leverage when negotiating with film producers and distributors over film rental.

According to the omnipresent anonymous source “familiar with the situation” Reliance isn’t looking to completely exit exhibition:

“The contour of the final transaction is yet to be arrived at, but Big Cinemas will not entirely exit the business. It will form a strategic alliance with an existing cinema exhibition chain that will run the daily operations and it will receive proportionate revenues from them as part of the partnership. Reliance MediaWorks will also invest in the venture as part of its growth strategy because it believes there is growth potential in this business.”

Don’t expect the consolidation of the Indian exhibition industry to slow down anytime soon.  Jehil Thakkar, head of the media and entertainment practice at KPMG, told LiveMint:

We certainly do see the cinema multiplex industry continuing to consolidate inorganically as the real growth opportunity lies there… Most of the big players are seeking inorganic growth options and scale is a very important part of this business.”

I just love that word “inorganic”.  Do you think since organic products usually cost more at stores that inorganic ones would cost less?  If so, maybe Carnival could get a discount on Big Cinemas since it would technically be considered “inorganic growth”.  LINK

Megabox

South Korea – The sale of exhibition circuits isn’t limited to India.  Over in South Korea an investment group is looking to cash out on their seven-year investment in Megabox.  Korea Multiplex Investment Corp.

Inside, though anonymous, sources have told various media outlets that backers Korea Multiplex Investment Corp., whose shareholders include the National Pension Service, Public Officials Benefit Association and Military Mutual Aid Association, are pushing for a sale of the company and have been reaching out to potential buyers.

Megabox is one of South Korea’s largest multiplex operators controlling 21% of the screens in the country as of last year. That figure is third to CJ CGV which operates 43% of screens and the film division of Lotte Shopping Company which controls 32%. Korea Multiplex, which owns 50% of Megabox (Jcontentree Corp. holds a 46% stake in the exhibitor), is hoping the circuit will sell for as much as 13 times its current earnings.

In 2013 Megabox netted KRW 25.6 billion (USD $24,745,216) on KRW 206.1 billion (USD $199,218,321) in revenue.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 27 August 2014

IBC Big Screen Experience

The Netherlands – 4K will be a major topic at the upcoming IBC (show – not ice bucket challenge), with awards just announced for the 4K transmissions by the Vienna State Opera and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Be sure not to miss this year’s IBC Big Screen Experience – bigger and also free for everyone attending this year.

Dramatic advances in media technology bring new opportunities to engage with audiences and to extend the reach of an event around the world. At IBC2014, two very different projects will be recognised with prestigious awards. Innovations in coverage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will receive the Judges’ Prize, and a Special Award will go the one of the world’s greatest opera houses, the Wiener Staatsoper – Vienna State Opera.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil was hailed as both a sporting and a media success, with close to a billion people worldwide watching the final between Argentina and Germany. They watched in on air and online, in formats from 4k and 8k Ultra HD to mobile phones and tablets.  LINK

Want to know more about 4K a.k.a. Ultra-HD? Check out this website, which scrolls like a powerpoint. Interesting and informative.

 

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France – People fainting and being taken to hospital is what producers of schlock horror B-movies used to promise in the 1950s. But apparently that is just what happened at a French Film Festival in Angouleme.

Participants of the International Francophone Film Festival in Angouleme French were not ready for it. Already after a quarter of the film “Little Queen” in the audience prevailed movement through drastic scenes of blood transfusion. People fainted, and one of the spectators was transported to the hospital. The session was stopped and the cinema evacuated.

The film “La Petite Reine” (French for “Little Queen”) tells the story of a Canadian Genevieve Jeanson, who was a cycling champion. The film shows a scene where the heroine is transfusing blood. Participants of the festival were not made ??aware of the dramatic scenes.

After the first unsuccessful attempt to view the film, the organizers decided to postpone it for tomorrow. This time, every viewer will be informed about what we see on the screen, and in addition there will be doctors in the hall.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 15 August 2014

China Film Giant Screen

China’s Entgroup Consulting has released an investment report on the Chinese exhibition business. While current growth is strong (14.5 screens per day), the report predicts that “the future number of Chinese cinema will be flat to down” and that there will be significant industry consolidation with just five to ten major players. Overview of report can be found here.

Arts and Grace advisory issued “2013-2014 Chinese Theater Investment and Development Report.” The report shows that Chinese cinema audiences growing at an annual rate of more than 30% of rapid growth. Data show that in 2013 China’s sustained rapid growth in the development of the theater, the new theater within the range of 903 theaters nationwide, up to 4583 the total number of cinema. The number of new screens for 5280, the new daily average 14.5 screen. Cinema growth rate dropped 6.9 percent compared to 2012, was 24.5%; screen count growth rate was 40.3%, down 1.0%. Arts and grace that the current investment market there are still many theaters are not rational investment, the future number of Chinese cinema will be flat to down. In the long term, the integration of acquisitions become inevitable between theaters, a few years later, eventually in the formation of 5 ~ 10 large-scale leading theaters.  LINK

New York Indian cinema audience

The New York Times looks at what small cinema in New York City’s boroughs are doing to stay open and attract customers – lower prices and more mixed programming seems to be key. It also features our favourite NYC cinema, the Nitehawk.

