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by Daniel Loria 

Wendy Aylsworth came to the entertainment industry after beginning her career working in the aerospace industry with companies like Lockheed and Honeywell. A past president of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and an SMPTE Fellow, Aylsworth has been instrumental in establishing digital cinema requirements and standards. She has also worked closely with some of today's leading filmmakers. Her involvement in assisting with the rollout of high frame rate (HFR) projection systems allowed Peter Jackson to fully realize his vision in The Hobbit trilogy. Aylsworth spoke to BoxOffice about her experience as a technological leader for the film industry.

You began your career at companies like Lockheed and Honeywell and now you're in Hollywood. How did you end up in the motion picture business?

It was sort of serendipitous, actually. I did do a little bit of computer graphics in college; it was still a really nascent technology. I moved into the entertainment industry just as the aerospace industry was shrinking at the time. Honeywell sold their division, and many people were getting relocated out of state, so I was looking for other opportunities and somebody who had also been in aerospace brought me to Disney, where I worked at the theme park for a year and then became much more involved with the animation group: computer graphics and imaging for production purposes. Then I made my way to Warner Bros., where I've been for over 20 years. It wasn't something I ever set out to do; it just kind of happened.

What was it like working to establish the digital cinema standards?

There aren't that many times in history when an ecosystem or device completely changes over. It became apparent that once you could actually project images digitally, that it was going to be a major changeover for theaters. It's not like you were going to try to retrofit a film projector; it was going to have to be a new piece of equipment. It became apparent during the early tests that it would need to match or exceed the quality of film so that you could still support all the characteristics of film in terms of color and dynamic range, and on top of that you'd get a cleaner picture without having to worry about scratches or dirt getting on the film. I think it was critical that the studios came together to establish DCI to set that bar as high as they could based on the technologies that were available. Now it's really exciting to see better light sources coming down the pipe. It was very exciting to see something that we really hadn't anticipated: 3D presentations. The alignment of those projectors coming together with new techniques in terms of computer-generated processing permitted a new shot at this world of 3D presentations.

As you were working with a new technology, was there ever a moment that you feared it just wouldn't work out?

When I first came into the film industry, I remember getting a tour of how movies were made. I was sitting in an editorial suite where this guy had a reel of film and sound, and he was rolling it back and forth and had these giant scissors. He would cut out two or three frames and scotch-tape it back together and play it again and ask, "Do we like this cut?" This was film editing. I remember looking at that and, as a computer person, thinking, is there a way to do this electronically? This is at the point in time when Lightworks was coming out with its system, Avid was working in the television world with smaller images and a lower resolution, and very quickly that process changed over. I was quite confident that if theaters were right for this change, it would radically change how distribution worked. We wouldn't have FedEx trucks with giant reels of film anymore. That's a process that takes quite a few years, because once it can be done there's the economics of rolling it out across the board. As with all technology, it just takes time. I was confident it could occur if we set a standard that would set a high bar and would allow for great presentations in theaters.

You also worked alongside Peter Jackson in bringing high frame rate (HFR) to cinemas.

I think this whole area is going to improve greatly with laser projection. Although 3D was technically feasible in terms of alignment with the image-in the '50s you had to have two reels of film running-one of the things we still suffer from is that the glasses cut the light down, so you're not getting as bright of a presentation as you'll get watching a 2D film; lasers will help that as well. When you increase the frame rate, because your brain is getting more information and more images, it is much easier for the brain to visualize the 3D. At the time that Peter Jackson had decided to shoot his first Hobbit movie [in HFR], there were no projectors at theaters to test it out. The laser light engines of the Texas Instruments and Sony projectors were capable of running that fast, but none of the servers were prepared to feed images that fast into the projector array. There had been experiments done, and James Cameron had given presentations, but I would refer to those as science experiments. There were multiple devices feeding a light source and being shown on a screen. It wasn't a nicely packaged device that could be at any given movie theater; it wasn't really a product. There was a lot of scrambling to work with all the industry vendors. They all rallied behind it. I'm constantly impressed by the industry we're in; when the manufacturers are given a challenge, they always rise to the occasion. It was a real exercise to see how many theaters we could get ready to play that content in time for the first Hobbit movie. Our goal was to try to get at least 1,500 theaters worldwide. We ended up with 4,000.

