Starting from 2002, the Olympion Theatre will be converted into a Digital Cinema, while at the same time continuing its traditional screening programme. As the Director of the Festival, Michel Demopoulos said yesterday in the context of the two-day conference titled "Digital Cinema and Creativity", the International Thessaloniki Film Festival boldly enters the new digital age, with the first Digital Cinema in the Balkans and the eleventh in Europe. Director Nikos Giannopoulos, who is in charge of the two-day conference, said that in the next two years Thessaloniki will also acquire its first two IMAX theatres to be located in the city's Technological Park. Although during the first day of the conference there was a mutual agreement between the participants that traditional filmmaking will continue to exist, at least for a while, it was made clear that the new digital technology is quickly gaining ground. As Nikos Yianopoulos explained, directors are turning more and more towards digital technology because of the low cost involved. Digital technology also provides filmmakers with new means of expression such as tools to easily edit and process video, as well as to have access to a multitude of settings that were otherwise difficult with the use of conventional equipment. Producer and director Tasos Boulmetis, who created the first video-to-film transfer (Dream Factory), said that digital technology doesn't alter the language of cinema, but rather, the essence is whether it intervenes or not in the process. "The idea of random access, which is the ability to instantly access any data, is actually the main principle of digital technology." He didn't rule out the possibility of the audience being able to play an active role in future digital films by intervening -like in a video-game- in the film's progression or ending. This, though, might question the filmmaker's actual role, as he said. "Digital cinema is just another medium, like so many others available to a filmmaker. Whether we do it right, is another matter", said Yiannis Kalogeropoulos, director and producer of experimental films, and quoted Francis Ford Coppola who had once said that he would be extremely happy when an ordinary housewife would be able to grab a camera and go out in the streets to shoot a film. "This has already started to happen. We might have a bunch of films, many of them bad, but that's not necessarily the technology's fault", he said. Just like Trotsky's face next to Stalin was erased after his execution, the Twin Towers are being "erased" from Hollywood pictures, even from photographs and post-cards. The French director, Patrick Prado, although characterising the new technology as "chaotic and schizophrenic" was in favour of it, as long as, "we don't create similar or cloned images", as he said, and added that digital cinema grants filmmakers a new-found freedom. He went on to claim that a new wave of theorists will emerge to deal with the style, aesthetics and themes of digital cinema. Julius Friede, the director of Eclair studios in France, with his acclaimed collaborations with Bertrand Tavernier, the Cohen brothers, and Stephen Sontenberg in Traffic, was also in the conference panel. Working as colourist with cinematography directors, the renowned director Julius Friede collaborates with Gavras in his new film, adding the finishing touches. Although he doesn't particularly make use of the new technology, he admitted that digital image processing is simpler than the traditional photo-chemical method. "Of course, if you're happy with what you've shot, the new medium is useless. Digital technology is very helpful, though, in the instances when shooting takes many hours and you have to use many cameras to adapt to the changes in light." Stefan Uhrik, a journalist from Prague and Supervisor of a section in the Karlovi Vari Festival similar to Thessaloniki's Festival's New Horizons section, predicted that in a few years 35mm cameras will cease to exist. The point of interest according to him lies in the aesthetics of digital cinema. "Someone had said that if Nouvelle Vague had the chance it would have used digital means. In fact they claimed that Godarde's Breathless, could have been filmed with digital technology." The question for Uhrik concerns the thematic appropriate for digital cinema and the relative budget of each film. Shooting with digital means is fitting for "everyday scenes", but the Czech journalist advised new filmmakers to stay away from them. "Don't shoot such scenes. They are boring!" There is a danger of vainglory, though, since "many people will consider themselves directors and the directors themselves will think that they can do anything in a film." When young filmmakers want to shoot a film without the hassle of traditional production, Uhrik proposed that "all good films require preparation."
SECOND DAY (http://www.filmfestival.gr/2001/uk/press/press9.html)
SECOND DAY (http://www.filmfestival.gr/2001/uk/press/press9.html)
Digital cinema, also known as d- or e-cinema, is expected to bring Hollywood a savings of over 600 million dollars. This fact, along with others, was mentioned during the second day of the conference "Digital cinema and creativity" in Warehouse 1 of the Port of Thessaloniki. The second day of the conference, supervised by Nikos Giannopoulos and titled "Technical Presentation of Digital Cinema: the effects on production and distribution" began with the screening of Nikos Panagiotopoulos' film, The edge of night, whose sound and video were digitally processed. Electrical engineer and Manager of Telmaco Audiovisual Systems, Vassilis Kyriazis, spoke about the methods of digitising sound and video and the process of transferring it by cable and satellite to servers for storage and transmission. Nicolas Hamon, Sales Manager at BARCO (founded in Belgium in 1934) said that e-cinema technology has been in use in Hollywood for the past two years and noted its reliability and user-friendliness. The company's representative spoke extensively about BARCOS's activities and the fact that is has equipped a number of cinemas in the U.S., Europe and Asia with digital technology. Richard Hartley, the Marketing Director of Grass Valey Group, noted that Jurassic Park was simultaneously transmitted in two cinemas from the same server with a 10-minute delay, which demonstrates the system's versatility and its practical applications. The benefits of the system include the material's quick processing time and the reduced cost of production and distribution. "Studios will benefit as the cost of production and distribution drops; Hollywood alone expects to save well over 600 million dollars", he said. Hartley added that cinemas must be prepared for the upcoming digital age by obtaining the necessary equipment such as projectors, decoders, and servers, which will also provide the storage space required. Angelo D' Alessio, the SMPTA/President of the Committee of Digital Cinema Technology posed the question of digital cinema's direction: is it a model of technology or business? He claimed that, "digital technology is the most important breakthrough in cinema since sound", but stressed the need for its improved applications. "Why should we bother with digital means if they don't actually improve the films?", he said and noted the importance of the audience in cinema, no matter the means used. "It's a totally new world. We aren't just shifting from analogue to digital, but also from hardware to software. Therefore, we need to add a new term to our glossary: File Format", he said. The President of the Committee of Digital Cinema Technology also stressed the importance of standardising the format as soon as possible in order to prevent the formation of a monopoly in the business and to encourage the growth of competition. Although it seems to be common belief that small cinemas will not be able to keep up with the advancements in technology, Angelo D' Alessio disagreed, saying that, with the help of production and distribution companies, even the suburban and rural cinemas will be able to compete and profit. Yiorgos Papanikolaou, professor at the Laboratory of Electroacoustics, TV Systems & Electronic Media of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, spoke about the perplexities of the new technology. "Some people see digital technology as a chance to easily make films, while film studios are still reluctant and suspicious." Although still in an early stage, once digital technology becomes mainstream the cost will drop drastically, as he explained. During the two-day conference, Nikos Lymberopoulos, professor at the Faculty of Polytechnics in the Department of Engineering and Mechanics of the University of Patras, was in teleconference from Athens and spoke about digital technology and the prospects of its development in Greece.