New deal looks to halt glitches in cinemas
When Chinese moviegoers find the 3-D screen suddenly losing color, or hear the sounds from a different movie playing in an adjacent hall, they obviously think they haven’t got their money’s worth. In relative terms, audiences in North America are mostly spared such experiences.
But there might be a way to bridge this gap in the future.
Last week, Film Technology and Quality Inspection Center, an affiliate of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, signed a deal with THX Holdings Ltd, a technical support company, to develop newstandards aimed at improving the quality of cinema screening in China through testing and certification.
Both parties intend to collaborate on theater planning and design, defining standards, among other areas.
They also agreed to build a quality inspection laboratory for digital film screening that will provide testing, evaluation and certification services for audio-visual products and relevant equipment for theaters in China.
“This strategic partnership is an ideal combination of both parties’ strengths,” said Louis Cacciuttolo, THX’s executive vice-president for international business development and brand strategy, at a media event in Beijing.
“The inspection center will utilize its expertise in system and device inspection, researching and defining standards, and the study of testing methodologies, while THX will apply its expertise design and certification,” he says.
THX, which is a private provider of audio and visual reproduction standards for movie houses and home theaters, had announced its intention to enter the Chinese market last year.
InJanuary, China’s firstTHXcertified, giant-screen auditoriumopened in Shanghai.
About 10 more certified auditoriums will be opened in the country by the end of the year, including three in Beijing, according to Cacciuttolo. The others will be in cities such asWuhan, Hangzhou and Harbin.
Its stronger presence in China will perhaps benefit not only audiences, but also moviemakers. For example, THXis also constructing a post-production studio in Tianjin under its certification, which means its standards will possible enable China to own aHollywood-level facility.
“THX Cinema Certification program is to ensure that the artist’s vision is accurately translated to the moviegoer in the theater, identical to how it was in the studio,” says Steve Martz, THX global technical director.
“They’re worldwide criteria, which means we want to use emerging technology to find what can be improved in China, (we are) not specifically setting up criteria for China,” he says.
For example, he notes some background music and lowpitch sounds disappear inHollywood movies screened in China, which makes moviegoers miss the subtle elements.
The bilateral agreement also includes nurturing of specialized training courses for technicians and projectionists in the operation and maintenance of cinemas in China.
According to Gong Bo, deputy director of the inspection center, the agreement also aims to guide cinema owners to design theaters better so that audio and visual aspects of movies are enhanced.
This goal will be achieved through a combination of architectural analysis, equipment validation and the configuration of the theater itself.
The center once promulgated several rules on digital screening.
But he says, the rules were not totally followed by some cinema owners.
“If the criteria were not introduced since the very beginning of cinema design, it would take much more energy reforming later,” he says.
Nevertheless, he predicts the partnership will further develop new standards and testing methods, as well as expand expertise and services overseas.
“It’s only one direction introducing overseas resources into our movie industry. Once a mature certification system is established here in China, we also want it to be referred to in other markets.”