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PRESS RELEASE

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Rancho Cordova, Calif., USA - 21 April 2015 - Digital cinema market share leader Barco and 20th Century Fox announce today a five year, multi-title per year agreement to release movies in Barco's multi-screen, fully immersive movie format Barco Escape. Fox will be working with its filmmakers to produce new projects for the format beginning with the September release of Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

As part of the deal, a Barco Escape setup will be installed in a theater on the 20th Century Fox studio lot.

Fox was an early endorser of the Barco Escape technology, working hand in hand with Barco throughout the last year to further develop the format and showcase new theatrical content to audiences. Director Wes Ball's The Maze Runner was the first film to release in Barco Escape, featuring approximately 10 minutes of footage in the format. It debuted at five Barco Escape Cinemark theaters in the U.S. and two Barco Escape Kinepolis theaters in Belgium. For The Scorch Trials Barco is targeting 25 locations, and Fox is targeting approximately 20 minutes of the film to be converted into the format.

"The audience reaction from the Barco Escape footage on The Maze Runner was overwhelmingly positive," says Chris Aronson, 20th Century Fox's President of Domestic Distribution. "We started working with Barco on this technology because we believe immersive experiences are the future of cinema. Now that Barco has upgraded its Barco Escape systems to be fully DCI compliant, we are further interested in finding tent pole movies for the format that will inspire audiences to leave their homes and go to the theater to share in this unique experience."

"Twentieth Century Fox has been an incredible partner for Barco Escape from the very beginning," says Todd Hoddick, Barco's VP of Global Entertainment. "The common theme from audiences that saw ‘The Maze Runner' with select scenes in Barco Escape was ‘we want more!' We are thrilled to extend our relationship with the studio and its filmmakers to continue pushing the envelope and creating these new cinema experiences you can't get anywhere else."
Barco Escape's next project, a special performance event with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga filmed natively for the format, will be released later this year. To learn more, visit Ready2Escape.com.

About 20th Century Fox Film
One of the world's largest producers and distributors of motion pictures, 20th Century Fox Film produces, acquires and distributes motion pictures throughout the world. These motion pictures are produced or acquired by the following units of 20th Century Fox Film: Twentieth Century Fox, Fox 2000 Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox International Productions and Twentieth Century Fox Animation.

About Barco
Barco, a global technology company, designs and develops networked visualization products for the Entertainment, Enterprise and Healthcare markets. Barco has its own facilities for Sales & Marketing, Customer Support, R&D and Manufacturing in Europe, North America and APAC. Barco (NYSE Euronext Brussels: BAR) is active in more than 90 countries with 3,250 employees worldwide. Barco posted sales of 1.051 billion euro in 2014.

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By Shawn Robbins, BoxOffice Staff

Following this morning's State of the Industry address from Chris Dodd and John Fithian, Paramount took the stage to celebrate their slate of successful 2014 (and early 2015) releases, and of course, unveil a reel of their upcoming films.

Terminator Genisys
July 1, 2015

Kicking things off, Arnold Schwarzenegger himself presented 12 minutes from this summer's Terminator Genisys, set to open July 1. Although some effects shots were incomplete, the spoiler-filled footage revealed more insight into the multitude of timelines and plot threads the film is somewhat ambitiously taking on. It's still questionable whether or not casual audiences are ready for another Terminator film after 2009's Terminator Salvation proved a box office flop, and the "non-reboot reboot" approach could create some confusion for the uninitiated. Still, past franchises have aimed for similar goals (namely Star Trek and X-Men), so there's definitely potential to capitalize on introducing this franchise to a new generation. We're cautious in our expectations for now, but the action-packed footage and return of Arnold in his most iconic role shouldn't be underestimated either.

Daddy's Home
2015

Fans of The Other Guys, take note: Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg are teaming up again for Daddy's Home -- a concept that finds Ferrell playing a stepfather competing (literally) for the adoration of his new step-kids when their much cooler, devil-may-care father (Wahlberg) returns home. The trailer showcased Ferrell and Wahlberg in their usual comedic form, and CinemaCon attendees were eating it up. Ferrell's recent outings, though successful, haven't quite matched up to his past box office performers, but this is definitely one to watch out for after Other Guys amassed $119 million domestically in 2010.

