The Executive Board of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), at the association’s annual Membership and Board Meetings at the Beverly Hilton, 23-24 September 2019, approved a resolution (attached) laying out aspects of a digital cinema technology evaluation program.
“Digital cinema has opened up the door to a wide range of technological advances,” said NATO Technology Committee chairman John D. McDonald, Executive Vice President, Operations at AMC. “Exhibitors – the primary consumers of these technologies – along with other industry stakeholders, need an open, rational testing program to determine which of these technologies will work in the cinema space.”
In the early days of the digital cinema transition, major film distributors formed Digital Cinemas Initiatives, LLC (DCI) to establish a standard architecture for digital cinema systems known as the “DCI Specification”. Its mission was to create a uniform level of security, technical performance and quality.
DCI member studios subsidized the purchase of digital cinema equipment through Virtual Print Fees (VPFs). With VPFs in most cases ended, or nearing termination, in the domestic market, the costs of new technologies will fall on exhibitors. The pace of technological advance has increased. It is, then, necessary and proper for exhibitors to take the lead in evaluating the impact of light levels, contrast and colorimetry on their patrons and the exhibition environment.
NATO seeks to create an open process to understand and evaluate digital cinema technologies and create metrics to analyze future technologies, and to open this process to include various stakeholders including filmmakers, distributors, manufacturers, service providers and exhibitors.
NATO’s Technology Committee, led by NATO’s technology consultant Jerry Pierce, have already begun initial measuring to prepare for industry-wide testing. The Technology Committee will report its initial findings to membership at NATO annual meetings in 2020.
Digital Cinema Light Level Project
WHEREAS “DCI” is Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI), a joint venture of major motion picture studios formed to establish a standard architecture for digital cinema systems known as the “DCI Specification”, and
WHEREAS the DCI Specification establishes a uniform level of technical performance, reliability, interoperability and quality, and
WHEREAS the DCI member studios helped to fund the initial transition to digital cinema through the Virtual Print Fee (“VPF”) payment mechanism, and
WHEREAS through the VPF payments, the DCI member studios were subsidizing the purchase of digital cinema equipment and therefore in an appropriate position to require compliance with their specifications on equipment, including requirements for quality and security, and
WHEREAS the VPF payments are at or near their termination period in the domestic market, and
WHEREAS unless the studios offer a second VPF program exhibitors will now be responsible for all costs associated with their replacement systems going forward, and
WHEREAS exhibitors want to better understand the impact of light levels, contrast and colorimetry on their patrons and the exhibition environment, and
WHEREAS there is a need to include multiple stakeholders in a discussion of the evaluation of current and future system performance including: filmmakers, distributors, manufacturers, service providers and exhibitors, and
WHEREAS this process should be led in part by the exhibitor customers of digital cinema equipment, and
WHEREAS members of NATO’s technology committee have begun initial measuring to prepare for industry-wide testing.
BE IT RESOLVED that NATO authorizes the NATO Technology Committee to initiate and conduct an open process to understand and evaluate digital cinema technologies and create metrics to analyze future technologies, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this process shall include various stakeholders including filmmakers, distributors, manufacturers, service providers and exhibitors, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Technology Committee shall present a report on the initial findings and recommendations of this process to NATO members at the 2020 annual meetings.
The Executive Board
National Association of Theatre Owners
Los Angeles, CA
24 September 2019