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Top 4 Tech Trends we saw at CinemaCon 2018

by Renee Goble
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Customer Engagement

Earlier this week, CinemaCon 2018 (the biggest movie theatre trade show in the world) commenced and we're thrilled to be a part of it. Even though the convention happened in Vegas, the innovations showcased hope to become the standard in cinemas around the world.

As a tech company specializing in state-of-the-art feedback analytics for cinemas and restaurants, we're always keeping our ear to the ground about new ideas that will help propel the cinema industry forward.

The emphasis this year seemed to center around improving the "wow" factor of the movie-going experience – whether that's enhancing the display quality of projectors or experimenting with immersive virtual reality experiences. While the growth of social media and online streaming services have caused some concern about the future of the movie theatre business, technological advances also provide potential engagement solutions to cinema owners by creating innovative ways to experience and distribute films.

There were tons of intriguing and noteworthy tech advances on display throughout the convention, and unfortunately, there just isn't space to cover all of it in a concise blog post. So, instead – we've focused on 4 prevalent tech themes and some of the companies that are making the futuristic magic happen.

So, without further ado, we'd like to share with you 4 of the top innovative trends unveiled at CinemaCon 2018.

Laser Projectors

We've come a long way in the realm of lasers since Val Kilmer used them to fill a house with popcorn in Real Genius.

Projectors are the unsung heroes of the theatre experience and without them, the ability to go watch a film would be, well, severely limited. While lamp projectors have been the most commonly used form for decades, they are costly and fragile. Laser projectors, on the other hand, are proving themselves to be just as powerful, more durable, and they produce higher quality image color and sharpness. Simply put, lamp projectors absorb a lot of other colors in the process of projecting an image, while lasers produce the colors needed -- which not only takes up a lot less power, it increases the richness of the image.

Christie's first RealLaser™ cinema projector was showcased at an on-site 40 seat theatre. This projector series, called the Christie CP4235-RGB, is the first set of projectors featuring RealLaser™ RGB pure laser illumination. Their RealLaser™ technology aims to make RGB laser projection affordable for mainstream theatres and not just Premium Large Format (PLF) screens. Christie’s RGB laser comes in a compact all-in-one package that provides vibrant colors and higher contrast ratios, making the image projected a more richly immersive one than that offered by a lamp or laser phosphor (LP) projectors. Since laser projectors already last longer than lamp ones – this could be a cost-saving win for the industry, both in the short term and long-run.

Barco and NEC also introduced new laser technology. NEC's NC354IL features 4K resolution and 3D capabilities, providing audience members with high image quality that is sure to captivate moviegoers. Meanwhile, Barco focused on Smart Laser High Contrast projectors. Their goal is to provide every screen, specifically smaller ones, the ability to create unique and high-contrast movie experiences.

Centralized Cinema Management

GDC Technology Limited showcased live demonstrations of its Cinema Automation CA2.0 -- the first-ever centralized solution to automatically manage content storage and playback, show scheduling, power supply and screening quality.

That moment when you finally switch over to a centralized content management solution.

CA2.0 aims to help increase efficiency and quality of content playback while reducing operating costs. Plus, its ability to play nearly 1,000 movies across 14 screens on a single server greatly increases programming flexibility at theatres. For theatres that have CA2.0, GDC also announced the launch of their consumer platform -- GoGo Cinema. This platform allows moviegoers to choose from over 1,000 movies and pick the time and location they’d like to watch those films, allowing for crowd-sourced big-screen events.

Meanwhile, Vista introduced several new products at CinemaCon including Cinema Manager -- their first major release focused on getting their cinema management software cloud-ready. Built from the ground up and tailored to the needs of theatre managers, this new suite is geared to help theatres save time and increase profitable staff hours.

Virtual Reality

CJ 4DPLEX showcased another experience driven update. "4DX with ScreenX" combines two immersive cinema experiences into one chair: the motion and environmental effects of 4DX entertainment (a fancy term for 4th dimensional, augmented reality, cinema technology) and 270-degree multi-projection panoramic visuals from ScreenX. While it has previewed in South Korea, CinemaCon marks its world debut. Offering an all-immersive alternative to guests, it’s the latest in fully immersive movie-going experiences.

This proves especially fortuitous for Regal, whose new parent company Cineworld, met with CJ 4DPLEX at CinemaCon to discuss extending their 4DX presence within 145 Regal theatres. CJ 4DPLEX has also signed an agreement to install four screens in B&B theatres -- suggesting that this trend will be one that pops up quickly across the nation.

CJ 4DPLEX is also introducing their new 4DX VR Disk.

Without having to put your feet on the ground, it allows people to explore 360-degree virtual realities while rotating horizontally to give the impression of free exploration. For those who want a completely immersive experience while not having to move and spill that bucket of buttery popcorn, this could be the perfect solution.

Screens of the Future

Samsung Electronics made waves by introducing the first DCI-compliant LED cinema screen onto the market -- the Samsung Onyx LED display.

This screen provides a high-quality, realistic viewing experience capable of 2K, 4K, 3D, and HDR while eliminating the need for a projector. The display’s name pays tribute to its ability to show cinematic content with true black colors and their screens feature state-of-the-art surround sound from HARMAN’s JBL Professional brand, giving the all-immersive impression of sound coming from the screen itself. While this screen is currently installed at a Pacific Theatre in L.A., whether it takes off nationwide remains to be seen -- but whatever happens, the technology behind it is certainly revolutionary and potentially industry disrupting.

In a world bombarded by numerous streaming options, the cinema industry is continuing to move towards cinematic experiences that will leave moviegoers feeling awed and attached not only to a film but also to the theatre itself.

The technology showcased at CinemaCon reaffirms that while the industry itself is over 100 years old, it is still constantly shifting thanks in part to the mass of technological advances that have shaped the way moviegoers want to experience films.

While the tech revealed this past week is certainly impressive and geared to revolutionize the cinema industry in the coming years – only time, and perhaps some well-placed moviegoer feedback, will determine how these changes will hold up when introduced to the vast movie-going public.

If you want to figure out if any of these upgrades make sense for your theatre, find out from your customers using our sophisticated customer experience enhancing SurveyMe software. Schedule a free demo of our software today!

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