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TOPIC: getting started with digital cinema

getting started with digital cinema 10 Jan 2012 00:00 #37724

  • Mike
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This thread is not for those of you incredulous that there are well over 2000 theatres that still have not gone digital. This is for those who are confused and ready to be dragged or leap over the edge and go digital. Please try and keep it on subject.

We had been long time CBG (Cinema Buying Group) members. This was a coop set up with NATO support and by volunteers and they've done a lot of good work. I believe you can no longer join. Once we decided to go digital we had to do a number of things:

1. figure out your screen sizes, throw, what sound you currently have, etc.
2. make a list of the movies you have shown in the last two years: how many did you open as a first release? How many two weeks later? How many were played in the 5th week and beyond.
3. if you want the VPF (virtual print fee) as a kickback from the film company which was negotiated by a consortium of equip manufacturers, film exhibitors groups, etc.The VPF was designed to help you pay for the equipment from the savings the film distribs will enjoy by digital savings.
4. the whole thing is now so complicated there are varius "integrators" like Cinidigm (via the CBG), GDC, and others like Christie and Sony who are doing their own management of the various details
5. if you do not want a VPF- you have billion of dollars, you are a tad suspicious of the film distribs having a pipeline that reports what is running, or whatever.. then you do not need to read any further: just go and talk to your film equip techs and get going: they are ready to serve you.
6. How much will it cost? +/- 60K per screen. After the VPF fees get paid back to you it could be as low as 5K or as high as 20K but the VPF does deliver serious cash back to you to help pay for the stuff.
7. integrators handle monitoring your equipment so they know it is working, and they also work with your financiers, the film distribs, and you to bill the film companies for your VPF's and pay it back to you. You could do this yourself but I think at +/- 10% you'll be glad to have an integrator.
8. when is the vpf going away?: it is a moving target but figure between Sept. 2012 and January 2013
9. what should I do right now? Or: what should you do right now? Call GDC, call Cinidigm, call your tech, call Sony and Christie: I'll post this stuff soon.
10. what happens if I do not convert? There's no way to sugar coat this. The forecast is dead bad. It is happening and fast. 35mm prints are already harder to get after the break, especially if they are hot. 2nd prints at larger theaters are all digital: when they come off it is no help to you. There will be a 3 year lag between used equipment and falling prices of new equip to take up the slack that smaller or marginal theatres have always relied upon in the past for their equipment. The pace will accelerate and at some point will go from streaming along to an outright tumble speed and you'll start to hear: there are no 35mm prints. There remains a possibility that vpfs will be extended but the life of 35mm projection is going to be short. Two years from now? That seems about the outside of the safe window. 35 MM now lives at hospice. It's not a question of if but when.
11. where do I get financing: this is a big party for manufacturers and finance companies who are lined up wanting to serve you. It may turn out to be a sub prime housing boom but who knows?!

That's my starting description.....
Michael Hurley
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 10 Jan 2012 00:18 #37725

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We are currently about to sign a contract for equipment and installation, enter an agreement with an integrator, and are planning for a 3 screen install in late Feb or early March.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 10 Jan 2012 14:57 #37727

  • leeler
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good for you, Mike.

I agree with your first post word for word.
"What a crazy business"
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 10 Jan 2012 15:36 #37729

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Been warning about # 10 for a long time-"REPENT FOR THE END IS AT HAND"-- There are some great deals with Sony and others.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 10 Jan 2012 20:57 #37731

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financing: all of the mfgs / integrators etc. like Cinidigm, GDC, Sony, Christie etc. have close relationships with finance/lease places and they will intro you. We've looked at a number of places and the thresholds are very low: it appears that if you can sign - you can buy. Whether you can pay or not? That's between you, your ticket buyers, your VPF's, and who knows what else.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 10 Jan 2012 23:56 #37733

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Mike it seems there are lots of deals out there.... TRI STATE THEATER SUPPLY IS WERE THE $ 49,000 NUMBER CAME FROM PER SCREEN FOR THE CONVERSION. Included everything with Barco projectors.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 11 Jan 2012 15:38 #37736

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I can only imagine how low the prices will go/ in 5 years people will laugh at what they paid for systems/ Mike
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 11 Jan 2012 15:41 #37737

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Re: getting started with digital cinema 12 Jan 2012 15:18 #37742

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Keep in mind that to get a quote from GDC or Cinidigm, etc. many have signed a non disclosure. So: I will not be posting comparisons, prices other than general per screen estimates, etc. What is clear to me is that as more folks get into this and view it not as a traumatic event but just another equipment change more companies are crafting solutions, more integrators, more projectors, cutting margins, lower costs in general, etc. etc. Bottom line for you is that you must begin to do your homework just as you would if you were looking for a new car (or 3-4 new cars!) or a new smart phone. I do not advise loyalty to anyone at this point. All quotes and specs are to the good. The more quoting the better the eventual bottom line for you.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 09 Apr 2012 20:56 #38251

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The latest...

