Kodak, NCM developing digital theater software

August 17th, 2006 by Barry Caplan | Tags: , , , ,

A digital entertatinment based operating sytem, designed to control an entire theater complex, was annouced yesterday by Kodak Digital Cinema and National CineMedia LLC, a partnership of the three top U.S. movie theater chains.

Designed to control the cinema visitor’s experience while in the theater, the question occurs to me: will there be open APIs that filmmakers can take advantage of as part of the creative aspect of filmmaking?

With film viewership in cinemas on the decline, there is not any doubt that any future of cinema relies on the experience of the vistors becoming something more then they can get with home theater sytems or other exhibition options for films.

So why not open up all of the features of the theater for the filmmakers to take advantage of? Special lighting effects, temeprature effects, and many other peripheral add-ons yet to be created or invented could enhance the cinema experience in some films.

Used judiciously, these effects need not be hokey like the “sensurround” effects of the early disaster film genres. I remember seeing “Lawrence of Arabia” on the glorious wide screen of the Senator Theateer in Baltimore many years ago. The vast and long desert scenes left me feeling the heat visually, but the 65 degree room temperature left me with a weird mixed up feeling phsyically.
How much more effective if the room temperature reflected the temperature of the scene? Well, it doesn’t need to be 120, but if the room varied with the night and day scenes betwen even 65 and 80, it would add to the experience of the film.
Now it could all be possible with a simple call to the theater’s operating system.
Maybe.

Depends on if the entire film production, distribution, and exhibition channel is willing to accept the new reality that they are in partnership with their customers instead of fighting them and expecting them to accept whatever is delivered.

More on this as the blog develops, full press release on the new system follows….

Kodak, NCM developing digital theater software

Wed Aug 16, 8:12 PM ET

Kodak Digital Cinema and National CineMedia LLC, a partnership of the three top U.S. movie theater chains, on Wednesday said they are developing theater management software to automate digital cinema systems now being installed at movie theaters worldwide.

Kodak’s (NYSE:EK – news) operating system has been used on about 2,000 screens in North America for the past two years to manage pre-show advertising, box offices and theater lighting and temperature from a central point in theaters.

The existing system will be modified to also handle digital feature film presentations, said Bob Mayson, general manager of Kodak Digital Motion Imaging.

Kodak’s operating system is designed to operate with all digital projectors and playback systems, Mayson said.

“What we are talking about here is an operating system akin to how (Microsoft) Windows can drive applications on your computer,” Mayson said.

The two companies plan to run trials with the new system later this year at 60 sites and to market it to the 15 chains that already use Kodak’s operating system, Mayson said.

NCM partners AMC Entertainment Inc, Cinemark USA and Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE:RGC – news) have not committed to installing the system on their 13,000 screens, Mayson said.

Kodak is hoping to install the systems on the partnership’s 13,000 screens, he said.

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