International Edition No. 8 - year 1 - 6 April 2006



What is changing in the cinema with the advent of digital? And what are the effects on exhibition? The second day of the exhibitors’ training course “DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for European Cinemas”, taking place at the moment in Kuurne, Belgium, goes right to the heart of the matter. The exhibitors’ voices, with their questions and their expectations, were heard thanks to Jan Van Dommelen, representing Unic (the federation of national exhibitors’ associations) and Enrico Chiesa, Vice Delegate of Cicae (the international federation of art-house cinemas). According to Van Dommelen, “what must not change is the way exhibitors work and, even after the technical innovations introduced by digital technology, they must keep full control of the programming in their theatres. In short: business as usual”. According to Chiesa, “the transition to digital must involve all exhibitors, without creating discrimination based on the financial resources of the exhibition companies”. There is thus a unanimous conviction that distributors, who obtain the greatest economic advantages, should contribute to the investments needed for equipping theatres with technology.
Whilst outlining the main content of the DCI specifications, Glenn Wastyn, Market Director Digital Cinema of Barco, stated, “2006 is the year of change. At this stage the stars are all aligned: technology, DCI specifications, finance models. It’s a matter of making the best use of them”.
Space was also made for distribution, with the talk by Huub Roelvink of Cinema Delicatessen, who emphasised the fact that the new technologies have facilitated the spread of documentaries in theatres in The Netherlands. There followed several accounts of exhibitors’ experiences, much appreciated by the course participants: Jan Petersen, IT Manager of the Danish company Nordisk Film Biografer, Rickard Gramfors, Content Manager of Folkets Hus och Parker, which, in Sweden, has set up the Digital Houses circuit, managing over 40 of the 50 Swedish cinemas equipped for digital screening, and Kees Ryninks, Managing Director of CinemaNet Europe, the European network arising out of the DocuZone experience.
The second part of the day concentrated on alternative content: from high definition to the new frontiers in 3-D. The HD topic was dealt with by one of the leading authorities in the field, Alfacam/Euro1080, represented by Yves Panneels, who is the Belgian company’s Director of Corporate Affairs & Media Relations.
And if, according to Barco’s Media & Entertainment President, Paridaen, “3-D does not replace traditional films but adds a cherry to the cake”, this new development could not be neglected in the course. Thus the processes by which this sort of film is created and produced were explained by director Ben Stassen and by Eric Dillens of nWave Pictures, one of the world’s largest suppliers of stereoscopic entertainment. From production to movie theatres: the latter was the subject of the talk by Matt Cowan, Chief Technology Officer of Real D, the company that has set up digital theatres for 3-D viewing, in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom, as well as in the USA. “Previous forms of 3-D were cumbersome, relying on two projectors, but Real D Cinema – explained Cowan – plays the highest quality 2-D and 3-D content using a single digital projector. The images are “decoded” by viewers wearing comfortable, lightweight glasses that are a lot like sunglasses, and that can be taken home as souvenirs. Additionally, Real D can custom design and manufacture glasses based on each film property, which is why the Real D Cinema 3-D glasses for Chicken Little look like the actual eyeglasses Chicken Little wears in the movie”.
And it’s not just theory on the MEDIA Salles’ course: in the evening the participants will be going to the Kinepolis cinema in Kortrijk, equipped for digital screening.





Jan Van Dommelen, Honorary President of Unic,
and Mike Vickers, Treasurer of MEDIA Salles,
during “DigiTraining Plus” 2006




MEDIA Salles, a project operating within the framework of the European Union's MEDIA Programme, with the support of the Italian Government, fosters theatrical distribution of European audiovisual products, both by high profile campaigns involving Europe's cinema exhibitors and by initiatives to raise the visibility of European productions with industry players and potential audiences, creating specialized information channels on a global scale. Thus the current initiatives from MEDIA Salles dovetail in a program with a triple focus – training, promotion and information – and maximum combined effect.

MEDIA Salles
Via Soperga, 2 – I-20127 Milan
Tel.: +39.02.66984405 – Fax: +39.02.6691574