Our 3 screen in Belfast, Maine turns 100 years old on April 12th! A few weeks ago we signed with Sonic and GDC to do our install. They had a very aggressive fiance package by another outfit but at 10.5% we choked. Not bad huh? Borrow money at next to zero and lend it at 10.5. Even if you borrow it at 5 and lend at 10 that's 50K gross net per million. Lend out 20 million and you have 1 million in profits. I am in the wrong business. :)

Anyway we went to our bank and borrowed at 5% and it is mid June good to go. GDC servers/ Christie protection, and who all knows with sound and screens.

At my other theatre I am sitting tight and will play the waiting game. We were very surprised that there was a fairly regular supply of used equip available.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 10 Apr 2012 04:16 #38254

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Our non-profit, 1 screen community theatre is in a 3,000 pop. rural town, with the closest 6 screen megaplex 25 miles away. We have occasional live music and stage productions, and actually would like to do more. Movies are, and will be, the main staple. Being a non-profit has helped us in the fundraising process to go digital; we've written and applied for a number of grants, and are in the process of organizing a fundraising event at the theatre. To date we have raised $34,000 of what we expect to be $65,000, and I at least, as manager, am hoping to do it sooner than later. Now I have to learn what I can about the right way to go; NEC NC2000, or Christie CP2210, or what?. We've put so much effort in trying to raise money, and keeping the theatre going, which is great, but now I feel like it will be a crash course in what to do - the most important part of it all. Very exciting, but a lot to learn.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 10 Apr 2012 15:53 #38255

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Best way to go is take a fast trip to Las Vegas in a couple weeks and see all the stuff in action.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 28 Apr 2012 22:27 #38338

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Just went with Christie CP2210 (2 screens), Christie VPF, set it up last week while you all were at the convention. a lot to learn but will be simplier I think. Picture is great!
I raced to pull this off as I was told VPF program was over at April 30th 2012 but saw the extention just as we converted. I think the payments stop at the same time as before (about 6 and a quarter years left I think) so the longer one waits the less money to collect.
These projectors are able to handle the 48 frames a second The Hobbit will have in Dec and can go 3D if wanted. I am still manually turning them on though I believe i can tie the server in to my POS system (RTS) when we get it all hooked up with the router etc which is happening in a couple of weeks.
One thing disheartening was I was told my local tech (the great Miles McRae) was not eligible to service Christie digital. I had filled out the 3rd party paperwork with his name on it and everything but they got back to me that wouldn't work with required waranties etc and in my rush to finalize this thing I didn't call him till we were midway into conversion and I still wanted to use him for my audio (and more) so i called him and he was pretty upset. He's a good man and I've felt i've lost a friend.
There is much more to this ongoing saga, concerned about my VPF payments, how it really is going to work. I think studios have even more power to help an indie live or die.
hope you all enjoyed the convention.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 29 Apr 2012 13:26 #38342

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142857 wrote:
Our non-profit, 1 screen community theatre is in a 3,000 pop. rural town, with the closest 6 screen megaplex 25 miles away. We have occasional live music and stage productions, and actually would like to do more. Movies are, and will be, the main staple. Being a non-profit has helped us in the fundraising process to go digital; we've written and applied for a number of grants, and are in the process of organizing a fundraising event at the theatre. To date we have raised $34,000 of what we expect to be $65,000, and I at least, as manager, am hoping to do it sooner than later. Now I have to learn what I can about the right way to go; NEC NC2000, or Christie CP2210, or what?. We've put so much effort in trying to raise money, and keeping the theatre going, which is great, but now I feel like it will be a crash course in what to do - the most important part of it all. Very exciting, but a lot to learn.

The consensus from the FT forums: projectors Christie or Barco, servers Dolby or Doremi.
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Re: getting started with digital cinema 29 Apr 2012 16:29 #38343

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The Christie CP2210 is a lot for the price (approx $60,000 including install)if your throw isn't too far, plus the mandatory bulb replacement (3000 hrs) is much less than many of the other projectors and it's expandable to 3D and 48 frames a second technology.
Good luck.
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