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New cinema technologies set to stun

As the USS Enterprise comes under attack in Star Trek Beyond, audiences at Barco Escape screenings will experience uniquely the alien onslaught from horizontal projections to the left and right. The most high-profile title yet issued in Barco’s panoramic exhibition format will compete with other versions of Paramount’s blockbuster mastered for Imax and Dolby Cinema.

“The industry is working to create an experience so compelling that consumers will put down their iPad and leave the sofa to enjoy an experience they can’t get anywhere else,” says Todd Hoddick, CEO of Barco Escape. “Experiential cinema is the future.”

While some presentation technologies are not new, combined together they are designed to retain cinema’s edge over home entertainment. These include 3D, 4K, High Dynamic Range (HDR) – which includes wider colour gamut (WCG) – motion seating, screens with enhanced audio, laser projection and high frame rates (HFR). IHS Technology analyst David Hancock dubs it “the premiumisation” of cinema.

The IBC Big Screen Experience conference sessions take stock of these developments which have implications for future business and film creation.

‘Digital Cinema Investment 2.0’ asks the most pertinant question ‘Where’s the ROI?’ (12 September 16:00). While the savings on 35mm prints were simple enough to calculate, the new revenue – if any – from digital enhancements are harder to quantify. A panel will examine whether the numbers stack up for continued digital investment.

One of the key investment decisions for exhibitors is laser projection. This technology throws greater light to the screen to lift gloomy stereo 3D presentations and is essential for showing the full impact of High Dynamic Range and Wider Colour Gamut (the art and science of which is explored in detail on 12 September 13:00 with Warner Bros, VP, technology, Michael Zink). An update subtitled ‘Laser projection: is it ready for wide deployment?’ (11 September, 09:30) offers views from the Odeon Group’s head of cinema technology, Mike Bradbury and rival projection vendors Barco and Sony.

Dolby has arguably been the most successful vendor in promoting studio content into theatres outfitted with its technology. More than 1,800 cinemas worldwide can play films mastered in Dolby Atmos sound, including The Secret Life Of Pets, Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters. But it’s not the only immersive audio format in town. Delegates should attend an update on the topic (‘Immersive Audio: Balancing key stakeholders’ needs’, 11 September 11:00) chaired by Julian Pinn.

There’s a timely update on systems rollout and future projections plus analysis of market challenges from the European Digital Cinema Forum (EDCF) on 11 September (15:45). Mark Stephen, sales director, Unique Digital; Rich Welsh, CEO, Sundog Media Toolkit, and EDCF CEO David Monk present.

All of these sessions are free for all to attend and take place on the IBC Big Screen which is freshly outfitted with a projection system capable of showing HDR as well as 3D and 4K content and Dolby Atmos audio. There’s no excuse not to immerse yourself in the future of cinema.