New deal looks to halt glitches in cine­mas

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - ByWANG KAIHAO wangkai­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.”

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