5 Movie Theater Technologies - ScreenX

Movie theaters are, by themselves, quite an experience. But while the manufacturers of solutions invite consumers to a whole technological race in their homes, the big exhibitors are considering alternatives that seek to invite viewers to experience a collective and totally groundbreaking event in front of the big screen.

In the midst of a maelstrom of industrial redefinition in terms of distribution business models, the rooms address a period in which technology is presented as a ally. It's nothing new: throughout the history of cinema, technical innovations (whether it was the implementation of sound, Cinerama, 3D o immersive audio, to cite a few examples) have tried to solve uncertainties con more or less lucky.

At present, the consolidation of the streaming services (in 2021 the 57% of Spaniards watched series or movies on VOD platforms according to the latest report Digital Society in Spain from Telefonica), the unpredictability that accompanies a post-COVID world and a noticeable rise in prices, leads the industry to propose and commercialize new technological solutions to fight against eternal fear of empty rooms.

some will succeed. Others will be forgotten. But it is worth taking a look to discover certain technologies that, inevitably, are already conditioning the production and post-production phase of large blockbusters.

Film and audiovisual culture law - Draft - movie theater

1. iBeacon: technology experience before entering the room

A trend defended by an important part of the industry is to make "going to the movies" a new concept. Gurus, integrators and executives defend that the movie going experience and attend a moment of collective contemplation where the lights go down and the world pauses, by itself, is not sufficient. Just as is confirmed with major sporting events, the way is to invite the viewer to Arrive earlier in the room and provide an expanded experience. This is confirmed to Panorama Audiovisual Toni Island, commercial director of Chinese: “Our goal is to make this experience unique and exclusive from the moment they decide to buy the ticket until they walk out the door after seeing the film. And this happens by betting strongly on technology and innovation as key points of this differential experience”.

In this sense, technologies such as iBeacon and the like, a protocol developed by Apple based on low energy bluetooth that allows you to interact in different ways when you arrive at the movie theater. specialized portals BeaconZone y BeaconStac collects experiences that have already had their test phases in various rooms: check-in, information on waiting times, use of coupons, guide the viewer to their seat, send messages to mobile phones to notify the viewer when they sit down to put the mobile on silent, or even to be able to reserve tickets to see a movie at the moment in which the trailer is being projected on the screen.

It's not a new concept: large chains have been thinking about the possibilities since the year 2014. However, the cheaper technology and the improvement in the smartphone ecosystem could give a new chance to the solution.

5 technologies in movie theaters - Laser projector - Malaga Festival (Photo: Sercine)

2. LED and laser projection

At a time when the director's look is transformed by hypersaturated LED panels o inaccurate HDR technologies (something pending to solve thanks to the new Filmmaker Fashion), the exhibition halls are presented as an alternative to preserve the intentions of the filmmakers. However, there is increasingly a gap between the visual expectations of viewers and what the exhibition halls can offer. Faced with this situation, exhibitors propose alternatives to continue to fascinate the public.

The inclusion of laser projectors is no longer a natural evolution that allows expand color spaces and offer on occasion light sources with better performance. Many exhibition halls are already implementing them, and, in fact, festivals like Cannes are betting hand in hand with Christie for its standardization. Illa points out that Cinesa hopes that laser projection “expand” for the next few years.

5 technologies movie theaters - LED screen

Faced with the improvement of the projection, the LED movie screens, which count among their "advantages" a more vivid, less loss of luz, compatibility with higher resolutions and the possibility of expand seats while the projection rooms they are no longer necessary.

Samsung Cinema LEDThe Japanese and Korean market has already largely embraced these technologies and studios as 2020 Global LED Video Wall Market Outlook- Meeting Room, Sales Channel and Price Trend of LEDinside (TrendForce) indicate that in 2023 one in eight movie screens will benefit from this technology.

Ocine ICE Theaters Inmersiva

3. PLF and the panoramic

In 1952, the dream of Fred Waller: Extend the cinematographic experience by offering a first panoramic image. The system, called Cinerama, benefited from the use of three 35mm cameras with 27mm lenses to simulate the focal depth of the human eye and, from this shape, shoot with an aspect ratio that could reach the 2.65:1. With the use of multiple projectors, large showrooms could offer a fully immersive experience. The project failed: only a handful of movies benefited from the technology. The complications in production, the lack of interest of the most tilted images and the small number of cinemas capable of displaying this screening made it fall into oblivion except for nostalgic like Quentin Tarantino, which revived the format by shooting in Ultra Wide Vision The Hateful Eight.

Recently, the trend has been reborn in the form of PLF: Premium Large Format. He PLF, although it has different manifestations (which seek to improve the cinema experience), it has several examples in which it is sought take advantage of the sides of projection rooms to favor the immersiveness. The proposal of Ice Theaters, for example, involves installing paneles LED on both sides of the screen, which are will take care of duplicating the images to provide a environmental content, not narrative. The concept, in this way, moves away from what Waller could propose with the Cinerama or the one he continues to offer IMAX, which in the recent revival of Avatar in China it managed to monopolize a third of the collection in the country. Everything happens and everything is.

