Bristol’s Bottle Yard Studios explores green alternatives

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European Update

As our industry gathers at CinemaCon, everyone will be checking out the latest and greatest in technology, concessions and film. But CinemaCon also coincides with the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. While this has not yet been acknowledged in the program, let’s all make an effort to honor the Earth. (And thank you, Walt Disney Studios, for Monkey Kingdom!)

I will begin my column with an honorable mention of Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol, United Kingdom, the "European Green Capital 2015," where a partnership with Studio Cars has been providing “eco-friendly, high-quality chauffeur services” to productions based there. “Transport is known to be a significant contributor to the greenhouse gases,” noted Bottle Yard site director Fiona Francombe. The 2009 “Green Screen” report estimated that the industry in London alone generates 125,000 tons of emissions per year (40% caused by studio emissions, 28% by film/TV production activities and 17% by location shoots).

Studio Cars is not the only environmentally friendlier company to join the Bottle Yard. Since last year, sustainable film/TV set-clearance company Drèsd has been offering a “cost-effective alternative to sending set waste to landfill” by repurposing, recycling and reselling salvaged materials to production houses, event companies, interior designers and charities. For more on the subject, check out what our friends at Brooklyn, New York-based Film Biz Recycling are doing.

The Importance of ‘Beautiful Forevers’

Although this headline provides another Earth-friendly message, this item is actually about event cinema.

“NT Live and its technical partners have set the benchmark for bringing world-class theatre into cinemas,” says David McIntosh, VP, Sony Digital Cinema 4K Solutions for Europe and the Americas, hailing the latest live recording of Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Captured at the National Theatre’s Olivier Theatre in London using six Sony F55 4K cameras and mastered as a 4K DCP, the show will be screened in a 4K series across all of Vue’s 83 cinemas, bringing patrons “closer than ever to the atmosphere of being in the best seats in the house at the actual performance.”

Starring David Suchet in what is sure to be a great performance as Lady Bracknell, More2Screen will broadcast Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest from London’s Vaudeville Theatre to cinemas on Oct. 8. Following the live broadcast, there will be an international rollout of the recorded production from November 2015 on. “It’s a winning event cinema combination,” states Christine Costello, managing director of More2Screen, “and offers our exhibitor partners around the world a fantastic programming opportunity for the autumn.”

Let’s Get Immersed!

Stereoscopic 3D, Premium Large Formats, Barco Escape, CJ ScreenX, laser illumination, high dynamic range and variable frame rates are a few initiatives on the image side alone that the exhibition industry is working with to create increasingly more immersive moviegoing experiences. There’s plenty of sound and moving and shaking seats and water splashing to be had at CinemaCon as well. Never mind the Roman connection of Caesars Palace, it seems appropriate to point out two European initiatives that relate to what our industry is working on.

With an overall scientific and industry-wide approach, the Immersive Education Initiative is hosting an international conference in September at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, and just issued a call for speakers, exhibits and research. During the past nine years, featured guests came from Harvard University, MIT, MIT Media Lab, Stanford University, NASA, the United Nations, the United States Department of Education, Smithsonian, Disney, Google, Microsoft, Intel, Oracle and “many other world-class organizations.”

IMMERSION 2015 addresses the “personal and cultural impact” of immersive technologies such as Virtual Reality (Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard, HTC Vive), augmented reality and mixed reality (Microsoft HoloLens); holograms and holography; and wearable computing (Google Glass, Apple Watch). Further along on the list, movie theatres will also face competition from “mechanical and neural brain interfaces, cybernetics and affective computing,” which encompasses “systems that can recognize, interpret, process and simulate human feelings and emotions.” (Okay, we’ve seen plenty of movies about that.) Also mentioned are neuro-gaming technologies that enable “adaptive and radically compelling entertainment experiences.”

On the latter note, our industry cousins in location-based entertainment report that “story immersion and theming” are the big trend as European amusement parks open their new attractions for the summer season. Together, all 307 of them invest an estimated €550 million (US$603.23 mil.) in enhancements annually to ensure their some 150 million guests “can enjoy different experiences from year to year.”

Stated Karen Staley, VP of European operations at trade organization International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, “Intricately themed rides, attractions and park areas create a more immersive or intense experience for guests.” This appearing in Film Journal International, we decided to highlight some movie themes. While Parque de Atracciones De Madrid (Spain) has dedicated its kids’ area to the likes of SpongeBob SquarePants and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the city’s Parque Warner pays tribute to Batman, with an exhibition and stunts show. Formerly branded around Warner Bros. as well, Movie Park Germany is bringing the Minions to Bottrop and has them greeting guests and playing their parts in the daily parade. Disneyland Paris, Marne-La-Vallée, France, will offer a musical production based on Frozen. No surprise there!

The annual IAAPA Europe Spring Forum will take place May 21-22 at Vialand and Kidzania in Istanbul, Turkey.

Finally, a forecast courtesy of Venture Beat: Market advisor Digi-Capital estimates that the combined markets of augmented and virtual reality will reach $150 billion by 2020. Managing director Tim Merel believes that “augmented reality—where you can add a virtual overlay to glasses that enable you to see the real world in a new way—will be four times bigger at $120 billion than virtual reality, which immerses you in a virtual world via goggles. Merel estimates that virtual reality will be more of a niche market at $30 billion by 2020, up from “single-digit billions” in 2016.

CERN Celebrates CineGlobal

In Geneva, Switzerland, the theme was one of “convergence.’ On March 24-29, CERN-the European Organization for Nuclear Research (and the world’s leading laboratory for particle physics if MIT and NASA aren’t high-tech enough for you) played host to the fifth annual CineGlobe International Film festival. “This year, CineGlobe witnesses how science is changing the way we tell stories in art and cinema,” noted festival director Neal Hartmann. “CERN is like a global village,” added director-general Rolf Heuer, “offering fertile ground for the convergence of science, technology, research, creative process, art and personal expression. It’s a natural place to host such an event.” In addition to 31 fiction and 27 nonfiction films that were selected from more than 900 submissions, CineGlobe offers workshops and interactions. The latter include an eight-month “Hackathon challenge to tell stories about science” using the previously mentioned Oculus Rift.