Cellular Cinema

Zoie Films, a company who support and promote independent films and film makers have launched the world’s first film festival for mobile phones. The festival will be held every December and is intended to showcase content and technology and will be screened via Tin Can Mobile to Nokia handsets. More than a hundred independent film makers are expected to submit work showing exactly what can be achieved on a 2” TFT.

Films must be at least one minute long, but under five minutes and can be submitted on a number of formats including MPEG, WMV or VHS. Entry fees are between US$35 and US$45 (€28.77 to €37).

Winners will be screened at zoiefilms.com and via Tin Can Mobile, and prizes include a week at a golf resort spa in the Phillipines.

Zoie Films

NAB: HP Partnering to Develop Digital Media Platform

Hewlett-Packard has teamed up with leading content creators, distributors and technology companies to develop a standards-based technology platform indented to simplify the production of digital media. The Digital Media Platform (DMP) is an integrated, open system linking production and post-production processes, and is based on a strategic alliance with Warner Bros. Studios and Dreamworks.

“The business model that has guided this industry for nearly a century is changing radically,” said Carly Fiorina, HP chairman and chief executive officer. “Content is still and will always be king, however thousands of new storytelling experiences, applications and services are just around the corner. There is money to be made just as there is money to be saved — if this industry embraces the change and the opportunity the digital revolution presents.”

DMP combines HP software with expertise the company has gained from working with companies like Dreamworks, Avid and Starbucks. The foundation of DMP is a work flow system where creatives working on a project share a common set of assets for rendering, post production and editing.

HP and Warner are also pooling their expertise to restore classic films – combining WB’s proprietary software with HP’s image processing expertise, data management and servers.

“The impact of music, film and television moving toward all-digital platforms is profound,” said Shane Robison, HP’s chief strategy and technology officer, in a press release. “Warner Bros. Studios is at the cutting edge of embracing the digital transformation. By partnering, HP and Warner Bros. Studios will leverage technology and expertise to create compelling, personalized experiences for consumers that will set the bar at a whole new level.”

HP’s release on the news

New Desktop HD Editing Solutions

Good news for video professionals working in HD – support for the format in desktop editing packages has just got much better.

First up, Premier Pro 1.5, announced at NAB today. This new release builds on previous HD support, including the ability to export projects in Windows Media 9 HD format. Adobe have concentrated effort into Premier’s project management features, with multiple, nestable timelines and better sound support, including 5.1 surround sound. The inclusion of support for Advance Authoring Format (AAF) eases Premier Pro’s integration in mixed environments, and should save a few editors from having nervous breakdowns when flipping back and forth between packages.

One of Apple’s Final Cut Pro’s top features is that it can capture HD footage directly over Firewire without the bit loss that come about from all that compressing, decompressing and recompressing. Editing is done in the camera-original format and then output down Firewire when finished.

As Final Cut Pro can scale from DV to SD, HD and film with out down-converting to offline formats for editing, users can work in their output format from start to finish.

Adobe Premier Pro 1.5’s new features

Apple on Final Cut Pro HD

TI Wins Emmy Award for DLP

Texas Instruments has won the Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for their Digital Light Processing (DLP) technology. The National Television Academy official title of the award is “Pioneering Development of Mass-Produced Digital Reflective Imaging Technology for Consumer Rear Projection Television.”

DLP produced very high resolution video images and is used in Digital Cinema projectors, some video projectors and a number of rear-projection TV’s (PJTV). It gives an entirely digital connection between a video source and the screen by using a optical semiconductor known as the Digital Micromirror Device (DMD). The DMD is essentially a chip with many tiny mirrors that manipulates light.

Peter O. Price, President of the National Television Academy said “The worlds of broadcasting and home entertainment are undergoing a period of significant change that is characterised by the growing choice being offered to increasingly demanding consumers, and DLP technology is playing a significant role in enabling that change to take place. We see it as a considerable innovation in the market.”

DLP – How it works

Emmy 2003 Technology & Engineering Awards

Marc Cuban and Todd Wagner Buy US Art-house Cinema Chain

It is with great interesting that we see that Marc Cuban and Todd Wagner have bought Landmark Theatres, America’s largest chain of 54 art-house cinemas which are scattered over fourteen states.
They both came into the public eye when they sold an innovative webcasting company, broadcast.com, that they had founded in 1995, to Yahoo! in 1999 for $5.7 billion. Following that avalanche of cash, Cuban went to buy the NBA team Dallas Mavericks, found High Definition TV specialist HDNet and co-found 2929 Entertainment with Wagner.

HDNet two 24/7 networks, HDNet and HDNet Movies, produces and televises more hours of original HDTV entertainment, news and sports programming than any other network.

2929 Entertainment is a vehicle for movie production and, following its November 2001 purchase of Rysher Entertainment, holds substantial film and television programming library, including various rights to shows including “Sex and the City”. It is also currently in post-production on two films including “Godsend” staring Robert DeNiro.

The Landmark Theatres chain has been for sale since 2001, languishing as part of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. The financial terms of the purchase, which is scheduled to close in October, have not been disclosed.

Why does this make an interesting deal?

Digital cinema has held promise for a long time, but has effectively stalled.

The cinema theatre owners are not willing to pay for the digital projectors, as they say the margin that the make on showing films is so slim (the reasons the cite for the necessity for popcorn sales) that they are not able to invest in the equipment. They also point out that it is the film distributors that will gain most benefit from the drastically reduced film distribution costs – physical copies of the film, at a cost of around $3000 each, do not have to be made, nor to they have to be transported to each of the cinemas.

The film distributes say it is not for them to pay for the equipment, as this is the responsibility of the theatre owners. It is also widely believed that they have very little will to digitally distribute their content, as content protection schemes haven’t been decided upon.

The excitement of d-cinema is not just about showing blockbuster films, but the ability to economically distribute small, independent film and other video content that would not normally be shown at as cinema, such as music or sporting events – enabling cinema to become something different.

Now they have the theatre chain, Wagner said they can now take movies from production to the screen with no outside interference – “We think this acquisition provides a unique opportunity to make a significant impact in the art and independent film, HDTV production and digital exhibition communities.”

Together this collection of companies not only have the content, technical savvy, strategic vision and the money to make this possible, but they are run by people who are keen to shake things up. This could be the kind of competition that the film companies need to make them sit up, stop the current stalemate and move up a gear or two in realising digital cinema. We wait with baited breath.

Landmark Theatres


2929 Entertainment

IBM Makes d-Cinema Moves

IBM have made a move to become involved with digital cinema (otherwise known as e-cinema or d-cinema) partnering with Kodak and bringing the operating system (OS) to the party. There’s been an underground excitement about d-cinema for a couple of years now but it’s been hampered by both the cost of the equipment and primarily by the industries inability to decide who should pay for the equipment.

Neither the cinemas or the distributors what to put their hands in their pockets. The outlets say they don’t have the reserves to be able to afford it as their current margins are squeezed so hard by the distributors. The distributors say they don’t feel they should pay for it, even though I think they have the most to gain from it. One advantage of the indecision is that over the last couple of years the prices of the equipment have dropped substantially.

In a different time I think the people with the most to gain, the advertisers, would have put money in, but their hardly likely to do that currently.