My Breathing on Everest journey kicked off less than a year out of university when my friend and frequent collaborator Meredith Gaito came to me with an idea she knew most other people would call too ambitious or downright crazy. A year and a half later I have been to Nepal twice filming at the base camp of Mount Everest for what has become a deeply personal documentary.
Cinemas worldwide are preparing for what is now commonly called the second wave: a technology renewal where they will install next-generation digital projection equipment. However, the journey ahead poses different considerations and challenges compared to the film-to-digital conversion of the first wave. Before we forge ahead, it’s important that we consider the old adage: To know where we’re going, we need first to know where we’ve been. So let’s take a look.
[Editor’s Note: Mark Smith is the owner and director of photography for Oh Seven Films, the production company he started in 2001. In this exclusive guest column he talks about the documentaries he's made about the search for Amelia Earhart.]
Over the years, my company has been involved in productions that span the gamut, from creating ads and television programs to documentaries and indie feature films. Though there’s certainly a lot of variety in our work, we focus heavily on documentary projects. For example, for the past 17 years, I’ve been the documentarian for TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) on an ongoing project to discover what happened to pilot Amelia Earhart — work that has resulted in a couple of Discovery Channel programs.
The 50th anniversary of the launch of Star Trek is this September. Fifty years after William Shatner made his first captain’s log, the power of Star Trek is felt across generations. Just this summer, the thirteenth Star Trek movie was released and has grossed more than 231 million dollars to date. It’s pretty clear: Star Trek is here to stay.
While consumers are bombarded with a plethora of entertainment options via traditional and alternative distribution platforms, event cinema is a growing trend emerging at movie theaters worldwide. Also known as alternative content, event cinema utilizes movie theaters to broadcast live and prerecorded programming outside of typical Hollywood blockbusters. These unique events offer the opportunity for audiences to come together as a community to view fan-focused content, including sports, opera, musicals, ballet, concerts, TV specials, faith-centered events, red carpet premieres and much more.
Cinema immersive sound is upside down. Technology providers invest in intellectual property for immersive sound rendering engines, but they compete on the availability of content. Trading on content has been counterproductive to growth, contributing to a lackluster immersive sound installation count that is less than two percent of worldwide screens. Immersive sound has more moving parts to address than distribution, but the industry is fixated on a design from scratch, do-everything, distribution standard that’s two and a half years in the making and at least as many years from finding its way into cinemas. A deeper look shows that the key friction point of production for competing systems has been addressed. It’s time to put immersive sound right side up and grow the format.
The cinema has been the genesis of audio and imaging innovation that drives new, spectacular, and captivating experiences to moviegoers. For more than 50 years, Dolby has been, and continues to be, at the forefront of these efforts to advance the science of sight and sound that lead to unforgettable entertainment experiences. Dolby began its journey in delivering superlative audio experiences with the introduction of Dolby Stereo with Star Wars in 1977. Fifteen years later, with the release of Batman Returns, Dolby Digital ushered in a next-generation multichannel surround sound experience that became the de facto standard for movies, television, gaming, and more. We have always believed, and the industry has demonstrated, that sound is every bit as vital to the patron’s experience as image. Our ability to deliver an improved experience and draw audiences deeper into a story by enabling them to hear the whole picture is what solidifies their desire for a theatrical experience time and time again.
Digital cinema electronic distribution in the Latin American region is rapidly reaching theatres, delivering studio and independent movies as well as live alternative content. Out of the estimated 12,000 screens in the region (some 2,200 theatres), electronic distribution has been growing to reach more than 6,000 screens. Mexico is the main contributor to the number, as Cinepolis and Cinemex account for more than 5,500 of those screens.
Turkey’s cinema exhibition business is in impressive health right now, with more than 2,000 screens generating more than 40 million ticket sales in 2015. It’s clearly a great time for Turkish cinemagoers. With consumer confidence up, new theatres are opening at an unprecedented rate. Hungry for better entertainment experiences, customers are packing auditoriums in big-screen multiplexes and smaller boutique cinemas.
One of the highlights at this year’s Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontier Program could be the five-minute virtual reality film experience Giant. Drawing on director and co-creator Milica Zec’s personal experiences as a child in war-torn Serbia, the VR narrative takes the viewer into the experience of a family struggling to survive in a war zone. The film shows how cinematic VR lets us observe our instincts and ourselves and become more conscious of the way we make choices.