Q&A With Giant Screen Films/D3D President Don Kempf

Don Kempf and I recently had a discussion about his company’s work in digital giant screen cinema.  You can find it at ThemedReality.com.

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GSCA 2012 Coverage

Follow my coverage of the 2012 GSCA International Conference in Sacramento at http://inparkmagazine.blogspot.com/  Last night included a tribute to the late Roman Kroitor, a co-founder of IMAX, by Graeme Ferguson, the only remaining founder and a surprise screening of the very first IMAX film.

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ThemedReality August 2012 Update

Newly added at ThemedReality.com:

  • Walt Disney, Theme Park Character

And coming later this month:

  • Batman, laser projectors, and what theme parks can learn from IMAX
  • A new kind of branding for museums
  • What We Know About Shanghai Disneyland: The Director’s Cut
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ThemedReality March Update

The following posts are available on my new blog, ThemedReality, found at www.themedreality.com.

  • ETI and the Future of Ride Design: ETI’s Brian Edwards discusses what the future holds for cloud technology and attractions, then ThemedReality re-envisions two blockbuster Disney attractions.
  • SeaWorld Parks and its Animal Spirit Guides: SeaWorld and Busch Gardens make a radical change from human expedition in the animal world to becoming the animal itself.
  • Super 78 Played Bridge at a Singapore Resort: How Super 78 Studios created an emotional bridge connecting a museum and an aquarium.
  • Obscure Trivia Break: Two theme park chains and two horror franchises about carnivorous fish.

Posting later this month on ThemedReality:

  • Jobs in Museum Interpretation: How iOS technology and hardware are revolutionizing the way we experience museums.
  • The Museum Terminator: Remembering when California First Lady Maria Shriver expunged a carefully laid out themed design from the “state museum.”
  • Three Generations of Walt: Disney Parks takes three different approaches with interpreting Walt for three generations of guests.

My articles publishing this month:

  • 4D Comes of Age in Sound & Communications Vol. 58 No. 3 (March 19, 2012): Covers Northern Light at Capitol Theatre, Fort Edmonton Park, Edmonton, Alberta and Airboat Adventure at Museum of Discovery and Science, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Interviews with Robert Wyatt, Artisan Design; Doug Yellin, Mathilda Entertainment; David Willrich, DJ Willrich, Ltd; Andy Hanlen, LA ProPoint; Maris Ensing, Mad Systems; and Kim Cavendish, Museum of Discovery and Science.
  • How the TEA and Themed Entertainment Design Altered the Museum Experience in the Official Program, 18th Annual Thea Awards Gala: Covers EPCOT, Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, FL; National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, Columbus, GA; The Changing Climate Show at Science North, Sudbury, Ontario; Fernbank NatureQuest, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta, GA; and Air Force One Discovery Center, Ronald Regan Presidential Library and Museum, Simi Valley, CA.  Interviews with Brian Edwards, Edwards Technologies (ETI); Doug Yellin, Mathilda Entertainment, and Mira Cohen, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

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The Final Post – The Force vs The Max

In 2005, I began a two year investigation into a lawsuit between IMAX Corporation and a stereoscopic conversion firm called In-Three.  Over 20 people with various companies and studios were interviewed for the pieces that appeared on the World Enteractive website.

IMAX had been having difficulty converting live action portions of its giant screen documentary Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon and called in In-Three for assistance.  The two companies signed an agreement allowing IMAX to explore In-Three’s technology.

Now, 2005 was a year of transition for digital cinema and the introduction of digital 3D.  That year, a company with the know-how to compete against IMAX announced its first deployment – RealD.  Its CEO had produced films for IMAX, its President had worked on IMAX 3D productions with James Cameron, and the man leadiing its worldwide deployment had been head of one of IMAX’s largest North American cinema customers.

While RealD was preparing their rollout, Texas Instruments’ DLP Cinema division introduced a single projector digital solution for 3D.  And In-Three was hard at work on what was then scheduled to be the first film completely converted into 3D – Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

Just days before ShoWest, the big cinema industry event where George Lucas was scheduled to present a series of film clips converted by In-Three into 3D, including the entire first reel of Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope), IMAX announced that it had licensed a 3D conversion patent from a New York computer graphics artist and patent agent named David Geshwind and they promptly sued In-Three for patent infringement.

