CinemaCon 2016 demonstrated clearly that this is truly the dawn of the digital cinema era. The installation of digital projectors in virtually every movie theatre in the world has opened a world of possibilities for exhibitors. The tradeshow floors in Caesar’s Palace were crowded with new companies offering a wide range of products and services designed not simply to run movie theatres, but to expand the concept of what a movie theatre is. For the second year in a row, Digital Cinema Report has selected what we consider to be the best new technology at CinemaCon for a 2016 Catalyst Award.
Catalyst Award winning ideas are packaged in hardware and software of all shapes and sizes. The best of them offer ways to make the task of bringing picture and sound to the screen easier, faster or less expensive. Some promise all three. But the best of the best do even more. These truly groundbreaking breakthroughs don’t simply improve the process; they point to a different way of doing things. Some people call these developments disruptive and often that’s true. But they catch on as people see the value of the concept, regardless of the cost and in a very short time it becomes the way everyone works. These are the ideas that merit a Digital Cinema Report Catalyst Award
Software is starting to dominate the exhibition conversation even more so than in previous years. Not surprising, then, most of this year’s Catalyst Award winners are software applications. Here, in alphabetical order, are the winners:
Arts Alliance Media Thunderstorm
Tailored specifically to the cinema industry, Arts Alliance Media’s Thunderstorm is a one-stop-shop for cinema owners of all sizes to access best-in-class technologies from industry partners.
As a cloud-based service, Thunderstorm is a highly flexible, highly scalable offering that requires minimal implementation effort, substantially reducing exhibitors’ investment risk in alternative technologies. All applications and capabilities available within Thunderstorm meet strict technical, quality and commercial criteria that bring peace of mind to exhibitors. Thunderstorm gives exhibitors complete flexibility to choose which technology partners they wish to work with, how, and when. Exhibitors can also manage all commercial relationships centrally, and reporting from each partner technology, and other valuable usage and impact data analysis, is available through a single management function.
Each application or capability available through Thunderstorm provides a unique mechanism to engage audiences or improve revenues, and is available to Thunderstorm customers on a case-by-case basis. Example applications and capabilities available at launch include:
CineCardz, which allows audiences to personalize their cinema experience with on-screen video greeting cards during the pre-show, ranging from birthday messages to marriage proposals.
Cinema Conversations, which bolsters audience engagement with your social media strategy, through shared Twitter and Instagram experiences in your cinema lobby.
Cinema Intelligence, a predictive analytics solution, which empowers theatres with innovative tools to predict attendance and optimize schedules, maximizing profit.
iPlateia, which brings second screen (mobile) promotional interactivity to the cinema via proprietary sound recognition – a reminder for coming movies, sending vouchers, linked advertising campaigns, quizzes and more directly using customers’ mobiles as a personal promotional platform.
Accepting the Catalyst Award, John Allbers, Arts Alliance Media’s CEO said, “Wow! We are absolutely delighted to receive such a prestigious award following the worldwide launch of our Thunderstorm platform at the industry’s biggest event. The software solutions we are introducing to the market promise to revolutionize how exhibitors engage and interact with their audiences, improving the total cinematic experience and driving a host of new revenue opportunities. We are honored that our efforts have been recognized by one of the leading publications in digital cinema.
“Audiences today expect more from their cinema visits. The more progressive exhibitors have recognized this and are embracing software solutions as a way to deliver more value to their customers. Thunderstorm gives exhibitors the opportunity to supercharge their individual business models in an easy, risk-free way, be it customer engagement, revenue optimization or enabling more targeted marketing and communications.
“It’s brilliant to see that Thunderstorm has achieved such high praise for its innovation and forward thinking position in the market, and we’re thrilled to have been recognized for our work in advancing the digital cinema vision.”
Cinema Equipment and Supplies’ Cielo
The developers at Cinema Equipment and Supplies built Cielo to soothe exhibitors’ fears by putting their cinemas in the palms of their hands. Intelligent alerts on theater essentials are delivered to any device with an Internet connection so cinema owners and managers can easily see what is happening in their theaters from anywhere.
Cielo is the next level of remote monitoring and premium technical support. Communication is streamlined, transparent, and proactive. Cielo is the pioneer platform in the Internet of Things era for the movie industry, providing exhibitors with cloud-based circuit-wide visibility into their theater operations, anytime and anywhere, from the palm of their hands. Cielo’s one-stop mobile management capabilities include remote monitoring, real-time reporting and alerts, rapid-response technical support, and advanced visibility features that allow clients to increase business efficiencies and provide superior customer experience to their movie theater audiences.