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation
July 31, 2015

The main attraction of Paramount's presentation began when Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, and Rebecca Ferguson came out to present two scenes from the upcoming fifth installment of the enduring espionage franchise. Cruise praised his co-stars and director Christopher McQuarrie (who was absent editing the flick), followed by introducing two sequences from the film. Even with unfinished editing and little-to-no musical accompaniment, the scenes further build upon the action and suspense promised by last month's first trailer.

Afterward, Cruise came back on stage with Paramount's Rob Moore to talk about the heavily-buzzed Airbus sequence. Cruise not only reaffirmed that it was entirely him performing the airplane stunt, but also elaborated on the challenges faced (e.g., he wore custom eye lenses because even the slightest grain of dust was a safety concern during shooting). He revealed that they practiced shooting the sequence eight times.

After the strong reception to 2011's Ghost Protocol, there's a lot of incoming goodwill for Rogue Nation when it opens later this summer. If the final product delivers the goods, we could be looking at another $200 million+ domestic earner. The previous film totaled $695 million globally over three years ago, a figure which also isn't out of reach for this fifth chapter.

Other Releases

Aside from those three, Paramount didn't have much footage to show off and instead offered up brief title cards. These included Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (October 23, 2015), Rings (November 13, 2015), Monster Trucks (Christmas 2015), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 (June 3, 2016, which will feature fan-favorite villains Bebop and Rocksteady), Michael Bay's Benghazi thriller, 13 Hours (2016), and Adam McKay's The Big Short (2016). The latter features a star-studded line-up including Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, and Brad Pitt. Ben Stiller then appeared in a prerecorded video to push next year's Zoolander sequel, although no footage of significance was shown.

Most notably among the brief teases, director Justin Lin and producer J.J. Abrams shot a brief message beforehand to "talk" about Star Trek 3, set to release for the franchise's 50th anniversary in Summer 2016. Unfortunately, no new information was provided in the short video, which was clearly just a means of reminding everyone what Paramount's big summer movie will be *next* year.

Check back later today for coverage of Warner Bros.' presentation!

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By Daniel Garris

Universal's Furious 7 grossed $2.02 million on Monday to lead the daily box office for an 18th consecutive day. The seventh installment of the blockbuster franchise featuring Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and the late Paul Walker was down 74 percent from Sunday and down 44.5 percent from last Monday. Furious 7 has grossed a massive $296.53 million in 18 days and is on course to surpass the $300 million domestic milestone on Wednesday. The film is running a very impressive 45 percent ahead of the $204.96 million 18-day take of 2013's Fast & Furious 6.

Sony's Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 placed in second with $1.26 million. The modestly budgeted Kevin James led comedy sequel fell 80 percent from Sunday's performance. That represented the day's sharpest daily percentage decline among wide releases. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 has grossed $25.02 million in four days. The film is performing in line with expectations and is off to a very solid start with its price tag in mind. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is running 11 percent ahead of the $22.52 million four-day start of 2011's Zookeeper.

Unfriended took in $0.823 million to claim third place. The ultra low-budget horror film from Universal and Blumhouse Productions fell 73 percent from Sunday. Unfriended has grossed $16.67 million in four days. While the film has been unable to break out to the degree its pre-release online buzz suggested, it is still performing well given its low cost. Unfriended is running 20 percent behind the $20.92 million four-day take of last year's Ouija.

Home claimed fourth place with $0.686 million. The successful 3D computer animated film from Fox and DreamWorks Animation was down 79 percent from Sunday and down a slim 7 percent from last Monday. Home continues to exceed expectations in a big way with a 25-day take of $143.60 million. The film is running just ahead of the $143.16 million 25-day take of 2013's The Croods.

Fellow Fox release The Longest Ride rounded out Monday's top five with $0.532 million. The Nicholas Sparks adaptation starring Britt Robertson and Scott Eastwood declined 68 percent from Sunday and 34 percent from last Monday. The Longest Ride has grossed $24.21 million in eleven days. That places the film 35 percent ahead of the $17.89 million eleven-day take of last year's The Best of Me.

