Tag Archives: Dolby Atmos

CJ@SMPTE Conference – Listen Up: Immersive Sound

SMPTE Conference 2014 - Immersive Sound

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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China Special Cinema Digest – Thursday 25 September 2014

Today we catch up Chinese cinema news from the last couple of weeks, which I was unable to report while travelling. As always, the Google translation is not perfect, but as we do not have a journalist on staff who can translate perfectly from Mandarin (yet!), it will have to do. We are also saving the biggest piece of cinema news to come out of China recently for a separate post.

Chen Xing technology laser

Our favourite Chinese (digital) cinema equipment manufacturer Chen Xing has issues a list of “Seven Rules for Cinema Brand Building” that heavily promotes its own technologies and solutions, while also providing an insight into the company’s thinking and strategy.

Don’t forget what we’ve written about them before: “China’s ‘Last Mile’ Plan for Digital Cinema: Ditch Western Technology.” This is as much true for smartphones and airplanes as it is for cinema equipment – China does not want to keep importing ‘Western’ technologies but build their own (then export it). Such competition and innovation should not be seen as a threat but a good thing.

The Seven Rules are: acoustical design, sound system, laser light source projection, TMS centralized management and control systems, cinema ticketing management system and service quality guarantee system.

Chen Xing talks about the alternatives it will offer up when it comes to laser (illuminated) projection, as well as immersive audio, where its Cinelab has developed 5.1, 15.1 and 17.1 audio which “get rid of the shackles of sources,” and offer “the perfect interpretation of the Dolby (ATMOS) panoramic sound studio truest sound.”

Chen Xing fires a shot across the bows of the other manufacturers by pointing out that while not being part of the original DCI elite, it is one of the largest server/media block deployers in the world today.

Digital Film for film and television industry has brought tremendous changes. Especially in distribution and exhibition side, digital cinema technology has maintained rapid growth in recent years. Of course, these are inseparable from the updated device technology. Regardless nowadays 3D, IMAX, 4K and other high-tech marketing, have become an end shadow vane hall, the market demand for high-tech also “hubbub straight on.” Christie, Barco, NEC, SONY have launched projectors with laser light source, which means Hollywood recommended type of light source laser source trend.

Among them, in the digital cinema systems, as film screenings server core products while always being SONY, GDC, Dolby, Doremi and other foreign manufacturers, “occupation”, but with the development of technology, more and more Chinese national brand manufacturers Chen Xing Technology began as “emerging” by the market influence is also rising. It is understood that the field of the world’s digital projectors DCI-compliant digital cinema server products, market share and influence were sorted by: GDC, Dolby, Doremi, Chen Xing AQ series.  LINK

Imax Tianjin

Imax screens only account for one per cent (1%) of the total Mainland screen count but an astonishing ten per cent (10%) of the box office, according to an interview with Imax’s director in China Yuan Hong. He also reiterates that China’s total box office will overtake the United States, some time between 2018 and 2020. “When will we surpass the United States? Five years ago we did not expect to ask this question, now it is just around the corner,” he observes.

Also at the box office, too, “as the movie, the theater itself is dependent on bringing new grossing film screenings, but also for the huge traffic.” Especially as the Lunar New Year stalls, summer gears up. “It also shows that, for shopping centre developers, the introduction of a cinema format still has a very good future.” At the box office, although high, it brings high turnover, but the scene, Yuan Hong also points out is “broke.” “For the cinema itself the profit margins are very limited, even if the movie is good, it is quicker to make money from popcorn, drinks, toys and other Transformers. ”  LINK

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CJ@IBC ‘Immersive Audio – from the big screen to the small screen’

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Julian Pinn (Julian Pinn Ltd.) says the industry in embracing immersive audio at a fast rate, at least if compared to the uptake of digital audio in cinemas in the 1990s. He invites the panel to stage in turn and opens up the session. No powerpoints. Instead Julian promises to be a ‘fair’ moderator and give each speaker his turn. (The balance between Atmos, Auro and DTS is fair, in terms of time, though Skywalker Sound is given the most time.)

“There is a real hunger that people are prepared to pay for a premium cinema experience,” which includes better audio, says Pinn as he kicks off the panelists’ five minute each.

