Digital dominates Berlin International Film Festival

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The 2012 Berlin International Film Festival presented a total of 659 screenings in DCP formats, as well as 627 in 35mm film and some 1,100 in diverse video formats on over 50 different screens across the city. To ensure “the smooth operation of this year’s digital screenings,” festival organizers set up what they called “an elaborate procedure to test the technical quality and structural integrity of the submitted DCP formats” with help from the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits.

Eliminating compatibility problems was left to the festivals’ “internationally renowned” partners. Amongst them, Dolby set up a network of 37 digital-cinema servers at the festival venues, each with a capacity of 2.75 terabytes, and supplied five 24-terabyte SAS data libraries. Barco provided the Berlinale “with their knowhow” as well as with 11 high-performance d-cinema projectors. Connectivity supplier Colt Technology Services linked venues via a large number of high-performance video and data networks, including some 20 that could be fed directly from the central office via fiberoptic cable. Berlin-based Media Logic provided DDP (DynamicDrivePool) storage solutions.

Kinoton was another of the Berlinale’s official suppliers. Dr.-Ing. Reiner Chemnitius, technical supervisor for the festival, noted Kinoton’s “long tradition of providing equipment and technical support. This year, for the first time, this also including digital projection systems.” Originally contracted for three d-cinema systems, Kinoton installed a fourth set-up within a short two days, including configuration to accommodate the digital format’s output by the festival’s proprietary encoding system. The Kinoton solution “functioned seamlessly with our technical infrastructure and digital workflow,” Chemnitius confirmed. “In addition to delivering impeccable picture quality, they were extremely easy to operate despite being fed a wide variety of digital formats.

To see a great video about the process, go to the Berlinale site:
www.berlinale.de/en/_extras/digital_cinema.html.

From the MEDIA Desk
MEDIA-funded films were numerous contenders at the Berlnale and during awards season: 12 in the BAFTA nominations, nine vying for the Oscar, and 18 films screened in Berlin.

“2012 will be a crucial year for the future of the MEDIA Programme,” the U.K. office of MEDIA Desk opined. In December, the European Commission unveiled plans to combine the existing MEDIA and Culture Programmes into one. Running from 2014 to 2020, Creative Europe’s budget of €1.8 billion (US$2.37 mil.) will be significantly higher than each of the current budgets combined. With that, MEDIA Desk foresees “the introduction of a new financial instrument designed to help small businesses in the creative industries have easier access to private financing.”

Further negotiations regarding the content and budget will be ongoing, it was assured, with feedback invited on the Creative Europe proposal “in order to make sure this essential public funding from the European Union for the film and television industries is safeguarded.”

XDC Moves on Bewegte Bilder
With a commitment for over 5,000 digital screens across the Continent, XDC Group recently acquired Germany’s content service provider Bewegte Bilder Medien AG. Headed by Bilder founder Carsten Schuffert, the combined Content Services & Delivery Unit will offer a wide range of post-production services, such as scanning and color timing, alongside the preparation of digital content and its dispatch to cinemas via satellite, hard drive or cable.

XDC’s chief executive officer Serge Plasch noted, “We are one of the major European digital content labs, able to offer one-stop, fast, reliable and quality services to major and independent distributors. We have now three major content hubs in Belgium, Germany and France, with logistical relays in 13 other European territories. Before the end of 2012, we should have three to five additional content hubs. No other company is able to offer such unique local service.”

European Admissions Dip

Based on initial numbers available from 31 European countries, Milano, Italy-based cinema promo agency MEDIA Salles set 2011 admissions at 1.187 million, “slightly down after two record years.” By territory, the 17 Western European countries effectively remained stable (894.6 million spectators vs. 898.3 million in 2010). Central-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Rim, where the MEDIA Salles analysis covered 14 countries, registered a more visible drop of 1.2% (294 million compared to 297.6 million in 2010).

Elisabetta Brunella, secretary general of MEDIA Salles, takes a more detailed look at the top six countries, which account for about three-quarters of European audiences. France continues to grow, consolidating its position as Europe’s leading cinema market with 215.6 million admissions (+4.2%). Also on the upswing are the United Kingdom (with 171.6 million, +1.4%) and Germany (129.6 million, +2.3%), though Austria was down 1.9%. Italy and Spain, by contrast, were down around 8% and 5.9%, respectively. With 161.5 million in 2011, Russia lost about 3% of admissions.

The highest growth rates among established markets were recorded in the Netherlands (+8.0%) and Luxembourg (+5.4%), while several countries in Central-Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Rim received big boosts: Bulgaria (+18.7%), Lithuania (+17.7%), Estonia (+15.9%) and Romania (+15.2%). More moderate increases could be seen for Cyprus (+2.5%), Poland (+3.2%), Turkey (+1.8%) and Slovenia (+0.7%), as the Czech Republic (-20.3%) and the Republic of Slovakia (-10.6%) experienced considerable drops.

In the Eurozone, average ticket prices remained basically stable or began dropping (Italy, Ireland) after several years of increases through 3D surcharges. Last but not least, more than half of European cinemas have now been digitized. On Jan. 1, 2012, MEDIA Salles counted some 18,500 d-cinema screens, up from 10,338 at the beginning of 2011.

Your Film Festival Debuts

YouTube and Emirates Airlines are presenting a global Internet video contest: “15 minutes to tell a story. Millions of people to watch it. $500,000 to make a new one for the world to see.” Throughout June, audiences of the dedicated web channel will vote on their favorite submissions, with ten finalists receiving a trip to Venice, where they will compete for a chance to see their film developed by Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender.

Robert Kyncl, global head of content at YouTube, said this program “will give filmmakers the opportunity to reach a vast audience, screen their work during the Venice Film Festival and potentially be rewarded in a career-changing way… YouTube is committed to bringing entertaining, original content to a global audience.”

E-mail European news items for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@filmjournal.com.