Why we need training?
Transition to digital exhibition presents new challenges to cinemas. The biggest challenge is of course the funding of the transition. In the United States the Virtual Print Fee model has seemed to work fine, at least to some extent. In Europe, the implementation of the VPF model is less obvious: our markets are more heterogeneous than those of the United States. In almost every country in Europe, there is an ongoing debate about how to secure the digitalisation of especially small and middle-sized cinemas. They have no money to do it on their own. The distributors and the state have to participate in the process.
In order to win back the investments required by digitalisation, we need to take full advantage of the possibilities the new distribution and exhibition technology offers. Digital exhibition provides new opportunities for alternative content and helps to create more flexible repertoires than earlier. It is important that those who consider digitalisation have a chance to listen to those who have experience in what works and what does not.
Transition from analogical to digital technology also requires new skills from the technical staff of the cinemas. To exaggerate a little, you can repair a 35mm projector with a hammer and a screwdriver, but the problems with a D-Cinema projector require information technology skills. Many cinemas are faced with retraining of their personnel.
MEDIA Salles has organised altogether five DigiTraining Plus courses. I am one of the lucky few who have had a chance to participate in each of them. MEDIA Salles does a remarkable job in training people in the exhibition business. The activities of MEDIA Salles are especially important for small and medium-sized cinemas, which do not have similar well-established connections to equipment producers as bigger chains have. The best part of this training has been the possibility to exchange experiences and have inspiring discussions with participants from all over Europe on the possibilities – and threats – of digitalisation.
The training subsidies provided by the European Union in the field of media have been mainly directed to supporting audiovisual productions and developing new distribution channels (e.g. VOD). It is worth remembering that a successful theatre distribution is a prerequisite for a movie to have demand in other distribution channels as well. Luckily, training in the field of exhibition has not been totally forgotten: it gives me great pleasure not only to mention the five editions of the DigiTraining Plus already carried out with great satisfaction of participants but also the plan for the 4 courses to be carrried out in the period 2009 - 2012 that MEDIA Salles has submitted to the EU MEDIA Programme. The important work of MEDIA Salles has been noticed and we are happy to continue towards the digital future of the cinema, sharing experiences and ideas in order to turn threats into opportunities.
Italian Distributors and Exhibitors Discuss Digital
On 8 July Anec - the association of the cinema exhibitors in Italy – organized a Professional Day in Rome devoted entirely to digital cinema and 3D. A formula which drew a large number of participants, from the areas of both exhibition and distribution. We talk about this to Paolo Protti, President of ANEC, starting out by asking him his opinion of how it went.
After a meeting restricted in numbers, this is the first time that exhibitors and distributors have met in a public context, to talk about the digital transition. The high point of the Day was certainly when we heard four distributors, representing both the Majors and Italian companies, explain their approach to digital. But what I want to emphasize is the importance of the intense dialogue, in which the key figures were not only the speakers themselves but the many exhibitors and distributors seated in the audience. The spirit of the Day was marked by a professional attitude and the sincere intention to understand how to collaborate and take steps forward together.
What messages emerged from the world
The various interventions by representatives
from the world of exhibition revealed both a positive attitude as
well as reserves, linked mainly to the fear that it might be impossible
to access the digital technology, thus excluding theatres that are
more outlying or less competitive commercially. What is the Association’s
position on this situation?
This text is an extract from the
interview with Paolo Protti published in the Giornale dello Spettacolo
of 18 July 2008.
Digital increasingly in the limelight at the big festivals
The short film
The Venice Festival which opens today, 27
August, will provide the framework for several different meetings in which
digital projection will be discussed.
31 August, 11.30 a.m.
2 September, 8.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m.
During the festival a new edition will also be held of the course organized by CICAE, entitled Action+Management, which, during the afternooon of 29 September, will host the presentation of the training initiatives organized by MEDIA Salles on digital cinema.
Of the little under six thousand screens that were equipped with digital projectors using DLP Cinema or, in very few cases, Sony 4K technology by the end of 2007, the vast majority is to be found in North America. From representing around 30% of the world’s offer of digital cinema, this area has grown in only two years to represent almost 80%.
Despite considerable growth rates and although it is the world’s second largest market, Europe is still some way behind, particularly when we consider that the total number of screens in the Old Continent amounts to over three quarters of America’s whilst, where digital is concerned, the ratio falls to one fifth.
To explain North America’s leap forward, reference is always made to the publication of the DCI specs in 2005 and the adoption of a business model that aims to finance the transition, the so-called VPF, particularly suitable for a market characterized by the limited number of players. Not only do the 6 studios account for around 90% of distribution in the United States, but the main exhibition companies control numbers of screens that are inconceivable for Europe: Regal, for example, which is the number one exhibitor, counts as many as 6,763 theatres out of the country’s total of approximately 39,000.
In a decidedly more fragmented context, such as that of Europe, where alongside the studios that control an average 70% of the market there are hundreds of distribution companies and a range of exhibition companies, the VPF model not only meets with practical difficulties of application but can certainly not be considered the universal solution. From several sides – exhibitors with less negotiating power but also public institutions – voices of concern are being raised as to the “victims” that would fall to VPF. “Federating” or “integrating” the screens considered less attractive by the studios has, for example, become the objective of an initiative such as the Norwegian one by Film & Kino, described in issue no. 38.
However, it is significant that the specific demands of the small to medium-sized exhibition companies have come to light in the United States, too. Here, NATO, the exhibitors’ association, has created CBG, a buyers’ group to which 600 US and Canadian companies belong, for a total of eight thousand screens, which aims to make the transition to digital possible even in chains which would not be able to benefit from the VPF model on their own. Acting as “integrator” after a selection process which also saw participation by Technicolor, Kodak and Digeserv, will be Access IT, which will not only install the equipment – corresponding to DCI specs – but will also provide the necessary training and assistance to guarantee a smooth transition from 35mm to digital. Wayne Anderson, Managing Director of CBG declares: “Our mission is historic: ensure that independent cinemas survive and thrive in the digital age.”
This article refers to the one published in the Giornale dello Spettacolo of 18 July 2008
SOURCE: European Cinema Yearbook - 2007 final edition
New MEDIA Salles offices
On 30 June 2007 MEDIA Salles relocated
its offices to the Milan headquarters of Agis, Italy’s entertainment