Meanwhile, Monkey Kingdom landed in eighth place for the day with $0.403 million. The latest nature documentary from Disney's Disneynature label fell 70 percent from Sunday. Monkey Kingdom has grossed $4.98 million in four days. That is on the low end of the film's modest expectations and is 8 percent softer than the $5.43 million four-day start of last year's Bears. With Earth Day falling on Wednesday, Monkey Kingdom is likely to hold up very well today and tomorrow.

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PRESS RELEASE

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21 April 2015

Philips announces collaboration with Universal Music Group to bring fully immersive music concerts into theaters

  • New Philips LightVibes® technology transforms theater experience by adding immersive lighting effects synced with content on screen
  • Technology can extend the excitement of a concert to the theater, making music fans feel like they are attending a live event
  • New collaboration reinforces Philips leadership in connected lighting, extending it from homes and cities to the silver screen.

Eindhoven, The Netherlands Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), the global leader in lighting, is collaborating with Universal Music Enterprises, a division of UMG, the world’s leading music company, to make iconic concert films available in the immersive LightVibes format. LightVibes, developed by Philips, adds LED lighting throughout the movie theater which is synced with media content to create a fully-engaging experience. Concert films become life-like, movies become more absorbing and pre-show programming becomes more engaging.

The collaboration is set to be officially launched at CinemaCon 2015 in Las Vegas (20-23 April). Philips, together with Universal Music Group (UMG), will demonstrate LightVibes during the tradeshow starting from Tuesday April 21st.

The multi-screen technology delivers compelling, subtle ambient lighting to every viewer’s peripheral field of vision, enhancing musical performances and events as well as feature films, pre-show programming and advertising. LightVibes delivers true immersive theater that increases the impact of on-screen content, while bringing new capabilities to cinematographers and others in the creative community.

As part of the collaboration, theaters that install LightVibes can receive access to an ongoing slate of superstar concert titles from UMG. Titles initially featured include historic concerts from Alice Cooper, The Doors, Dream Theatre, Morrissey, Paul McCartney and Wings, Peter Gabriel, Queen and The Rolling Stones. Both companies will explore promotional activity such as local market events to support key releases.

Bruce Resnikoff, President/CEO, Universal Music Enterprises said, “We are very excited to work with Philips on LightVibes to help unlock the potential of their technology. We believe this will enhance the theater experience for both audiences and theater owners alike and add realism to the movie concert experience. We look forward to bringing our iconic music catalog to the big screen in HD picture quality and high-quality sound fully enhanced with the life-like imagery and sound provided by LightVibes.”

Niels Van Duinen, General Manager of Philips LightVibes said, “With this collaboration, cinema operators get the best of both worlds: Access to UMG’s high-profile concerts, drawn from the broadest catalog of music in the industry, combined with an immersive LightVibes experience that will keep audiences coming back for more.”

We’re setting the pace in connected lighting for entertainment, whether it’s syncing home lighting with music, movies and TV series or syncing the lighting of an iconic building to music,” added Van Duinen. “Now we’re bringing our technology to the silver screen.”

Initial titles:

1. Alice Cooper - Super Dooper Alice Cooper

2. The Doors - Live at the Bowl '68

3. Dream Theater - Live at Luna Park

4. Morrissey - 25: Live

5. Paul McCartney and Wings - Rockshow: Wings Over America 1982

6. Peter Gabriel - New Blood Live

7. Peter Gabriel - Back to Front: So Live

8. Queen - Hungarian Rhapsody: Queen Live in Budapest

9. Queen - Rock Montreal

10. Rolling Stones - Sweet Summer Sun Hyde Park 2013

11. Rolling Stones - Ladies and Gentlemen

12. Rolling Stones - Some Girls: Live in Texas

Notes to editors:

LightVibes has been tested extensively and 90% of demo visitors report that LightVibes improves the event cinema experience.
Cinema owners will be able to receive a bundle deal when installing LightVibes in their theaters with access to concert titles for two years.

Experience LightVibes at CinemaCon 2015

Philips will demonstrate the power and potential of immersive cinema at the motion picture theatre industry’s largest event. Demonstration details are as follows:

 

CinemaCon 2015

Caesars Palace. Augustus Ballroom Booth 2317A Tuesday April 21, 11 AM to 5 PM
Wednesday, April 22, 9 AM to 5 PM
Thursday, April 23, 9 AM to 12:30 PM

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2014 sales of EUR 21.4 billion and employs approximately 105,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter

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