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 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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And now…..a quiz!

Here are the correct answers and poll results:

A. Museums in San Diego and Long Island are adding what feature to their giant screen domes

  1. Exhibition Space 0%
  2. Fulldome Digital Planetarium Systems 65%
  3. 3D Projection 35%
  4. Motion Simulators 0%
  5. Storage Space 0%

Both museums are installing fulldome digital equipment.  The Reuben H Fleet’s dome houses a system from Global Immersion and is opening this weekend.  The Cradle of Aviation’s dome will be opening later this year with their new digital system.  Both theaters own their IMAX film projectors, which will continue to operate in the domes along with the new planetarium equipment.

By 2014, four American IMAX theaters will be in th same complex as what?

  1. McDonalds 18%
  2. A Space Shuttle 82%
  3. The Thinker by Rodin 0%
  4. An Olympic Stadium 0%
  5. The Concorde 0%

The California Science Center, Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center, and Kennedy Space Center are all the recipients of space shuttles.  Kennedy houses two IMAX theaters back to back.

What is the only film shot with IMAX cameras to have received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture?

  1. The Tree of Life 50%
  2. The Dark Knight 30%
  3. Avatar 20%
  4. How the West Was Won 0%
  5. Inception 0%

Nature segments for The Tree of Life were filmed with IMAX cameras with giant screen veteran Greg Eliason producing.  Although the film was not distributed in the IMAX format, the filmmakers hope to integrate the IMAX footage into a giant screen documentary.

Who is providing the projection system for the 5 1/2 hour long 3-screen 1924 classic “Napoleon” in Oakland, CA in March?

  1. Boston Light & Sound 37.5%
  2. IMAX 12.5%
  3. D3D 12.5%
  4. Barco 37.5%
  5. Disney 0%

The three-screen silent movie requires three film projectors interlocked.  Former LFCA President Chris Reyna is serving as technical director for the run.  BL&S has a penchant for three-screen presentations.  They also provided the projection system for Terminator 2: 3D.

The closure or redesign of what attraction in 2012 puts an end to part of IMAX’s legacy?

  1. EPCOT’s Test Track 33.3%
  2. Island of Adventure’s Amazing Adventures of Spider-man 55.56%
  3. Universal Studios Florida’s Jaws: The Ride 11.11%
  4. Disneyland’s Matterhorn Bobsleds 0%
  5. Magic Kingdom’s Dumbo the Flying Elephant 0%

The sound system for JAWS was installed by former IMAX subsidiary Sonics Associates.  The final rides through Amity took place on January 2.

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Technology Didn’t Kill The Projectionist, The Idiots Who Own The Theater Did

It used to be that training managers to thread film and start projectors was a method to lower labor costs by bypassing the unions.  It even happened in IMAX, where one well-known person in charge of a group of commercial IMAX theaters created the “projection manager” position when her IMAX theater opened in San Francisco.  That’s right – “manager,” not “projectionist.”

So along comes digital and projectionists around the country are losing their jobs because apparently theater operators believe there’s nothing people can do that computers can’t do better.


I’ve noticed in a number of chains I’ve visited that as theaters have transitioned to digital, the problems have gotten out of hand.  Out of synch sound, auditorium lighting issues, framing, focus – you name it.  And it’s only getting worse.

Here’s a great example.  This was taken last week during a REALD presentation of Hugo:

Theater owners – as long as you intend to project something on your screen, it’s in your best interest to keep professionals on staff who are experienced in the art and science of projection – they’re an elite force known as “The Projectionists.”


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Ron Bartsch and the Chamber of Secrets

A great behind the scenes of one of the greatest IMAX theaters with one of the greatest IMAX projectionists.


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January 2011 UPDATE 1: My Worst Top 5 List Ever

So here it is, my top five list of giant screen films for 2011.  The problem is: how do you define “giant screen” in this digital day and age when any old film can be projected onto a screen that meets the GSCA standard?  I use the following definition:

1. It must be a documentary that would tradititionally be shown in the 8/70 or 15/70 formats


2. It must be a film modified by IMAX corporation for presentation on its digital projectors.

I’m certain the definition will change over time and may eventually include full-dome digital presentations as well.

So, here’s the list:

5. Sanctum

Once you got over the fact that it wasn’t a big James Cameron Canadian-American production filmed in a giant tank in Tijuana, but rather a $30 million Australian film, and once you got over the first 30 minutes of very bad character development, it was one hell of a beautiful, but claustrophobic experience made even more intense by the 3D.  A very personal film.

4. Flying Monsters

David Attenborough, dinosaurs, and 3D.  Couldn’t ask for more.

3. Contagion

Because Gwyneth Paltrow dies in glorious 12….8……4……2.7….2.5……what’s the resolution on that digital IMAX projector again?

2. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

I have seen this in LegitIMAX 1570, digiminIMAX, and Cinemark XD CopIMAX.  Say what you might about the story, it’s a fun film.  And if you can see it in 1570, the Dubai scenes are amazing.  Kudos to director Brad Bird for making us forget about the Michael Bay curse and putting IMAX cameras to the best use they’ve seen in a Hollywood film since The Dark Knight.  Kudos also for aiming that nuclear warhead at Pixar.  I know what you were thinking.

