At ShoWest, the annual industry convention opening next week for the exhibition and motion picture distribution industries, Kodak will be the first company to demonstrate the fully-integrated ability to show advertising and other pre-show material on the Kodak server used to playback feature movies. The result will be a smoother presentation to cinema audiences, more detailed audit reporting for ad suppliers, and simplified booth operation for theatre owners.
"In the digital world, we really started with systems to handle the pre-show," says Gary Einhaus, vice president and general manager, Kodak Digital Cinema, "so it's logical that this important breakthrough comes from Kodak. Ads can be encoded in the economical non-wrapped MPEG2 format while features are compressed in JPEG. The Kodak server recognizes both and switches automatically to deliver a seamless presentation."
Kodak developed this "initial approach" in conjunction with one of their major customers to meet their specific needs. The customer is testing it currently in real world conditions, even as Kodak is working also with the industry's leading ad suppliers to adapt the approach to their workflow to accommodate their business rules.
"Our plan is to work with others, to find ways to enable them to connect to our system," adds Einhaus. "We believe our flexible approach will provide clear benefits to ad suppliers and their exhibition partners, and will result in a more consistent presentation for audiences."
Today's pre-shows are vastly different from those of just a few years ago. They are often multi-layered, combining music, dialog, behind-the-scenes segments, still and motion ads, in programs that inform, entertain, and add to the unique cinema experience.
"The new Kodak approach will enable the program to be run on the same projector used to show the feature presentation," Einhaus explains, "so it should look better and brighter and be more consistent with the brand image of the advertisers involved and the expectations of the cinema audience."
Pre-show providers will no longer have to provide separate hardware systems, projection bulbs, maintenance and support. And, with the Kodak system, they will be able to gain more detailed and useful data to share with their advertisers.
"Other systems offer aggregated data," says Einhaus. "Our system audits each ad or other element on an individual basis; the ad supplier knows conclusively which ads have run -- so costly 'make goods' can become a thing of the past."
Today, there are often two systems in the booth - one showing pre-show, the other playing trailers, snipes, and features - and the exhibitor has to switch between them. The trailers sometimes start late and there may be other disruptions. With one system playing everything, the exhibitor will have a system that's easier and less labor intensive to operate - and less prone to errors and other problems.
Images are automatically resized to fit the screen, color space and frame rates are automatically converted, the projector is started once for the full presentation, masking and lighting are adjusted. The result: a smooth, seamless presentation.
"This is one more indication that we intend to do what Kodak has always done in the entertainment industry -- provide innovations that turn technology's promises into realities that benefit everyone and can be enjoyed by the cinema audience," Einhaus says.