UNIC calls for premium standards

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European Update

“Speaking on behalf of cinema operators and their national federations across 36 countries,” the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC-cinemas.org) addressed “the development of an increasing array of technology options aimed at improving the film-viewing experience in theatres.”

To guard their investments in the latest and greatest equipment in their goal “to provide cinema-goers with the most immersive and engaging experience possible,” the trade organization cautioned that its members need to screen “as many films as possible in the many sound and image formats that are now available.” Those formats include Premium Large Format (PLF), immersive sound, laser projection and High Dynamic Range (HDR).

“Unfortunately, some of our members find themselves increasingly confronted with situations where they are not able to show a film in the best possible quality–as permitted by the equipment available in their cinemas.” UNIC added that issues around cinema standards contribute to this problem. Kim Pedersen, UNIC VP and chair of its technology group, therefore encourages “all stakeholders in the cinema ecosystem to work together in good faith.” UNIC also calls for the development of open standards in the industry “to give operators the comfort and assurance they require in order to have confidence that the investment they are making is worthwhile.” Manufacturers need to “make sure that the cinema equipment they deliver does not rely on proprietary technology.” Pederson also asks film producers and distributors, as well as directors, “to create films in those open standards in order that they might be screened around the world and not only in a limited number of venues.” Otherwise, programming becomes a function only of the format types that a cinema is able to show. “Open standards would, in turn, allow new and innovative formats to flourish and be adopted more widely.”

Berlin Ponders ‘The Nature of Relations’

As we enter the New Year, the motto of Berlinale Talents 2016, “The Nature of Relations,” sounds like a good guiding principle for all that lies ahead.

During the 66th annual Berlin International Film Festival (Feb. 11-21, 2016), the educational program of some 100 talks, workshops and networking events will assist 300 “outstanding Talents” in illuminating “the power, force and energy of interconnected thinking and creating.”

Program manager Florian Weghorn observed, “In a time when connections are everything and everyone is connected, the nature of the relation itself is still a habitat to discover. Together, we aim to shed light on single elements as well as see the bigger picture.” In practicality, that means organizers and hosts will “explore new methods for collective and interdisciplinary film work, immerse into the inner coherences of story and character in cinematic narration and tackle the quality of actual relationships, e.g. with audiences against and across political, economic and cultural borders.”

The summit received applications from 2,648 professionals from 118 countries and the fields of directing, producing, acting, screenwriting, cinematography, editing, production design, film criticism, world sales, distribution, sound design and score composing.

Laser Firsts in Germany and Russia

Just in time for the opening of Spectre, Cinedom 14 in Cologne, Germany, upgraded its main auditorium of 705 seats with 6P/4K laser projection from Barco delivering 60,000 lumens to its 22-meter screen (72 feet). While that was a country first, the accompanying 65,000-watt-amplified Dolby Atmos sound system is one of 30 in Germany already. All components of the new projection and sound systems were planned, supplied and installed by Kinoton Digital Solutions. That includes 44 surround speakers, 18 plus two sub-bass surrounds on the ceiling, and five four-way stage speaker systems.

Because of its size and structure, the house acoustics “posed special challenges,” Kinoton noted. “The speakers also had to be installed in a way that avoids sound transmission leakage into the auditorium located directly above it.” Confirmed Martin Ebert, managing director of Cinedom Kinobetriebe GmbH, “Design, planning and delivery went extremely smoothly, thanks to the support of the whole Kinoton team at the installation site.”

Russia also received its country-first Barco DP4K-60L 4K laser system, with installation at Cinema Park Mega Khimki in Moscow provided by Ymagis Group. “Our cooperation with Russia’s largest cinema exhibitor is a significant achievement to us and strengthens our business relationships in this market,” enthused Kirill Kuzmenko, general director of dcinex/Ymagis Group’s Russian office. Cinema Park chose its Premium Large Format SUPER D auditorium of 376 seats and a 17.7-meter-wide screen (58 feet) for the laser projection upgrade.

In Turkey, Mars Cinema purchased eight of Sony’s 4K dual-projection SRX-R515DS for the circuit’s large premium screens. Sony will supply an additional 45 3D systems as well as 41 SRX-R510P and 29 SRX-R515P projectors for smaller and mid-sized auditoriums. “As we continue to grow, our need for new projectors has also grown,” said Kurt Rieder, CEO of Mars Cinema Group. “We carefully compared 4K offerings from all manufacturers and Sony’s projectors distinguish themselves by being the best image quality available on the market today. Sony Digital Cinema 4K lets us give our guests the picture quality they deserve. This combined with a low total cost of ownership made the deal really attractive to us and our guests.”

Starting out in its U.S. manufacturing plant, Harkness Screens, the U.K.-based global leader in screen technology, will begin the transition from its existing standard perforation pattern to a new one: offering an open area of over 4% with over 65,000 holes per square meter.

“Harkness’ Digital Perforation Pattern has been specifically designed to reduce the onset of the Moiré effect,” explained chief technical officer David Harrison. This artifact is “caused when the weave pattern of a screen aligns and then interferes with the projector’s pixelated images, resulting in an undesired, strobe-like effect across the screen,” he noted. “With the resolution of projectors growing, it is a common issue in contemporary digital imaging.”

Parallel with this change in manufacturing, Harkness also increased the width of its base material, helping to further reduce the number of seams required by at least 30%. The new Harkness 4K Digital Perforation Pattern will be extended to its Asian operations in early 2016, with Europe following shortly after, the company anticipates.