Zoetrope Was A Classic Literary Journal

zwacljLast May 2, a little-known literary quarterly knocked the New Yorker–not to mention a clutch of other magazines–off its perch when it took home the National Magazine Award for best fiction. Published in newsprint, the journal, Zoetrope: All Story, was launched less than five years ago by filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. In the insular world of New York media, the victory was a shocker, and came with a price.

As it turns Out, Adrienne Brodeur, editor in chief of Zoetrope, has a story with a fairy-tale quality all its own. After prep school and Columbia, the blond, willowy Brodeur moved to San Diego and married young. She worked in local government, rising to chief of staff for the county …

Success To What? The Grass Valley Group Story

gvgsHow GVG got involved with the movies is a story close to any exhibitor’s heart. “With some of our products, we have long been connected to the post-production side of filmmaking,” explains Beth Bonness, GVG’s director of digital cinema. “Working on the high-definition version of our Profile digital-video server, one of our engineers, who had been reading up on the latest developments in digital-cinema projection, suggested that we develop this technology further and leverage it for this emerging sector.” As it turned out, the person responsible for this insight used to be a projectionist of good old-fashioned 35mm film. As an engineering student, Dr. Jim Clark worked in college theatre booths, running tandem projectors with synchronized-transition, 5,000-foot reels and even carbon-arc light sources on some of them. How could he not miss celluloid? “It was a second job for me,” he says, “so it was a fin challenge to show up for a new movie with 30 minutes to spare and get everything spliced together correctly What I miss is running individual reels and synchronizing the transition from one reel to the next.”

Many experiments and technical upgrades later, the Emmy Award winning GVG Profile XP Media Platform now accommodates full-length feature films on a single server, with enough storage capacity to run movies of Titanic-size proportions. No more juggling of reels–or even computers, for that matter. While previous digital presentations for multiple screens have featured several servers routing the same signals to different theatres, Jurrasic Park III plays from a single Grass Valley digital-cinema server. The technical key is that up to four channels can be routed to as many theatres in an appropriately networked multiplex.

With an average compressed density of 80 to 100 Gigabytes per film, the GVG Media Platform employs ten hard disks with capacities of 72 Gigabytes each, eight of which can be used for content storage. Coming from the broadcast industry, where a glitch in airing an advertising spot during the Super Bowl or Academy Awards becomes a matter of someone’s life or death, the GVG server offers proven reliability and safety features. “The information is stored across multiple disks in such a way that any one disk can fill without losing data, because the lost data can automatically be recovered from the remaining drives,” assures principal engineer Mike Bruns. “Modem RAID units [Redundant Array of Independent Disks] are so sophisticated that the failed drive can be simply slid out and replaced with a new unit-while the disk system continues to send out data continuously. The new disk is then automatically programmed as the system continues operation. In other words, the system heals itself after the disk replacement. GVG RAIDs run with five disks in a group and redundant power supplies. In cases of multiple RAID drive failure, we tend to automate the recovery if possible.

These disks capture high-resolution digital audio and video that can be accessed in a variety of compression formats. Beth Bonness explains how this “enables exhibitors to program alternative Continue reading

German Films Get Serious

Statistically, the film board counts openings resulting from both new construction and reopenings after upgrade and remodel. Nevertheless, only 108 new screens were added from January to June (236 in 2000, 448 for the full year). In the old Bundeslander of the West, a mere 68 opened (188 in 2000), while the Eastern federal states counted 40 over 48 screens. Of the 4,738 screens, 3,813 are located in old states and 925 in the Neue Bundeslander of the East. Closings remained stable at 153, with a slight shift from West (133 vs. 135 in 2000) to East (20 vs. 18). Broken down by size, only five new multiplexes opened with 44 screens and 10,735 seats as opposed to 13 that …

Aussies Go Wild At Film Convention

agwafWhile the night is all about congratulating distributors on their success, the convention is perhaps more about distributors thanking exhibitors for helping them attain that success and encouraging the partnership to continue. There are always a lot of good-humored digs at colleagues and competitors alike. Said UIP Australian managing director Mike Selwyn during his presentation to exhibitors: “UIP is committed to the whole exhibition industry, even those we think should be committed.” Said BVI managing director Alan Finney–and current MPDAA chair–during his: “No, Monsters Inc. is not a documentary about the MPDAA companies.” Or take this expression of thanks to the awards sponsor and the company Australian managing director of Columbia TriStar Films, Stephen Basil-Jones, regularly has to negotiate terms with: “It is important that you kiss the feet that are attached to the legs that are attached to the arse that you have to kiss next week. So thanks to Hoyts.”

This year, the convention attracted over 700 people to the Royal Pines Resort on Queensland’s Gold Coast between August 14 and 18. Each of the major distributors spent several hours presenting trailers, talking about upcoming product, and then screening a feature. Those shown were UIP’s Rat Race, BVI’s The Others, 20th Century Fox’s Legally Blonde (the debut feature from Australian-born Robert Luketic, who was in attendance), Columbia TriStar’s America’s Sweethearts and the independent feature Peter And Vandy.

While there was Continue reading