The case would carry on for years, with IMAX and In-Three settling out of court.  But, as of IMAX’s last financial reporting, it was still being held up in arbitration between IMAX and Geshwind.

So what does that have to do with Star Wars?

Lucasfilm had agreed to allow Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones to be shown in IMAX theaters.  They were not too happy with the fact that they had to cut 22 minutes off the film due to system limitations, especially when they found out that IMAX had fixed this issue by the time of the next film to be released by IMAX: The Matrix Reloaded, some seven months later.

When Episode III was in production, IMAX again approached Lucasfilm with the idea of releasing the film in IMAX and the last 20 or 30 minutes in 3D.  (a strategy that would be used on Superman Returns and a couple of Harry Potter films, allegedly with the Geshwind patent working hard behind the scenes).  Lucasfilm wanted all or nothing in 3D and told IMAX to use In-Three, who had been conducting tests with Lucasfilm’s ILM visual effects unit for quite some time.

IMAX in turn told Lucasfilm that they had successfully developed their own live action 3D conversion technology.  Lucasfilm gave them a short clip of Episode III to convert, but IMAX missed the deadline and never showed the clip converted into 3D to Lucasfilm executives.

Instead they showed the converted clip to executives at Universal in an effort to get King Kong.  Without permission of the copyright holder.

And that, dear friends, is why instead of seeing the incredibly sexy Natalie Portman in IMAX 3D tomorrow, you’ll be seeing the incredibly sexy Luis Guzman.

As a footnote, In-Three was aquired last year by visual effects house Digital Domain, while IMAX finally completed its first full 3D conversion of a Hollywood film – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – which was shown around the world in RealD.

That’s it.  The Blog is over.  Take the next leap and step into ThemedReality at www.themedreality.com

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BREAKING NEWS: Remember When IMAX Won the Large Format Wars? Well, Now Barco’s the New IMAX

Last night, after watching the new film “Chronicle” on a Barco 4K projector at my local Cinemark, I received an advanced copy of a rather interesting press release that I decided not to post anything about until it was actually publicly released.

Earlier on the Kinotech Blog, I reported on confusion stemming from Barco projectors being installed in IMAX theaters and the possible missappropriation of IMAX publicity materials.  This led to a rather nice interview with the Barco folks at their Rancho Cordova, CA headquarters and an article about the company’s digital cinema products in the LF Examiner.


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SITE UPDATE: Farewell to the Kinotech Blog

The final Kinotech Blog post will appear on Thursday.  It will be about Star Wars.  It will be about IMAX.  It will be about Star Wars being in IMAX.  And it will mostly be about Star Wars NOT being in IMAX.  And it will feature a guest appearance by famed star of stage and screen Luis Guzman.

After fifteen years, I’ve decided to retire as a giant screen professional and to move on to other, but somewhat related, fields.  I thank all those who have followed, contributed to, and provided feedback to The SFC Review, World Enteractive, and the Kinotech Blog over the past decade, and to my colleagues who have provided sage advice during my tenure as a giant screen theater operator.

By pure chance, my career path has taken an unexpected turn and I have shifted gears into the themed entertainment arena, writing professionally for a number of industry publications, and acting as online news editor for InPark Magazine.  During this transition, I will continue to provide consultation services under the SFC MediaWorks banner.  But note that this isn’t a complete departure from the giant screen world.  I will still report on giant screen, 3D, and other immersive cinema experiences when they fall into the larger picture of themed entertainment.

That said, I have started a new blog that takes a serious look at the integration of creativity and technology and how they are changing the ways we experience attractions, museums, live experiences, and retail environments.  ThemedReality will launch on Thursday at ThemedReality.com with an exciting conversation with ETI’s Brian Edwards.

On that day, the Kinotech Blog twitter account will be changed over to ThemedReality.  It will continue to offer news from InPark Magazine, and over the next few months, both the ThemedReality website and twitter account will grow to provide better integration with industry associations such as IAAPA, TEA, ASTC, AAM, IMERSA, and GSCA.

See you in the future!

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