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18 September 2012

The Big Question in Sacramento

Host theater for the GSCA 2012 Conference. 
Photo by Joe Kleiman.
by Joe Kleiman, IPM Online News Editor

(September 17, 2012) -- The giant screen cinema industry delegates have been arriving from around the world here in Sacramento and the big questions on everyone's mind, as one theater operator explained to me yesterday, are "What are the advantages of going digital?" and "How do I do it?"

That's what I'm here to find out.  Yesterday, my investigation got off to a great start when I interviewed Mark Katz, President of Distribution for National Geographic Cinema Ventures, about his organization's expanding content and branding program for digital museum theaters.  Later in the day I sat down with Tim Hazelhurst of the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, NC.  Their Wells Fargo IMAX Theater became one of the first museum theaters to switch over to IMAX's digital projection system.  Tim shared with me the process Marbles used in making their decision to go digital and what changes were made in the theater's operation, along with what challenges have started to appear.

In the coming week, I'll be meeting with executives from a number of companies involved in digital giant screen, including IMAX, D3D, Global Immersion, and Sky-Skan.  There are also presentations at the conference about the switch to digital, including one at the Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater in San Jose.  But most important, I'll be speaking with the delegates on both sides of the issue, from integrators to operators.  This includes theaters that switched using conventional digital cinema equipment and a local integrator, others that went for a giant cinema-specific package, domes that are turning into digital planetariums, and theaters who have decided to hold out switching from film until the very last minute.

Look for more updates from the Giant Screen Cinema Association 2012 International Conference and Trade Show throughout the week.

Joe Kleiman is InPark Magazine's online news editor.  He has over 25 years experience working in the giant screen cinema industry.  In 1999, he was part of the team that opened the Esquire IMAX Theatre, host to this year's GSCA International Conference and Trade Show in Sacramento, CA, USA.