Consultancy Conference Deemed Successful

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Tue, 02/26/2013 - 19:00 -- Nick Dager

By Melissa Keeping Digital Cinema Report     European Correspondent The attendance said it all: 260 tickets sold 12 territories represented standing room only.  The DCS Conference on February 7 at the Vue Cinema in London hosted by newly formed UK based consultancy Digital Cinema Solutions had originally been aimed at the UK market but demand was clearly so high all over Europe for a symposium on the key issues facing the digital cinema industry that the organizers were quite overwhelmed and the conference swelled to the point where chairs were being hastily brought in from outside. The list of delegates was as impressive as the line-up on stage and the major studios were all represented as were technical providers exhibitors screen advertisers industry bodies architects and a large contingent from the event cinema industry which would seem to be gathering momentum if comments during the day’s discussions are anything to go by.   Topics discussed included financing the future cost efficiencies with digital presented and moderated by George Eyles of Technicolor. Discussion also included the validity of higher frame rates which Andrew Myers from Everyman Cinemas in the UK was quick to dismiss from a customer’s point of view which was supported by other members of the panel on “Past Present & Future” moderated by Oliver Pasch who agreed that unless we are referring to a die-hard Tolkien fan the subtleties of 48fps would probably be lost on the wider audience. But in the name of progress and embracing digital parameters over dated analogue ones the consensus seemed to be to welcome its evolution all the same. Richard Welsh from Technicolor delivered a very entertaining presentation in a panel providing delegates with a technical update blinding everyone with science and forcing everyone out to the bar area for a refreshing cup of coffee and a sticky bun.  David Hancock of IHS Screen Digest presented an overview of digital and 3D deployment and in the afternoon some interesting new data on the growth of event cinema in Europe. Research in this area is still at a premium and hard facts are difficult to come by so industry players welcomed this. The inclusion of a stand up comedian on the afternoon panel about event cinema was very entertaining. I was lucky enough to be moderating and it was an illustration of just how diverse and inventive the industry is becoming: Tim Plyming from the British Museum Alastair Roberts from the Royal Opera House Tony Jones from the Cambridge Film Trust (formerly the founder of Picturehouse Cinemas) Marco Tinnirello from Arqiva and the very entertaining Don Ward from the Comedy Store as well as John Bullen from Sony who co-produced the season of ‘Raw and Uncut’ comedy to be shown in cinemas during February and March in the UK.   Toward the end of the day Lucy Jones from Rentrak then announced that her organization would be collecting data from cinemas on event cinema for the first time a very welcome development for distributors exhibitors investors and the Event Cinema Association who have been lobbying this issue and who it is understood will be collaborating with Rentrak in reaching the industry’s players to access the data. The final panel entitled “Cinema Has Never Looked & Sounded Better But do our Customers Know It?” moderated by Pete Buckingham of Sampomedia discussed the evolution of digital and the impact of the upgrade at the conceptual level to the ticket-buying public. It was fascinating to hear the transition to digital put into historical and commercial perspective captured very eloquently by Cameron Saunders of 20th Century Fox who compared it to the emergence of VHS in the early 80s and the fear back then that cinema was on its way out. An Industry Award for Outstanding Achievement in Digital Cinema was presented to Steve Perrin of the Digital Funding Partnership widely credited for masterminding the financial transition to digital in a partnership between the major studios and the technical integrators and his acceptance speech as well as a short film featuring colleagues and friends from the industry was a moving affair and a real tribute to someone who has made an extraordinary contribution to our industry. It was obvious from the attendees gathered there and the general response to the content of the day’s events that a regular conference for this industry is overdue and sorely needed. Other than CineEurope there are few occasions for this community to gather together.  CineEurope is an increasingly large affair meaning that vital networking opportunities on an organic level become harder to experience; appointments need making in advance with a time and a date in the diary.   At the DCS conference the number of delegates was small enough to work the room and some great new connections get made that way.  “Can we have this over two days next time?” was something I heard again and again.  From the positive feedback going around and the ample issues continuing to face this industry DCS would do well to cater for this request in future and I’m looking forward to the next one already.