Brian Claypool (Barco BV) says Barco is not known for audio, but once digital cinema projector deployments were well underway they asked cinemas what was next. Atmos and other Barco initiatives (Escape et al) is what the result of that feedback was. “We don’t want to re-invent the wheel, we want to create something tangible of value to exhibitors,”  says Claypool of Auro. “We need to keep the interest of cinema at the forefront of what we do. Not many people have Barco projectors in the home.” [Do I etect tension with Auro in the home?] Stresses importance of unified workflow.

Stuart Bowling (Dolby Laboratories) stresses that “audio is our background and we had different approach” to immersive audio. “5.1 is not enough. Creatively the movie makers we spoke to felt it was holding them back.” He goes on an elaborates, “With digital cinema we had greater bandwidth and uncompressed audio, which gave greater potential. We had to create tool sets, we had to create new ecosystem.” The starting point was with a ProTool plug-in and worked with mixers.

Gerard Loupias (DTS) – Pinn asks if DTS didn’t exit cinemas and why is it getting back in? Loupias says “we want to do immersive audio without restrictions and by ‘restrictions’ we mean costs. This is why DTS is offering an ‘open’ format.” He says if a cinema has 20 screens it cannot afford to make them all immersive because of the cost. Points out that all of them on the panel “love sound”. Says that Auro and Atmos “are the same idea.” Emphasizes that this is aso an issue for broadcast and the home. Says that their tools are available from the likes of Fairlight.

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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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CJ@IBC ‘Life of Pi’ in Christie 6P laser 14 ftL 3D with Dolby Atmos

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The IBC movie night screenings have always been an opportunity to showcase the latest advances in big screen technology, while also giving IBC attendees a bit of blockbuster fun. This year was a technology world first that made a big impression on everyone attending.

Thanks to tremendous support from IBC’s technology, integration and content partners, we were treated to a 3D presentation of an unsurprassed quality. Thanks to the use of Christie’s new 6P laser-illuminated projector, over 40 speakers from QSC, Dolby Atmos immersive audio and a DCP of 20th Century Fox’s multi-Oscar winning ‘Life of Pi’ graded especially for 14 footlamberts (ftL) 3D brightness, projected onto a 1.0 gain matt screen, it showcased something that no public audience had yet seen before, as IBC Big Screen Experience producer Julian Pinn explained on stage.

Two years ago Christie first showa ased its laser projectors at IBC with a secial screening of ‘Hugo’, but that was off a silver screen with an 1.8 gain. Back then there was no immersive audio (either Atmos or Auro), so this presentation raised the bar in several regards. While not new, the film was an excellent choice, not least given that it had won Academy Awards for best Cinematography, Visual Effects and Music.

Watching it I was not so much immediately struck by the brightness but by the colours, details and clarity. It is a cliche to talk about ‘looking through a window’ but that is what it felt like as the camera panned through the Pondicherry zoo over the opening credits. Yes, it was bright as you would expect a sunny day in southern India to be, but the brightness felt natural. But brightness is only something that you consciously appreciate when it is not there – as will be the case with future 3D films I watch in regular cinemas.

The audio was equally impressive, not least because of a terrific mix that was as nuanced in the stormy sea scenes with the ship sinking as the quieter moments that picked out individual sounds of animals. The combines effect was such that almost nobody in the audience (who filled the big RAI Auditorium) got up to leave once the film had started. For a Saturday night in Amsterdam, that is truly impressive.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 5 September 2014

Selfridge cinema

London’s luxury department store Selfridges (star of the ITV drama series about its eponymous American founder) will be one of the first stores in the world to have its own in-house cinema. We like the look of it so much that we even break our usual policy of only posting on photo per story to show you both the outside (above) and inside (below) – so no artwork for China BO.

Selfridges opens the world’s first department store cinema in its iconic Oxford Street store today, which will screen classic and contemporary films.

Selfridges has teamed up with the independent chain Everyman to install the 60-seat 3,500 sq ft experience, located on the store’s lower-ground floor.

The cinema, which will be at Selfridges until spring 2015, will initially screen films selected by designers from the store’s Masters campaign, which showcases the work of 12 influential designers such as Paul Smith, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta.  LINK

Selfridge cinema

China (PRC) – Chinese Mainland box office it set to pass USD $5 billion this year, according to THR.

China’s box office has just passed the key 20 billion yuan ($3.26 billion) threshold, a full three months faster than last year, and is already swiftly approaching last year’s $3.55 billion total.