Independent movie theaters are an endangered lot as they compete with corporate multiplexes while facing declining ticket sales and the prohibitive cost of converting to digital projection. Many independent theaters have closed in recent years.

For those that remain, staying in business means coming up with creative ways to put people into theater seats, particularly in the boroughs outside Manhattan.

“There’s a very diverse ecosystem of theaters and some interesting things going on,” Matthew Viragh, the founder of Nitehawk Cinema, said.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 1 July 2014

Google Glass

In what should be a non-story (or at least a Finally) we are forced to lead with the ‘news’ that UK cinemas have followed the lead of Alamo Drafthouse and requested its patrons not to wear Google Glass to film screenings. The Independent made a big deal out of it, with other media outlets and trades following:

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association, said:

“Customers will be requested not to wear these into cinema auditoriums, whether the film is playing or not.”

The Vue cinema chain said it would ask guests to remove the eyewear “as soon as the lights dim”.

Although Google Glass lights up when it is capturing images, one early adopter has already been asked to remove his headset at a Leicester Square cinema as staff could not monitor whether it was recording. LINK

The move is perfectly sensible and it ought not be such a big deal. Just wait until Facebook starts measuring your mood while you wear Oculus Rift! It is important to remember that neither the CEA, Vue nor Alamo Drafthouse are technology luddites, but that this is an issue of film protection AND courtesy to fellow patrons. This last point gets overlooked too often and CEA are right to highlight this in their press statement.

As a courtesy to your fellow audience members, and to prevent film theft, we ask that customers do not enter any cinema auditorium using any ‘wearable technology’ capable of recording images. Any customer found wearing such technology will be asked to remove it and may be asked to leave the cinema.

It is worth noting that while wearable technology is a comparatively new phenomenon in the UK, in the US – where its use is already more widespread – not only cinemas but also casinos and many bars and restaurants have looked to limit or ban its use.

Business

USA: “Transformers: Age of Extinction” may have been making waves with its big opening weekend in both North America and China, but it is not enough to pull up the summer 2014 box office as it stands at the halfway mark. More worryingly, there are no more outsize hits expected that could reverse the trend significantly. Time for more Chinese co-productions!

But the summer box office is now at roughly $2 billion, nearly 13 percent behind the $2.3 billion of last year at this point. It’s a safe bet that it isn’t going to match last year, and that’s going to make it difficult for 2014 to match last year’s record-breaking $10.9 billion domestic haul. The overall box office, which was up 9 percent at the end of April, has now fallen just behind 2013.

It’s not that there haven’t been hits this summer. “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “Maleficent” have all topped $200 million, and “Godzilla” will get there. But there’s been nothing to compare with “Iron Man 3,” which had taken in more than double that by this time last year. It hurt when Universal pushed “Fast & Furious 7” to next year in the wake of Paul Walker’s death, and there hasn’t been a breakout animated movie this year, either. LINK

And now some rival studios are even briefing against “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, saying that Paramount is being less than completely truthful about the USD $100 million opening weekend. LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 7 May 2014

French cinema box office 2014

Cinema attendance is up in the first four month in France. Let’s hope this is the start of a Europe-wide trend.

April 2014, the attendance of cinemas rose +15.4% vs. the same period in 2013, to 19.13 million entries, according to estimates of the National Film Centre and Moving Image Centre (CNC) . In the first four months of 2014, and 75.67 million viewers who were registered, 17% more than in January-April 2013. Market share of French films is estimated at 46 6% in the first four months of the year (vs 40.9% in January-April 2013) and the American films to 42.5% (vs. 47.5% in January-April 2013). Over the past 12 months, the market share of French films is estimated at 36.3%, that of American films to 51.7% and that of other films to 12.1%.  LINK

New Mission Theatre

It seems that San Francisco is welcoming Alamo Drafthouse taking over the iconic New Mission Theater cinema with open arms.

There was a flurry of excitement among the film crowd in January 2013 when the Planning Commission approved the $10 million renovation of the long-shuttered, 2,021-seat New Mission Theater at 2550 Mission. At that same time, the Alamo Drafthouse — an Austin-based franchise which describes itself as “a lifestyle entertainment brand with an acclaimed cinema-eatery,” with locations as far-flung as New Braunfels, Tex., Yonkers, N.Y., and Kalamazoo, Mich. — formally announced it was slated to open the rechristened Alamo Drafthouse New Mission “in the third quarter of 2014.”

It was especially exciting for those of us who nerd out about the number of movie screens in town. In last year’s big Summer Movie issue, I calculated that San Francisco had 75 movie screens spread among 18 theaters. That number is now up to 77 screens among 18 theaters, thanks to the Embarcadero’s spiffy renovation last fall, and the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission would bump us to 82 screens among 19 theaters.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 2 May 2014 (Bumper Issue!)

Graham Cinema NC

It is not often that we start with a ‘Digital Death Watch’-type of story, but the Graham is not just an amazingly resilient single-screen cinema in North Carolina. This is also example of terrific college journalism that incorporates video (below), photos, info-graphics, mapping and social media into an incredibly well researched and written article that gives tremendous insights into that kind of cinemas vanishing all over America.

