18 June, 2008

Interview with Lorenzo Branca, Director of Digital Cinema, Cinemeccanica – Milan

Interview with Lorenzo Branca, Director of Digital Cinema, Cinemeccanica – Milan

A graduate in electronic engineering from the University of Pavia, Lorenzo Branca has been with Cinemeccanica since 2004 and coordinates projects for the development and installation of digital projection systems in cinemas.

How do you view the development of digital cinema?

Following a slowdown towards the end of 2007, I have noticed a considerable recovery, both in actual installations and in contacts with new clients in the first few months of 2008.

What do you think this increased interest by exhibitors is due to?

Without doubt to the greater availability of product: on the market there are more films distributed in digital format and more alternative content. But it is the spread of 3D that has given such a boost.

Cinemeccanica operates internationally: from your privileged observation point, do differences emerge between the various markets in relation to the development of digital and the economic models that support it?

As regards financing, in Italy there are high expectations of public institutions, whilst the VPF model that has been adopted on a wide scale only in the United States is considered with some perplexity. This is mainly for “cultural” reasons: the exhibitor wishes to continue owning his equipment. The figure of the intermediary, the so-called “integrator”, foreseen by VPF, risks being considered an extra link in the supply chain and one whose usefulness is not acknowledged.As regards Europe, there is constant evolution in western countries, whilst the surprise comes from eastern countries, such as Russia, Romania, Croatia and Slovenia. Even though contacts do not always become contracts, the interest there is growing constantly and there is a stronger desire to follow agreements through.

Who are your “typical” customers? What do they demand?

There are various types of clients. The first to come along were our traditional clients who have always taken on the role of pioneers in the field. They immediately started experimenting with the new technology. Amongst our more recent customers there are also those who are not yet fully acquainted with the product. The initial idea is to purchase a digital projector to gain experience. However, very soon in the case of multiplexes, the customer realizes that at least 2 installations are needed to pass programming from one theatre to another as the film gradually starts to draw smaller audiences. Moreover, fitting a digital projector in a medium-sized theatre optimizes 3D screening, which is what exhibitors are trying to concentrate on because it attracts a great many spectators and makes it possibile to increase ticket prices. In Russia, for example, no digital equipment is sold unless it also supports 3D.In many cases, we can say that enquiries come on impulse, often in the wake of some event or other, but the actual purchase is far more carefully thought over.

Cinemeccanica, has been operating since1920 and is one of the leading producers of projectors worldwide. Since 2005 it has also been supplying digital projectors fitted with DLP Cinema™ technology.The company’s headquarters are in Milan, Italy, with two branches, one in France and one in the United States, for a total of around 130 employees.

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