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DigiTraining Plus: D- Innovation for European Cinemas

"DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for European Cinemas"
Kuurne, Belgium
31 March - 4 April 2004

Dear friends, the Barco headquarters in Kuurne, Belgium, just saw the closure of the specialized course for cinema exhibitors: "DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for European Cinemas", organized by MEDIA Salles, that was specifically dedicated to digital cinema.
A highly positive evaluation of the course emerged from the more than 40 participants and experts, arriving from 13 European countries, from Spain to Denmark, from The Netherlands to Hungary, including a guest speaker from the United States. Those attending included exhibitors representing both small and mid-sized companies and the representatives of large commercial chains, operating both multiplexes and art-house cinemas.
Barco, a company of worldwide importance in producing big-screen digital screening equipment, offered the opportunity to acquire in-depth knowledge regarding important technological innovations in this course held at its headquarters. The course participants acquired hands-on knowledge of one of the leading models, the D-Cine Premiere DP100 projector, that guarantees excellent quality projection for screens of up to 23 meters wide. Nicolas Hamon, representing Barco Digital Cinema and Michael Gillessen, representing EVS, demonstrated the various processes of installation, programming and play-out, including monitoring and maintenance for the optimal functioning of the projector and the server.
The main course topics included:

a general overview of the digital cinema market in Europe, the United States and Asia, presented by Sjoerd De Clerck, the Managing Director of Barco Digital Cinema;
statistics relating to the spread of digital cinema throughout the world, the subject of a special section of MEDIA Salles' "European Cinema Yearbook - 2003 final edition";
a definition of digital cinema and e-cinema by Keith Morris, International Marketing Manager for Barco;
an explanation of the expectations and doubts of American and European theatre owners regarding digital cinema, illustrated by John Fithian, President of NATO (the American theatre owners' association), Guy Morlion, Senior Vice-President of UNIC and, representing art-houses, Pierre Todeschini, President of the CICAE;
discussion of relevant experiences: Rickard Gramfors from Folkets Hus och Parker described the "Digitala Hus" project, that was born in Sweden in late 2002, with 7 screens equipped for digital and electronic screenings, and that is ready to add another 9 screens during 2004; Laura Fumagalli, Marketing Director for the Arcadia Cinema in Melzo (Milan, Italy), illustrated her company's strategy that considers digital cinema as an opportunity of consolidating the image of "high-technology" theatres and of guaranteeing their competitive edge.

Kees Ryninks, Head of the Documentary Sector presented the Docu-Zone project, centered on alternative contents, that was developed by the Dutch Filmfund, and there was also the experience of Euro1080, a European provider of alternative contents for e-cinema, that was described by Rob de Vogel, Head of the Project.

At the Kinepolis cinema of Kortrijk, the participants also had the opportunity of observing the quality levels of digital and electronic cinema: after viewing two segments of Brother Bear, one on film and one in digital format, projected next to each other on a split screen, they had a preview of a television serial realized by VTM, the leading commercial Flemish television channel in Belgium, inspired by the crime novels by the popular writer Pieter Aspe, with HDTV pre-screenings of the episodes in the Kinepolis group's cinemas before their TV release.

Gianni Profita, the General Director for Cinema for the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs commented on the course, saying "Technological development is a crucial factor for economic development and it is even more so regarding digital technology applied to the cinema sector, an activity having both economic and cultural importance."
"DigiTraining Plus" is the first initiative of its kind on an international level, with the full support of the General Direction for Cinema and the European Commission.

Costas Daskalakis, acting as the temporary Head of the MEDIA Programme, underlined how the course content is in harmony with one MEDIA Plus' main goals: that of increasing the awareness and implementation of innovative digital technologies applied to cinema. Furthermore, these goals have brought about the realization of the so-called "Pilot Projects". He also expressed hopes to see the new technologies facilitate the international distribution of European films.

Now, upon return from this positive experience, MEDIA Salles has already started preparations for the next 2004 training initiative: "European Cinema Exhibition: A New Approach", that will be held at Budapest, Hungary, from 22 to 26 September 2004. This course, promoted by MEDIA Salles, with the support of the European Union's MEDIA Programme and the Italian Government, is organized in collaboration with the European Film College, DB (the Danish cinema exhibitors' association), Mozisok Orszàgos Szòvetsege (the Hungarian cinema exhibitors' association), Magyar Filmunió and with the partnership of the Hungarian Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Among the main topics are promotion and marketing, analysis of the different types of films adapted to the different groups of spectators, theatre management and digital cinema. The lessons will be held in Hungarian and English and the enrolment deadline will be 2 August 2004.

Jens Rykaer President
MEDIA Salles

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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