Looks like the Graham Cinema won’t though, as it now has digital projection but still keeps the low prices of tickets and concession, plus the friendly front of house that made it so popular in the first place.

I strongly urge you all to read it and hats off to senior reporter Kyra Gemberling, who will no doubt one day be nominated for a Pulitzer, if not for this article already.

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Opened in 1928, it was once the epitome of Saturday night hangouts in Small Town, U.S.A. The balcony of the cinema’s one and only auditorium overflowed with children bouncing up and down in their seats. The line for the concession stand filled the tiny lobby, often going out the front door and flowing into the bustling street. The grand marquee, advertising show times for such classic films as “The Little Colonel” starring Shirley Temple, served as a beacon of light to guide families coming from all over Alamance County and beyond to its doors.

But with the passing of nearly six decades, countless owners and a fire that once gutted the entire building, Matthews knew Graham Cinema was no longer the sparkling movie house it once was.

He would go on to spend the next 30 years working relentlessly to restore the old theater to its former glory. He reupholstered all 240 seats himself. He hired a cleaning crew to scrub the building from top to bottom. He gave out free tickets all over town just to get people in the door.  LINK

US screens by type

 

India: Dolby has installed the first Atmos cinema in the nation’s capital Delhi at the Delite Cinema in Daryaganj.

And while Delite is the first Atmos hall in Delhi, in India, there are already several halls (mostly in South India) with Atmos installed. The first hall to use this technology was the Sathyam multiplex in Chennai, but there are more now, including PVR Juhu in Mumbai.

Shashank Raizada, owner of Delite Cinemas said, “I believe Dolby Atmos will be a major differentiator for the movie watching audiences,” adding that he sees it as “providing our audiences with new and innovative concepts for an enhanced experience.”  LINK  LINK2 (has more info)

Delite Cinema

The Delhi Delite announcement comes as Dolby reveals that it plans to have 75 Atmos screens across India by the end of 2014.

Dolby, which provides sound technology to entertainment companies, currently has about 15 screens operational on the Atmos technology.

“We are in discussion with multiplex and single screen theatre owners. We are confident that cinema goers will enjoy the sound experience that Atmos offers and more screens across the country will adopt this technology,” Ashim Mathur, Marketing Head of Dolby Technology India, told PTI today.

He added that while most of the present screens are in southern and western part of India, Dolby will expand to other states as well.

“Currently, 15 screens are operational and about 25 are in construction. We should have 75 Atmos screens by calendar year-end,” he said.  LINK 

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YouTube Announces Support Of 4K Video

YouTube LogoOn July 9th the ongoing debate between 2K and 4K digital cinema picture resolution took an interesting turn when an unexpected player entered the fray. At VidCon 2010, a conference for online video professionals, came to a close, YouTube announced that they would begin supporting and streaming videos shot in 4K. (And you thought the popular website was only good for short clips of cats riding vacuum cleaners).

Okay granted, this news doesn’t really advance the discussion of digital cinema so much as it raises the awareness of projected image resolution to many industry outsiders who had never given it much thought before. YouTube’s blog post announcing the support of 4K is a perfect example of how the topic is being discussed by the public at large:

To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.

It was only in December of 2009 that YouTube announced they would allow for 1080p video content to be uploaded and streamed. Less then a year later they are increasing the resolution of the videos they’ll accept by four times to 4096 x 2304 pixels. As a comparison, Sony’s SRX-R320 digital cinema projector has a native resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels.

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Sony Expands In Europe With National Amusements, AMC, And Dealer Partnerships

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

Sony's SRX-R320 Projector

If Sony wanted to make a big splash at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam this past week then they did one heck of a job. On Tuesday, the second day of the conference, Sony announced two exhibitor agreements with National Amusements and AMC Entertainment’s United Kingdom based theatres for digital conversions. The company, known for its 4K digital cinema solution, also struck up partnerships with three European digital cinema dealers.

National Amusements
The biggest of these announcements had to be the news that National Amusements had chosen Sony as their integrator. The theatre chainis one of the largest in the world, operating 950 screens across venues in the U.K., United States and Latin America. National Amusements is the fifth largest theatre chain in North America.

Under their existing virtual print fee (VPF) agreements with Hollywood studios, Sony will install their 4K digital cinema projectors on all of National Amusements’ screens. They will start immediately with Showcase Cinemas, National Amusements’ U.K. theatre chain where Sony Digital Cinema 4K systems will be deployed on all 276 screens. In an effort to quickly ramp up the number of 3D screens at the circuits disposal, Sony will install the first 24 systems before the end of July.

There was no mention when installation of d-cinema equipment would begin in the U.S. or South America.  In fact the press release seemed purposefully non-committal, referring to the deal as an “expected global exhibitor agreement”. One could read into the use of the word “expected” or assume that Sony will be deploying equipment to the 450 screens National Amusements has in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. The theatre chain owns 16 theatres in South America which would probably be included in any worldwide rollout.

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