No Shortage of D Cinema Conferences

By J. Sperling Reich | April 5, 2008 9:36 pm PDT

It seems as if not a week goes by in which there isn’t a digital cinema conference being held somewhere in the world. This has never been more true than during the month of April 2008. At least three conferences will be held in three different countries focusing on the emerging technology taking over cinemas worldwide.

In Oslo, Norway, Film & Kino, the main organisation responsible for representing government owned cinemas in 149 municipalities, is hosting a conference on April 7th and 8th aimed at educating the country’s theatre personnel and cinema managers on digital cinema advances being made both domestically and internationally. That’s probably not a bad idea, since unlike other Scandinavian countries, most European countries and the United States, the government is actually subsidizing the rollout of digital cinema in Norway. The Nordic Digital Alliance and NORDIC launched the first phase of trials in 2006 by converting 21 screens in 15 cinemas to D cinema. Now the Magnus Barfot cinema in Bergen has been completely converted to digital and the second phase of the project, which moves beyond technical beta tests, should commence by late 2008.

With 20 cinema complexes (36 screens) participating in the second wave of conversions, Lene Løken, head of Film & Kino reports:

“We are planning for a big digital rollout in 2009. . . Phase two is looking into how smaller cinemas can be hooked on bigger cinemas in terms of organisation, technical aspects and digital knowledge. We also investigate alternative content programming such as opera or ballet and want to do trials with satellite screenings. Also, we are in discussions with US studios for them to share the costs of conversion to D cinema. We’d like to agree to a joint-venture so that Film & Kino will pay a share, US studios another share via the Virtual Print Free model, and cinemas/municipalities another share. We believe we will have an agreement with US studios in due course this summer.”

Then, on April 12th and 13th in Las Vegas, the NAB Show opens with the the Digital Cinema Summit. About 650 people, most of them technically inclined, will hold panel discussions for two days about the the industry’s transition to digital cinema. The summit is held every year at the start of the NAB Show and because it comes so soon after ShoWest a great deal of the material covered is a rehash of information previously presented to the exhibitors and distributors in attendance.

For instance, discussions billed as “Report from NATO”, “Thwarting In-theater Piracy” and “The Exhibition Perspective: Truth and Consequences in the D-Cinema Rollout” will no doubt cover familiar ground, however it’s a safe bet that the “News from DCI” panel will be standing room only. What makes the summit a newsworthy event each year is the range of the topics covered and the often technical nature of the discussions. The “Report from the ASC: Look Management and its Relationship to Digital Cameras” and “Practical D-Cinema Mastering” are perfect examples. The NAB Show website states:

Topics to be addressed at the Summit include digital cinematography, stereoscopic production, art direction, digital intermediate workflow, d-cinema mastering, 2D and 3D distribution, issues in exhibition, anti-piracy, and the progress of the standards process.

Finally, in London on April 16th, Screen Digest and the European Digital Cinema Forum are holding a conference titled “Digital Cinema and Film Distribution: Opportunities and Threats”. Rather than focus on issues faced by motion picture exhibitors, the workshops will focus on the role of distributors in digital cinema.

Some of the day’s panel moderators will include Screen Digest senior analyst David Hancock, EDCF president Dave Monk and Peter Buckingham from the UK Film Council.

J. Sperling Reich