Cinema Equipment and Supplies president Guillermo Younger Jr said, "Cielo is revolutionizing the way cinemas are managed today. The visibility and mobility Cielo offers our exhibitor partners allows them to focus on what matters most: delivering an exceptional movie going experience. We are honored to have been selected as a Catalyst Award winner in recognition of our commitment to drive innovation in our industry."
GDC SX-4000 Standalone IMB
GDC Technology’s GDC SX-4000 Standalone IMB and XSP-1000 Cinema Processor is, in the company’s words, a future-proof IMB with real-time DTS:X decoding and an advanced cinema processor. When combined, the bundled system enables a high-quality audio experience at a price point that allows exhibitors worldwide to affordably install immersive sound in auditoriums of any size and delivers realistic, rich sound to a much broader audience.
The GDC SX-4000 immersive sound media server is designed to be fully DCI compliant with a built-in decoder for real-time rendering of DTS:X immersive sound in full 16-channels and two channels to support narrative audio, motion data and other special purpose signals. In addition to supporting DTS:X the GDC XSP-1000 cinema processor can support multiple object-based immersive sound formats.
"We are proud to be associated with Digital Cinema Report and honored to receive such a prestigious award,” said Man-Nang Chong, founder, chairman and CEO of GDC Technology Limited. “The Catalyst Award is great recognition for the team who have made GDC an amazing success story. Based on proven GDC technology, a cinema owner’s reliable choice since 2000, the next-generation GDC SX-4000 Standalone IMB and XSP-1000 Cinema Processor (GDC Immersive Sound Solution) comprises of a future-proof IMB with real-time DTS:X decoding and an advanced cinema processor. When combined, this latest GDC Technology bundled solution enables a high-quality audio experience at a price point that allows exhibitors worldwide to install immersive sound in auditoriums of any size and delivers realistic, rich sound to a much broader audience."
According to Dr. Chong, "Sound comes to life when all of the details in the soundtrack are heard accurately. By giving exhibitors the first-ever affordable choice to install immersive sound, this new solution from GDC can be a game changer for the industry. Audiences around the world will certainly experience better sound regardless of the size of the auditorium. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our employees and customers around the world. We will be working hard to retain the award in 2017.”
Unique Digital’s Smart Trailering
Unique Digital calls its new software system Smart Trailering, a better way for distributors to communicate their trailer requirements to exhibitors, while allowing exhibitors to build a trailer playlist without programming error.
With Smart Trailering the playlist and DCP content are automatically delivered to the screen, from anywhere. Smart Trailering addresses all the problems that are typically faced with trailer placement and playback including:
Trailers not played at all due to communication errors with booth staff
Certification mistakes; higher cert trailers playing in front of lower cert features
Still using the first trailer version when newer versions available
Playing a trailer for the actual film being exhibited
Not showing trailers as agreed with distribution
No accountability for trailer playback
Smart Trailering provides the platform to optimize the trailer section of the pre-show.
Phil Morris, COO of Unique Digital, said, “We are delighted that Digital Cinema Report’s Catalyst Awards have recognized the innovative approach Smart Trailering is taking in trailer provision to exhibition from distribution resolving the compliance and optimization of the pre-show trailer section”
Vista Group’s MovieTeam
Vista Entertainment’s MovieTeam, developed in partnership with Harkins Theatres, reimagines how cinemas manage their staffing. MovieTeam is a cloud-based application that transforms staffing protocols for the 21st century theatre.
The MovieTeam application, the result of more than a year of consultation, development and testing, is is the first example of an application that enables interconnected, company-wide management and scheduling of all cinema staff – removing fragmented, frustrating, sub-optimal practices that have plagued large circuit exhibitors for decades. Seamlessly integrating the needs of corporate headquarters, cinema management and cinema staff, the product arms managers with all the information required to optimize staff management, construct and communicate schedules, monitor the inevitable variables and respond to them in real time; operational staff maintain total visibility of their shift obligations as well as record and manage options related to their lifestyles or preferences.
“Everyone at Vista is honored to be selected by Digital Cinema Report for the Catalyst Award for our new MovieTeam product,” said Derek Forbes, president Vista Entertainment Solutions, U.S.
“Labor is the single biggest controllable cost in the business, and cinemas have unique needs in terms of planning their staffing based on films that are playing each week and projected attendance. Several of our customers had previously evaluated various generic products and determined that none were a great fit for the needs of movie theatres. So we saw an opportunity and partnered with one of our customers, Harkins Theatres, to craft a truly fantastic web and mobile-based system that is completely oriented around movie theatre staffing. Our team have done an incredible job in creating this, and the response from the market to its launch at CinemaCon has been overwhelmingly positive. It has already moved from development to being used in the real world and is loved by cinema staff, managers and executives alike.”