Creating an escape with digital cinema

The cinema experience is as good today as it’s ever been, with technology helping to make the experience fully immersive. Paul Milligan looks at what the future holds, now that the conversion to digital is nearly completed.

If you are a film-goer the likelihood is you’ve never had it so good.

Crystal clear digital prints, in stunning 4K resolution, with accompanying 11.1 sound have created an experience unrecognisable from one 30 years ago.

So what has brought about this transformation? Money, in the form of the VPF (Virtual Print Fee) programme. As it stands right now there are 134,000 cinemas screens around the world. VPF has enabled 116,000 of those to convert to digital cinema equipment from 35mm film projectors.

VPF came about because the big six main Hollywood ? lm studios saw digital technology as a way to remove the biggest running cost from its businesses, the delivery of 35mm prints around the world. Digital cinema adoption is very high in North America (93 per cent) and Europe (84 per cent).

The reason for the near 10 per cent drop between N America and Europe can be explained by the lack of digital penetration in places such as Spain and Greece, two countries with very obvious financial difficulties. VPF is now spreading to the other parts of the world (South and Central America, China), and is having a similar affect on digital adoption.

Has VPF been as central to digitisation as it seems? Yes, says Mark Kendall, business development manager for digital cinema EMEA at NEC Displays Solutions, it has: "Frankly, without VPF we would be still be sitting here today with only 100 screens in each territory that had been digitised. If you look at the early adopters (Norway, France, UK), a few of the exhibitors were happy to install one screen at one site, but they were very cautious to transfer to digital for all of their screens without any funding. Once they had funding in place, then they converted very quickly".

In the full article we ask how significant an impact laser projection technology can have in the market, and where the future of audio within cinema lies.
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