Highlights Of The 2012 CinemaCon Show:
- Dolby's New "Atmosphere" of Sound
- NEC - Best In Show
- Smart Bar - The Perfect Cinema Cocktail
- Christie's SKA-3D - An All In One Solution
A platform for unlimited sound possibilities rather than finite channel configuration & the ability to control any number of speakers or groups of speakers anywhere in the auditorium - Dolby's new Atmos system provides not directional sound but an "atmosphere of sound".
"We want the industry to know we are putting the weight of the company and our global brand behind Atmos", Doug Darrow, Dolby Senior VP Cinema, told me. Atmos creates a sound atmosphere for the audience. "Unlike a channel based sound system, Dolby wanted to give a solution that was unconstrained", stated Stuart Bowling, Dolby Senior Tech./Marketing Manager. "Atmos provides the ability to place sound literally anywhere in the auditorium where you want it to be for the audience". With the flip of a joystick I was able to switch from standard 5.1 sound to Atmos generated 7.1 and compare the difference. The Atmos is dimensionally far richer and the clarity of the sound exceptional.
For new cinema construction and sound upgrades Dolby recommends overhead speakers to be placed parallel and in alignment with the surround speakers. Says Bowling, "If you have eight existing surround speakers on the side walls, you'd have eight overhead speakers as well on each side providing for wide sound dispersion. Atmos moves away from channel based sound systems to an expandable sound platform. "
For me, the best benefit of Atmos is that it provides a sound experience that will only be available in theatres, and developed so that very cinema - no matter size or sound configuration - can utilize the system. Atmos elevates the cinema experience and will help in getting people out of their living rooms and into cinemas.
NEC Prototype - A Real Show Stopper
If there was one product that I would vote Best in Show, it would have to be NEC's prototype D-Cinema Laser Projector. This laser-driven projector, as demonstrated, boasted 4k resolution at high frame rate in 3D - the ultimate in current technology.
The projector is small (about one half the size of a current Series II D-Cinema projector) simply because it has no lamphouse. The laser generator is housed in a black box resting on the floor with two black cables running from it to the projector. As Akhtar Mahmood, NEC Senior Service Engineering Manager explained to me, "the laser light is a separate unit which can achieve a light output of 68,000 lumens and lasts 25 - 30,000 hours at 100% output".
The on-screen image was - in a word - phenomenal. Bright, sharp, and really life-like. But don't hold your breath. First, all of the laser projectors being demo'd be they NEC or others must pass regulatory hurdles and then there are development and pricing issues. According to Akhtar, "we are looking at least three to five years before commercial sells and maybe longer".
|The Smart Bar|
Serving adult drinks may be just what your cinema needs. If so, you'll need a top-notch bartender. Well, look no further - the Smart Bar will make the perfect cocktail (be it a gin & tonic, rum & coke, or margarita) automatically. It measures and mixes up to 16 liquors in combination with 13 juices, sodas, or water, and its portable.
Using a touch screen and easy search to call up and mix hundreds of drink combinations the Smart Bar is easy and fool-proof. It can be used for non-alcoholic beverages as well.
I like the Smart Bar because it can add a new and very profitable dimension to a cinema's concession menu at very little initial and on-going cost. So, if your cinema's demographic would support alcoholic drinks and wine the Smart Bar may be something for you to consider.
|SKA-3D A/V Processor|
Dubbed the Swiss Army Knife of cinema processors, Christie's new SKA-3D combines Audio and Video processing in a single box. The SKA-3D switches from A/V inputs including analog and digital audio from a D-Cinema server/integrated media block and 2D/3D alternative content sources, such as BluRay players, satellite receivers, PCs, or mobile devices.
Scheduled for limited release in the 2nd quarter the SKA-3D fills a real need in cinema A/V presentations.