With a raft of major Hollywood and domestic titles still to come this year in the world’s second-biggest film market, box office is on track for $5 billion in full-year 2014, according to M1905, which is the official website of the state broadcaster’s movie channel, CCTV6.

It took 246 days to break through the 20-billion-yuan marker, which is 96 days faster than last year.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 14 August 2014

Kino Femina in Warsaw

Polas are increasingly turning their backs on multiplexes in favour of smaller cinemas – preferring cheaper tickets, fewer adverts and more varied programming – according to the latest data from the Polish Central Statistical Office.

The share of the largest, multiplex cinemas has declined from 58.1 percent in 2012 to 55.2 percent last year.

Smaller cinemas are slowly gaining ground. Those with three to seven screens now have 30 percent of the market, compared to 27.4 percent in 2012.

The smallest venues, with one or two screens, have increased their market share from 14.5 percent to 14.8 percent. This translates into some 100,000 viewers more year-to-year.

The upward trend is also visible in the number of smaller cinemas. In 2013 there were 58 of the smallest ones in Poland, compared to 51 in 2012 and just 6 in 2001. LINK

Huayi Brothers Media

China – Having only bought into the cinema market last September, Huayi is selling out and more than doubling its money.

Huayi Brothers Media has agreed to sell its 20% stake in Jiangsu Yao Lai Studios Management, a regional cinema operator.

Huayi is selling to Songliao Automobile and will receive RMB464 (US$75 million) for the stake.

Jiangsu Yao Lai will remain 60% controlled by Beijing Sparkle Roll company.  LINK

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IBC 2014 Big Screen Experience – Q&A With Exec Producer Julian Pinn

 

Douglas Trumbull

Keynote speaker Doug Trumbull (not Julian Pinn)

With digital cinema conversion completed in most of the world, this year the IBC Big Screen Experience (running 12-15 September in Amsterdam’s RAI) has be re-vamped extensively to focus on the latest issues facing the industry. Sessions such as EDCF have been moved from their traditional slot (now Sunday evening, followed by drinks) and new areas of coverage introduced.

Significantly the Big Screen Experience conference strand will be completely free to anyone attending the IBC trade show, which means that anyone can come and hear leading industry experts discussing the issues affecting the industry today and tomorrow at no extra cost. There is also the traditional Hollywood blockbusters, only this year it’s Apes with both Atmos and lasers, also free (thanks to 20th Century Fox) as part of #IBCbigscreen

Celluloid Junkie caught up with industry veteran Julian Pinn (founder and consultant for Julian Pinn Ltd) who is the Executive Producer for this year’s Big Screen conference, to ask him what those planning to attend should make room for in their no-doubt packed IBC diaries.

Celluloid Junkie: This is the first year that IBC’s Big Screen conference stream is free to all attendees of the show, what’s behind this change?

Julian Pinn: For IBC registered delegates, the IBC Big Screen Experience is indeed a free-to-attend programme of carefully curated, editorially lead conference sessions, exhibitor product demonstrations, and Big Screen movies. The minimum IBC registration one needs to gain access to the Big Screen Experience is an Exhibition Visitor Pass, which itself is free if booked before 21 August 2014. This is an initiative by IBC to add value to the overall IBC experience and to remove barriers and complexity to those who are looking to make the most out of their busy schedule during the entirety of IBC2014.

CJ:  Is there a theme running through all the sessions?

JP:  IBC Big Screen in recent years has focussed on the transition to Digital Cinema. With Digital Cinema done and dusted in most parts of the world, this year’s IBC Big Screen conference is looking at the disruption taking place in cinema and the wider industries:

- disruption due to a wealth of scientific innovation that digital has unlocked, and what that means to the artists’ abilities to create new stories and to move their audiences in more powerful ways, and

- disruption due to the new entrants, new commercial realities, and new ways of doing business not only within the cinema business but within the wider industry from big screen to small screens.

CJ:  What new issues and topics will be discussed at this year’s Big Screen?

JP:  Not a quick answer I’m happy to say! The conference kicks off this year on Friday afternoon when we will be asking for the first time if the Big Screen and Second Screens can coexist peacefully and profitably—experiencing first-hand the technologies from Shazam and Cinime.

