IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality

  • 4 Apr 2011

Guest blog – The future of cinema, a personal Vue

By Roland Jones, IT Director Vue Cinemas

You may not have noticed it, but we are in the middle of a revolution… a cinema revolution. In the next 2 years, the way that films are presented to the public in the UK will change from analogue to digital, in the same way that handheld cameras changed from using 35mm rolls of film to digital hard drives some years ago.

This change will be profound for everyone involved in cinema, not least the customer. The quality you see will be perfect every time (no more jerky images, dust or imperfections on the print). Also only at Vue, you will see amazing 4K images with over 8 million pixels – four times what you can see on a HD TV!

You may be surprised to hear that cinema is not yet digital, but the huge cost involved in conversion has constrained the industry for many years. Now however, cinema companies have finally struck a deal with film studios (who create and distribute films) to share the cost of equipment upgrade.

That means that my job for the next year or more will be removing old fashioned projectors showing celluloid 35mm film, and replacing them with digital equivalents capable of converting millions of 1s and 0s from a computer hard drive into the images you will see on the screen. We will finally be transitioning from the electro-mechanical world into the digital age.

The good news is that everyone benefits from this “virtuous circle”. The customer will enjoy much better quality images whenever they visit the cinema, but also the film studio benefits from hugely reduced costs of film creation and physical distribution.

In turn, cinema exhibitors can show a wider variety of films as these will be more readily available in digital format, and will also of course include 3D titles. On top of that, digital projection means that live events like concerts and sport can be broadcast into cinemas to offer yet another alternative form of entertainment.

Practically, Vue will remove the core of what has run in cinemas for over 100 years – the celluloid projector and deploy 657 Sony 4K digital projectors and content servers, 136 control servers and 68 film library servers, so this is a major undertaking! The new computer equipment will be monitored and maintained centrally to ensure efficient operations.

All the while we will endeavour to have little or no impact on show times for the public. This will be particularly important with potential record breaking blockbusters like the final instalment of Harry Potter arriving in the summer.

In summary, if you haven’t been to the cinema recently there are a whole bunch of changes going on behind the scenes which will make your visit a breathtaking experience. Keep your eyes on for Vue’s rollout news. I hope you will come and witness the changes at your nearest cinema soon…

Vue Cinemas are one of Retail Assist’s clients: If you are interested in writing a guest blog for Retail Assist, please email

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