1. Tornado Alley

It’s not because I got to sit behind Bill Paxton in the screening, nor is it because I watched Twister last night.  My fears of this being a giant screen version of the Stormchasers tv show went away when I realized that this was the culmination of a lifetime of growing up around IMAX documentarians.  I still want to know what happened to the car in the driveway when the tornado hit.

And now for fun….

Here are five films that shouldn’t have been seen on the IMAX screen (also known as “Greg, what were you thinking?”):

  • The Green Hornet
  • I Am Number Four
  • Mars Needs Moms!
  • Sucker Punch
  • Happy Feet Two
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Thoughts and Prayers for a Colleague

My thoughts and prayers go out to Tammy Martin Thurmon, Executive Director of the GSCA, and her family this holiday weekend.  Tammy’s mother Gail, age 71, passed away on Friday in a single car accident.  The family requests that in her memory donations be sent to Lake Anna Rescue, an organization that Gail Martin was heavily involved with which delivers high quality prehospital emergency medical care and related services to any person in need.  She also was a reporter for The Central Virginian, providing a number of pieces each week about the community in which she lived and which she loved.  On this combined day of Hanukkah and Christmas, we should each take a moment and be grateful for the time our loved ones have spent with us and the lessons they have shared.

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Ancient Chinese Secret

Bear with me on this.  What follows is a piece that ran yesterday in the Beijing Evening News.  I’ve run the piece through Google Translate and it can be a bit rough to digest.  So if you have issues with the translation, send your gripes to Mountain View.  This piece is titled “Domestic giant-screen IMAX film DMAX born fares cheaper than 40 dollars.”  I call it “On Tuesday, the Chinese government introduced a less expensive IMAX clone developed in-house.”

The birth of giant-screen films made ​​DMAX

DMAX 40 dollars cheaper than the IMAX Tickets

(Reporter Chen Bin) by the China Film Science and Technology Research Institute and the China Film Corporation, with independent intellectual property rights of domestic “Chinese giant screen” (DMAX) cinema system yesterday formally Shuangjing in UME International Cineplex store into use, the system uses 20 meters to 12 meters 2D and 3D large screen video projection. Yesterday, the reporter in Shuangjing UME International Cineplex DMAX by China to watch the 3D IMAX version of “Dragon Flying A” fragment and the 2D version of “Jinling 13 hairpin” clip, wear special glasses, feel a little better than domestic IMAX DMAX giant ocean screen IMXA poor, “DMAX” optical light, bright screen, good color, do not jump do not flash, the effect is more comfortable viewing. Slope in the audience seating area design, but also from the slope with a large, wide row spacing, low point of view of process design, to the audience and the luxury of brilliant viewing experience. By breaking the monopoly of foreign technology, ticket prices are reduced accordingly.

Currently the world’s most famous giant-screen system for Canadians invented the IMAX. Standard IMAX screen is 22 meters 16 meters, but can play on a larger screen, and so far there have been larger IMAX screen appears.

After “Avatar,” “Transformers 3” and several films fueled, IMAX in China has been rapid development, currently has 37 screens located around the commercial theater cinema and science classes. While everyone knows that IMAX is a good thing, but the high cost of making some small-scale for the introduction of IMAX theater prohibitive. The earliest introduction of the Beijing UME Cinema IMAX projection system, the entire cost up to tens of millions. IMAX screenings brings considerable benefits, on the one hand the audience sought, on the one hand is the high cost prohibitive to most theaters. And IMAX, the Chinese giant-screen machines are dual-use high-brightness projection, the brightness of its screen brightness by nearly 20% higher than IMAX, even three-dimensional video and pictures showing the overall tone is dim or night performance, the audience can still enjoy the rich layers, details of the alleged assaults, full color images. This new giant screen showing the number of audience to bring the best visual experience.

The system Furuo Qing, deputy general manager of China Film Group, said the moment the giant screen cinema digital projection equipment is still the monopoly of foreign manufacturers, the fare is the highest of all the screens. “China’s giant-screen system” to establish the project’s success, no doubt it will completely break the monopoly of foreign technology and domestic brands, “big screen” to the market situation. As the domestic giant-screen viewing is not only to ensure quality, low cost, and no foreign monopoly of the giant screen technology, brand royalties, also abolished the giant screen with foreign brands high into the box office, a lot of natural decline in fares. In UME Huaxing Studios, IMAX film hall cost more than 10 million, while domestic giant screen, the same time the screening, the general 3D film fare 80 yuan, DMAX, ticket prices of 90 yuan, while the IMAX fare is as high as $ 140. In other words, DMAX 40 dollars cheaper than the IMAX, only 10 dollars more expensive than ordinary 3D. China Film Science and Technology Institute Yangxue Pei said, “China’s big screen” system not to charge exorbitant fees to obtain patents of interest, thereby ensuring the cinema, theater and audience benefits.

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