Service to a Tee: Tech talk with MiT's Frank Tees
“My number-one goal for MiT is to ensure that we can provide cutting-edge technology for our customers for years to come and to ensure that our customers can make the most of their technology investment.”
Frank Tees, VP of technical sales support, joined Moving iMage Technologies in November 2011 after spending some 16 years at Regal Cinemas and Regal Entertainment Group. “My role is to support the sales process with practical knowledge of the systems and technology currently available. I manage the service of installed systems including MiT-manufactured and other cinema technology products, as well as project-managing the installation teams for new systems.”
Like everyone else on the MiT leadership team, Tees also helps with the product development process. In fact, his most exciting MiT moment was in that area, even though it actually happened during his tenure at Regal. “In my pre-MiT days we worked on a concept called Fusion together. While it didn’t pan out, it was fun to be involved in the development of a new product with a talented team behind it.”
Tees had always been in touch with MiT, and eventually made the switch. “I have known the team since before the founding of the company and, given my proximity to the MiT office and involvement in the industry, we had stayed in close contact. My long-term relationship with MiT developed into an opportunity to explore another facet of the industry. I am glad I took the leap into being a provider for the industry after all the years of being a consumer.”
Tees actually began his career in exhibition in 1989 on the customer-service front. “I started as an usher with Krikorian Premiere Theatres during my freshman year of high school. Quickly moving into projection and management, throughout college as well, I continued to work at several Krikorian locations.” Regal purchased the theatre where he worked in 1997, which brought Tees to other Regal Cinemas across California and Washington State before he moved into the company’s technical services group two years later. “During the merger of Regal, Edwards and UA in 2002, I was promoted to director of technical services for the Southwest region, which expanded to 1,000 screens in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii.” While he personally “hired and developed a top-notch group of technicians in the region that ensured Regal’s presentation was the best it could be,” he also gives credit where credit is due. “Regal and their technical-services team really brought me up within the industry and facilitated my gaining experience with all aspects of cinema technology. I enjoyed my time there and consider them family.”
Although Tees has “too many fond movie theatre memories to recall,” he mentions his first one of seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark “in a mall theatre near Bristol, Tennessee, on a family trip to visit my grandparents.” His favorite films are The Big Lebowski and Groundhog Day; and Coke with a hot dog are part of the movie fun. “My favorite MiT-equipped theatre is the Reading Victoria Ward Titan theatre in Honolulu, Hawaii. A favorite auditorium that I personally had a hand in is ‘The Premiere’ auditorium at Regal’s LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles.” And, he adds, the 71-foot-wide “Big” screen at Edwards Big Newport 6 in Newport Beach, Calif., “is still an impressive cinema experience for its age.”
Being on the sales and customer-support front, Tees hears from exhibitors and people in the field big-time and first-hand. “Technology training has always been a challenge with new digital-cinema customers,” he notes. Employee turnover is another issue that “requires the constant need for refresher training and updates long after the equipment has been installed and the warranty is up. Challenges aside,” he feels, “most are happy with digital cinema. Those who are the happiest are using it to its fullest potential by providing alternative content, preshow advertising and creating unique experiences beyond traditional exhibition… They are utilizing the technology to maximize revenue streams in the cinema space. Digital cinema is young and there is room for new ideas,” he asserts.
Some of those ideas include high frame rates and lasers, of course. Tees sees “HFR 2D and 3D becoming the norm; however, it will be a slow process of adoption. Lasers will likely make it into the next technology refresh and multi-dimensional audio will penetrate into big rooms and premiere auditoriums across the country.” Another ten years from now, not only will we still be going to the movies, he is certain, but MiT will also be providing the technical backbone. “Despite all the technology that can put movies in the home and the palm of your hand, people still tend towards congregating at a cinema where they can experience the movie with others. And larger and better than anywhere else, of course. MiT will be right here too, ensuring that exhibitors have access to the best technology to keep moviegoers happy with the experience."