Spanning the Cinema World: ICTA's L.A. Seminar provides a global perspective on exhibition

Cinemas Features

For more than a decade, the International Cinema Technology Association has hosted its annual Los Angeles Seminar Series. Initially conceived as an educational session, the L.A. Seminar Series has emerged to become one of the most important industry gatherings for keeping up with new developments in cinema technology, monitoring business issues and networking.

This January, the ICTA/LASS promises to be one of the most comprehensive events ever hosted by ICTA. Over two days, attendees will participate in 16 sessions including panel discussions, presentations, and three offsite visits to local cinemas for live demonstrations. Topics range from new trends in cinema technology, theatre design and operations, moviegoer research and interactive attraction technologies to insights on the global cinema market. And, as always, attendees will get a preview of new products and technologies from the industry’s leading equipment manufacturers.

This year’s Los Angeles Seminar kicks off on Monday evening, January 15, at the Universal Hilton with the traditional welcome cocktail reception open to all attendees. The following day opens with a keynote address featuring a global perspective on the evolving international cinema exhibition market, presented by Cinépolis chief operating officer Miguel Mier.

Day one sessions continue on a vital topic, as the cinema environment becomes increasingly networked. James Pope, an IT expert and sound/video engineer at Charles Creative, will discuss “Network Security Best Practices, Penetration Testing and Horror Stories.”

One of the most dynamic and most talked-about recent trends in cinema over the past year is the potential of large direct-view screens in theatrical exhibition applications. Frank Tees of Moving Image Technologies will lead a panel discussion on “Direct View Cinema Displays.” featuring industry experts and representatives from equipment vendors. Panelists will discuss the implications for theatre owners, equipment manufacturers, installers and the moviegoer.

While ICTA was originally conceived as an organization for cinema equipment manufacturers, over the past decade its mission has expanded to include membership and perspectives from all other corners of the cinema industry. The year’s Seminar features an “Exhibitor Roundtable,” where technology managers from several leading cinema chains will share viewpoints on a variety of topics that impact theatre operations.

Cinema sound technology is always evolving, with new formats and methods of delivering the auditory experience to theatre patrons. Ultimately, that experience comes down to the selection of equipment and the environment in which it operates, including power amplifiers, loudspeakers, audio signal processing and room acoustics. While some may view these as mature technologies, they are certainly not indistinguishable, as John F. Allen points out in a session themed “Amplifiers Are NOT All the Same.” This session covers the important attributes of power amplifiers and compares their different classes.

Afterwards, Mark Elliott, CEO of Eomac. will lead an informative panel discussion on the “Design and Construction Challenges of Food and Beverage Services in the Cinema of 2018,” which will include concessions vendors, designers and architects. Panelists will discuss how the expansion of concession services has impacted theatre interior design.

Looking toward the worldwide market, attendees will get an opportunity to learn about the current climate of global content distribution in a one-on-one interview with Andrew Cripps, president of 20th Century Fox International Distribution.

What does today’s moviegoing audience think about the current state of the cinema industry? Since our true collective end-customer is the moviegoer, this year’s Seminar provides several sessions devoted to listening to our customers. Billy Jones, senior director, strategic marketing, with leading cinema advertising network and research firm National CineMedia, will review some of the findings from their ongoing frequent-moviegoers research initiative “Ask The Audience” (a regular feature of Film Journal International). Also, a group of young moviegoers will present their opinions of today’s moviegoing experience, in a panel discussion led by Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore.

The first day of LASS 2018 will conclude with a post-dinner trip to the UCLA James Bridges Theatre for an entertaining “Look at 70mm”, hosted by UCLA’s Jess Daily and Ioan Allen of Dolby Labs.

Day two will begin with a field trip across the street to the AMC Universal Cinemas for a fascinating presentation/demonstration about archival film restoration. Theo Gluck, director of library restoration and preservation at Disney Studios, will show film samples and trace the painstaking process of restoring and preserving classic film masterpieces.

One of the most promising technologies on the horizon for motion picture image quality is high dynamic range (HDR). A panel discussion led by Christie’s Susie Beiersdorf will offer different viewpoints from studios, tech experts and filmmakers on the definition of HDR, what we can expect from it, and the realities of implementing it in today’s cinema.

As cinema technologies evolve, we sometimes lose perspective on the cultural importance of the cinema. Is it fundamentally an art form, entertainment or a business? To lend some clarity to the topic, two presenters will provide different viewpoints. One of the industry’s foremost experts on image and projection quality, Harry Mathias, professor at San Jose State University, will discuss the crossroads of technology and art in a special lecture. Then, attendees will hear a research-based perspective from Dan Cryan, executive director of media and content at IHS Markit, a global market intelligence firm. Dan will discuss the relationship between the cinema experience and the technology used to deliver it.

Event cinema offers one of the most promising revenue generators for theatre operators to allow them to capitalize on their investment in properties and technology. Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom Events, will lead us through the current state of this exciting opportunity, and how theatre operators can be part of it.

