Category Archives: Digital cinema

Cinema advertising on the fast track: GroupM


A big contributor to footfalls in theatres has been the digitisation of single screens as well as tier-II and III multiplex screens in the last few years. Digitisation, say experts, has given exhibitors the flexibility in selecting movies, and especially last year, when mainline Bollywood films failed to deliver, regional films have been able to save the day for distribution and exhibition companies. Thanks to this, cinema halls have been able to maintain footfalls, making in-cinema advertising a lucrative option for brands, notably, regional brands.

That digital as an advertising medium has been growing consistently in the last few years is a trend that has been well-documented by a number of studies that track ad spends in the country. However, what is striking about the latest AdEx Report released by the country’s largest media agency network, GroupM, is the growth of cinema advertising in India. GroupM forecasts a rate of growth of 20 per cent for cinema advertising in 2015, second only to digital advertising, which comes at 37 per cent.

More at Business Standard and THR


Digital revolution to cut costs

Gone are the days when the film reels were processed in the lab and physically distributed to the theatres in different parts of the country. The digital distribution is helping the digital print to be uploaded from a central server which can be played at different theatres.

The maximum returns of the investment of any film are collected in the first few weeks of the film release. Digital distribution is enabling the distributors to make as many copies as possible with negligible costs; get a wider, timely release and maximise collections. Big budget films are releasing with a record number of prints without incurring heavy initial costs that used to be the case earlier, said U Lakshm­ina­rayana, CEO, Cinematica Digitals.

There is a misconception that digital technology is killing small films. Small producers can choose few digital theatres and get the film released. They can increase the number of exhibition centres once the film gains popularity. It is not pain for any distributor to pay the subscription to digital exhi­bitor as long as the movie makes revenues. The digital distribution is helping them to pay monthly subscription rather than a lump sum initial investment, he said.

The growth story of digital exhibition has taken off with the release of Maghadheera. Almost 70 theatres in the State converted to digital format just few weeks be­fore the film release. This enabled the film to hit 1,000 screens. The producer of the film, Allu Arvind, further went ahead and started Cinematica to focus on digital exhibition across An­dhra Pradesh, he buttresses his point.

The trend has picked up, and the growth is immense in conversion of normal theatres in to digital ones in last two years. The few theatres that are left out may get converted in to digital very soon, making the whole distribution switch to digital, he added.

On piracy, Lakshminarayana said the movie is also better protected with digital technologies. Even if some theatre owner tries to make a pirated copy of the film, he can easily get caught. Forensic water marking, which is not visible to the naked eye can be easily read and identified from which theatre (print) the film is pirated.

Digital Cinematography

Even though distribution is taken over by digital technologies, the penetration of digital technologies is quite slow in cinematography even with huge cost savings. However, the success of films likes Love Failure, Ee Rojullo created some buzz in adopting digital technologies.

Digital cinematography helping the industry to save 30-40 per cent costs. However, if the technicians are not skillful enough, the costs end up same as film camera. Only 10 per cent of the films in the State are produced through digital technologies. The industry has not seen a major success with digital technologies, said Srinivas (SKS), executive producer, Ee Rojullo.

All the major stars films are cinematographed with a film camera, due to various reasons like long running shots and chasing shots. The trend will pick up in the industry once they see a star film produced with the digital camera. The quality of the movie produced will not be inferior to any of the film camera, he said.

  • Number of active theatres in the state: 1600
  • Number of theatres converted in to digital: 1200
  • Theatres converted in to digital: 75 per cent
  • Cost savings: Almost 65 per cent at the time of release
  • Cost savings with digital camera: 30 per cent

(As published in PostNoon )

Film projection riding the crest of digital wave

The entry of digital film projection systems in Andhra Pradesh has turned out to be game changer for the movie industry in more ways than one. Reducing costs by about two-thirds of that of old-fashioned film spools, it has also significantly widened the impact of release in terms of number of screens.

July 30, 2009 marked a watershed in this direction, with ‘Magadheera’ hitting a whopping 1,000 screens across the globe, making people sit up and take notice. In A.P. alone, there are 1,800 screens of which 1,600 are active, including single screens theatres and multiplexes.


Film reels (analog prints) transported is passe. The new equipment comprises a digital projector, a server and a V-Sat. The server has proprietary software, enabling decryption and playback of an encrypted film, using formats like Qube, PXD (Prasads Extreme Digital) and UFO.

Once the exhibitor (cinema screen owner) enters into a deal with a distributor, he gets a licence/password. In a three tiered industry – producer, distributor and exhibitor, the digital cinema distribution company falls in between the distributor and exhibitor, charged with the responsibility of quality projection.

The digital wave has swept the sector, with about 1,200 screens now converted. Allu Aravind of Geetha Arts, an early bird, advocated the digital conversion of over 60 screens in the Andhra region alone before the release of ‘Magadheera’.

U. Lakshminarayana, CEO of Cinematica Digitals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Geetha Arts, is appreciative of the change in mindsets of exhibitors. Proof of this is found in the fact that since it launched operations in June 2010, it has converted 450 screens in A.P., digitally, to use Real Image’s Qube format.

Producer D. Suresh Babu says it works well for big films to release across a large number of screens and get money back soonest. “Business has gone up for big films. But the flip side is that small films, that need good word-of-mouth publicity, are affected because there is no time lag with wide releases,” he says.

For example, a typical big film now needs about Rs. 20 crore upwards. By releasing in a minimum of 400 screens upwards, it just takes a week for the producer to get money back.

According to Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), an international compliance standard set in March. 2002, projection had to be ‘2K’. The aim was to have in place, voluntary specifications for an open architecture to ensure a uniform and high level of technical excellence, reliability and quality control of digital cinema.


But given the costs for DCI compliance, Indian audiences are forced to see lower resolution formats (LRF) called electronic cinema. “For the director/director of photography, it is painful to see the final product in LRF even after incorporating digital intermediary and special effects,” Mr. Suresh points out, adding that there was a need for standardisation of formats.

From the days of ‘Raja Harishchandra’ (Marathi-1913), the first silent and full-length Indian feature film directed and produced by Dadasaheb Phalke to the Bollywood blockbuster ‘Sholay’ released on August 15, 1975, with just four prints, the industry has come a long way.

The obviously-superior technology is here to stay, magnifying viewing pleasure manifold.

(As published in The Hindu)