Qube Cinema continues to work with the Italian digital cinema service provider, Microcinema, to supply its D-cinema servers and Integrated Media Blocks (IMBs) to theaters throughout Italy. Since 2008, the partners have installed the Qube XP-D and XP-I servers in over 250 theaters.
Due to this ongoing collaboration, cinema owners in Italy have equipment providing them with access to a wide array of digital content, including Microcinema’s vast library of movies, as well as live and recorded events.
Qube Cinema engineers worked closely with Microcinema to deliver a system for theater owners who need to be able to show both DCI and VC-1 encoded content. They developed Microcinema’s proprietary M-box, an interoperable server that contains either the Qube XP-D or XP-I server to play DCI content and another server that can play VC-1 encoded content. The servers work in parallel with the same projector using Theater Management System (TMS) software and automations.
“We chose Qube Cinema because it was the only company capable of realizing our idea of interoperability of DCI and non-DCI content,” said Silvana Molino, CEO of Microcinema. “Qube delivers whenever we ask for experimentation and improvement. They offer complete and ongoing support to our wide network of theaters.”
The Equipment that Runs the Show
Both the XP-D and XP-I servers are fully DCI compliant and integrate seamlessly with all major TMS software. Microcinema has around-the-clock access to Qube technicians to remotely access any server via its web interface, ensuring the systems stay up and running. The XP-I server and Xi IMB allow theaters to exhibit 3D and high frame rate (HFR) movies, such as The Hobbit, as well as offering full 4K resolution.
“Exhibitors are free to choose the server they prefer,” explained Molino, “but 90 percent of the time they choose to install Qube Cinema equipment based on our recommendation.”
In addition to installing D-cinema systems, Microcinema, with headquarters in Legnano, a town close to Milan, offers theater owners content and advertising. Microcinema relies on bidirectional satellite transmission to send and receive data. Pre-cleared content is delivered directly to theaters while Microcinema receives diagnostic data that allow it to manage, control and maintain the system. The company monitors data about the status of hard drives, software, projector lamps and whether the UPS (uninterrupted power supply) is connected and functional. Microcinema also receives the projection log, showing which screens are showing what content and when.
“The exhibitors are happy to have their content monitored by us,” said Molino. “Often we can resolve an issue before they even know something is wrong.”
Simple Upgrade for the Advent of HFR 3D Content
Qube Cinema and Microcinema have upgraded theater systems in Florence, Trento and other cities to the XP-I server and Xi IMBs so they are outfitted for full 4K playback and HFR 3D content. Recent showings of the HFR 3D The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey have met with great audience appreciation.
“Although most of our installations have used Qube’s XP-D server, we are seeing more and more theater owners upgrading to the Qube XP-I server and Xi IMB,” said Molino. “Now they have access to the high frame rate and 4K capabilities they offer. It’s an easy upgrade for us to do.”
Microcinema partners with a postproduction facility in Rome that provides it with VC-1 encoded content. Recently the post house also upgraded to the Qube XP-I server, networking it into their projector with QubeMaster Pro, Qube Cinema’s powerful encoding and packaging system, to deliver DCI content to Microcinema.
“Our post partner found Qube’s XP-I server to be the most complete and flexible option to simulate the full digital chain in their dedicated projection room,” said Molino. “Now they use their internal studio for DCP encoding and content review.”
Offering an Extensive Library of Content
Microcinema is an installation company with a twist. In addition to its first-class equipment and service, the company has a catalogue of content available to theater owners, including art-house films, first-run movies and live-event showings. Among its most popular offerings are live and recorded opera and ballet performances from around the world.
“We are well known in Italy for providing a rich library of alternative content,” said Molino. “In February we offered a live performance of the ballet, Notre Dame de Paris, from La Scala in Milan, to over one hundred theaters. The final box office was €120,000. This is a good approach for expanding audiences.”
It’s not just classical events that are popular either. In November 2012, Microcinema distributed a concert film, QUEEN Live in Budapest, to 240 theaters. As well as working with conventional theater chains, Microcinema works with art houses and cinemas run by associations connected to the Catholic church.
“Qube Cinema is pleased to have found an innovative partner in Microcinema for our Italian installations,” said Nigel Dennis, director of sales and marketing for Qube Cinema in Europe. “Theirs is a good model for enhancing business opportunities for theater chains as well as independent theater owners. The quality of the equipment, the level of service and their extensive library of content expands what is possible.”
The Qube XP-D and XP-I digital cinema servers, along with the Xi 4K IMB, are available from Qube Cinema and its worldwide network of resellers. For more information visit www.qubecinema.com