EVENT CINEMA ASSOCIATION .ORG
: ECA MEMBER :
HD CINEMA: OUR COMMON HISTORY
AUTHOR: Bruno d’Isidoro, Business Director / Sales Manager
ECA Member: ECLAIR | DSAT CINEMA
When Manel Carreras (SVP Business Development and Studio Relations at Eclair, UK General Manager & ECA Board member) asked me to contribute an article on live events for the ECA, I immediately thought of a personal experience that happened at a European level as well as a French one and which showcases our common history. The first event cinema broadcasts took place in France between 1985 and 1988. Back then, some cinemas had tri-tube projectors in their booths and could already receive via satellite programs produced by the first event cinema distributors. This was usually done through a 1.8m antenna and the signal was in low definition and stereo.
In the 80’s, under a European Commission initiative, was etched a plan to compete with the Japan HD norm and a new system called MUSE was developed. During the CCIR conference in Dubrovnik in 1986, Muse/Hivision was launched as a worldwide norm. However, European companies were keen to create their own HD norm so they conceived one called HD Mac which had 1,250 lines/50. This, along with the deployment of numerous decoders, would enable cinemas from 1992 to 2000, to offer event cinema content through tri-tube projectors. We were, at the time, far from the digitalization that we know today.
One of the first events in France was the 1995 concert of French singer Charles Trenet followed by transmissions from the Paris Opera in 1998 and the Berlin Opera in 1999. Those events really established what was yet to come.
In 2000, the HD-Mac was abandoned in favor of the digital norm MPEG-2. It took another 8 years for the right adjustments to be made to the MPEG-2 HD format, which meant that cinemas were now equipped with decent HD decoders linked to their digital projectors. The installation of those digital projectors arose from the new cinema events, then called alternative content.
2008 saw the first relays of operas from the U.S.A. (only 8 cinemas participated to this premiere in France) and this set the pace for more event cinema to be screened. Then, everything got faster: new distributors emerged, more events were created, competition heightened and new professional reception systems were deployed. However, this did not happen without some technical difficulties for satellite companies who had to provide:
Today, event cinema is well established and has a more prominent place in exhibitors’ scheduling. In some cinemas, more than 8 live events are received every month. Reflecting on our common history, we could assume that this is it. However, we really are in a state of perpetual renewal. Today, we are working on the first live broadcasts in 4K. 20 years already...
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Name: Bruno d’Isidoro
Role: Business Director – Sales Manager
With over 25 years of professional experience in the audio visual sector, Bruno D’Isidoro was involved from very early on in the dissemination of live events in cinema.
During his professional career, Bruno has covered all aspects of the distribution and technical delivery of cinema events working for a range of technical providers, producers and distributors.
More recently, he joined DSAT Cinema bringing his expertise to the European network development service as a contact for distributors in the delivery of their programs to cinemas and overseeing the deployment of the DSAT Cinema solution to exhibitors.