Kodak keen to bring digital cinema to E. Asia

MUMBAI: Joshua Chan is a man with a mission. The business & Asean marketing manager - entertainment imaging of Kodak Singapore is keen to bring digital cinema to east Asia.

And he does not let the fact that he is facing an uphill task bog him down. Like Moses on the mountain top after he received the 10 commandments, Joshua, the digital cinema evangelist sermonizes, "There are close to 110,000 screens globally. There's tremendous potential to convert them to digital as only 100 of them have taken that path."

Chan points out that 70 per cent of the digital converts are in the US, 25 per cent in Europe and just five per cent of them in Japan. "The rest of Asia does not have any. In fact, we have seen that a lot of the screens are not permanently digital, the digital projector is rented, and then converted to the normal screen after the show."

The major hurdle, he believes is price. "The normal film projector costs $3,000, the digital projector costs $150,000," he points out. "Who is going to bear the cost, the producer, the distributor or the exhibitor is an issue?"

Additionally, there is also the fear of piracy amongst Hollywood studios. "Questions about the safety of encoding and decoding technology are asked which are possibly slowing down the spread. The studios believed that DVD technology safe," he reveals.

Chan will be speaking at the Asian Film Market Conference in Singapore in early December to try and educate attendees about the pros and cons of digital cinema and "to cut out the hype" in his words.

Despite all these rumblers, digital cinema will become a reality, he says. "At Kodak we have been the pioneers of filmed entertainment for over 100 years," he adds. "We are working hand in hand with industry with various partners like JVC and IBM on a cinema operating software and others on digital mastering. We will soon be announcing a Kodak Digital Projector with the highest clarity. It's an evolutionary process. Give digital cinema five to 10 years and you will see it reaching increasing neighbourhoods."

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