International Union of Cinemas Calls for Open Standards in the Cinema Industry

Standards impact every industry and every sector. Posts on the OpenStand blog are dedicated to sharing case studies, stories and policies that influence development standards across sectors.  We’ve highlighted open standards for all sorts of technologies including mobile apps, car starters, baby monitors, and even interplanetary communication!  Another non-traditional area of development that’s been garnering more attention lately comes from the entertainment industry.

The International Union of Cinemas (UNIC) is a European trade association that boasts memberships in 36 countries. UNIC has participated in several keynote lectures in industry conferences discussing the swiftly changing technology landscape in cinema. Many UNIC members are significantly invested in an array of new and upcoming technologies that bring movie-going experiences to life.

Tracking all the latest innovations is an expensive and not always efficient proposition. Outside of the basic complications that sometimes frustrate the the acquisition and installation processes of new technology, many issues arise related to technical compatibility.  This threatens innovation in Cinema and can result in silo-driven innovation that fails to provide a global benefit.  Today, there are more sound and image data formats than ever before.  Cinema operators naturally would like to be able to show movies in the best possible quality, but keeping up with the countless players, projection systems, and support services can prove to be simply unfeasible.  Tech Blog Digital Cinema Today has published a list of the common problems impacting cinema innovation today:

  1.  Some major releases and accompanying trailers are not mixed in immersive sound, despite the technology being available in many cinemas around the world;
  1. Some films are only available in one specific Premium Large Format. Operators who have not invested in that specific format are then required to screen the film in a classic, smaller format on their otherwise large screens;
  1. Certain releases are only made available during the opening week in one specific image or sound format, limiting their release to cinemas equipped for those formats only;
  1. Some films are only made available in one specific non-standardized aspect ratio, therefore encouraging exhibitors to show a cropped film to their audience unless they can create a new macro in time.

The problems present in the entertainment industry are comparable with issues faced in other industries. The best path forward for cinema operators is open collaboration and cooperation. By working together to cultivate an environment in which technical innovation can be standardized and streamlined, cinema operators can ensure a more consistent, immersive theater experience for patrons. UNIC has been a vociferous advocate for moving the industry away from siloed, proprietary technology and into a more unified, collaborative, standardized development model.  This, UNIC maintains, would allow even small cinema operators to avail themselves of the greatest and most innovative media delivery systems.  The UNIC goal is to help pave the way to ensure that all films — large and small — will be shown in the most ideal format.  As AR/VR and immersive programming enter the scene, this capability would seem to be growing in its importance.  As the industry, developers, cinemas and screeners collaborate to develop open technology standards for cinema, a more level playing field will be created, increasing competition, and more immersive, pleasing and unified movie-going experience will delight customers.

To learn more about Open Standards, which are based on the principles that contributed to the development of the Internet, please check out the OpenStand principles!