5 movie theater technologies - ScreenX 2Ice Theaters technology, dubbed Ice Immersive, has currently reached Ocina Granollers, contributing, according to the company, “greater sensation of speed and direction to a movement, enlarging a landscape or amplifying special effects in a smooth way”. Another alternative that has recently arrived in Spain is ScreenX of CJ 4DPlex, which bets on the use of two additional large-format side screens to offer a 270º viewing sensation. On this occasion, it benefits from "image reconstruction" technology, although the firm presents in its website different production tools to achieve a better finish. Chinese is one of the companies that has implemented this technology: “With technologies such as IMAX or ScreenX (…) we managed to differentiate ourselves from a technological point of view and provide our customers with new reasons to go to our cinemas to enjoy the Seventh art. From what we are seeing, this is a trend that is here to stay”, comments Illa.

4. HFR in the cinema

In the battle for the resolutions, he immersive audio o to color fidelity, there is an element that has always been largely forgotten: the HFR (High Frame Rate, or High Frame Rate). Jack Kline, former CEO of Christie and current head of Cinity, evidences this reality: “We have been filming for 100 years and we continue making films at 24 frames per second”. Of course, Kline sweeps for home, but this does not mean that the industry is mobilizing to be able to bring these high speeds to the showrooms.

the industry seems shyly watch the trend. The always restless The Lee, after betting on 3D with the Oscar-winning The life of Pi, shows with Gemini Project in 120 fps, being released in 60fps. The movie was all a commercial failure and some viewers criticized the sensation achieved on the screen, although they recognized improvement in action scenes.

James Cameron, another lover of technology and popcorn, is shooting the sequels of Avatar a 48fps with the intention of consolidating the format in the cinema, just as he managed to revive (even if only for a few years) the 3D. In Spain, there are not a few exhibitors who already promote the HFR as a technological claim for viewers. Among them, chains like kinesa, Helmet o Kinépolis, and other independent exhibitors.

Cine 4DX - FECE

5. Cinema and effects: 4DX, Buttkicker, D-Box…

Expanded sensation for some, circus for others: in any case, the halls 4DX They advance strongly through half the world. Expanded experience of rooms 4D (extended in theme parks), this brand also developed by the Korean company CJ 4DPlex coordinates the cinematic experience con vibration and seat movements, wind, rain, snow, fog, odors, strobe lights and so on 20 effects.

4DXThe technology, used for recent releases such as Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Top Gun Maverick o Jurassic World Dominion, continues to grow with innovations such as the inclusion of four screens (the main one, one on the spectators and two on the sides, improvement of the previously mentioned ScreenX concept) or the combination with augmented reality glasses, although this technology is only compatible with pieces created specifically.

5 movie theater technologies - Buttkicker

Numerous companies seek to join the bandwagon of immersiveness. ButtKicker, with a significant presence in the United States and Asia, has developed a system that is installed in the seats and improves the cinema experience by translating the lowest frequencies into vibrations. On the other hand, D-Box continues to delve into the possibilities of tremors, this time adding programming based on the images on the screen.

At the same time, numerous rooms are committed to the inclusion of premium rooms that complement the visual experience with mobile chargers, a tablet to order from a food and drink menu, reclining seats or individual led lights.

cinema audience

Go back to the halls?

The pandemic and the improvement of home technology has invited viewers to rediscover home cinema. Along the way, the silence of the tension is lost, the laughter of the comic moments or the murmur of surprise before a twist in the script of the rooms. However, the scarcity of standards, the low cost of a monthly subscription to a streaming platform or the comfort of home means that movie theaters have had to redefine your concept.

At interactive, technological and immersive experiences that we have reviewed, which seek to make a big difference with the living room or the mobile device, add other alternatives which are intended to collective experience acquires new dimensions. Live viewings of major sporting eventssuch as football matches, series premieres or the mere live monitoring of the final of Eurovision (encouraging participation through mobile phones) are presented as alternatives for return to the rooms and again, connect with the world after a period of isolation. In the end, it's all aboutreinvent yourself”, as Illa remarks: “We provide customers with new ways of enjoying the cinema”. Among these alternatives, the commercial manager of Chinese enumerates the possibility of rent a movie theater, play a video game, or watch operas, plays, and documentaries, business models “that can fully coexist with the most traditional cinema”.

The exhibition halls are located in a crossroads. It's not the first time. First was the television, then he Internet, and now the streaming platforms. The moviegoer, after all, will not give up the halls. But will technology be the solution that can return the cinema to the general public?

A report by Sergio Julián Gómez

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By • 9 Jun, 2022
• Section: Cine, screens, Projection, reports