The final business discussion for the day dives into the world of data, focusing on how cinemas are collecting tons of data on their customer transactions and how they can use that data in order to improve the business. Alan Roe, CEO of Jack Roe, and Leon Newnham, president of Vista USA, will discuss “Using Data to Build Your Business."

Another opportunity for alternative use of the cinema is recreating the excitement of a live sporting environment in a movie theatre. The final event of the Seminar will be an offsite visit to Hollywood’s legendary TCL Chinese Theatre, for an e-sports demonstration and reception hosted by MediaMation.

This year’s ICTA Los Angeles Seminar offers a full 360-degree look at what’s going on in the theatrical exhibition business. If movie theatres are part of your life, there is simply no better opportunity to mingle with your peers, gain new insights and learn ways to grow your business—and have some fun along the way.


Schedule of Events

Monday, January 15

7:00 PM – Welcome Cocktail Reception & Dinner (Ballroom C)


Tuesday, January 16

8:30 AM– Breakfast (Foyer A&B)

9:00 AM– Welcome: Mike Archer, President, ICTA
9:15 AM – Keynote Address. Speaker: Miguel Mier, COO Cinépolis
9:45 AM – “Network Security Best Practices, Penetration Testing and Horror Stories”
Speaker: James Pope, Sound/Video Engineer & Editor at Charles Creative

10:30 AM– “Direct View Cinema Displays: Let’s Talk Solutions, Not Panels”
Moderator: Frank Tees
Special Remarks: Peter Lude, CTO, Mission Rock Digital
Panelists: Barry Ferrell, QSC
John Batliner, Harman
Charles Robinson, Dolby
Chris Buchanan/Bill Mandell, Samsung
Gary Mandle, Sony Electronics

11:45 AM– Exhibitor Roundtable
Moderator: Joe DeMeo
Speakers: Mark Louis, Alamo Drafthouse
Mark Collins, Marcus Theatres
Kirk Griffin, Harkins Theatres
Jon Kidder, National Amusements

12:30 AM– “Amplifiers Are NOT All the Same”
Speaker: John Allen, President, High Performance Stereo

1:00 PM– Lunch (Ballroom C)

2:00 PM– 2018 Annual ICTA Convention, NAPA Marriott
Speaker: Joe DeMeo

2:15 PM– “Not Just Popcorn & Soda Pop—Meeting the Design and
Construction Challenges of Food and Beverage Services in the Cinema of 2018”
Moderator: Mark Elliott, CEO, EOMAC
Speakers: Derek Galloway, Martek
Mike Cummings, TK Architects
Bruce Proctor, Proctor Companies
Bob McCall, JKRP Architects

3:00 PM– Interview with Andrew Cripps, President of 20th Century Fox International Distribution

3:30 PM– “Ask the Audience”
Billy Jones, Senior Director, Strategic Marketing, National CineMedia

4:00 PM– Panel of Students on Likes and Dislikes of Today’s Cinema
Moderator: Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst, comScore
4:30 PM – Manufacturers’ Presentations

5:00 PM– Wrap-Up for Day 1 by Mike Archer

5:30 PM– Dinner Reception (Ballroom C & D)

6:30 PM– “A Look at 70mm”
Hosted by Jess Daily, Motion Picture Projection Services, UCLA
UCLA James Bridges Theatre
Buses depart at 6:30 pm and return at 9 pm.


Wednesday, January 17

Mark Mayfield takes over as moderator.

8:30 AM– Breakfast (A & B Foyer)

9:30 AM– “One Frame at a Time: Preservation, Restoration, Reconstruction”
Speaker: Theo Gluck, Director, Library Restoration & Preservation, Disney Studios

11:00 AM– “HDR in the Cinema”
Moderator: Susie Beiersdorf, VP, Sales, the Americas, Christie Digital
Speakers: Chris Witham, Walt Disney Studios
Mark Christiansen, Paramount Studios
Jerry Pierce, NATO Technology Advisor
Curtis Clark, ASC
Michael Zink, Warner Bros.

12:00 PM– Lunch (Ballroom C)

1:00 PM– “Technology vs. Art in Today’s Cinema”
Speaker: Harry Mathias, Professor at San Jose State University, Department of Film and Theatre

1:30 PM– Research Report
Speaker: Dan Cryan, IHS Markit

2:00 PM– “The Evolution & Impact of Event Cinema”
Speaker: Ray Nutt, Fathom Events

2:30 PM– “It’s Not What You’ve Got But What You Do with It: The Value of Data to Today’s Movie Theatres.”
Speakers: Alan Roe, Jack Roe
Leon Newnham, Vista

3:00 PM– Manufacturers’ Presentations

4:00 PM– Wrap-Up for Day 2 by Mike Archer

5:00 PM– E-Sports Demonstration and Reception,
Sponsored by MediaMation
Buses depart for TCL Chinese Theatre promptly at 5:00 pm from the Universal Hilton.