Saturday will feature a mixture of sponsored sessions, from Red and ARRI, with a couple of editorial sessions new to IBC in recent years. The first is on Event Cinema—a new sector to the business that is predicted to grow to 5% of the overall global cinema box office by 2015; we will be seeing examples and discussing important questions about the challenges of merging the two disciplines of broadcast and cinema from technological, artistic, and commercial perspectives.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 5 August 2014

Carmike Cinema logo

USA – Carmike has released its quarterly figures and discussed them in a conference call. Overall the company claims to be weathering the downturn pretty well, despite a drop in profits of over 50%, with a strong recent focus on M&As. Here is what S. David Passman III, the company’s President and CEO had to say.

Carmike once again outperformed the overall domestic box office in revenue and attendance during the quarter, which was a challenging period for the U.S. market, due to very strong box office results posted during the second quarter of 2013. Despite the domestic industry decline of almost 7%, Carmike’s admissions revenues actually increased by 7% during the three month period, and our total attendance grew 4%.

On a per screen basis, our box office receipts declined less than 1%. In fact, Carmike’s per screen performance was nearly 600 basis points better than the overall industry. As I have said in the past, while the film slate will vary from quarter-to-quarter, our expanded scale and companywide emphasis on customer service excellence, combined with our growing circuit of high quality theater, remain important factors in our ability to generate favorable operating results over the long term.  LINK

barco_logo

Brazil – Barco is the projector supplier for the recent Doremi/Quanta deal that we wrote about yesterday. Some insights into the market from the press release.

Digital cinema expert Barco is proud to announce that it has recently closed a deal with integrator Quanta DGT to supply 500 digital cinema projectors to theaters in Brazil through a Virtual Print Fee (VPF) financing model. Many of the largest cinema exhibitors – Cinesystem, GNC, Cine Sercla, CineShow, CineArt, AFA Cinemas, PlayArte, Arcoplex, Cinematográfica Araujo – and dozens of small exhibitor groups have chosen to go digital with Barco digital cinema projectors.

While Brazil is the world’s tenth most important cinema market in admissions, the digitization percentage has been quite low for a long time: only around 38% of the 2,500 screens were digitized by the end of 2013. Recent public policies encouraging exhibitors to digitize their screens, including the VPF program, are taking hold and over 70% of the country’s exhibitors have already joined the program. Many of them rely on the support of system integrator Quanta DGT who, together with global digital cinema leader Arts Alliance Media have VPF agreements with the Hollywood studios to fund the rollout of digital cinema across Latin America.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 22 July 2014

Imax China

Imax – According to Wall Street Journal China, Imax is planning to open a further 19 screens in partnership with local companies ahead of listing its local operation. Interestingly Richard Gelfond’s Chinese name is Gail Fang.

IMAX theater will open new cooperation with Chinese state-owned Shanghai Film Group (Shanghai Film Corp.), these new theater will open in the second half of 2015. IMAX chief executive Gail Fang (Richard Gelfond) in an interview that the new screen is in agreement IMAX April this year after the signing of a new partnership agreement, IMAX at the time that 20 percent of China operations will the shares sold to the Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund (China Media Capital) and private equity firm party sources of capital (FountainVest Partners), Chinese Cultural Industry Investment Fund and each party sources of capital will be paid before the beginning of 2015 to $ 40 million to purchase these services 10 % stake. Gail Fang said that this is one of the local partners to introduce IMAX many reasons. He explained that the next few weeks IMAX will sign an agreement with the Shanghai Film Group, a related company in China to open six new screens. He would not disclose more details. Gail Fang said they feel American investors do not fully understand the potential of the Chinese film market. IMAX China is a key growth market, also destined to become the company’s largest market.  LINK

Chinese ticket machine cinema third party

China – Internet purchases of cinema tickets via PCs and smartphones now accounts for as much as 40% of some screenings in China, many through third-party operators. But there are problems getting refunds when a screening or booking is cancelled.

So why buy from a third-party platform movie tickets will not refund it to industry sources, it involves a lot of problems:? First permissions issues, some theater tickets willing to open permissions to the site at any time to cancel or reservation, some if not, for unwilling audience request returned tickets, you need a web site to communicate with the theater; Second, the number of back problems, the user tickets through the website, the website will charge a service fee, which is not linked to the occurrence and the theater, And every ticket website service charges are not the same, how much money to retire to cinema audiences has become a major problem; most critical is that each theater has its own ticketing provision that “once sold, will not refund” also it as a “norm”, because in the theater seems, movie tickets have a time limit, the audience returned tickets may affect sales, so in the case of theater tickets out of their own can not retire, the net purchase tickets.  LINK

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