GDC Technology and Cine Digital partner to modernise Sri Lankan cinema

Friday, 12 September 2014 02:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Amaar Esufally Global cinematic giant GDC Technology is to partner with Cine Digital Ltd. to modernise Sri Lankan cinema. At a presentation this Tuesday to an assemblage of cinema representatives, Sachin Shetty, the regional head of GDC in India, said that Sri Lankan cinemas need to be completely revamped if they are to keep up with global standards. Traditionally cinemas have used ‘film reel technology’ in order to bring the blockbusters of Hollywood to the enthusiastic Sri Lankan audience, however, ‘this will not cut it anymore’. With the emergence of various affordable extremely high quality TVs, the appeal to go to the cinemas that use the traditional film technology is rapidly decreasing, as they can experience a similar quality from the comfort of their home. In order to prevent the cinema industry from dissipating, Shetty states that the local cinemas need to be ‘digitalised’. The digitalisation process largely refers to the switching of cinema equipment, from the traditional 35mm film reel technology, to the more modern digital cinema technology. With recent surveys pointing out that over 90% of the cinemas in the USA rely on digital technology, as well as 74% of European cinemas, it is not farfetched to call the traditional film technology overwhelmingly outdated. There are a plethora of differences between these two formats, with the newer system clearly reigning supreme. The first and most important difference between the two is that the picture quality brought by the newer digital technology is superior, using both 2K and 4K resolutions, which, according to experts, tend to outstrip the quality offered by the traditional 35 mm film in most cases. Secondly, the management of the cinema and all its screens are made magnitudes easier through the implementation of aspects of digital cinema technology. GDC Technology’s Theatre Management System (TMS) allows the cinema manager to control all his equipment from one location. According to Shetty, this means both smoother functioning of the cinema itself, in addition to lower logistical costs. While this alone may be enough to get cinema owners to switch over to the digital format, the plight of the 35 mm film is furthered by the fact that many large Hollywood film producers will not make films in the traditional format in the future. One prime example of this is the sequel for James Cameron’s Avatar, which is primed to be a box office hit. Due to the high frame-rate needed for this film, Shetty states that movies like this one will not be released on the traditional 35 mm film system. In Sri Lanka, the traditional 35 mm film system is used in most cinemas, and hence is considerably behind the rest of the world in this context. However if cinema owners do accept the initiatives offered by GDC, which include all new digital projectors, and the state-of-the-art ‘Theatre Management System’, this will allow managers greater and more seamless control of their cinemas. Being on the ‘forefront of digital cinema innovation’ according to Shetty, GDC controls more that 40% of the market share for digital cinema installation in Asia, and is without a doubt one of the leaders worldwide in this field. In addition to this, they were responsible for the creation of ‘Giant Screens’ in China, which offer a ‘larger than life’ movie experience. With their undeniable expertise in this field, the services offered by GDC are likely to bolster the Sri Lankan cinema industry. Aside from the main system switch that was offered, other potential revenue steams for cinema owners were also discussed at the presentation. Shetty talked about the possibility of using the new digital cinema systems in order to display events aside from movies, like sports games and concerts. With the increased technological capabilities the world is experiencing, it may be possible to offer these events in 3D, which would mean vastly increased revenue streams as people would come to the cinema to watch these events instead of staying at home. Additionally, advertising was also discussed, with a representative for GroupM, a local advertising firm talking the group through possible additional revenues which could be generated through effective advertisements. Having advertised many large product lines, such as Sunlight and Horlicks, this experienced company stated that by having advertisements before and during the interval of a film, the cinema could earn much larger revenue streams. Finally, financing was also discussed, with AMF Finance offering tailor made financing packages to cinema owners. With the representative for AMF Finance stating that a ‘one size fits all’ financing package would not work, they have offered to craft individual financing schemes for each cinema to adopt the new digital platform. This way, these cinemas can make an efficient transition, without worrying too much about the logistics.